Eye on Extremism, July 20, 2017

Reuters: After Mosul, Islamic State Digs In For Guerrilla Warfare
“Islamic State militants began reinventing themselves months before U.S.-backed Iraqi forces ended their three-year reign of terror in Mosul, putting aside the dream of a modern-day caliphate and preparing the ground for a different fight. Intelligence and local officials said that, a few months ago, they noticed a growing stream of commanders and fighters flowing out of the city to the Hamrin mountains in northeast Iraq which offer hideouts and access to four Iraqi provinces. Some were intercepted but many evaded security forces and began setting up bases for their new operations. What comes next may be a more complex and daunting challenge for Iraqi security forces once they finish celebrating a hard-won victory in Mosul, the militants’ biggest stronghold.”
The Daily Caller: 30 Percent Of European-Born ISIS Fighters Are Returning To Their Homes, US Believes
“Nearly 30 percent of European foreign fighters for the Islamic State have returned to the continent, the U.S. Department of State annual country report on terrorism reveals. Experts fear that some of the returning foreign fighters will pursue domestic terror plots in their home countries, or even use their passports to travel elsewhere in the West. The State Department, however, noted that ‘the overall number of departed foreign terrorist fighters originating from Western European and Balkan countries declined significantly in 2016 from the previous year.’”
The National: Iran ‘Foremost State Sponsor Of Terrorism In 2016′: US State Department
“Iran was the “foremost state sponsor of terrorism in 2016”, the US state department said on Wednesday in its annual report on terrorism worldwide. The 2016 Country Reports on Terrorism — the first released by the state department since US president Donald Trump assumed office — also highlighted Hizbollah’s increasing reach in Syria, Iraq and Yemen and an increase in “its long-term attack capabilities”.  Although the report said there had been a 9 per cent drop in global terror attacks last year from 2015, as well as a 13 per cent drop in terror-related fatalities, it stressed that “the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) remained the most potent terrorist threat to global security” in 2016. Al Qaeda and its regional affiliates also “remained a threat to the US homeland and our interests abroad despite counter-terrorism pressure by US partners”, the report said.”
Huffington Post: Germans, Canadians Reportedly Among Captured Women Who Fought For Isis
“Fresh off declaring victory in the battle to retake Mosul from the self-proclaimed Islamic State, Iraqi forces captured 20 foreign women in the city who were believed to have joined the extremist group, according to press reports this week. One such individual is thought to be a missing 16-year-old from Saxony, Germany. German authorities are investigating whether she is a girl named Linda W. who is believed to have run away to Turkey in July 2016, en route to Syria and then Iraq, to join up with ISIS. The authorities are still working to confirm the detained teen’s identity, the Guardian reported Wednesday.  “Communications with Iraq are proving difficult, but we are doing everything necessary to establish whether the girl arrested is Linda W.,” a spokesperson for Saxony’s state prosecutor told the newspaper.”
Military Times: U.S. Should Consider A Formal Op To Combat ISIS In The Philippines
The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the U.S. should consider restarting a formal military operation to combat the rise and influence of the Islamic State in the Philippines, the  Washington Examiner reports.  Gen. Paul Selva was responding to a question from Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, during an Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday.  Ernst, a proponent of intervention against the Islamic State in the Philippines, warned that the instability could become a “prolonged or long-term catastrophe,” per the Washington Examiner. “In every case where we see the resurgence of terror networks, particularly in the fragile areas of the south Philippines, I think it is worth considering whether or not we reinstate a named operation,” Selva said.”
The New York Times: Trump Ends Covert Aid To Syrian Rebels Trying To Topple Assad
“President Trump has ended the clandestine American program to provide arms and supplies to Syrian rebel groups, American officials said, a recognition that the effort was failing and that the administration has given up hope of helping to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The decision came more than a month ago, the officials said, by which time the effort to deliver the arms had slowed to a trickle. It was never publicly announced, just as the beginnings of the program four years ago were officially a secret, authorized by President Barack Obama through a ‘finding’ that permitted the C.I.A. to conduct a deniable program. News of the troublesome program soon leaked out.”
