Eye on Extremism, April 19, 2018/Dangerous New Extremist Group Consolidating Power in Syria

Eye on Extremism
April 19, 2018
The Wall Street Journal: As Islamic State Fades In Syria, Another Militant Group Takes Root
“A new and dangerous extremist group spawned from al Qaeda is consolidating power in northwestern Syria, while the U.S. has focused on fighting remnants of Islamic State elsewhere in the country and striking the Assad regime’s chemical-weapons facilities. Since surfacing as the country’s most potent militant group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has battled Western-backed rebel groups to extend its control across Idlib province, enforcing its version of Shariah and raising funds by taxing flows of people and goods. The group’s leader, Abu Mohammad al-Julani, a former al Qaeda fighter, has vowed to conquer Damascus and impose Islamic rule across Syria. in a January speech, he exhorted followers to engage in “a war of ideas, a war of minds, a war of wills, a war of perseverance,” according to the SITE Intel Group.”
Eureporter: #CEP: Tech Companies Talk Rights Rather Than Responsibilities
“The European Union recently upped the pressure on social media companies to do more to remove terrorist material from their platforms. Growing frustrated with the continued presence of dangerous content online, the EU Commission called on tech firms to remove this radicalizing material within one hour of being notified of its existence. “We still need to react faster against terrorist propaganda and other illegal content which is a serious threat to our citizens’ security, safety and fundamental rights,” Digital Commissioner Andrus Ansip said, writes Counter Extremism Project (CEP) Executive Director David Ibsen.”
Deutsche Welle: Syria: Kurds Detain German Jihadi Tied To 9/11
“A Syrian-born German citizen, who is alleged to have helped plan the attacks on September 11, 2001, has been arrested by Kurdish forces in Syria, according to a senior Kurdish commander. ‘Mohammed Haydar Zammar has been arrested by Kurdish security forces in northern Syria and is now being interrogated,’ the top official told reporters on Wednesday. Zammar is believed to have been an al-Qaida recruiter and close associate of members of the Hamburg terror cell of Islamic extremists thought to have been important operatives in the 9/11 attacks in the United States. Shortly after the attacks in 2001, Zammar left Hamburg for Morocco, where he was kidnapped by the CIA and handed over to the Syrian authorities. After the September 11 attacks, the United States had started a secret program to kidnap and interrogate terror suspects abroad. In 2007, a Syrian court sentenced him to 12 years in prison for being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Bloomberg: New Russian Weapons Alarm Israel, May Trigger Next Syrian Crisis
“Angered by last week’s U.S. attack on Syria, Russia warned that there would be consequences. Only one of them was spelled out: The Kremlin said it may supply its Syrian ally with state-of-the-art air defenses. If the prospect rings alarm bells among President Bashar al-Assad’s enemies, they’re likely to be loudest in Israel, not the U.S. Israel carries out airstrikes in Assad-controlled Syrian territory much more frequently than the U.S., as it seeks to prevent a military buildup near Israeli borders by Assad’s other key backer, Iran. Israeli analysts and former defense officials say there’s only one likely response from the Jewish state if the S-300 surface-to-air missile systems are delivered to Syria: An immediate attempt to blow them up. That would upend the delicate relationship between Israel and Russia, who’ve kept channels open despite supporting opposite sides in Syria. And it could create another dangerous moment with the potential to escalate the seven-year civil war into a wider conflict.”
Reuters: Exclusive: Facebook To Put 1.5 Billion Users Out Of Reach Of New EU Privacy Law
“If a new European law restricting what companies can do with people’s online data went into effect tomorrow, almost 1.9 billion Facebook Inc users around the world would be protected by it. The online social network is making changes that ensure the number will be much smaller. Facebook members outside the United States and Canada, whether they know it or not, are currently governed by terms of service agreed with the company’s international headquarters in Ireland. Next month, Facebook is planning to make that the case for only European users, meaning 1.5 billion members in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America will not fall under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which takes effect on May 25. The previously unreported move, which Facebook confirmed to Reuters on Tuesday, shows the world’s largest online social network is keen to reduce its exposure to GDPR, which allows European regulators to fine companies for collecting or using personal data without users’ consent.”
