Eye on Extremism, April 30, 2018

Eye on Extremism
April 30, 2018
NewEurope: When ‘Sorry’ Is No Longer Enough
“The recent hearings at the US Senate and House of Representatives have not quashed the troubling issues surrounding Facebook. CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his teams of lawyers and strategists projected concern and said, once again, that Facebook would make changes. The question for regulators across the world is, why should we wait for Facebook to own up to the next privacy or public safety scandal and come with apologies in hand? Why don’t we put regulations in place to protect users? The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) has documented numerous instances where Facebook has made express policy changes following public accusations, a scandal, or pressure from lawmakers. While one would hope that Facebook is continuously working to improve security on its platform, there is no excuse for having to make so many policy changes after wrongdoing has been exposed, rather than taking preventative action. It points to the suspicion that there are more scandals in the making due to yet undiscovered lapses in Facebook’s current policies and practices. This uncertainty calls into question whether or not Facebook is doing all it can to take down terror content posted on its platform or remove hate speech.”
The Wall Street Journal: Missile Strikes On Syrian Military Base Kills Dozens
“Missile strikes on Syrian government bases overnight killed dozens of pro-regime forces, including Iranians, according to a monitoring group, in what could mark an escalation of hostilities between foreign powers fighting for influence. “Enemy missiles” targeted military bases in Aleppo and Hama, Syrian state news agency SANA reported Monday. Footage circulated on social media showed a large ball of fire, purportedly from an explosion at a military base in Hama believed to house Iranian Revolutionary Guards forces. There were conflicting reports about the death toll. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 27 people were killed in Hama, the majority of whom were Iranian, without providing further details. There were no immediate details about casualties in Aleppo.”
The Washington Post: Double Suicide Bombing Claimed By Islamic State In Kabul Kills 25, Including Journalists
“Back to back suicide bombs claimed by the extremist Islamic State group exploded Monday morning near an Afghan security compound in a highly secure area of the Afghan capital, killing at least 25 people, including journalists, police said. The second blast came as news photographers and crews were rushing to the scene, and at least seven journalists were killed, the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee said. Agence France-Presse identified one of the dead as Shah Marai, its chief photographer in Kabul. The Afghan Journalists Safety Committee said other victims included a cameramen and journalists for local TV stations. Hours after the attacks, the local branch of the Islamic State group posted a statement online saying two of its ‘martyrs’ carried out an attack on the Afghan intelligence services in Kabul. The attack took place in the Shash Darak neighborhood which is the site of a number of embassies and the NATO headquarters.”
The Washington Post: Hacked Messages Show Qatar Appearing To Pay Hundreds Of Millions To Free Hostages
“One morning last April, in the 16th month of a grueling hostage negotiation, a top Qatari diplomat sent a text message to his boss to complain about a brazen robbery being perpetrated against his own country. Qatar had entered secret talks to free 25 of its citizens from kidnappers in Iraq, yet the bargaining had turned into a kind of group shakedown, the official said, with a half-dozen militias and foreign governments jostling to squeeze cash from the wealthy Persian Gulf state. ‘The Syrians, Hezbollah-Lebanon, Kata’ib Hezbollah, Iraq — all want money, and this is their chance,’ Zayed bin Saeed al-Khayareen, Qatar’s ambassador to Iraq and chief negotiator in the hostage affair, wrote in the message. ‘All of them are thieves.’ And yet, the Qataris were willing to pay, and pay they did, confidential documents confirm.”
Los Angeles Times: In Saudi Arabia, Pompeo Calls Iran ‘The Greatest Sponsor Of Terrorism In The World’
“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on his first trip to the Middle East as America’s top diplomat, sought to muster support Sunday for a more robust international response to what U.S. officials see as a growing threat emanating from Iran. Speaking to reporters in Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main regional adversary, Pompeo said the multi-party agreement reached in 2015 to curb Tehran’s nuclear program did not do enough to contain the Islamic Republic. “In fact, Iran has only behaved worse since the deal was approved,” he said. The former CIA director cited Iran’s support for the “murderous” government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and also accused the country of arming Houthi rebels in Yemen who have repeatedly targeted Saudi cities with ballistic missiles — a charge denied by Tehran.”
