Eye on Extremism, April 26, 2018/ISIS Trying To Foment A Wave Of Migration To Europe, Says UN Official

Eye on Extremism
April 26, 2018
The Guardian: ISIS Trying To Foment A Wave Of Migration To Europe, Says UN Official
“Islamic State commanders fleeing Syria are conspiring with extremist groups in Africa to foment and infiltrate a new migration wave destined for Europe, the head of the UN World Food Programme has said. David Beasley, a former Republican governor of South Carolina, said Europe needed to wake up to the extremists’ strategy in the Sahel region. Those forced out of Syria were uniting with local terrorist groups to use a as both a recruitment tool and a vehicle to push millions of Africans towards Europe, he said. Speaking to the Guardian during a visit to Brussels for a two-day Syria summit, Beasley said: ‘You are going to face a similar pattern of what took place years ago, except you are going to have more Isis and extremist groups infiltrating migration.’”
The Wall Street Journal: Classified Report Slams Military Over October Deaths In Niger
“Poor training, complacency and a culture of excessive risk contributed to the deaths of four U.S. soldiers during an operation in Niger in October, according to a classified Pentagon report. The report, described by officials familiar with its contents, details a series of missteps and describes a disregard for military procedures and for the chain of command. Among other things, the report discloses that low-level commanders, determined to make a mark against local jihadis in the West African nation, took liberties to get operations approved through the chain of command. In the ill-fated October mission, at least one officer copied and pasted orders from a different mission into the so-called concept of operations to gain approval, the officials said.”
Bloomberg: YouTube’s Plan to Clean Up the Mess That Made It Rich
“For years, YouTube has bragged to marketers that its laissez-faire attitude toward video creators was a feature, not a bug. The company was pioneering a form of mass entertainment more democratic, diverse, and authentic than traditional TV, its argument went, because it was unfettered by producers, network executives, or regulators. Much like Facebook and Twitter, however, YouTube has long prioritized growth over safety. Hany Farid, senior adviser to the Counter Extremism Project, which works with internet companies to stamp out child pornography and terrorist messaging, says that of the companies he works with, “Google is the least receptive.” With each safety mishap, he says, YouTube acts freshly shocked. “It’s like a Las Vegas casino saying, ‘Wow, we can’t believe people are spending 36 hours in a casino.’ It’s designed like that.”
BBC News: Macron Believes Trump Will Drop Iran Nuclear Deal
“French President Emmanuel Macron has said he may have failed in efforts to persuade Donald Trump to retain an international nuclear deal with Iran. ‘My view is… that he will get rid of this deal on his own, for domestic reasons,’ Mr Macron said at the end of a three-day state visit to the US. Mr Trump has until 12 May to decide on the deal, which aimed to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. He has been a strong critic of the deal, calling it ‘insane.’ Under the agreement, reached under Mr Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, Iran agreed to mothball its nuclear programme in return for an easing of economic sanctions.”
VICE News: Why Vehicles Are On The Rise As Weapons Of Mass Killing
“On Monday, a man turned a van against the pedestrians walking along Yonge Street in north Toronto, killing ten people and injuring over a dozen.It doesn’t take much time to think of other recent attacks that used this method—Nice, Berlin, London, New York City, Stockholm, and Charlottesville, just to name a few, have all experienced mass killings in which vehicles were the primary weapon. A 2017 paper by the nonprofit policy group Counter Extremism Project (CEP) suggests that tech companies can also do more. The paper points to YouTube in particular, which has failed to prevent a lot of propaganda on its site—YouTube has responded by ramping up AI efforts to flag and remove videos inciting violence. “Following the New York attack that occurred a few months ago, we discovered pieces of ISIS and Al-Qaeda propaganda online encouraging these types attacks,” CEP’s senior research analyst Josh Lipowsky told VICE. “For an example, there was an ISIS video clip the encourage[d] truck attacks.” Companies like YouTube should be more “proactive,” he said, in monitoring for this sort of content and removing it.”
