Eye on Extremism, December 29, 2016

Counter Extremism Project

The Times Of London: Google Will Not Bar Search Links To Jihadi Imam’s Hate

“Julie Shain, director of research at the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), said: “This incentivises people to search for these things and suggests it’s normal to do so. In combination with the thousands of videos and pages calling for attacks on the West, it’s incredibly dangerous — we’ve found evidence of about 90 instances of terrorists who’ve attacked Western targets who were influenced by Awlaki material online.”

Daily Mail: Google Refuses To Ban Searches That Link To Jihadi Cleric’s Hate-Filled Sermons

“Julie Shain of the Counter Extremism Project, told The Times: ‘This incentivises people to search for these things and suggests it’s normal to do so. ‘In combination with the thousands of videos and pages calling for attacks on the West, it’s incredibly dangerous.’ Al-Awlaki spoke American English, and his sermons are widely available online.  His primary message was Muslims were ‘under attack’ and had ‘a duty to carry out attacks on non-believers at home’.  Al-Awlaki lived in the UK between 2002 and 2004 and gave a series of lectures in London, warning people ‘not to trust non-Muslims’ and speaking of the ‘rewards of martyrdom’.”

MSNBC: CEP spokesperson Tara Maller discusses economic sanctions and other possible actions the U.S. may take in response to Russian interference during the presidential campaign

Reuters: Iraqi Forces Launch Fresh Advance Against Islamic State Inside Mosul

“Iraqi security forces launched a fresh advance on Thursday against Islamic State militants in several southeastern districts of Mosul, where the fight had been stalled for about a month, Interior Ministry officials said. ‘Our troops now are advancing. In the first five or 10 minutes they took 500 meters. Just now they are starting to shoot,’ said an officer from the rapid response forces, an elite Interior Ministry unit. Those forces were advancing in Intisar district, while thousands of federal police troops redeployed from Mosul’s southern outskirts two weeks ago were expected to push into a nearby area, he said.”

The Washington Post: Fighting The Islamic State Won’t Change The Sectarian Image Of Iraq’s Militias

“The militias fighting under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in Iraq have played a controversial role in the ongoing battle to liberate Mosul from the Islamic State. The PMF is widely seen inside Iraq and abroad as a sectarian Shiite force. On social media and in popular discourse (largely from a Sunni perspective), the PMF is pejoratively referred to as ‘Safavids’ or simply ‘Iranians.’ PMF groups have been implicated in human rights abuses against Sunnis during liberation operations in cities such as Tikrit and Fallujah. Yet the PMF has tried hard to portray itself as Iraqi nationalist. The call to arms that established the PMF is framed in nationalist terms, and there are groups in the PMF — such as the Abbas Combat Divisions — that have a genuinely nationalist and state-centered outlook and have been integrated into the Ministry of Defense.”

The Guardian: ‘A More Dangerous Long-Term Threat’: Al-Qaida Grows As ISIS Retreats

“When three al-Qaida veterans were killed in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan in October, it barely created a ripple. So dominant has Isis become in the realm of jihadist lore, that you could be forgiven for thinking that its precursor has been relegated to a mere footnote. You’d be wrong. Those three deaths, all in US airstrikes, paradoxically hint at a resurgence of al-Qaida, at a time when Isis is in retreat in Iraq, Syria and Libya. Quietly, and more through soft power rather than harsh atrocity, al-Qaida is trying to mount a revival.”

Voice Of America: US Slams Claims Of Turkish ‘Evidence’ Backing Islamic State

“The U.S. Embassy in Ankara in a strongly worded statement Wednesday denied claims by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that there is ‘confirmed evidence’ showing U.S.-led coalition forces have given support to Islamic State. ‘The United States government is not supporting Daesh,’ the embassy said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State (IS) group. The United States ‘did not create or support Daesh in the past. Assertions the United States government is supporting Daesh are not true,’ the statement said. Erdogan on Tuesday accused the U.S.-led coalition of not only backing IS but also Kurdish rebel factions operating inside and outside of Turkey.”

CNN: Turkey And Russia Agree On Draft Syria Ceasefire, Report Says

“Turkey and Russia have reportedly agreed on a draft nationwide ceasefire in Syria, the Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu said Wednesday. The report cited an unnamed source saying that Ankara and Moscow would try to bring a ceasefire into effect at midnight. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed that Turkey had prepared an agreement, Reuters reported, but it was not immediately clear if the Syrian rebel groups involved in the conflict were aware of the draft plan. The Anadolu report said that unspecified ‘terrorist organizations’ would be excluded from the deal. In past agreements, ‘terrorist organizations’ have included ISIS and the Al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra.”

