Eye on Extremism, May 11, 2017

i24 News: CEP Research Analyst Marielle Harris Discusses The Negotiated Release Of 82 Of The Kidnapped Chibok Schoolgirls By Nigerian Terror Group Boko Haram With News Anchors David Shuster And Erica Pitzi.

Newsweek: War In Iraq: Islamic State Collapses As Military Kills ISIS Commander In West Mosul

“The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has suffered major losses in its last Iraqi stronghold of Mosul in recent days as pro-government forces have rapidly advanced against the jihadists. Facing regular suicide vehicle bombings and sniper fire from ISIS’ final pockets of control over Iraq’s second largest city, Iraqi troops and their allies, which include Kurdish forces, Iran-backed Shiite Muslim militias and a U.S.-led coalition, have beat the ultraconservative Sunni Muslim group back to a stretch of western Mosul along the Euphrates river. In the past 24 hours alone, Iraqi forces made lightning gains on a recently opened northwestern front, taking multiple districts such as Al-Islah Al-Zarai and killing local ISIS military commander Abu Ayoub al-Shami, according to local media.”

The Washington Post: The Latest: Syrian Kurds Take Largest Dam, Town From IS

“U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces say they have captured the country’s largest dam and a nearby town from the Islamic State group. The fighters known as Syrian Democratic Forces, which are mostly Kurdish-led but also include Arab fighters, say they expelled IS militants from the Tabqa Dam and the nearby town, also called Tabqa, on Wednesday. Tabqa is the latest IS stronghold to fall to the Kurdish-led opposition fighters as they advance toward the Islamic State group’s de facto capital of Raqqa — the seat of the militants’ so-called caliphate along the Euphrates River. The fall of Tabqa leaves no other major urban settlements on the road to Raqqa, about 40 kilometers, or 25 miles, away.”

Reuters: U.S. Defence Chief Says Will Address Turkish Concerns In Syria

“U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Wednesday he was confident the United States would be able to resolve tensions with Turkey over the U.S. decision to arm Kurdish fighters in Syria, saying: ‘We’ll work out any of the concerns.’ ‘We will work very closely with Turkey in support of their security on their southern border. It’s Europe’s southern border, and we’ll stay closely connected,’ Mattis told reporters during a visit to the Pabrade Training Area in Lithuania.”

The Times Of Israel: Hamas Assures Critics Israel’s Destruction Still Its Goal

“Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar clarified Wednesday that his terror group’s new political program, which some interpreted as accepting the idea of a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines, would not preclude Hamas from seeking to liberate all of historic Palestine, including Israel. “If we liberate Palestine though the resistance until the 1967 borders, we will go directly to liberate the rest of Palestine and the territories of 1948, and there will be no negotiations,” Zahar said at a conference in Gaza addressing international reactions to the new policy document, according to the Hamas-linked al-Resalah news site.”

Newsweek: Airplane Terrorism Fears May Inspire Expanded Laptop Ban—This Time, On Flights From Europe

“Flying back home to the U.S. after a European vacation and want to watch a movie on your laptop? Get a little work done? Play Solitaire to stave off boredom? Soon, you may not be able to. Outlets like Reuters and the Daily Beast published stories Wednesday claiming that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was preparing to announce a ban on laptops in the cabins of either some or all flights coming from Europe. This would be an expansion of a policy enacted in March in which passengers traveling from 10 airports in the Middle East and Africa were forced to put their large electronics devices in checked baggage for fear of terrorist attacks.”

Fox News: Deso Dogg, The Rapper Who Cheated Death, Humiliated The Pentagon And Seduced An FBI Translator

“A B-list German rapper who found stardom when he joined ISIS, cheated death and embarrassed the Pentagon topped himself when he got the girl – an FBI translator who set out to catch him and became his wife. Germany’s fascination with Denis Cuspert, who found modest fame a decade ago as ‘Deso Dogg,’ a rapper who once toured with American rapper DMX, spiked when he resurfaced in Syria as a high-visibility leader of ISIS. He was dubbed the black-clad terror army’s top recruiter, trading on his credibility with a generation of young, disaffected loners and appearing in numerous propaganda videos.”

