Eye on Extremism, February 06, 2017

Counter Extremism Project

CBS News: How Trump’s Foreign Policy Is Sending Signals To The World

“CBS This Morning: CEP President Fran Townsend discussed the administration’s tough stance on Iran’s aggressive actions, its demand that Russia withdraw from Ukraine, and a recent statement suggesting that Israeli settlement building in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, “may not be helpful in achieving” peace, in an interview with Charlie Rose.”

Associated Press: Jordan Drones Hit IS Arms Depot, Barracks In Southern Syria

“Jordan says it has carried out airstrikes against Islamic State targets in southern Syria, hitting an arms depot, a warehouse for making car bombs and barracks used by the extremist group. The state news agency Petra on Saturday quoted the military as saying drones and precision-guided munitions killed and wounded an unspecified number of IS militants. It says Friday’s strikes also targeted an IS-held former Syrian army post. Pro-Western Jordan has carried out such strikes before as part of a U.S.-led alliance against IS in Iraq and Syria. The latest attacks came after King Abdullah II held high-level meetings in Washington about a possible U.S. shift in Syria policy. President Donald Trump has raised the possibility of safe zones in Syria, an idea critics say could escalate U.S. military engagement.”

Reuters: U.S.-Backed Syrian Force In New Phase Of Raqqa Assault

“An alliance of U.S.-backed militias started a new phase of its campaign against the Islamic State-held city of Raqqa on Saturday, aiming to complete its encirclement and sever the road to militant strongholds in Deir al-Zor province. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement the action was being undertaken with ‘increasing support from the (U.S.-led) international coalition forces’ through both air strikes and backing from coalition special forces on the ground. The SDF, which includes the powerful Kurdish YPG militia, launched its multi-phased campaign in November aimed at encircling and ultimately capturing Raqqa. It is the main U.S. partner in the fight against Islamic State in Syria.”

The New York Times: Not ‘Lone Wolves’ After All: How ISIS Guides World’s Terror Plots From Afar

“When the Islamic State identified a promising young recruit willing to carry out an attack in one of India’s major tech hubs, the group made sure to arrange everything down to the bullets he needed to kill victims. For 17 months, terrorist operatives guided the recruit, a young engineer named Mohammed Ibrahim Yazdani, through every step of what they planned to be the Islamic State’s first strike on Indian soil. They vetted each new member of the cell as Mr. Yazdani recruited helpers. They taught him how to pledge allegiance to the terrorist group and securely send the statement. And from Syria, investigators believe, the group’s virtual plotters organized for the delivery of weapons as well as the precursor chemicals used to make explosives, directing the Indian men to hidden pickup spots.”

Reuters: At Former Jihadist Training Camp, Iraqi Police Face Drones, Crack Snipers

“As a walkie-talkie carried word of another casualty from an Islamic State mortar attack, an Iraqi policeman peered through leaves at enemy positions just across the Tigris River. He kept his head low to avoid snipers but also had an eye on the sky. Minutes later, the militants sent a drone overhead. It carried out surveillance and dropped an explosive. Then mortar bombs landed nearby, sending the policemen running for safer ground. More than three months into the battle to drive them from their biggest stronghold, the hardline Sunni militants of Islamic State remain lethal and determined, despite being driven from the eastern half of the city of more than a million people.”

Newsweek: ISIS Attempts To ‘Buy Allegience’ Of Refugees

“The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) is capitalizing on the desperation of refugees, attempting to buy their allegiance to bolster its own ranks, according to a new report released Monday. According to London-based anti-extremism think tank Quilliam, ISIS is engaging in efforts to recruit refugees in humanitarian camps, on migration routes to Europe, and in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, where millions of Syrians have fled the near six-year conflict. The extremist group is openly offering financial incentives—up to $2,000, to new recruits in refugee camps in both Lebanon and Jordan, the report says.”

