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Old 02-21-2019, 06:09 AM
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Arrow Eye on Extremism February 21, 2019

Eye on Extremism
February 21, 2019

Eye on Extremism - February 21, 2019

The Washington Post: ‘I Am Dreaming Of A Way To Kill Almost Every Last Person On Earth’: A Self-Proclaimed White Nationalist Planned A Mass Terrorist Attack, The Government Says

“A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant and self-identified white nationalist was arrested after federal investigators uncovered a cache of weapons and ammunition in his Maryland home that authorities say he stockpiled to launch a widespread domestic terrorist attack targeting politicians and journalists. Christopher Paul Hasson called for “focused violence” to “establish a white homeland” and said, “I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth,” according to court records filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland. Though court documents do not detail a specific planned date for an attack, the government said he had been amassing supplies and weapons since at least 2017, developed a spreadsheet of targets that included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and searched the Internet using phrases such as “best place in dc to see congress people” and “are supreme court justices protected.” “The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,” the government said in court documents filed this week, arguing that Hasson should stay in jail awaiting trial.Hasson, 49, of Silver Spring, is expected to appear before a judge for a detention hearing in federal court in Greenbelt at 1 p.m.”

The Wall Street Journal: Civilians Held By Islamic State In Syria Go Free

“Several hundred of the last civilians trapped by Islamic State in the militant group’s remaining sliver of territory left on Wednesday, suggesting the extremist group was near a surrender to U.S.-backed Kurdish forces. Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, took the 400 civilians to camps housing displaced people from the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria, monitoring groups said. Islamic State fighters had been using them as human shields. The civilian release came nearly two weeks after the SDF began an offensive to capture Baghouz, which it paused this past weekend during negotiations with Islamic State, the monitoring groups said. Rami Abdul-Rahman who heads the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the civilian release followed the surrender of 180 Islamic State militants this week. He said about 2,000 civilians, mostly families of the militants, were transferred out of the village as part of the negotiated deal with the SDF. The Observatory said 200 fighters are holed up in the village and refuse to surrender. The SDF didn’t respond to requests for confirmation. A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said officials were aware of reports of Islamic State fighters surrendering, but he didn’t confirm them.”

The Washington Post: Trump Says Alabama Woman Who Joined ISIS Will Not Be Allowed Back Into U.S.

“President Trump said Wednesday that an Alabama woman who joined the Islamic State will not be allowed back into the United States, prompting an outcry from the woman’s lawyer, who vowed to pursue legal action. Hoda Muthana, 24, left her home in Alabama in 2014 to marry an Islamic State fighter in Syria. She now lives with her young son in a Syrian refu*gee camp. “I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!” Trump tweeted Wednesday evening. In an interview with the Guardian published Sunday, Muthana said she regrets her decision to join the Islamic State and is seeking to return to the United States. “I look back now and I think I was very arrogant. Now I’m worried about my son’s future,” she told the newspaper, describing herself as having been “brainwashed.” Muthana’s lawyer, Hassan Shibly, told The Washington Post on Wednesday night that his client is “genuinely remorseful” about her decision. “I don’t know if there are many Americans right now who hate ISIS as much as Hoda does,” Shibly said. “Ultimately, I think she’s trying to face our legal system, and Trump is trying to give her a free pass by saying she’s not in our jurisdiction.”

The Washington Post: Allies Decline Request To Stay In Syria After U.S. Troops Withdraw

“As the deadline approaches for the withdrawal of U.S. forces fighting the Islamic State in Syria, America’s closest European allies have turned down a Trump administration request to fill the gap with their own troops, according to U.S. and foreign officials. Allies have “unanimously” told the United States that they “won’t stay if you pull out,” a senior administration official said. France and Britain are the only other countries with troops on the ground in the U.S.-led coalition battling the Islamic State.Along with the United States, they have provided training, supplies, logistics and intelligence for the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-dominated group that has done most of the fighting. U.S., French and British *forces also operate heavy artillery and conduct the airstrikes that have been decisive against the militants. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said last week that he was mystified by Trump’s policy. On Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that “there is no prospect of British forces replacing the Americans” in Syria. European refusal to stay unless President Trump reverses at least part of his troop withdrawal order is one of several factors that U.S. military officials, lawmakers and senior administration officials have said should make Trump think again.”