Al Arabiya: 70 Countries To ‘Fully Criminalize’ Terror Financing With ‘No More Ambiguity’
“More than 70 countries on Thursday committed to bolster efforts in the fight against terrorism financing associated with the ISIS group and al-Qaida. Participants at an international conference on terrorism in Paris vowed to improve international coordination and enhance transparency of financial flows. In a final declaration, they agreed to ‘fully criminalize’ terror financing through effective and proportionate sanctions ‘even in the absence of a link to a specific terrorist act.’ The two-day event was convened by French President Emmanuel Macron to coordinate efforts to reduce the terror threat in the long-term. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde and the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar were all present. Macron, who has returned to France from a state visit to the U.S., welcomed the decision of participants to form a coalition with the aim of choking off financing for IS and al-Qaida. ‘Our enemies are mobile and innovative. They are all the time changing tactics … they use all the modern technologies,’ he stressed in his closing speech. ‘That is why we must combat (them) with total determination.’”
United States
NPR: Pompeo Urges Unity Among Gulf Countries, Pressure Against Iran
“Mike Pompeo, on his maiden trip as U.S. secretary of state, is using the three-day visit in the Middle East to garner international support to pressure Iran to modify its nuclear program. During a stop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Pompeo urged unity among the Gulf states — saying cooperation and easing of economic tensions with Qatar is “necessary.” Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have halted trade with Qatar, accusing the natural gas-rich nation of aiding terrorism and maintaining close ties with Iran. The discord between the Gulf states has frustrated U.S. officials’ attempts to weaken the influence of Iran in the region. “We’ve got a common challenge in Iran. I think they all recognize that,” Pompeo said in remarks to reporters. “We’re hopeful that they will in their own way figure out their dispute between them.” Pompeo’s arrived in Riyadh shortly after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen launched a barrage of missiles into Saudi Arabia, killing at least one person. The attack is the latest sign that the raging civil war in Yemen continues to further threaten stability in the region.”
Reuters: U.S.-Backed Forces Say They Regain Villages Seized By Syrian Army
“U.S-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said they expelled had Syrian troops that briefly took control of a string of villages in oil rich areas east of the Euphrates river near the Iraqi border on Sunday. SDF forces led by the Kurdish YPG militia said they had waged a counter-attack against Syrian troops it said were backed by Russian forces, adding they were driven ‘far away’ from four villages they had seized earlier in the day. ‘Our forces regained the initiative,’ they said in a statement. It did not say if the U.S. coalition took part in the operation. Washington has a strong military presence in the area in eastern Syria which holds the bulk of the country’s oil and gas reserves, according to regional diplomatic sources.”
Reuters: Syrian Army, Islamic State Wage Fierce Battle In South Damascus
“The Syrian army and its allies engaged in a fierce battle on Saturday with Islamic State fighters in an enclave south of Damascus held by the jihadist group. Reuters witnesses, a war monitor and state television reported intense fighting including artillery bombardment and small arms fire. The army had made broad advances, said state television. The monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said it had gained control of several buildings in the densely built-up area. Footage on state TV showed tanks rolling across an open area of fields to the edge of the enclave, which includes parts of al-Qadam district, al-Hajar al-Aswad and the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp. It showed uniformed soldiers moving through battered streets with dense clouds of black smoke overhead, while the whizz and crash of artillery fire, the rattle of small arms fire and deep echoing blasts could all be heard.”
The Washington Post: Reports: Fighting Near Syrian Capital Kills, Wounds Dozens
“Fighting between Syrian troops and Islamic State group fighters in southern neighborhoods of the capital Damascus left dozens of people dead or wounded on Friday, according to a war monitor and Syrian state media, as government forces pressed their offensive to capture last parts of the city out of state control. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government bombardment killed 17 people, including seven children and two women in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk mostly controlled by IS. Syrian state media reported that IS shelling of the government-held neighborhood of Qadam in Damascus killed two children and wounded eight others. State news agency SANA said government forces and their allies pushed deeper into the nearby Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood that is controlled by IS. SANA added that the army offensive aims to “completely eradicate the terrorists from south Damascus.’”