France 24: Global Experts Attend Paris Conference To Combat Terrorist Financing
“Ministers from 80 countries and nearly 500 experts gathered in Paris on Wednesday and Thursday for a conference on combating the financing of terror groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaeda, French officials said. Attacks have become increasingly low-cost since the 9/11 atrocities in the United States in 2001, particularly in recent years as followers of the Islamic State group have used vehicles and guns as their main weapon of choice. But French authorities remain concerned about a huge war-chest amassed by IS group between 2014 and 2016 when it ruled over large swathes of oil-rich territory in Iraq and Syria. A French presidential official briefing journalists on Tuesday said that IS group income was estimated at about one billion dollars (820 million euros) a year. ‘It [the war chest] has been moved since, at least in part. It’s probably somewhere,’ the official said on condition of anonymity. ‘These groups are very skilful in using sophisticated techniques to move financial resources around.’”
Global News: Here’s Why Experts Say Causing Terror Isn’t Enough To Call Something ‘Terrorism’
“Causing terror does not make an attack terrorism. In the aftermath of a horrific van attack that killed 10 and injured 14 on the streets of northern Toronto, that may be a contentious point to make — but it’s one experts say is critical. A now-deleted Facebook post appears to link suspect Alek Minassian with the misogynistic ‘incel’ movement, but experts aren’t sure this connection with an online, alt-right, subculture group puts the attack within the modern definition of terrorism. From the 2014 attack on Parliament Hill and the 2017 U-Haul rampage in Edmonton to the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting and the tragedy earlier this week in North York, one of the first questions to emerge after an attack is whether it was an act of terrorism.”
United States
CNN: DOJ Appears To Reveal Country Where US Is Seeking To Transfer American ISIS Suspect
“The Justice Department appeared to reveal the name of the country where the US is trying to transfer an American accused of fighting for ISIS in a court filing Tuesday afternoon. The government last week was blocked by a DC district court judge from transferring the man, a dual US-Saudi national who has been held by the US military as an enemy combatant in Iraq since September, to a country with a “strong” and “sovereign interest.” While the government has been careful to redact the name of the country that agreed to receive the accused fighter, in a filing Tuesday appealing the district court’s preliminary injunction, the government included the word “repatriate,” suggesting that the country is Saudi Arabia. “As the State Department has explained, ‘(w)hile (redacted) understands that delays may occur, it is vital diplomatically that the United States is able to follow through promptly on its commitment to repatriate this (redacted),’ ” the government wrote.”
The Los Angeles Times: The New Congressional Authorization To Fight Terrorism Still Gives The President Too Much Power
“This week, three Republicans and three Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee introduced a new authorization for the use of U.S. military force in what has become a never-ending war on terrorism. It aims to provide lawmakers with the ability to rein in the president’s power to deploy troops in what has become our forever war. The current statutory authority, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF, has been flexible to the point of absurdity. Passed a week after the 9/11 attacks, it authorized a conflict originally designed as a legitimate retaliatory campaign against Al Qaeda. Four presidencies later, we are fighting in multiple countries and across two continents against groups not even in existence when the 2001 resolution was written. While congressional action on a new authorization is certainly warranted and welcome, the authorization released last week will do very little to address the problem of potential executive overreach. The draft AUMF, in fact, again provides the White House with a blank check, under a cloak of transparency and accountability.”
New Statesmen: Incel: The Online Cult For Sad, Sexless Young Men Is Terrorism By Any Other Name
“In 1997, when the internet was young and far more innocent, a woman called Alana built a text-only site as a community for people who were – as she termed it – “involuntarily celibate”. She was a virgin in her mid-twenties and felt lonely and isolated, afraid that she would be alone forever. She told her story to The Globe & Mail in the aftermath of this week’s van attack in Toronto, an act suspected to be heavily influenced by an ideology called Incel. Incel — a typically Internet contraction of that initial term formulated by Alana — is a lifestyle defined by the inability to find a consenting sexual partner. It has its own lexicon of terms which can seem impenetrable to outsiders and tends to manifest itself in young men for whom women have become the enemy. The subculture turns women into a dangerous other, both desperately desired and passionately hated all at once.”
