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Old 12-09-2019, 06:20 AM
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Arrow Eye on Extremism - 12-9-19

Eye on Extremism
December 9, 2019
RE: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?ta...qNLXCsdRCVXHph

As of December 9, 2019:

Reuters: Air Strikes Kill At Least 20 In Syria's Idlib: Observatory, Activists

“Air strikes by Syrian government and Russian forces killed at least 20 people in rebel-held northwestern Syria on Saturday, activists and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The attacks hit five villages in the Idlib region of the northwest, part of the last major territorial foothold of the insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad. Russian jets killed at least nine people in an attack that hit a market in the village of Balyoun and another four people in a strike on the village of al-Bara, the Observatory said. Five more people were killed in a barrel bomb attack by Syrian government helicopters on the village of Abdita, the Observatory said. Barrel bombs killed two more people in the villages of Jebghas and Tel Minis, it added.”

The New York Times: Pensacola Attack Probed For Terrorism Link. Saudi Suspect Clashed With Instructor.

“The investigation into the fatal shooting last week at a Navy training center in Florida was officially characterized as a terrorism inquiry on Sunday, as new details emerged about the Saudi Air Force trainee who killed three sailors on the base where he was a visiting student. As the F.B.I. continues to conduct interviews with everyone at the Pensacola Naval Air Station who may have had contact with the gunman, identified as Second Lt. Mohammed Alshamrani, a new report emerged that the Saudi trainee filed a formal complaint earlier this year against one of his instructors, who left him “infuriated” in class by tagging him with a derogatory nickname. The complaint, quoted in a communication circulated among people connected to the flight training, said that the instructor referred to Lieutenant Alshamrani as “Porn Stash” in front of about 10 other aviation students, embarrassing and angering him. “I was infuriated as to why he would say that in front of the class,” the Saudi trainee wrote in his complaint, as quoted in the summary. The document was reviewed by The New York Times and authenticated by a person who spoke with Lieutenant Alshamrani shortly after the incident.”

Fox News: New York City ISIS Supporter Seen As 'Ticking Time Bomb' Gets Decades In Prison

“A U.S. citizen who kept an Islamic State flag and a cache of weapons in his New York City apartment was sentenced Friday to 22 years in prison after pleading guilty to providing material support to the terrorist group, the Justice Department announced. Sajmir Alimehmeti, a 26-year-old Albanian turned U.S. citizen, was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer, who called him a "ticking time bomb." He called the Bronx man's conduct "terrifying." In February 2018, Alimehmeti admitted providing material support to the group. Alimehmeti, a onetime plumbing assistant who had studied funeral services, was arrested in May 2016 on evidence assembled over eight months by two undercover New York City police officers and an undercover FBI employee posing as ISIS recruits. The man started collecting weapons such as combat knives that could be used in a "lone-wolf" style terrorist attack, investigators said. Arresting agents reported recovering terrorist propaganda, the flag and images of jihadist fighters. Alimehmeti had traveled overseas to support ISIS’ terror campaign by buying military-grade weapons and helping another recruit get travel documents, equipment and encryption technology to fight with the group in Syria, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a news release.”

CNN: UN Says It Has Evidence That Iran Was 'Shooting To Kill' Protesters

“The United Nations said Friday that it has video evidence appearing to show Iranian security forces "shooting to kill" protesters during Iran's latest wave of demonstrations. In a statement on Friday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said she was alarmed by "the continuing lack of transparency about casualties and the treatment of thousands of detainees" during the recent protests in Iran. Bachelet said "prompt, independent and impartial investigations" into all possible violations needed to be undertaken, "including the killing of protesters." Iranians took to the streets in mid-November, shortly after the government announced an increase in fuel prices by as much as 300%. The exact death toll in the protests remains unclear as the government has withheld these numbers. The UN Human Rights Office said it had information suggesting that at least 208 people were killed, including 13 women and 12 children. It said at least 7,000 have reportedly been arrested across the country. The government imposed a nationwide internet shutdown for over a week.”

Al Jazeera: At Least 10 Killed In Kenya Bus Attack Claimed By Al-Shabab

“At least 10 people, including several police officers, have been killed when gunmen attacked a bus in northeast Kenya. The vehicle belonging to the Medina Bus Company was attacked on Friday on a lonely stretch of road in the Kotulo area as it travelled between the towns of Wajir and Mandera, close to the border with Somalia. "People, among them police officers, were brutally murdered," President Uhuru Kenyatta's office said in a statement on Saturday. The Somalia-based al-Shabab armed group, which has also carried out a number of attacks in neighbouring Kenya, took responsibility for the assault, saying it had killed people that included "secret security agents and government employees". Police said 10 people had been killed and that the attackers had specifically targeted non-Somalis after flagging down the bus. The area is mostly inhabited by ethnic Somali Kenyans. Seven police officers were killed in the attack, local media reported. A security source gave the same figure to the AFP news agency.”

The Sun: NAZI NETWORK Inside Neo-Nazi Social Network The Base That Coordinates Secret Paramilitary Training For Ultra-Violent US Extremists

The Base is a group that unites white separatists who allegedly wish to carry out acts of violence against the government, Jews, people of color, and the LGBT community.Joshua Fisher-Birch, a research analyst with Counter Extremism Project (CEP), is convinced the group poses a credible threat. He told The Sun Online: “The Base poses a significant risk to public safety. "[This is] due to the group’s desire to commit acts of terrorism against the government and groups such as Jews, people of color, LGBT people, and journalists. "The Base has previously posted information on explosives and has organized training camps where they have conducted firearms drills. "From an ideological perspective, it is possible that the group might eventually attempt to commit acts of terrorism to further their... agenda.”