Reuters: After Long Benghazi Campaign, Libyan Commander Eyes Capital
“Buoyed by the end of a long military campaign in Benghazi and new signs of foreign support, Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar has been signaling his intent to extend his power to the capital, Tripoli. Haftar, a one-time ally of Muammar Gaddafi who fell out with the former Libyan leader in the 1980s, emerged as a strongman in eastern Libya over the past three years, using the Benghazi campaign to build up his forces whilst shunning a U.N.-mediated peace plan. His strategy now appears to be to forge the kind of local alliances used to advance into key oil ports and parts of the south over the past year. But it is a strategy that would be higher risk and harder to achieve in the capital.”
USA Today: Malala Speaks Out Against Boko Haram In Nigeria
“Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai was greeted with cheers by dozens of young women in northeastern Nigeria, where she spoke out for the many girls abducted under Boko Haram’s deadly insurgency. The 20-year-old Pakistani activist told The Associated Press on Tuesday she was excited by the courage of the young women who are undaunted as they pursue an education amid one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. ‘This is part of my girl power trip, visiting many parts of the world,’ said Yousafzai, who also met with the freed Chibok schoolgirls taken in a mass abduction by Boko Haram more than three years ago. ‘I am here now because of the Nigerian girls. Fighting for them and speaking up for them.’”
United States
BBC News: Laptop Ban: US Lifts Restrictions On Saudi Arabian Flights
“The ban on laptops in cabins of direct flights from Saudi Arabia to the United States has been lifted according to Saudi Arabian Airlines. It says two hub airports which serve the US have received clearance from the US Department of Homeland Security. Riyadh’s King Khalid airport is the last of 10 airports to be exempted from the ban. In March, the US banned laptops and other large electronic devices to and from eight mostly Muslim nations. US officials will check that Saudi airports are complying with new security measures.”
The Washington Post: Pentagon Voices ‘Concerns’ After Turkish News Agency Posts Map Of U.S. Bases In Syria
“A Turkish news agency provided a map and details of U.S.-run military outposts in northern Syria, prompting the Pentagon to say Wednesday it had relayed ‘concerns’ about the article to Ankara. ‘The release of sensitive military information exposes coalition forces to unnecessary risk and has the potential to disrupt ongoing operations to defeat ISIS,’ said Army Maj. Josh Jacques, a U.S. military spokesman, using an acronym for the terrorist group called the Islamic State. The article, published by the state-run Anadolu Agency on Tuesday, included a map showing 10 U.S. bases spread across the part of northern Syria controlled mostly by Kurdish forces. The text of the piece included specific breakdowns of each base, including troop numbers and the location of possible French Special Operations forces. The Daily Beast first reported U.S. concerns about the article.”
The Washington Post: Trump Has Rare Meeting Of Full National Security Team To Discuss Afghanistan
“President Trump presided over a rare meeting of his full national security team Wednesday in the White House. The subject was the future of the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, and hovering over the discussion was a big question: How committed is the president to a long-term and costly American presence in the country? Trump has said little about America’s longest war since taking office in January, but the debate over how to stabilize the country and reverse the Taliban’s momentum has divided top officials in the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House in recent weeks.”
Voice Of America: US Report: Islamic State, Iran Still Top Terror Concerns
“Terror attacks and terror-related deaths trended downward last year although efforts to degrade the Islamic State terror group as well as Iran’s network of state-sponsored terror groups did little to diminish their capabilities. In its annual report on global terrorism released Wednesday, the U.S. State Department said worldwide terror attacks fell by nine percent from 2015 to 2016, while the number of deaths dipped 13 percent. But American officials cautioned IS remained ‘the most capable terrorist organization globally in 2016,’ helping to drive a more than 20-percent increase in attacks in Iraq compared to 2015.”
Reuters: Number Of Terrorist Attacks Globally Dropped In 2016: U.S. Government
“The number of terrorist attacks worldwide and deaths from such attacks dropped in 2016 for the second straight year, driven by decreases in Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday. The total number of terrorist attacks in 2016 dropped 9 percent compared to 2015, while fatalities caused by the attacks fell 13 percent, the department said in a report on global terrorism. The Sunni militant group Islamic State was the deadliest terrorist group last year, carrying out 20 percent more attacks in Iraq and causing 69 percent more deaths there compared to 2015.”
