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Old 04-17-2019, 06:58 AM
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Arrow Eye on Extremism April 17, 2019

Eye on Extremism
By: Counter Extremism Project - April 17, 2019
RE: info@counterextremism.com

April 17, 2019

USA Today: ISIS Offshoot In Afghanistan Willing, Able To Strike U.S., Says Intelligence Official

“ISIS-affiliated terrorists in Afghanistan, noted for their brutality in a brutal land, pose the top threat for spectacular attacks in the United States, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official. The group known as ISIS-K, like al-Qaeda, which plotted the 9/11 terror attacks from Afghanistan, also has designs on striking targets in Western nations, said the U.S. intelligence official, who is not authorized to speak publicly. ISIS-K has hundreds of fighters and has shown increasing effectiveness in its tactics and recruiting in Afghanistan, said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.), the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee who recently visited Afghanistan. "It's growing in sophistication and numbers," Reed said. Inspiring, financing and directing attacks abroad is a key goal. A chief worry: a terrorist recruit, for example, driving a truck through a crowd in the United States, the intelligence official said, citing the type of assault the group aspires to.”

Associated Press: Iran’s Parliament Labels US Troops In Mideast As Terrorist

“Iran’s lawmakers on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill labeling U.S. forces in the Middle East as terrorist, a day after the U.S. terrorism designation for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard formally took effect, state TV reported. Defense Minister Gen. Amir Hatami introduced the bill authorizing the government to act firmly in response to “terrorist actions” by U.S. forces. It demands authorities use “legal, political and diplomatic” measures to neutralize the American move, without elaborating. The U.S. move aims at “thwarting Iran’s influence,” and shows that America’s longstanding sanctions against Iran have become ineffective, Hatami told lawmakers. During the debate, some hard-liner lawmakers had demanded listing the entire U.S. army and security forces as terrorist. The TV report said 204 lawmakers approved the bill, out of 207 present at the session in the 290-seat chamber. Two lawmakers voted against the bill and one abstained.”

The New Yorker: The Dangerous Dregs Of ISIS

“A few days before the collapse of the Islamic State’s caliphate, I visited one of the new “pop-up prisons” that had been hastily converted to hold thousands of surrendering isis fighters in Syria. The numbers wildly exceeded all expectations, including estimates by U.S. intelligence. The most striking sight at the prison entrance was a mound of human hair lying on the raw concrete floor. Clumps of it—some brown, some graying, most of it greasy or matted—had been shaved off the heads and faces of fighters before they were taken to group cells. “Lice,” one of the guards told me. The prison at Dashisha, in eastern Deir Ezzor province, had been an oil-storage facility. In just four days, the compound of modest brick and stucco buildings had been filled with fifteen hundred fighters from countries on four continents, including France, Libya, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Iraq, and the United States, the warden told me. Average-sized rooms had been fitted with metal doors; each cell had a small barred window that I had to stand on my tiptoes to peer through. Each one was crammed, wall to wall, with dozens of men squatting on the floor. The isis fighters wore new T-shirts, in army green, and whatever trousers they had on when they were captured. After five years of war with the Islamic State, the biggest problem for the winners is coping with the losers.”

Al Arabiya: Bahrain Sentences 138 Individuals On Terror Charges

“Bahrain has jailed 138 people and revoked their citizenship for plotting to form a terrorist group with links to Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the public prosecutor said. They received prison terms of three years to life on Tuesday for having tried to build a Bahrain Hezbollah, similar to the Shiite militia active in Lebanon, Advocate General Ahmad al-Hammadi said in a statement from the public prosecution. Out of the 138 people, 69 were given life sentences for terror-related activities. “The Public Prosecutor's Office received a report from the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation about the formation of a terrorist cell inside the Kingdom of Bahrain by Iranian regime leaders who issued orders to elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to provide logistical support to terrorists to form a group called the Bahraini Hezbollah,” a statement from the public prosecution read.”

