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Old 02-12-2019, 09:44 AM
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Arrow Eye on Extremism / February 12, 2019

Eye on Extremism
February 12, 2019
RE: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#in...zXhDvhZLmcBVKh


Time: Islamic State Militants Fight To Hold Onto Final Foothold In Eastern Syria

“Islamic State group militants cornered in their last foothold in eastern Syria fought back with suicide car bombs, snipers and booby traps Monday, slowing Kurdish fighters advancing under the cover of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, Kurdish news agencies and a Syrian war monitor said. An Italian photographer was wounded in the clashes between the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and the militants holed up in the village of Baghouz, near the border with Iraq, an Italian news agency said. No one knows exactly how many Islamic State fighters are still holding out in the sliver of territory under attack, although they are estimated to be in the hundreds, most of them foreign fighters. It is also unclear if civilians are still inside, caught under heavy bombardment. The SDF on Saturday launched its final push to clear the area from IS, after months of fighting that saw 20,000 civilians fleeing just in the past few weeks. The numbers have overwhelmed Kurdish-run camps in northeastern Syria, where humanitarian conditions are already dire amid a cold winter and meager resources.”

Fox News: UN Warns Islamic State Losses Shouldn't Lead To Complacency

“The U.N. counter-terrorism chief is warning that recent losses by Islamic State extremists “should not lead to complacency at any level,” saying the extremist group remains a global threat. Vladimir Voronkov told the Security Council Monday that the threat is increased by combatants who fought with the group returning home, relocating or being released. He said the Islamic State group's “center of gravity” remains in Iraq and Syria, where it reportedly controls between 14,000 and 18,000 militants. He said the IS “has continued to evolve into a covert network operating at the local level and organizing itself at the provincial level, with a reported intent to undermine any form of stabilization on the ground.” He said its central leadership “retains an influence and maintains an intent to generate internationally-directed attacks.”

Radio Farda: Zarif In Lebanon Meets Hezbollah Leader Nasrallah. Pledges Support

“Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif who arrived in Lebanon on Sunday met Hassan Nasrallah the leader of the militant group Hezbollah. In recent days, Hezbollah has been pushing the idea of Lebanon officially accepting Iranian military assistance, which Zarif earlier said Iran would be looking forward to. Nasrallah in his meeting with Zarif thanked Iran for its support, as Hezbollah has been receiving life-sustaining financial and military aid from Iran for more than three decades. Zarif on his part underscored Iran’s readiness to support the Lebanese government and the “resistance”, as Hezbollah labels itself, claiming it saved the country from Israeli “aggression”. The Lebanese state and government is a complex system among the many religious communities of the country, often with diverging interests and foreign alliances. It is hard to see the Lebanese government aligning itself with the Islamic Republic. Israel, which regards Iran and Hezbollah as its sworn enemies will not tolerate any breach in official Lebanese alliance with Tehran.”

The New York Times: Nigeria’s Election Brings Dual Crises Back To The Polls: Corruption And Boko Haram

“Muhammadu Buhari won the presidency in a historic election in Nigeria four years ago by promising to crush two scourges that had plagued the nation for years: endemic corruption and a war with Islamist extremists. Back then, Mr. Buhari, a former military general, rode a wave of voter desire to impose greater accountability on the government, end a brutal war with the extremist group Boko Haram and bring back the hundreds of female students taken as captives. Now, as Mr. Buhari is in the final throes of a bruising re-election campaign, he stands accused of falling short on all fronts. Critics say Mr. Buhari has used his antigraft mantra to crush adversaries. Boko Haram is gaining ground, launching sophisticated attacks on weary, underequipped soldiers. And many of the captive students are still missing. Out of 60 contenders, Mr. Buhari’s leading opponent is Atiku Abubakar, a candidate with little military experience and a past so checkered with corruption allegations that the United States refused for years to grant him a visa. As voters prepare to go to the polls this weekend for what appears to be a tight election in Africa’s most populous country, the electorate has increasingly lost hope that the government will ever be free of graft.”

France 24: Spate Of Anti-Semitic Acts Sparks Outrage In France

“A tree planted in a Paris suburb in memory of a young Jewish man who was tortured to death in 2006 has been chopped down, authorities said Monday, confirming the latest in a series of anti-Semitic acts in France. Ilan Halimi was kidnapped by a gang that demanded huge sums of money from his family, believing them to be rich because he was Jewish. After being tortured for three weeks, the 23-year-old cellphone salesman was found dumped next to a railway in the southern suburb of Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois. He died while being brought to hospital. On Monday, municipal workers sent to prepare a memorial site for an annual remembrance ceremony this week discovered that a tree planted in his honour had been chopped down and a second one partly sawn through, local officials told AFP. The police are investigating the incident, which the French government’s special representative on racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination, Frederic Potier, described as “ignominious”. It is the latest in a series of anti-Semitic acts and attacks that have raised fears of a new wave of anti-Jewish violence in a country that is home to Europe’s biggest Jewish population. Anti-Semitic acts surged by 74 percent last year, from 311 in 2017 to 541 in 2018, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said Monday.”