BBC: Turkey: Police Detain 445 Islamic State Group Suspects

“Turkish police have detained 445 people suspected of links to the Islamic State group, state media say. Co-ordinated early morning raids were carried out in 18 provinces, Anadolu News Agency reported, quoting anonymous security sources. Most of those held are foreigners, among them 60 people taken into custody in the capital, Ankara, it said. IS claimed responsibility for the New Year shooting attack on an Istanbul nightclub which left 39 people dead. Last month police arrested an Uzbek national, Abdulkadir Masharipov, suspected of mounting the assault on revellers at the Reina nightclub.

Haaretz: Israel Strikes Hamas Position In Gaza In Retaliation For Rocket Fire

“An Israeli tank attacked a Hamas position in northern Gaza in retaliation for a rocket strike earlier on Monday, the Israeli army said. The IDF spokesman said a ‘tanks attacked a Hamas position in northern Gaza in response to rocket fire at Israel.’ Palestinian reports also said Israel had fired two shells at a command post along the border fence, in Beit Lahiya. Earlier a rocket fired from Gaza struck in an open area, causing no casualties, the Israeli army said. Rocket sirens wailed warning of a potential strike in the Ashkelon area, north of the Gaza Strip border.”

New York Times: Kremlin Says It Disagrees With Trump’s Assessment Of Iran

“The Kremlin said on Monday it did not agree with U.S. President Donald Trump’s assessment of Iran as “the number one terrorist state” and wanted to deepen what it described as already good ties with Tehran. The Kremlin was responding to comments Trump made to Fox News in an interview aired at the weekend in which he complained that Iran had “total disregard” for the United States. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call with reporters that Moscow saw things differently. “Russia has friendly partner-like relations with Iran, we cooperate on a wide range of issues, value our trade ties, and hope to develop them further,” said Peskov.”

Times Of London:British Medics Stying In Sudan Flock To Join ISIS

“As many as 22 British doctors, pharmacists and dentists from the same university have travelled to Syria to join Isis. The medics, many of whom are the children of reputable doctors in the UK, are believed to comprise the largest single contingent of friends from the West to be recruited by the terrorist organisation. A Sunday Times investigation has discovered for the first time direct links between the medics and terrorists in Britain jailed for plotting an Isis atrocity in London. Analysis of social media reveals that some members of the group have championed the Isis cause and praised jihad — contradicting claims that they travelled to Syria solely for humanitarian reasons.”

Vocativ: Iraq Forces Ask For Help Fighting ISIS’ Bomb-Dropping Drones

“Images from the official media channel of the Islamic State show the terror group using a new weapon on the battlefield: bomb-dropping drones. Iraqi special forces have asked the United States for anti-drone weapons to protect their troops in the battle against ISIS in the city of Mosul, according to a recent report by the Stars and Stripes. Fifteen people, including Iraqi soldiers, civilians, and a journalist, have reportedly been injured in recent months by explosives dropped from homemade drones flown overhead. The site quoted the U.S. coalition leading the fight against ISIS, saying that a system called DroneDefender and additional advanced anti-drone systems have already been sent to Iraq.”

Reuters: Somalia’s Al Shabaab Executes Four Men Accused Of Spying

“Al Shabaab militants in Somalia publicly beheaded four men accused of spying for the country’s Western-backed government, the United States and neighboring Kenya, residents in the south of the Horn of Africa country said. The al Qaeda-linked group confirmed the executions, which took place on Sunday after the men were found guilty by an al Shabaab court in Jamame district of lower Jubba region, some 70 km (43 miles) north of Kismayu. “The court ruled on their cases and four of the men were executed publicly in Jamame District according to the Sharia this (Sunday) afternoon,” Mohamed Abu Abdalla, al Shabaab’s governor for the Jubba region, told Reuters, without elaborating on the method of execution.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.N. Report Says Civilian Casualties At Record High In Afghanistan

“More than 11,400 civilians were killed or injured in Afghanistan last year, according to a United Nations report released Monday, a record high amid rising armed clashes between the country’s coalition-backed government forces and the Taliban. Civilian casualties increased by 3% year-on-year in 2016, including 3,498 deaths and 7,920 injured, for which both the insurgents and Afghan government forces were responsible, the report said. The U.N. started keeping records in 2009. Casualties were at a record level for the second consecutive year, reflecting the deterioration in security conditions in Afghanistan since the withdrawal of most foreign troops after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization combat mission ended at the end of 2014.”