Fox News: Attorney: Coast Guard Officer Isn't Facing Terrorism Charges

“A Coast Guard lieutenant accused of stockpiling guns and compiling a hit list of prominent Democrats and network TV journalists is seeking his release from federal custody since prosecutors haven't charged him with any terrorism-related offenses. Christopher Hasson, 49, has remained in custody since his Feb. 15 arrest and subsequent indictment in Maryland on firearms and drug charges. Hasson's attorney, Liz Oyer, wrote in a court filing Monday that prosecutors recently disclosed that they don't expect to seek any additional charges. In a February court filing, prosecutors called Hasson a “domestic terrorist” and said he “intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.” They also said he is a self-described white nationalist who espoused extremist views for years and drafted an email in which he said he was “dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth.” During a Feb. 21 detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Day agreed to keep Hasson held in custody but said he was willing to revisit his decision if prosecutors didn't bring more serious charges within two weeks. Oyer, an assistant federal public defender, is asking Judge Day to schedule another detention hearing for Hasson “at the earliest agreeable date for all parties.” Oyer said her client's alleged domestic terrorism activities were “the heart of the government's case for detention.”

NBC News: Mark Zuckerberg Leveraged Facebook User Data To Fight Rivals And Help Friends, Leaked Documents Show

“Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg oversaw plans to consolidate the social network’s power and control competitors by treating its users’ data as a bargaining chip, while publicly proclaiming to be protecting that data, according to about 4,000 pages of leaked company documents largely spanning 2011 to 2015 and obtained by NBC News. The documents, which include emails, webchats, presentations, spreadsheets and meeting summaries, show how Zuckerberg, along with his board and management team, found ways to tap Facebook’s trove of user data — including information about friends, relationships and photos — as leverage over companies it partnered with. In some cases, Facebook would reward favored companies by giving them access to the data of its users. In other cases, it would deny user-data access to rival companies or apps. For example, Facebook gave Amazon extended access to user data because it was spending money on Facebook advertising and partnering with the social network on the launch of its Fire smartphone. In another case, Facebook discussed cutting off access to user data for a messaging app that had grown too popular and was viewed as a competitor, according to the documents.”

United States

The Detroit News: Dearborn terror suspect suffering mental deterioration, lawyer says

“A Dearborn man trained by Islamic State fighters before being captured on a Syrian battlefield last year may be incompetent to stand trial on terrorism charges due to his worsening mental condition, his lawyers said. Attorneys for Ibraheem Musaibli, 28, want him to undergo a competency examination and neuropsychological testing after noticing his deteriorating ability to comprehend advice and information, according to a federal court filing late Monday. The request, unopposed by federal prosecutors, came one week after the government filed new charges against a terrorism suspect accused of using a machine gun while fighting on behalf of ISIS against coalition forces, including members of the U.S. military. Musaibli's case presents one of the first times the Trump administration is using federal courts to prosecute a returning foreign fighter. Musaibli was brought back to Metro Detroit last year and charged with conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization. “Since his initial appearance, Mr. Musaibli struggles to assist his attorneys with the defense of his case,” defense lawyer James Gerometta wrote in the court filing.”

Syria

The Jerusalem Post: The U.S. And International Community Painted Themselves Into A Corner In Syria

“The US and the international community face a potential crises in eastern Syria with the thousands of hard core ISIS members who surrendered to the Syrian Democratic Forces in the first months of 2019. They and their families, numbering tens of thousands from more than 41 countries, are now are a burden on the locals who must house them, and a potential threat to the world. The US is still trying to scramble to figure out what its ideal goal is in eastern Syria. It initially became intensely involved in fighting Islamic State, eventually engaging in a large mission creep from its original goals and extending the role of the international coalition that gelled between 2014 and 2015. That coalition numbers up to 79 partner, but few of them want a role in eastern Syria. Instead the US has done the heavy lifting, sending supplies and weapons to the Syrian Democratic Forces, the group the US partnered with to defeat ISIS in late March.”

Iran

Fox News: Iran's Parliament Labels US Troops In Mideast As Terrorist

“Iran's lawmakers on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill labeling U.S. forces in the Middle East as terrorist, a day after the U.S. terrorism designation for Iran's Revolutionary Guard formally took effect, state TV reported. Defense Minister Gen. Amir Hatami introduced the bill authorizing the government to act firmly in response to “terrorist actions” by U.S. forces. It demands authorities use “legal, political and diplomatic” measures to neutralize the American move, without elaborating. The U.S. move aims at “thwarting Iran's influence,” and shows that America's longstanding sanctions against Iran have become ineffective, Hatami told lawmakers. During the debate, some hard-liner lawmakers had demanded listing the entire U.S. army and security forces as terrorist. The TV report said 204 lawmakers approved the bill, out of 207 present at the session in the 290-seat chamber. Two lawmakers voted against the bill and one abstained. However, it remains unclear how the bill's passage in parliament would affect the Gourd's activities in the Persian Gulf, where the U.S. Navy has in the past accused Iranian patrol boats of harassing American warships.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iran’s Latest Economic Woes Hit Residents In Their Stomachs