Syria
Reuters: Islamist Insurgents Clash Across Syria’s Idlib
“Clashes between rival insurgent groups broke out in Syria’s Idlib region in some of the heaviest fighting between Islamist factions which hold sway in the northwestern province, war monitors reported on Wednesday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Hayat Tahrir al-Sham – a jihadist alliance that includes al Qaeda’s former Syria branch – had attacked positions of Ahrar al-Sham, a more moderate rival Islamist group allied with mainstream rebel factions. The clashes began late on Tuesday, the British-based Observatory said and an online statement from Ahrar al-Sham blamed Tahrir al-Sham for starting the violence.”
Voice Of America: IS Loses Ground In Syria’s North, East
“As fighting flared in parts of Syria on Wednesday, a U.S.- and Russian-backed cease-fire in the south appeared to be holding. U.S. officials said Russia has offered to send observers to the area to monitor the truce. Brett McGurk, the U.S. special envoy for the anti-IS coalition, said last week that the U.S. has had ‘constructive’ talks with Russian military officials on Syria in recent weeks and that both sides were keen to explore the possibility of cease-fires in other areas of the country. Despite talk of enlarging the cease-fire, fighting flared up in the rebel-held province of Idlib, near the Turkish border. Arab media reported that fighters from two rival Islamic militant groups, the former Jabhat al-Nusra and the Ahrar al-Sham, battled each other using heavy weapons.”
Iraq
Reuters: Iraq’s Kurds, Seeking Independence, Call Vote Hoping To Ease Row
“The president of Iraq’s autonomous region of Kurdistan has called a parliamentary and presidential election for November which could help ease a long-running political row as the Kurds push for independence from Baghdad. The elections will follow an independence referendum set for Sept. 25, a move that will strain Iraq’s frayed federal unity and annoy neighbours Syria, Turkey and Iran, who also have sizable Kurdish populations. The political developments take place as Iraqi government forces push back Islamic State militants from territory in northern Iraq, a campaign in which Kurdish peshmerga forces have played a vital role. The Kurdistan region last held a presidential election in 2009 and a parliamentary election in 2013. President Masoud Barzani won the 2009 poll but has said he will not stand again.”
NBC News: Questions Surround Foreign Teen Found After ISIS Defeat In Mosul
“Authorities in Germany are working to establish whether a teenage girl who was among five women captured in the former ISIS stronghold of Mosul last week is a 16-year-old German thought to have fled to Iraq after being radicalized online. Iraqi forces found a teenager of foreign origin hiding in the cellar of a house in the Old Mosul neighborhood as they routed ISIS from the key city last week. The girl was at first believed to be Yazidi — a religious minority persecuted by ISIS in northern Iraq — because she spoke little Arabic and had fair skin, officials says.”
Reuters: Iraqi Forces Recapture Village South Of Mosul From Islamic State: Police
“Iraqi forces on Thursday regained control over Imam Gharbi, a village south of Mosul, from Islamic State militants who had seized it as their defense of their stronghold in the city crumbled, Iraqi police said. The action formed part of the next phase of the U.S.-backed government’s campaign to drive Islamic State from Iraq and dismantle their self-proclaimed caliphate. Police Colonel Kareem Aboud said government forces took full control of Imam Gharbi at dawn. They discovered the bodies of two Iraqi journalists who were killed there shortly after the militants attacked, he said. Troops were now searching the village for remaining militants.”
Turkey
Reuters: Jailed Pro-Kurdish Leader Says Fair Trial Impossible In Erdogan’s Turkey
“Turkey’s jailed pro-Kurdish opposition leader said no judge could stand up to Tayyip Erdogan, expressing doubts he could ever have a fair trial after the president publicly labeled him a terrorist. In a rare interview from prison, Selahattin Demirtas also told Reuters he believed he accepted some blame for failing to halt the collapse of peace talks between the government and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The former human rights lawyer is one of more than a dozen lawmakers from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) arrested in a crackdown that followed last year’s attempted coup. They are mostly accused of links to the PKK, considered a terrorist group by the United States, Turkey and Europe. All deny the charges.”
Reuters: Turkish Ministry Says Germany Comments On Activists’ Arrests Unacceptable
“Comments by German officials regarding Turkey’s arrest of six human rights activists, including a German citizen, were unacceptable and amounted to interference in the judiciary, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. Germany raised the possibility on Wednesday of suspending European Union aid payments to Turkey after summoning Ankara’s ambassador to Berlin to protest over the arrest of the six, including Amnesty International’s Turkey head Idil Eser. German citizen Peter Steudtner was also among those jailed pending trial on terrorism charges, which Berlin has labeled ‘absurd’, in a move which further escalated tensions between the NATO allies.”