Extremism
The Sun: Chilling ISIS Propaganda Poster Shows Donald Trump As Prisoner In Organge Jumpsuit As Terrorists Threaten West With Drive-By Shootings
“In the footage, a jihadi dressed in Western-style clothes and a baseball cap, aims a silenced automatic pistol at the driver of a pick-up truck. The extremists also posted videos of two school-aged boys, one of whom says he dreams of being a suicide bomber for the terror group while the second prays for death to America. In December, the terror group released a twisted, doctored image of Trump and Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu keeling in front of a hooded, Jihadi John-style executioner. The shocking image, featuring the disupted al-Aqsa mosque, was released as fanatics pledged to carry out lone wolf attacks on US soil in terrifying propaganda pamphlets circulating online.”
United States
Daily Beast: Bob Corker: No, Really, Trump Is Gonna Kill The Iran Nuclear Deal
“Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warned on Wednesday that President Donald Trump will “absolutely” withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal in less than a month. “I think many of the people around the president… would like to see a framework agreement achieved. I think that’s a better outcome for our nation both in the short and long-term,” Corker told The Daily Beast. “I don’t think there’s any doubt at all” that Trump will pull the U.S. out of the agreement, the senator said earlier at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters. The comments, which come just weeks ahead of the May 12 deadline for the U.S. to certify the terms of the Obama-brokered nuclear agreement, are some of the starkest yet from the Tennessean who, despite his at time heated disagreements with Trump, still speaks with the president regularly.”
The Washington Post: Three Kansas Militiamen Who Plotted To Bomb Muslims Are Found Guilty On Terrorism Charges
“A federal jury in Kansas on Wednesday convicted three right-wing extremists of plotting to massacre Muslim refugees living in an industrial town on the west side of the state. Patrick Stein, 49, Curtis Allen, 50, and Gavin Wright, 50, were found guilty on charges of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiring to violate the civil housing rights of others. The men spent months plotting to bomb an apartment building housing Somali refugees and a mosque in Garden City, Kan., on the day after the 2016 presidential election. They face a maximum sentence of life in prison. During the four-week trial, prosecutors employed hours of recorded conversations and witness testimony to outline Stein, Allen and Wright’s intense hatred of Muslims, their desire to exterminate them to save America, and their steady efforts to acquire bombmaking materials. The men ultimately developed an attack plan involving four car bombs, which they hoped would kill as many Muslims as possible during the busy Friday prayer.”
The New York Times: The History Of White Power
“When neo-Nazi and alt-right demonstrators attacked counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Va., last September, killing one and injuring several others, many Americans responded with surprise that white supremacists were suddenly in their midst. But white-power activism is not new, nor has it been part of an underground history. We knew. And we forgot. Twenty-three years ago, on April 19, 1995, a Ryder rental truck filled with fertilizer exploded in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The bombing killed 168 people, including 19 children — the largest deliberate mass casualty event on American soil between Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11 attacks. And yet, in these 23 years, the bombing remains misunderstood as an example of “lone wolf” terrorism. People repeat the words of the bomber Timothy McVeigh, an avowed white-power advocate who before his execution pointed out how scary it was that one man could wreak “this kind of hell.”
The Seattle Times: New Sentencing Date For Man Who Tried To Help Islamic State
“A federal judge has rescheduled sentencing for an Ohio man convicted of trying to help the Islamic State group. U.S. District Judge Edmund Sargus on Wednesday in Columbus rescheduled Aaron Daniels sentencing from April 26 to May 24. Daniels pleaded guilty last July to a charge accusing him of attempting to travel to Libya to join the group. Authorities say Daniels wired $250 to an Islamic State operative in January 2016 and told an undercover informant that he was interested in traveling to commit violence overseas. The 21-year-old Daniels expressed remorse last year for his actions. Daniels faces up to 20 years in prison.”
Syria
The Washington Post: Lawmakers Worry About Securing U.S. Goals In Syria As Trump Looks For The Exit
“Lawmakers from both parties expressed alarm Wednesday over President Trump’s plans to forge ahead with the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, particularly in the absence of what they see as a viable strategy to secure American objectives there. In a House hearing, members repeatedly challenged the State Department’s top officials on the Middle East and Russia to explain how the administration planned to reach its stated goals of defeating the Islamic State, building a stable Syria without President Bashar al-Assad, and keeping his Russian and Iranian backers from taking over. ‘As tempting as it is to say ‘enough’ and retreat to our shores, smart, focused and determined engagement in the Middle East must be our approach,’ House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward R. Royce (R-Calif.) said. ‘We need to talk strategy with the administration.’ Earlier Wednesday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said that he was convinced Trump ‘does plan to leave’ Syria despite the advice of many of the president’s senior national security aides.”