CNBC: Google And Facebook Should Be Regulated For News Content, UK Government Report Says

“Online platforms including Google, Facebook and Apple should be regulated in how they distribute news content, according to a new U.K. government report. The report, published Tuesday, said a state regulator should ensure tech firms are taking steps to help users identify trustworthy, reliable news on their platforms. It said the regulator would require companies like Facebook and Google to build on initiatives they have already established to weed out fake content. "This task is too important to leave entirely to the judgment of commercial entities," the report said. Online sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have been under fire for allowing fake content to spread on their platforms. The companies have been investing in security measures to eliminate false accounts and misinformation, but the U.K. government report said these efforts should be enforced by a government agency. It also said they should sign a "code of conduct" to govern their commercial agreements with publishers. "The experience of the last decade has shown that it is perfectly possible for social media platforms to be immensely profitable while simultaneously carrying a large quantity of fake news," it said.”

United States

Cleveland.com: Federal Judge Refuses To Accept Plea Of Cleveland Fourth Of July Terrorism Suspect

“A federal judge on Monday refused to take the plea of a man accused of planning to park a van full of explosives near spectators at Cleveland’s Fourth of July fireworks as part of a terrorist plot. Demetrius Pitts was set to admit guilt to a charge of attempting to provide material support to al-Qaida. But after more than 30 minutes of questioning, U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr. decided Pitts was denying the charge as it was lodged against him. Pitts, 49 was arrested July 1 and indicted last month. The FBI said Pitts, who has criminal convictions stretching back to 1989 for robbery, domestic violence and theft, corresponded with an undercover agent and scoped out an area to park a van full of explosives near Voinovich Park on Independence Day. His plea agreement said he faced up to 20 years in federal prison, and that both his attorney and the U.S. Attorney’s Office were free to argue for any sentence they may choose, up to the maximum allowed by law. The key moment in Monday’s hearing came when Oliver asked Pitts if he committed a crime in support of al-Qaida. Pitts characterized his actions by saying he “went downtown and took pictures.” Pitts also said the person he talked to while in Cleveland never mentioned al-Qaida.”

Salt Lake Tribune: White Nationalist Group Rallies At The University Of Utah With An Anti-Immigrant Banner

“Members of a white nationalist group hiked the hill to the University of Utah’s block U on Saturday, carrying red, white and blue smoke flares and laying down a banner that declared, “End immigration!” Identity Evropa, which is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, took credit for the message on Twitter with one of its Virginia members posting pictures of the rally. He claimed the act was in retaliation for the university condemning the organization earlier this year after it posted stickers on campus to recruit members. Patrick Casey, who identifies himself as the executive director of Identity Evropa, said members wanted “to let the university — and the world — know that we will NOT be stopped.”

Syria

Reuters: Coalition Warplanes Hit Last Islamic State Enclave In Eastern Syria

“U.S.-led coalition warplanes struck Islamic State’s last stronghold in eastern Syria and hundreds of civilians fled the besieged enclave on Monday as U.S.-backed fighters pressed their campaign to seize it. Coalition jets roared overhead as columns of white smoke rose from the Islamic State-held Baghouz area a short distance from the Iraqi border, a Reuters witness said. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which have driven Islamic State (IS) from swathes of northern and eastern Syria with U.S.-led coalition support, launched an offensive on Saturday to capture the enclave in Deir al-Zor province. The jihadists are putting up stiff resistance and had sought to counter-attack again on Monday morning, according to Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office. Around 1,500 civilians had fled the enclave on Monday, he added. SDF combatants watched as a column of at least 17 trucks filled with men, women and children left Baghouz along a dusty track into SDF-held territory. Women and children were crammed into the back of one of the trucks. Some of those fleeing identified themselves as Iraqis. “It seems there are still many civilians inside Baghouz,” Bali said. “We are compelled to go cautiously and accurately in this battle.”

Reuters: Senior Indonesian Member Of Islamic State Killed In Syria-Police

“An Indonesian militant who appeared on an Islamic State propaganda video showing the execution of a hostage and was said to be close to the militant group’s leader was killed in Syria last month, an Indonesian police spokesman and his brother said. Muhammad Saifuddin, who was known by various aliases, including Abu Walid, was killed by shrapnel from a tank shell in late January in eastern Deir ez-Zor province, national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said in a text message. Prasetyo described him as an IS “executioner and soldier”. Muinudinillah Basri, Saifuddin’s brother, said by telephone he had learned of his brother’s death after receiving a photo of his body. He had not seen his brother since he left for Syria with his wife and children, he said. The U.S. government had placed Saifuddin, alongside two militants from Malaysia and the Philippines, on a special global counter-terrorism list last August. According to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s website, Saifuddin, also known as Mohammed Karim Yusop Faiz, had gone to Syria to join IS in 2014 and taken part in the execution of a prisoner in June 2016. He had previously been imprisoned in the Philippines for nine years on charges of illegal possession of explosives and weapons, it said.”