The Wall Street Journal: To Promote Nonproliferation, Kill The Iran Deal Now
“Will President Trump terminate the Iran nuclear deal? Many national-security experts are concerned he will, by refusing to waive sanctions that are up for renewal in mid-May. Some worry that unilaterally reimposing sanctions on Iran would isolate the U.S. internationally, as Europe’s leaders still broadly support the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Others argue that the JCPOA is working and Iran is largely abiding by its commitments. Still others urge the U.S. to continue waiving sanctions if the Europeans are willing to consider potential changes to the deal. Each of these camps is deeply misguided. Should Mr. Trump refuse to continue the Obama -era policy of waiving Iran sanctions and opt to reimpose them unilaterally, Europe will have no choice but to go along. The key sanctions imposed by Congress in 2011-12—in the face of staunch opposition from the Obama White House—are “secondary” sanctions, meaning they operate by imposing costs on countries that continue to do business with Iran.”
Independent: Iran Arrests British-Iranian University Professor On ‘Security Charges’
“Iran has confirmed that a professor who works at London’s Imperial College has been arrested on “security charges”. British-Iranian academic Abbas Edalat was reportedly detained by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in mid-April, according to the New York-based Centre for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). Today, Iran has confirmed his detention for the first time. Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi told reporters in Tehran: “I confirm his arrest on security charges, but I am unable to give details,” according to state broadcaster IRIB. Semi-official news agency Fars reported on Thursday that Edalat was part of an “infiltration network affiliated with Britain” whose members had been detained. A Foreign Office spokesperson told The Independent: “We are urgently seeking information from the Iranian authorities following reports of the arrest of a British-Iranian dual national.”
Time: Mike Pompeo Takes A Tough Line On Iran During His First Trip Abroad As Secretary Of State
“U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday ratcheted up the Trump administration’s rhetoric against Iran and gave warm boosts of support to Israel and Saudi Arabia in their standoffs with Tehran. Pompeo’s comments in Riyadh and then Tel Aviv came as he neared the end of the Middle East leg of his first trip abroad as America’s top diplomat. He has called for concerted international action to punish Iran for its missile programs and other actions that he said destabilize the region. The tough line was welcomed by his hosts, particularly in Israel, which considers Iran its greatest threat and has led calls for the West to revise or reject the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. “We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region and Iran’s ambition to dominate the Middle East remains,” Pompeo said after a nearly two-hour meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The United States is with Israel in this fight.” Israel has cited Iran’s hostile rhetoric, support for anti-Israel militant groups and development of long-range missiles.”
Reuters: Islamic State Releases Video Showing Execution Of Iraq ‘Election Advocators’
“Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency released a video on Friday showing what they said was Islamic State militants shooting ‘two advocators’ for next month’s Iraqi parliamentary elections in the town of al-Tarmiyah, in the Salah al-Din governorate north of Baghdad. Islamic State said earlier this week that it would attack polling stations in Iraq during parliamentary elections next month and that anyone who participated in the vote would be considered an infidel. In an audio message released on April 22, 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.”
The Washington Post: Case Of Suspected American ISIS Member Held In Iraq Heard At Appeals Court
“A federal appeals court on Friday considered whether to allow the involuntary transfer of an American citizen and suspected member of the Islamic State from U.S. military custody in Iraq to a third country. A judge in Washington last week stopped the imminent transfer of the man, who has not been named publicly. He has been held without charges for seven months after he was captured in Syria and handed over to U.S. forces. The unusual case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit raises significant questions about how the courts balance national security interests with the constitutional rights of citizens.”
Al Jazeera: Iraq: 19 Russian Women Handed Life Sentences For Joining ISIL
“A court in Baghdad sentenced 19 Russian women to life in prison for joining Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters in the country. A Central Criminal Court ruling determined on Sunday the Russian women were guilty of ‘joining and supporting’ ISIL, AFP news agency reported. The women, many accompanied by their children, addressed the court through a translator – a Russian -language professor at Baghdad University hired by the Russian embassy. A Russian diplomat at the hearing said the families of the women will be contacted and ‘informed of the verdict.’ Another six women from Azerbaijan and four from Tajikistan were also given life sentences.”