Daily Beast: Syria Only Got Off Two Missiles While Coalition Strikes Hit, Despite Russian Claims That 71 Were Intercepted
“The overwhelming majority of Syrian air defense systems that responded to last weekend’s coalition strikes did so only after all 105 of the guided missiles had already successfully struck their targets. According to U.S. government sources with knowledge of the April 14 operation who spoke to The Daily Beast, Syrian air defense crews managed to launch just two interceptor missiles while the coalition strikes were ongoing, both of which failed to strike anything incoming. The sources requested anonymity to discuss the details of a recent military operation. The feeble air defence effort contrasts starkly to the ludicrous claims of success made by Syria’s ally, Russia. In the aftermath of the strike, the Russian ministry of defence claimed that Syrian forces were successful in intercepting some 70 percent of the sophisticated standoff-range, low-flying Western guided munitions used in the strike despite using Soviet-era systems. Russian state media even carried reports of celebrations in Damascus on Saturday morning over what the regime touted as a highly successful air defense effort.”
CNN: Beaten, Tortured, Sexually Abused: An American ISIS Widow Looks For A Way Home
“For Samantha Sally, a vacation was all it took to flip her quiet middle-American world of muscle cars, cotton candy and an Indiana packing company, into the horror of the ritual beatings, serial rape, torture and propaganda videos of ISIS’s so-called Caliphate. A holiday is what her husband, Moussa Elhassani, promised her when she went to Hong Kong in 2014, she says. The couple was planning to move to Morocco to start a new, cheaper life, she says, and needed to go through Hong Kong to transfer money. Days later, Sally says, she stood on the Turkish border with Syria, on the edge of ISIS territory, her husband holding her daughter, Sarah, while she held her son, Matthew, 7, confronted with an impossible choice: Abandon her daughter to ISIS and save her son, or follow her husband into ISIS’s so-called Caliphate. Following him was the only way to protect her daughter, she says. ‘To stay there with my son or watch my daughter leave with my husband — I had to make a decision,’ Sally, 32, tells CNN in northern Syria. ‘Maybe I would never have seen my daughter again ever, and how can I live the rest of my life like that.’”
Iran
Arab News: UAE Forces Intercept Iranian Drone Carrying Explosives Intended For Yemen Targets
“The UAE armed forces’ anti-aircraft defense unit has intercepted an Iranian Qassef-1 drone loaded with explosives aimed at Yemeni forces, state news agency WAM reported. The Saudi-led Arab coalition emphasized the need to address the capabilities of Iran, which it said posed a direct threat “not only to the Yemeni forces and people, but to the freedom of maritime navigation in the Red Sea.” Yemen’s government previously accused the Iranian regime of supplying the Houthi militia with drones. At the time, the government said the aircraft were made in Iran as Yemen did not possess the capability to build them.”
Reuters: U.S. Hopes For Success In Talks With Europeans On Iran Nuclear Deal
“The United States hopes to reach agreement with Britain, France and Germany to address President Donald Trump’s concerns about the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Washington’s disarmament ambassador said on Thursday. The crux of the accord between Iran and six major powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – was that Tehran would restrict its nuclear programme in return for relief from sanctions that have crippled its economy. On Jan. 12, Trump delivered an ultimatum to Britain, France and Germany, saying they must agree to “fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal” or he would refuse to extend the U.S. sanctions relief that it calls for. U.S. sanctions will resume unless Trump issues new “waivers” to suspend them on May 12, although it is unclear how fast they would go into effect. Iran has ruled out renegotiating the deal.”
Iraq
Reuters: Iraq Sentences 212 To Death In Mosul Area Since Recapture From Islamic State
“Iraqi courts have sentenced 212 people to death in Mosul and surrounding areas, most of them for complicity with Islamic State, since the area was retaken by Iraqi forces in July and August 2017, a judiciary spokesman said on Wednesday. Mosul was home to two million people before being overrun in 2014 by Islamic State which proclaimed a ‘caliphate’ stretching into neighboring Syria. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared full victory over the group last December after Iraqi forces drove its last remnants from the country. Since then, Human rights groups have accused Iraqi and other regional forces of inconsistencies in the judicial process and flawed trials leading to unfair convictions. Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council said on Wednesday that criminal courts falling under the Nineveh Federal Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction includes Mosul, had so far ruled on a total of 815 cases since the area was recaptured from Islamic State.”