Reuters: Louvre Attacker Refuses To Speak To Investigators – Source

“The machete-wielding attacker who was shot by a soldier outside France’s Louvre museum refused to answer investigators on Sunday after being formally placed into custody at a hospital, a source at the Paris prosecutor’s office said. Abdullah Reda al-Hamahmy, an Egyptian, was shot several times on Friday after attacking soldiers as he cried “Allahu Akbar” in what French President Francois Hollande described as a terrorist attack. “The first interview took place this morning, but it turned out to be a short one. For the moment, he refuses to talk to investigators,” the source at the prosecutor’s office said. Hamahmy’s father told Reuters it was “nonsense” to suggest his son was a terrorist, saying that the youngest of four children was a law graduate who had been working in the United Arab Emirates for about five years and was in Paris on business.”

American Security Project: After The Caliphate: Learning From The Al-Qaeda Experience

“Since the beginning of the United States’ Operation Inherent Resolve in June 2014, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has suffered major territorial losses. According to statistics released by the Department of Defense in November 2016, a combination of ground offensives and air strikes reduced ISIS-controlled territory by approximately 60% in Iraq and about 28% in Syria. For ISIS, an organization whose identity is intimately tied to territorial control, these losses signal a dramatic setback. This loss of territory, however, is far from ISIS’s death knell. While denying ISIS sanctuary in the Levant will deal a severe blow to the organization’s self-sustaining financial model and limit militants’ ability to plot complex attacks, ISIS’s ideology and transnational terrorist network will survive the disintegration of the so-called caliphate. ISIS has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to evolve in the face of new challenges, and the loss of territory is unlikely to be an exception.”

United States

CNN: How Iran-US Relations Plummeted In A Week

“US President Donald Trump’s fledgling administration has spent the past week trading barbs with Iran, marking a sudden escalation of tensions between two nations whose icy relationship was just beginning to thaw. Travel bans, missile tests, sanctions and insults have been ping-ponged in a provocative show of force by both sides. It all raises concerns over the future of a deal, brokered by the Obama administration, that requires Iran to heavily restrict its nuclear program. Iran establishes a committee to deal with the US travel ban. The committee is tasked with issuing directives to Iranian embassies worldwide, aimed at ‘upholding the dignity of Iranians outside of the country, especially those in the United States,’ Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi says.”

The Wall Street Journal: Trump Administration Looks At Driving Wedge Between Russia And Iran

“The Trump administration is exploring ways to break Russia’s military and diplomatic alliance with Iran in a bid to both end the Syrian conflict and bolster the fight against Islamic State, said senior administration, European and Arab officials involved in the policy discussions. The emerging strategy seeks to reconcile President Donald Trump’s seemingly contradictory vows to improve relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and to aggressively challenge the military presence of Iran—one of Moscow’s most critical allies—in the Middle East, these officials say. A senior administration official said the White House doesn’t have any illusions about Russia or see Mr. Putin as a ‘choir boy,’ despite further conciliatory statements from Mr. Trump about the Russian leader over the weekend.”

The Times Of Israel: Windows Broken, Swastikas Placed At Chicago Synagogue

“Unknown assailants broke windows and placed swastikas at the entrance to a Chicago synagogue overnight Friday-Saturday, in what local authorities said was a suspected hate crime. The president of Loop Synagogue, Lee Zoldan, told NBC Chicago that the attack was witnessed by nearby construction workers. According to Zoldan, the workers said that the incident began when a black SUV stopped outside the building a little after midnight, and one of the passengers got out and broke the windows using what appeared to be a hammer or an axe. The person returned to the SUV to collect the swastika stickers that were then placed on the front door.”

