Eye on Extremism, April 24, 2018/Driver Kills 10, Injures 15 Plowing Van Into Toronto Sidewalk Crowd

Eye on Extremism
April 24, 2018
Reuters: Driver Kills 10, Injures 15 Plowing Van Into Toronto Sidewalk Crowd
“A driver deliberately plowed his white Ryder rental van into a lunch-hour crowd in Toronto on Monday, killing 10 people and injuring 15 along a roughly mile-long (1.6-km) stretch of sidewalk thronged with pedestrians, police said. Although the attack had the hallmarks of recent deadly vehicle assaults by Islamic State supporters in the United States and Europe, federal officials said it did not represent a larger threat to national security. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders identified the suspect as Alek Minassian, 25, who he said had not previously been known to authorities. Police, who quickly arrested Minassian, do not know his motives. ‘The actions definitely looked deliberate,’ Saunders told a late-night news conference close to the site of the incident in the northern section of Canada’s biggest city, noting the van had been driven along sidewalks. The brutal incident – which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a ‘tragic and senseless attack’ – was one of the most violent in recent Canadian history.”
Reuters: Iran Warns Trump It Might Withdraw From Non-Proliferation Treaty
“A senior Iranian official said on Tuesday that Tehran might quit a treaty designed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons if U.S. President Donald Trump scraps the nuclear accord Iran signed with world powers in 2015. Trump has said that unless European allies fix what he has called “terrible flaws” in the accord by May 12, he will restore U.S. economic sanctions on Iran, which would be a severe blow to the pact. The other powers that signed it – Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France – have all said they want to preserve the agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of most international sanctions. In a news conference broadcast on state television, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, said the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran was ready for some “surprising actions” if the nuclear deal was scrapped.”
Bloomberg Politics: Jihadists Gain Strength Even As Troops Arrive In West Africa
“As a convoy of United Nations police on a night patrol stopped to chat with residents on the sand-blown streets of the central Malian city of Sevare, Sada Cissoko could no longer hold back his emotions. ‘There are soldiers from all around the world in Mali, but despite the drones and the resources spent, things are only getting worse,’ Cissoko, a 48-year-old counselor at a local school, said visibly agitated. ‘It just doesn’t make sense.’ Once a stable democracy, Mali is now on the front-line of an intensifying push by al-Qaeda- and Islamic State-affiliated militants and the simultaneous deployment of thousands of Western and United Nations troops in the Sahel region. It’s playing out in a wide arid area in West Africa south of the Sahara desert that’s a key gateway for the trafficking of migrants and drugs to Europe.”
The Washington Post: The Shadow War Between Israel And Iran Takes Center Stage
“The rumblings of an open conflict between Israel and Iran in Syria are growing louder. When President Trump launched yet another one-off missile salvo against the Syrian regime, it came on the heels of a suspected April 9 Israeli strike on an Iranian facility at a Syrian air base, which drew howls of condemnation from the regime’s patrons in Moscow and Tehran. Though Israel didn’t acknowledge responsibility for the attack, it fit a familiar pattern. Since 2012, the Israelis are believed to have launched more than 100 strikes on suspected Iranian-linked positions in Syria. Israeli officials privately argue that these measures are necessary to prevent a permanent Iranian threat on their borders and stymie the flow of weaponry to Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah. ‘No matter the price, we will not allow a noose to form around us,’ Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio over the weekend. But he cautioned against talk of outright hostilities. ‘I hope not,’ he said when asked whether war was imminent. ‘I think that our primary role is to prevent war, and that requires concrete, real deterrence as well as readiness to act.’”
NPR: Why Dozens Of National-Security Experts Have Come Out Against Trump’s Travel Ban
“It is rare, if not unheard of, for former intelligence experts to weigh in against the government in a major national-security case. But the Trump travel ban, to be argued Wednesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, has produced an astounding and bipartisan coalition of intelligence and national-security heavyweights, who are urging the court to strike down the ban. It’s astounding in terms of both numbers and gravitas. Among those lending their expertise to three friend-of-the-court briefs are more than 55 former officials from Republican and Democratic administrations, including CIA directors, national intelligence and counter-terrorism chiefs, top diplomats with long records working in the Middle East, secretaries of state, some two dozen top-ranked retired admirals and generals, a former Republican attorney general and even the Republican chairman of the 9/11 commission.”