“Iranian authorities have a new target in their bid to calm the country’s economic turmoil: meat-market manipulators. During the two-week celebration of the Persian New Year that ended April 5, Iranians found that putting food on their tables is far more expensive than before. The price of veal and beef increased 67% last year, while mutton had jumped 52% and chicken had become 63% more expensive, the Central Bank of Iran said. “We haven’t been able to afford the luxury of meat since last year, when the inflation went through the roof,” said Ali Moshtaghi, a 38-year-old shoemaker. “We can’t afford to have guests because we can’t set a decent table for them.” A meat market in crisis hits Iranians where it perhaps hurts the most—their stomachs. The government has been going after those seen as manipulating food prices, for example by hoarding or overcharging to avoid a repeat of economy-related protests that rocked Iran early last year.”

Iraq

Iraqi News: Iraqi Airstrikes Kill 20 Islamic State Jihadists In Iraq’s Kirkuk

“Twenty jihadists of the Islamic State militant group were killed Tuesday in air raids by the Iraqi Air Force in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, a military source was quoted as saying. “Iraqi warplanes, backed by the U.S.-led international coalition, hit a gathering of Islamic State militants in Daquq district in eastern Kirkuk, leaving 20 jihadists killed,” the source told Algahd Press website. “Most of the slain Islamic State terrorists came from Syria and were implicated in several terrorist attacks against security forces and civilians in Kirkuk,” the source said. He added that two more IS jihadists were killed while trying to infiltrate into Kirkuk coming from the Syrian city of al-Baghuz. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq. IS declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014. A government campaign, backed by a U.S.-led international coalition and paramilitary forces, was launched in 2016 to retake IS-held regions, managing to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously proclaimed capital.”

Iraqi News: 4 Islamic State Jihadists Arrested In Baghdad With 600 SIM Cards

“Iraqi anti-terrorism forces arrested on Tuesday four Islamic State jihadists in the capital Baghdad as they sough to deliver SIM cards to their fellow terrorists in Anbar province, a security source said. “The four, including a woman, were arrested with 600 mobile phone SIM cards in their possession,” the source told Baghdad Today news website, adding that the militants hid the cards inside olive cans and silicon tubes. He added that the arrest was made based on accurate intelligence data. In December 2017, former Iraqi prime minister Haidar al-Abadi announced full liberation of Iraqi lands, declaring end of war against IS members. Isolated cells believed to be linked to the Islamic State group, however, remain active in some parts of the country. In recent weeks, suspected Islamic State insurgents have carried out several attacks targeting security forces in Iraq. The Islamic State group appeared on the international scene in 2014 when it seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, declaring the establishment of an Islamic “caliphate” from Mosul city. Later on, the group has become notorious for its brutality, including mass killings, abductions and beheadings, prompting the U.S. to lead an international coalition to destroy it.”

Turkey

Al Jazeera: Turkey Eyes US Sanctions Waivers On Iran Oil, Russia Arms

“Turkey "expects" the Trump administration to grant it waivers from the US related to its purchases of Iranian oil and Russian air defences, a top aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday. Presidential spokesman and senior adviser Ibrahim Kalin told a news conference he could not be certain that the waivers would be granted. But, he said Turkey had made a strong case that should be heeded. Turkey is seeking an extension to a waiver that allows it to import Iranian oil without US penalties that were re-imposed in November after President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The waiver expires early next month. "We are expecting an extension for Turkey," Kalin said. "We have made it clear we would like to continue to buy Iranian oil. People should not expect Turkey to turn its back on Iran just like that.”

Afghanistan

Xinhua: Over 20 Militants Killed, 21 Villages Recaptured In Afghan Province

“At least 21 militants have been killed and 21 villages have been recaptured over the past 24 hours as security forces operations against Taliban fighters are going on in parts of Afghanistan's Ghazni province, provincial government spokesman Aref Nuri said Wednesday. Nine militants including their commander Qazi Hasan have been killed in Hasan Abad village in the outskirt of provincial capital Ghazni city and law and order were returned to the area, the official said. More than a dozen militants have been killed in Gilan, Qarabagh and Khawja Omari districts and 20 more villages have been cleansed of the Taliban fighters in Khawja Omari district over the past 24 hours, the official said. Over a dozen insurgents have been injured, the official added. However, the official didn't make assessment on the possible casualties of security personnel. The Taliban militant group has not made a comment on the report yet.”