Reuters: U.S. Moves To Resume Admitting Refugees, Including Syrians

“The U.S. State Department on Saturday moved to begin admitting refugees, including Syrians, as soon as Monday after a federal judge on Friday blocked a Trump administration temporary ban on refugee admissions.An email from the State Department’s refugee office reviewed by Reuters Saturday said the U.S. government is working with its legal team and interagency and overseas partners to comply with the ruling. Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order had suspended refugee admissions for 120 days and indefinitely barred Syrian refugees but U.S. Judge James Robart in Seattle on Friday blocked the president’s order. A U.S. State Department official told Reuters on Saturday that officials ‘expect some refugees to arrive Monday.’”

Reuters: Pentagon Failed To Disclose Up To Thousands Of Air Strikes: Report

“The Pentagon has failed to disclose up to thousands of air strikes the U.S. military carried out over several years in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan against militants in those countries, the Military Times reported on Sunday. Last year, the United States carried out at least 456 air strikes in Afghanistan that were not documented in a U.S. Air Force database, the website reported. The air strikes were conducted by U.S. Army helicopters and drones. The incomplete data could go back to October 2001, according to the Military Times, which describes itself as an independent news organization.”

Syria

Reuters: Syrian Army, Allies Cut Off Islamic State Supply Route Near Al-Bab: Monitor

“Syria’s army and its allies advanced towards the northern Islamic-State held city of al-Bab on Monday, cutting off the last main supply route that connects to militant strongholds further east towards Iraq, a monitor said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based group monitoring the war, said the army and the Lebanese Hezbollah group made gains southeast of al-Bab overnight. Backed by air strikes, government forces and their allies severed the main road that links the city near the Turkish border to other IS-held territory in Raqqa and Deir al-Zor provinces.”

Reuters: Russia, Turkey, Iran Discuss Syria Ceasefire Implementation In Astana

“Experts from Russia, Turkey, Iran and the United Nations have started a technical meeting in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, to discuss in detail the implementation of the Syrian ceasefire agreement, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday. ‘Representatives of Jordan are expected to take part for the first time,’ a ministry spokesman said of the talks. He said the agenda included reviewing the implementation of the cessation of hostilities, discussing a proposal from the Syrian armed opposition about the ceasefire, and determining options about how to implement it.”

Reuters: Russia’s Lavrov Backs Renewal Of U.N.-Led Syria Talks

“Russia said on Sunday that it supports the continuation of Syria peace talks under United Nations auspices, long-running negotiations which had been thrown into doubt by separate, Moscow-backed peace talks launched last month. The latest round of U.N. talks had been planned to begin in Geneva on Feb. 8 but Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week that they had been postponed. They have now been rescheduled for February 20, diplomats have told Reuters. The UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said he had decided to delay them to take advantage of negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition in Astana, Kazakhstan, hosted by Moscow, Ankara and Tehran.”

Turkey

Reuters: Turkey Says Kills 51 Islamic State Militants In Northern Syria

“Turkey hit 59 Islamic State targets and killed 51 militants in northern Syria as part of its ongoing incursion, the Turkish military said on Saturday. Turkish forces have surrounded the Islamic State-controlled town of al-Bab for weeks as part of an operation that has been going on for more than five months. Four of those killed were so-called emirs, or local commanders, the Turkish military said, adding that its jets destroyed 56 buildings and three command control centers in the al-Bab and Bzagah regions. Coalition forces also conducted eight airstrikes in the al-Bab region, destroying two defense positions and two armed vehicles.”

Politico: Turkey Calls For Talks With Greece To Ease Tensions

“Turkey’s defense minister called on Greece to talk about their dispute on Sunday, amid brewing tensions between the two over the extradition of Turkish troops and allegations of airspace trespassing. The dispute between the two NATO allies started at the end of January, when a Greek supreme court blocked the extradition of eight Turkish soldiers accused by Turkey of taking part in the failed coup d’état last July. The soldiers had escaped to Greece on the night of the coup. The court ruling set off a new round of sparring over disputed islands between the two in the Aegean Sea. On February 1, Greece accused Turkey last week of making 138 violations of its airspace over islands in the Aegean Sea, which Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos called Turkey’s ‘cowboy antics,’ according to Reuters.”

