Eye on Extremism, February 02, 2017

Reuters: Pentagon To Seek Budget Change To Boost Islamic State Fight

“U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis has directed the Pentagon to seek an increase in overall spending to address shortfalls and ‘new requirements’ needed to accelerate the campaign against Islamic State, according to a memo released on Wednesday. In addition to the proposed 2017 fiscal year budget amendment request, Mattis also asked for a broader budget and strategy review looking ahead to future years but did not offer estimates in his guidance to the Department of Defense, the Pentagon memo said.”

Reuters: Trump To Focus Counter Extremism Program Solely On Islam: Sources

“The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters. The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States. Such a change would reflect Trump’s election campaign rhetoric and criticism of former President Barack Obama for being weak in the fight against Islamic State and for refusing to use the phrase “radical Islam” in describing it. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for attacks on civilians in several countries.”

CNN: US Threatens Iran, But What Comes Next?

“The Trump administration is getting tough with Iran — but can’t yet say how it will back up its rhetoric. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn made a surprise, first-on-camera appearance Wednesday, using the authority of the White House briefing room to send a strong message to the leaders of the Islamic Republic and the wider Middle East “As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,” Flynn said, in a statement condemning a recent Iranian ballistic missile launch and attacks on Saudi and Emirati vessels by Yemeni-based Houthi rebels, which are backed by Iran.”

Reuters: Syrian Army Dash To Al-Bab Risks Turkey Clash

“A rapid advance by the Syrian army towards the Islamic State-held city of al-Bab risks sparking a confrontation with Turkey as Damascus seeks to stop its neighbor penetrating deeper into a strategically important area of northern Syria. Northern Syria is one of the most complicated battlefields of the multi-sided Syrian war, with Islamic State now being fought there by the Syrian army, Turkey and its rebel allies, and an alliance of U.S.-backed Syrian militias. In less than two weeks, Syrian army units have moved to within 6 km (4 miles) of al-Bab, a city that is also being targeted in a campaign waged by the Turkish military and its allies, groups fighting under the Free Syrian Army banner.”

The New York Times: Questions Cloud U.S. Raid On Qaeda Branch In Yemen

“Just five days after taking office, over dinner with his newly installed secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, President Trump was presented with the first of what will be many life-or-death decisions: whether to approve a commando raid that risked the lives of American Special Operations forces and foreign civilians alike. President Barack Obama’s national security aides had reviewed the plans for a risky attack on a small, heavily guarded brick home of a senior Qaeda collaborator in a mountainous village in a remote part of central Yemen. But Mr. Obama did not act because the Pentagon wanted to launch the attack on a moonless night and the next one would come after his term had ended.”

Foreign Affairs: ISIS’ New Frontier

“The West might believe that Mosul and Raqqa are the final frontiers in the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS), but the terrorist group has, over the last six months, pulled resources and people from those frontlines to fortify the lesser-known province of Deir ez-Zor. Located in Syria’s southeast near the Iraqi border, Deir ez-Zor has been largely under ISIS control since 2014. Conveniently located between Raqqa and Mosul, Deir ez-Zor is strategically positioned to serve as a military and supply hub for ISIS. Flanked by mountains and divided by the enormous Euphrates river, the town is a natural fortress, which will make it more difficult for ground troops to launch a surprise attack, and airstrikes alone may not be very effective.”

The Hill: Trump Claims Iran Is ‘Taking Over’ Iraq In Late-Night Tweet

“Trump’s comments came the same day that the White House condemned a recent ballistic missile test by Iran, and put the country ‘on notice,’ though the administration did not specify what actions it would take. ‘The Trump administration condemns such actions by Iran that undermine security, prosperity, and stability throughout and beyond the Middle East and place American lives at risk,’ National Security Advisor Michael Flynn said during the daily White House press briefing. ‘As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.’ It was not immediately clear what Trump’s tweets were referring to, though Iran has been involved in military operations to fight the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq since 2014.”