United States
CNN: We’ve Worked On Stopping Terrorism. Trump’s Travel Ban Fuels It
“Speaking in Davos this January, President Donald Trump promised that, ‘when it comes to terrorism, we will do whatever is necessary to protect our nation.’ It’s a commitment we share with the President. In fact, developing and implementing lawful and effective counterterrorism strategies and policies used to be our jobs in the intelligence community, at the White House and at the National Counterterrorism Center, respectively. That’s precisely why we are opposed to Trump’s travel ban, which heads to the Supreme Court this week for oral arguments. It’s unnecessary, at odds with the Constitution, and ultimately counterproductive because it makes Americans less safe rather than more. Effective counterterrorism policies respond to real threats, which in turn means responding to real intelligence about threats. But Trump’s prohibition on entry to the United States from a number of overwhelmingly Muslim-majority countries is grounded in neither real threats nor real intelligence. We’ve spent countless hours tracking and disrupting real terrorist threats. Those threats are caused by particular individuals, not the 150 million people categorically barred from our country by Trump’s fulfillment of his campaign promise to implement ‘a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.’ Moreover, there certainly aren’t countrywide threats emanating from the nations affected by Trump’s travel ban, given that no national from any of those countries has caused any of the terrorism-related deaths in the United States since 1975.”
Toronto Sun: No Link Between Terrorism And Van Attack: Police Chief
“Authorities are downplaying any link between terrorism and Monday’s van attack that killed 10 people and injured 15 others. While Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said he could not tie Alek Minassian, 25, of Richmond Hill to any terrorist groups, he insisted Monday night that there is no ‘avenue that we won’t explore … we open all the lanes at the start.’ Police arrested Minassian after Monday afternoon’s deadly van attack in the Yonge St.-Sheppard Ave. area. Saunders refused to say what charges might be laid while speaking at a Monday night press conference with Mayor John Tory, Premier Kathleen Wynne and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. None of the allegations against Minassian have been proven.”
The Guardian: Syria: Western Nations Seek To Bypass Russian Veto At UN
“Western nations want to end the months-long paralysis at the United Nations over Syria by referring the issue of chemical weapons use to the entire UN general assembly, where Russia’s security council veto would not apply. The idea is to draw on a rarely used route first established in the cold war to transfer responsibility for aspects of the crisis to the 193-member general assembly. Russia has used its security council veto powers 11 times to block action targeting its ally Syria. A UN mechanism to attribute responsibility for chemical weapons use came to an end in November after Russia vetoed a resolution to extend its mandate, complaining that the mechanism was prejudiced against the Syrian government. Ian Martin, a former UN official and Amnesty International chief, said: “The Russian veto need not be the end of efforts for collective action by the UN. The responsibility of asserting accountability for the use of chemical weapons, and for bringing an end to the horrors of the Syrian conflict, rests with the world community as a whole.”
Reuters: Syrian Opposition Says U.S. Cannot Afford To Leave Syria Yet
“Syria’s chief opposition negotiator said the United States cannot afford to leave Syria as it has yet to achieve any of its goals in the region, even though President Donald Trump said recently Washington would withdraw its troops. ‘I personally think the U.S. is not capable of withdrawing its fighters from Syria,’ Nasr Hariri told Reuters on Friday. Washington for years supported rebels militarily against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but ended its train-and-equip program last year after changing its focus to the fight against Islamic State. It helped an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias drive the jihadists from swathes of northern and eastern Syria last year, including the group’s Syrian capital of Raqqa, and has deployed about 2,000 U.S. troops in the country. Trump said this month he wanted to bring them home soon but later agreed they should stay a little longer after his advisers argued they were needed to stop Islamic State re-emerging and to prevent Iran gaining a bigger foothold.”