Reuters: Iran Will Not Rule Out Possibility Of Military Conflict With Israel

“Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif accused Israel of engaging in “adventurism” with its bombing campaigns in Syria and said he could not rule out the possibility of a military conflict between the countries. Zarif told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that Iran was in Syria at the invitation of the Syrian government, while Israel was violating Lebanese and Syrian air space, as well as international law. “There is adventurism on Israel’s side, and adventurism is always dangerous,” Zarif told the newspaper in an interview to be published on Thursday. Asked if he saw an emerging military conflict between Iran and Israel, Zarif said, “I do not, but we cannot exclude the possibility.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel has carried out hundreds of attacks in Syria over the past several years and will ramp up its fight following the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country. Israel is trying to counter the influence carved out in Syria by Iran, which has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the war that erupted in 2011. It said Tehran’s actions are the main destabilising factor in the Middle East. Zarif, speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday, accused Israel of looking for war and warned that its actions and those of the United States were increasing the chances of a clash in the region.”

The New York Times: Advertisers Boycott YouTube After Pedophiles Swarm Comments On Videos Of Children

“Nestlé, Epic Games and other major brands said on Wednesday that they had stopped buying advertisements on YouTube after their ads appeared on children’s videos where pedophiles had infiltrated the comment sections. The companies acted after a YouTube user posted a video this week to point out this behavior. For the most part, the videos targeted by pedophiles did not violate YouTube’s rules and were innocent enough — young girls doing gymnastics, playing Twister or stretching — but the videos became overrun with suggestive remarks directed at the children. The commenters left time stamps for parts of the video that can appear compromising when paused — like a girl’s backside or bare legs. They also posted remarks that praised the girls, asked whether they were wearing underwear, or simply carried a string of sexually suggestive emojis.”

United States

The Washington Post: Muslim Group Seeks Congressional Probe On Terror Watchlist

“A Muslim civil rights group called for a congressional investigation Wednesday after its lawsuit revealed that the U.S. government has shared its terrorist watchlist with more than 1,400 private entities, including hospitals and universities. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Congress should look into why the FBI has given such wide access to the list, which CAIR believes is riddled with errors. Broad dissemination of the names makes life more difficult for those who are wrongly included, CAIR says. Many on the list are believed to be Muslim. “This is a wholesale profiling of a religious minority community,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “To share private information of citizens and non-citizens with corporations is illegal and outrageous.” An FBI spokeswoman had no immediate comment Wednesday. The council filed a class-action lawsuit in 2016 challenging the list’s constitutionality and saying those wrongly placed on it routinely face difficulties in travel, financial transactions and their dealings with law enforcement. In response to the lawsuit, a federal official recently acknowledged in a court filing that more than 1,400 private entities received access to the list. For years, the government had insisted that it did not generally share the list with private organizations.”

The New York Times: Over 1,000 Hate Groups Are Now Active In United States, Civil Rights Group Says

“The number of hate groups in the United States rose for the fourth year in a row in 2018, pushed to a record high by a toxic combination of political polarization, anti-immigrant sentiment and technologies that help spread propaganda online, the Southern Poverty Law Center said Wednesday. The law center said the number of hate groups rose by 7 percent last year to 1,020, a 30 percent jump from 2014. That broadly echoes other worrying developments, including a 30 percent increase in the number of hate crimes reported to the F.B.I. from 2015 through 2017 and a surge of right-wing violence that the Anti-Defamation League said had killed at least 50 people in 2018. “We’re seeing a lot of bad trends,” Heidi Beirich, the director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in an interview on Wednesday. “There are more hate groups, more hate crimes and more domestic terrorism in that same vein. It is a troubling set of circumstances.” Ms. Beirich said the increase in extremist activity tracked by her team began in earnest in the early days of the 2016 presidential election, when anxieties over immigration helped propel President Trump to the White House. Before that, she said, the number of hate groups had fallen for three straight years.”