Associated Press: Islamic State Turns To Drones To Direct Suicide Car Bombers

“Faced with a diminishing number of fighters, the Islamic State group is relying on retrofitted commercial drones to guide suicide car bombers to their targets and to launch small-scale airstrikes on Iraqi forces. The extremist group is spending freely on drone technology as it faces pressure from coalition forces, hacking store-bought machines, applying rigorous testing protocols and mimicking tactics used by U.S. unmanned aircraft. In all, a half-dozen storehouses IS used to make and modify drones have been found recently in Mosul, Iraqi military officials said.”

The Times Of Israel: Israel Works On ‘Digital Iron Dome’ For Cyberdefense

“Israel is working toward creating a ‘digital equivalent of the Iron Dome’ to protect its government, public and private institutions from the increasing intensity of cyberattacks, Eviatar Matania, director general of Israel’s National Cyber Directorate, said. Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system has been used in recent years to intercept and destroy rockets launched by Hamas from the Gaza Strip. It has proven highly effective in protecting civilian populations from the rocket threat. The defense shield Israel would like to install to protect its cyberspace ‘will not just be one system, but a combination of several systems that together will enable us to be in a much better place’ vis-a-vis cyberattacks, Matania said Monday at a briefing with reporters at the CyberTech 2017 Conference in Tel Aviv. ‘In several years, I think we will be in a much different position, with all the systems working together.’”

New York Times: Terror Raids In Germany Reap More Doubts Than Results

“Cloaked in body armor and bearing heavy weapons, more than 1,000 German police officers swooped down Wednesday on homes, offices and mosques in shock-and-awe raids centered on Germany’s financial capital, Frankfurt. Nationwide, more than 50 sites were targeted. For Germany’s security apparatus, the raid was intended as a high-profile demonstration of official resolve to counter terrorism. Yet the modest yield — just one arrest and 15 placed under investigation and released — muted any chest thumping. More disconcerting still, the man arrested, a 36-year-old Tunisian believed to be plotting an attack in Germany, was known to the authorities as a suspect in a horrific 2015 assault on a national museum in the Tunisian capital.”

The Atlantic: Trump’s Travel Ban Will Not ‘Help’ ISIS Recruitment

“The conventional liberal wisdom on the Trump administration’s executive order suspending immigration to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries—also known as “the Muslim ban”—is that the ban is as counterproductive as it is illiberal. The argument, roughly, is that with the order signed on Friday, the Trump administration has “played into the hands” of ISIS and other jihadist groups, giving a boon to their propaganda motif that America is at war with Islam. This argument is also widely shared among counterterrorism experts and commentators, who worry that the travel ban will imperil “the gray zone” that defines and facilitates the liberal democratic order. The “gray zone,” as conceived by ISIS propagandists, is the liminal—and, as ISIS sees it, fundamentally corrupt—public space in which moderate Muslims and non-Muslims peaceably co-exist.”

Deutsche Welle: Program Paying Asylum Applicants To Leave Germany Voluntarily Begins

“The program ‘StartHilfe Plus,’ which loosely translates to ‘start help plus,’ began on Wednesday. Administered by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the initiative aims to financially reward asylum applicants if they are willing to return to their homelands. About 40 million euros ($43 million) has been set aside for payments. ‘In the year 2016 about 55,000 people voluntarily returned to their homelands – that’s an increase compared to the year before [about 35,000 in 2015]. We have good conditions [for another increase on voluntary returns] with our additional budget,’ Jutta Cordt, who officially took over the leadership of BAMF on Wednesday, told DW.”

The Jerusalem Post News: ‘Islamic State Recruiter’ Arrested In Germany

“Security officials say that a Tunisian asylum seeker arrested on Wednesday morning on suspicion of planning an attack was also wanted by Tunisia over his suspected involvement in the deadly militant assault on the Bardo Museum in Tunis. A mass operation across central Germany in the early hours of Wednesday morning culminated in the arrest of a Tunisian man suspected of plotting an attack. A 36-year-old asylum-seeker found in Frankfurt is now under investigation. He’s thought to have recruited and trafficked for Islamic State in Germany since 2015, building up a network of supporters to carry out terrorist attacks. He’s among 15 others also being investigated. German police arrested three men in Berlin over suspected links to Islamic State militants, saying they planned to travel to the Middle East for combat training.”