Associated Press: Parents Of Freed Nigeria Schoolgirls Still Wait To See Them

“Parents of the 82 Nigerian schoolgirls released over the weekend from Boko Haram captivity said Wednesday they still were awaiting word from the government on exactly when they will be able to meet their daughters. Community leaders were headed from the capital, Abuja, to the town of Chibok with photos of the newly released girls so that families can identify them, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said. ‘They will then organize to bring the parents to Abuja to see their daughters,’ he said.”

BBC News: Islamic State Supporters’ New Propaganda Tool: Cartoons

“The sophisticated propaganda efforts of self-styled Islamic State group include a radio station, magazines, videos and photos – often depicting violent imagery. But earlier this year, there appeared to be a shift in the tone of the messaging from some supporters. Among the new methods of communication: cartoons. Earlier this year, a channel on the messaging app Telegram – and a now-deactivated channel on YouTube – began releasing narrative animated stories which veered away from the brutal and shocking images that so-called Islamic State (IS) had previously been pushing. One, specifically aimed at children, was titled, The Ruler and the Brave, and told the story of a country that had become disillusioned with its tyrant leader. The leader, the video explained, would lie to his subjects about ‘brave men’ who dared to stand up to him. These ‘brave men’ turn out to be IS militants.”

United States

The Washington Post: Trump Is Getting Closer To Collusion With Russia — In Syria

“President Trump’s Wednesday meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the White House was not primarily about sanctions or Crimea or even Russian interference in the 2016 election. According to Trump, the U.S. government now looks favorably on the Russian-Iranian-Turkish plan for Syria. The problem is that plan is highly likely to fail and result in the continued, if not increased, slaughter of Syrian civilians — only this time the United States will be directly complicit.”

Reuters: Trump Tells Russia To ‘Rein In’ Syria’s Assad During Meeting With Minister

“President Donald Trump urged Russia to ‘rein in’ Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting with Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, the White House said on Wednesday. ‘Trump emphasized the need to work together to end the conflict in Syria, in particular, underscoring the need for Russia to rein in the Assad regime, Iran, and Iranian proxies,’ the White House said in a statement.”

CNN: Senate Leader Seeks Answers In FBI’s ISIS Bride Case

“A leading US senator on Wednesday asked FBI officials to explain how a rogue employee with top-secret clearance traveled to Syria without their knowledge and married a prominent ISIS terrorist she had been assigned to investigate. Senator Charles E. Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to top FBI and Justice Department officials seeking more information about how the embarrassing national security breach occurred and how they responded to it. Grassley’s letter was in response to an exclusive CNN report last week about the previously unknown saga of Daniela Greene, an FBI translator.”

Syria

CNN: US-Backed Rebels Say They Wrested Key Syrian City From ISIS

“US-backed rebels said they ‘liberated’ the strategic Syrian city of Tabqa and a nearby dam from ISIS. Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of mainly Kurdish and Arab fighters, took the city on Wednesday, SDF spokesman Talal Silo said. The push is part of Operation Euphrates Wrath, which is designed to seize control of key territory from ISIS. US Air Force Col. John Dorrian — the spokesman for the US-led coalition against ISIS called Operation Inherent Resolve — earlier tweeted that almost all of the city has been seized and that fighters were clearing two neighborhoods.”

Reuters: Monitor Says Air Strikes Kill 11 People North Of Syria’s Raqqa

“Air strikes killed at least 11 people, including four children, in a village north of the Syrian city of Raqqa overnight, a war monitoring group said on Wednesday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said warplanes, thought to belong to the U.S.-led military coalition against Islamic State, hit al-Salihiya village before midnight and also injured several civilians. A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition could not immediately be reached for comment. The United States military has said it makes ‘extraordinary efforts’ to avoid civilian deaths in its bombing runs in Syria and neighboring Iraq.”