The Washington Post: Regrets Of An ISIS Midwife
“Samira al-Nasr has delivered thousands of babies over four decades as a midwife in the city of Raqqa, but she says nothing was like the childbirth she attended two years ago as the handpicked doula of the Islamic State. Moments after an infant was born to a Turkish couple — an Islamic State fighter and his young wife — they tried to dress their newborn son in a custom-tailored military uniform. The father proudly declared that the child would grow up to become an Islamist militant. Nasr was revolted. She said she persuaded the father not to use the uniform, telling him the material was too coarse for the baby’s delicate skin. Nasr, 66, is among the millions who lived under the Islamic State’s violent and austere rule in Syria and Iraq, but she witnessed a side of the militancy that perhaps no other outsider did. She was coerced, she said, into delivering countless babies for Islamic State families, attending the most intimate moments of their secluded lives, which she described as alternately ordinary and grotesque.”
Newsweek: Can Iraq Get U.S. To Join Russia And Iran’s War Against ISIS In Syria?
“Iraq has stepped up its involvement in the battle against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and the hunt for its elusive leader by teaming up with neighboring Syria, a move that could potentially see the U.S. working with its rivals, Russia and Iran. Iraq sent F-16s to launch a surprise attack on a suspected ISIS stronghold in eastern Syria on Thursday, an operation in which both the Moscow-backed Syrian government and U.S.-led coalition signed off. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told reporters Tuesday that the strike killed a number of the beleaguered jihadi group’s leading officials, thanks to Iraqi intelligence, and that such operations would not only continue but escalate. ‘We will continue to direct these strikes in Syria and do more than that to eliminate ISIS and what remains of it outside of Syria because of the terrorism and the crimes it has committed in Iraq. We will not allow the resurgence of ISIS or anything that resembles it,’ Abadi said at the press conference, as cited by a number of local and regional outlets, including the SNG news agency and the Iraqi parliament.”
The New York Times: Iran Arrests 3rd British Citizen As Tensions Rise Over Nuclear Deal
“Iran seized a prominent British-Iranian scholar during his visit there this month, a rights group said Wednesday, an arrest that may further stoke tensions with the West over President Trump’s threat to scrap the 2015 nuclear accord. The scholar, Abbas Edalat, an award-winning professor of computer science and mathematics at the Imperial College of London, is at least the third British-Iranian dual citizen to be incarcerated by the Tehran authorities in recent years. The group that reported Mr. Edalat’s arrest, the Center for Human Rights in Iran, said members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps took him into custody on April 15 while he was in Tehran to visit his family and attend an academic workshop. The group said the professor’s computer, CDs and notebooks were impounded. “Iran’s continued arbitrary arrests of dual nationals without transparency and lack of due process is extremely concerning,” Hadi Ghaemi, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.”
Reuters: U.S. Not Seeking To Reopen Iran Nuclear Deal, Envoy Says
“The United States is not seeking to reopen or renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal but hopes to stay in it to fix its flaws with a supplementary agreement, U.S. non-proliferation envoy Christopher Ford said on Wednesday. U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron pledged on Tuesday to seek stronger measures to contain Iran, but Trump refrained from committing to staying in the 2015 nuclear deal and threatened Tehran with retaliation if it restarted its nuclear programme. “We are not aiming to renegotiate the JCPOA (nuclear deal) or reopen it or change its terms,” Ford told reporters on the sidelines of a nuclear non-proliferation conference in Geneva. “We are seeking a supplemental agreement that would in some fashion layer upon it a series of additional rules – restrictions, terms, parameters, whatever you want to call it – that help answer these challenges more effectively.”
Reuters: European Powers Say They Are Nearing Plan To Save Iran Nuclear Pact
“French President Emmanuel Macron called on the United States on Wednesday not to abandon the Iran nuclear deal as Western envoys said Britain, France and Germany were nearing a package that seeks to persuade U.S. President Donald Trump to save the pact. Trump has described the 2015 accord, under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of economic sanctions, as the worst deal ever negotiated and has threatened to wreck it by reimposing U.S. penalties next month unless the three European allies agree to fix its “flaws.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused the United States of seeking to unilaterally change the terms of the multilateral deal and derided Trump as a “tradesman” lacking the background to handle with international affairs. Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France, which all struck the accord with Iran and the United States, see the deal as the best way to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.”
