Eye on Extremism, December 3, 2019

ABC News: Fighting Among Rebels In Northern Syria Kills Dozens

“Two days of fighting in rebel-held parts of northern Syria killed dozens of people as al-Qaida-linked militants press their offensive against Turkey-backed rebels, a war monitor and activists said Wednesday.The new wave of fighting comes after President Donald Trump’s abrupt announcement in mid-December that he was withdrawing 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria and Turkish threats to carry out a military operation against Kurdish fighters. With their offensive, the al-Qaida-linked fighters are trying to cut off Turkey-backed fighters in the northern enclave of Afrin from those in the northwestern province of Idlib, amid concerns that Turkey might make a deal with Russia at the expense of the extremists, said Rami Abdurrahman who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. “They are trying to say we are present and no one should ignore us,” he said of the al-Qaida-linked fighters. The al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee and the Turkey-backed Nour el-Din el-Zinki group blamed each other for triggering the fighting, the worst in nearly three months. The Observatory said two days of fighting in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib have killed 31 people, including five civilians.”

Reuters: Trump Gives No Timetable For Syria Exit; Wants To Protect Kurds

“U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the United States would get out of Syria slowly “over a period of time” and would protect the U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in the country as Washington draws down troops. Trump did not provide a timetable for the planned military exit from Syria, which he announced last month against the advice of top national security aides and without consulting lawmakers or U.S. allies participating in anti-Islamic State operations.  The decision prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign. Trump said on Wednesday he had essentially fired Mattis, whose letter of resignation was seen as a sharp rebuke to the Republican president.  During a Cabinet meeting at the White House in front of reporters, Trump said he had never set a reported four-month timetable for the withdrawal of 2,000 American troops stationed in Syria amid a battle against Islamic State militants.  “We’re getting out and we’re getting out smart,” Trump said. “I never said I’m getting out tomorrow.”

Fox News: The Terrorist Next Door: States Consider Sex-Offender-Style Registries For Released Terror Inmates

“Since 9/11, the federal government prosecuted about 400 jihadists. At least 61 individuals with terrorism-related convictions will be released from prison between 2018 and 2024, according to a December report, “When Terrorists Come Home: The Need for Rehabilitating and Reintegrating America’s Convicted Jihadists,” sponsored by the Counter Extremism Project, an international policy organization formed to combat extremist ideologies. The report cited U.S. Sentencing Commission numbers showing the recidivism rate for federal prisoners is 44.7 percent after five years, while the rate for state prisoners is 76.6 percent. In 2010, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence estimated about 20 percent of former Guantanamo Bay detainees returned to the battlefield. “Thus, the recidivism rate among violent extremist offenders within the U.S. is unlikely to be zero,” the Counter Extremism Project report said.”

The Independent: Facebook Tracks Android Users Even If They Don’t Have A Facebook Account, Study Reveals

“Facebook’s data collecting practices have once again been called into question, after a new report revealed that it “routinely tracked” people who do not use the app. Privacy International analysed 34 apps on the Android mobile operating system with user bases of between 10 and 500 million. The charity began the study after the scandal surrounding the now defunct London based political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which was accused of improperly obtaining personal information on behalf of political clients and using it to influence the outcome of the US 2016 presidential election or the UK Brexit referendum. Privacy International researchers found that 23 apps sent data to Facebook the moment a user opened them. Their report, which was presented at Chaos Computer Congress in Leipzig, Germany, stated:  “Facebook routinely tracks users, non-users and logged-out users outside its platform through Facebook Business Tools.”

Tech Crunch: Hackers Are Spreading Islamic State Propaganda By Hijacking Dormant Twitter Accounts

“Hackers are using a decade-old flaw to target and hijack dormant Twitter accounts to spread terrorist propaganda, TechCrunch has learned. Many of the affected Twitter accounts appeared to be hijacked in recent days or weeks — some longer — after years of inactivity. A sudden shift in tone or the language used in tweets often gives away the hijack — usually a single tweet in Arabic, sometimes praising Allah or retweeting propaganda from another account. Twitter has suspended most of the accounts we reviewed, but some remain active. The recent resurgence in hijacked accounts appears to be hackers exploiting Twitter’s legacy lack of email confirmation. Twitter took steps to prevent the automated creation of new accounts in June by requiring new accounts to be confirmed using an email address or phone number, but many older accounts remain unconfirmed. But while dormant Twitter accounts are never deleted, the email addresses that were used to create them either never existed in the first place, or expired long ago.”