United States

The Wall Street Journal: Pensacola Shooting Rattles A Kingdom Struggling To Repair Its Image

“The deadly shooting by a Saudi Air Force aviation student at a U.S. military base presents the latest test for a monarchy struggling to repair its image in the West following a series of crises in recent years. Mohammed Alshamrani used a handgun to open fire in a classroom Friday morning at Naval Air Station Pensacola, officials said, killing at least three people and injuring eight. Investigators are searching for a motive in the shooting. But some lawmakers have already called it terrorism, underscoring the challenge that Saudi Arabia faces in improving public opinion about its rulers, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in the U.S. and Europe. The kingdom’s repression in recent years of activists and dissidents, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, has evoked widespread international criticism. Its war in Yemen has been condemned by Congress. Now, the shooting has revived memories of the turbulent history between Washington and Riyadh since the Sept. 11 attacks—bringing more scrutiny to the kingdom, including its close military relationship with the U.S. The shooting will also test the relationship between Prince Mohammed and President Trump, who has continued to voice support for the Saudi ruler, saying it was not clear whether the royal was involved in the Khashoggi killing, in spite of a C.I.A. assessment that concluded he likely ordered the killing.”

Bloomberg: U.S. Navy Base Gunman Watched Shooting Videos Before Attack

“The Saudi student who fatally shot three sailors at a U.S. naval base in Florida hosted a dinner party earlier in the week where he and three others watched videos of mass shootings, a U.S. official told The Associated Press on Saturday. Officials investigating the deadly attack were working Saturday to determine whether it was motivated by terrorism, while President Donald Trump indicated he would review policies governing foreign military training in the United States. The Navy on Saturday identified the three victims and hailed them as heroes for trying to stop the shooter and flagging down first responders after being shot. “The Sailors that lost their lives in the line of duty and showed exceptional heroism and bravery in the face of evil,” Capt. Tim Kinsella, the commanding officer of Naval Air Station Pensacola, said in a statement. “When confronted, they didn’t run from danger; they ran towards it and saved lives.” The shooter opened fire inside a classroom at the naval base on Friday, killing three people and wounding two sheriff's deputies, one in the arm and one in the knee, before one of the deputies killed him. Eight others were also hurt. Both deputies were expected to survive.”

Chicago Tribune: Islamic State Sympathizer Sentenced To 22 Years In Prison

“An Albanian turned U.S. citizen who kept an Islamic State group flag in his apartment was sentenced to 22 years in prison Friday after pleading guilty to terror charges. Sajmir Alimehmeti, 26, of the Bronx was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer, who called him a “ticking time bomb.” He called his conduct “terrifying.” In February 2018, he admitted providing material support to the group. A onetime plumbing assistant who had studied funeral services, Alimehmeti was arrested in May 2016 on evidence assembled over eight months by two undercover New York City police officers and an undercover FBI employee posing as Islamic State group recruits. Authorities said Alimehmeti began collecting weapons such as combat knives that could be used in a “lone-wolf” style terrorist attack. Arresting agents reported recovering terrorist propaganda, the flag and images of jihadist fighters. U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a release that Alimehmeti had traveled overseas to support the Islamic State group's terror campaign by buying military-grade weapons and helping another recruit get travel documents, equipment and encryption technology to fight with the group in Syria.”

Fox News: Trump Will 'Temporarily Hold Off' Designating Mexican Cartels As Terror Groups

“President Trump announced Friday that he will hold off on officially designating Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations while he works with the Mexican president “to deal decisively” with the issue. “All necessary work has been completed to declare Mexican Cartels terrorist organizations,” Trump tweeted Friday. “Statutorily we are ready to do so. However, at the request of a man who I like and respect, and has worked so well with us, President Andres Manuel @lopezobrador_ we will temporarily hold off this designation and step up our joint efforts to deal decisively with these vicious and ever-growing organizations!” Mexico's foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard thanked Trump on Twitter for his decision. “I appreciate President Donald Trump's decision to postpone the designation of organizations as terrorists at the request of President López Obrador, who also respects and appreciates him,” Ebrard said. Obrador praised Trump's decision at an event Friday in his home state of Tabasco. “I celebrate that he has taken our opinion into account,” the Mexican president said, according to The New York Times. “There has to be cooperation with respect for our sovereignties, cooperation without interventionism. And I think it was a very good decision that he took today.”

Haaretz: U.S. Releases First Photos Of 'Sophisticated Iranian Weapons' Seized En Route To Yemen

“The U.S. State Department released Thursday photos of advanced missile parts believed to be linked to Iran from a boat stopped by the Navy in the Arabian Sea last month. At a press briefing, U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook said the parts seized on November 25 are likely further proof of Tehran's efforts to inflame conflict in the region. "We interdicted a significant hoard of weapons and missile parts evidently of Iranian origin. The seizure includes sophisticated weapons," he said, adding that the vessel was reportedly heading to Yemen to deliver the weapons. "The weapon components comprise the most sophisticated weapons seized by the U.S. Navy to date during the Yemen conflict," Hook said. U.S. officials said Wednesday the suspected Iranian guided missile parts were headed to rebels in Yemen, marking the first time that such sophisticated components have been taken en route to the war there.”