Pakistan

Reuters: Five Militants, One Police Officer Killed In Pakistan Raid

“Police and army commandos killed five Pakistani Taliban militants during an overnight siege at a house in the northwestern city of Peshawar, officials said on Tuesday. One police officer was killed and two wounded during the 16-hour operation. It ended when the house was destroyed by what police believe was an improvised explosive device. “It was an operation based on the information of our intelligence agencies,” Peshawar police chief Qazi Jamil told reporters. Jamil said police were still confirming the identity of the occupants. Mohammad Khurasani, a spokesman for Pakistani Taliban, said in a text message to reporters the five dead men were members of the militant group. The Pakistani Taliban are an umbrella group of several Sunni Islamist militant outfits waging war to overthrow the government. The Taliban want to transform the nuclear-armed nation and govern it along strict Islamic Sharia laws. The insurgents’ strength has been sapped in recent years by successive Pakistani military operations, leading to a sharp drop in militant violence in recent years.”

The Washington Post: Why Pashtuns In Pakistan Are Rising Up

“Miran Shah, the administrative headquarter of my constituency in Pakistan’s western North Waziristan tribal district, once served as the global headquarters of terrorism. Al-Qaeda, the Haqqani network and other militant organizations moved there after being routed out by the U.S. military from neighboring Afghanistan in late 2001. As Pakistan turned a blind eye to their revival, we paid a high price for Islamabad’s misguided policies. First, we endured a decade of rule by the Taliban and al-Qaeda. After the military finally moved into North Waziristan in 2014, about 1 million of North Waziristan’s residents were displaced, and our homes and livelihoods were ruined. Now that we are trying to rebuild our lives after about three years of displacement, the Taliban are being allowed to return. In a secret deal with the military, some of them are expected to carry weapons. We have already seen a sharp spike in targeted assassinations.”

Xinhua: Pakistani President Vows To Speed Up Action Against Terrorism

“Pakistani President Arif Alvi vowed on Tuesday to speed up the ongoing campaign against terrorism to fully eliminate the menace for peace, stability and progress of the country, local media reported. Alvi made the remarks during his visit to the country's southwest provincial capital of Quetta to condole with the families of 20 victims who lost their lives in a suicide attack at a vegetable and fruit market on Friday. The president stressed that the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) is indispensable for sustained peace in the country adding that no compromise would be made in this regard. The NAP, Pakistan's 20-point comprehensive action plan against terrorism and extremism, was approved by the country's parliament in December 2014 after over 150 people were killed in a terrorist attack at a school. The president said enemies of Pakistan are trying to spread anarchy but all such attempts would be foiled with unity, patience and up to the mark performance of the law enforcement agencies. Since the start of April, Pakistan has witnessed a couple of attacks while a number of terrorist plots were foiled by security agencies.”

Yemen

Arab News: Dozens Of Houthi Militants Killed In Clashes

“The Yemeni army killed 70 Houthi militants, including senior officers, on Tuesday in Al-Dhale province south of Yemen, Saudi state agency SPA reported. The clashes in the Hamak front, which also left 20 Houthis injured, broke out when the militia tried to block a main road in Al-Nadira district and a secondary road in Hamak, but Yemeni troops forced them to retract. Meanwhile, the Yemeni parliament held talks in Seiyun to classify the Houthi militia as a terrorist group. The new law would include individuals in any way affiliated to the Houthis or any of its auxiliary bodies, as well all its higher political bodies, field workers, and fighters. Also, any Houthi finances would be held until a decision is made by the court. The law would also state that all the Houthi violations committed against the state are considered terror attacks under the Yemeni constitution and should receive the highest forms of punishment.”

The National: Yemen Parliament Drafts Law To Label Houthis 'Terrorists'

“Yemen’s parliament on Tuesday referred a draft bill to designate Houthi rebels as a “terrorist group” to a higher committee for revision. Members of the Parliament loyal to President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi held their first session on Saturday for the first time in four years. The session was held in the town of Sayoun in Hadramawt province because Houthi rebels control the capital Sanaa. The session focused on the need to combat the Iran-backed rebels and ways to pursue a political resolution to the war, Yemeni officials. The members said the rebels' actions in areas under their control, such as holding elections in the capital Sanaa, were baseless. They also condemned repeated Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, which have included firing missiles at civilian areas. “We call on the international community to take responsibility in supporting the legitimate government of Yemen and to compel the Houthis to implement the UN peace deal without any further delay,” the Parliament said.”