Reuters: Turkish Official Urges Saudi Arabia To Drop Demands Against Qatar
“A senior Turkish official in an interview broadcast on Wednesday called on Saudi Arabia to drop 13 demands it and other Arab states had made of Qatar, saying they represent an infringement on its sovereignty. Speaking in an interview with the Qatar-based Al Jazeera channel ahead of a visit next week by President Tayyip Erdogan to the Gulf, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus also issued a veiled warning to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), saying that conflicts breed conflict and the outcome may be unpredictable. Turkey has sided with Qatar in the crisis which began last month when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed sanctions on Doha, accusing it of supporting terrorism, and demanded it accept 13 demands that include shutting down Al Jazeera and a Turkish army base in Qatar.”
Politico: In Turkey, Defending Human Rights Is A Crime
“In Turkey, truth and justice have become strangers. Six human rights defenders were imprisoned this week on the absurd charge of supporting a terrorist organization. They await trial, which could prolong their incarceration for several months. Four others were released but remain under investigation. Their movements have been restricted and they have to report to the police three times a week. Among those imprisoned is Idil Eser, Amnesty International’s director in Turkey. ‘I have committed no crime,’ she wrote to me from detention last week. Nor have any of the others. Since the July coup in 2016, the Turkish government has seized on any whisper of dissent as an excuse to crack down on political opponents. In this climate, even defending human rights is treated as a crime.”
Afghanistan
Voice Of America: Afghan, Pakistani Women Push For Role In Peace Talks
“Prominent women rights defenders from Afghanistan and Pakistan have jointly called on their governments to push for the inclusion of women in any peace negotiations aimed at easing bilateral tensions and resolving an increasingly deadly Afghan conflict. The two countries share a nearly 2,600-kilometer border, and landlocked Afghanistan relies mostly on Pakistani transit routes and ports for international trade. Tensions in relations have undermined bilateral economic and political ties, however, because of allegations that Islamabad covertly supports the Taliban sustain the Afghan insurgency.”
Egypt
Reuters: Some Former Sisi Allies Turn Critics As Egypt Election Nears
“Some of the people who helped propel Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to power are calling for his replacement in an election next year, a sign of a shift in the still widespread view that he is a force for stability. Although the former military commander has yet to declare he will run in the June election, only two people have aired the idea of challenging him and even they say Sisi is likely to win, aided by a crackdown on his opponents that is gathering pace. But the criticism in recent months from several of Sisi’s staunchest former allies of his handling of the economy, security and a territorial dispute is striking in a country where fear of turmoil is another factor stifling dissent.”
Middle East
The Guardian: Anger And Mistrust In Gaza As Hamas Hunts For Israel ‘Collaborators’
“Abdullah al-Nashar does not have a tombstone. His grave is a smear of concrete with his name roughly written into it marked with a breeze block. It is an ignominious memorial for a man who served as a presidential guard for both Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas. But Nashar is no longer considered a Palestinian hero. On 25 May he was one of three men publicly executed for the crime of helping Israel assassinate the Hamas military chief Mazen Fuqha. And in Gaza, this is the only suitable grave for a collaborator. Standing at his graveside in Sheikh Radwan cemetery, his brothers Mohammed and Khaled al-Nashar are still angry. They are convinced he was killed for a crime he did not commit.”
The Jerusalem Post: IDF Discloses Scope Of Israeli Aid To Syrians Afflicted By War
“Israel has for the past year treated hundreds of Syrians and sent hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid in a new project dubbed ‘Operation Good Neighbor,’ the IDF disclosed on Wednesday. Launched in June 2016, the initiative was launched with the goal of increasing civilian aid for Syrians while maintaining the principle of non-involvement in the Syrian civil war.  More than 110 new aid operations have taken place since August 2016 as part of the initiative. ‘This project has a significant impact on Israel’s security,’ Brig.-Gen. Yaniv Ashur said during a briefing with journalists close to the border, adding that ‘we have learned from the Americans who lost the Iraqi population. We realized that we could do more for the population near our border than what we were doing at the time.’”