ABC News: US Envoy: US Has `Other Tools' If Iran's Bad Actions Go On

“U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft warned Iran on Friday that the Trump administration will keep up its maximum pressure campaign and use “other tools” if Tehran continues its “malicious behavior.” Craft also told her first press conference since arriving at the United Nations in September that all 15 members of the U.N. Security Council are united in their concern about any more ballistic missile launches by North Korea, saying there have been 13 launches since May and Pyongyang’s actions are a serious global issue. North Korea has ramped up its missile tests in recent months, and experts say the launches are likely to continue as a way to pressure Washington into meeting Pyongyang’s demand for new proposals to revive nuclear diplomacy by leader Kim Jong Un's deadline at the end of December.”

The New Yorker: The Real Deal Behind The U.S.–Iran Prisoner Swap

“Donald Trump celebrated a surprise prisoner exchange with Iran in a tweet on Saturday, just hours after a Princeton graduate student and an Iranian scientist were traded on the tarmac of Zurich’s international airport. “Thank you to Iran on a very fair negotiation. See, we can make a deal together!” he wrote. The swap was a rare moment of détente following months of escalating hostilities, which came within minutes of a military confrontation in June, after Iran shot down a sophisticated U.S. drone. It ended the traumatic saga of Xiyue Wang, an American student in the fourth year of a ten-year prison sentence in Iran on two charges of espionage. He had been arrested, in 2016, while doing doctoral research in Tehran’s national archives on the nineteenth and early twentieth century Qajar dynasty. The swap also ended the controversial case of Masoud Soleimani, an Iranian stem-cell researcher who was arrested when he landed in the United States, in October, 2018, en route to a visiting-scholar position at the Mayo Clinic. He had been charged with trying to export proteins used to culture cells for medical research without a U.S. license, a minor form of sanctions-busting.”

Syria

Voice Of America: Airstrikes In Northwest Syria Kill At Least 18

“Airstrikes on areas in the last major rebel stronghold in northwest Syria on Saturday killed at least 18 people, including women and children, and wounded others as a three-month truce crumbles, opposition activists said. The airstrikes on Idlib province have intensified over the past few weeks as the government appears to be preparing for an offensive on rebel-held areas east of the province to secure the main highway that links the capital Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest and once a commercial center. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 20 people were killed in Idlib province while the opposition's Syrian Civil Defense said 18 lost their lives. The largest number of casualties occurred in the village of Balyoun, where the Civil Defense said eight people were killed while the Observatory said nine died. Both groups also said that four people, including a child and two women, were killed in airstrikes on the rebel-held village of Bara. Both groups also said that five others were killed in the village of Ibdeita. The Civil Defense said another child was killed in a nearby village in Idlib while the Observatory had two more. Conflicting casualty figures are common in the immediate aftermath of violence in Syria, where an eight-year conflict has killed about 400,000 people, wounded more than a million and displaced half the country's prewar population.”

Reuters: Russian Forces Enter Former Islamic State Stronghold In Syria After U.S. Pullback

“Russian forces have entered Raqqa, the former de facto capital of the Islamic State caliphate, in one of the starkest examples yet of how Moscow has filled the vacuum created by President Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. forces from northern Syria. Russian troops were shown in footage on the defence ministry’s Zvezda TV channel shaking hands with Syrian children and unloading humanitarian aid bundles with the slogan “Russia is with you” from the back of trucks. Raqqa was captured two years ago by U.S. troops and their Kurdish-led Syrian allies in the biggest victory of Washington’s campaign against Islamic State in Syria. But since Trump abruptly ordered a pull-out in October, Moscow has swiftly advanced into territory where U.S. troops had operated.”

Iran

Associated Press: Iran Frees Chinese-American Scholar For US-Held Scientist

“A Princeton scholar held for three years in Iran on widely criticized espionage charges was freed Saturday as part of a prisoner exchange that saw America release a detained Iranian scientist, a rare diplomatic breakthrough between Tehran and Washington after months of tensions. The trade on the tarmac of a Swiss airport saw Iranian officials hand over Chinese-American graduate student Xiyue Wang for scientist Massoud Soleimani, who had faced a federal trial in Georgia over charges he violated sanctions by trying to have biological material brought to Iran. The swap, however, had clear limits. Crushing U.S. sanctions on Iran blocking it from selling crude oil abroad remain in place, part of President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure campaign imposed following his unilateral withdraw from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers last year. Those sanctions in part fueled the anger seen in nationwide protests last month that Iranian security forces violently put down, unrest that reportedly killed over 200 people.”