Qatar

Gulf News: How Qatar Funds Muslim Brotherhood Expansion In Europe

“Ninety per cent of Qatari funds to the EU were channeled to Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated projects, two French authors have confirmed, supporting claims made since the summer of 2017 by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. One of the authors—prominent investigative journalist George Malbrunot—spoke to Gulf News about his new book Qatar Papers: How the State Finances Islam in France and Europe. It has been co-authored with his colleague Christian Chesnot, a ranking expert on the Arab World. “This is not fantasy,” Malbrunot said in an exclusive interview. “The evidence we published was based on bank transfers, cheques, and official letters. It is evidence that they simply cannot contest.”

Lebanon

Radio Farda: Following Iraqi Shiite Militias, Hezbollah Shows Up In Iran 'For Flood Relief'

“The representative of the Lebanese Hezbollah in Iran says a significant number of young Lebanese are currently in Iran, helping relief operations for the flood-stricken people. Speaking to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)-run Tasnin news agency, Sheik Mo'ein Daqiq said on Tuesday that the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, has called upon all young Lebanese and members of the armed group to join Iranian Armed forces, “jihadi” elements, and Iranian Red Crescent to help the flood-hit Iranians. “Currently, a significant number of young Lebanese are involved in relief operations across Iran, while many more are on their way to the flood-stricken regions in the country,” Sheik Daqiq maintained. Hezbollah is almost exclusively made of Lebanon’s Shiites and is dependent on Iran’s Islamic Republic for financial and military resources. The news about the arrival of the Lebanese allies of the Islamic Republic follows Iraqi Shiite militia crossing into Iran in their hundreds since last week, which has led to passionate reactions among opponents of the Iranian regime and social media users. Meanwhile, the senior spokesman of the Iranian Armed Forces, Abolfazl Shekarchi said on Tuesday, April 16, “It is natural that the forces of Iraqi Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces or PMF) are present at the front lines to help our flood-hit people.”

I24 News: US Gives Lebanese Army $14.3 Million In Equipment As Part Of Anti-Hezbollah Aid Package

“Since 2005, the US has supplied the Lebanese army with over $2.3 billion in assistance. The United States on Tuesday delivered radios, night vision devices, and other equipment worth $14.3 million to the Lebanese army in an ongoing military aid effort aimed at supporting Beirut's armed forces against Iran-backed Hezbollah. Photos of the delivery were posted to the US Embassy in Beirut's Twitter page. In a delivery from the US earlier this month, the Lebanese army announced it had received six drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), totaling $11 million. The US in February delivered $16 million worth of laser-guided precision missiles. Lebanese officials at the time said the shipment was an example of "Washington's firm and steady commitment to Lebanon's army." In June of last year, the US provided a fleet of attack aircraft to the Lebanese Air Force.”

The Times Of Israel: Hezbollah Puts Up Radio Antenna Broadcasting Hamas Propaganda Into Israel

“The Hezbollah terror group has put up a giant antenna in Lebanon broadcasting a Hamas-run radio station south into Israel, urging Arab citizens to carry out terror attacks, Israeli authorities said this week. Israel in February said that that Hamas, the Palestinian terror group that rules the Gaza Strip, was using its Al Aqsa TV channel to coordinate attacks in the West Bank with on-air cues, after the IDF bombed the network’s Gaza headquarters in December. But some two months ago, Hezbollah built the antenna at a Lebanese army base in the southern Lebanese village of Marwahin to broadcast the network’s radio hundreds of kilometers into Israel and as far as the Tel Aviv area, Channel 12 reported Tuesday night. The antenna is so close to the Israeli border that the TV network was able to publish footage of armed soldiers guarding the antenna. The radio is being blasted into Israel at the frequency 101.6FM, very close to that of an Israeli radio station that broadcasts on 101.5FM. The latter station has many Arab Israeli listeners and has received several complaints lately about the disruptions to its broadcasts. Al-Aqsa TV’s reporters have frequently extolled violence against Israelis and rocket attacks on the Jewish state.”

