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Arrow Eye on Extremism October 23, 2018

Eye on Extremism October 23, 2018

Eye on Extremism - October 23, 2018

CNN: US-Led Coalition Says It Struck Two ISIS 'Command Centers' Inside Mosques

“The US-led coalition fighting ISIS conducted two strikes against two ISIS "command centers" that were operating inside mosques in Syria in less than a week, the coalition said in a statement. The coalition said that 12 ISIS fighters were killed in the first strike, which took place October 18 in as-Susah, Syria. "The facility was a mosque, which the law of war protects from targeting unless it is used for a military purpose," the coalition said, adding that ISIS "repeatedly planned and actively coordinated attacks" on coalition troops and their local Syrian allies from that location. The second strike took place on Monday. That strike "destroyed several buildings" used by ISIS to launch attacks against Syrian Democratic Force partners in As Susah, Syria. "They're nasty, they're brutal, they're unethical and they certainly have no problem at all putting civilians at risk and jeopardizing the status of protected targets," Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning told reporters Monday when asked about ISIS' use of mosques as military facilities. "Such Daesh misuse of the mosque is another example of their violation of the law of war and made the mosque a valid military target," the coalition said, using an Arabic term for the terror group.”

Jerusalem Post:

Car Bombing South Of Mosul Breaks Post-ISIS Calm

“A bombing rocked a market area in the town of Qayyara, south of Mosul. Initial reports listed dozens killed and wounded. Images from the scene showed destroyed and burned cars and people fleeing burning debris. Mosul was liberated from Islamic State in July 2017 and has been free from major terrorist attacks in the last year. Qayyarah, where the bombing took place was liberated in August of 2016 and has been mostly peaceful for the last two years. However Iraqi security forces have been discovering ISIS members and arms caches left behind by ISIS in the last six months. The Iraqi Federal police and counter-terror units have carried out a number of operations south of Mosul, in some cases clashing with ISIS members in the desert. According to Baxtiyar Goran, from the nearby Kurdistan region, the car bomb struck the Qiyyara sub-district south of Mosul and killed 6 people, injuring 40. David Witty who follows Iraqi security issues wrote that blood donations were needed. The last attack near Mosul was on October 17 when an improvised explosive device (IED) killed the director of a local water utility on the road from Qayyara to Shirqat. The roads south of Qayyara near Hawija and elsewhere in Salah-a-Din province an neighboring Kirkuk and Diyala have been plagued by hit-and-run ISIS attacks and insecurity. However large car bombings have been rare.”

The Washington Post:

Tiny U.S. Base Assumes Outsize Role In Trump’s Syria Strategy

“To understand how the United States is countering Iran’s expansion across the Middle East, consider the outpost at Tanf. This tiny garrison, a jumble of dirt-filled blast barriers and tents surrounded by the immense desert of southern Syria, was established to roll back the Islamic State’s once-vast domain. But its strategic position along a highway linking the Syrian regime in Damascus to its backers in Tehran has made the base an unintended bulwark against Iranian influence in Syria and, now, a potential locus in White House plans to confront Iran’s reach across the region. President Trump has vowed to make countering Iran’s support for allies and proxies across the region, from Lebanon to Yemen to Syria, a centerpiece of his Middle East strategy. Already he has slapped new economic sanctions on Iranian affiliates and pulled out of his predecessor’s nuclear deal. Officials now say the United States will commit to remaining in Syria until Iranian forces depart, vowing to force an end to Tehran’s program of massive military and financial support that has helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reverse the course of the war. Gen. Joseph Votel, who leads U.S. Central Command, described Tanf as a key element in the continuing military mission to extinguish the Islamic State and ensure the group cannot stage a comeback."

The Independent:

Extremists Attempt To Consolidate Power In Northern Syria With Wave Of Arrests During Ceasefire

“A powerful Syrian rebel group has been accused of taking advantage of an internationally brokered ceasefire in the north of the country to carry out a wave of arrests against civilians. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an extremist group that controls roughly two-thirds of Idlib province and counts former al-Qaeda-linked fighters in its ranks, has arrested 184 people since the beginning of September, according to a war monitor. Among those targeted were activists who had criticised the group, as well as preachers and aid workers, said the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria, said the group had also killed five civilians in raids and by opening fire on demonstrations against it. “We recorded a significant escalation of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham violations in north Syria, where the group has raided a number of villages and arrested dozens of individuals, including local activists, relief workers and mosque preachers,” the observatory said in a 10-page report. The crackdown began just two weeks before Russia and Turkey reached a ceasefire agreement that was widely credited with preventing a devastating Syrian government offensive against the last opposition-held part of Syria. Turkey, which backs a number of rebel groups in Idlib, engaged in weeks of intensive diplomacy to prevent the long-threatened assault, fearing it would send another wave of refugees to its border.”

Middle East Monitor:

Qatar Denies Reports Iran Transporting Arms To Lebanon Via Doha

“The Qatari government has denied rumours that a cargo plane carrying weapons from Iran landed in Doha before heading to Beirut, according to an official statement issued by the Qatari Ministry of Transport and Communications yesterday. “Qatar’s Ministry of Transport and Communications is aware of the surprising news being reported in some media outlets, which claims that arms shipments have passed through Doha from Tehran in a cargo aircraft that landed at Hamad International Airport and then left for the Lebanese capital Beirut,” the ministry’s statement read. “This story is completely baseless. After reviewing the records and comparing them to the stories being reported, it was confirmed beyond doubt that this story is incorrect and not based on any facts.” The ministry also stressed that it “condemns the false allegations that Qatar facilitates the transfer of arms.”