Afghanistan

BBC: Afghan Warlord Hekmatyar Sanctions Dropped By UN

“The UN has dropped sanctions against former Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, paving the way for him to return to the country. The Afghan government asked for the move as part of a deal with Mr Hekmatyar and his militant group in September. The deal grants him immunity in return for support for the Afghan constitution and a promise to abandon violence. He fought the Soviet occupation but was later accused of shelling civilians. Mr Hekmatyar is also a former Afghan prime minister and his Hezb-e-Islami militant group is the second biggest in the country. He was forced to flee Kabul in 1996 when the Taliban came to power and in 2003 was designated as a terrorist by the US.”

Reuters: Afghan Diplomat Shot Dead At Consulate In Pakistan’s Karachi

“An Afghan diplomat was shot dead on Monday in the Afghan consulate in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi in what was described as a personal dispute, Pakistani officials said. The consulate’s third secretary was killed by a private guard, who had been arrested, police official Saqib Ismail told Reuters. ‘The guard used his automatic weapon, firing multiple bullets,’ Ismail said, adding that the guard was also an Afghan national. Another police official, Deputy Inspector General Azad Khan, told reporters the shooting appeared to be the result of a personal dispute. Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal confirmed the shooting on his official Facebook account.”

Reuters: Islamic State, Air Strikes Help Drive Spike In Afghan Civilian Casualties: U.N.

“Civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose to new highs in 2016, driven by more Islamic State attacks, the most deaths and injuries from air strikes since 2009 and a rising toll of child victims of unexploded ordnance, the United Nations said. A total of 3,498 civilians were killed in the conflict and 7,920 were wounded in 2016, a combined increase of 3 percent over the previous year, U.N. investigators said in an annual summary issued on Monday. ‘Against a backdrop of protracted ground fighting, the battlefield permeated civilian sanctuaries that should be spared from harm, with suicide attacks in mosques; targeted attacks against district centers, bazaars and residential homes; and the use of schools and hospitals for military purposes,’ the United Nations said.”

CNN: More Than 100 Killed As Landslides Bury Villages In Afghanistan And Pakistan

“At least 117 people have died along the Afghan-Pakistani border after three days of heavy snowfall caused a series of deadly avalanches Sunday. Numbers are expected to rise as rescuers reach isolated regions where it’s feared more people are trapped beneath the snow. Most of the casualties occurred in Afghanistan, where at least 107 have been killed and 65 are reported injured, said Omar Mohammadi, a spokesman for the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority. Mohamaddi said that most of the victims were women and children, and that deaths were reported in the provinces of eastern Nuristan, northern Parwan, Sar-e-Pul, Badakhshan and eastern Wardak.”

Yemen

Reuters: Yemen Al Qaeda Leader Says U.S. Raid On Yemen A Blow To Trump

“The leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemen branch said in a recorded speech released on Friday that the U.S. raid carried out last week had failed and was a blow to President Donald Trump. Qassim al-Raymi, who became leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in 2015, said that two U.S. helicopters had been downed in the incident and tens of U.S soldiers were injured. ‘The fool of the White House has received a painful blow at the beginning of his journey through your hands,’ al-Raymi said, addressing the people of Yemen. The raid on al Qaeda in southern Yemen that took place last week was the first such operation authorized by President Trump as commander-in-chief. U.S. Navy SEAL William ‘Ryan’ Owens was killed in the raid, which the Pentagon said also killed 14 militants. Medics at the scene said about 30 people, including 10 women and children, also died.”

Egypt

Associated Press: Islamic Authority Rejects Egypt’s Move To Reform Divorce

“Egypt’s top Islamic authority on Sunday rejected President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s suggestion that legislation be adopted to invalidate the practice of Muslim men verbally divorcing their wives. It marked a rare instance of a public institution contradicting the president, who has presided over a wide-scale crackdown on dissent in recent years while seeking to rally the country’s entrenched interests behind him. The Council of Senior Clerics in Al-Azhar — the highest authority in Sunni Islam — unanimously ruled that verbal divorce, when meeting all requirements, has been an undisputed practice since the days of the 7th century Prophet Muhammad.”