Business Insider: A ‘Post-ISIS Insurgency’ Is Gaining Steam In Iraq
“ISIS may have lost most of its self-declared caliphate, but a new jihadist group is trying to rise from ISIS’ ashes in northern Iraq. The group, whose name is translated from Arabic as ‘the White Banner’ or ‘the White Flags,’ is an ISIS-offshoot that is located primarily around Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu, said Army Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. ‘Whether they or not they call themselves a different name, they still have ISIS elements and they are still targets for the coalition and for the Iraqi security forces,’ Dillon said during a Tuesday news conference. ‘I know that the Iraqi security forces recognize this group and have aggressively pursued them.’”
USA Today: Turkish Court Finds Newspaper Staff Guilty On Terror Charges
“A Turkish court sentenced staff members of the country’s leading opposition newspaper to lengthy prison terms on Wednesday on charges of aiding a terrorist organization. The high-profile trial, criticized as unfair by rights groups and supporters of the newspaper, was seen as a bellwether for thousands of political prisoners swept up in a crackdown on dissent following Turkey’s failed 2016 military coup. Fourteen staff members of Cumhuriyet, a secular, nationalist newspaper, were found guilty on charges of aiding a terrorist organization. Prosecutors alleged the staff had supported terrorists groups, including both the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, an outlawed Kurdish militant group, and the conservative movement led by Fetullah Gulen, a Pennsylvania-based cleric who Turkey accuses of masterminding the coup attempt. Gulen denies any involvement with the failed coup.”
Business Standard: Taliban’s Former Spokesman Ehsan To Remain In Jail: Pak Court
“A Pakistani court today ordered that former Jamaat-ul Ahrar (JuA) and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan remain imprisoned while he is undergoing trial. A two-member bench of the Peshawar High Court comprising justices Qaisar Rashid and Ikramullah Khan said that if Ehsan had taken responsibility for the TTP-claimed attack on an army run school, ‘the parents of the victims – and not the state – hold the right to pardon him.’ The court was hearing a petition filed by the father of an Army Public School (APS) attack victim. In the petition, the victim’s father had asked the court to ensure that Ehsan is not pardoned as he had claimed responsibility for the 2014 attack on Peshawar’s APS in which at least 144 people, mostly children, were killed.”
Sports Illustrated: Why Tom Brady Has No Business Promoting Qatar
“Dear Tom, Glad to see you’re still doing so well and have bounced back from that whole Super Bowl thing. I have to admit that, back in 2005, when you graciously allowed me to rummage around in your life for a spell, even I didn’t think it would turn out as well as it has for you. For all practical purposes, you are recognized almost universally as the greatest quarterback ever to play in the NFL—and, frankly, but for two circus catches by a pair of New York Giants, you might have put that designation so far out of reach that nobody ever could take it away. Back when I was scuffling around among your friends and family, I devoted an entire chapter to how discerning you were about endorsements, which were just then beginning to come your way in earnest. It was one of the things that I liked best about you, truth be told. You didn’t grab for every soft drink and pizza account that came blowing past you. You didn’t go shilling for reverse mortgages or auto insurance. You went for a few high-end products and you were very careful about the ones you picked. If I recall correctly, you made a decision early on to be careful about products to which you attached your name. You guarded your brand before most people knew what a brand was.”
The National: Qatar Airways Makes ‘Substantial’ Loss As Boycott Bites
“Qatar Airways made a “substantial” loss in its last financial year because of a regional dispute that has banned the airline from four Arab countries, its chief executive said on Wednesday without revealing the extent of the losses. The airline has been blocked from flying to 18 cities in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt since June 2017, when those countries cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the charges. “We have increased our operating costs. We had to also take a hit on revenues so we don’t think that our results for the last financial year will be very good,” chief executive Akbar Al Baker told reporters at the Eurasia Airshow in Antalya, Turkey. “I don’t want to say the size of the loss but it was substantial.” Other parts of the business were profitable though that was not enough to make up for the airline loss, Mr Baker said. Qatar Airways has several subsidiaries including airport ground handling services and catering units.”
Radio Free Europe: An Islamic State Orphan Returns To Tajikistan
“Muhammadrahim Shoev has finally gotten his wish — the Tajik man has been reunited with his 10-year-old granddaughter, the only member of his son’s family of six to have survived their move to Iraq. Maryam Shoeva was among four Tajik children who were returned home on April 25 following a months-long effort by authorities to repatriate Tajik children and women who had been stranded in Iraq and Syria. In most cases their families are suspected of having left Tajikistan to join the extremist Islamic State (IS) group. Maryam’s parents and three younger siblings are believed to have died in air strikes targeting IS in Mosul, Iraq, last summer, and her grandfather had been seeking her return since discovering in February that she was still alive. ‘Maryam is back, finally, safe and sound,’ Shoev said after the girl was handed over to her grandparents in the village of Ghairatobod on the outskirts of the Tajik capital, Dushanbe.”