Irish Times: ‘I Was An Islamic State Boy Soldier’
“Jano is 14, but yearns to feel like a child again. He wants to hug his mother, whom he hasn’t seen since he was 10 years old, the day Islamic State came to his village. Jano is not his real name. A Yazidi boy from the village of Kocho, near Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, he was kidnapped, indoctrinated and trained to become a boy soldier by Islamic State, or Isis. About 400,000 Yazidis living in the area around Mount Sinjar were targeted by Islamic State in a ‘convert or die’ campaign in the summer of 2014. The Yazidis were seen by Islamic State as subhuman because their ancient beliefs and traditions predate the major religions. Jano was one of thousands of boys taken and trained to become jihadis. They were given new names, forced to speak Arabic rather than their native Kurdish dialect, and converted to Islam.”
CNN: Eight Journalists Among 29 Killed In Twin Afghanistan Blasts
“Eight journalists were among 29 people killed in a suicide attack in Kabul Monday, including a famed photographer who had written of the dangers of reporting in the Afghan capital. Shah Marai of Agence France Presse was among a group of journalists who died when a bomber disguised as a TV cameraman detonated a second bomb at the site of an earlier explosion. Both attacks were claimed by Islamic State. The first blast happened at around at 8 a.m. local time in the Shashdarak area of the city, where the US embassy and Afghan government buildings are located, prompting journalists to rush to the scene. The second explosion came as the attacker, posing as a cameraman, detonated explosives as journalists huddled around the scene, Kabul City Police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai told CNN.”
The Washington Post: Afghanistan Is Building Up Its Commando Force To Fight The Taliban. But At What Cost?
“A major buildup of ­Afghanistan’s commando force, part of a strategy to fight insurgents who contest or control nearly half the country’s districts, could have a detrimental effect on conventional army units, already beaten down by years of combat, corruption and desertion. The plan, announced last year, calls for the number of commandos to nearly double, from about 11,700 to 23,300 by 2020. There will be at least 14,000 in coming days, after current classes complete their 14 weeks of training, said Army Col. Larry Niedringhaus, the U.S. Special Forces officer in charge of an advisory group involved in training. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani formed the plan with Pentagon backing in an effort to invest in units with a track record of success. While conventional Afghan military and police units have often struggled with the Taliban in combat, the commandos are generally seen as more prestigious and effective on the battlefield. But as more Afghan soldiers are sent to commando school after basic training, fewer of them are available to fill holes in the conventional Afghan army units.”
ABC News: NATO Backs Afghan Leader’s Offer Of Talks With The Taliban
“NATO threw its weight Friday behind Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer of peace talks to the Taliban, embracing what top officials said is an ‘unprecedented’ opportunity to end the conflict in the insurgency-wracked country. NATO foreign ministers issued a statement saying the 29 allies ‘are united in their support for this proposal,’ and that they would respect a political settlement that ends violence. Ghani has offered the extremist Islamic movement unconditional peace talks accompanied by a cease-fire, recognition of them as a political party and the release of some prisoners, among other incentives. NATO is even open to discussions between Kabul and the Taliban on the future role of the international community in the country. The Taliban have insisted that international troops leave.”
The National: Qatari Hostage Payments Funded Al Qaeda Group Now Syria’s Most Powerful Militant Faction
“Lucrative Qatari hostage payments bankrolled a feared Al Qaeda-linked militant group in Syria, one that has grown to become the most effective and powerful extremist faction in the war-ravaged country where it has imposed its extremist vision and kidnapped an American journalist, wealthy Gulf royals, UN peacekeepers, and even a group of nuns. In at least one of those cases – the kidnap of nine Qatari royals and 16 Qatari nationals by a Shiite militia in southern Iraq – Doha siphoned millions, according to Iraqi officials, to that very group: the Nusra Front, now leading an Islamist alliance known as Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS). Exchanges leaked in the US press on Saturday revealed how the tiny Gulf state had been shaken down and plundered of at least $275 million (Dh1bn) by various parties across sectarian lines in return for its nationals. Most concerning for Qatar’s Gulf neighbours, who are so focused on the battle against Al Qaeda, was arguably the large payment to HTS as part of the deal.”