Bloomberg Politics: Syrian Troops Look To Isolate Islamic State In Damascus Battle
“Syrian government forces moved to cut off Islamic State militants in southern Damascus from nearby rebel-held suburbs Monday in an attempt to force the extremists to surrender or evacuate the district, state media reported. The area in southern Damascus is the last part of the capital not controlled by President Bashar Assad’s forces. Other insurgents in the area, including an al-Qaida-linked group, have said they would relocate to rebel-held regions in northern Syria. State-run al-Ikhbariya TV said the government hopes to isolate IS in Hajar al-Aswad. The TV station showed thick, gray smoke billowing from the neighborhood as government forces pounded it with artillery and airstrikes. Damascus residents said the sound of explosions echoed across the capital. The TV said IS snipers targeted journalists covering the fighting, without saying whether anyone was hurt.”
Fox News: The Lives Of ISIS Wives Held In Syria: Infighting, Jealousy – And Regrets
“One might assume they have much in common, given their special status as foreign wives and widows of ISIS fighters. But many of the women being held in this displacement camp – abandoned by home countries that don’t want them back – are leading a life marred by in-fighting, jealousy and stealing from one another out of spite. ‘They have a lot of internal conflicts between them. At least twice a week there is physical punching and fighting breaks out,’ an official for the camp, which is operated by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), told Fox News. Most of the altercations seemingly stem from arguments involving their children, as well as accusations of theft. The 123 women being held are tended to like any other group in need at the Ain Essa facility, some 50 miles from former ISIS ‘caliphate’ capital of Raqqa. Ranging in age from 18 to 70, most of the women also have an average of three to four young children fathered by ISIS fighters.”
Xinhua: Political Settlement Only Way Out Of Syrian Crisis: Chinese Envoy
“A political settlement is the only way out of the ongoing Syrian crisis, China’s Special Envoy for Syria Xie Xiaoyan said on Sunday. Speaking at a press conference in Cairo, Xie expressed concern over the current perilous situation in Syria, while urging the involved countries to de-escalate the situation and resort to dialogue instead. ‘China has always rejected the use of force or the threat of the use of force in international relations,’ he reiterated, adding that Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity should be respected. The Chinese diplomat said China is convinced that there is no military solution to the Syrian issue and the only way out is a political settlement. He urged all related parties on the Syrian issue to return to the track of peace talks. Syria has for years been plagued by instability due to the conflicts between Syrian government forces with the armed rebels and the declining militant group Islamic State (IS). The forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are backed by Russia, Iran and Shiite militias loyal to Iran including Lebanon’s Hezbollah.”
Al Jazeera: Iran To Trump: Stay In Nuclear Deal Or ‘Face Severe Consequences’
“Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called on US President Donald Trump to uphold the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, or “face severe consequences”. In a televised speech, Rouhani said the “Iranian government will react firmly” if the White House fails to “live up to their commitments” under the agreement. The warning comes weeks in advance of a May 12 deadline for Trump to renew the deal. The US president has previously said he would scrap the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which he has called the “worst deal in history”, unless “a better option” is presented to him. International leaders have called on Trump to uphold the agreement. On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron said there was no “Plan B” if Trump decided to pull out. “Is this agreement perfect and this JCPOA a perfect thing for our relationship with Iran? No. But for nuclear – what do you have? As a better option? I don’t see it,” Macron said.”
PBS NewsHour: Iraqi Women And Children With Perceived Link To ISIS Are Sexually Abused, Denied Aid, Report Finds
“Iraqi women and children with perceived ties to Islamic State militants are denied access to food and health care, sexually abused, and routinely blocked from obtaining identity cards and other documents needed to work or move freely, according to an Amnesty International report released earlier this month. The April 17 report highlights cases of widespread discrimination against women living in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps by local authorities, camp administrators and security forces. Families with suspected links to ISIS are being held against their will in at least one de-facto detention camp in the country, according to the report. ‘This leads to a deep sense of injustice,’ said Nicolette Waldman, Middle East and North Africa researcher at Amnesty International.”