The Wall Street Journal: How Yemen’s Houthis Are Ramping Up Their Weapons Capability
“Dubai– In three years of war between Yemen’s Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led military coalition, the rebels have fired scores of ballistic missiles at the kingdom. The rebels say they have attacked Saudi Arabia’s national oil company at least eight times since the beginning of March, with the latest missile fired on Monday. Saudi forces have intercepted more than a 100, but a few incidents have caused damage—including in March, when a piece of shrapnel killed an Egyptian man living in Riyadh, the Saudi capital…”
Al Arabiya: Yemen Subjected To Largest Mine-Laying Operation By Houthis Since World War II
“The largest land mine operation in the world since the Second World War was executed by the Houthi militias in Yemen. Internationally banned land mines have not been used by the Houthis just as a combat tool and but have been planted in open spaces and outside the cities in residential areas. The Houthis have been planting land mines arbitrarily in heavily populated residential neighborhoods and increase their numbers right before withdrawing from any area in the country. The result of their actions have left more than 3,000 civilians, mostly women and children, killed.”
Middle East
Daily Mail: ISIS Warn Plane Passengers ‘You Will Be Easy Prey’ As They Threaten Attacks On Aircraft In Latest Propaganda
“ISIS fanatics have vowed to bring bloodshed to the skies with attacks on aircraft. The terror group warned plane passengers ‘you will be easy prey’ in a chilling online poster showing what appears to be the inside of an aircraft cabin. The latest propaganda was released on pro-ISIS internet platforms with the threat issued in English, French and Arabic. ISIS was widely believed to have been behind the downing of a Russian tourist jet leaving the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh in 2015 – killing all 224 people on board.”
Voice Of America: North Cameroon’s Religious Leaders Fight Boko Haram Recruitment
“Religious leaders in Cameroon have been visiting towns along the country’s border with Nigeria this week in a bid to curb fresh recruitment efforts by Boko Haram. Imam Abbo Hamatoukour, who hails from the nearby town of Garoua, is taking part in an outreach program sponsored by both Muslim and Christian preachers. Hamatoukour said Boko Haram is trying to lure youth with promises that they will go to heaven if they die fighting so-called unbelievers. He said the country’s religious leaders face a daunting task as they try to reinforce the practice of true Islam, which, he added, offers true Muslims the only path to paradise, as stated by the Holy Koran. He said another challenge is promoting peaceful coexistence between Muslims and members of other faiths.”
Vanguard: Toddlers Among 6, 512 Boko Haram Detainees – Presidential C’ttee
“The ‘Presidential Committee on Special Detainees linked to Boko Haram Insurgency’ has submitted its final report to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, calling for speedy dispensation of justice to ensure that those who are wrongfully detained are released. Submitting the report, chairman of the committee, Gen. Abdullahi Bagudu Mamman (retd) said ‘the committee was inaugurated in December 2016 with the mandate of profiling and categorizing the Boko Haram detainees in various detention centres across the country.’”
The Times: Nigeria’s Army Wants To Make Boko Haram’s Forest Stronghold A Tourism Spot
“Nigeria’s army says it wants to turn the Sambisa forest into a tourist destination. The plan, however, has a catch: the area is home to a vicious insurgency. At least 34,000 people have died in Boko Haram’s nine-year revolt, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. The Islamist militant group, which gained global notoriety in 2014 kidnapping more than 270 schoolgirls from the town of Chibok, uses the forest in northeastern Nigeria as a stronghold. Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, announced the plan and it was tweeted by a presidential aide on Wednesday. “Nigerian Army to collaborate with National Park Service and Borno State Government to turn Sambisa forest to tourist centre to attract tourists into the country – Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai,” said Bashir Ahmad, President Muhammadu Buhari’s new media aide.”