CBC News: Iran Protests 'A Prelude To Collapse Of Regime': Nobel Laureate Predicts

“The newest wave of unrest that has seized Iran in recent weeks has sparked an exceptionally brutal response that left thousands of victims in its wake. At least 208 people have been killed and 7,000 arrested in protests since mid-November, according to UN human rights monitors and the latest estimates are likely far below the real numbers. The Trump administration believes as many as 1,000 have been killed in the ruthless crackdown. In a year when Iran celebrated the 40th anniversary of the revolution that ushered in the Islamic regime, some activists believe it is on the verge of another revolutionary moment. The evidence, says Nobel Prize-winning human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, is in the scale of the protests and the subsequent crackdown — as well as the identity of the protesters themselves. Unlike previous episodes of unrest, this time the protests have spread throughout Iran — some 100 cities in 28 of Iran's 31 provinces. And while the initial spark was a sudden hike in the price of petrol, the unmistakable target of the protesters' wrath is the Islamic regime itself. Crucially, the protests have swept up less advantaged, low-income people, among whom support for the Islamic regime has traditionally been strong. Protesters see the Iranian regime as corrupt, said Ebadi, and too concerned about foreign and regional issues when ordinary people at home are suffering unprecedented levels of poverty.”

Iraq

Reuters: Rocket Hits Iraqi Cleric's Home Following Deadly Baghdad Attack

“A rocket fired from a drone targeted the home of populist Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Saturday, lawmakers from his Saeroon party said, following one of the capital’s bloodiest nights in recent weeks. The drone attack, which caused little damage and left no casualties, followed a deadly attack by armed men near Baghdad’s main protest site on Friday night, which left at least 23 dead, police and medical sources said. Nearly 130 others were wounded by gunfire and stabbings targeting anti-government protesters at the Sinak bridge near Tahrir Square, the sources said. The death toll includes three members of the police. Thousands of Iraqis have occupied the central square and three nearby bridges which lead to the city’s Green Zone, Iraq’s political center, for more than two months, calling for a complete uprooting of the political system. Friday and Saturday’s attacks came days after Iraq’s prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, said he would resign. Sadr, a mercurial figure who has supported the protests but not thrown his full weight behind them, was in Iran at the time of the drone attack on his home in the southern holy city of Najaf, a source in his office said. However, a spokesman for his party said the incidents were aimed at pressuring both protesters and political leaders to accept whichever candidate is nominated for the premiership by the ruling elite.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Iraq Authorities Launch Military Operation Against ISIS In 4 Provinces

“Iraq launched the second phase of Will of Victory operation against ISIS in four different governorates, including Salaheddine, Kirkuk, Samarra and Diyala, announced spokesperson Joint Operations Command spokesman Major General Tahsin al-Khafaji. Khafaji said the operation will be completed within its specified time and achieve all of its goals, warning that ISIS plans to target the ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Iraq. He revealed that preliminary investigations with ISIS’ second in command, Hamid Shaker, known as Abu Khaldoun, uncovered that the organization plans to carry out terrorist operations in Baghdad, taking advantage of the security forces' preoccupation with the demonstrators. He added that on the first day of the Will of Victory operation, security forces destroyed 11 hideouts and three tunnels in Salaheddine and seized 50 kilograms of urea and 23 explosive devices. In Kirkuk, they searched 45 villages and destroyed four tunnels and two terrorist hideouts and arrested two terrorists. Security expert Fadel Abu Ragheef told Asharq Al-Awsat that it is possible for ISIS to carry out attacks against protesters, taking advantage of the conditions the country is going through.”

Xinhua: Death Toll Rises To 23 In Gunmen Attack On Demonstrators In Iraq's Capital

“Up to 23 people were killed, and 137 others wounded in Friday's attack on protesters in Iraq's capital Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said Saturday. “The final toll of the attack by unidentified gunmen on demonstrators on Friday evening is 23 killed and some 137 others wounded,” the official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity. On Friday evening, dozens of unidentified gunmen, in four-wheel drive and pick-up vehicles, broke into the al-Khalani Square in central Baghdad and opened fire with assault rifles on demonstrators. The attack pushed many of the protesters to take cover in buildings and mosques at the scene, or flee for their lives to nearby al-Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protest movement. Hundreds of anti-government protesters are occupying part of al-Jumhouriyah and al-Rashid Streets on the east side of Tigris River, as well as seizing the nearby bridges of al-Jumhouriyah, al-Sinak and al-Ahrar, which all lead to the heavily fortified Green Zone on the other side of Tigris River. In a statement by his office, Iraqi President Barham Salih described the attack on the protesters as “criminal attack” and called on the authorities to “prevent and criminalize” any armed and violent reaction to the peaceful demonstrators.”

Kurdistan 24: ISIS Attack Kills 5 Militiamen In Kirkuk As Iraqi PM Orders Anti-Terror Operations

“Islamic State gunmen attacked a Hashd al-Shaabi unit in the disputed province of Kirkuk amid a general uptick in terrorist attacks in the region. In response, Prime Minister of Iraq’s caretaker government, Adil Abdul Mahdi, has ordered an anti-ISIS operation in three provinces. The latest incident reportedly occurred Saturday morning in the Danadish area of Kirkuk’s Hawija district. Islamic State militants took advantage of adverse weather conditions and attacked a unit of the 56th Brigades of the Shia-majority militias, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). “The attack resulted in deaths of two Hashd al-Shaabi members, and wounded three others,” a source told Shafaaq news. Just a day earlier, an explosion rocked the city of Kirkuk, targeting a police car, killing at least one officer. The province, which is part of disputed territories between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq, has witnessed a series of attacks since last week. Multiple Islamic State attacks have occurred in the northern parts of Diyala province as well, on both the KRG-controlled and Iraqi sides. The Peshmerga forces deployed reinforcements to the area to bolster defenses against further assaults.”