Independent: Yazidis Who Suffered Under Isis Face Forced Conversion To Islam Amid Fresh Persecution In Afrin
“The Yazidis, who were recently the target of massacre, rape and sex slavery by Isis, are now facing forcible conversion to Islam under the threat of death from Turkish-backed forces which captured the Kurdish enclave of Afrin on 18 March. Islamist rebel fighters, who are allied to Turkey and have occupied Yazidi villages in the area, have destroyed the temples and places of worship the Kurdish-speaking non-Islamic sect according to local people. Shekh Qamber, a 63-year-old Syrian Kurdish Yazidi farmer who fled his town of Qastel Jindo in Afrin, described in an exclusive interview with The Independent what happened to Yazidis who refused to leave their homes. He said that some were forcibly brought to a mosque by Islamists to be converted, while others, including a 70-year-old man he knew, were being lured there by offers of food and medical attention.”
Iraqi News: Iraq Vows To Probe Alleged Sexual Abuse Against IS Militants’ Families
“Iraq has vowed to probe alleged sexual harassment of wives and children of Islamic State (IS) militants, who were placed at displacement camps in Nineveh and Kirkuk provinces. ‘The Ministry of Migration and Displacement has directed two of its branches in Nineveh and Kirkuk provinces to prepare a report on the alleged sexual violence in displacement camps there,’ Alghad Press website quoted Sattar Nowruz, the ministry’s spokesman, as saying Wednesday. Nowruz’s remarks came in response to a report published by Amnesty International, which claimed that Iraqi women and children with suspected links to the Islamic State group are being denied humanitarian aid and prevented from returning to their homes, and the women are subjected to sexual violence in displacement camps. The London-based rights group said its latest report was based on 92 interviews with women in eight camps for displaced Iraqis in the provinces of Nineveh and Salahuddin, north of Baghdad.”
Iraqi News: Six Islamic State Members Killed In Salahuddin: Media Center
“Six Islamic State members were killed in two operations carried out in Salahuddin province, the Security Media Center announced on Wednesday. In a statement, Brig. Gen. Yehia Rasool, spokesperson for the center, ‘Security troops of the Salahuddin Operations Command started operations at Khanouqa mountains as well as al-Jazarat and al-Hawi regions.’ Troops, according to Rasool, ‘managed, in collaboration with army jets, to kill four IS members at Khanouqa mountains.’ ‘Two other militants were killed by Tikrit police,’ he added. On Monday, seven people were killed and injured, including security personnel in an attack Islamic State against a police station, south of Samarra, Salahuddin province.”
Afghanistan
Pakistan Observer: Afghan Security Forces Claim To Have Cut Strategic Taliban Route
“The Afghan government said on Wednesday that the seizure of a major Taliban arms supply line in Paktia province will contribute to a significant drop in violence in the country’s southeast region. Military officials earlier confirmed on Tuesday that security forces cut off a vital Taliban supply line running through the rugged Dand-e-Pathan district of Paktia near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border known as the Durand Line. The supply route, called Enzergai Kando, was used by the Taliban to transport logistics and weapons for conducting attacks in neighboring provinces, including areas near Kabul, the officials said. ‘This was a very important, strategic supply line for the terrorists,’ Gen. Mohammed Radmanesh, Defense Ministry spokesman in Kabul, told Arab News. Security forces claim to have flushed out the Taliban from the area after an overnight military offensive. ‘We now have a presence there and will build permanent checkposts on various parts of the route. This was a route used by the Taliban for years for transporting arms inside Afghanistan,’ said Brig. Gen. Shour Gul Pathan, commander of Afghanistan’s 203 Thunder Army Corps, while talking to Arab News by phone from the area.”