The Guardian:

Facebook And Google Are Run By Today's Robber Barons. Break Them Up

“You hear a lot today about artificial intelligence and ethics, and for good reason. As algorithms get smarter, they are increasingly making decisions that affect people’s lives. We need to be careful these algorithms are fair and transparent – but it’s not only the algorithms that are concerning. If Tom Wolfe were still alive, he might be turning his critical pen towards people like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or the Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick, playfully describing the disruption that their companies bring to our lives on a daily basis. Just as Wolfe’s novel The Bonfire of the Vanities focused on the financiers whose greed defined the economy of the 1980s, the writer might today focus on the behaviour of these entrepreneurs whose technological innovations are overthrowing the old economy, creating entirely new digital marketplaces. And rather than the greed of the 1980s, ethics might be the focus of Wolfe’s attention. Not the ethics of the algorithms running these businesses, for algorithms don’t have ethics. Even smart algorithms don’t have ethics.”

United States
The Wall Street Journal:

Bolton Says U.S. Plans Talks With Allies Before Leaving Russian Nuclear Pact

“The U.S. is serious about pulling out of a landmark nuclear agreement with Russia, but further discussions are planned before formal notice of the decision would be given to Moscow, national-security adviser John Bolton told The Wall Street Journal. President Trump announced the prospective exit from the agreement during a rally in Nevada on Saturday. He reiterated his stance in comments to reporters at the White House on Monday, saying the U.S. would build up its overall nuclear arsenal, if necessary, aiming unusually tough language at Russia. “We’ll build it up until they come to their senses,” Mr. Trump said. “When they do, then we’ll all be smart and we’ll all stop and, by the way, not only stop [but] reduce, which I would love to do.” Asked if he meant to deliver a threat to Russia, Mr. Trump said: “It’s a threat to whoever you want,” adding, “It includes China, and it includes Russia and whoever wants to play that game. You can’t play that game on me.”

Associated Press:

The Top US General In The Mideast Visits Troops Fighting Islamic State In Syria

“The top U.S. commander for the Middle East made an unannounced visit Monday to a key military outpost in southern Syria, pressing the need for a continued U.S. presence there to root out remaining Islamic State fighters and serve as leverage against growing Iranian activity in the region. Striding through the rocky and dusty al-Tanf garrison, Army Gen. Joseph Votel said the outpost near the Iraq and Jordan borders still serves an important purpose even though U.S. and coalition troops have “largely eliminated” the Islamic State group from the area. But he said the overall mission has not shifted into a counter-Iran campaign. “We have a defeat ISIS mission,” said Votel, referring to the Islamic State group. “But I do recognize that our presence, our development of partners and relationships down here does have an indirect effect on some of the malign activities that Iran and their various proxies and surrogates would like to pursue down here.” An Associated Press reporter and journalists from two other media organizations accompanied Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, to the garrison. It was the first time that media members gained access to the garrison, which opened in 2015. For security reasons, his visit couldn't be disclosed until after he left the country. Votel's visit to the base underscored the dual role it plays because of its strategic location. There are 200 to 300 U.S. and coalition troops there to train and accompany local Syrian opposition forces on patrols to counter the ISIS group. The base is also located on a vital road linking Iranian-backed forces from Tehran all the way to southern Lebanon — and Israel’s doorstep.”

Voice Of America:

Coalition Targets Islamic State In 2nd Mosque In Less Than A Week

“The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group has targeted a second mosque in eastern Syria in less than a week, saying the normally protected religious building was used as an insurgent command and control center. Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Sean Robertson told VOA the strike Monday killed Islamic State fighters who "were actively firing on coalition partner forces from the mosque" in as-Sousa, near the border with Iraq. He said IS's use of protected buildings to shield their fighters from coalition strikes was an "ongoing pattern" seen in recent weeks. The mosque targeted Monday was 2.5 kilometers away from a mosque struck last week. The law of land warfare protects mosques, but the use of these buildings as a headquarters by IS caused them to lose that protected status, Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Robert Manning said Monday. "They are nasty, they are brutal, they are unethical, and they certainly have no problem at all putting civilians at risk," Manning said of the terror group. A coalition press release Monday said the mosque was deliberately struck during an attack on several buildings controlled by IS. It called the use of a mosque an act of "desperation." The U.S. military said it had closely monitored the buildings targeted Monday and struck "when only their [IS] fighters were present." It is unclear whether any civilians were killed in the attack. Manning said the U.S. military would investigate any credible claims of civilian casualties. Syrian state media and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes in as-Sousa last week killed and wounded dozens, including civilians and IS fighters.”

Al Arabiya:

‘Muslim Brotherhood’ Is A Global Threat: US Expert

“Efforts continue in Washington D.C. to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization due to its global activities. Hillel Fradkin, Director of the Center on Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World at the Hudson Institute emphasized to Al Arabiya English that the Muslim Brotherhood is a global threat, "It is true that it operates on a global basis or as global as it can be. It has branches in various Muslim countries, especially Arab countries, but also other regional countries, and it has organizations that were founded by and directed by its members in other places like France, England, US, and so forth,” he said. The US expert highlighted that the Brotherhood founder, Egyptian, Hassan al Banna, was aiming to establish his organization outside Egypt as well, not for his personal ambitions, but to implement the agenda of the Brotherhood’s project. Fradkin who testified before the United States’ House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, last July, to consider the proposition that Washington should declare the Brotherhood a terrorist organization.”