Turkey

Reuters: Turkey Says It Has Deported 11 French Terrorist Suspects

“Turkey said on Monday it had deported 11 French nationals back to France as part of a program to extradite what it says are foreign terrorist fighters. Turkey’s Interior Ministry, which made the announcement, gave no details. France’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment, but diplomatic sources said the 11 included four women and seven children. Turkey is holding hundreds of Islamic State suspects and last month launched a program to repatriate detainees that has caused friction with its NATO allies. Ankara has accused European countries of being too slow to take back citizens who traveled to the Middle East to fight. Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said in November that Ankara would repatriate most detainees with suspected links to Islamic State by the end of this year. The move is forcing European governments to decide how to handle the return of radicalized militants, including those with battlefield experience. Paris signed an agreement with Ankara five years ago for French nationals arrested by Turkish authorities to be deported in coordination with the French authorities. Turkey has expelled almost 300 French nationals since then, French officials say. France’s Center for Analysis of Terrorism said one of the newly deported women was Amandine Le Coz, who had been married to a Moroccan militant killed in Syria. She joined Islamic State with her husband in 2014.”

Afghanistan

CNN: Taliban Says It Has Resumed Peace Talks With The US

“The United States and the Taliban have resumed peace talks in the Qatari capital of Doha, a Taliban spokesman tweeted on Saturday. “On Saturday talks between the Taliban and US started from where they stopped,” Suhail Shaheen said, adding that Anas Haqqani, a former Taliban prisoner who was released in a swap last month, participated in Saturday's talks as a negotiation member. The announcement comes more than a week after President Donald Trump made a surprise Thanksgiving visit to US troops in Afghanistan and said talks had restarted. He told troops at the time that “the Taliban wants to make a deal. We'll see if they want to make a deal. It's got to be a real deal, but we'll see. But they want to make a deal.” During the trip Trump also held a bilateral meeting with the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani. Following that meeting, Ghani tweeted that “both sides underscored that if the Taliban are sincere in their commitment to reaching a peace deal, they must accept a ceasefire. We also emphasized that for any peace to last, terrorist safe havens outside Afghanistan must be dismantled.” CNN has reached out to the State Department for reaction. In September, Trump announced an end to formal talks after a Taliban-claimed attack in Kabul killed a dozen people, including an American soldier.”

Xinhua: 10 Killed In Clashes In N. Afghan Provinces

“Ten people, including an Afghan Special Forces' commander, were killed in clashes in two northern Afghan provinces on Saturday night, authorities said Sunday. In one incident, Mohammad Khan Ahmadi, commander of Special Operations Forces of northern Faryab province, and two of his colleagues were killed after militants ambushed his vehicle in Sholgara district of northern Balkh province, district chief Harif Iqbal told Xinhua. Ahmadi was travelling from Faryab to attend his father's funeral in Balkh, the official said, adding two of Ahmadi's relatives were kidnapped by militants following the attack. In neighboring Baghlan province, three Afghan National Police personnel and four pro-government local militia fighters were killed after Taliban militants stormed joint security checkpoints in Baghlan-e-Markazi district, the district chief Khanzada Mazlumyar told Xinhua. Fighting rages across Afghanistan as Taliban militants have been attempting to take territory and consolidate their positions ahead of the winter in the mountainous country. The die-hard militants, who ruled the country before being ousted in late 2001, renewed armed insurgency, killing government troops as well as civilians.”

Yemen

The National: ISIS Claims Killing Of Security Commander In Yemen

“ISIS has claimed responsibility for the killing of a paramilitary security officer in Aden on Saturday. Captain Mohammed Saleh Al Radfani, 30, a security commander from the Security Belt Forces, the elite wing of the Southern Transitional Council, was killed in Aden on Saturday afternoon. A security source told The National that gun-men wearing masks shot at Al Radfani while he was in his car near his home in the Army Buildings neighbourhood in Al Mansoura district. He had been about to drive his sister back to her home at the time. ISIS circulated pictures of the assassination operation on Twitter, claiming responsibility for the assassination. It followed a series of similar terror actions targeting security officers and military commanders in the port city in recent weeks. On Friday evening, Colonel Musfer Al Harithi, a commander in Yemen's Ministry of Defence, survived an attempt on his life by unknown gun-men riding motorcycles when they shot over his car while he was driving home. On Sunday, gunmen also targeted the director of the criminal detection unit, Major Salah Hojairi, who also survived. Attacks on officials have increasingly ramped up in the port city of Aden since the return of the Yemen government to the city, which is recognised as a seat for the internationally recognised government.”

Lebanon

The Arab Weekly: Hezbollah Is Seeking Foreign Help To Protect Its Power

“More than six weeks since the start of the Lebanese uprising, the entrenched power in control of Lebanon seems to have only one option left to reproduce itself — seek foreign help and bring in influential regional and international powers. The option does not exist to appeal to the Lebanese people, who have been exposing the corruption and fragility of the authority in the country by insisting on an independent interim government to prepare for an early parliamentary election. The power referred to is represented by the triangle headed by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and parliament Speaker Nabih Berri holding the base angles. The absence of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri from the power triangle does not exonerate him from having been part of it. However, that Hariri, along with Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and Christian leader Samir Geagea, are out of the decision-making equation, which remains firmly in the hands of the power trio mentioned above, if not in the hands of Nasrallah alone. The strength of the uprising lies in various factors. It is genuinely Lebanese with an unprecedented demographic and geographical spread. It has enough vitality to create new forms of resistance to the authorities.”