Reuters: Jordanian Air Force Brings Down Drone Near Border With Syria: Statement

“Jordan’s air force brought down a drone that approached the country’s air space near its northern border with Syria on Wednesday night, the Jordanian military said in a statement. F-16 fighter jets brought down the drone after it repeatedly came close to the border, and the air force ‘gathered the drone’s ruins’ for inspection, the statement said. The statement did not identify the drone. On Tuesday, Syrian government warplanes struck rebel outposts near the Jordanian border, rebels in southern Syria said, bringing the war closer to Syria’s U.S.-allied neighbor. The air strikes were the first near that part of the border, a Jordanian official said. They came hours after Syria’s foreign minister warned Jordan against sending troops into his country.”

Iraq

Reuters: Families Pour Out Of Mosul As Iraqi Troops Push Into Last Militant-Held Areas

“Thousands more people are fleeing Mosul every day since Iraqi troops began their push into the last Islamic State-held areas of the city last week, with food and water running out and the fighting killing increasing numbers of civilians. More than 22,000 people have fled Mosul since the U.S.-backed forces opened a new front in the northwest of the city on May 4 to try to finally dislodge the militants, the United Nations said on Wednesday, citing Iraqi government figures. In the past two days alone, more than 11,000 people have passed through a screening site at the Hammam al-Alil camp south of Mosul.”

Turkey

Reuters: Turkey Warns U.S. Of Blowback From Decision To Arm Kurdish Fighters In Syria

“Turkey warned the United States on Wednesday that a decision to arm Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State in Syria could end up hurting Washington, and accused its NATO ally of siding with terrorists. The rebuke came a week before President Tayyip Erdogan is due in Washington for his first meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, who approved the arms supply to support a campaign to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from Islamic State. Turkey views the YPG as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984 and is considered a terrorist group by the United States, Turkey and Europe.”

Voice Of America: Member Of Jihadi John’s Gang Jailed In Turkey

“A member of a notorious gang of British jihadists that brutalized and beheaded Western hostages in Syria, including American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, was sentenced Tuesday in Turkey to a seven-and-a-half-year prison term. Aine Davis was an alleged associate of Mohammed Emwazi, the Islamic State executioner nicknamed ‘Jihadi John’ who was killed in a drone strike a year ago. Davis was charged with membership of a terrorist organization. A weightier charge of preparing acts of terrorism, which carried the possibility of a longer sentence, was dropped by Turkish prosecutors, who struggled during an 18-month-long court process to amass the necessary evidence for the graver charge.”

Afghanistan

Reuters: NATO Assessing Request For More Troops To Afghanistan

“NATO is assessing a request from the alliance’s military authorities to send more troops to Afghanistan and will make a decision on the scale and scope of the mission within weeks, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday. The request for what Stoltenberg said was ‘about a few thousand’ more troops reflects the West’s alarm about the worsening security situation in Afghanistan, territorial gains by Taliban militants and military and civilian casualties. ‘We are now assessing that request. We will make decisions on the scale and scope of the mission within weeks but this is not about returning back to a combat operation in Afghanistan,’ he said after meeting British Prime Minister Theresa May.”

Voice Of America: Pakistan: Border Dispute With Afghanistan To Be Resolved This Week

“Pakistan says a border dispute that triggered recent deadly clashes with Afghanistan is likely to be settled later this week, paving the way for Islamabad to fully reopen a busy crossing with the landlocked neighboring country. The Pakistani military reiterated on Wednesday that clashes erupted after Afghan forces fired at government enumerators trying to conduct a census-related activity on the Pakistani side of two divided villages in the southwestern town of Chaman. The skirmishes left casualties on both sides, and heavy gunfire continued for hours until the two sides agreed to conduct a joint geological survey of the border villages to ‘remove discrepancies.’”

Fox News: Inside Afghanistan: Are More US Troops What Afghans Want?

“Weaving through the clogged streets of Kabul, only half are paved. The rest are tracks in the hardened dirt. Unfinished buildings tower over the endless raw meat stands, barefoot men huddle in a gutter sharing tea while poor women beg from behind their burkas and children swarm car windows pleading for spare change. There is an unspoken sense that anything, at any time, can go wrong.  ‘There is no safe place to go anymore. When a person comes out of their house, you cannot assume that he or she will come home,’ Mohammad Sayed Rahimi, founder of private security firm Kabul Balkh Safety & Security, told Fox News. ‘The situation now is as fearful as it was under the Taliban rule of the ’90s.’”