Reuters: Yemeni Security Forces Kill Senior Islamic State Commander: Statement
“Yemeni security forces said they killed a senior Islamic State commander in a gunbattle in the southern city of Aden on Saturday, dealing a blow to the group’s powerful Yemen branch. Saleh Nasser Fadhl al-Bakshi held the title of ‘Prince’ for the Aden area in the militant group’s Yemen affiliate, which has killed hundreds of people, mostly security forces in the country’s south, in years of bombing and shooting attacks. Counterterrorism forces surrounded al-Bakhshi in a building, according to a statement on the Aden police Facebook page, when he and fellow militants refused to surrender. In the ensuing shootout, one of the counter-terrorism force members was killed along with al-Bakshi, whose bloodied corpse was displayed in a picture accompanying the police statement. Three of his comrades were arrested, it added. Islamic State gained a foothold in Yemen late in 2014 as the country collapsed into civil war between the armed Houthi movement and the internationally recognized government, opening a security vacuum and sparking Saudi-led military intervention.”
Reuters: Saudi Man Killed In Missile Salvo From Yemen
“Yemen’s Houthi movement fired ballistic missiles at what it called ‘economic and vital targets’ in the southern Saudi province of Jizan on Saturday, and Saudi authorities said a man was killed by debris from the projectiles. The attack appeared to be retaliation promised by Yemen’s dominant political faction in a war there as thousands attended a funeral in the Houthi-run capital Sanaa for a top Houthi official killed in a Saudi-led air strike last week. Eyewitnesses in Sanaa reported Saudi-led air raids on Saturday near the downtown rally for the burial of Saleh al-Samad, the president of the political body that runs Houthi-controlled northern Yemen. There were no reports of casualties. The Houthis said they launched eight ballistic missiles at ‘economic and vital targets’ in Saudi’s Jizan province on Saturday. Riyadh said it intercepted four of the projectiles.”
The Washington Post: Saudi Media: Airstrike Kills Houthi Leaders In Yemen Capital
“A Saudi-led airstrike targeting a high-level meeting of Shiite rebels in Yemen’s capital killed two of the group’s leaders and dozens of their militiamen, the kingdom’s state media reported early Saturday. The Shiite rebels known as Houthis did not immediately acknowledge the strike. Saudi state-run television offered the report, saying the strike Friday killed more than 50 militiamen, including the two leaders. It did not elaborate. That dispatch followed a far more detailed report on the strike by Al-Arabiya, a Dubai-based satellite news network now believed to be majority-owned by Saudi Arabia. Al-Arabiya, without offering a source, said the strike hit a building belonging to Yemen’s Interior Ministry in the country’s rebel-held capital, Sanaa. It said more than 38 Houthi fighters including the two leaders were killed in the strike targeting a high-level meeting.”
Al Arabiya: Houthi Militiamen Storm Mixed-Gender Hotel Café In Yemen’s Sanaa
“Houthi militiamen raided a coffee shop in the Burj al-Salam Hotel in the Old City of Sanaa and arrested two of its employees because the cafe allows for men and women customers; a mixed-gender environment. This is not the first time Houthis have attacked cafés in Sanaa with previous raids on coffee shops named ‘Bon and Qishr’ and ‘Moon Café,’ attacking mixed-gender customers. Ali al-Qabatti, one of the customers present when the Houthis raided a coffee shop in the past, told Al Arabiya.net that when the Houthis stormed the café, he objected to their behavior so they arrested him because he was wearing a necklace and jeans. Qabatti added that they told him he was ‘spreading infidelity,’ and later released him after signing a pledge not to go to coffee shops again. Cafes in Yemen have become gathering places for artists and social workers but the Houthis accuse those who go to cafes of delaying the ‘divine victory’ they seek to accomplish.”