Middle East

BBC: Shamima Begum: Why Women Are Terrorism's Secret Weapon

“When women make the news because of terrorism, the focus has often been on their role as victims or as potential allies in countering the threat. By contrast, women who take part in and support extremism have sometimes been overlooked. This changed when runaway teen Shamima Begum was described as the "poster girl" for Islamic State after being tracked down at a Syrian refugee camp. Four years ago, she left the UK with two friends to join IS, but claims she was "just a housewife". Nevertheless, the UK home secretary stripped her of UK citizenship, saying: "If you back terror, there must be consequences". She is set to be granted legal aid to appeal the decision. Ms Begum's case has raised a number of questions on women's active and willing participation in violent extremism both in IS and other groups."

Egypt

The Washington Post: Egypt Court Sentences Islamists To 5 Years In Prison

“An Egyptian court has sentenced 36 people convicted of joining the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organization to five years in prison. The Alexandria criminal court on Tuesday also sentenced the defendants to five years of probation. They were arrested in Alexandria in 2017. The sentences can be appealed. The Brotherhood won a series of free elections following Egypt’s 2011 uprising but was branded a terrorist group after the military overthrew an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013. Since then, courts have held mass trials and sentenced hundreds of people to death. Rights groups have repeatedly criticized such mass sentencings in Egypt and called on authorities to ensure fair trials.”

Al Monitor: Egypt Amends Law To Tighten Penalties Against 'Violence Inciters'

“The Egyptian parliament approved March 25 new amendments to an anti-terrorism law, tightening penalties against those who promote extremist ideas and incite terrorist acts, whether verbally, in writing or by any other means. According to the new amendments, proposed by the parliamentary National Defense and Security Committee, the sanctions were increased from five to 10 years in prison. According to the new law, calling for the use of violence by any means, whether on social media, on TV or anywhere else, is considered an indirect promotion of such acts and advocacy of extremist ideology. Those who promote violence and extremism in places of worship, public places or state institutions, among members of the armed forces or police forces, or in places where these forces are located shall be sentenced to 15 years in prison, the new law stipulates. Parliamentarians, politicians and human rights activists have expressed mixed reactions to the new amendments, with some saying it has the potential of eradicating terrorism in the country and others claiming it could stifle freedom of expression, especially on social media. “Promoting terrorist and extremist ideas has nothing to do with freedom of expression…”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Egypt, Greece, Cyprus Launch Counter-Terrorism Drills

“The Egyptian armed forces announced on Monday the launch of the Egyptian-Greek-Cypriot Medusa 8 joint military drill on confronting potential terrorist threats. Armed Forces spokesman Tamer al-Rifai said exercise will feature the participation of members of the Egyptian, Cypriot and Greek naval, air and special forces and will continue for several days within Egypt’s territorial waters in the Mediterranean Sea. The training is part of the annual joint exercises plan carried out by the Egyptian military to promote military cooperation with brotherly countries and improve the efficiency of its forces, he stated. The training included Mistral helicopters carrier Anwar Sadat, the type 209 submarine, the Suleiman Ezzat missile craft and a number of multi-role F-16 aircraft, Rifai added. Greece participated with a frigate, a landing craft, a submarine, a minesweeper and a number of F-16 fighter jets. Cyprus participated with a long-range transport vessel and Special Forces. The spokesman added that the training aims to bolster the skills of the participating forces by exchanging expertise and preparing them to carry out joint tasks under different circumstances. The larger goal is to protect vital Mediterranean targets against potential threats.”

Libya

Reuters: Terrorist Presence On Migrants Boats From Libya Now A Certainty: Italy's Salvini

“Chaos in Libya following General Khalifa Haftar’s offensive has increased the risk of terrorist presence on migrant boats headed for Italy, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said, adding the country’s ports would remain closed. “Islamic terrorist infiltration is no longer a risk, it has become a certainty: it is therefore my duty to reiterate that no docking will be allowed on Italian shores” he said in a radio interview on Wednesday. Salvini, leader of the anti-immigrant League party, refused to say if Italy’s stance could change in case of a full-fledged war in Libya after the flare-up in the cycle of anarchy gripping the country since dictator Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011.”