Middle East

The New York Times: The Children Of ISIS Don’t Belong In Cages, Either

“Children peer out from behind the bars into the light, scarred by intense trauma and uncertain of their future, terrified both of their prison and the outside world. The images and stories of these youngsters, robbed of their childhood by the extreme violence of life under the Islamic State, are harrowing. Many are unaccompanied, the large majority are under 12. They now find themselves abandoned in appalling conditions in rudimentary camps in Syria. Governments have to do better: This is not the way to treat children who are also victims of terrorism. Nor is it effective counterterrorism policy. Tens of thousands of men, women and children with an alleged connection to the Islamic State are currently held in camps in northeastern Syria.”

Egypt

The Washington Post: Egyptian Officials Say Policeman, Militant Killed In Sinai

“Egyptian officials say a militant attack has killed a police conscript in the restive northern part of the Sinai Peninsula. The officials say that the militants attacked a police checkpoint in the town of Rafah early on Sunday, wounding another two conscripts who were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Authorities say that security forces killed one militant and wounded others in clashes that followed the assault. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to talk to reporters. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, which bore the hallmarks of an Islamic State group affiliate based in northern Sinai. Egypt is battling an Islamic State-led insurgency in the Sinai that intensified after the military overthrew an Islamist president in 2013.”

Egypt Today: FM: Terrorism Poses Major Threat To Peace, Stability, Development

“Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that terrorism poses a major threat to peace, stability and development efforts, which requires taking collective and resolute action to counter all terrorist groups and hold accountable all those who provide support and safe haven to them. The top Egyptian diplomat underlined the necessity of targeting all organizations that adopt the extremist thought and use religion as a cover for their own political goals, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Boko Haram and Al Shabab, along with Daesh and al Qaeda. Shoukry's remarks came during his participation in a special session held on the sidelines of the Rome Mediterranean Dialogues (MED 2019) conference in Italy to review Egypt's view on the situation in the Middle East, Spokesman for the Foreign Ministry Ahmed Hafez said. Shoukry also shed light on the important and vital role played by Egypt to strengthen regional security and stability, as well as its endeavors to settle armed conflicts, the spokesman added. With regard to mounting challenges in the Mediterranean region, Shoukry asserted the importance of reaching comprehensive political settlements to regional crises as a prerequisite for any serious endeavor towards peace and stability.”

Nigeria

Punch: Boko Haram: Troops Rescue 31 Women, Children In Borno

“The Nigerian Army has said that its troops have rescued 31 persons comprising 14 women and 17 children at Mantari, Malam Masari and Gabchari villages in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State. Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, stated this in a statement on Monday in Abuja. Iliyasu said that the successful ambush operation conducted by the troops of 21 Special Armoured Brigade on December 4 at Darel Jamel, Bama LGA of Borno led to the rescue. He added that the troops killed a number of Boko Haram terrorists while several others escaped with gunshot wounds during the encounter. According to him, the combined troops of 68/94 Battalions of Operation LAFIYA DOLE also uncovered a Boko Haram enclave at Malam Fatori in Abadam LGA. He added that the troops engaged the terrorists at the enclave.”

Africa

Free Malaysia Today: Islamists Decapitate 3 Cameroon Villagers

“Security forces have found the decapitated bodies of three villagers kidnapped in northern Cameroon by Boko Haram Islamists, local government officials said Sunday. The three men had been snatched on Friday, along with a woman who remains missing, from the village of Tolkomari some 10km from the border with Nigeria’s Borno state, a longtime stronghold of Boko Haram. “The remains of three men, decapitated … were found Saturday in the bush near (Tolkomari),” one high-ranking official told AFP, requesting anonymity and blaming the atrocity on Boko Haram. The Nigeria-based Islamist group has stepped up deadly attacks and kidnappings in the Lake Chad region where northern Cameroon converges with Nigeria, Niger and Chad. The bodies were found during an operation against Boko Haram by the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) comprising troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin, the official said. “Villagers who suffer regular attacks by Boko Haram and are more familiar with the area” where the group operates helped the MNJTF in the search, he said.”

The Wall Street Journal: New Sudan Leader Moves To Settle With Families Of Terror Victims

“Sudan is weeks away from reaching a settlement with families of those killed in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, one of the last steps in getting the African country removed from the U.S. list of state sponsorsof terrorism, new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said in an interview. Mr. Hamdok was in Washington this week to attempt to persuade the Trump administration and government agencies that Sudan has turned over a new leaf after a revolution ousted dictator Omar al-Bashir earlier this year. Removing Sudan from the U.S. terrorism list after 25 years would recalibrate geopolitics in a strategically volatile region of northeastern Africa perched on waterways that carry 10% of the world’s seaborne trade. In addition to reaching a settlement with families of the victims in Kenya and Tanzania, Mr. Hamdok said his government is pursuing a deal with those injured in 2000 in the bombing of the USS Cole, a guided-missile destroyer. In both cases, Sudan is accused of providing material support to al Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the attacks. Lawyers representing the victims didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The embassy attacks killed 224 people in Kenya and Tanzania, including 12 Americans, while the USS Cole bombing killed 17 sailors and wounded 40 others.”