CNN: Top US General Says Defeat In Syria Wouldn't 'Mean The End' For ISIS

“As the assault to retake ISIS's last enclave of territory in Syria continues, the top US general overseeing the fight against the terror group warned Monday that if the terror group loses that fight it “doesn't mean the end of the organization.” “Liberation of the terrain that ISIS holds is important, it's an important objective for us to take that away from them. But it doesn't mean the end of the organization,” Gen. Joseph Votel, the head US Central Command, told reporters on Monday while on an official visit to Cairo, Egypt. “We are going to have to continue to put military pressure on them. The Syrian Democratic Forces will and we will help them,” he added, referring to the US-backed group of Kurdish and Arab fighters that have been America's principal ally in Syria. But Votel acknowledged that putting pressure on ISIS will be made more challenging without the presence of the over 2,000 US troops currently in Syria, forces that President Donald Trump has ordered to be withdrawn. “Putting military pressure on is always better, it's always easier when you are there on the ground, but in this case our President has made a decision and we are going to execute that and so it's my responsibility as the CENTCOM commander working with my chain of command to look at how we do that,” he added, saying that in 2014, the US managed to support Syrian Kurds fighting ISIS without US troops on the ground.”

The Guardian: Aid Agencies Pull Out Of Idlib In Face Of New Terror Threat

“In Syria’s Idlib province, the dust has largely settled after last month’s dramatic takeover of the area by al-Qaida-linked fighters. As a result, however, international organisations have withdrawn aid and support for schools and hospitals – and Idlib’s 3 million residents are beginning to feel the pinch. Idlib, the last pocket of Syria that remains outside President Bashar al-Assad’s control, was spared an assault by the regime and Russia last autumn, after an 11th hour truce brokered by Moscow and Ankara. The ceasefire has more or less held – but hinged on the disarmament and withdrawal of the Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) umbrella group of hardline fighters from a buffer zone. Russia and Turkey have agreed to set up a demilitarised buffer zone to protect civilians in Idlib Instead of retreating, however, HTS grew bolder, and on 10 January declared it had forced other armed groups in the area into a surrender deal, effectively cementing its control of the entire province. And since HTS is considered a terrorist organisation by most of the international community, concerns over aid funding being diverted by the group has led several major donors to cut desperately needed funding to the area.”

Iran

The New York Times: Trump Pushes Iraq To Stop Buying Energy From Iran

“The Trump administration is pressuring Iraq to stop buying energy from its neighbor and sole foreign supplier, Iran, in what has become a major point of conflict between Washington and Baghdad. Iraqi leaders, fearing that a further shortfall in power would lead to mass protests and political instability in their electricity-starved country, are pushing back on the demand, which is rooted in President Trump’s sanctions against Iran. The dispute has frayed American diplomacy with Baghdad as Iraq tries to steady itself after the United States military withdrawal in 2011 and the campaign against the Islamic State. Iraq’s defiance further jeopardizes Mr. Trump’s goal of getting all nations to comply with sanctions after withdrawing from the deal to limit Tehran’s nuclear program last year. Already, European nations have set up a legal financial mechanism to do business with Iran, and China and India are resisting American efforts at prodding them to cut off oil purchases. Tensions rose after Mr. Trump said on Feb. 3 that he planned to have American troops who have returned to Iraq ”watch Iran,” despite Baghdad’s need to maintain cordial ties with its fellow Shiite neighbor. Mr. Trump’s comments added momentum to proposed legislation in Iraq that would limit the movement and activities of American troops.”

Forbes: Iran's Death Spiral -- 40 Years And Counting

“Today, Supreme Leader Khamenei and the mullahs celebrated the 40th year of Iran’s Islamic Revolution. With the exception of the Revolutionary Guard and “the beards,” as the hard core have been dubbed, few in Iran have much to celebrate. In the economic sphere alone, Iranians have been in a forty-year death spiral. And, let us not forget the estimated 750,000 Iranians who were slaughtered in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). Like the slaughter in that bloody war, the Iranian rial has been slaughtered, too. At the time of the Revolution, the rial fetched 70.5 per U.S. dollar. Today, it takes 122,500 rials to get a greenback. Thanks to the Revolution, the value of the rial has been decimated. The recent picture of the rial’s black market (read: free market) plunge is shown in the chart below. With this crippling currency plunge, inflation has been a constant curse on the Islamic Republic. By using the IRR/USD exchange rate, which represents the most important price in Iran, I measure Iran’s inflation rate. Indeed, the black-market exchange rate can be reliably transformed into accurate measurements of countrywide inflation rates (for those who want to read about the methodology in Farsi). The chart below shows how, with the collapse of the rial’s value against the U.S. dollar, Iran’s implied annual inflation rate has surged to 164%. That is almost nine times higher than the official inflation rate of 18.4%/yr.”

Al Jazeera: Iran And Israel Trade Threats Of Destruction

“Israel and Iran traded threats of mutual destruction on Monday as the Islamic Republic celebrated the 40th anniversary of its revolution. A commander from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) threatened to destroy the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa if the United States attacked Iran, state news agency IRNA reported, provoking a strongly worded response from Israel. “The US should know that we would raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground in the event of a military attack on us,” General Yadollah Javani, head of the guard's political bureau, was quoted as saying. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to respond, saying later on Monday it would mark Iran's last revolution anniversary if it attacked any cities in Israel. “I don't ignore the threats from the Iranian regime, but I'm also not intimidated by them,” Netanyahu said in a Hebrew-language video. “If this regime makes the terrible mistake and tries to destroy Tel Aviv or Haifa, it won't be successful and it will be the last anniversary of their revolution they will ever celebrate.” Hundreds of thousands of Iranians marched and some burned US flags to mark the revolution as Tehran showed off ballistic missiles in defiance of US efforts to curb its military power.”