NBC News: Inside The Remote U.S. Base In Syria Central To Combating ISIS And Countering Iran

“The roads are unpaved. Many of the buildings still standing are riddled with bullet holes. But this secretive U.S. base, located near Syria's eastern border with Jordan and visited by journalists for the first time Monday, is now seen as a crucial bulwark against Iran. The Al Tanf garrison was established to help local forces eliminate the Islamic State terror group. But with the Islamic State in decline and on the run, the base is now playing a crucial role in the American effort to diminish Iran's influence in the region. NBC News joined Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, on a trip to Al Tanf where he acknowledged the base's strategic importance in countering the sway of Iran. "We don't have a counter Iranian mission here. We have a defeat ISIS mission," Votel said Monday. "But I do recognize that our presence, our development of partners and relationships down here does have an indirect effect on some malign activities that Iran and their various proxies and surrogates would like to pursue down here.”


Voice Of America: Russian Air Defense Boost To Syria Seen Unlikely To Shield Iran’s Forces From Israel

“Israel is expressing confidence that it can pursue attacks on Iran’s forces in Syria even after Iranian partner Russia transferred an advanced air defense system to Syrian territory earlier this month. In a recent interview with VOA Persian in Jerusalem, Israeli Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren said Russia’s transfer of the S-300 system “will pose a challenge, but not an insurmountable challenge.” “Israel has been overcoming such challenges since the day of its creation in 1948,” Oren said. “We will overcome this one as well, if we are forced to do so.” Speaking separately to VOA Persian in Tel Aviv, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who is part of an 11-member Security Cabinet, reacted to the S-300 move by saying Israel will not allow Iran, its main regional rival, to build a stronghold in Syria, adjacent to Israeli territory.”

Daily Mail:

Jihadists In Syrian Kurdish Jails: What We Know

“Syria's Kurds are holding hundreds of alleged foreign fighters from the Islamic State group, but say they will not try them and have urged their home countries to repatriate them. Here is what we know: Hundreds in jail -Kurdish forces who have been fighting IS in Syria with backing from the US-led coalition say they hold around 900 of the organisation's foreign jihadists from 44 countries. The most infamous captives include Alexanda Amon Kotey and El Shafee el-Sheikh, two survivors of the IS kidnapping quartet dubbed "The Beatles" due to their British accents. The group was notorious for videotaping beheadings. Among the detained French jihadists is Adrien Guihal, who is said to have claimed a truck-ramming attack in the French city of Nice that killed 86 people in 2016.”

Al Arabiya:

Iran Intensifies Presence West Of The Euphrates River In Syria

“Iranian militias intensified their presence west of the Euphrates River in Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said, noting these militias’ presence in Abu Kamal and Mayadin east of Syria near the borders with Iraq. The observatory said these militias’ deployment is not only limited to the military aspect but it also includes other aspects for the purpose of evading regional and international monitoring. Iran and its militias in Syria, numbering thousands in several areas, aim to expand their presence to extend to social and commercial aspects. The Iranians’ deployment in east Syria has been concentrated in main areas in Mayadin. For instance, Afghan militias have established a kitchen that distributes meals to residents and the displaced people. A Sharia’h school in Mayadin has been turned into a center where Iranian and Shiite militias gather occasionally and hold sectarian conferences and seminars.”

The Washington Times:

Iranian Terrorists Lurk Abroad In Guise Of Diplomats, Dissidents Report

“A report from Iranian dissidents shows how the hard-line Islamic regime places terrorist operatives abroad under the cover of diplomacy. From Austria to Albania to Iraq, an expansionist Iran has turned embassies into terrorism planning sites to meddle in host governments and hunt down the opposition, according to the report by the National Council of Resistance of Iran. The coalition includes the activist chapter known as MEK, which operates far-flung spy networks in Iran. The report, “Iran Doubles Down on Terror and Turmoil,” presents a big-picture assessment of Iran’s foreign interventions in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, and its terrorism-sponsored plots in Europe. “The mullahs’ regime has funneled billions of dollars to finance its belligerent war agenda in the Middle East while the majority of Iran’s people are living in poverty,” the report states. “As the regime’s officials have conceded, if the regime fails to inflame wars outside Iran’s borders, it would have to fight for survival within Iran’s borders. This is because external conflicts draw attention away from domestic crises.”

The Express:

‘No More Hangings’ Iranian Opposition Party Holds London Protest Demanding End To


“Members and supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) held a demonstration outside Downing Street on Saturday in the hope of attracting the Prime Minister’s attention. According to the opposition party, in 2017, Iran executed over 500 people which accounted for nearly 60 percent of all executions in the region. Amnesty International says that of the over 500 executions, at least 31 of them were done so publicly. The opposition also claims that five juveniles were killed during the first half of 2018, with nearly 30 people being executed just last month alone. They also claim that over 70 people who supported the truck driver protests in Iran have been arrested and allegedly threatened with execution. During the demonstration, protestors called for the downfall of the current Iranian regime. They shouted: “Down with Rouhani! Down with Khamenei!”