Euronews: Islamic State Threatens Polling Station Attacks Ahead Of Iraq Vote
“Islamic State said it would attack polling stations in Iraq during parliamentary election next month and that anyone who participated in the vote would be considered an infidel. In an audio message released late on Sunday, the militant group’s spokesman accused Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government of being a proxy of Iran and warned that anyone who runs or votes in the May 12 election would be targeted. Iraqi officials have said polling stations will be well protected. ‘We warn you Sunnis of Iraq of these people (Shi’ites) taking power. Polling stations are a target for us, so stay away from them,’ said Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajer. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory in December over Islamic State, which seized a third of Iraq in 2014, but the hardline Sunni militants have reverted to insurgency tactics following the crumbling of their self-declared caliphate.”
NPR: A 13-Year-Old In Afghanistan Won’t Let His Injuries Get Him Down
“Barkatullah is 13. He lost his right arm and leg in a mine explosion on May 2017. But that does not deter him from dreaming of a brighter future. “The policemen were among the people who rescued me and saved my life,” he says on a chilly evening in the children’s playground at the Emergency War and Trauma Hospital in Kabul. “That is what I want to do when I grow up.” In Afghanistan, thousands of children each year are caught in the crossfire of ongoing violence. On Sunday, a suicide bomber struck in Kabul, aiming at civilians registering to vote at a school building in Kabul. Among the 57 deaths, 8 were children, according to Afghan police. There were another 100-plus wounded. “There were bodies everywhere, some as young as 3- and 4-years-old,” says 45-year-old Mariam, waiting outside Kabul’s Emergency War and Trauma Hospital for news of her 14-year-old nephew, who was injured in the incident.”
The Washington Post: Afghan Officials: Taliban Attacks Kill 11 Troops, Policemen
“A new wave of Taliban attacks across Afghanistan killed at least 11 Afghan soldiers and policemen on Tuesday, officials said, the latest in a particularly deadly week of assaults by militants. At least five soldiers were killed when their checkpoint was attacked by the Taliban in western Farah province, according to Mohammad Naser Mehri, the provincial governor’s spokesman. Two soldiers were wounded in that attack, in the Bala Buluk district. Mehri said six Taliban fighters were killed and three others were wounded in the battle, which lasted several hours. ‘Reinforcements have arrived and right now, the situation is under control,’ he added. Earlier on Tuesday, insurgents killed at least four members of the local police force and wounded seven in eastern Ghazni province. The Taliban there targeted the local police security post in the province’s district of Jaghatu, said Arif Noori, spokesman for the provincial governor. He also said the gunbattle lasted several hours and that the Taliban used artillery and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.”
The Washington Post: The Latest: Taliban Kill 2 Afghan Police, Capture 6 Troops
“An Afghan official says two policemen were killed and six soldiers were captured when the Taliban attacked their checkpoints in western Badghis province. Mohammad Naser Nazari, a member of the provincial council, says the attacks happened on Tuesday morning when the Taliban stormed several police and military checkpoints in Qadis district. He says reinforcements have arrived and the security situation is now under control. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks in Badghis but the Taliban claimed other attacks Tuesday — in western Farah and in eastern Ghazni province. The Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, also claimed the insurgent group’s fighters captured two soldiers during the battle in Farah on Tuesday…”
Reuters: Saudi-Led Air Strike Kills Top Houthi Official In Yemen
“A Saudi-led coalition air strike last week killed the top civilian leader in the armed Houthi movement in Yemen, the group reported on Monday, the most senior official to be killed by the Western-backed alliance in the three-year-old war. Saleh al-Samad held the post of president in the Houthi-backed political body which runs most of northern Yemen. Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi said in a televised statement that Samad was killed on Thursday in the port city of Hodeidah, on Yemen’s west coast, in several strikes which killed six others in his retinue. “The forces of aggression, led by America and Saudi Arabia, bear the legal responsibility for this crime and all its consequences,” al-Houthi said. There was no immediate coalition comment on the reports but Saudi broadcaster Al Arabiya TV said the alliance had killed Samad after a “precise monitoring” of his movements.”