The Jerusalem Post: Russia Likely To Deliver S-300 Missiles To Syria
“Russia plans to soon deliver an antiaircraft missile system, known as the S-300, to Syria, Defense Ministry’s Col.-Gen. Sergei Rudskoi told reporters on Wednesday. ‘Russian experts will continue to train Syrian military servicemen, particularly teaching them to use the new missile defense systems that are planned to be delivered to Syria in the near future,’ he said, according to the TASS news agency. Russia’s sale and pending delivery of these weapons to the Syrian government has long been a source of tension between Moscow and Jerusalem. Israel fears the S-300 would hamper its ability to attack military sites in Syria that are a danger to the Jewish state and would therefore allow Iran to strengthen its military foothold in that country.”
Haaretz: Russia’s Covert Mission In Syria Uncovered
“The Kremlin says it has nothing to do with Russian civilians fighting in Syria but on three recent occasions groups of men flying in from Damascus headed straight to a defence ministry base in Molkino, Reuters reporters witnessed. Molkino in southwestern Russia is where the Russian 10th Special Forces Brigade is based, according to information on the Kremlin website. The destination of the Russians arriving from Syria provides rare evidence of a covert Russian mission in Syria beyond the air strikes, training of Syrian forces and small numbers of special forces troops acknowledged by Moscow. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Feb. 14 Russians may be in Syria but “they are not part of the armed forces of the Russian Federation”. He referred Reuters to the defence ministry when asked why civilians fighting in Syria return to a military base. The ministry did not immediately respond.”
Times Of Israel: Brazilian Governor Apologizes For Welcoming Hezbollah Official
“The governor of Brazil’s Sao Paulo state apologized to the Jewish community for welcoming a Muslim clergyman accused of having ties with Hezbollah. Gov. Marcio Franca welcomed Sheikh Bilal Mohsen Wehbe as part of a Lebanese delegation visiting the state government headquarters on April 17. On Saturday, Veja magazine’s online edition revealed that the meeting took place and that the sheikh “is the main representative of the terrorist group Hezbollah in South America.” A day later, the Sao Paulo Jewish Federation released a statement condemning the meeting. “Unfortunately, Gov. Marcio Franca and his team ignored the organization’s links to smuggling and drug trafficking in the Triple Frontier region between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, as well as its radical stance calling for the destruction of the State of Israel, and gave legitimacy to a group recognized as terrorist by countless democratic countries,” the statement said, referring to Hezbollah.”
North Korea
The New York Times: North Korea’s Phony Peace Ploy
“When the government of South Korea announced last week that it would begin work on a formal peace treaty with North Korea, to be discussed at a summit meeting on April 27, its so-called Sunshine Policy of engagement gave way to P.T. Barnum-style, a-sucker-born-every-minute diplomacy. Fighting in the Korean War ended in 1953 with just an armistice, and South Korean officials are calling for a “permanent peace.” But it is not merely unrealistic to hope that Kim Jong-un, the leader of the North, will offer the South real and lasting peace; it is delusional. If the past is any guide, the North will offer the South unenforceable verbiage. And if the South accepts a phony peace ploy, it will expose itself to more manipulation by the government in Pyongyang — not only in its domestic politics, but potentially also in its alliance with the United States.”
The Wall Street Journal: ‘Operation Ghostsecret’: North Korea Is Suspected In Intensifying Global Cyberattack
“A suspected North Korean cyberattack on Turkish banks last month is broader in scope than originally believed, and has expanded to a global data-theft campaign targeting nations including the U.S. and Australia, according to a new cybersecurity analysis. The hacking campaign, identified as Operation GhostSecret by cyber researcher McAfee LLC, now spans 17 countries and many industries. The attacks highlight how hackers linked to Pyongyang have evolved beyond their traditional focus on military secrets and cyber provocations. From roughly March 14 to March 26, suspected Pyongyang-linked hackers sought to obtain sensitive information from a variety of industries: critical infrastructure, telecommunications, health care, higher education and others. McAfee, which released the report on Wednesday, didn’t name the affected organizations but said most of the attacks were in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Reuters: Exclusive: France Asked U.S. Not To Bomb Lafarge Factory In Syria In 2014 – Emails
“France asked the United States in 2014 not to bomb a Lafarge cement plant in northern Syria, an area which was at the time controlled by Islamic State, emails that are part of an investigation into the company’s Syria operations show. French prosecutors last year launched a probe into the suspected “financing of a terrorist enterprise” by the cement group in Syria. The company admitted last year it had paid armed groups to keep a factory operating. ‘This French investment should be protected,’ France’s Syria envoy, Franck Gellet, who is based in Paris, said in a Sept. 19, 2014 email to senior foreign ministry officials, referring to the Lafarge plant about 87 km (54 miles) from Raqqa. ‘It seems legitimate that we ask Washington not to do anything about this site without checking with us first,’ Gellet said in the email, that included the plant’s GPS coordinates.”