The Times Of Israel: Egypt Said Pressing Hamas To Open Negotiations Over Israeli Captives

“A delegation of senior Hamas members has traveled to Cairo amid a report Saturday that Egypt is pressing the Islamist group to open talks with Israel over the release of captives. According to a report in the Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper, senior Egyptian intelligence officials pressed Hamas to restart its negotiations with Israel for the release of two Israeli civilians and the remains of two IDF soldiers held in the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported. Hamas is currently holding the remains of IDF soldiers Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin, who the army says were killed in the 2014 Gaza war, and is also believed to be detaining Avraham Mengistu and Juma Ibrahim Abu Anima, two Israeli men who crossed into Gaza on their own accord.”

Middle East

Haaretz: Hamas Explosives Expert Dies In Blast

“A Hamas field commander, Mohammed al-Kuka, 37, died Sunday of wounds he suffered in an explosion the previous day, Hamas’ military wing reported. According to Gaza sources, Kuka was an explosives expert. The circumstances of the explosion are not clear, but according to reports from the Strip the blast occurred in a warehouse where explosive devices were made. Kuka, who operated in and around the Al-Shati refugee camp, was buried Sunday in a funeral that turned into a show of strength for Hamas’ military wing, with masked fighters carrying his body.”

The Jerusalem Post News: Israeli Court Delays Evacuation Of 9 West Bank Settler Homes

“The High Court of Justice has delayed the demolition of nine homes in the Ofra settlement by one month, until March 5. The court had previously ruled that the homes must be taken down by February 8, because they were built without permits on private Palestinian property. The residents of the nine homes had asked for a delay so that they could move into new homes, which would be ready only within three months. News of the delay came as a homeowner named Shira was in the middle of an interview with Israel Radio. The ruling, she said, did little to help them because the whole idea had been to prevent the need to relocate twice. On Sunday afternoon the Ofra residents plan to hold a rally against the demolitions and to call on the government to authorize the Settlements Bill, which would retroactively legalize 4,000 settler homes on private Palestinian property.”

The Jerusalem Post: Hamas Rejects Prisoner Swap Deal Offered By Israel

“Hamas reportedly turned down an Israeli prisoner-swap offer that would have allowed for one Israeli to be exchanged for one Hamas member. According to a source from the terrorist organization who spoke with Israel Radio on Sunday, the offer proposed to exchange Hamas member Bilal Razaineh for one of two Israelis who are thought to be alive in the Gaza Strip. Razaineh, 24, was caught attempting to enter Israel in November and is said to be a high-ranking Hamas operative, as he has reportedly been a member of the Izzadin Kassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, for nearly a decade.”

The Jerusalem Post News: Netanyahu: ‘Iran Tries To Test Limits With Extraordinary Aggressiveness’

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set off for London Sunday afternoon saying that setting clear boundaries to Iranian aggression will be the first of many topics he will discuss with British Prime Minister Theresa May. Boarding the plane for his one day visit to London, where he will meet both May and her Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for the first time since they took office over the summer, Netanyahu said that ‘we are in a period of diplomatic opportunities, and also challenges.’ The opportunities, he said, are a result of a new administration in Washington, and a new government in London. Netanyahu, who will also be meeting US President Donald Trump for the first time next week, said he intends to talk to both May and Trump about strengthening their bilateral relationships with Israel, as well as strengthening a trilateral US-British-Israel axis.”

Germany

The Jerusalem Post News: German State Removes Antisemitic School Book

“The German state of Thuringia announced on Friday it will remove a school book with an antisemitic illustration depicting a video game character – alongside the words ‘Rothschild Bank’ – consuming Europe. A Thuringian Education Ministry representative told the MDR Thüringen news outlet that ‘like in many other federal states,’ Thuringia will remove the book, and called criticism of the book ‘justified.’ The cartoon shows a video Pacman figure devouring Europe, with the Jewish banking family named next to the cartoon. Nazi-era propaganda promoted the anti-Jewish conspiracy theories that the Rothschilds were attempting to conquer the world and destroy the German nation. The Nazis produced an antisemitic film The Rothschilds in 1940.”