The Washington Post: Israeli Minister: Metal Detectors Crucial For Jerusalem Site
“Israel’s public security minister said Thursday that metal detectors placed at a contested Jerusalem shrine after a deadly attack there are essential to maintain security, despite a Muslim call for mass protests in the city if they are not removed. Gilad Erdan told Israel’s Army Radio that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will rule on the issue later in the day after he holds security consultations upon his return from a working visit to Europe. The Israeli security services are reportedly divided over what to do given the volatility surrounding the site. But Erdan rejected Arab accusations that new Israeli measures were an attempt to expand control over the site and insisted they were necessary to carry out proper security checks.”
The Washington Post: Netanyahu Accidentally Reveals Israel Has Struck Iran-Backed Fighters In Syria ‘Dozens Of Times’
“It has never been a particularly well-kept secret that Israel has conducted clandestine airstrikes in Syrian territory over recent years. But this week, Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to not only admit that these strikes had occurred, but that they had occurred ‘dozens’ of times. The Israeli prime minister made this admission accidentally — all thanks to a hot mic. Netanyahu’s remarks came during a meeting with Eastern European leaders in Budapest on Wednesday. Although the meeting occurred behind closed doors, the Israeli leader’s microphone remained on and his voice was transmitted to headphones given to reporters earlier.
CNN: Iran Remains Top Terror Sponsor As Global Attacks Decline
“Iran remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, according to an annual State Department report that pointed to ISIS as the primary non-state threat to US interests and allies. Terrorism around the world declined globally last year, according to the Country Reports on Terrorism 2016. But Iran continues to destabilize the Middle East through proxies such as Hezbollah, exacerbating conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Despite the worldwide dip in terrorism related deaths and fatalities, the report said that militant groups continued to exploit ungoverned areas in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia to plan attacks. And it flagged militant inspired attacks by ‘home grown lone offenders’ who struck in France, Germany and the United States.”
Nigeria
BBC News: Boko Haram Suspects Tortured In Cameroon, Amnesty Says
“Suspected Boko Haram fighters have been ‘brutally tortured’ by security forces in Cameroon, a rights group says. Amnesty International said in a report that the suspects, including women and children, were beaten, water-boarded and forced into stress positions. The cases allegedly happened between 2013 and 2017, and dozens of detainees died as a result, it added. Cameroon’s government has not commented. Boko Haram frequently carries out attacks in the country. The Islamist group, based in neighbouring Nigeria, has killed more than 1,500 civilians in Cameroon since 2014, and abducted many others, Amnesty said.”
United Kingdom
BBC News: Cardiff Man, 34, Charged With Terrorism Offences
“A Cardiff man has been charged with terrorism offences, police have said. The 34-year-old was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of disseminating terrorist publications. He is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, charged with four offences under the Terrorism Act. A woman, 36, also from the Cardiff area, who was arrested has been released on bail.”
BBC News: Mosque Arson Attack Is ‘Terrorism’, Say Manchester Muslim Leaders
“A suspected arson attack on a Manchester mosque should be treated as an act of terror, Muslims leaders say. Police are investigating the fire at the Nasfat Islamic Centre building in Droylsden Road, Newton Heath as a ‘hate crime’. But officials want to establish whether it was carried out for any ‘political, religious, racial or ideological purposes’. A prayer room and three classrooms were damaged in the fire on Sunday night. Qasim Chohan, from the Manchester Council of Mosques, said: ‘If we don’t speak out or if we turn a blind eye against those that commit these awful crimes, those that spread hate will only increase their grasp on the communities around us.’”
Germany
Voice Of America: German-Turkish Tensions Rise Over Detention Of German National In Turkey
“Tensions between Germany and Turkey escalated Wednesday after Berlin summoned the Turkish ambassador to receive an official protest after Ankara arrested several human rights activists, including a German citizen. Berlin has warned that EU aid to Turkey could be at risk, putting in jeopardy a key migrant deal. A Turkish court Tuesday ordered the detention of Peter Steudtner, a German national who was attending a human rights workshop in Istanbul and was among six rights activists held as part of an ongoing crackdown since a failed coup last year.”