Human Rights Watch:

For Iran’s Activists, Prison’s Just The Start

“Iranian officials, under international pressure and facing domestic unrest, have reacted by increasing their pressures on activists. It is unclear how many are behind bars, but Human Rights Watch has documented dozens of cases of people who have been sentenced or detained for merely exercising their freedom of expression by criticizing the government and engaging in peaceful activism. But sending activists to prison is just the start of their suffering in Iran, experience shows. Arash Sadeghi, 38, whom authorities have imprisoned repeatedly and harassed his family since 2009 is just the latest example of scores of activists who are being denied adequate medical care. In August 2015, branch 15 of Tehran’s revolutionary court sentenced Sadeghi to 15 years in prison on charges of "propaganda against the government," "defamation of the supreme leader," and "threatening national security." His wife, Gulrokh Iraei, was sentenced to six years for “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state.”

Voice Of America:

Iran-Backed Hezbollah Sanctioned By US Senate

“U.S. Senate has recently passed two bills sanctioning the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Once signed by U.S. President Donald Trump, the sanctions will target foreign nationals and companies that provide financial, material or technological support to Hezbollah and its affiliates in the region. The Lebanese militant group has footprints beyond Lebanon in places like Syria, but analysts believe that with increasing U.S. pressures, the militant group would be forced to reduce its military activities outside of Lebanon. "Hezbollah is clearly facing a number of financial pressures due to the war in Syria," said Phillip Smyth, a researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Since the outbreak of the Syrian war in 2011, Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to support the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.”

The Washington Times:

Israeli Defense Minister: U.S. Sanctions To Thwart Iran's Ability To Spread Terrorism

“Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Sunday he believes the harsh sanctions that Washington will impose on Tehran early next month will not stop the Islamic republic from building a nuclear bomb, but they will significantly hamper Iran’s ability to export terrorism. “Iran will not be able to fund terror,” which will negatively impact “Hezbollah, Hamas, proxies in Yemen and proxies in Iraq,” he said at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies. Since May, when President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 multilateral deal that eased global sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran’s suspect nuclear programs — Washington has worked to thwart the Islamic republic’s aggressive behavior across the Middle East by reimposing sanctions. A further round of even harsher penalties is set to start on Nov. 4 with the goal of crushing Iran’s ability to export oil. Under the sanctions, countries who buy Iranian oil will have their access to U.S. markets and financial institutions blocked. The Jerusalem Post reported that Mr. Liberman observed that “Iran made a political decision to eventually obtain a nuclear weapon and that sanctions alone could not force it to change its mind,” although he hoped they would pressure the regime internally.”


Anadolu Agency: Two PKK Terrorists 'Neutralized' In SE Turkey

“Turkish security forces "neutralized" two PKK terrorists in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa on Tuesday. Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured. Security sources, who asked not to be named due to security reasons, told Anadolu Agency that the PKK terrorists were neutralized during a counter-terror operation in the province's Ceylanpinar district near Turkey's border to Syria. The terrorists were spotted in an abandoned building in a rural area, the source added. In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children.”

The Globe Post:

Turkey Prosecutes 227 For Social Media Posts Within A Week

“Turkish Interior Ministry announced on Monday that 227 individuals have been prosecuted in relation to their social media posts, while a total of 956 suspects were detained on charges of “terrorism”, between October 15 and 22. According to the ministry’s statement, out of the 956 detainees, 667 were accused of being affiliated with FETO (Fethullahist Terrorist Organization), a term coined by the Turkish government to refer to the sympathizers of U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Others detained by police over the past week include 199 people accused of having links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), 71 claimed to be connected to the Islamic State (IS) group and 19 alleged members of radical leftist organizations. The detentions took place as part of 2,829 counter-terrorism operations. Social media prosecutions stemmed from messages of “terrorist propaganda”, “praising terrorist organizations”, “public admission of being affiliated with terrorist groups”, “inciting hatred and hostility”, “insulting government officials”, “opposing the unity of the state”, “threatening public safety” and “hate speech”. Prosecutors originally investigated owners of 250 social media accounts, while 227 were identified and subsequently indicted. Turkish police carried out other operations within the same week resulting in the apprehension of 4,954 in connection with drug-related crimes and smuggling, as well as 187 arrests on human trafficking charges. During the police raids, more than 300 thousand packs of smuggled cigarettes, a significant amount of drugs and over 48 thousand smuggled oil were confiscated.”

Agence France Presse:

NATO Soldier Killed In Taliban-Claimed Attack In Afghanistan

“A NATO soldier was killed and two others wounded in a Taliban-claimed attack in Afghanistan on Monday, days after a US general was wounded in a shooting on a high-level security meeting. NATO’s Resolute Support mission did not immediately release the nationalities of the three soldiers involved in the assault in the western province of Herat, but it is understood they are not American. “Initial reports indicate the attack was committed by a member of the Afghan security forces,” Resolute Support said in a statement. The apparent so-called “green-on-blue” attack was the latest in a series of such incidents in which Afghan forces have turned their weapons on international troops with whom they are working. It comes four days after a gunman wearing an Afghan security forces uniform opened fire on a gathering of security chiefs that included General Scott Miller — the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan — in the southern city of Kandahar. Miller was unhurt in the shooting inside the heavily fortified Kandahar provincial governor’s compound that killed three people, including powerful police chief and anti-Taliban strongman General Abdul Raziq. Resolute Support confirmed Monday that US Brigadier General Jeffrey Smiley was among 13 wounded in the Taliban-claimed shooting.”