The New York Post: Mom Of Slain Journalist James Foley Wants ISIS Bride ‘Brought To Justice’

“The mother of slain American photojournalist James Foley — who was beheaded by Islamic State barbarians — says that the Alabama “ISIS bride” now begging to come home should be “brought to justice.” Hoda Muthana “and the many thousands of ISIS fighters who have promoted terrorism need to be held accountable and brought to justice,” Foley’s mom, Diana Foley, told “Your World” on Fox News Tuesday. “I feel that is vital.” Diana expressed some compassion for 24-year-old Muthana, who fled from her home in Hoover, Ala., in 2014 to join the terror group in Syria, where she married three ISIS fighters. Several weeks ago, Muthana — who urged Twitter followers to commit massacres at parades back home — fled ISIS’ last stronghold with her 18-month-old son and was captured by Kurdish forces, who brought her to a refugee camp. “Certainly as a Christian we all make mistakes and need to consider forgiveness, particularly for her young child who need to be protected and raised,” Diana told the news outlet. However, Diana added, “She needs to be held accountable for her mistakes and monitored very carefully.”


Reuters: Islamic State Nears Defeat In Last Syrian Enclave

“Islamic State looked close to defeat in its last enclave in eastern Syria on Wednesday as civilians poured out and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said the remaining jihadists wanted to fight to the death. More than 2,000 civilians left the village of Baghouz in a convoy of dozens of trucks. Coalition warplanes could be seen overhead and the sounds of intermittent gunbattles could be heard from the area, which is completely surrounded by the SDF. “The terrorists are entrenched inside, still betting on ending it militarily,” said Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office. “Our forces said from the start that they have two options: unconditional surrender or for the battle to continue until its end.” The U.S.-led coalition said “the most hardened ISIS fighters remain in Baghouz”. The village at the Iraqi border is the last scrap of ground left to Islamic State in the Euphrates valley region that became its final major stronghold in Iraq and Syria after a series of catastrophic defeats in 2017. Taking it will nudge the eight-year-old Syrian war towards a new phase, with U.S. President Donald Trump having pledged to withdraw American troops, leaving a security vacuum that other powers would seek to fill.”

The New York Times: Is The Future Of ISIS Female?

“Sitting in a room in a burned-out house here in 2017, a group of Iraqi Special Operations Forces soldiers and I watched with surprise as two Islamic State fighters appeared on the live video feed of a security camera. The two fighters were preparing to fire a rocket-propelled grenade in our direction. But instead of the usual bearded men with long hair, the fighters, clad in black abayas and niqabs, appeared to be women. As it has lost power and land over the past year and a half or so, the Islamic State has quietly shifted from insistence on a strict gender hierarchy to allowing, even celebrating, female participation in military roles. It’s impossible to quantify just how many women are fighting for the group. Still, interviews with police forces in Mosul suggest they’ve become a regular presence that no longer surprises, as it did two years ago. “After ISIS fell in Mosul, we are worried about ISIS females more and more,” Mosul’s mayor, Zuhair Muhsin Mohammed al-Araji, told me this month. Islamic State propaganda over the past few years has hinted at and laid the groundwork for this change: In October 2017, the movement’s newspaper called on women to prepare for battle; by early last year…”


The Wall Street Journal: Iranian Group Blamed For Cyberattack On Australia’s Parliament

“Hackers based in Iran and implicated in attacks on the U.S. and Western allies were behind a computer breach of Australia’s Parliament and political parties, a U.S. cyber research company alleged. This month’s attacks were part of a global espionage campaign that cybersecurity companies say began last year and that has mostly targeted the Five Eyes intelligence alliance comprising the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. They think the attacks were retaliation for President Trump’s decision to withdraw from a nuclear agreement with Iran. The focus and pattern of the attack is compatible with the activity of an Iranian state actor connected to the Mabna Institute, said cybersecurity company Resecurity President Charles Yoo. The Mabna Institute is a technology company linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has blamed Mabna members, nine of whom were indicted in the U.S. last year, for a hacking campaign that compromised universities, private companies, and government entities in the U.S. and U.K.”