Yemen
Reuters: Saudi Arabia Says Two Al Qaeda Militants Killed In Yemen
“Coalition-backed forces killed two al Qaeda militants in Yemen in a raid in the southern province of Abyan on Wednesday, the Saudi government media office said. It described Murad Abdullah Mohammed al-Doubli, known as Abu Hamza al-Batani, and Hassan Basurie as among ‘the most dangerous leaders’ of Yemen’s al Qaeda branch, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The two men were killed in a clash with forces backed by the United Arab Emirates, a key component of the Saudi-backed coalition that intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015, said the statement issued late on Wednesday, citing security sources. AQAP has taken advantage of the three-year war between the Iran-aligned Houthi group and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Saudi-backed government to strengthen its position in the impoverished Arab state. There was no immediate statement confirming the deaths from AQAP, which operates in several provinces in south and eastern Yemen, including in Abyan, Shabwa and al-Bayda.”
Asharq Al-Awsat: South Damascus Residents Facing Displacement Amid Ambiguity On ISIS Fate
“With the end of the presence of armed opposition forces in eastern Ghouta, the Syrian Regime forces and their allies are currently preparing to “resolve” the situation in some southern areas of Damascus, which are still out of their control, as part of efforts to secure the capital and its surroundings. Areas dominated by the Syrian opposition factions are likely to witness the same situation seen in other regions, including forced displacement of fighters and their families, while ambiguity surrounds the fate of ISIS-held cities. The besieged southern regions of Damascus, with the eastern region of Kalamoun, are the last two strongholds of the armed opposition, ISIS and Nusra Front in the vicinity of the capital, after the regime and its allies regained control over most of Damascus’ cities and towns.”
Saudi Arabia
Gulf News: Al Houthi Drone Downed Over Saudi City Of Abha
“Saudi Arabia’s military brought down an Al Houthi drone at an international airport in the southern city of Abha, Saudi-owned broadcaster Al Arabiya reported on Wednesday, citing field sources. The sources said air traffic was not interrupted. Yemen’s armed Iran-backed Al Houthi movement said earlier it had launched a drone strike on a facility belonging to state oil firm Saudi Aramco, though the company said its facilities there were operating ‘normally and safely.’ In other developments, the UAE Armed Forces’ anti-aircraft defence unit said it had intercepted an Iranian Qassef-1 aircraft loaded with explosives intended to be smuggled into Al Houthi hands. Al Houthis were planning to use the weapons to strike strategic positions of Yemeni forces backed by the Arab Coalition on Yemen’s Red Sea Coast.”
Israel
Haaretz: Jaffa Teen Accused Of Joining ISIS And Agreeing To Attack Soldiers
“An Israeli Arab was charged this week for terrorism for joining the Islamic State group and planning to attack Israeli soldiers. The 19-year-old Kamel Abu Amara from Jaffa was indicted in Tel Aviv District Court on Wednesday for allegedly joining ISIS and planning to launch an attack near the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv, either using an explosive belt or in a shooting attack. The prosecution also alleges that the defendant planned to join ISIS’ ranks abroad. Abu Amara was arrested last month on suspicion that he had had ongoing contact with a foreign agent and supported of ISIS, which Israel considers a terrorist organization. According to the charges, he joined ISIS through a video in which he swore allegiance to the organization and “‘concertedly worked in support of the group and to further its goals and in an effort to recruit other supporters.”
Middle East
Brookings Institute: Will Iran Attack Israel Over The Syrian Conflict? It’s Only A Matter Of Time
“As the dust settles following last weekend’s U.S.-French-British attack on Syrian chemical weapons facilities, the countdown to the next round of military conflict between Israel and Iran has begun. Last week, Israel once again targeted the T-4 (Tiyas) base in Syria, which houses Iranian drone forces, killing 7 Iranians and apparently destroying a drone infrastructure project. This is the same base from which an Iranian drone was launched in February, which the Israeli air force intercepted. Israel then hit the T-4 base and an Israeli aircraft downed by Syrian anti-aircraft fire. An Iranian retaliatory strike against Israel is likely in the works. Where and how Tehran chooses to carry out its attack is still unclear, but for reasons that we describe below, it is most likely to be a rocket or missile attack launched from Syria. The choice will define what to expect for the future of Iranian and Israeli confrontations. There are very clear signals that this time Iran would indeed retaliate. Iranian media gave extensive coverage to the Israeli attack on T-4 last week. Iranian leaders, most noticeably Ali Akbar Velayati, the top advisor to Iran’s supreme leader, issued direct threats of retaliation. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, also warned Israel that this time there would be a steep price to pay; the highly publicized funerals of Quds forces personnel was the latest such indication. Iran is now both deeply and publicly committed to retaliate. The stage is set.”