Associated Press: Israel Arrests Brother Of Hamas Internal Security Chief

“Israel’s military says troops arrested the brother of a senior member of the Islamic militant group Hamas. It said Wednesday that Bilal Rozayna, the brother of Hamas internal security chief Mustafa Rozayna, was arrested last month after he entered Israel. It said he ‘revealed sensitive information regarding Hamas activity’ about the group’s tunnel system and use of civilian areas in the 2014 war with Israel, including a hospital. Hamas is trying to rebuild its vast underground network of tunnels— designed to store weapons and infiltrate Israel —which was damaged in the 2014 war.”

NDTV: Top ISIS Terrorist Killed In Air Strike In Syria, Says US Coalition

“One of ISIS’s top commanders in Syria has been killed in a US-led coalition air strike, the coalition’s spokesman said on Thursday, corroborating an earlier report. Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti, a member of ISIS’s war committee, was killed on Monday by the Tabqa Dam, a strategic objective in northern Syria near Raqqa city, the terrorists’ main stronghold in the country, the spokesman said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war, had reported on Tuesday his probable death in combat as the militants sought to stave off an advance towards the dam by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). ISIS has yet to confirm Kuwaiti’s death.”

The New York Times: Tunisian Detained As Possible Accomplice In Berlin Attack

“A 40-year-old Tunisian man has been detained as a possible accomplice of Anis Amri, the man identified as the terrorist who carried out the truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people, German officials said on Wednesday. The Tunisian was held in Berlin, news agencies reported, after a search of a home and offices associated with the man, whose name was not released. Information about him was found in the cellphone of Mr. Amri, a 24-year-old Tunisian, who was killed on Friday during a shootout with police officers outside Milan. The development on Wednesday was announced by the office of Peter Frank, the public prosecutor general, which is based in Karlsruhe.”

The Wall Street Journal: Terrorism Cases More Than Doubled In Indonesia In 2016

“Arrests and deaths of suspected terrorists in Indonesia more than doubled to 170 in 2016, police said Wednesday, a rise they tied to Islamic State spreading its operations globally as the organization came under pressure in Syria and Iraq. Indonesian National Police chief Tito Karnavian said security personnel in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation arrested 137 suspected terrorists in 2016, up from 75 last year. They killed 33 suspected terrorists in counterterrorism operations, up from seven last year. “It’s because of the dynamics within Islamic State in Syria and Iraq,” Mr. Karnavian told journalists, saying Russia and countries of the West had pushed Islamic State into a corner. “To divert attention, their networks overseas were being told” to attack.”

Wall Street Journal: Inside The 37-Year Standoff Over Iran’s Frozen U.S. Dollars

“When the shah of Iran fell in 1979, the U.S. froze at least $400 million of Iranian money sitting in a Pentagon trust fund. The Islamic Republic of Iran never stopped trying to get it back. Tehran unsuccessfully sought the money from Jimmy Carter in return for 52 American diplomats held hostage for 444 days. It asked the Reagan administration for the same money during dealings that led to the Iran-Contra scandal. The issue came up yet again during negotiations with George H.W. Bush’s White House. No administration agreed to surrender all the money, until Jan. 17, shortly after four American citizens were released from Iranian jails in a prisoner exchange. That is when an Iranian government Boeing 737 lifted off from Geneva’s Cointrin airport carrying $400 million—stacks of Swiss francs delivered on wooden pallets earlier that day by the U.S. government.”

The Independent: China Suicide Bombing Attempt Thwarted By Police After Attackers Ram Vehicle Into Government Building In Xinjiang

“Attackers have driven a car into a government building in China’s unruly far western region of Xinjiang and set off an explosive device killing one person, while all four of the attackers were shot dead, the regional government said. Hundreds of people have been killed over the past years in resource-rich Xinjiang, on the borders of central Asia, in violence between the Muslim Uighur people who call the region home and ethnic majority Han Chinese. The government has blamed the unrest on Islamist militants, though rights groups and exiles say anger at Chinese controls on the religion and culture of Uighurs is more to blame for the unrest. China denies any repression in Xinjiang.”