North Korea

CNN: Trump Warns Kim Could Lose 'Special Relationship' After North Korea Claims 'Important' Test At Missile Site

“President Donald Trump warned Sunday that North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un could "void" their "special relationship" amid reports that the hermit nation conducted an "important" test at a missile site. "Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way," Trump wrote in a pair of tweets. "He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States..." The warning from Trump, whose at-times rocky relationship with Kim has been a hallmark of his presidency, comes as a senior administration official tells CNN that the White House has "seen the reports of a test, and are coordinating closely with allies and partners." On Saturday, the Korean Central News Agency reported that a "very important test took place at the Sohae Satellite launching Ground" that day.”

South America

The Times Of Israel: Visiting Israel, Guatemala’s Incoming President Vows To Outlaw Hezbollah

“Guatemala is going to formally recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, the Central American country’s president-elect announced this week during his first-ever visit to Israel. Alejandro Giammattei also said that he not only intends to keep the Guatemalan embassy in Jerusalem, but that he will urge other nations to transfer their Israel embassies to the city as well. Giammattei, who won the June presidential election but will only be inaugurated next month, updated President Reuven Rivlin and Foreign Minister Israel Katz about his planned move to outlaw Hezbollah. “The decision will take effect as soon as I take office, as part of the security cooperation with Israel, and will include all aspects of Hezbollah, including the economic one,” he told the Israel Hayom daily in an interview published Monday. After their meeting, Katz said in a tweet that he was “happy” about the incoming Guatemalan leader’s promise to outlaw Hezbollah. Some governments only recognize the Lebanese group’s military wing as a terrorist organization, maintaining ties to its political branch.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Public Counter-Terror Training Course Launched By Police

“Free online training for the public on how to react to a terrorism incident is being made available by police. The course devised by UK counter-terrorism officers and experts was previously only open to company staff working in crowded places such as shopping centres. Counter Terrorism Policing is inviting people to take the course and become so-called CT Citizens. Police said the move was not in response to the London Bridge attack But the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) said the 29 November incident, which left two people dead, was a “stark reminder” of the “ongoing threat and the need for vigilance”. Called ACT Awareness, the training comprises seven modules and takes 45 minutes to complete. Users are asked give details including an email and home address in order to register for the course. Registration can then take up to seven days to complete, according to the website. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Lucy D'Orsi, senior national co-ordinator for protective security at the NPCC, said the course was especially useful for anyone working in or regularly visiting crowded places. “The threat level remains at substantial, meaning an attack is likely, so giving everyone the chance to be extra eyes and ears for police and local security teams helps to keep all communities safe,” she said.”

New York Post: ‘ISIS Bride’ Shamima Begum’s UK Return Bid Undercut By Court Ruling

“ISIS bride” Shamima Begum’s bid to return home to the United Kingdom may have been dealt a serious blow by a recent ruling in a similar British court case, a report said Sunday. Following a lengthy legal battle, the UK’s High Court has affirmed that the country was allowed to revoke the citizenship of two Bangladeshi-British men over suspected terror ties, despite arguments that the move would leave the men stateless, according to the Daily Mail. The ruling could have repercussions for Begum, whose British citizenship was yanked earlier this year after she fled the UK at age 15 with two other girls in 2015 to join ISIS fighters in Syria. In February, Begum — who was nine months pregnant at the time — said she’d had enough of ISIS and wanted to return home for the sake of her unborn son, who has since died. Like her two fellow Bangladeshi-Brits — identified in court documents only as E3 and N3 — Begum petitioned the UK’s Special Immigration Appeals Commission last month to have her citizenship restored, according to the Daily Mail. SIAC initially sided with E3 and N3, but the High Court ruled that they can in fact claim citizenship in Bangladesh, meaning they would not be left stateless if barred from Britain.”

The Guardian: British Isis Captives ‘Could Be Handed Over To Assad’

“Fears are growing that the Foreign Office has paved the way for British Islamic State captives held in Syria to be handed over to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which is accused of war crimes including mass torture and executions. Human rights groups argue that, as they face pressure to repatriate Britons detainedin Syria, ministers’ inaction may result in the transfer of UK nationals to Assad’s forces. The legal charity Reprieve says that differing statements from the Foreign Office indicate that the government has diluted its previous opposition to British nationals being prosecuted in Assad-controlled Syria. In April, parliament was told by the then Foreign Office minister Mark Field that, “given the regime’s appalling human rights record, we would not view prosecution by the Assad regime as an appropriate means of justice”. However, the Foreign Office recently appeared to offer a changed stance when asked what steps were being taken to stop Britons being transferred to Assad forces. Andrew Murrison, the current minister of state with responsibility for the Middle East , said the UK would work not only with international agencies but also “partners in the region who can assist in establishing an appropriate pathway to justice within their territory or legal systems.”

The Guardian: London Bridge Attack Follows ‘Dumbing Down’ Of Freed Terrorist Scheme – Expert

“The architect of the government programme for moving convicted terrorists from prison into the community believes the current system lacks the “legitimacy and credibility” required to rehabilitate extremists safely. Simon Cornwall, who set up the probation service’s central extremism unit, said that as a result of “a dumbing down of how things are done”, the current approach was missing the safeguarding and human relationships required to modify behaviour and reduce risk. His intervention follows the attack at London Bridge by convicted terrorist Usman Khan, who was out on licence from prison when he killed Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, and injured three others during a meeting of the Cambridge University rehabilitation initiative Learning Together on 29 November. Cornwall, who worked with a number of the nine-strong terror group – including Khan – which was jailed for plotting to bomb the London Stock Exchange in 2010, said: “There’s been a breakdown in the system, a dumbing down of how things are done. “The criminal justice system has become very insular, moving away from partnerships with community groups who can form crucial relationships with offenders to a really securitised view. It has lost the legitimacy and credibility it had before,” he said.”