Reuters: Kurdish Fighters Pull Out Of Flashpoint Town: Syria’s Defense Ministry

“A convoy of Syrian Kurdish fighters has pulled out of the flashpoint area of Manbij in northern Syria, close to territory controlled by Turkey, Syria’s defense ministry said on Wednesday. Some 30 km (20 miles) from the Turkish border, the town occupies a critical spot on the map of the Syrian conflict, near the junction of three separate blocks of territory that form spheres of Russian, Turkish and – for now – U.S. influence. “According to information, approximately 400 Kurdish fighters have left Manbij so far,” the Syrian defense ministry said. Their departure was in line with an agreement “for the return of normal life to the area of northern Syria,” it said. The ministry showed online a video of dozens of vehicles traveling along an unmade road carrying armed fighters, some waving the flags of the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia and its female counterpart the YPJ.”

Al Monitor: US-Led Coalition Scrambles To Realign Islamic State Mission Following Syria Exit

“The US-backed coalition to defeat the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS) is scrambling to rejigger its mission following President Donald Trump’s decision to pull American troops out of Syria. In a message to coalition member nations sent on Dec. 19, just as Trump announced the phased withdrawal of 2,000 US service members from Syria over the next 30 days, the coalition said it “must continue its preparations for the next phase of its campaign” despite the American decision. “We remain fully committed to assisting the government of Iraq to continue to fight the remaining elements of ISIS in Iraq and those that threaten Iraq from Syria,” the coalition said in a message obtained by Al-Monitor. “The coalition should increase its focus on disrupting ISIS’s global network through increased information sharing and complementary efforts on counter-finance, counter-messaging and security-law enforcement.” The 73-nation alliance, which had been represented on the US side by presidential envoy Brett McGurk before he resigned over the Syria pullout on Dec. 20, plans to meet at a Feb. 6 ministerial to discuss the next steps in uprooting IS.”

The Defense Post: “This Is Our Reward?”: After 4 Years Fighting ISIS, Syrian Kurds Face Uncertain Future As US Pivots To Turkey

“Officials from the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria are willing to engage in talks with all parties to prevent an imminent Turkish military incursion into northern Syria as their main partner in the fight against Islamic State, the United States, has yet to offer any diplomatic proposals to resolve the crisis, officials told The Defense Post in a series of interviews. Members of the Syrian Democratic Council, the political wing of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, are currently engaged in talks with the Syrian regime and with Moscow in the hope of brokering an agreement to deter the attack. The multi-ethnic SDC created the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria with new administrative arrangements in 2016 in territory captured from ISIS by the SDF. Turkey refuses to recognize the territory on its border and Damascus has so far refused to amend the Syrian constitution to formally recognize its semi-autonomy. SDC co-chair Riad Darar and SDC Executive Council co-chair Ilham Ahmed returned from talks in Paris last week. Ahmed told The Defense Post that French officials were receptive to their request for a no-fly zone over northern Syria, but said they needed to consult with the European Union and gain Washington’s permission first.”


The Washington Free Beacon: Iran Hosts Palestinian Terror Group, Sparking Fears Of New Attacks

“Iranian leaders recently hosted a delegation of leading Palestinian terrorists, affirming the Islamic Republic’s commitment to funding anti-Israel terror groups and sparking consternation on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and fears that Iran is plotting a renewed wave of terror attacks. On the heels of the Trump administration announcing its intent to pull U.S. forces out of Syria and Afghanistan—a move celebrated by regional jihadist groups—senior Iranian officials hosted a delegation of leaders from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, a State Department-sanctioned terror group that has used Iranian dollars to fund deadly attacks. Multiple U.S officials tracking the situation—which comes amid waves of uncertainty in the American foreign policy establishment, as Trump pushes forward with a regional withdrawal that would leave Russia and Iran as top powerbrokers—expressed fears that Iran is plotting with its Palestinian terror proxies to launch new waves of attack on the Jewish state. Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants have been amassing arms on Israel’s northern border, where Iran maintains a significant presence in Lebanon and Syria, and Palestinian militants backed by Tehran have been launching near-daily attacks on Israel’s border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.”