Wall Street Journal: Middle East Christians Fear Trump Ban Will Backfire

“Few people are more distraught by President Donald Trump’s executive order barring citizens of seven Middle Eastern and African countries from the U.S. than the leaders of a community he said he seeks to help: the region’s Christians. Mr. Trump’s order, issued last Friday and aimed at preventing terrorist attacks on American soil, suspended travel from these Muslim-majority countries for at least 90 days. It also ordered a revamping of the U.S. refugee admission process to prioritize those who suffer religious persecution—but only if the applicants follow a “minority religion” in their country. Most of the violence in the Middle East, however, is between Sunni and Shiite Muslims who both follow the same religion (Sunnis are a minority in Iraq and a majority in Syria). Speaking to the Christian Broadcasting Network last week, Mr. Trump said he meant to single out Christians, followers of by far the largest minority faith in the Middle East.”

Voice Of America News: Report: Militant Groups in Afghanistan Get Rich Off Mineral Smuggling

“The smuggling of Afghan minerals supplies millions of dollars to armed groups, insurgents and strongmen in the country, an Afghan anti-corruption watchdog reported Wednesday. The Afghanistan Anti-Corruption Network said in a report that militant groups last year received at least $46 million from minerals and precious stones illegally exported from eastern Nangarhar province to neighboring Pakistan. The report said up to 750,000 tons of marble and talc stones were smuggled in 2016 from various parts of the restive province, where Taliban and Islamic State fighters have been active in several districts.”

Voice Of America: Afghanistan Rejects US Watchdog Report Claiming Continuing Loss Of Territory

“An American watchdog says Afghan national security forces lost about 7,000 personnel in the first 11 months of 2016 and the U.S.-backed government controls less than 60 percent of the country. The findings are part of a new quarterly report the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko released Wednesday, after submitting it to the U.S. Congress. ‘The numbers of the Afghan security forces are decreasing, while both casualties and the number of districts under insurgent control or influence are increasing,’ according to the report, though Afghan defense ministry officials immediately questioned it.”

United States

Reuters: Concerned About Refugees, U.N. Experts Add To Censure Of Trump Move

“U.N. human rights experts warned that asylum seekers could face torture if not given safe harbor and the Vatican called for openness to other cultures on Wednesday, adding to a drumbeat of international criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel curbs. Trump’s executive order last Friday put a 120-day halt on the U.S. refugee program, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely and imposed a 90-day suspension on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The move, which his administration says is aimed at protecting the United States from terrorist attacks, has been condemned by many countries and has sparked protests and court challenges in the United States.”

Reuters: U.S. Military Probing More Possible Civilian Deaths In Yemen Raid

“The U.S. military said on Wednesday it was looking into whether more civilians were killed in a raid on al Qaeda in Yemen on the weekend, in the first operation authorized by President Donald Trump as commander in chief. U.S. Navy SEAL William ‘Ryan’ Owens was killed in the raid on a branch of al Qaeda, also known as AQAP, in al Bayda province, which the Pentagon said also killed 14 militants. However, medics at the scene said about 30 people, including 10 women and children, were killed. U.S. Central Command said in a statement that an investigating team had ‘concluded regrettably that civilian non-combatants were likely killed’ during Sunday’s raid. It said children may have been among the casualties.”

Business Insider: Former CIA Director Petraeus Warns That The Current International Order Could ‘Fray’ And ‘Collapse’

“Retired Gen. David Petraeus told Congress on Wednesday that the US shouldn’t take the existing international order for granted. The former CIA director told the House Armed Services Committee that the post-World War II world order had begun to face an ‘unprecedented threat from multiple directions.’ ‘Americans should not take the current international order for granted,’ Petraeus said. ‘It did not will itself into existence. We created it. Likewise, it is not naturally self-sustaining. We have sustained it. If we stop doing so, it will fray and, eventually, collapse.’”

Syria

Reuters: Syrian Rebels Reject Talks Which Do Not Lead To Power Transition

“Syria’s armed opposition factions said in a statement on Wednesday they could not accept an invitation to peace talks which did not lead to a ‘transition of power to a transitional governing body’. The statement also said no steps could be taken towards a political solution to the Syrian civil war without a fully enforced ceasefire. It said no outsiders could choose who represented the Syrian opposition at negotiations, a comment directed at U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura.”