Middle East
Business Insider: Suspected Israeli Airstrike Reportedly Kills Dozens Of Iranian Troops In Syria
“The Syrian army said on Sunday that rockets had struck several military bases in the Hama and Aleppo countryside in what it said was new “aggression” by its enemies, state television said. In a news flash, state television said the missile attacks took place at 10:30 p.m. (2030 GMT) “Syria is being exposed to a new aggression with some military bases in rural Hama and Aleppo hit with enemy rockets,” an army source was quoted as saying without elaborating. Israel has previously hit Iranian-backed militia outposts in Syria, mainly targeting arms convoys of the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah. Israel regards the group, which is fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad, as the biggest threat on its borders. “We don’t comment on foreign reports and we have no information at this time,” Israel’s military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said. A war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Sunday’s attack had targeted a warehouse for rockets and killed 26 people, mostly Iranians and Iraqis.”
Voice of America: Islamic State Offshoot Stakes Lake Chad Territory
“From the shores of Lake Chad, Islamic State’s West African ally is on a mission: winning over the local people. Digging wells, giving out seeds and fertilizer and providing safe pasture for herders are among the inducements offered by Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA), which split from Nigeria’s Boko Haram in 2016. “If you are a herder, driver or trader, they won’t touch you — just follow their rules and regulations governing the territory,” said a herder, who moves cattle in and out of ISWA territory and whose identity Reuters is withholding for his safety. “They don’t touch civilians, just security personnel.” The campaign, which has created an economy for ISWA to tax, is part of the armed insurgent group’s push to control territory in northeastern Nigeria and in Niger.”
Daily Mail: Jihadists Kill 30 Tuaregs In Mali As The Al-Qaeda Linked Militants Step Up Attacks On Civilians After Recent Defeats
“Suspected jihadists killed more than 30 Tuaregs on Mali’s northeastern border with Niger, in the second such attack in two days. The former Tuareg rebel group MSA and tribal leaders said the massacre occurred Friday, a day after another attack by gunmen on motorbikes had left 12 people dead outside the town of Anderamboukane, which is also in the same area. ‘There have been 43 deaths in two days, all civilians, from the same community,’ tribal leader Sidigui Ag Hamadi told AFP from the regional capital Menaka. ‘Our fighters are destroying their bases and wiping them out. They are targeting innocent civilians,’ he added seeing the bloodletting as reprisals for attacks on jihadists by armed Tuarag groups. The MSA also put the death toll from the two attacks in the vilages of Aklaz and Awakassa at 43, saying all the victims were from the Idaksahak pastoralist berber group. The group urged the governments of Mali and Niger to take steps to ensure that ‘an immediate end is put to these abominable crimes’ and added that it would ‘not give in to any intimidation.’”
Premium Times: Boko Haram Now Collecting Taxes From Nigerians In Borno, Yobe — Report
“Insurgent groups in Borno, Yobe and other settlements around Lake Chad are currently running quasi-administrative policies that include imposition of taxes on civilians in the territories they control, a new report by Reuters has found. The news agency reported on Sunday that Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA), a faction of Boko Haram, currently controls swathes of land that stretch over 160 kilometres (100 miles) into Borno and Yobe States, two states at the centre of the insurgency in the North-east. The report quoted Nigerian livestock farmers around the territories controlled by insurgents as saying that they are being taxed N2,500 per cow and N1,500 for smaller animals. The terrorists also run slaughterhouses for the cattle, taking a cut for each animal, as well as from other activities like gathering firewood, Reuters gathered.”
Reuters: At Least Four Killed In Boko Haram Attack On Nigerian City
“At least four people were killed in an attack by Boko Haram militants in northeastern Nigeria late on Thursday, the national emergency agency said, the second such clash in Maiduguri city in a month. Five suicide bombers were also killed in the attack, which Nigeria’s military said had been repelled by troops. Blasts and gunfire were heard by residents in the city which is the capital of Borno, the state worst hit by an insurgency which has killed more than 34,000 people since 2009. President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in 2015 vowing to end Boko Haram’s push to create an Islamic caliphate in the northeast, has made it a priority to improve security in Africa’s most populous country.”
Benar News: Jailed Indonesian Cleric Denies He Inspired 2016 Jakarta Terror Attack
“A jailed cleric who has been widely described as Indonesia’s most influential Islamic State-linked ideologue denied allegations on Friday that he masterminded the deadly 2016 terror attack in Jakarta or instructed followers to kill “heathens.” Aman Abdurrahman, 46, issued his first public rebuttal of the latest charges against him during testimony at the South Jakarta District Court, where he is facing the death penalty over allegations that he organized a series of terror strikes while behind bars. Aman attended Islamic boarding schools and studied at the Saudi-backed Islamic and Arabic College of Indonesia in Jakarta, also known as LIPIA, where he received a bachelor’s degree and graduated cum laude, according to the nonprofit Counter Extremism Project (CEP).”