Voice Of America: Germany ‘Outraged’ Over Detention Of Activist In Turkey
“Germany has called terrorism accusations against one of its citizens in Turkey absurd and demanded the ‘immediate release’ of the activist. ‘The Turkish government needs to immediately and directly hear the German government’s outrage and incomprehension as well as its crystal-clear expectations in the case of Peter Steudtner, and this time without diplomatic niceties,’ Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said. After a meeting Wednesday with Turkey’s ambassador, Schaefer said he told the envoy ‘in no uncertain terms’ the detention of Steudtner was ‘unacceptable’ and said the German sentiment would be delivered to Ankara.”
France
The New York Times: France’s Top General Resigns In Dispute Over Military Spending
“A public fight between President Emmanuel Macron and France’s chief military officer over proposed cuts in military spending led Wednesday to the first high-profile resignation of a public servant since Mr. Macron was elected in May. In an unusual move, the military chief, Gen. Pierre de Villiers, offered his resignation after Mr. Macron said publicly that he would be the one to determine military policy and implicitly criticized General de Villiers for questioning the government’s proposed budget cuts. The president’s seemingly unshakable confidence in his judgment, and his reluctance to brook any dissent, could signal potential difficulties ahead as Mr. Macron tries to shrink government spending.”
The Daily Caller: French Senate Approves Bill To Effectively Put The Country In A Permanent State Of Emergency
“A bill to permanently expand security powers for French authorities passed its first hurdle Tuesday when the upper house of the parliament approved the legislation. Senators backed the first reading of the text in a 229-106 vote. It will now head for a debate in the lower house before it can become law. France has been in a state of emergency since the Nov. 13, 2015, terror attack in Paris, which killed 130 people. President Emmanuel Macron has promised to end the measure by the end of the year, but critics say the replacement bill would essentially make all the state of emergency measures law of the land.”
Daily Mail: French Woman Faces Prosecution In Iraq For Possible IS Links
“A French woman captured in the Iraqi city of Mosul with her four children is facing possible prosecution in Iraq for allegedly collaborating with the Islamic State group, in a test case for how governments handle the families of foreign fighters now that the extremists are in retreat. The fate of the children, ranging in age from 6 months to 8 years old, is in legal limbo. The father’s whereabouts are unknown. How Iraq and France choose to handle this family’s case could set a precedent for the many other foreigners who joined the IS cause. France alone estimates that 750 French people are among extremists in Iraq and Syria – including up to 450 children.”
Reuters: France Wants Major Powers To Make ‘Proposals’ To Syrian Warring Parties
“France wants major powers involved in the Syrian crisis to join a contact group that would make proposals to warring parties, in an effort to break a deadlock in political negotiations, the French foreign minister said. Emmanuel Macron’s election victory has given Paris a chance to re-examine its policy on Syria. The change being proposed is to drop demands that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down as a pre-condition for talks, although French officials still insist he cannot be the long-term future for Syria. France now appears to be aligning its foreign policy with the U.S. priorities of fighting terrorism and seeking better ties with Russia, a move that it calculates could give it a role as a go-between between the two powers, especially on Syria.”
Europe
The Jerusalem Post: What’s Happening Behind The Scenes Of Bulgaria’s Hezbollah Terror Trial?
“As relatives of victims of the Burgas bombing journeyed to Bulgaria on Tuesday to commemorate the terrorist attack’s fifth anniversary, one wonders whether there is more than meets the eye going on with the case?  On one hand, five years have passed with little to show in starting the trial’s substantive phase of calling witnesses so any kind of verdict can become visible on the horizon. On the other hand, Israeli victims’ lawyer Yaki Rand told The Jerusalem Post recently, ‘There is a lot more going on behind the scenes.”’
Reuters: European Human Rights Court To Rule On Extremist Online Videos
“Europe’s top human rights court will rule on Thursday whether online videos considered by a Belgian court to be Islamist hate speech should be allowed under free speech provisions. Fouad Belkacem is a Belgian national currently imprisoned for his activities as the head of Sharia4Belgium, an organization banned for recruiting foreign fighters to participate in militant activities in the Middle East. The European Court of Human Rights will evaluate Belkacem’s argument that his remarks in a series of videos on online platform YouTube fall within his freedoms of expression and religion and were not meant to incite violence.”