Iraq

The Washington Post: Pentagon Leader In Iraq For Talks On U.S. Military Presence

“Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan made his first visit to Iraq on Tuesday to discuss the U.S. military’s future in the country in the wake of comments from President Trump that jeopardized plans for an ongoing counterterrorism presence. Shanahan, a longtime Boeing executive who was tapped to lead the Pentagon in December following predecessor Jim Mattis’s sudden resignation, was expected to meet with Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi and other Iraqi and U.S. officials. His visit occurs as the Trump administration seeks to wind down the operation against the Islamic State, the extremist group that took over large swaths of Iraq and Syria in 2014. Pentagon officials have been considering shifting some American troops from Syria into Iraq after Trump’s unexpected December announcement that he would withdraw all 2,000 U.S. service members there. There are about 5,000 U.S. troops next door in Iraq, supporting local forces as they seek to ensure remaining ISIS cells cannot stage another full-fledged insurgency. Militants have continued to conduct isolated attacks since the lengthy 2017 siege to retake Mosul, the Iraqi city that served as their base for three years.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi President Urges Faster Documentation Of Islamic State Crimes In Iraq

“Iraqi President Barham Salih on Monday stressed the importance of speeding up the documentation of crimes committed by the terrorist Islamic State group in Iraq, indicating that Iraqis of all sects suffered from the brutality of the terrorist organization. The president made the remarks during a meeting at As Salam Palace in Baghdad with Karim Khan, the UN Special Adviser and Head of the Investigative Team concerned with collecting evidence of Islamic State crimes, Salih’s media office said in a statement. During the meeting, Salih praised the important role played by the international organization to stay in touch with Iraqi authorities and civil society organizations “to document the crimes of murder, oppression and captivity inflicted by the Iraqi people at the hands of the terrorist Islamic State gangs” and to assist the survivors. He further reiterated the need to accelerate the collection and preservation of evidence of Islamic State crimes against the Iraqis, which amounted to genocide, and to bring those involved in such crimes to specialized international courts. Sileh called for stepping up the level of joint cooperation to ensure credible and comprehensive investigations into IS crimes that meet international standards.”

The National: ISIS Adapting Into A Covert Threat Beyond Iraq And Syria

“ISIS commanders are changing their tactics and the group remains the biggest terrorist threat facing the world despite losing its main bases in Iraq and Syria, a UN investigator warned on Monday. Michele Coninsx, assistant secretary general in charge of counter-terrorism, said there was evidence of the insurgents finding new ways to raise money. She also said that despite a reverse in the Middle East, its global intent and network had been retained. Her remarks to the UN Security Council come as US-backed fighters in Syria try to clear ISIS fighters from Baghouz, the last pocket of land under the terror group's control in the north of the country. “This change in circumstances has forced ISIS to adapt and transform itself into a covert, more locally-focused network in Iraq, yet ISIS has retained its global intent and global networks,” she said. “Of all international terrorist organisations it remains the most likely to carry out a large-scale complex attack... and it continues its determination to undermine stabilisation efforts and to fuel sectarian tensions.” Briefing the council on the UN secretary general's eighth report on ISIS, she said the insurgents were using mobile payment systems to raise money in West Africa and outlined concerns about blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies of becoming new channels for terrorist financing.”

Al Arabiya: Wary Of Shiite Militia, Iraqi Christians Fear Returning Home

“In the main square in the northern Iraqi town of Bartella stands a large cross, one of the few overt signs the town was historically Christian. Nearby, a massive billboard shows Shiite Muslim martyrs alongside a photo of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini. Posters of Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen killed in fighting with ISIS hang on streets all around the city, along with banners to revered historical Shiite saints. Thirty years ago, Bartella’s population was entirely Christian. Demographic changes over the decades left the town split between Christians and an ethnic group known as Shabak, who are largely Shiites. ISIS overran the town and the rest of northern Iraq in 2014, Bartella’s entire population fled - since both communities were persecuted by the radicals. But two years after Bartella was liberated from ISIS, fewer than a third of its 3,800 Christian families have come back. Most remain afraid, amid reports of intimidation and harassment by Shabak, who dominate the Shiite militias now controlling the town. Catholic priest Behnan Benoka claimed that the Christian community is being pushed out by the Shabak. He also said multiple cases of sexual harassment have been reported to him and even one robbery of a little girl whose gold earrings were stolen.”