Daily Mail: Woman, 30, Is Beheaded In Afghanistan For Entering A City To Go Shopping Without Her Husband 

“A woman has reportedly been beheaded by a group of armed men in Afghanistan after she entered a city without her husband. The horrific act took place in the remote village of Latti in Sar-e-Pul province, which is under Taliban control. Provincial Governor spokesman Zabiullah Amani told the Nation that the 30-year-old woman was targeted because she went out alone without her husband, who is in Iran. The Middle East Press reported the woman had gone to the market to shop. Under Taliban rule women are prohibited from leaving their homes unless accompanied by a close male relative.”

Eyewitness News: Boko Haram May Have Used Chibok Girls As Shields During Attack — Nigerian Army

“Boko Haram fighters fleeing an attack on their base last week may have used some of the girls kidnapped in 2014 from northeast Nigeria’s Chibok as human shields to prevent being fired upon by fighter jets, a military commander said on Wednesday. Major General Lucky Irabor, theatre commander of Nigeria’s military campaign against the group, showed a news conference aerial footage he said was filmed during the operation in the Sambisa forest that showed Boko Haram fighters moving with women and children. “The haggard fighters were just using them as a shield,” Irabor told reporters in the northeastern city of Maiduguri. “That is why we did not engage them from the air.”

United States

NPR: John Kerry Defends Two-State Solution, Rebukes Israeli Settlements

“With his tenure as secretary of state rapidly pulling to a close, John Kerry made an impassioned defense for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Wednesday. Kerry said he is concerned that some Israeli politicians are rejecting it. ‘If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic; it cannot be both, and it won’t ever really be at peace,’ said Kerry. Speaking at the State Department, Kerry sharply criticized the Israeli government’s construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. He said the policy was dimming the prospect of peace. In the more than hourlong address, Kerry also defended the U.S.’s refusal to block a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements. The resolution led to fierce accusations that the Obama administration had turned against Israel.”

Syria

The Associated Press: The Latest: Mortar Fire On Russian Embassy In Syria

“Russia says its embassy in the Syrian capital has been hit by mortar fire. The Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that a mortar round landed in the embassy courtyard without exploding, and another fell in the vicinity. The ministry says sappers have been called in to remove the device. Russian officials blamed the attack on ‘extremists’ opposed to a peaceful settlement of Syria’s conflict. Russia is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has been battling a revolt against his family’s four-decade rule since 2011.”

The Daily Caller: Russian Allies Discuss Splitting Syria Into 3 De-Facto States To End Civil War

“Russia, Turkey, and Iran are reportedly discussing splitting Syria into three autonomous sub-states in a final deal to end the ongoing Syrian civil war, Reuters reports. The three sub-states would be regionally autonomous and nominally remain under the power of a federal administrative system. This federal system would retain Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in the beginning, before a less divisive figure took the helm. Assad’s religious sect, Shiite Alawites, would remain in charge of the federal system and have their own zone of influence under the terms of the deal. The Syrian proposal hearkens back to Vice President Joe Biden’s 2006 proposal to split Iraq into three autonomous sub-states in lieu of pursuing the 2007 troop surge. Biden termed the proposal, ‘Unity through Autonomy.’”

The Washington Post: Russia Seeks Backing For New Talks On Syria

“Russia is drumming up diplomatic support for talks in Kazakhstan next month aimed at ending the fighting in Syria, a plan that would give Moscow a greater voice in efforts to broker a settlement of the nearly six-year-old conflict. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by phone Wednesday with Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations special envoy for Syria, and exchanged views about a possible Syria agreement, the foreign affairs ministry said in Moscow. Mr. de Mistura expressed support for a plan announced last week by the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey to hold talks between members of the Syrian government and some opposition groups in the Kazakh capital, Astana, the ministry said. Groups such as Islamic State and the group previously known as Nusra Front would be excluded.”

Iraq

CNN: Iraq’s PM Says ISIS Could Be Defeated ‘Within 3 Months’

“Iraqi security forces are advancing in Mosul and could defeat ISIS in the country ‘within three months,’ said Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The prime minister made his remarks Tuesday in a Baghdad press conference that was broadcast on Iraqiya State TV. His comments came as Iraqi forces prepare for the next phase of military operations in its fight to wrest the city of Mosul from ISIS control. Since October, a coalition of Iraqi-led forces including the Iraqi army, counter-terrorism forces, federal police, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite-led paramilitary forces have pushed to end ISIS’ brutal rule in Mosul. The city remains the last major stronghold of ISIS after the militant group seized control in 2014.”