Bloomberg: Iran Extends Social Media Crackdown With Move To Bar Instagram

“Authorities in Iran are preparing to block access to Instagram, extending their crackdown on social media to the only major platform still freely available. The National Cyberspace Council approved steps toward blocking the service, Javad Javidnia, deputy for cyberspace affairs at the public prosecutor’s office, was cited as saying by the semi-official Donya-e Eqtesad newspaper. Instagram would join Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Telegram in being banned in the Islamic Republic, ostensibly for reasons of national security. Despite the restrictions, Iranians including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif continue to use the services, which are widely accessible via proxy servers. Rouhani’s verified Twitter account has over 800,000 followers. Javidnia said efforts to filter Instagram hadn’t worked. While judicial and political officials involved were yet to reach a consensus on barring the site, the prosecutor can take a unilateral decision to do so, he said.”

The Hill: The ‘Satanic’ Women Of Iranian Soccer

“Iran’s prosecutor-general says he is “ashamed.” In June, for the first time since 1981, Tehran allowed women to enter Azadi Stadium for a soccer match — or, more precisely, for a live broadcast of a soccer match in Russia, host of the 2018 World Cup. As they watched Team Melli, their national team, compete against Spain, numerous women removed their hijabs, or headscarves, and sang and danced — a deliberate act of defiance against the Islamic Republic’s religious norms. It’s “disgraceful,” complained Mohammad Jafar Montazeri. “Unfortunately,” the senior law enforcement official declared, “some individuals have penetrated the key institutions of the country and are about to betray the revolution and the blood of our martyrs.” Their “satanic” agenda, he added, will not succeed.”

Arutz Sheva: Iran: We’ll Continue To Support ‘Resistance’ Against Israel

“Ziad al-Nakhala, leader of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization who is visiting Iran, on Wednesday expressed his appreciation for Tehran’s support for the Palestinians and their struggle, while sharply criticizing the Arab regimes working to normalize relations with Israel. In a meeting with Ali Larijani, the Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Nakhala said that during the past year the “Palestinian people” had initiated the processions of return that left a great impression on international public opinion. Nakhala said that in recent months two large campaigns have taken place, in which the “resistance” has recorded victories against the Zionist entity, adding that today the Palestinian resistance organizations have the means and abilities to deal with Israeli attacks. The resistance in the Middle East will ultimately win, he continued.”

Algemeiner: Islamic Jihad Leader In Tehran: ‘We Will Attack Israel From The North And South’

“During a visit to Tehran on December 29, Ziyad Nakhalah, leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), met with the top echelons of Iran’s leadership, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran’s head of the Supreme Security Council, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, told Nakhalah that “Iran has always been supportive to the resistant and oppressed Palestinian people since the very start of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s establishment, which was inspired by our religious and humane beliefs, and will continue until the complete victory of the resistance process.” Nakhalah gave an interview to the Iranian TV channel Al-Alam in which he revealed the “Axis of Resistance” plan, led by Iran, to attack Israel from the north and the south. PIJ serves as Iran’s proxy in Gaza. Nakhalah’s statements were issued several days after his public meeting in Beirut with the leader of Hezbollah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. “In the next confrontation with the occupation,” declared Nakhalah, “the axis of resistance will operate from the north [Lebanon] to the south [Gaza]. There will be open channels of collaboration, without any limitation or red lines. Each Israeli attack will be answered with a reaction from the entire axis of resistance.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Iranian Members Of Taliban Killed In Northern Afghanistan