Reuters: Islamic State Kills Syrian Soldiers In Air Base Attack – Monitors

“Islamic State fighters killed at least 14 Syrian soldiers in a fierce attack on a military airport northeast of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported on Monday. The British-based Observatory said the ultra-hardline group had launched the assault on Sunday near the al-Seen airport some 70 km (44 miles) from the capital, taking over several positions in the area held by the Syrian army. Islamic State controls vast areas of eastern Syria including most of Deir al-Zor province and its de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa. It seized the historic city of Palmyra, some 200 km from Damascus, in December for the second time in the six-year Syrian conflict, driving out government forces which with Russian military support had recaptured it in March.”

Reuters: Air Strikes Hit Red Crescent Offices In Syria, Monitoring Group Says

“Air strikes hit Syrian Red Crescent offices in the northwestern city of Idlib after midnight on Wednesday, injuring several staff and causing extensive damage, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. It was not clear which air force the jets belonged to or whether they had taken off from inside Syria or crossed its borders, the British-based Observatory said. Russian and Syrian warplanes have been carrying out raids against Syrian insurgents in Idlib province, a rebel stronghold, but since the new year U.S. air strikes have also targeted militants in Idlib formerly affiliated to al Qaeda. Among those wounded in Wednesday’s raid was the director of the local Red Crescent branch, the Observatory said.”

Politico: Russia: Trump Needs To Be More Specific On Syria Safe Zone Plan

President Donald Trump is getting push back from Russia on his proposal to set up safe zones in Syria as a way to protect civilians there. Reuters reports that Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov cautioned Wednesday that such a program had been unsuccessful in Libya and argued that Trump needs to offer more specifics on his plans. Lavrov, Reuters reports, said he hopes the Kremlin can discuss the issue with the State Department once it has more detailed plans.”

Iraq

The Hill: Trump Travel Order Complicates ISIS Fight In Iraq

“President Trump’s inclusion of Iraq in his executive order limiting travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries is putting a strain on U.S.-Iraqi relations, potentially hindering the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi now has a choice: He can either enforce a reciprocal ban on U.S. visas, which could drive American military contractors out of the country, or accept the policy, which could leave an opening for a leader less supportive of America to take his place.”

CNN: Iraqis Say Trump’s Travel Ban Ignores Their Service To The US

“Two prosthetic legs lean against the wall in the bedroom, black shoes protruding from the trousers. In another corner sit several suitcases, packed, stacked and ready to go. Omar Hameed plans to strap the legs on when he finally gets the go-ahead to head to Baghdad International Airport with this wife and four children to fly to the United States. Their passports all have clearly marked immigrant visas, issued by the US Embassy in Baghdad on Dec. 20, 2016. But their plans are now on hold following President Trump’s executive order imposing a temporary travel ban on citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iraq.”

Turkey

Reuters: Turkish Warplanes Kill 51 Islamic State Militants In Syria: Military Statement

“Turkish warplanes killed 51 Islamic State militants in operations over the last 24 hours, the military said in a statement on Thursday. Warplanes destroyed 85 Islamic State targets in the areas of al-Bab, Tadif, Kabbasin and Bzagah, including buildings and vehicles. Turkey launched an operation, dubbed ‘Euphrates Shield’, to drive jihadists away from the Syrian border more than five months ago and has been besieging the Islamic State controlled town of al-Bab for weeks.”

Reuters: Greece Reports Mass Turkish Air Incursions As Tensions Simmer

“Greece reported mass incursions by Turkish military aircraft on Wednesday, amid tensions over Athens’ failure to hand over Turkish soldiers Ankara accuses of involvement in a coup attempt. Defense ministry officials said they had recorded 138 violations of Greek airspace over islands in the central and southern Aegean, an unusually high number. They were intercepted, they said. Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos criticized what he called Turkey’s ‘cowboy antics’. ‘We want peace, we are not looking for a fight or for trouble in the Aegean, but there won’t be an aircraft which will not be intercepted,’ Kammenos told Antenna Television. A Greek court last week blocked the extradition of eight Turkish military officers Ankara accuses of involvement in a failed coup in July 2016. Turkey said relations between the two countries would be reviewed.”