Arab News: Yemen Army Removes 300,000 Houthi Landmines In Liberated Areas
“Yemen’s national army has seized 300,000 mines planted by Houthi militia in liberated areas, it was announced on Monday. “In the past two years, the National Army has managed to extract 300,000 mines planted by the Houthi militia in liberated areas, including 40,000 mines on the outskirts of Marib province,” a statement on the army’s website read. According to army officials in Yemen, the country has been subjected to the “largest mine-laying operation since the end of the Second World War.” That statement added that the total number of mines laid by the militia exceeds half a million mines, and that this “huge amount continues to pose a sustainable threat to the lives of civilians.”
BBC News: Yemen War: Houthi Political Leader Saleh Al-Sammad ‘Killed In Air Raid’
“Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement says a senior political figure has been killed in a Saudi-led coalition air strike. Saleh al-Sammad, head of the Supreme Political Council, was ‘martyred’ in the city of Hudaydah last Thursday, the group’s overall leader announced. Abdul Malik al-Houthi declared that Mr Sammad’s killing was a crime that ‘will not go unanswered.’ There was no immediate comment from the coalition, which is backing Yemen’s government in the country’s civil war. But Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV cited sources as saying Mr Sammad was killed in an air raid in the al-Buraihi area of Hudaydah province.”
The National: Arab Ambassadors’ Letter Warns On Qatar Terror Impunity
“Ambassadors from the Arab Quartet have cited the presence of Qatar’s prime minister at the wedding of a son of the designated terror suspect Abdulrahman Al Nuaimi to warn that the country’s behaviour remains unchanged. Writing in the Financial Times newspaper, the four envoys to London said that calls for the countries involved to start a “thaw” in the lead-up to a potential summit hosted by President Donald Trump were a reflection that Doha says one thing to Western audience and does another. “Following his meeting at the White House on 11 April, Qatar’s Emir Tamim told the world’s media that Qatar does ‘not tolerate people who fund and support terrorism’”, it said. “Just two days later, the Qatari Prime Minister attended a wedding hosted by Abdulrahman Al Nuaymi, an international designated terror financier who, according to the US Treasury, ‘oversaw the transfer of $2 million per month’ to Al Qaeda in Iraq. He is one of several terror fundraisers who have operated from Qatar with impunity.”
Middle East
Middle East Eye: Exclusive: Sahel Al-Qaeda Offered Immunity In ‘Secret French-Backed Deal’
“France, Algeria and Mali are operating a secret agreement to offer Sahel militants immunity in return for them laying down arms, security sources in Algeria have told Middle East Eye. The Algerian army announced on Friday the “surrender” of Larbi Khelifa – also known as Abu Ayoub – at Tamanrasset near the border with Mali. According to Middle East Eye’s sources, Khelifa, who had been wanted since 2010, is the emir of the al-Furqan cell of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a small group responsible for a rocket attack on a gas plant in the Algerian Sahara in March 2016. This surrender and laying down of arms, according to an army statement, will give them immunity from prosecution, a policy which has benefitted slightly more than 40 militants since the end of 2017 in the border zone of Tamanrasset, 2,000km south of Algiers.”
Haaretz: We May Hit Russian Systems In Syria, Israel Says After Threats Of ‘Catastrophic Consequences’
“Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that Israel may strike the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft defense systems in Syria if they are used against Israel. “One thing should be clear – if someone fires on our planes, we will destroy them,” Lieberman said in an interview with the Israeli website Ynet. “What’s important to us is that the weapons defense systems that the Russians transfer to Syria are not used against us. If they are used against us, we will act against them.” Lieberman’s comments come a day after senior Russian officials told the Kommersant newspaper that Russia is expected to provide the Bashar Assad regime with S-300 anti-aircraft defense systems soon. If Israel attacks the new air defense systems, then it will suffer “catastrophic consequences,” the officials said. The S-300 PMU-2 “Favourite” version of the anti-aircraft systems will be provided to the Syrians for free and very soon, the Kommersant reported.”