France

The Wall Street Journal: Louvre Machete Attacker Was In France On A Tourist Visa, Prosecutor Says

“A machete-wielding man believed to be visiting from Dubai attacked soldiers near Paris’s Louvre museum while shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ before being shot and detained, French officials said, unnerving a country that has been repeatedly targeted by terrorist attacks. The attack took place at 9:50 a.m. Friday as the soldiers were patrolling a shopping mall that leads to an entrance to the world-famous museum, according to French officials. Brandishing two 16-inch machetes, the attacker ran at the soldiers and managed to cut the scalp of one of them, the officials said.”

Terror Financing

Misrjournal: Sinai: Money And Weapons Smuggling Operations Conducted Via Three Passageways

“The most important question is: how do terrorist groups in Sinai get their hands on modern military equipment, mortars, short-range rockets and rocket launchers, and what are their smuggling routes? According to reports by state security agencies and informed sources in Sinai, money, equipment and military weapons are being transferred via three routes: 1) passage through tunnels built by Hamas between Gaza and Sinai; 2) passage across the Red Sea and the rugged roads overlooking the sea, which are difficult for the Egyptian troops to control; and 3) travel via desert routes to the Sudanese and Libyan borders. Security reports also confirm that Iran is involved in supporting terrorist operations in Sinai, by providing technical support and training mainly on the dispersing of booby-traps and other terrorist methods.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Albawabh News: Muslim Brotherhood Accused Of Spending “Prisoners’ Aid” On TV Channels

“A new rift has emerged within the Muslim Brotherhood after information was leaked about the salaries of employees of TV channels being utilized to incite against Egypt. This comes especially following reports that Mohammed Nasser is paid a monthly wage of 0.5 million pounds ($26,683) by Mekameleen TV. This is in addition to reports of the channel’s use of $320k, taken from donations that were supposed to be paid to the families of its jailed members. The crisis widened following press reports announcing the launch of a new channel called “Mekameleen 2”. This news prompted Hany Sorial, a Christian supporter of the Brotherhood, to launch a campaign urging Brotherhood-affiliated media professionals to waive their salaries. Brotherhood members claim they were informed by an employee of Mekameleen that the monthly administrative expenses of the channel, not including salaries, total $320k a month. This is while members of the group in Egypt and the families of detainees are deprived of a {meager} monthly allowance of 1000 pounds ($53.30). These families face financial crises which have forced them to sell their property in order to have money to spend on themselves and the children of prisoners, especially after leaving their jobs.”

Masrawy: Egypt: Postponement Of Ruling On Disputed Lawsuits Regarding Seizure Of Muslim Brotherhood Funds

“Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court has decided to postpone its decision on rulings issued by the Administrative Justice and the Urgent Matters Court related to decisions of the Muslim Brotherhood Asset Freeze Committee. The next session is scheduled for March 4th. Until this date, a report by the State Commissioners Authority will be submitted. This comes after the government filed new documents to the Supreme Administrative Court, asserting the legality of appropriating funds belonging to leaders and members of the Brotherhood. The government submitted these documents during an appeal hearing in the Administrative Court on a decision to cancel {prior} decisions to appropriate assets belonging to Brotherhood members.”

The Seventh Day: Expert: Muslim Brotherhood’s Cutting Off Financing Causes Estrangement Of Federation Of Islamic Organizations In Europe

“Mukhtar Noah, a former Brotherhood leader, said that the group’s international organization has completely halted the financing of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe. This move led the Federation to decide to disengage completely from the Brotherhood. Noah explained that the group’s financial crisis has led it to stop funding the Federation. He noted that the Brotherhood received a heavy blow when the Federation abruptly announced its detachment from the group. The Federation made the decision after Trump took office as US president. Some experts asserted that the Federation feared the Trump Administration would declare the Brotherhood a terrorist organization – a move which could also reflect on it.”