U.S. News & World Report: Turkey’s Moves Against Dissent

“When pressed to recall the police detentions she has faced during the past two months, Nuriye Gülmen says they are so frequent that she now has trouble counting the interval from one to another. ‘Was it six days ago that we were last taken into custody?’ the 34-year-old leftist academic asked her comrade, 27-year-old Semih Özakça, in late December. Both have been protesting being dismissed from their positions for alleged ties to illegal organizations. The two academics are among more than 125,000 people that Reuters reported were fired or suspended across Turkey in government-led purges following an attempted military coup last summer that has led to an ongoing state of emergency.”

Deutsche Welle: Turkey Readies Rocky Reception For Chancellor Angela Merkel

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s one day visit to Turkey on Thursday will focus on efforts to find a political solution in Syria and the EU-Turkey refugee agreement. Merkel is facing a tough election battle this year and the subject of refugees is set to be a key issue. However, there seems to be little crossover between Ankara’s expectations and Berlin’s priorities. In the aftermath the attempted coup on July 15, Turkey criticized its European allies for a lack of solidarity and believes that Merkel’s visit has come far too late. However, Mustafa Yeneroglu, member of parliament for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was keen to stress the symbolism of Merkel’s trip. ‘This visit, taking place 6 months after the bloody coup attempt of July 15, is no doubt very important,’ he told DW.”

Afghanistan

Deutsche Welle: US Watchdog Warns Afghan Reconstruction ‘Tenuous And Incomplete’

“The Afghan government has lost territory to Taliban insurgents and security forces have suffered from rising casualties and attrition, while widespread corruption continues to undermine reconstruction, a US government watchdog said on Wednesday. The 269-page quarterly report released by the US Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) noted the $117 billion (108 billion euros) Washington has invested in reconstruction in Afghanistan since 2002 has led to ‘tenuous and incomplete’ gains that risk failing if security and corruption are not addressed.”

Yemen

CNN: Inside The Yemen Raid: Women Al Qaeda Fighters Surprised US Forces

“New details have emerged surrounding Sunday’s deadly joint US-United Arab Emirates counterterrorism raid on an al Qaeda compound in Yemen, shedding light on why the mission happened when it did — and what went wrong. The military said the operation was geared toward collecting as much intelligence on the terror group as possible in order to facilitate future raids and strikes against al Qaeda down the road and prevent terror attacks. The raid was greenlit by President Donald Trump shortly after taking the oath of office, but multiple officials told CNN the mission had been planned months in advance and had been briefed to then-President Barack Obama.”

Egypt

Associated Press: Dozens Arrested On Anniversary Of Deadly Egypt Soccer Riot

“Egyptian security forces arrested dozens in central Cairo on Wednesday, the anniversary of a soccer riot that killed over 70 fans in 2012. Lawyer Mokhtar Mounir told The Associated Press that over 80 people were taken into custody, with some arrests made near the club grounds belonging to the Al-Ahly team. Most of the victims of the rioting five years ago were fans of Al-Ahly. The rioting was Egypt’s worst soccer disaster to date and one of the world’s deadliest. The lawyer said the police likely made the arrests Wednesday on suspicion those detained had planned to stage a protest. Public gatherings without a permit are banned under Egypt’s draconian anti-terrorism laws.”

Middle East

The Times Of Israel: Hamas Inmates Attack Israeli Guards In Prison Protests

“Two Palestinian security prisoners belonging to the Hamas terror group lightly wounded two guards by attacking them with screwdrivers in separate incidents at Israeli jails Wednesday. On Wednesday morning, Khaled A-Silawi from the Gazan city of Beit Lahia, attacked a guard in the Hamas block of the Nafha Prison outside the southern town of Mitzpe Ramon, Channel 10 reported. He was overpowered and transferred to solitary confinement. Later in the day, during a prisoner count in the Hamas block of Ketziot Prison, southwest of Beersheba, Ahmad Omar Natzar from the West Bank town of Madama also attacked a guard. He too was overpowered and sent to an isolation cell.”