Reuters: Shelling Kills Four In Tripoli As Powers Divided Over Haftar's Push

“At least four people were killed in heavy shelling in the Libyan capital Tripoli, an official said on Wednesday as Europe and the Gulf were divided over a push by eastern forces commander Khalifa Haftar to seize the city. Nearly two weeks into its assault, the veteran general’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) is stuck in the city’s southern outskirts battling armed groups loyal to the internationally recognized Tripoli government. But the southern district of Abu Salim got shelled late on Tuesday with explosions being heard even in the city center where life had been going on largely untouched by the violence. The artillery killed at least two people and wounded eight, Osama Ali, spokesman for a Tripoli emergency body, told Reuters, without saying who was behind the shelling. Another official told Libya’s Alahrar channel four had been killed and 20 wounded.”

Africa

Daily Sabah: New Sudan Administration Can Exit Terror List If Progress Seen, US Says

“The United States is willing to remove Sudan from its blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism if its new military leaders take tangible steps, a U.S. official said Tuesday. Sudanese officials have for years sought to get off the list, engaging in inconclusive talks with the United States. A State Department official said that Washington had renewed its willingness to consider a delisting during meetings with the military rulers who last week ousted veteran leader Omar al-Bashir in the wake of months of street protests. A way to rescind the designation “may be available if there is a fundamental change in the leadership and policies and if the Transitional Military Council is not supporting acts of international terrorism and provides assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future,” the official said on condition of anonymity. But the official said that the United States was not considering delisting Sudan “at this time.” The comments come two days after the top U.S. diplomat in Khartoum, Charge d'Affaires Steven Koutsis, met with the deputy head of the military council, Mohammad Hamdan Daglo. The U.S. official said that the United States was also encouraging the military council to “move quickly” to include civilians in the interim government and hold elections.”

North Korea

The Wall Street Journal: Kim Jong Un Sends Message To Trump With Military Visit

“North Korea is signaling a firmer stance toward the U.S. following the breakdown of denuclearization talks, with leader Kim Jong Un visiting a military unit for the first time this year and directing pilots in combat maneuvers. Mr. Kim visited the air force unit on Tuesday and instructed pilots to “take off and perform difficult and complicated air combat actions,” according to a report by Pyongyang’s state media on Wednesday. He left having “expressed great satisfaction over the excellent readiness,” the report said. The dictator hadn’t visited a military facility since November, when he traveled to a weapons facility to oversee the test of a new tactical weapon, state media said at the time. Security analysts saw Mr. Kim’s most recent trip as a message to the Trump administration: Unless Washington is prepared to compromise on sanctions, Pyongyang can revert to a cycle of confrontation.”

United Kingdom

The Independent: ISIS Supporter Who Called For Terror Attack On Prince George's School Has Jail Term Cut

“An Isis supporter who created a “toolkit for terrorists” and called for attacks on targets including Prince George, the football World Cup and Jewish communities has had his prison sentence cut on appeal. Husnain Rashid was originally jailed for life with a minimum of 25 years for terrorist offences including preparing terrorist acts and encouraging attacks. Police said he attempted to inspire atrocities around the world “on a colossal scale”, using encrypted messaging services to send out advice on using poisons, vehicles, weapons, bombs, chemicals and knives. But on Tuesday, the Court of Appeal reduced the 32-year-old’s tariff to 19 years. Lawyers representing Rashid argued that the life sentence was not justified but three judges rejected their claim. Lord Justice Holroyde, sitting with two other senior judges, told the court: “We are satisfied that [the Woolwich Crown Court judge] was entitled to come to the conclusion that the seriousness of these offences, taken together, was such as to justify a sentence of life imprisonment.” The Court of Appeal found the original minimum term was too long, because the first judge “fell into error in some aspects of his application of the sentencing guidelines.”

France

Daily Mail: 'Have A Nice Day': ISIS Fanatics Revel In Notre Dame's Destruction Days Before Easter As They Describe The Inferno As 'Retribution And Punishment'

“ISIS fanatics are heartlessly revelling in the inferno at Notre Dame Cathedral just days before Easter calling it 'retribution and punishment', according to terror intelligence researchers. A poster of the blazing cathedral appeared online accompanied by the words, 'Have a good day,' and was created by the ISIS affiliated Al-Muntasir group according to the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium. The poster says: 'Its construction began in the year 1163 and ended in 1345. It's time to say goodbye to your oratory polytheism.' The jihadists referred to the catastrophe as 'retribution and punishment,' SITE intelligence reported. The chilling message appeared as firefighters continued their efforts to put out the blaze late on Monday night, which broke out less than a week before Easter and amid Holy Week commemorations. The Al-Munatsir media organisation has shared propaganda rejoicing in terror attacks which have rocked France. The Paris prosecutor's office said it was treating the fire as an accident, ruling out arson and possible terror-related motives, at least for now. While the jihadists celebrated online, France and the world mourned the destruction of a glorious symbol of Western civilisation.”