Turkey

Newsweek: Turkey’s President Erdogan Accuses U.S. Coalition Of Supporting ISIS

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday accused the U.S.-led coalition fighting in in Iraq and Syria of supporting the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), as well as Syrian Kurds in regions that sit along Turkey’s southern border. ‘They were accusing us of supporting Daesh,’ he told a press conference in Ankara, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS. ‘Now they give support to terrorist groups including Daesh, YPG, PYD. It’s very clear. We have confirmed evidence, with pictures, photos and videos,’ he said, referring to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units and the Democratic Union Party, Washington’s Kurdish partners on the ground in Syria.”

Reuters: One Turkish Soldier Killed After Clashes With Kurdish Militant: Sources

“One Turkish soldier and two Kurdish militants died as a result of clashes overnight in the eastern province of Tunceli, security sources said on Wednesday. The clashes broke out in the Tunceli countryside, where security forces were carrying out an ongoing operation against militants, broadcaster NTV said. The outlawed militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has repeatedly targeted security forces, especially in the country’s southeast, since abandoning a 2-1/2-year ceasefire in July 2015. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict since the autonomy-seeking PKK took up arms in 1984. It is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.”

Sputnik News: Over 1,300 People Detained In 2016 Over Daesh Links Remain In Custody In Turkey

“A total of 1,313 people apprehended in Turkey in 2016 over suspected links to the Islamic State (ISIL or Daesh) terror group are still in custody, local media reported on Wednesday, citing the country’s Interior Ministry. The total number of people detained over suspected terrorist links this year is 3,359, the Anadolu news agency specified. The ministry also said that Turkish authorities had arrested 7,015 people suspected of Daesh links between 2011 and 2016 with 2,712 of them being foreigners.”

Middle East

BBC: Israel-Palestinians: Netanyahu Condemns John Kerry Speech

“Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned as biased a speech by outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry on Israeli-Palestinian issues. Mr Kerry said the prospect of a peace deal based on a two-state solution was in grave jeopardy. Israeli settlement building on occupied land was a major problem, he said. Mr Netanyahu said he was disappointed with the speech, which he said was ‘unbalanced’ and ‘obsessively focused’ on settlements. Mr Kerry had ‘paid lip service to the unremitting Palestinian campaign of terrorism’ against Israel, he said.”

Nigeria

BBC: Nigeria’s Starving Children Who Fled Boko Haram

“Nigeria has been hit by the biggest humanitarian crisis in Africa, with the UN warning that some 100,000 people, mostly children, could die of starvation in the north-east unless they receive urgent aid. The extent of the crisis has become clearer as the army regains territory from militant Islamist group Boko Haram, which launched an insurgency in 2009 to establish Islamic rule in the region.”

Reuters: Dozens Of Boko Haram Fighters Surrender In Southern Niger

“Dozens of Boko Haram fighters have given themselves up to authorities in southern Niger, the interior minister said, days after the Islamist group suffered key losses over the border in Nigeria. ‘Thirty-one young people from Diffa, who were enrolled a few years ago in Boko Haram, decided to surrender,’ minister Mohamed Bazoum wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, above pictures of him touring the area near Nigeria’s northeast border. The fighters arrived in the remote desert town of Diffa in groups and were being held by local authorities. ‘I learned that the first who surrendered were not arrested, and I surrendered,’ a former Boko Haram combatant told national television.”

Germany

Deutsche Welle: Nearly 20,000 Migrants Turned Away At Germany’s Borders, 55,000 More Chose To Leave

“An increasing number of migrants are voluntarily leaving Germany to return to their homelands and police are refusing entry to more people at the border, according to media reports on Wednesday citing official statistics. So far this year around 55,000 migrants voluntarily left Germany to return to their country of origin, the largest number in 16 years, the daily ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’ reported. The number is nearly double the estimated 25,000 forced deportations carried out so far this year. Most of the migrants came from the western Balkans, with around 15,000 people returning to Albania up to November.  That was followed by another 5,000 migrants each from Serbia, Kosovo and Iraq. The figures are based on internal documents from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).”