Al Jazeera: Pakistan Rejects Iran's Claim It Is Harbouring Jaish Al-Adl

“Pakistan has rejected allegations by senior Iranian officials that it is harbouring the armed group, Jaish al-Adl, which claimed responsibility for last week's attack that killed 27 members of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the southern province of Sistan-Baluchestan. Javid Hussain, Pakistan's former ambassador to Tehran, on Wednesday said suggestions that Islamabad is allowing Jaish al-Adl fighters to operate freely within its border region with Iran are "baseless and completely false". "We do not allow our territory to be used by terrorist organisations to target our neighbours," he told Al Jazeera as fresh strains between the neighbouring countries begin to surface.”

Fox News: Trump Understands Danger Iran Poses And Why It Must Never Get Nukes

“President Trump understands that Iran is the root cause of terrorism in the Middle East and beyond and poses a danger to America and our allies. This is why the president is so concerned by the Islamic Republic’s support for terrorist groups, its intervention in foreign wars, its creation of unrest in sovereign countries, and its determination to possess nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. On the 40th anniversary of the revolution that brought Islamist tyrannical rule to Iran, President Trump tweeted last week: “40 years of corruption. 40 years of repression. 40 years of terror. The regime in Iran has produced only #40YearsofFailure. The long-suffering Iranian people deserve a much brighter future.” There is no doubt that Iran’s ultimate goal is to possess nuclear weapons. The question is not if Iran will have a nuclear weapon, but when – unless the radical regime is stopped.”


Associated Press: More Than 150 IS Militants Handed Over To Iraq From Syria

“U.S.-backed Syrian forces fighting the Islamic State group in Syria handed over more than 150 Iraqi members of the group to Iraq, the first batch of several to come, an Iraqi security official said Thursday. The official said the IS militants were handed over to the Iraqi side late Wednesday, and that they were now in a “safe place” and being investigated. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said the Kurdish-led Syrian fighters, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, are holding more than 20,000 Iraqis suspected of IS membership in prisons in northern Syria. The handover comes as the U.S.-backed Syrian force is involved in a standoff over the final IS-held sliver of land in southeastern Syria, close to the Iraqi border. Dozens of people, many of them women and children, were evacuated Wednesday from the group’s tiny tent camp on the banks of the Euphrates River, signaling an imminent end to the territorial rule of the militants self-declared “caliphate” that once stretched across a third of both Syria and Iraq. More evacuations of civilians were expected on Thursday. Some 300 IS militants, along with hundreds of civilians believed to be mostly their families, have been under siege for more than a week in the tent camp in the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria.”

BBC News: How Many IS Foreign Fighters Are Left In Iraq And Syria?

“Tens of thousands of foreign nationals have travelled to Syria and neighbouring Iraq to fight for the Islamic State (IS) group. With the end of the IS territorial “caliphate” imminent, the US has led calls to repatriate the hundreds of men women and children who have been detained on the battlefield. However, many countries have so far been reluctant to do so. Jihadists began travelling to Iraq in 2003 when a US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein's regime triggered a Sunni insurgency. Hundreds are thought to have joined al-Qaeda in Iraq, a precursor to IS. Many more went to Syria after a civil war erupted there in 2011. Their presence complicated the conflict and helped make it overtly sectarian in nature, pitching the country's Sunni majority against President Bashar al-Assad's Shia Alawite sect. There was a huge surge in arrivals after IS seized control of swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014 and urged Muslims to migrate to their new “caliphate”. The United Nations has said that more than 40,000 foreign fighters from 110 countries may have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join terrorist groups.”

Iraqi News: 5 Islamic State Militants Killed In Clashes With Tribal Fighters In Western Iraq

“Five Islamic State members were killed Wednesday in clashes with Iraqi tribal fighters in the western province of Anbar, a military commander was quoted as saying.The clashes, which erupted in Wadi Huraan, west of Anbar, left two of the paramilitary Tribal Mobilization Forces wounded, the commander told Al Ekhbaria TV channel. The commander gave no further details about the clashes. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq. IS declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014. A government campaign, backed by a U.S.-led international coalition and paramilitary forces, was launched in 2016 to retake IS-held regions, managing to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously proclaimed capital.”