The New York Times: Does Facebook Just Harbor Extremists? Or Does It Create Them?
“When they talk about incitement to violence on Facebook — a growing problem in developing markets — representatives and critics of the platform alike tend to describe it as a problem created by small factions of extremists. The extremists, in this view, push out rumors and inflammatory claims to everyday users, who become ideologically infected. So stopping the violence should be as simple as silencing the extremists. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, made that argument recently when asked about his platform’s role in violence in Myanmar. ‘People were trying to spread sensational messages through — in this case, it was Facebook messenger,’ he said, by way of example, in an April podcast interview with Vox.”
Reuters: Facebook Will Not Testify At U.S. House Hearing On Social Media
“Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it has declined an invitation to testify at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing Thursday on filtering practices by social media companies, a company spokesman said. The company said that even though it will not appear, it looks “forward to a continuing dialogue with members of the committee about Facebook’s strong commitment to being a platform for all voices and ideas.” Alphabet Inc and Twitter Inc have also been invited to testify at the House Judiciary Committee hearing, but have not said whether they will appear and did not respond to repeated inquiries on Wednesday. Some Republicans have criticized social media companies for censoring some conservative viewpoints, a charge the firms have denied. A spokesman for Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee said Twitter and Alphabet were not expected to testify. A spokeswoman for the committee’s Republican majority did not immediately comment.”
The New York Times: How Fake Mark Zuckerbergs Scam Facebook Users Out Of Their Cash
“A Facebook notification on Gary Bernhardt’s phone woke him up one night last November with incredible news: a message from Mark Zuckerberg himself, saying that he had won $750,000 in the Facebook lottery. “I got all excited. Wouldn’t you?” said Mr. Bernhardt, 67, a retired forklift driver and Army veteran in Ham Lake, Minn. He stayed up until dawn trading messages with the person on the other end. To obtain his winnings, he was told, he first needed to send $200 in iTunes gift cards. Hours later, Mr. Bernhardt bought the gift cards at a gas station and sent the redemption codes to the account that said it was Mr. Zuckerberg. But the requests for money didn’t stop. By January, Mr. Bernhardt had wired an additional $1,310 in cash, or about a third of his Social Security checks over three months. Mr. Bernhardt eventually realized that he had been the unwitting victim of a scam that has thrived on Facebook and Instagram by using the sites’ own brands — and its top executives — to lure people in. At a time when the real Mr. Zuckerberg has vowed to clean up Facebook, the Silicon Valley company has failed to eliminate impostor accounts masquerading as him and his chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, to swindle Facebook users out of thousands of dollars.”
CNBC: How Facebook Ads Target You
“If you want to tailor a Facebook ad to a single user out of its universe of 2.2 billion, you could. Trying to pitch your boutique bed and breakfast to a 44-year-old “trendy mom” who lives in Seattle, leans conservative and is currently traveling in the Toronto area but hasn’t booked a hotel for the night yet? Go right ahead. Interested in mail-ordering pet treats to a 32-year-old cat owner in Madison, Wisconsin who enjoys Japanese food, doesn’t like pizza and has an anniversary coming up in the next two months? Not a problem. Targeting ads, it turns out, is almost infinitely customizable — sometimes in surprising ways. The ads you might see can be tailored to you down to the most granular details — not just where you live and what websites you visited recently, but whether you’ve gotten engaged in the past six months, are interested in organic food or share characteristics with people who have recently bought a BMW, even if you’ve never expressed interest in doing so yourself.”