“Afghan forces have killed two Iranian members of the Taliban in the northern Faryab province, a military commander has said. The militants were identified as Mullah Ahmad and Mullah Jundullah. They were among 27 Taliban fighters killed in an air strike, Afghan security sources said. “The Iranians have been involved in security incidents in Afghanistan, such as arming and financing the subversive groups, but this is the first time we see Iranians fighting within terrorist groups in Afghanistan,” a local official said. Reports have said that Afghan forces have seized Iranian-made arms from Taliban fighters in the central Ghazni province. The Taliban discussed Afghanistan’s “post-occupation situation” with Iran in their latest meeting, the group said Tuesday.”


Iraqi News: Iraqi Troops Destroy Four Islamic State Tunnels In Nineveh

“Iraqi security forces destroyed on Wednesday four Islamic State tunnels in Nineveh province, the Security Media Center said. “The security forces in the Nineveh Operations Command found during a military operation in Nineveh province four tunnels that were used by Islamic State militants,” spokesman for the Security Media Center Yahya Rasool was quoted as saying by Alghad Press news website. “The troops also found 10 mortar shells and nine explosive charges,” the spokesman said, adding that the tunnels were completely destroyed. Former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi announced in August 2017 that Nineveh province was fully liberated from Islamic State after the district of Tal Afar was recaptured. The announcement came after the defeat of the jihadist group in the town of Ayadiya, where the militants had fled to from Tal Afar. Islamic State militants seized control of much of Nineveh, including the provincial capital of Mosul, in June 2014. The Iraqi government launched an operation to retake Tal Afar on 20 August involving some 50,000 personnel from the army, air force, federal police, special forces and the Shia Muslim-led paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Forces.”


The National: Hundreds Of Turkey-Backed Rebels Leave Manbij Frontlines To Fight Al Qaeda In Aleppo

“Hundreds of Turkey-backed rebel fighters have been moved from frontlines near the flashpoint Kurdish-held city of Manbij towards the countryside of Aleppo, where battles with Al Qaeda-linked fighters have killed more than 30 people since Tuesday. The Syrian National Army, an Ankara-backed rebel alliance, which is planning an assault on Kurdish groups in Manbij, sent reinforcements to the western countryside of Aleppo on Tuesday to assist rebels there in the fight against the Hayat Tahrir Al Sham alliance, SNA spokesman Youssef Hammoud told The National. The SNA started gathering north of the city of Manbij earlier this month before what it said was a planned assault that aims to clear the area of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is viewed by Turkey as a terrorist group.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Turkey Arrests 12 ISIS Suspects

“Turkish police arrested 12 suspected ISIS militants, reported state news agency Anadolu on Wednesday. It said that suspects, including two women who are wanted in France, were detained during police raids in the northwestern province of Bursa earlier this week. The group includes French citizens of Syrian or Algerian descent who settled in Bursa after allegedly carrying out unspecified “acts” on behalf of ISIS in Syria, the news agency said according to The Associated Press. Anadolu reported that five of the suspects will be deported. Its report did not name the women sought by France. Turkish police detained dozens of suspected ISIS followers in the final days of December. ISIS claimed responsibility for a gunman’s January 1, 2017 attack at an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people, most of them foreigners.”

Daily Sabah: Turkey, Russia To Build A Coalition To Combat Terror East Of Euphrates

“Turkey and Russia have decided to cooperate in the area to the east of the Euphrates River over the positions of troops in the region and their coordination after the U.S. decision to withdraw from the area. The two countries are also reported to be considering following a path in the northern province of Manbij similar to the one established previously in the northwestern province of Idlib. The plan to cooperate was reported following a top meeting in Moscow between the two countries. Last week, a delegation from Turkey led by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu went to Russia to hold talks about Syria with their Russian counterparts. “We reviewed the steps we took in the Sochi process and what steps we will take from now on regarding Syria,” Çavuşoğlu said after the 1.5-hour meeting with the Russian foreign and defense ministers, adding that Turkey and Russia share the common goal of clearing all terror organizations from Syria. Çavuşoğlu said that Turkey will continue close cooperation with Russia and Iran on Syria and regional issues. On Sept. 17, Turkey and Russia signed the Sochi deal, which established a cease-fire in Idlib, the last opposition stronghold in Syria, on the condition that heavy arms and extremist groups would withdraw from the region.”