Xinhua: 24 IS Militants Captured In Iraq After Fleeing Syria

“Iraqi security said Wednesday that 24 Islamic State (IS) militants, who infiltrated from neighboring Syria, were captured in Iraq's northern province of Nineveh. The Iraqi Army's Chief of Staff Othman al-Ghanimi told reporters at a press conference near the provincial capital Mosul that four of the captured were group leaders. Al-Ghanimi's comment came during his visit to Nineveh's Operations Command which is responsible for the security situation in northern Iraq, including the border areas with Syria. He stressed the need to take precautionary security measures to maintain security in the city of Mosul and other areas in the province. On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said that Iraq is concerned about developments of the battles in neighboring Syria, which is witnessing the clearing of the last pocket of IS extremist group near the Syrian border with Iraq. Iraqi security force and paramilitary Hashd Shaabi brigades are deployed on the borderline between Syria and Iraq, which extends to some 600 km in west of the two provinces of Nineveh and Anbar. The long borderline between the two countries has long been used by insurgent groups and IS militants for logistic support and to carry out cross-border attacks in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.”


The Wall Street Journal: A Taliban Precedent? Mao That You Mention It . . .

“Peace talks between the Taliban and the U.S. have brought back memories of the negotiations that led to the end of America’s war in Vietnam. They’re also reminiscent of an earlier effort by the U.S. to bring about a peace deal in Asia—specifically, in China after World War II. That effort ended in complete failure. The U.S. goal in China was to save a pro-American ally, the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek, from being overthrown by Mao Zedong’s communists. The Truman administration didn’t want to go to war to save the Nationalists, so it turned to diplomacy—pretending neutrality and dispatching Gen. George C. Marshall to broker a deal to produce a democratic coalition government. Today’s Afghan government bears disconcerting similarities to the Chinese Nationalists. It is preferred by the U.S. but appears unable to survive without American military support. The Taliban, like the Maoists, are determined and fanatically ideological.The U.S. effort in China began on Aug. 27, 1945, two weeks after the Japanese surrender, when American Ambassador Patrick J. Hurley escorted Mao to China’s wartime capital of Chungking for talks with Chiang aimed at averting the threatened civil war. From Hurley’s point of view, things got off to a promising start.”


The Washington Examiner: Has Pakistan Supplanted Iran As The Leading Terror Sponsor?

“For decades, the Islamic Republic of Iran has had the dubious honor of being the world’s leading state sponsor of terror. After the State Department released the most recent State Department “Country Reports on Terrorism,” Nathan Sales, the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism, told reporters: “[Iran] brings to its terrorist activities the resources of a state,” adding, “Iran uses terrorism as a tool of its statecraft.” While the Iranian regime deserves American and international opprobrium for its terror support, Pakistan is increasingly giving Iran a run for its money in terms of terror sponsorship. On Oct. 15, 2018, militants from Jaish ul-Adl, a Pakistan-based Salafi group, overran Iran’s main border post with Pakistan, kidnapping 12 Iranian servicemen. Just four months later, a suicide bomber drove a car bomb into an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps troop transport, killing 27. The Iranian government, probably rightly, also blamed that attack on Jaish ul-Adl. The odiousness of the Iranian regime does not excuse terrorism against it. After all, the Iranian targets were not operating in a combat capacity at the time of the attack, nor were the Pakistani perpetrators insurgents waging low-intensity conflict. Rather, the motivation for Jaish ul-Adl was sectarian hatred. This year, Pakistani-backed terrorists have taken their terrorism to a new level.”


Xinhuanet: Yemeni Gov't Forces Clash With Houthis In Hodeidah Despite Cease-Fire

“Intense clashes broke out between Yemen's government forces and the Houthi rebels in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah on Wednesday night despite the cease-fire brokered by the United Nations, an army commander told Xinhua. The army's commander based in the Hodeidah said on anonymity that intense armed confrontations erupted between pro-government Giants Brigades and the Houthi rebels using heavily weapons in the city's eastern parts. He said that fighters of the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels attempted to launch an attack against government-controlled sites near the 22nd May hospital, sparking hours of armed confrontations. "The army forces succeeded in confronting the Houthi rebels who were attempting to advance into government-controlled areas," the source said, adding that the "attack was aborted and Houthi attackers were forced to retreat.”