Al Arabiya: Analysis: The Need To Tackle Iran’s Reactionary Ideology In Africa
“With a special focus on Syria and Iran’s role in this important country’s developments, it is worth noting Tehran also seeks to expand its influence in Africa. Iran is spending billions in this continent, providing free social services through a vast network of hospitals and orphanages, running more than one hundred Islamic schools and seminaries, and giving bribes and ‘financial aid’ to corrupt governments. Exporting its reactionary ideology among Africa’s vast Muslim community, paving the path for terrorist activities, sending weapons to the Middle East, obtaining access to natural uranium, bypassing sanctions and arms/nuclear purchases comprise Tehran’s main objectives. Strict action by the international community is needed to bring an end to such measures by Iran, especially when millions are living in poverty across the country.”
News 24: At Least 21 Dead In NE Nigeria Boko Haram Attacks
“Suspected Boko Haram militants killed 21 people in separate attacks in a remote northeastern region of Nigeria, security officials and a witness told AFP on Monday. The jihadists shot dead 18 forest workers who had been collecting firewood in Borno state, close to the town of Gamboru, on the border with Cameroon on Sunday, according to a member of a local anti-militant militia in the area. ‘The bodies were scattered over several hundred metres, and they were mostly shot in the head or the back,’ another militiaman told AFP. Also on Sunday, a vehicle carrying civilians travelling in a nearby army convoy hit a mine planted by the insurgents, killing three people near the village of Wumbi, a militia member said. ‘Three people including the driver were killed and 11 passengers were wounded,’ he said.”
Reuters: Indonesia Investigates Reports Top Islamic State Commander Killed
“Indonesia is investigating reports from Islamic State supporters that the most senior Southeast Asian commander of the militant group was killed by U.S. air strikes in eastern Syria last week, counter-terrorism officials said. Online messages from Islamic State propagandists viewed by Reuters say Bahrumsyah, an Indonesian national, died after U.S. air strikes hit Hajin, north of the Syrian city of Abu Kamal, last Tuesday. A spokesman for Indonesia’s foreign ministry, Arrmanatha Nasir, said the embassy in Syria had made enquiries but had yet to confirm Bahrumsyah’s death. Two senior Indonesian counter-terrorism officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were taking the online reports seriously. ‘We are in the process of investigating,’ said one senior official with Indonesia’s counter-terrorism agency.”
North Korea
Fox News: Mattis Optimistic About North Korea After Stunning Nuclear Announcement
“Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday there are ‘reasons for optimism’ following the stunning announcement by North Korea late last week it would suspend its nuclear and long-range missile tests ahead of a potential summit between leaders of the United States and North Korea beginning in late May or early June. ‘Right now I think there’s a lot of reasons for optimism that the negotiations will be fruitful and we’ll see,’ Mattis said at the Pentagon in his first public comments since the announcement by North Korea. Mattis spoke to reporters at the top of a planned meeting with Thailand’s Minister of Defense Prawit Wongsuwan. North Korea also announced it would close its nuclear test site. Last year, North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date. It remains unclear if the hermit kingdom has the ability to ‘miniaturize’ a nuclear warhead, and place it atop a long-range missile with the ability to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere.”
PBS NewsHour: Can EU Allies Convince Trump To Stay In The Iran Nuclear Deal?
“French President Emmanuel Macron is on what some have called ‘Operation Save the Iran Deal.’ On a visit to the U.S., Macron will try to convince President Trump that the deal is working and that it’s better to confront Iran while its nuclear program is frozen. But Trump is vowing to pull out of the deal unless the U.S. and Europe can fix it to his specifications. Nick Schifrin joins Amna Nawaz.”
The Wall Street Journal: How Europe’s New Privacy Rules Favor Google And Facebook
“When the European Union’s justice commissioner traveled to California to meet with Google and Facebook last fall, she was expecting to get an earful from executives worried about the Continent’s sweeping new privacy law. Instead, she realized they already had the situation under control. “They were more relaxed, and I became more nervous,” said the EU official, Věra Jourová. “They have the money, an army of lawyers, an army of technicians and so on.” Brussels wants its new General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, to stop tech giants and their partners from pressuring consumers to relinquish control of their data in exchange for services. The EU would like to set an example for legislation around the world. But some of the restrictions are having an unintended consequence: reinforcing the duopoly of Facebook Inc. FB -0.26% and Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL -0.33% Google.”