The Washington Post: More Migrants Are Leaving Germany On Their Own Before The Country Can Deport Them

“If 2015 was the year in which Germany opened its doors to refugees, 2016 was when the country pondered how to close them. Although the influx of refugees peaked more than a year ago, attacks like the one in Berlin on Dec. 19 have led to demands that Germany refuse entry to individuals without passports and step up deportations of criminals and terrorism suspects. Authorities hope that another trend will have a bigger effect in the short run: migrants deciding to go back because they are fed up with Germany or fear deportation. More than twice as many migrants departed the country voluntarily this year than were deported.”

Europe

Associated Press: 2 Spaniards Arrested As They Returned To Europe From Syria

“The Spanish government says that Turkish authorities have arrested two Spanish women suspected of being part of the Islamic State group as they were leaving Syria accompanied by children. Spain’s interior ministry said Wednesday that the two women had been tracked for two years since they left for Syria from Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in northern Africa, accompanied by their husbands. According to the statement, the husbands are ‘prominent’ IS members and the wives, who were also part of the IS structure, are considered ‘extraordinarily valuable assets’ for the organization.”

Sputnik News: Europe Struggles To Combat Terror Threat Amid Intel Incoherence – Analyst

“Law enforcement agencies throughout Europe are struggling to deal with the complexities of sharing intelligence on known terrorism threats because of the federalized structure of many of its agencies, leading to a failure to pass on critical knowledge to where it is most needed, Sputnik has been told. The latest terrorist atrocity in Europe — in which a man drove a truck into a crowd shopping at an outdoor Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, December 19, killing 12 and injuring 49 — highlighted the fact that intelligence agencies throughout Europe are still struggling to unite on common intelligence sharing.”

Combating the Financing of Terrorism

Gulfeyes: Kuwait Stock Exchange Holds Workshop On Combating The Financing Of Terrorism

“The Kuwait Stock Exchange held an awareness workshop on “the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing” for members of its Board of Directors, the Executive Body and all of its employees. The workshop focused on raising awareness regarding the regulatory, legislative and due diligence procedures required to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism. According to organizers, this comes as an “expression of the eagerness” of the Kuwait Stock Exchange to develop the skills of its board members and employees to protect the interests of Kuwaiti financial market dealers and other parties involved in the stock market.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Elwatan: Egypt: Company Impounded By Brotherhood Asset Freeze Committee Offers Guides A Monthly Wage Of 120,000 Pounds

“A tourist company, which was previously seized by the Brotherhood Asset Freeze Committee and had its funds impounded, published an ad today in a local newspaper.  In the want-ads section it said: “Solar Empire Travel” Company is looking for tour guides fluent in Chinese for a monthly salary of 120,000 pounds ($6,250). Those interested in the job must obtain a permit from the Tourism Ministry’s Guidance Department.” Note that the Brotherhood Asset Freeze Committee announced, on May 29th, administrative irregularities in the appropriated company. These irregularities were confirmed by the inspection and control sub-committee belonging to the Committee.”

Al-Qaeda

Makkah Newspaper: Saudi Arabia: Al-Qaeda Member Convicted Of Plotting To Blow Up Oil Installation

“In the second case in a week involving al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh yesterday sentenced a Saudi citizen to imprisonment after convicting him of being one of the most veteran al-Qaeda members. For 16 years, the man was part of a four-member cell which conspired to commit terrorist acts. Its {major} plots featured blowing up the Abqaiq Oil Refinery, kidnapping and killing security service officials, and blowing up a residential compound inhabited by foreigners. According to the list of convictions, the defendant lured several individuals who embraced “suspicious thoughts” to carry out a suicide operation in one of the country’s provinces. The court also found him guilty of financing terrorism.”

Houthi

From-Yemen: Yemen: Houthi Militias Obtain Enormous Revenues

“Sources close to the Political Council, which is the highest authority in the Houthi–Saleh (Yemen’s ousted president) alliance, claimed that militiamen seized tens of billions (of riyals) in public revenues and used them as they pleased. These revenues, estimated around two months ago at more than 40 billion riyals ($16 million), include telecommunications companies. The money was also obtained from customs and tax revenues, donations collected to support the Central Bank, as well as oil and gas revenues. However, in the end, these funds were not delivered to the Central Bank, according to the informed sources. Meanwhile, mid last week Yemeni journalist Mohammed Abdu al-Absi died. It is believed he was poisoned. Sources close to him stated that he had obtained documents revealing corruption by Houthi leaders who were involved in oil derivative transactions on the black market. These same leaders were also allegedly involved in the establishment of private oil companies to impose their monopoly on oil imports.”

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