Radio Free Europe:

Afghan Leaders Say Election Turnout Shows Voters Are Rejecting The Taliban

“Senior Afghan officials have praised voters who cast ballots in weekend parliamentary elections that were plagued by violence and organizational problems, saying the turnout shows that Afghans are rejecting the ideology of Taliban militants. "The Taliban wanted to build a stream of blood, but the Taliban was defeated and the Taliban’s thoughts and ideas were rejected," Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah told a cabinet meeting on October 22. Around 4 million out of 8.8 million registered voters in a country of more than 30 million cast their ballots over the two-day voting at more than 4,500 polling centers across the country, according to election authorities, despite deadly militant attacks in which dozens of people were killed and delays caused by technical and organizational problems. The Taliban had issued several warnings in the days leading up to the poll demanding the more than 2,500 candidates for the lower house of parliament withdraw from the race and for voters to stay home. Preliminary results of the parliamentary elections, which were seen as a key test of the government’s ability to provide security across the country, were expected to be released on November 10 at the earliest. Final results will likely be out sometime in December, an election commission spokesman has said. Originally scheduled for 2015, the vote was delayed for three years amid disputes over electoral reforms and because of the instability following NATO’s handover of security responsibilities to Afghan forces at the end of 2014.”

Business Standard:

Taliban Key Commander Among 21 Killed In Afghanistan

“Taliban key commander Mullah Mansoor, the military operational chief of the outfit, was among 21 armed insurgents who were killed in Afghanistan's Kunduz province in a crackdown, officials said on Monday. Army spokesman Ghulam Hazrat Karimi told Xinhua news agency that about 30 more militants were injured and the Taliban militants were expelled from several villages in Imam Sahib district over the past several hours. Meanwhile, Mahboubullah Sayedi, the Governor of Imam Sahib district said three security forces were killed and six others injured since the clash erupted in the district late on Sunday. However, according to villagers, four civilians were killed, including women and children and five others were injured due to the ongoing fighting in Imam Sahib district.”


Al Bawaba:

Pakistan Army 'Successfully' Ends Anti-Taliban Offensive In Swat Valley

"Today is our victory day and we proudly announced that now there is no presence of any terrorist hideouts in Swat as Pakistan military successfully defeated them and destroyed all their hideouts in Swat and other parts of Malakand region," Mehmood Khan, chief minister of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said. His remarks came during a ceremony to mark the end of the operations and handover of powers to civilian authorities after 11 years of military rule in the region. Swat valley, a tourist attraction located in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, used to be known as the "Switzerland of Pakistan.” The valley has been a stronghold for the Tehrik Taliban Pakistan -- Pakistani Taliban -- from 2007 to 2009. The Pakistani army deployed armed forces in Swat in 2007 to launch a large-scale operation against Taliban militants. The last deadly attack carried out by the Taliban in Swat valley was in January 2013 when 21 worshipers were killed and 70 others injured at a religious center. "Terrorists had destroyed our educational institutions, health facilities and killed thousands of innocent people in Swat, Dir, Bunir and other parts of the Malakand Division," Khan recalled. "Today complete peace has returned here." According to the provincial police chief, Salahuddin Mehsud, the provincial government has deployed over 20,000 police in the Swat valley to secure the region.”

The Times Of India:

Pakistan Releases Afghan Taliban’s Ex-Deputy Chief

“Pakistan has released Afghan Taliban’s former deputy chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar on the intervention of Qatar. Mullullah Baradar, one of the four top commanders who formed the Afghan Taliban in 1994, was captured by the Pakistani security agencies in 2010.”


PJ Media: Prosecution Gives Remarkable Glimpse Of Hezbollah Inside America -- And Media Yawns

“A purposefully ambiguous “association of western intelligence organizations” hosts a unique public website titled “Stop 910”. Whoever runs it solicits information -- in English, Spanish, and Arabic -- to out sleeper agents of the notorious external terrorism service of Hezbollah, known by the nom de guerre “Unit 910.” The “association” offers reward money, photos of suspected operatives it wants identified, and instructions on how to anonymously inform. The site’s stated purpose is “to end Hezbollah-perpetrated terror in Lebanon and abroad.” It’s mere presence hints at a desperate spy-versus-spy global intelligence war playing out between Iran and Israel and its allies. Not much was commonly known about contemporary Unit 910 operations inside the United States -- until now.”

Al Arabiya:

Chaotic Scenes In Sanaa As Houthi Factions Fight Each Other

“Renewed fighting broke out among Houthi militias in Sanaa leading to many casualties amid security chaos in the Yemeni capital and growing cases of assassinations among them. Sources also reported the spread of looting of shops and banks under the pretext of financing military operations. The chaotic security situation comes at the heels of the assassination of the son of security director of a directorate in the capital. Renewed clashes among Houthi militants resulted in deaths in their ranks while sources pointed out that the assistant Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Tribal Affairs of the Houthi, Safwan al-Habri, narrowlly escaped an armed ambush in a neighborhood south of Sanaa. Other members of the coup militias have also been assassinated due to feuds related to money and the refusal of the Houthi militias to pay the salaries of its employees. Local sources accuse the militia leaders of targeting money exchange companies and commercial shops in Sanaa under the pretext of financing military operations. However, the looting has been done to generate their own wealth.”