The Washington Post: Here’s Why Russia Keeps Hosting Afghanistan Peace Talks That Will Almost Certainly Fail

“In November, Russia hosted peace talks about Afghanistan. The conference brought together diplomatic representatives from the Afghan government and the Taliban, which had refused to attend the two previous rounds of these talks in 2017. And yet this conference, too, ended in failure. The Taliban condemned the Afghan president as illegitimate; the Afghan government accused Russia of boosting the Taliban’s legitimacy on the world stage. Nevertheless the Russian Foreign Ministry described the talks as a historic step, potentially leading toward peace. Why would the Russian government get involved in — and continue with — diplomacy that’s likely to fail? My research suggests that the answer lies in the Kremlin’s interest in its reputation among its own citizens. The Russian government uses crisis diplomacy to rally Russian public support and influence public opinion along three main lines, as I’ll explain below. In February 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a scathing anti-Western address at the Munich Security Conference, marking a new foreign policy stance. Since then, Russian officials have regularly argued that U.S. foreign policy is hypocritical — an emphasis that has strongly influenced Russian public opinion.”

Voice Of America: Taliban Tunnel Bomb Hits Afghan Army Base

“Taliban insurgents have detonated a powerful bomb near a major military base in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province, killing at least five soldiers and wounding six others. The attack happened Tuesday night in the volatile Maiwand district, where Taliban rebels dug a two-kilometer tunnel into the Afghan National Army base and planted the explosives. A security official requesting anonymity confirmed the details to VOA on Wednesday. A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, claimed its “tactical explosion flattened” the army base and killed at least 40 security forces, though insurgent claims are often inflated. Separately, a local soldier turned his gun Wednesday morning on fellow Afghan and Italian forces at a military base in western Herat province, injuring an Afghan security personnel, the regional corps commander told VOA. Foreign forces escaped unhurt and Afghan security forces swiftly shot dead the assailant, said Gen. Noorulalh Qadari while giving details of the insider attack. No one took credit for the shooting in Herat, which borders Iran, but the Taliban routinely claims assailants are insurgents who have infiltrated Afghan forces’ to carry out such attacks.”


Gulf News: ‘Al Houthis Exacerbating Yemen Humanitarian Crisis’

“Yemen’s Minister of Information, Muammar Al Iryani, has commended the World Food Programme (WFP)’s reaction to Al Houthi militia’s manipulation of food aid. In statement to the Yemeni News Agency, Al Iryani said, “The WFP’s account indicates that the Al Houthi militia is deliberately exacerbating humanitarian crisis, causing people in its controlled regions to suffer starvation in order to capitalise on their torment to gain politically and militarily.” The Yemeni minister added, “Al Houthi militia has intentionally aimed to deprive millions of Yemenis their salaries, livelihood income sources and humanitarian aid to further increase their suffering so that they have no other choice but to go fighting alongside the coup militia.” Al Iranyni said that the coup militia has created pro-Al Houthi local organisations, some of which are sectarian-oriented, to receive humanitarian aid, re-direct and distribute them to the coup militia’s and their supporters.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Two Houthi Landmines Kill 5 Children In Hodeida, Lahij

“Two landmines laid by the Houthi militias at public roads killed five Yemeni children in Hodeidah and Lahij on Tuesday and Wednesday, local and medical sources reported. The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that three sisters under the age of ten died in one of the blasts. Their father works for the Houthi group in return for food aid and a maximum salary of YER30,000 (around SAR500), the sources added. The incident occurred only one day after two children were killed in al-Durayhimi district, south of the port city of Hodeidah, after a bomb, planted by the pro-Iran group to obstruct the advance of government forces, went off. Medical sources revealed that the two boys were brothers under the age of 10 and were on their way to get water for their family. Days earlier, another landmine killed four farmers and wounded four others in Mocha, despite relentless efforts by the Yemeni Army and the Arab Coalition to clear thousands of landmines during the past year in western coastal areas.”