Xinhua: 186 IS Militants Captured In Western Iraq

“Iraqi Ministry of Interior on Monday announced that it dismantled the biggest Islamic State (IS) cell in Iraq's western province of Anbar and captured 186 militants who committed terrorist attacks in the country. “A joint force captured the biggest IS cell in Anbar responsible for suicide attacks, planting roadside bombs and assassinating military personnel on the international highway west of the country,” Saad Maan, spokesman of Baghdad Operations Command, said in a joint press conference with head of Anbar's provincial council Ahmed al-Alwani. According to Maan, the detained extremist militants signed their confessions and some of them were sentenced to death pending on death row. Maan said that the extremist militants were captured following the liberation of Anbar in late 2017, and they are also responsible for killing civilians from al-Bun Nimr tribe for refusing to join the extremist group. Al-Alwani called on the Ministry of Interior and Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to support the directorate of intelligence and counter terrorism in Anbar. In December 2017, Iraq declared full liberation from the IS after the security forces and the paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units, backed by the anti-IS international coalition, recaptured all areas once seized by the extremist group.”

Afghanistan

The Wall Street Journal: Pentagon Chief Assures Afghanistan Of U.S. Support

“The Pentagon’s top official assured Afghanistan’s government on Monday that the U.S. wouldn’t desert the country’s security forces, the Afghan Defense Ministry said, signaling American support for the jittery government while the U.S. holds talks with the Taliban to end the country’s 17-year war. In his first overseas trip as acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan met senior U.S. military officers and top Afghan officials, including President Ashraf Ghani, whose government has been excluded from the latest effort to negotiate a settlement of the punishing conflict. The Taliban have refused to enter talks with the Kabul administration, which they say is illegitimate. An Afghan Defense Ministry statement in Dari and Pashto, the country’s two main languages, said Mr. Shanahan had assured Afghanistan’s acting defense minister that under a peace deal the U.S. “wouldn’t abandon Afghan forces in training and fighting terrorism.” An English version of the statement omits the pledge to the Afghan official, Asadullah Khalid. An aide to Mr. Shanahan said that during the meeting with the defense minister, the Pentagon chief affirmed the U.S. commitment to Afghanistan’s security and discussed the progress in President Trump’s South Asia strategy.”

The Washington Post: We’ve Had Great Victories In Afghanistan. We Can’t Cut And Run Now.

“For the past 18 years, I have heard people say the United States will ultimately lose any war in Afghanistan, just as the Soviets did. I completely disagree. The United States’ goal from the beginning has been to defend itself by helping Afghans install and maintain a government of their choosing, one that would not allow terrorists based there to launch a strike against the United States. The mission was intended to prevent a reprise of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks directed by al-Qaeda from Afghanistan under the gaze of the Taliban government, and that mission has been a success. By contrast, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979 with the hope of expanding its empire by propping up a communist government that had taken power following a 1978 coup. Tenacious mujahideen fighters pushed back until the Soviets retreated in 1989. Years of chaos followed, leading to the 1996 government takeover by the Taliban, which brutally ruled with its extremist Islamic ideology until its ouster in 2001. The Taliban functioned as a political party, religious authority and social enforcer. Routed from government, the Taliban has waged a long battle to regain power, but as with any political party or religious group, there are militants and moderates within the organization.”

CNN: Denying Women A Seat At Taliban Talks Is A Huge Mistake

“After September 11, the United States justified deep engagement in Afghanistan in part due to the Taliban's harsh repression of women. Now, after sustaining 2,351 deaths and more than 20,000 injuries, and spending north of a trillion dollars, the United States is negotiating peace with the draconian regime it once abhorred. Like ISIS in the Middle East and al-Shabaab in Africa, the Taliban often uses ultra-conservative interpretations of the Quran to force women into cruel marriages with huge age differences where wives may be abused. Worse yet, women are barred from working outside the home, learning to read, or appearing in public without head-to-toe coverings. Defiance means public flogging or even death. For US negotiators to turn their attention to the voices of extremists, while ignoring the voices of women, is not only wrong -- it is wrongheaded. Afghan women and human rights advocates fear that hard-earned progress will be reversed under Taliban influence. But why might that happen? According to the Women and Peace Studies Organization in Kabul, it's because women are being sidelined from the negotiations. Give women a seat at the table and they will protect their own rights. Ample research supports this idea.”

Yemen

The National: Fierce Fighting In South Yemen After Houthi Rebels Blow Up Tribal Leader's Home

“Houthi rebels clashed with government forces in Yemen's Dalea province for a third day on Monday in a battle triggered by the insurgents blowing up the home of a local leader. The rebels stormed Al Makla village in Al Hasha district on Saturday and destroyed house of the tribal sheikh AbdulJaleel Al Hothaiyfi for allegedly collaborating with the Saudi-led coalition supporting the government, according to a journalist working for the Yemeni army in the area. “The Houthis forced the family of Sheikh Al Hothaiyfi to flee the house, blew it up with TNT and burnt his car,” Ali Al Asmar told The National. He said it was the first time Houthis had entered the area since the civil war began in 2014 with the Iran-backed rebels' seizure of the capital Sanaa. Al Hasha district lies in the north of Dalea, a southern province about 250 kilometres from Sanaa, and borders the rebel-held province of Ibb. Facing resistance from the residents, the rebels remained in the village and posted fighters on the hills around it.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Houthis Hound Sanaa Deputies To Establish Fund For Sectarian Education

“The Houthi militias are pressing lawmakers in Sanaa to pass a law to create a fund to support sectarian curricula at public education schools, insider sources revealed. The Iran-backed militias, according to the sources, are aiming to gather money to spend on printing Khomeini-inspired literature and hiring academics for Yemeni public teaching institutions in Houthi-held Sanaa. The education minister in the Houthi’s self-proclaimed government, Yahya al-Houthi is pressing Sanaa deputies to pass the law for establishing a specialized fund, which could help in advancing the coup group’s ideological project in the country. With that being said, the Houthis have stopped paying the salaries of some 135,000 teachers in areas under their control, prompting many of them to quit and look for other jobs. Houthis moved to replace resigned teachers with thousands of the group’s own sectarian-driven educators.”