Saudi Arabia

The Straits Times: Indonesia, Saudi Arabia Pledge To Strengthen Economic, Counter-Terrorism Partnership

“Indonesia and Saudi Arabia pledged to strengthen their economic partnership and step up cooperation in counter-terrorism during a meeting over-shadowed by the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi. His death was the first topic tackled by the foreign ministers of both countries at a briefing after the joint commission meeting on Tuesday (Oct 23), with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir saying that investigations into the incident would be thorough. Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi said: "We understand that this meeting comes amid a situation that has grabbed everyone's attention, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Because of that, in the meeting I conveyed Indonesia's position on the case." President Joko Widodo expressed Indonesia's concern over the killing during his meeting with Mr al-Jubeir on Monday, adding that it hopes the investigations would be carried out transparently and thoroughly - a call Ms Retno repeated at the briefing.”


Saudi Coalition Destroys 2 Ballistic Missiles Of Houthis Over Yemen’s Hodeidah

“Air defenses of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition destroyed two ballistic missiles fired by the Houthi rebels at the Red Sea coastal city of Hodeidah, a Yemeni government official told Xinhua Saturday. The Houthi rebels targeted the government-controlled areas in Durayhmi of Hodeidah province, but the Saudi-led air defenses aborted the ballistic missile attack successfully, the government source said on condition of anonymity. “The Saudi-led coalition protected the thousands of citizens living in government-controlled areas and destroyed the two missiles over the city’s airspace,” the government source said. Media outlets affiliated with the United Arab Emirates, which is leading the anti-Houthi offensive in Hodeidah, reported that a drone loaded with explosives was destroyed on its way towards the city. No casualties were reported as a result of the two coordinated Houthi attacks against government-controlled areas in Hodeidah. Earlier in the day, sources of the pro-government Giants Brigades confirmed to Xinhua that the Houthi fighters launched an all-out attack against key military positions belonging to the Saudi-led coalition forces in Hodeidah. The Houthi group lost scores of its fighters during the attack that was repulsed by the Saudi-led coalition forces after intense airstrikes. The Yemeni government is seeking to expel Houthi rebels out of the strategic city of Hodeidah in recent days despite warnings by international humanitarian agencies.”

Associated Press:

Israel Says It Finds Hezbollah Outpost On Lebanon Border

“The Israeli military on Monday said it uncovered a militant outpost on the Lebanese border that Hezbollah guerrillas have set up under the guise of an environmental advocacy group. A senior officer from the military's Northern Command told reporters that the new observation post in the village of Al-Adisa violates the United Nations resolution that ended the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war and bars militant activity in southern Lebanon. He said Hezbollah is using a tree-planting campaign by the "Green Without Borders" association as a cover for its activity along the border to gather intelligence on Israeli troops. The Lebanese non-governmental organization has acknowledged its affiliation with the militant group but claims its purpose on the border is purely environmental. The Israeli officer, speaking on condition of anonymity under military guidelines, said the army discovered five other Hezbollah posts in 2017, in breach of the U.N. agreement. "We haven't seen any Hezbollah arms yet, but we can see military infrastructure and it's clear this is part of extensive activity in south Lebanon and in Lebanon in general that is a threat to the IDF and to Israel," the officer said, referring to the Israeli Defense Forces. "This is of course a buildup that we cannot tolerate.”

Middle East
Associated Press: Human Rights Watch:

Palestinians Crush Dissent With Torture

“Security forces of the rival Palestinian governments routinely use torture and arbitrary arrests, among other tactics, to quash dissent by peaceful activists and political rivals, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday. The charges come in a new report released by the New York-based watchdog, following a two-year investigation that included interviews with nearly 150 people, many of them ex-detainees. It accused both the Western-backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Islamic militant Hamas in Gaza of using “machineries of repression” to stifle criticism. Human Rights Watch also said the systematic use of torture could amount to a crime against humanity under the United Nations’ Convention against Torture, and called on countries that provide funding to Palestinian law enforcement to suspend their assistance. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ government joined the convention after Palestine was accepted as a nonmember state at the U.N.”


AFP: Hidden In Diaries, Untold Stories Of Boko Haram Survivors Feature In Film

“Untold stories of young Nigerian women kidnapped by Boko Haram highlight a documentary debuting on Monday that reveals diaries kept by survivors forbidden from talking about their captivity. The diaries, secretly given to the U.S.-based documentary producers by former captives, detail life under the jihadist group that, according to the United Nations, has abducted more than 1,000 children in the last five years in northeast Nigeria. Appearing in the film “Stolen Daughters: Kidnapped by Boko Haram” are survivors from the town of Chibok, where the 2014 abduction of about 220 schoolgirls sparked global outrage, and girls kidnapped elsewhere in Nigeria who escaped the militants. Producers Karen Edwards and Sasha Achilli said they were not allowed to ask the freed girls, living in a state safe house, about their ordeal on the grounds it would retraumatize them. “If ever we did try to talk to them, the minders would stop it,” Edwards told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “That’s why I think they gave us the diaries.”

United Kingdom

The Express:

How Anjem Choudary Insisted He Will NEVER Stop Supporting ISIS

“Choudary, who was released from his five-and-a-half year prison sentence on Friday, pledged allegiance to the Islamic state and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, vowing to always "obey" his orders. He spoke in a series of secret recordings shortly before he was jailed, insisting he will continue his mission to spread support for ISIS and jihadism. In audio clips released by The Sun on Sunday, Choudary said: “As Muslims we have no choice but to support the Islamic State. “We don’t have any choice but to give allegiance to the caliph and to say that he in fact is the caliph — we have to obey him. “It is not a question of whether we chose to support IS or not — it is a matter of Islamic responsibility and duty for every Muslim to give their allegiance to the caliph and obey him if he orders them to do something.” Security experts fear Choudary will continue to spread jihadism and support for ISIS, targeting vulnerable members of the society and disintegrate British communities.”