Associated Press: Kosovo Court Imprisons 5 Albanians For Islamic State Video
“A Kosovo court has sentenced five ethnic Albanians to prison terms for plans to prepare a video for the Islamic State group. The Pristina court said in a statement Wednesday that the men were sentenced to three to 4.5 years in prison. The men tried in 2015 to register online a video with the Islamic State logo that aimed to pledge their allegiance to the group and ‘testify to the world the extension of the so-called Islamic State in Kosovo Republic.’”
Terror Financing
Dostor: Security Expert: Drying Up Financial Sources Is The First Step Towards Eliminating Terror
“Security expert, Brigadier Khaled Okasha, stressed that drying up the sources of financing is the first step towards eradicating terrorism. The Egyptian expert noted that the past years have witnessed the flow of funds into the pockets of political Islamic movements. The use of force alone will not be sufficient to eradicate terrorism,” Okasha said during a BBC interview. The state must take every action from education to reforming the religious discourse, alongside the use of military force, he asserted. Okasha added that investing in the police force and providing it with modern weapons and vehicles help in the fight against terrorism. This is because terrorist groups are now well equipped and fitted with the best weapon systems.”
Emarat Alyoum: “Lone Wolves” Have No Trouble Obtaining Money To Finance Their Terrorist Acts
“Local authorities in some Middle Eastern countries may face difficulties in uncovering the sources of terrorist financing. In order to do so, they will need to raise the level of security and financial cooperation between them. The defeat of ISIS in Mosul and the weakening of its control over certain areas in Syria may lead to stronger motivation among its militants to commit new bloody terror operations relying on their own funds. This self-funding method may increase the difficulties facing local authorities in some countries of the region. This is especially true since some of these terrorists are unknown to security services. In addition, the amount of funds they obtain through remittances or the global financial system may not raise suspicion, given their small size and scope. In light of this, it can be said that tracking the funding sources for terrorist cells or “lone wolves” requires a proactive approach, based on security and intelligence activities. These include monitoring and tracking sympathizers of terrorist organizations, enhancing cooperation on the exchange of financial information among the countries of the region and intensifying controls on money transfers.”
Albawabh News: Egyptian Researcher Highlights Most Important Sources Of Terror Financing In Egypt
“Researcher Abdou El-Ashry stated that studying the Internet’s role in the development of terrorism should not be overlooked. He explained that the Web has become an important tool for terrorist groups and is used in a wide range of activities related to terrorism. One example is the use of social media networks as a platform for collecting donations. The online donation campaigns attest to the financial distress suffered by these groups as a result of their recent defeats. The expert also noted that the Internet is used to disseminate extremist ideologies and religious “justifications” for terrorist operations. The links between transnational organized crime groups and terrorist groups should also be examined, specifically their common interests in profiteering via drug and arms trafficking, looting, human trafficking, money laundering and other activities that support and finance terrorist operations.”
Muslim Brotherhood
Albawabh News: Expert: Micro-Banking Transactions Among The Most Important Means Of Financing Muslim Brotherhood
“Mohammed Abdul-Salam Dahrouj, an Islamic scholar, commented on the external financing of terrorism in Egypt, explaining that the funding is obtained through a complex financial process whose mechanisms vary depending on the security situation. According to Dahrouj, the external financing is either obtained through huge financial transactions which raise almost no suspicion, or through micro-banking transactions. There are many such micro transactions, which are currently the most important means of financing for the Muslim Brotherhood. Their “heroes” are ordinary individuals who are not known by security forces of having any direct association with the Brotherhood.”
Hezbollah
Middle East Online: Bahrain Arrests Cell Accused Of Receiving Funds From Hezbollah To Defame The Kingdom
“The Criminal Crimes Prosecution in Bahrain announced the detention of four individuals suspected of terrorist activities, spying and receiving funding from the Lebanese Hezbollah to defame the kingdom. Chief of Bahraini Terror Crime Prosecution, Advocate-General Ahmed Al Hammadi, said that “investigations and tips revealed information indicating that the founder of the terrorist cell had received material support to carry out its operations from Lebanon’s Hezbollah.” Al-Hammadi accused Hezbollah of “funding and supporting several human rights organizations, with the aim of producing false reports concerning the human rights situation in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in order to discredit those countries and undermine their prestige in the face of international {public} opinion.”

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