Yemen

The Washington Post: Yemen Minister Says 60 Percent Of Population In Dire Poverty

“Yemen’s planning minister says 60 percent of the country’s population is in dire poverty more than two years since the Shiite rebels forced the country’s internationally recognized government and president out of the capital. Mohamed El-Saadi says 22 million Yemenis are in need of humanitarian relief, a figure that exceeds the U.N.’s recent estimate that 19.8 million in Yemen need assistance. El-Saadi spoke during a meeting on Wednesday in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, attended by the Gulf Cooperation Council and international organizations.”

Reuters: Arab Coalition Says Preparing Alternatives To Yemen Port For Urgent Aid

“The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said it was determined to help its government retake all areas held by Houthi militia, including the key port of Hodeidah, but would ensure alternative entry routes for badly needed food and medicine. The United Nations has warned the Arab alliance fighting the Iran-aligned Houthis against any attempt to extend the war to Hodeidah, a vital Red Sea aid delivery point for millions of Yemenis in danger of slipping into famine. Around 80 percent of Yemen’s food imports arrive via Hodeidah, and the United Nations said last month a surge in fighting there would only cause ‘more displacement, more institutional collapse, and more suffering’.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: Israeli Forces Thwart Palestinian Pipe Bomb Attack At Idf Court In West Bank

“A potential security crisis was averted Wednesday morning after Israeli forces caught a Palestinian carrying a pipe bomb outside of a military court in the West Bank near the Palestinian village of Salem. According to border police, the suspect, a minor from Jenin, attempted to enter the complex via a military checkpoint. When asked by security officials to show identification, the suspect said he did not have any, prompting a search of his person. During the search, soldiers found two pipe bombs in the suspect’s possession.”

Libya

Reuters: Libyan Coastguard Turns Back Nearly 500 Migrants After Altercation With NGO Ship

“Libya’s coastguard said it had intercepted nearly 500 migrants packed onto a wooden boat and returned them to Tripoli on Wednesday after warning off a ship that was preparing to pick them up for passage to Europe. Footage filmed by Sea-Watch, a non-governmental organization, showed a Libyan coastguard vessel coming within meters of its own ship as it sped to stop the migrants.  Tripoli coastguard spokesman Ayoub Qassem said the incident occurred about 19 miles (30 km) north of Libya’s coast. It highlighted the confusion in the crowded waters as desperate migrants try to reach a better life and authorities scramble to deal with the chaos.

United Kingdom

Reuters: Man Held Near May’s Office In April Charged With Terrorism Offences

“A man arrested near Prime Minister Theresa May’s office in London last month has been charged with terrorism offences and will appear in court on Thursday, police said.  Khalid Mohammed Omar Ali, 27, of north London, also faces two counts of possessing explosives which police said related to activity in Afghanistan in 2012. Ali, who was detained by counter-terrorism officers on Parliament Street, a stone’s throw from the parliament building, May’s Downing Street office and government departments, will appear at Westminster magistrates’ court.”

Reuters: Three London Women Charged With Terrorism Offences – Police

“Three women from London, including a mother and daughter, were charged on Wednesday with preparation of a terrorist act and conspiracy to murder, police said. Khawla Barghouthi, 20, of northwest London, Rizlaine Boular, 21, of central London, and her mother Mina Dich, 43, of southwest London, are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, the Metropolitan Police said. The three were arrested last month. Britain has been on its second-highest alert level of ‘severe’ since August 2014, meaning an attack by militants is considered highly likely.”

Germany

BBC News: German Police Carry Out Anti-Terror Raids

“German police have carried out anti-terrorism raids in four states, targeting suspected members and supporters of so-called Islamic State. Homes and properties were searched in Bavaria, Berlin, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt during the pre-dawn operation, federal prosecutors say. Police were looking for three suspects – two of them are believed to be IS members and the third a supporter of the jihadist group. No arrests have been made. After suffering a series of deadly attacks last year, Germany has been in fear of further violence.”