Associated Press:

UK Official Says Airstrikes Against Islamic State Continue

“Britain’s defense secretary says the country has launched 27 airstrikes against Islamic State positions in the last month. Gavin Williamson told Parliament on Monday that the Islamic State extremists represent a “great threat” to Britain even though its territory has been “massively reduced.” He said actions against IS had not slowed down since the group was stripped of most of its territory in Syria and Iraq because of the need to “put pressure on them.” Williamson says Britain cannot take for granted that Islamic State has been defeated.”

Global News:

Tories Table Motion Calling For Government Strategy On Returning ISIS Members

“The political debate over what to do with Canadians who were part of the so-called Islamic State returned to Parliament on Monday, with the Conservatives demanding a federal strategy on the matter. An opposition motion tabled in the House of Commons called on the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to put forward a plan within 45 days for bringing to justice those who fought with ISIS. The Liberals said they would support the motion, despite disagreeing with some of it. “We will be supporting the Conservative’s opposition day motion,” the prime minister just said in question period. MP Michelle Rempel introduced the motion, which urges the government to acknowledge that anyone who travelled abroad to take part in terrorism or genocide should face legal consequences. “To date this government under Justin Trudeau has failed to take action, and Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives are calling on the Prime Minister to immediately table a plan to serve justice to anyone who left our country to fight with this terrorist organization,” Rempel told reporters in Ottawa. The government should look into legal reforms that ensure the courts have access to evidence against terror suspects, while also providing adequate resources to security agencies to monitor them, she said. In particular, the government should encourage greater use of peace bonds that place conditions on terror suspects through electronic monitoring and restrictions on their social media use, according to the motion.”


Deutsche Welle:
From Germany To 'Islamic State': Christian's Journey

“One Saturday morning in 2015, Sabine Lappe's telephone rang at a quarter to six in the morning. She was outraged, she remembers. "Who on earth is calling at this hour?" On the line was Christian, her son, 27 years old at the time. "Mama, we are in Turkey," he said, "We are waiting for the transport to Syria." Together with his young wife, Yasmina, Christian had covertly left Germany to join the terrorist militia "Islamic State" (IS). Sabine Lappe begged him to turn back, but her words fell on deaf ears. "'No, we are not coming back. We go to where Allah's word cannot be changed,' he replied to me." A painful conversation Sabine is in her early 50s and lives alone in a small two-room apartment in the western German city of Dortmund. There are no photos of Christian in the living room, but his caftan is still hanging near the apartment door. "It will always stay there," she says in a determined voice. The apartment is her retreat. She is reluctant to go outside. She is the mother of a terrorist. But she is also a mother who has lost her child, even if nobody mourns Christian with her. "I love him," she says. "But in the end, there was nothing left of the Christian he used to be." Deutsche Welle asked the state security wing of the police to comment on Sabine Lappe. However, for "reasons of data protection," it was said, no statement could be made. Sabine speaks quickly. She seems jittery and admits that she is nervous about speaking to the media. In many ways, Christian's story is also the story of her own life. For hours she describes very personally how she experienced her son's radicalization.”

Agence France Presse:

German ISIS 'Shoemaker' Pleads To Come Home From Syria

“From northern Syria, Muslim convert Sufyan is imploring his native Germany to take him back, having been captured years after joining the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group's so-called "caliphate". His beard neatly buzzed, Sufyan is one of hundreds of foreigners held by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in war-torn Syria, accused of fighting for ISIS. The 36-year-old insists he was not a fighter, but a misguided civilian making orthopaedic shoes and prosthetics in ISIS territory. "I am not Jihadi John, I am not Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, I am not Adnani," said Sufyan, listing ISIS's infamous British executioner, its elusive chief, and its now-dead spokesman. "I just made limbs," added the pale-skinned Sufyan, who refused to give his real name and said he was from Stuttgart in south-west Germany. He was selected to speak to AFP by the YPG, who detained him around a year ago and were present during the interview. They have refused to try accused foreign fighters in their custody, urging Western countries to take them back. Some foreign governments have agreed to do so, but most are reluctant. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are holding several alleged German ISIS members, including Mohammad Haydar Zammar, a Syrian-born German national accused of helping plan the Sept 11 attacks.”



Young Russian Man Charged With Attempt To Join ISIS Goes On Trial

“A criminal case against an 18-year old resident of Moscow, who stands charges with preparation for joining the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization banned in Russia, has been forwarded to court for hearing, the press service of the Investigative Committee’s Krasnodar Directorate reports Monday. According to investigators, from March to December 2017, the young man was working out a plan of joining ISIS in Syria. Through the Internet he collected information on the route, the list of needed items and possible obstacles on the path. Moreover, he bought some products, medicine clothes and cold arms, and left Moscow for the Krasnodar Region. He was arrested when trying to cross the border between Russian and Abkhazia, the statement reads. The Islamic State, an organization which is prohibited in Russia, is currently one of the major threats to global security. Over three years, these terrorists have managed to seize large areas of Iraq and Syria. The organization is also attempting to spread its influence on North Africa – particularly, Libya. The area controlled by ISIS covers up to 90,000 square kilometers.”