Lebanon

Radio Farda: Would A New Venezuelan Government Kick Out Hezbollah?

“Admiral Craig S. Faller, Commander of U.S. Southern Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on February 7, 2019 that “Iran has deepened its anti-U.S. Spanish language media coverage and has exported its state support for terrorism into our hemisphere.” This statement came on the heels of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement on FOX the previous day. Pompeo stated, ”Hezbollah has active cells – the Iranians are impacting the people of Venezuela and throughout South America.” There is very little public knowledge about the activities of the Iranian regime and Lebanese Hezbollah in Latin America. There are only a handful of scholars who have presented analysis of the activities of Iran and Hezbollah there. Until now there has been only a handful of public statements by U.S. government officials. It is safe to assume that U.S. intelligence and military officials have far more intelligence about such activities than what they have made public. It is also safe to assume that their knowledge constitutes only a portion of the total of the activities of the Iranian regime and Hezbollah. The Islamic Republic has had close relations with Venezuela for some time now.”

Qatar

Voice Of America: Taliban Seeking Recognition Of Qatar Office Ahead Of Fresh Talks With US

“The Taliban says it hopes ongoing negotiations with the United States would bring a long-demanded formal recognition for the insurgent group's "political office" in Qatar, insisting it would help accelerate consultations over the endgame in the Afghan war. The Taliban has been informally running the office in Doha, the Qatari capital, since 2013, but the host country has not allowed it to use the facility for any public dealings under objections from the Afghan government. U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and his team in recent months have held several meetings with Taliban envoys mostly in Doha. The two sides are set to meet there again on Feb. 25 to build on "significant progress" they made in six days of marathon talks in January. Suhail Shaheen, the spokesman for the Taliban's political office, in an interview told VOA that all their meetings with U.S. interlocutors and other foreign delegations take place in different hotels, making it difficult for his group to timely share details or progress with media.”

Nigeria

Premium Times: Nigeria Military Will Break Boko Haram, ISIS Alliance — Buratai

“The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, has vowed that the Nigerian military will break the unholy alliance between the Boko Haram terrorists and Islamic State West Africa or ISWA. Mr Buratai, a lieutenant-general, spoke on Monday in Abuja when he declared open a two-day maiden “Career planning and management’’ seminar for senior officers. He maintained that the army was making gains in the counter-insurgency operations in the North-east. “I am glad to note that we are making strides against the Islamic State West Africa or ISWA in our bid to unhinge the unholy union between them and remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists,” he said. “It is, therefore, imperative that we maintain the momentum while motivating our officers and men through an efficient and responsive career planning process.’’ Represented by Aliyu Nani, a major-general and the Chief of Policy and Plans, Mr Buratai, however, noted that the army was being “stretched’’ by its involvement in many operations nationwide, particularly in the North-east. He said such large scale involvement raised the need for good leadership and career planning and improved approach to human resource management to get the best from the officers and men.”

Somalia
The New Times: 30 Al-Shabab Militants Killed In Joint Operation In Southern Somalia

“Somali National Armed Forces killed 30 al-Shabab militants in a joint operation in Jamame in Somalia's southern region of Lower Jubba, officials said on Saturday evening. Said Jogsade, Jubaland's operational spokesman told journalists that Somali National Armed Forces backed by Jubba land forces and U.S. Africa Command killed 30 al-Shabab extremists in an operation in Jamame town in Lower Jubba. "The joint forces conducted offensives in Jamame killing 30 al-Shabab fighters. We will intensify the operations to root out the terrorists from our region," Jogsade said. Residents in nearby towns said they heard the sound of heavy weapons. "We heard blasts in Jamame and learnt that al-Shabab fighters in the town were attacked by government forces," Jibril Adam, a resident told Xinhua.”

Africa

Defense Post: Terrorism ‘Expanding’ In Sahel, African Union Security Chief Warns

“Terrorism is spreading in the Sahel region, and the African Union member states will be addressing the situation in a “comprehensive” manner, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui said on Monday, February 11. “Terrorism is expanding,” Chergui told journalists during a press conference in Addis Ababa.” Almost on a daily basis, Burkina Faso now is facing criminal and terrorist attacks not only from its border with Mali but also in the east, with the border on Niger. The whole West Africa now is on alert.” The region is seeing “increasing numbers of terrorist movements” who attack civilian populations and institutions, Chergui noted. At the same time, problems between ethnic groups, as well as clashes between farmers and herders, have been exacerbating the situation. “The combination of all these elements brings an unprecedented high level of violence and killing of innocent people, destroying their properties in a region that is already relatively poor,” Chergui said. The commissioner noted that issues of combating terrorism were discussed by all delegations, and AU member states had agreed to address the scourge of extremism in a more “comprehensive” manner.”