Germany

Deutsche Welle: Widow Of Prominent IS Terrorist Reportedly Living Quiet Life In Germany

“When Jenan Moussa, an acclaimed war reporter for the Arab TV channel Al Aan, received the contents of a smart phone from a “trusted source,” she immediately knew she had been handed a treasure trove. The phone, she says, belonged to an Omaima A. — a German citizen of Tunisian descent. The contents of the phone — thousands of chat messages and photographs, as well as flight details and screenshots of official papers — document Omaima A.'s journey from Germany to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) in early 2015. Only a few months earlier, the terror group had proclaimed its ”caliphate.” “The moment I saw the content I realized this is an uncensored view on the life of an ISIS woman,” Moussa told DW. She spent months trawling through the data and this week published some of the photos and documents, along with a longer TV report. While DW has been unable to independently verify the photos, they indeed provide a fascinating insight into the young woman and life in and among IS. Born in the summer of 1984 in the northern city of Hamburg, Omaima A. seemingly fell in love with and married a man, Nader H., who was acquainted with some of Germany's most prominent Islamist extremists.”

Europe

The New York Post: Czech Man Gets Prison For Train Attacks, Blaming Islamic Militants

“An appeals court has upheld a four-year prison term for a Czech national for carrying out two attacks on trains and blaming them on Islamic militants. Prague’s regional court ruled in January that 71-year-old Jaromir Balda cut down two trees in 2017 that fell on train tracks near the city of Mlada Boleslav, about 30 miles north of Prague. Two passenger trains later hit the trees. Nobody was injured. The retiree also placed pamphlets at the sites with threats of extremist attacks planned on Czech territory. Prosecutors said the man’s motivation was to incite fear of Muslims and attacks. Balda pleaded guilty but claimed he didn’t want to harm anyone. The court also ordered him to undergo psychiatric treatment. Tuesday’s ruling by Prague’s High Court is final.”

Fox News: Italy Arrests 2 Terror Suspects Training For Combat In Syria

“Italian news agency ANSA says authorities have arrested an Italian convert to Islam and a Moroccan resident who met over the Internet and were preparing to fight with Islamic State in Syria. Sicilian prosecutors who ordered the arrests Wednesday said investigators had identified the Italian suspect, 25-year-old Giuseppe Frittatta, from social media posts. They included extremist propaganda as well as photos of himself holding a knife with a 26-centimeter (10-inch) blade calling for deaths to “all westerners.” The 18-year-old Moroccan, Ossama Gafhir, is alleged to have induced Frittatta toward extremism, and was following stringent fitness routine to prepare for combat. Frittata — a Sicilian who changed his name to Yusef — allegedly was in contact with extremists in Italy and abroad. The arrests were carried out in northern Italy.”

Technology

Radio Free Europe: Facebook 'Bans' Ukrainian Far-Right Group Over 'Hate Speech' -- But Getting Rid Of It Isn't Easy

“Ukraine's militaristic, far-right Azov movement and its various branches have used Facebook to promote its anti-democratic, ultranationalist messages and recruit new members since its inception at the start of the country's war against Russia-backed separatists five years ago. The American social-networking giant has also been an important platform for Azov's global expansion and attempts to legitimize itself among like minded American and European white nationalists. Facebook has occasionally taken down pages and groups associated with Azov when they have been found to be in violation of its policies on hate speech and the depiction of violence. The first Facebook removals occurred in 2015, Azov members told RFE/RL. But after continuous, repeat violations Azov
-- which includes many war veterans and militant members with openly neo-Nazi views who have been involved in attacks on LGBT activists, Romany encampments, and women's groups -- is now officially banned from having any presence on Facebook, the social network has confirmed to RFE/RL. Despite the ban, however, which quietly came into force months ago, a defiant Azov and its members remain active on the social network under pseudonyms and name variations, underscoring the difficulty Facebook faces in combating extremism on a platform with some 2.32 billion monthly active users.”
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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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