Vanity Fair: The Facebook Exodus Is Becoming An Epidemic

“It came as a shock last month when Instagram’s co-founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, headed for the exits, leaving the company they built and sold to Facebook for $1 billion in 2012. (The news was so sudden, in fact, that The Wall Street Journal was forced to push up the online publican of its cover story featuring Systrom, which had been planned for October 13.) For all the turmoil Facebook faced this year, Instagram, it seemed, remained relatively insulated. But behind the scenes, Mark Zuckerberg and the Instagram co-founders had reportedly grown apart as Zuckerberg pushed for greater intermarriage between the two platforms. As Systrom quipped earlier this month, “No one ever leaves a job because everything’s awesome.” Systrom and Krieger weren’t the first Facebook executives to depart this year, nor are they the last. On Monday, Brendan Iribe, the former C.E.O. and co-founder of Oculus, which Facebook famously acquired for $3 billion in 2014, announced that he, too, would be parting ways with the company. “I’d like to sincerely thank everyone that’s been a part of this amazing journey, especially Mark [Zuckerberg] for believing in this team and the future of VR and AR,” Iribe said in a Facebook post.”

BBC News: MPs Accuse Government Of Complacency Over 'Fake News' On Facebook

“The government is not taking the urgent action needed to protect democracy from "fake news" on Facebook and other social media, MPs have warned. The culture committee wants a crackdown on the manipulation of personal data, the spread of disinformation and Russian interference in elections. Tory MP Damian Collins, who chairs the committee, says he is "disappointed" by the response to its latest report. The government says it is already considering action in many areas. It has urged the committee to await the outcome of other reports and a consultation on beefed-up powers for the Electoral Commission to regulate digital advertising during elections.”

Terrorist Financing

Kidnapping Has Become A Major Funding Source Of Terrorists

“Qatar, Italy and Afghanistan top the countries subject to extortion, while the USA, the UK and Germany clearly prefer negotiations and military operations over ransom-payments in return for the release of their hostage-held citizens. In the wake of the imposition of strict sanctions on countries which have channeled millions of dollars to terrorist organizations over the past few years, these militant groups looked for new innovative methods for obtaining funds. The topmost technique is abduction-for-ransom. Terrorists have recently stepped up and expanded their kidnapping operations of hostages with the aim of raking in millions of dollars from the countries and companies to which these hostages belong.”

Gulf 365:

Syria: ISIS's Attempt To Smuggle Looted Artifacts Foiled

“The Syrian security forces have foiled an attempt to smuggle artifacts that were stolen by ISIS from the historical city of Palmyra (Tadmor) in eastern Homs, Syria's SANA news agency reported. The Syrian forces noted that the artifacts were packaged, along with very professionally forged antiquities, with the aim of smuggling them out of the historical city. It's noteworthy that after capturing Palmyra, ISIS militants destroyed several priceless artifacts and pillaged archaeological sites in this historical city. In addition, the terrorist organization made tremendous sums of money by trafficking stolen antique artifacts in cooperation with local and Turkish middlemen. ISIS used these funds to finance its terrorist activities.”

Muslim Brotherhood
Almasry Alyoum:

Egyptian Court Schedules The Review Brotherhood-Affiliated Hassan Malek's Appeal Against Placing Him On Terror Lists

“Chaired by Judge Magdy Abu Al-Ola, Egypt's Appellate Court yesterday set November 26th as the date to review an appeal filed by prominent Muslim Brotherhood businessman Hassan Malek and another 160 of the group's members against a previous ruling to place them on the terror lists for three years. According to this verdict, all of these defendants were forbidden from exiting Egypt or using their funds and assets. It's noticeable that 30 women are among the suspects, including a daughter and two sisters of Malek, who is regarded as the leading Muslim Brotherhood's financial figure.”

Boko Haram
Bald News:

Boko Haram Intensifies Its Raids On Local Peasants

“In a qualitative shift in criminal operations by Boko Haram, the terrorist group recently stepped up its raids on peasant farmers, either to steal their food or to accuse the villagers of providing intelligence to the army. While in most of its operations Boko Haram's methods tend to include bombs, improvised explosive devices and explosive belts in order to increase the number of dead and wounded, when carrying out operations against field owners, the terrorist group used sharp instruments such as knives and machetes. In the same vein, Mohammed Ezzeddine, a researcher specializing in African affairs, said: "Boko Haram, at the beginning of its operations in West Africa, followed {in the footsteps of} al-Qaeda. It started out as a jihadist group calling for attacking the government and the Christians in Nigeria, but with the adoption of ISIS ideology, it became more violent towards everyone.”

Almashhad Alaraby:

Two Houthi Factions Conduct Fatal Clashes Over Money

“Yemeni sources disclosed the outbreak of violent clashes on Sunday, between two factions of the Houthi terrorist organization in the province of Ibb, resulting in the killing of three people, including a leader. The sources pointed out that the Houthi leader was killed, along with two other militants, in a sign that the struggle between the various factions within the terrorist group is going public. They added that the Ibb clashes came against the backdrop of struggling for influence in that province. The battle lasted several hours. The sources pointed out that the Houthis in Ibb are fighting for influence and the collection of levies and taxes imposed on the population.”

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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