Africa
Daily Maverick: Refugees Are Boko Haram’s Latest Soft Target
“Boko Haram has since 2009 proven a highly adaptable foe, routinely changing tactics to suit shifting circumstances. The terror group increasingly focuses on soft targets, including refugees and internally displaced people. In 2017, the Global Terrorism Index labelled Boko Haram the world’s third deadliest terrorist group. Although exact numbers are unknown, conservative estimates indicate that since 2009 its reign of terror has killed more than 20 000 people and displaced more than two-million across Nigeria, while also spreading into Cameroon, Niger and Chad. Boko Haram remains a substantial threat and has conducted a string of violent attacks so far in 2018, including the high-profile kidnapping and subsequent release of 110 school girls. Attacks by the extremist group were initially mostly aimed at security forces and it minimised civilian casualties. But its violence has escalated over time and the group’s definition of legitimate targets has expanded. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari declared the group “technically defeated” in December 2015 after it suffered a series of territorial losses. In August 2016 it split into two factions, one of them aligned with Islamic State and targeting security forces. The other Abubakar Shekau faction has a more indiscriminate attack profile and is responsible for most attacks on displaced people.”
Egypt
News 24: Egypt’s Military Says ISIS Leader Killed In Sinai
“Egypt’s military says its forces have killed a man they identified as the leader of the Islamic State group in the restive Sinai Peninsula. Colonel Tamer el-Rifai, a military spokesperson, says in a Wednesday statement that Naser Abou Zaqoul has been killed in a shootout with troops in central Sinai. He did not elaborate. The news came just days after the military said eight soldiers were killed and 15 wounded when militants wearing explosive belts blew themselves up as they tried to infiltrate a military base in central Sinai. Egypt has been struggling to contain a long-running insurgency in Sinai. It launched a massive operation in February against militants in Sinai as well as parts of Egypt’s Nile Delta and the Western Desert, along the porous border with Libya.”
Nigeria
News 24: US Urges Nigeria To Change Tactics Against Boko Haram
“Nigerian forces battling Boko Haram jihadists need a change of mindset to overcome an evolving guerrilla threat, US military officials said this week on the sidelines of an African security summit. Boko Haram’s tactics – from improvised explosive devices to hiding within the local population – necessitate a shift away from conventional strategies, said Lieutenant-Colonel Sean McClure, the US defence attache in Abuja. ‘We haven’t necessarily seen that kind of adaptation cycle,’ he told AFP. They’re trying to figure out how to do this. ‘How they think in terms of combat, in my opinion, is still thinking of things as conventional warfare.’”
Russia
Mirror: ISIS Terror Cell ‘With Plans To Launch Attack’ Uncovered In Russia Months Before England Play In World Cup
“A suspected Islamic State terror cell with plans to launch at attack has been uncovered in Russia just months before England play in the football World Cup there. The death group were allegedly planning a strike on one of the cities where the world’s top players will play during this summer’s tournament, according to local media. Special forces moved in before the gang, who are accused of receiving orders from IS, could attack, potentially targeting football fans. Dramatic video footage shows officers detaining the suspected ISIS terrorists and seizing evidence from their hideout. The leader of the terror cell blew himself up rather than be arrested by officers, who found hand grenades and an AK47.”
The Verge: Days After Russian Clampdown, Iran Signals That A Ban Of Telegram Is Imminent
“The Iranian government appears to be preparing to institute a nationwide ban of Telegram, only days after Russia banned Telegram. Earlier this year, Iran temporarily banned Telegram and Instagram during widespread protests in January. Telegram — an encrypted messaging app that also features channels often used by official bodies like news organizations or even government entities — has 40 million users in Iran, a country where approximately 50 million people have internet access. In a public announcement on Wednesday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said that government entities would no longer be using Telegram, in an effort to curb Telegram’s “monopoly.” As a testament to Telegram’s monopoly, Khamenei posted this message on his Telegram channel.”
United Kingdom
BBC News: Salford Man Jailed For Sharing Terrorist Handbooks
“A man has been jailed for owning and sharing terrorist handbooks. Muslim convert Adam Wyatt, 48, admitted disseminating a terrorist publication that said ‘Britain must atone for its sins in Palestine’ and posting on social media that jihad was an obligation for all Muslims. Wyatt, of Bridgewater Street, Salford, was sentenced to three years and nine months at Manchester Crown Court. A judge ruled his actions were intentional rather than reckless. Material in his possession including a book about poisons and other deadly substances that could be used in terrorist attacks. Det Insp Mike Abbott said Wyatt ‘used social media to air his abhorrent views and encourage terrorist attacks in Britain and across the world” but can “no longer poison minds and encourage people to kill for his cause.’ ‘Although Wyatt never pursued an attack himself, he was encouraging others and sharing information that could have led to the deaths of others,’ he said.”