Haaretz: Israel Imprisoning Brother Of Senior Hamas Security Chief

“For two months, Israel has been holding a Hamas activist from the Gaza Strip, whose family – seconded by an Israeli court-appointed psychiatrist – says he suffers from mental illness. The man is a brother of a senior officer in Hamas’ security apparatus in the Strip. Two Israeli citizens missing in Gaza, Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayyad, also suffer from emotional problems. To date, Hamas has avoided any discussion of making any kind of humanitarian exchange for the two citizens, along with the bodies of 1st Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, who were killed in Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. It isn’t clear whether Hamas is holding a third Israeli, Juma Abu Anima, who also crossed into the Gaza Strip.”

The Jerusalem Post News: ‘Israel Only Free State In The Middle East,’ Report Finds

“Civil liberties and political freedoms are under threat worldwide and have been rolled back in the world’s founding democracies, Freedom House declared on Wednesday in its annual report. Israel remains the only free country in the Middle East, scoring 80 on a scale of 100. That compares favorably with partly free countries in the region such as Turkey (38), Jordan (37) and Kuwait (36), and with countries deemed ‘not free’ by the nonprofit: Iraq (27), Iran (17), Saudi Arabia (10) and Syria (-1), among all other Mideast nations. While there is no comparison with its neighbors, Israel does score lower than most other nations in the free world, by the measures of this report: European and North American nations all scored between 89 and 100, with the exception of the Balkan nations and Greece, which scored between 80 and 84.”

Libya

The Guardian: Libya May Allow EU Ships To Pursue People-Smugglers In Its Waters

“Libya’s UN-backed prime minister, Fayez al-Serraj, has said Nato or EU ships could be permitted to operate in Libyan waters alongside the national military coastguard to slow the flow of people-smuggling across the Mediterranean. The move came as a report claimed elements of the Libyan coastguard were complicit in the smuggling and said returning anyone caught on boats to coastal detention centres was risky since conditions there were horrendous. Serraj’s comments after talks at Nato on Wednesday will be a boost to EU plans to move its anti-smuggling mission Operation Sophia into Libyan waters to help prevent migrants from reaching Europe. The EU is due to discuss a comprehensive plan for Libya at a special heads of state summit on Friday.”

United Kingdom

BBC: Terror Accused Eamon Bradley ‘Never Fired Shot’

“A Derry man accused of terrorism in Syria told detectives that he never fired a single shot against the enemy in his whole time there. Eamon Bradley, 28, from Melmore Gardens in Creggan is accused of receiving weapons training at a rebel camp in Syria in 2014. He was arrested after returning home later. On Wednesday, the jury at Londonderry Crown Court was read transcripts of his interviews with the police. He told police after training with a rebel faction called the Army of Islam he took part in three battles, two against government forces and one against ISIS near the city of Aleppo.”

Germany

Associated Press: Suspect In German Station Bombing Bragged To Fellow Inmates

“A 50-year-old German far-right extremist suspected of carrying out a bloody bomb attack that injured 10 immigrants – six of them Jewish – in 2000 was arrested after bragging to fellow inmates about the crime, officials said Wednesday. Duesseldorf prosecutors said the suspect, identified only as Ralf S. in line with Germany privacy laws, was arrested Tuesday in the nearby town of Ratingen, ending an almost 17-year hunt for the perpetrator. The suspect had been a questioned by police soon after the bombing at Duesseldorf-Wehrhahn train station on July 27, 2000, but wasn’t arrested at the time due to a lack of evidence.”

The Daily Caller: German Police Raid 54 Terrorist Havens In Search For ISIS Operatives

“German police launched a major raid on 54 suspected terrorist locations Tuesday in search of Islamic State adherents believed to be involved planning an attack. The operation took place in the western state of Hesse, and targeted a 36-year-old Tunisian man who was arrested in Frankfurt around 4 a.m. local time, according to a report from BNO news. Authorities accused the man of recruiting and smuggling on behalf of the terrorist group, and believe he created a cell of supporters in the area. Hessian state police said in a statement that 1,100 police officers were involved in the massive raid, which targeted various mosques, businesses, and homes across the area. The suspects are said to range in age from 16 to 46, but it is unclear how many people were arrested in total.”