The Wall Street Journal: EU Presses Tech Firms On Search Results, Fake News
“The European Union tightened its effort to rein in tech giants like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. on Thursday, advancing several measures that aim to shape the way they operate in Europe. The European Commission—the bloc’s executive body—proposed new EU-wide regulations that would require web platforms, including search engines like Google, to provide more transparency about their search rankings. The rules also aim to prevent web platforms from offering unfair terms to small businesses that use their services to sell or promote products. Ahead of European Parliament elections in 2019, the commission also urged platforms to do more to halt the spread of disinformation or “fake news,” on their sites, or face possible regulation. It asked web platforms to draw up a voluntary code of conduct by July with the aim of seeing changes by October. It said the EU was first pursuing industry self-regulation, but if that fails it would explore other options “including regulatory ones targeted at a few platforms.”
Arabyoum: Iraq: Government Takes Action Against ISIS Financiers
“ISIS is always trying to come up with new ways to finance its militants in Iraq, following successive defeats there. These methods include dubious financial transfers. The Iraqi government is therefore seeking to drain the terror group’s sources of funding. The Iraqi government has recently identified the names of individuals, in addition to money exchange companies, and has issued orders to handle them according to Article 4 of the Terrorism Law, which stipulates capital punishment for anyone who has donated, financed, instigated or planned terrorist acts. In this context, Dr. Saad al-Hadithi, Spokesman for the Iraqi government, stated on this subject that the measures recently taken by Baghdad with regard to ISIS financing “were not hatched today. The government has long been monitoring the work of currency exchange companies, financial transfers and monetary remittances in the banking sector.”
Monte Carlo Doualiya: Movable And Non-Movable Funds Of ISIS Under International And Arab Surveillance
“On the sidelines of the Paris-hosted international conference on combating the financing of ISIS, al-Qaeda and their affiliates, Lebanese Justice Minister Salim Jreissati stated that ISIS and other extremist groups have lost nearly 98% of their capabilities and territories. The Lebanese minister further stated that the movable and non-movable assets of ISIS are now subject to international and Arab surveillance. As far as Lebanon is concerned, Jreissati noted that his government has adopted his proposal, which complies with an American request to listen to some banks heads with regard to financing activities. There is international consensus that Lebanon is a sovereign state capable of pursuing whoever finances terrorism and doesn’t comply with the banking regulations, the Lebanese minister stressed.”
Muslim Brotherhood
Dostor: Egypt: Authorities Block 11 Social Media Pages Linked To The Muslim Brotherhood
“During its crackdown against violence- and terrorism-inciting websites, Egypt’s Chamber of Information Technology and Telecommunications blocked 11 social media pages associated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. These include 10 personal accounts and one public page. It’s noteworthy that all departments of the Egyptian Interior Ministry have recently intensified their efforts to counter online hate speech and incitement to violence and terrorism content by monitoring the pages of various extremists and terrorists.”
Aden Al-Ghad: Houthis Loot Assets Of Kamaran Tobacco Co.
“New documents expose the widespread acts of corruption committed by the Houthi militants at Kamaran, the leading tobacco company in Yemen. The volume of these corruption practices has grown to such a dangerous level that it threatens the very existence of this major Yemeni cigarette company, media reports warned. They emphasized that the Iran-backed group looted millions of dollars from Kamaran in the form of cash allowances and bonuses, for the benefit of group’s leaders and loyalists. In addition, the Houthis funneled large sums of money out of the company to several associations belonging to their supporters. Meanwhile, other funds were embezzled by the Houthis under the pretext of resolving old financial disputes of the enterprise.”
Alarab: Hezbollah Plans To Invest Iranian Funds In Lebanon
“The Lebanese media announced that Hezbollah holds the Lebanese government responsible for its failure to manage the economic portfolio, so that it will be easy to get its hands on this sensitive domain. By doing so, it will accomplish its full control of Lebanon from all aspects, including in military, security and political affairs. The Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, spoke several days ago about the economic situation in Lebanon. He stressed that “the team that controlled the economic file for decades failed.” He pointed out that “the agricultural and industrial sectors are in their worst condition {ever} and the infrastructure, despite investments in the billions {of dollars}, is not at its best.” The Lebanese media pointed out that blaming its opponents for the crisis aims to allow Hezbollah to invest the Iranian funds, which reach its coffers secretly due to the sanctions imposed on it by the US and Arabs, in economic projects that would strengthen its dominance on the Lebanese scene.”

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