Reuters: Russia Says Thwarts Planned Islamic State Attacks In Moscow
“Russia’s domestic security service said on Friday it had thwarted an Islamic State plan to carry out a series of high-profile attacks in the Moscow area, where soccer World Cup matches are due to take place this summer. The FSB security service said it had cut short the activity of what it called a four-man Islamic State sleeper cell which was taking instructions from someone in Syria via the Telegram messenger service. It did not provide details of when the attacks were meant to take place or what the precise targets were. Russia, whose military is helping the Syrian government fight rebel forces, is hosting the FIFA soccer World Cup from June 14-July 15 and is increasing security measures. The sleeper cell originally came from Siberia, the FSB said in a statement, and 20 people were detained in a related special operation in the town of Novy Urengoy around 2,300 km (1,400 miles) northeast of Moscow.”
North Korea
The New York Times: Kim Says He’d End North Korea Nuclear Pursuit For U.S. Truce
“Keeping diplomatic developments coming at a head-snapping pace, the South Korean government said on Sunday that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, had told President Moon Jae-in that he would abandon his nuclear weapons if the United States agreed to formally end the Korean War and promise not to invade his country. In a confidence-building gesture ahead of a proposed summit meeting with President Trump, a suddenly loquacious and conciliatory Mr. Kim also said he would invite experts and journalists from South Korea and the United States to watch the shutdown next month of his country’s only known underground nuclear test site. In Washington, Trump officials spoke cautiously about the chances of reaching a deal and laid out a plan for the dismantling of the North’s nuclear program, perhaps over a two-year period. That would be accompanied by a “full, complete, total disclosure of everything related to their nuclear program with a full international verification,” said John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s new national security adviser.”
United Kingdom
Financial Times: Isis ‘Sim Card’ Man Sentenced To 8 Years For UK Terror Offences
“Police in the UK have urged social media companies to collaborate with them in terrorism investigations after a man was convicted of terrorism offences after he enabled hundreds of Isis fighters and followers to spread propaganda and information using the encrypted app Telegram. Rabar Mala activated at least 360 mobile phone SIM cards so jihadis overseas could share content intended to promote their cause and recruit others. Mr Mala was jailed for 8 years by Manchester Crown Court on Friday, and will remain on licence for 15 more years. Police believe the Iraqi Kurd is the first person in the UK to be convicted for possession of property (communication devices and articles) for the purposes of terrorism. He pleaded guilty on both counts. Police say the 32-year-old acted as a senior communications operative for Isis from his one bed flat in Warrington, near Manchester. While working as a contract car cleaner in the town he managed communications for the jihadis at lunch breaks and after work by setting up accounts using UK-registered SIM cards under false names that could then be used by fighters and others in war-torn countries such as Syria and Iraq.”
CNBC: France’s Macron And Iran’s Rouhani Agree To Work On Saving The 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal
“French President Emmanuel Macron and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by telephone on Sunday and agreed to work together in coming weeks to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, the Elysee Palace said in a statement. In a conversation lasting more than an hour, the French president also proposed that the discussions be broadened to cover “three additional, indispensable subjects”, Macron’s office said, citing Tehran’s ballistic missile programs, its nuclear activities beyond 2025, and “the main regional crises” in the Middle East. The United States has been trying to drum up support for new sanctions against Iran, and has repeatedly threatened to tear up the 2015 agreement. Macron, followed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, came to Washington last week in hopes of persuading President Donald Trump not to reimpose sanctions on Iran before a May 12 deadline and imperil the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.”
Deutsche Welle: Two Islamic State Wives Return To Germany With Their Children
“The women and their three children were allowed to return from northern Iraq and will not be arrested. German federal prosecutors say their request for a warrant was denied by the Federal Supreme Court. Two German Islamic State (IS) wives returned to Germany Thursday, on board a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt. They are said to have been in a northern Iraqi jail in Kurdish Erbil before returning. German federal prosecutors claim the women are radical Islamists, but their request for an arrest warrant was denied by Germany’s Federal Supreme Court (BGH).”