Saudi Arabia

Voice Of America: Saudi Arabia To Cooperate With India On Terrorism

“Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in New Delhi that terrorism is a common concern and his country would cooperate with India in combating terrorism and extremism. On a visit to New Delhi, Prince Salman said Wednesday that there were potential opportunities for investment of $ 100 billion in India. His trip to New Delhi has coincided with spiraling tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of a terror attack that killed 40 paramilitaries in Indian Kashmir. Prince Salman’s meetings with Indian leaders came two days after he went to Pakistan. He did not mention the attack on Indian soldiers, but at a joint press appearance with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi he said “we reaffirm to India that we are ready to work in the intelligence sharing and political arenas to coordinate our efforts on terrorism.” Referring to the recent “barbaric” attack in Kashmir, Modi said that the two countries had agreed that “it is extremely important to increase all possible pressure on countries supporting terrorism in any way.” The Indian leader said that destroying the infrastructure of terrorism, and punishing terrorists and their supporters is necessary. New Delhi, which accuses Pakistan of giving sanctuary to terror groups that carry out strikes in India, is trying to build diplomatic pressure against Islamabad.”


The New York Times: Egypt Executes 9 Convicted Of Assassinating Top Prosecutor

“Egypt on Wednesday executed nine men suspected of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood who had been convicted of involvement in the 2015 assassination of the country’s top prosecutor, security officials said. The nine were found guilty of participating in a bombing that killed the prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, the first assassination of a senior official in Egypt in a quarter-century. Mr. Barakat was also the highest-ranking official assassinated since the military overthrew an elected but divisive Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, in 2013. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the news media, said the families of the men had been told to pick up their bodies from a Cairo morgue. A total of 15 people have been executed in Egypt since the start of the year. Three were hanged this month for their involvement in the 2014 killing of a judge’s son in the Nile Delta town of Mansura, north of Cairo. Another three were put to death for killing a police officer in Cairo in September 2013. Rights groups denounced the executions, saying the men were sentenced to death after being subjected to torture and beatings to extract confessions.”


News 24: Nairobi Attack Highlights 'New Generation' Of Shabaab Recruits

“Profiles of key suspects in last month's terror attack in Nairobi point to the worrying rise of a new generation of Kenyan jihadists, analysts say. Police are hunting Ali Salim Gichunge, the suspected mastermind of the January 15 attack on the Dusit hotel and office complex that left 21 dead, and Violet Kemunto Omwoyo, described as a Christian convert to Islam. Their background and ethnic origins are starkly different from that of typical Kenyan members recruited in the past by al-Shabaab. Somalia's al-Qaeda affiliate has mainly used recruits from Kenya's ethnic Somali community or coastal Muslim communities. In addition, Shabaab's major previous attacks in Kenya, against the Westgate shopping mall in 2013, which left 67 dead, and the University of Garissa in 2015 in which 148 people died, were planned in Somalia. “Unlike previous attacks that had aspects of external planning and involvement, this particular incident points to local planning,” and includes converts from Christianity, a senior police officer said on condition of anonymity. Gichunge, believed to be aged about 23, is from central Isiolo and is the son of a Kenyan soldier. His name is from the country's largest ethnic group, the Kikuyu. Omwoyo, aged in her late 20s, is believed to be from Kisii in western Kenya.”

Voice Of America: Al-Shabab Claims Killing Of Somali Deputy Attorney General

“The al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility for the assassination of Somalia's deputy attorney general on Wednesday in Mogadishu. Authorities say the attack took place in the Hodan district as Mohamed Abdirahman Mursal left home for work. Witnesses told VOA Somali that two men on a motorcycle blocked his way, ordered him to exit the car and shot him dead. The reason for the attack was not known, although al-Shabab has in the past assassinated government officials, civil servants, soldiers and elders. The men, who were armed with pistols, fled the scene in the car. Police later found the vehicle abandoned. Somali officials condemned the attack on Mursal and described him as a rising attorney who studied Islamic law in Saudi Arabia. One official who spoke on condition of anonymity said Mursal was planning to go to Qatar later this year to take courses for an advanced law degree.”