Almesryoon: Muslim Brotherhood ‘Headhunts’ Egyptian Youth With Support Provided By Turkey

“Security sources revealed that the Egyptian Interior Ministry has decided to tighten measures which make it more difficult to travel to Turkey. According to these sources, a decision was recently adopted to stop what they described as a “scheme to grant scholarships to Muslim Brotherhood youth travelling to Turkey with the aim of recruiting them for anti-regime {activities}.” In recent months, Turkish scholarships bestowed on Egyptian youth have multiplied. However, officials at the Ministry of Interior – according to the same sources – believe this to be part of a scheme to lure Egyptian youth into joining the Brotherhood. The ultimate aim is to train them for carrying out future armed operations inside Egypt. Several Turkish websites published ads targeting Egyptian young people on their social media pages, which announced the availability of free tuition scholarships in Turkey for the new academic year. The ads also promised to cover all costs of flights, visas and living accommodations at various Turkish universities.”

Elaph: Sources: Muslim Brotherhood Contracts With US Company To Facilitate Communication With Trump Administration

“The Muslim Brotherhood, which in Egypt is classified as a terrorist group, has signed a contract with an American PR firm to fight the bill, submitted for a vote in the US Congress, deeming it a terrorist organization. The American company will purportedly receive a $4.8 million fee to engage with officials in President Donald Trump’s Administration. The company will additionally launch a campaign to improve the group’s image in the US media.”

Sada Elarab: Egypt: Two Brotherhood-Owned Warehouses Storing Sugar And Other Subsidized Commodities Uncovered

“Inspectors on behalf of the Egyptian Ministry of Supply in Qalyubiya uncovered a Muslim Brotherhood-owned warehouse containing 50 tons of sugar belonging to the Ministry of Supply. Investigations are underway. Qalyubiya security received a tip that “Ayman”, a 43-year-old Brotherhood activist, collects commodities from the market and moves them to two storage facilities he owns. An inspection conducted in one facility revealed 50 tons of sugar while in the other, inspectors found 348 cartons filled with bottles of cooking oil and 160 kg of rice. No bills in violation of the law concerning commodities trading were found. The Brotherhood activist was found to be operating {the warehouses} without a license from the regulatory authorities.”

Houthi

Barakish Net: Rising Prices Of Oil Derivatives In Houthi-Controlled Areas

“The prices of petroleum products rose once again in the capital Sana’a and other regions controlled by the Houthis. The price of 20 liters of gasoline reached {a record high of} 5,500 riyals ($22). The price-hikes in the Houthi-controlled areas come after several relatively stable weeks. The price of 20 liters rose steadily from 3,600 riyals ($14) to 4,200 riyals ($17), then up to 4,800 riyals ($19) before reaching Thursday’s peak of 5,500 riyals. Industry sources claim that the price hike of oil derivatives is part of a fabricated crisis meant to gain the highest profits by the Houthi-backed monopoly which controls the import and sale of oil derivatives.”

Hadramout Net: Houthi Group Exploits Rumors To Hike Prices Of Oil Products

A source within the Yemeni Oil Company confirmed a stable situation at the port of Hodeida. The source added that ships have been entering the port and unloading containers naturally, at a rate of more than one ship per day. The source disclosed that the reason for higher prices of gasoline in filling stations is linked to rumors spread by local and foreign media outlets concerning a halt of activities in the port. Car drivers are alarmed by the new prices set by the Houthis and ex-president Ali Saleh’s loyalists in Sana’a: 5,500 riyals ($22) for 20 liters. The Houthis attributed the higher prices to the closure of the port of Hodeida by the {Arab} Coalition forces.

Combating the Financing of Terrorism

Almasayel: Kuwait: Tightening Measures To Combat Terrorist Financing

“Dr. Mohammad Y. Al-Hashel, Governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait, said on Saturday that the measures currently being applied by the foreign exchange companies to combat money laundering and terrorism financing originate from directives issued by the Bank back in July 2013. Al-Hashel, in a press release, commented on reports appearing in the social media claiming that foreign exchange companies have intensified their measures towards customers who send remittances overseas. The Bank stressed that these latest measures are in line with the implementation of Law No. 6 of 2013 on combating money laundering and terror financing.”

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