The New York Times: 1,000 Officers And One Arrest: German Terror Raids Sow Doubts

“Cloaked in body armor and bearing heavy weapons, more than 1,000 German police officers swooped down Wednesday on homes, offices and mosques in shock-and-awe raids centered on Germany’s financial capital, Frankfurt. Nationwide, more than 50 sites were targeted. For Germany’s security apparatus, the raid was intended as a high-profile demonstration of official resolve to counter terrorism. Yet the modest yield — just one arrest and 15 placed under investigation and released — muted any chest thumping. More disconcerting still, the man arrested, a 36-year-old Tunisian believed to be plotting an attack in Germany, was known to the authorities as a suspect in a horrific 2015 assault on a national museum in the Tunisian capital.”

Europe

USA Today: At Least 12 Ukrainian Soldiers Killed In Disputed East

“At least 12 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and more than two dozen wounded in an outburst of fighting with Russian-backed rebels since the weekend that is playing out against a backdrop of still uncertain relations between Moscow and Washington. In the latest deaths, Ukraine’s Anti-Terrorist Operation said two Ukrainian soldiers were killed Wednesday in the disputed eastern regions. The government’s press office said one soldier was killed and nine soldiers and one civilian injured late Tuesday in Avdiivka, a town of 20,000 people located just north of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.”

Reuters: Slovaks Set Up Unit To Fight Extremism And Hate Speech

“Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico unveiled a special police unit to fight extremism on Wednesday, warning about the rise of fascism in Europe and Slovakia. The 125-strong unit will investigate crimes related to support and funding of terrorism and extremism, hate crimes and hate speech, both online and offline, the police said. In an electoral shock, the far-right People’s Party-Our Slovakia entered the Slovak parliament for the first time last year after winning 8 percent of the vote in March’s election. The party openly admires Jozef Tiso, leader of the 1939-1945 Nazi puppet state who allowed tens of thousands of Slovak Jews to be deported to Nazi death camps and was tried for treason after the war. It is also hostile to Slovakia’s Roma minority.”

Voice Of America: Europe’s Far-right Hails US Travel Ban

“Blasted by mainstream leaders and embraced by the far right, the temporary U.S. travel ban has touched a raw nerve in Europe, before elections in several key European countries where immigration and security are hot-button topics. Some point to the border walls that have sprouted across the region and a controversial deal struck with Turkey as testament to the European Union’s own fractured response to immigrants and asylum seekers. The European Union ‘is not in a good position to give opinions about the choices of others,’ Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano told the Corriera della Sera newspaper this week. Populist parties in Italy, which like Greece has faced waves of asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East, see things differently.”

The New York Times: The Phrase Putin Never Uses About Terrorism (and Trump Does)

“Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s president, hardly misses a chance to talk tough on terrorism, once famously saying he would find Chechen terrorists sitting in the ‘outhouse’ and ‘rub them out.’ He and President Trump, notably dismissive of political correctness, would seem to have found common language on fighting terrorism — except on one point of, well, language. During his campaign, Mr. Trump associated Islam with terrorism and criticized President Obama for declining to use the phrase ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ However, Mr. Putin, whom Mr. Trump so openly admires for his toughness, has, for more than a decade, done exactly what President Obama did. He has never described terrorists as ‘Islamic’ and has repeatedly gone out of his way to denounce such language.”

Reuters: Serbia’s Authorities Order Lockdown At A Migrant Camp

“The Serbian authorities on Wednesday imposed restrictions on the movements of migrants in a camp near Belgrade, after three men allegedly attacked a woman and her children near the refugee center, a minister said. The migrants will now need permission to leave the camp, a set of former army barracks in the town of Obrenovac, just outside Belgrade, said Labour Minister Aleksandar Vulin, who is also in charge of refugee centres. ‘We are introducing tougher measures … they will have to return to the camp by a certain time and they will be issued identification documents,’ Vulin said, according to the Tanjug news agency.”