Africa Times: New Report On Islamic State Details Presence Across Africa

“A new report presented to the United Nations Security Council on Monday details the threat that Islamic State continues to present to the African continent, from Libya and Somalia across the Sahel and into West Africa. These fighters – whether in small clusters of a few dozen in the mountains of western Tunisia, or up to 3,500 in the Lake Chad region – remain part of the wider network supported by up to $300 million in financial reserves. They’re also funded through oil revenues, a key strategic aspect in Libya, and through kidnapping, illegal mining, trafficking and other organized crime activities. “Despite the more concealed or locally embedded activities of ISIL cells, its central leadership retains an influence and maintains an intent to generate internationally-directed attacks and thereby still plays an important role in advancing the group’s objectives,” explained Vladimir Voronkov, who heads the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT). In the Sahel, Islamic State remains less of a threat with smaller numbers than the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam Wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), but the organizations have worked together during some recent attacks. The group has also sustained its presence in Somalia alongside al-Shabaab militants.”

North Korea

The Wall Street Journal: North Korea Keeps Stockpiling Materials To Make Nuclear Weapons, Report Finds

“North Korea has kept producing raw materials needed to make nuclear weapons, though the threat has subsided since 2017 as the country’s suspension of missile tests has halted its progress on delivery systems capable of hitting the U.S. mainland, according to a new report. North Korea, despite promising last year to fully denuclearize, has continued to operate facilities that produce plutonium and highly enriched uranium, according to three Stanford University researchers. The production enables Pyongyang to enlarge its nuclear arsenal, though the report didn’t specify whether Kim Jong Un’s regime had done so. North Korea “continued to operate and, in some cases, expand the nuclear weapons complex infrastructure,” the report said. The lead author is nuclear scientist Siegfried Hecker, who last visited North Korea’s nuclear facilities in 2010 and has advised U.S. negotiators involved in the current talks with Pyongyang.”

China

The Guardian: Families Of Missing Uighurs Call For 'Proof Of Life' Videos From Chinese Government

“Beijing’s latest efforts to dispel criticism of its treatment of Uighur Muslims in the northwestern Chinese territory of Xinjiang appear to be backfiring. In an effort to dispel rumours of the death of famous Uighur musician Abdurehim Heyit, who disappeared in Xinjiang in 2017, Chinese state media released a video of Heyit attesting to his health. In the video, he says he is in police custody and has “never been abused”. Now, activists and members of the Uighur diaspora are calling for proof of life videos of their relatives who have disappeared into a network of internment camps that China claims are “vocational training centres”. Under the hashtag #MeTooUyghur, members of the Uighur community are posting the names and photos of their missing family members. “Chinese authorities showed video as proof Mr Heyit is still alive. Now, we want to know, where are millions of Uyghurs?” Murat Harri Uyghur, an activist living in Finland, posted on Twitter, calling on others to join the campaign.”

United Kingdom

The Guardian: Labor Warns Coalition Bill To Strip Terrorists Of Citizenship Is 'Unconstitutional'

“Labor has released advice warning the government bill to lower the bar for stripping terrorists of Australian citizenship is unconstitutional as it prepares to dissent on the usually bipartisan security committee. The advice, written by Victorian QC Peter Hanks, said there is a “reasonable argument” granting home affairs minister Peter Dutton the power to revoke citizenship merely on his subjective belief the person is a dual national is not supported by the constitution. The release of the advice comes after the shadow foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, told caucus on Monday night Labor is likely to issue a dissenting report on the bill on the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security, a first for them in this term of opposition. As parliament resumes on Tuesday, the Coalition has focused on national security, picking up where it left off in 2018 when Labor passed the encryption bill on the final day of sittings. On Monday Scott Morrison argued that medical evacuations are a risk to border protection and the Coalition pressure produced new Labor qualifications to its support for the crossbench bill, which will come to a vote on Tuesday. But on the strengthening citizenship loss provisions bill, Labor has so far resisted Coalition pressure, citing concerns it could render people stateless and is unconstitutional.”

France

France 24: Fleeing IS Holdout, French Women Say Foreigners Still Inside

“Two French women who fled the Islamic State group's last pocket in Syria told AFP on Monday more foreigners were trapped inside, barred from leaving by Iraqi jihadists. The Muslim converts said they paid smugglers to take them out of the battered IS-held holdout of Baghouz to territory held by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. They said “massacres” had taken place in Baghouz, where others are still trapped with “nothing to eat”. “There are many French, many muhajireen (foreign women who joined IS) and others who are trying to leave but they (IS) don't let us,” said one. “They said only the Syrians and Iraqis can be smuggled out,” said the woman, who said her first name was Christelle, from the city of Bordeaux. She spoke to AFP from the back of a pickup truck packed with women and wailing children who would be taken to Kurdish-run prison camps in northern Syria. Her two children, one and three, were laying on her lap, but she said her husband had died. “What do I ask the French government? Just let me keep my kids. I just want my kids,” she said. France has said it is considering repatriating around 130 of its nationals currently held by Kurdish authorities in Syria, but Christelle was not keen to go home.”