The New York Times: Pro-Nazi Soldiers In German Army Raise Alarm

“It started with an investigation into a suspected terrorist plot by an army soldier aimed at top government officials. But it quickly uncovered a larger problem. Military police searching through barracks turned up Nazi-era military memorabilia that revealed a much broader presence of far-right extremists in the German Army’s ranks, something commanders are now accused of having long ignored. They are currently investigating 275 cases involving accusations of racism or far-right extremism stretching back six years, according to the Defense Ministry. The number represents a small minority in a force of nearly 180,000. But nearly 70 percent of cases have emerged in the last year and a half, pointing to an accelerating problem that German military authorities are only now scrambling to address.”

ISIS

Ashnona: Iraq: Wealthy Financiers In Neighboring Countries Support ISIS

“The Central Court of Investigation announced on Wednesday the arrest of a group of suspects involved in terror financing in Baghdad. It came after an investigative effort made in coordination with Iraqi security forces. Confessions by suspects indicated that ISIS has started to rely on a new means of funding coinciding with its loss of areas of influence. The new funding source is based on wealthy individuals in neighboring countries who support the terror organization financially. The Iraqi judiciary asserted that the “suspects are {ISIS} financial officials in what is known as Wilayat Baghdad. Their serious confessions included being granted financial autonomy by the organization’s leadership to receive money either through foreign transfers or through goods entering Iraq and sold on the market at low prices, offered in part to customers as “special offers”.

Muslim Brotherhood

The Seventh Day: Report: Muslim Brotherhood Leader Invests In A Nightclub And Alcohol In Amsterdam

“The International Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood is currently investigating a case involving one of its leaders in Europe. The probe surrounds the nature of his investments in a company that boasts several foreign investors and owns a large nightclub in Amsterdam. The company also operates a winery in the center of the city. This news generated an outcry by the Brotherhood’s youth, who threatened to suspend their monthly membership fees if the matter is not cleared up. Sources claimed that Brotherhood officials spoke to the leader and his response was that he had nothing to do with the matter. He avowed that the company that operates the nightclub and liquor factory is owned entirely by a business associate. However, their joint venture is limited only to a company which is active in the finance and securities market.”

Hamas

Amad: Hamas Announces Payment Of Salaries For Its Gaza Employees On Time

“The payment of last month’s salaries to employees in the Gaza Strip will be disbursed exactly 30 days after the previous payment, said Youssef Al Kayyali, Hamas’ deputy finance minister. He stated that only 50% of the salary, or a minimum of NIS1400 ($388), will be paid this month. Al-Kayali denied that the money transfer to Hamas employees was influenced by the decisions of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the latest of which was a {full} tax exemption for merchants and citizens from Gaza. The Hamas official promised that the presidential decree would have no effect, either negative or positive, on the local revenues or payments, to which the Finance Ministry will remain committed in the future.”

Houthi

Yemen Akhbar: Houthi Group Benefits From The Marib Gas Facility

“An official source in Marib Province was quoted as saying that “Houthis are still benefiting today from the gas facility in the province of Marib, controlled by the legitimate government.” The source added that merchants loyal to the Houthis are buying gas from the Safer Facility in the province at low prices and selling it in the provinces dominated by the group at prices more than four times their real value. At the same time, a journalist in the province, Ali Aweida, revealed that the gas coming from Marib has become a major source of income for the Houthis ‘on the backs of the citizens’.”

Islamic Group

24: Egypt: Former Jihadist Calls For Confiscation Of Funds Of Islamic Group Leaders

“A former Al Jama’a Islameya (Islamic Group) leader, Awad Al Hattab, revealed that the leaders of the Islamic Group in Egypt are in possession of detailed information about the sleeper cells and “lone wolves” that are executing armed operations against the army and police forces. He claimed they have documents concerning entry and exit routes of militants into and out of Egypt as well as methods of delivery of weapons, due to their involvement in the formation of these sleeper cells. Al Hattab added that Egyptian security services must work to dry up the sources of terrorism by arresting these leaders, restricting their movement and recruitment methods, and confiscating the funds they possess. The ex-leader emphasized how vital it is to uncover the sources of their support from abroad and inside Egypt with the aim of tightening the grip on what he described as “a vast jihadist network.”

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