Terrorism Financing
Seventh Day: Drug Trafficking And Hostage Taking Are Principal Sources Of Terror Financing
“Karima Admane, Member of the People’s National Assembly of Algeria, stated that the whole world is now suffering from terrorism, which has become a rapidly growing deviant phenomenon. Addressing the fifth summit of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean (PA-UfM), which was held in Cairo under the title “Combating Terrorism in the Euro-Mediterranean Region,” the Algerian MP stressed that drug trafficking and abduction for ransom are now the major funding sources of terrorism. MP Admane added that Algeria has gained invaluable experience in the realm of countering terrorism as it has had long-term suffering, more than many other countries, from this phenomenon. The first principle in combating terrorism is refusing to negotiate with terrorist groups, and then drying up their funding sources, the Member of the Algerian People’s National Assembly noted.”
Countering Terrorism
Sout Al-Omma: Tunisia Demands The Strengthening Of The Role Of Women In Combating Terrorism
“During the fifth summit of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean (PA-UfM), held in Cairo under the title “Combating Terrorism in the Euro-Mediterranean Region,” Tunisian Parliament Member Leila Chettaoui urged participants to strengthen the role of women in combating terrorism and extremism. Women are the first front line in the battle for protecting the state from terrorism, MP Chettaoui asserted. The measure of any country’s advancement should be the extent of women’s participation in decision-making, the Tunisian MP underscored. She stated further that the security solutions for countering terrorism will not achieve their ultimate goals unless women play a role in this domain. The Tunisian MP explained that females can take part in the battle against terrorism by distancing their children from extremist ideologies and working in peace-oriented civic organizations. MP Chettaoui added that women are still not contributing enough to combating extremism despite being a major part of this war.”
Addiyar: Continuation Of Money Transfers To ISIS
“While ISIS is gasping its last breath in Syria, following the heavy defeats it has incurred, the group’s fugitive remnants are seeking everywhere how to survive, either by searching for territories in which to regroup or funding sources. Informed sources were quoted as saying: “French Intelligence has discovered that ISIS leaders are communicating {with individuals} in several countries {asking} to provide them with the necessary funds to regroup and recruit new militants away from the security prosecution. French Intelligence, after tracking accounts suspected of involvement in terrorism, has identified 320 fundraisers. Investigations reveal that money-laundering is carried out through associations and non-governmental organizations that conceal them under the banner of “donations” while redirecting them to terrorism.”
Muslim Brotherhood
Dostor: Egypt: Draft Legislation To Dismiss Muslim Brotherhood-Affiliated Employees From The State Sector
“MP Mohamed Abu Hamed, Deputy Head of the Egyptian Parliament’s Social Solidarity Committee, stated that he will submit, on Wednesday, his draft law to the parliament for approval. This draft legislation is aimed at firing employees associated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood from the state administrative sector. MP Abu Hamed confirmed that he had finished preparing the draft law and had obtained the necessary number of signatures from the members of parliament to hold a vote on his proposal. The Deputy Head of the Parliament’s Social Solidarity Committee noted that his draft law would cleanse the state administrative sector from any employee who harms the national economy, joins a terrorist movement or perpetrates negligence that might impede the economy or the manufacturing process.”
Alkhabar Now: Houthi Group Buys Land And Villas In Sanaa
“Houthi leaders and officials have invested a great deal of money in the purchase of land and real estate properties in various districts and neighborhoods in the capital Sana’a. These money laundering transactions are being carried out at a time when the majority of Yemenis are suffering from {abject} poverty, hunger and disease as a result of the war. The Houthis have revived the real estate market in Sana’a over the past three years, focusing on buying land, villas and buildings in neighborhoods and areas inside the capital. Local residents said that group’s leaders over the past months have purchased land, villas and housing in the southern areas of the capital, especially in al-Shabab neighborhood and Bait Baus and other districts around 50th Street, while others have begun building their homes on the purchased land.”

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