United Kingdom

The Washington Post: Shamima Begum, Teenager Who Joined ISIS, To Lose UK Citizenship

“Britain has said that it is revoking the citizenship of Shamima Begum, a teenager who four years ago fled to become an “ISIS bride” and has attracted widespread public attention for her effort to return home with her new baby. The government’s decision came as the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, was losing the last of its territory in Syria and countries across Europe are struggling with what to do about their citizens who went to fight on behalf of the terrorist group. The British Home Office informed Begum’s family members of its decision in a letter Tuesday and asked them to make their daughter aware of the potential for her to appeal. “It’s kind of heartbreaking to read,” a teary Begum, 19, told an ITV News reporter who showed her a copy of the letter. “My family made it sound like it would be a lot easier for me to come back to the U.K. when I was speaking to them in Baghouz. It’s kind of hard to swallow.” Begum is living in a Syrian refugee camp, where she gave birth to a boy last weekend. Her baby also has potential claims of British citizenship. Home Secretary Sajid Javid told Parliament on Wednesday: “Children should not suffer, so if a parent loses their British citizenship it does not affect the rights of their child.”

BBC News: Newcastle Terror Attack Plots Accused In Court

“A man accused of plotting a UK terrorist attack and inciting another in Germany has appeared in court. Fatah Mohammed Abdullah, 33, from Newcastle, is accused of buying a knife, balaclava and “explosive pre-cursors”. He has also been charged with inciting two people to drive a car into a crowd, an attack with a meat cleaver and to detonate bombs in Germany. British Iranian Mr Abdullah appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court. Mr Abdullah, from Arthur's Hill, did not enter pleas and was remanded into custody to appear at the Old Bailey in London on 1 March. The first charge states he incited another person to drive a car into crowds, attack people with a meat cleaver, and set off bombs outside the UK between 9 April and 11 December last year. Mr Abdullah, who appeared at court via video link from HMP Belmarsh, is also charged with preparing an act of terrorism between the same dates in the UK. The charge states he bought a knife and a balaclava as well as “explosive pre-cursors”, and compiled instructions on how to make gunpowder. Mr Abdullah also searched online for guides on how to make explosives and for the remaining components to make an improvised explosive device (IED), it is claimed.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: Berlin Sets Conditions For Return Of ISIS Captives

“Germany's top security official said Wednesday that suspected German members of ISIS and their families captured in Syria need to be screened before they can return home. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Berlin needs to know with certainty the identities of the militants and their families, and what they allegedly did, “before anyone gets put on a plane.” His comments in an interview Wednesday with daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung come after US President Donald Trump called on European allies to take back their citizens or risk them being turned loose. Authorities believe Syrian Kurdish forces are holding about 50 German ISIS extremists and a similar number of family members. There are arrest warrants for only 18 of them, partly due to a lack of reliable evidence against them. Seehofer’s statement echoed remarks made on Sunday by the German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, who said it would be “extremely difficult” to organize the repatriation of European nationals in Syria who had joined the terrorist group. A return could only be possible if “we can guarantee that these people can be immediately sent here to appear in court and that they will be detained,” Maas told ARD television. For this, “we need judicial information, and this is not yet the case,” he said.”


ABC News: Islamic State Terrorist Neil Prakash Is 'OK' With Revoked Australian Citizenship

“The Islamic State group propagandist stripped of his Australian citizenship is "OK" with the Government's action and does not want to return to Australia. Neil Prakash's lawyer Resat Davran said his client was not upset with the loss of his citizenship because he did not want to be extradited to Australia to face terrorism charges. Prakash told a court in Kilis, Turkey, that he is not a citizen of Fiji, as claimed by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. Prakash's citizenship was revoked in December on the grounds that he also held Fijian citizenship — a claim that has been disputed by Fiji. Prakash was born in Melbourne to a Fijian father and a Cambodian mother. He won infamy for his role in IS propaganda videos that urged young Muslims to fight the West. Speaking in English with an IS flag visible behind him, he encouraged attacks in Australia and praised a knife attack on two police officers by 18-year-old Numan Haider.”