Europe

CNN: As One ISIS Wife Ponders Her Fate, Europe Struggles To Deal With Group's Followers

“The unmistakable sound of automatic machine gunfire pierced the early morning, sometime before 7 am. While it was not unusual to wake up to the cacophony of war -- be it coalition bombing from airstrikes or gunfire -- this was different. For days, I'd been traveling with fighters from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who launched a last offensive to oust ISIS from its only remaining enclave in Syria over the weekend. Since sundown on Saturday, coalition airstrikes had been pounding the last remnants of the jihadi group's so-called "caliphate." Now we were holed up in a war-torn building just a kilometer from the town SDF fighters were working to liberate: Baghouz Al-Fawqani. We scrambled to the rooftop for a better vantage point. There was little to see, save for explosions in the distance which appeared to be a combination of airstrikes and shelling from the US, British and French positions toward the town. As we watched, we heard rounds coming in our direction. Zing came one, then another, then another.”

Southeast Asia

Xinhua: Indonesia Concerned About Threat Of Spreading Terrorist Fighters

“With ISIL's defeat in Syria, Indonesia has observed the shifting to the region, among others, of its propaganda, radicalization and recruitment, a senior Indonesian diplomat said Monday. Dian Triansyah Djani, permanent representative of Indonesia to the United Nations, was speaking at a United Nations Security Council meeting on the threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts. “We also continue to be concerned about the threat of returning, relocating or released Foreign Terrorist Fighters to various regions and countries,” Djani said. One of the most alarming trends is the recruitment and radicalization of women and children, especially those who are well educated and come from middle class backgrounds, he said. “It is also our assessment that terrorist planning and logistics are shifting towards high tech, cyber activities, including online transactions, online fraud, social-media fund raising, crowd-funding and donations,” he said. Indonesia again condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, no matter its origins or motivations, he added. “No justification is good enough, and we again express our objection to any attempts to link this menace to any specific religion, nationality, people or civilization,” the Indonesian diplomat said.”

Counter-Terrorism

Jawhara FM: Tunisia: Arrest Of Individuals Who Specialize In Luring Youth To Terrorism

“The security division of the National Security Zone in Jendouba arrested a terrorist cell on Sunday consisting of five people between the ages of 25 and 35. The cell, made up of two individuals from Fernana and three from the Tunisian capital, was recruiting young people from Franjana to terrorist organizations, a security source told Jawhara FM reporter on Monday. Following consultations with the Public Prosecution, they {the detainees} were allowed to be held for interrogation and then {will be} brought to the counter-terrorism court in the capital.”

ISIS

Asharq Al-Awsat: Iraq: A 200-Member ISIS Cell Dismantled

“The Directorate of Intelligence and Counterterrorism of the Al-Anbar Governorate in Iraq announced the detention of a terrorist cell consisting of nearly 200 members. The killers of Mustafa Al-Adhari, an Iraqi soldier who was wounded and captured by ISIS and then hanged on Falluja Bridge, and the perpetrators of the mass killings of the Albu Nimr tribe, are among the said detainees, according to the Directorate. It also noted that it had managed to arrest this cell thanks to cooperation with Iraq's elite counterterrorism unit named the "Falcon Intelligence Cell.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Libya Akhbar: Is Malaysia The Next Destination For The Muslim Brotherhood?

“Youth members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in Turkey are, nowadays, facing fears and uncertainty in the wake of Ankara's decision to deport a second Egyptian national facing execution in Cairo over alleged involvement in terrorist acts in Egypt. Several members of the banned Islamist group have already requested relocation to Malaysia, which could be the next destination of the Muslim Brotherhood for numerous reasons. The leading reasons are having a head office in Kuala Lumpur, diversified investment activities and good ties with Malaysian officials, in addition to friendly Malaysian-Qatari relations. Experts in the affairs of Islamic movements noted that some of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders, primarily those deported from Qatar, had previously sought refuge in Malaysia. These experts added that multiple companies and businessmen, which are affiliated with the blacklisted organization, are operating in Malaysia. In addition, a Malaysia-based senior figure of the group has been facilitating the movements and the stay of his associates in that country.”

Houthi

Albawabh News: Houthis Set Up Investment Companies To Generate Electricity

“The Houthi's have clearly exploited state resources, especially in the electricity sector, where they play a major role in depriving citizens of it and force them to pay even more money to serve their coup project. Local sources in Sana'a reported that the Houthis have set up investment companies to generate electric power by seizing generators belonging to state institutions and transferring their ownership to individuals and leaders affiliated with the militant group. The Houthis use them to establish their own electric power and to sell this electricity to citizens. In the capital Sana'a, these companies are exploiting the present electric grid to deliver electricity to consumers while cancelling their old contracts. This was done by connecting the consumers to new commercial meters costing as much as YR20K ($80) per unit.”
__________________
Boats

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

"IN GOD WE TRUST"
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