Evening Standard: Jailed: Aspiring Isis Terrorist Who Trained At Paintballing Camp
“An aspiring Isis terrorist who trained for jihad in Syria with paintballing and gym sessions has been jailed. Ahmedeltigani Alsyed, 20, was sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court today to four and a half years behind bars. The Sudan-born extremist was a member of a secret chat group plotting to fight alongside terror groups in Syria, while also building his strength at the gym, the court was told. The young man from Hounslow, west London, previously pleaded guilty to engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts between November 2016 and February 2017. He was also convicted of disseminating terrorist material, including execution videos and bomb-making guides, and possessing information likely to be useful to a person committing or planning acts of terrorism.”
Europe
Reuters: Finland Knife Attacker Says He Was ‘In War Against Women’
“A Moroccan man told a court in Finland he was “in war against women” when he went on a rampage in the Finnish city of Turku last year, stabbing two women to death and wounding eight more people, local media reported. Abderrahman Bouanane, at the time a 22-year-old asylum seeker, spoke in district court on Tuesday, where he is on trial on charges of murder and attempted murder “with terrorist intent”. Bouanane told the court that before the attacks last August, he had visited mosque and recorded a video in which he talked about U.S.-led air strikes in Syria and the fight for Islamic State. When he started the attacks on the market square, he said, he couldn’t control himself. “I honestly felt like I was controlled remotely… The idea was to keep attacking as long as a head falls,” Bouanane said via an interpreter, according to the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat’s online edition. Two women were killed and six more women were injured. Two men were hurt when they tried to help the women. Police stopped the attacks by shooting Bouanane in the leg. A psychiatric assessment concluded that Bouanane was criminally responsible for the attacks. Police said he was a “lone wolf” who saw himself as a soldier for Islamic State. The militant group did not take responsibility for the attack.”
Technology
The Sydney Morning Herald: Australia Backs Global Crackdown On Facebook And Social Media
“Australia is backing a global plan to set tougher standards for Facebook and other social media giants in their handling of growing terrorist threats, amid frustration that too little is being done to foil plots and identify extremists online. The new effort seeks to apply stricter rules on the powerful social media industry to prevent terrorist groups like Islamic State exploiting weaknesses in one country to launch attacks on another. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop discussed the plan with British Home Secretary Amber Rudd and counterparts from other Commonwealth nations in a meeting in London that will intensify pressure on the industry to act.”
Voice Of America: A ‘Geneva Conventions’ For Online Terror Funding
“As rogue states and terrorist organizations continue to exploit cyberspace, governments around the globe must do more to curb illicit online funding, U.S lawmakers say. ‘We really need to prioritize creating the cyber equivalent of the Geneva Conventions,’ Jim Himes, a Democratic representative from Connecticut and a member of the House Financial Services Committee’s subcommittee on terrorism and illicit finance, said during a panel discussion Tuesday at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington. ‘All of these problems get a lot easier if nation-states act responsibly,’ he added. The United States and its allies are concerned that countries like Iran and North Korea and international terror organizations are developing sophisticated cyber capabilities to evade international sanctions and make money online. Himes said the lack of global cooperation to counter illicit online funding could lead to intensified cyberwarfare between countries and continue the stream of revenues for terror groups like Islamic State.”
BBC: Syria War: The Online Activists Pushing Conspiracy Theories
“As the investigation continues into another alleged chemical attack in Syria, one group of influential online activists is busy spreading their version of events. Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are attempting to access the previously rebel-held town of Douma, where medical organisations and rescue workers say President Bashar al-Assad’s forces dropped bombs filled with toxic chemicals in an attack on 7 April, killing more than 40 people. The Syrian government and its key ally, Russia, say the incident was staged. But the US, UK and France – who support the opposition to Mr Assad – say they are confident that chlorine and possibly a nerve agent were used. Despite the uncertainty about what happened in Douma, a cluster of influential social media activists is certain that it knows what occurred on 7 April.”

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