The Washington Post: Can Washington Keep Watch Over Silicon Valley? The FTC’s Facebook Probe Is A High-Stakes Test

“The Federal Trade Commission is under pressure to issue a steep fine and other sharp penalties against Facebook to prove that it’s able to keep Silicon Valley in check, privacy advocates and congressional lawmakers say. To some critics, the watchdog agency has been too lenient on tech giants, despite years of mishaps that put people’s most sensitive personal information at risk — including a major scandal at Facebook last year that affected more than 87 million users. Nearly a year after announcing an investigation into the incident, the FTC is negotiating with Facebook over a fine that could be billions of dollars, according to multiple people familiar with the probe who spoke on the condition of anonymity last week because they were not authorized to discuss the issues. Experts say the government has to seize on the opportunity to send a message — to Facebook and its peers — that it hears consumers’ frustrations and is willing to challenge the tech industry’s data-collection practices.”

The Wall Street Journal: Nestlé, McDonald’s, Others Pull Ads From YouTube

“Several companies including Nestlé SA and “Fortnite” maker Epic Games Inc. suspended advertising on YouTube Wednesday following a report documenting material on the video service that sexually exploits children. The advertisers’ withdrawals come after video blogger Matt Watson posted a video on YouTube on Sunday that showed inappropriate user comments about videos featuring underage girls, including some that identified precise segments where children appear in compromising positions. The video, which had received over 1.7 million views as of Wednesday afternoon, said YouTube’s recommendation algorithm leads users to similar content. McDonald’s Corp. , which was among the several brands whose ads ran alongside the objectionable content, also paused spending on YouTube, according to a person familiar with the matter. The company didn’t respond to a request for comment.”

Terror Financing

Al-Ahram: Egypt: Terrorist Groups Use Furnished Apartments

“In recent years, extremist and terrorist groups have taken to hiding from security forces in furnished apartments in the midst of residential neighborhoods in Egypt. Many of these apartments have become shelters for the terrorists' crimes. Therefore, the Egyptian House of Representatives has been discussing the dangers posed by these apartments being used as a safe haven for terrorist cells. Recent incidents have exposed their use for the manufacture of explosives and the storage of weapons to perpetrate crimes. Meanwhile some of the owners of these apartments are only interested in raising rental fees and obtaining the greatest possible return. These landlords do nothing to protect themselves or other residents. They do not check who is the dweller and for what purpose he rented the house. They also do not report them to police.”


Al Ain: The Issue Of ISIS Returnees Represents A Major Crisis In Tunisia

“The matter of ISIS returnees from the hotbeds of tension in Syria, Iraq and Libya constitutes a major crisis in Tunisia. It not only raises public fear but also creates many problems at the security level. The return of terrorists from abroad has become a source of discord among the various Tunisian parties. Many of them reject their return, claiming it poses a threat to the nation's security. Meanwhile, others have demanded that the return of terrorists be accompanied by serious investigations into those political parties that have encouraged, financed and provided full support to them. The head of the Tunisian counterterrorism committee, retired Brigadier Mokhtar Ben Nasr, said in a press statement on Monday that the number of Tunisians returning from conflict areas reached 1000 terrorists, in the period from 2011 to October 2018. During a hearing dedicated to presenting the national counterterrorism strategy, Ben Nasr said that a 4-member terrorist group that was returned to Tunisia two weeks ago at the request of the Tunisian authorities, is currently in the hands of the judiciary.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Alweeam: Mauritania Closes Muslim Brotherhood-Affiliated Charities

“On Tuesday, the Mauritanian authorities shut down the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Al Khayr charity association and a local branch of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY). The authorities refrained from mentioning the reason behind the closure of the two entities, which are both affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Yet, informed sources attributed the decision to shut down these organizations to financial violations, particularly in the realm of financial disclosure. It's noteworthy that Mauritania's police sealed off the premises of the two charities on the heels of an official decision last Tuesday.”

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.

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