Terror Financing

Babnet: Tunisian Judge: Monitoring Terror-Finance Operations Difficult

“The physical transfer of funds associated with terrorist groups is difficult to monitor and uncover,” said First Investigating Judge at the Tunis Court of First Instance, Mohammed Kammoun, on Tuesday. He also stated that “a variety of means of financing terrorism have been identified at the international and national levels.” The judge, in his lecture on the criminal offense of terror financing, spoke about the predominant means adopted to finance terrorism. He stressed that these crimes pose a challenge for surveillance and detection, especially when they are committed within one nation’s borders. He focused on what he described as “the importance of the physical transfer of funds to finance terrorist operations especially those originating from abroad.” He mentioned in this regard remittances conveyed through traditional banking and financial channels, such as cash deposits, bank transfers, loan operations and electronic transfers.”

ISIS

New Sabah: Mosul: ISIS Collects Money From Residents In Exchange For Electricity Supplied By The Iraqi Government

“ISIS is exploiting the restoration of the national electricity supply to the right side of the city of Mosul to collect money from residents. The terror group charges the residents for electricity which is supplied free of charge by the Baghdad-based Iraqi government. An Iraqi security source in Nineveh province said, “According to our sources, the so-called ‘House of Finance and Zakat’, which belongs to the terrorist organization, has imposed on several residential neighborhoods a fee of 3,000 dinars ($2.5) for each ampere. ISIS has been forcing residents to pay for at least 5 amperes per residence, and 15 amperes for houses consisting of two floors.”

Muslim Brotherhood

The Seventh Day: Lawsuit Demands Cancellation Of Seizure Of Company Whose Owner Is Accused Of Brotherhood Affiliation

“Attorney Mustafa Hosny, who represents Mohammed Ahmed Saleh, owner of Al Taleb Construction Contracting Co., submitted a lawsuit to the Administrative Court of the State Council. In it, he demanded cancellation of the decision to seize the company’s funds {deposited} in the National Bank of Egypt and Commercial International Bank. He also demanded the overturn of the Brotherhood Asset Freeze Committee’s decision to appropriate the company’s funds. The lawsuit claimed that the decision by the Chairman of the Committee to seize Al Taleb Co.’s funds was endorsed by the Court for Urgent Matters. The lawsuit portrayed the decision in the case as being an administrative one, and its challenge is within the jurisdiction of the State Council. It added that the original decision was based on a tip from the company’s market competitors and, consequently, included false information. The lawsuit stressed that Al Taleb Co. and its employees have no connection to the Brotherhood.”

Albawabh News: Expert: No One Can Determine The Precise Value Of Muslim Brotherhood Assets

“Tarek Abo Al Saad, an ex-Brotherhood leader, maintains that the group possesses enormous sums of money. The ownership of these funds is divided among numerous companies and individuals, including Youssef Nada. However, there are no assets registered under the name of the “Muslim Brotherhood.” According to Abo Al Saad, {this is why} no one can determine the real value of their assets, which “he estimates in the billions of dollars.” These funds come in the form of private funds and investments in companies. He claimed that even within Egypt there are Brotherhood assets registered under the names of individuals, explaining why it is difficult to confiscate all of them.”

Dostor: Muslim Brotherhood Youth Accuse Leaders Of Embezzling Donations  

“The Muslim Brotherhood is facing an internal battle amid accusations of financial irregularities. The youth blame the {veteran} leaders, especially Muslim Brotherhood Secretary-General Dr. Mahmoud Hussein, claiming that Hussein, who is also in charge of the Financing Fund, embezzled vast sums donated by members of the international organization. These donations, which were earmarked for the families of wounded or deceased Brotherhood members, did not reach their destination. Turkey-based Mahmoud Ibrahim, a leader of the Brotherhood youth, divulged details on the matter, stating that the donations to the group amount to “billions every month”. These donations originate from Brotherhood-affiliated businessmen, most notably billionaire Youssef Nada, in addition to private investment organizations, predominantly in Malaysia, Britain, Turkey, Germany and other countries. Ibrahim emphasized that the top priority is to send financial aid to the group in Egypt, cover the needs of deprived Brotherhood families and initiate projects for their sake. He noted, however, that the support for these families was discontinued about a year and a half ago. Therefore, youth activists have launched private donation campaigns in Egypt’s various regions to collect money for these needy families.”

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