Sky News: Terror Arrests: Pair Held In Dover On Suspicion Of Offences Linked To Syria

“A man and a woman have been arrested in Dover on suspicion of terror offences relating to Syria, police have said. In a statement, West Midlands Police said the pair were detained on Saturday and are being questioned by officers in the region. The arrests are not being linked to the London Bridge terror attack. The force said: “A 32-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman were arrested in Dover. “The man was arrested on suspicion of preparing to commit terrorism offences and funding/supporting terrorism. “The woman was arrested on suspicion of preparing to commit terrorism offences. “The arrests were carried out by West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit detectives and the two are being questioned at a police station in the West Midlands. “The arrests are not linked in any way to the London Bridge terror attack and enquiries into this matter were under way prior to the incident on 29 November.”

Germany

Deutsche Welle: Germany Deported More Than 90 'Potential Terrorists'

“Germany has deported 90 “Gefährder” and other “relevant persons” since the 2016 attack on a Berlin Christmas market, according to German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, which cited a government response to a parliamentary inquiry on Friday. In Germany a “Gefährder” (lit. “endangerer”) is someone who could pose a threat to public safety as certain “facts justify the assumption that he or she may commit a severe crime.” Such individuals are often identified by German intelligence authorities as potential terror suspects and a threat to public safety. In response to the inquiry by the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP), officials said that 40% of the people deported were from Syria, while others held Iraqi, Turkish or Russian citizenship. The federal government currently has 225 “suspects” under examination by authorities, who may face deportation or other legal consequences. In February 2018, at the request of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, the federal government reported that there were 745 people in Germany who could be potential terrorists connected to the “Islamic State” group."

Voice Of America: No Place For Right-Wing Extremists In Ranks, German Army Says

“As reports about the threat of far-right recruitment among Europe's law enforcement and military grow, German armed forces, or Bundeswehr, told VOA that they are working to keep far-right extremists away from their units or to remove them once they have been identified. A spokesperson for the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) told VOA the military was expanding its cooperation with German security authorities and international partners to analyze links and connections of suspected right-wing extremists to try to expose them. “There is no place whatsoever for extremists in any form, but especially right-wing extremists, in the Bundeswehr with its over 250,000 members,” the MAD spokesman, who did not wish to be named, said. He said the military has taken several approaches to prevent infiltration by far-right extremists, including carrying out 16,000 security checks annually for all its applicants. “We also take other preventive measures, aiming to encourage an improved reporting culture within the units through advisories, talks and our own publications,” the spokesperson added. German media Sunday reported that the Bundeswehr had suspended an officer of its elite special forces, or Kommando Spezialkräfte, who had ties to right-wing elements.”

Europe

Voice Of America: Russian Blogger Given Suspended Sentence For 'Inciting Online Extremism'

“A court in Moscow has handed popular blogger Yegor Zhukov a three-year suspended sentence after finding him guilty of inciting extremism online in a case condemned as politically motivated. The Kuntsevo district court announced the verdict Friday as hundreds of supporters of Zhukov, 21, a student at Moscow's prestigious Higher School of Economics, gathered outside the court building in western Moscow. “The court has established that Zhukov made public calls for extremist activity using the internet,” Judge Svetlana Ukhnaleva said. Zhukov was arrested in August amid protests that gripped Moscow for weeks this past summer as Russians vented against the country's repressive political system. “Of course, this is not an ultimate victory. A big thank you to everyone,” Zhukov said after the verdict was announced. In his final court appearance, on Wednesday, Zhukov made an impassioned appeal to his supporters — and offered an indictment of Russia's political system. Russia's current political system has fostered economic inequality that, Zhukov said, destroys any opportunity for human prosperity, with the top 10 percent holding 90 percent of the country's wealth. “Among them, of course, there are very honorable citizens.”

Canada

Asharq Al-Awsat: Canadian Charged With Terror Offenses Over ISIS Activities

“A Canadian man who was arrested in Turkey near its border with Syria, allegedly with propaganda videos from ISIS on his cell phone, was charged on Friday with terrorism offenses. Ikar Mao, 22, of Guelph, Ontario, a city 100 km west of Toronto, is accused of participating in the activities of a terrorist group, and faces a separate charge of leaving Canada to do so. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The man was arrested on July 11 along with his wife and the pair were eventually repatriated. Both deny wanting to join the ISIS. According to public broadcaster CBC, a Turkish court heard evidence about the ISIS materials allegedly uncovered in Mao's phone, and that the couple left a letter for their families saying they planned to join ISIS. The newlyweds returned to Canada on October 19 after three months in Turkish custody. At that time, Mao agreed to a curfew, electronic monitoring and curbs on his Internet access -- at the behest of federal police. The new charges lodged against him come after a national security investigation conducted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. According to the latest government data, four other Canadians have been successfully prosecuted for leaving or attempting to leave the country to join terrorist groups, out of 60 returnees.”
__________________
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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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