Terror Financing
Masrawy: Egypt: Money Laundering Is Employed To Fund Terrorist Groups
“Dr. Ahmad Fathi Sorour, former Speaker of the Egyptian People’s Assembly (Parliament), said that money laundering is {a means} used to finance terrorist groups and entities. He pointed out that money laundering precedes funding, explaining that when tracing the origin of donations in the millions {of dollars} to terror groups, it has been found to have been illegally obtained whether through the trade in arms, drugs or currency exchange. Sorour pointed out that the financing of terrorism is {in fact} an investment in money laundering; thus, the interest in combating it is normal. The ex-Speaker made these comments during a speech he delivered on Sunday at a seminar concerning anti-money laundering held at the Institute of Banking. He also asserted that the Egyptian legislature woke up just in 2008 to combat money laundering and to severely tighten the penalties.”
Baladi-News: Syria: The Return Of ISIS To The Syrian Arena
“Today’s attention is focused on ISIS’s return to the Syrian arena, especially in the eastern desert and south of the capital Damascus. This comes after the ejection of the Syrian opposition factions from pockets around the capital, which enabled the terror organization to expand into the region and strengthen its forces. The renewed activity of ISIS comes on the heels of repeated declarations by Russia and the Assad regime concerning the elimination of the organization and its expulsion from the entire Syrian territory. These declarations were joined by Iran’s announcement of the end of the war in Syria and the crushing of ISIS. Colonel Mohammed Abu Nidal, the military commander in the Hula district of the northern rural areas of Homs province, said, “ISIS’s current reactivation constitutes a postponement of the next political solution, serving Iran’s interest to stay in the region for a longer period.”
Muslim Brotherhood
Sout Al-Omma: Veteran Leaders Of Muslim Brotherhood Abroad Accused Of Embezzling Its Supporters’ Funds
“Allies of the Muslim Brotherhood abroad recently uncovered the embezzlement of the youth supporters’ funds and entitlements by the group’s veteran leaders. Rabia Shalaby, a dissident of the Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiya (or the Islamic Group), pointed out that the senior leaders of the banned Islamic movement are notorious for being “thieves and swindlers.” Shalaby added that these scandals popped up to the surface after being uncovered by some of the group’s allies, who were deceived by the Muslim Brotherhood’s top chiefs. The former leader of the Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiya further claimed that senior figures of the outlawed group have even stolen what’s referred to as the “Muslims’ funds and donations.” Instead of directing them to the group’s support bases, these funds go into the leaders’ pockets, Shalaby emphasized.”
Albawabh News: Expert: Muslim Brotherhood Funds Generated Mostly Through Trafficking Of Weapons And Drugs
“Amir Abdul-Sakour, a researcher on Islamic movements, noted that Egyptian President al-Sisi’s approval of the recently adopted law by the parliament for regulating the procedures of sequestrating, managing, and disposing of the assets belonging to terrorist organizations, came at the right time. The researcher disclosed that these funds, estimated in the millions of US dollars, were transferred to terrorist groups, in general, and to the Muslim Brotherhood, in particular, via mediators and international organizations. Most of this money was generated through weapons and drug trafficking and then went into laundering activity via transcontinental companies, Abdul-Sakour claimed. Once recycled, a large portion of these funds is remitted to terror groups in various armed conflict zones such as Syria, Libya and Sinai, the researcher added.”
Alrai: Houthi Militants Seized 19 Oil Tankers
“Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed Al-Jaber, announced yesterday that the Yemeni Houthi militants had seized 19 oil tankers and were preventing them from entering Hodeidah port. Al-Jaber described this act as a new violation that can be added to the militia’s long record of violations. The Saudi envoy wrote via his Twitter account that the Yemen Comprehensive Humanitarian Support Center (YCHO) is deeply concerned that the Iran-backed Houthi militants are holding 19 oil vessels, which were about to dock in the militia-controlled area, preventing them from entering the port, although it is completely vacant of ships.”

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