Xinhua: 4 IS Members Arrested In Lebanon

“Lebanon’s state security arrested Wednesday a network of four Syrians belonging to the Islamic State (IS) extremist group, local media reported. The network, which was operating between Mount Lebanon Governorate and North Governorate, was in direct contact with leaders from the terrorist group, according to local news agency Lebanon 24. The four Syrians were sent to judicial bodies for investigations and further legal procedures. This is not the first time that Lebanon’s security arrests suspects working with IS. A Syrian national suspected of working with IS to carry out terrorist attacks was arrested in Sept. 2018, in Lebanon.”

The Jerusalem Post: IDFRaises ‘Gates Of Fire’ Battalion To Protect North From Hezbollah

“Amid the tensions of the IDF’s Operation Northern Shield, the Israeli military announced on Tuesday the formation a new reserves battalion to act as the first line of defense against Hezbollah. Called “Gates of Fire,” or Sha’are Ha’esh, the battalion will protect the Israeli communities along the northern border with Lebanon under the regional IDF division responsible for the Western Galilee region, the “Baram” brigade. According to the military, the battalion, which was given the number 9300, is made up of reservists who were recently released from the Golani Brigade’s elite reconnaissance battalion. Col. Roi Levi, commander of the Baram Brigade, was quoted by the military as telling soldiers during the formation ceremony for the unit that the battalion serves two purposes: to defend communities and then attack Hezbollah inside Lebanon. “The establishment of the battalion constitutes an important milestone in the defense of the northern border of the state of Israel, and another significant step for us to ensure that “good will overcome evil,’” Levi said on the IDF’s website. “In recent years, Hezbollah has intensified its battles in Syria, has acquired more sophisticated weapons, and has openly said that it plans to invade our territory,” he said.”

The National: Twenty-Two US Citizens File Lawsuit Against Hezbollah For Inflicting ‘Trauma’ In 2006 War

“Twenty-two US citizens filed a lawsuit against the Lebanese Hezbollah this week in New York, alleging they were traumatized from the 2006 war while living in Northern Israel. Hezbollah launched a number of rocket attacks towards northern Israel during the armed conflict that lasted from July 12 until August 14, 2006. The conflict resulted in at least 1,109 Lebanese deaths, the vast majority of whom were civilians. Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on Israel, resulted in the deaths of 43 Israeli civilians and 12 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers, according to Human Rights Watch. The lawsuit, first reported by the New York Post, was filed in Brooklyn’s Federal Court on Monday. The 36-page lawsuit is filed by Malka Kumer, her sister Chana Liba and twenty others against Hezbollah. The sisters, who were 5 and 6 and living with their family in the city of Safed during the strikes in the summer of 2006, “have experienced psychological and emotional trauma as a result” the New York Post reported.  The plaintiffs reported signs of trauma including panic attacks and nervous breakdowns. The plaintiffs filed another lawsuit against the Iranian Bank Saderat in the same Federal Court on Monday accusing it of funding Hezbollah’s attacks.”


Reuters: Niger Troops Kill More Than 280 Boko Haram Fighters: Government

“Troops and air strikes have killed more than 280 Boko Haram militants since the Niger government started an operation against the group last week, the defense ministry said.  Boko Haram has attacked Niger, Chad and Cameroon from its base in northeast Nigeria, where it has been fighting for more than nine years to carve out an Islamist caliphate.  Niger’s defense ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that the army mounted a sweep operation against the group last Friday along the southeastern Komadugu river, which separates Niger from Nigeria.”

France 24: Boko Haram Raids Military Posts In Northeast Nigeria

“Boko Haram jihadists have raided at least three military posts and overpowered troops in the latest attacks in northeast Nigeria, sources said Wednesday. Fighters from the IS-affiliated Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) overran the posts in Borno state on Tuesday, military and militia sources said. The Boko Haram faction has in recent months intensified attacks on military targets in Borno and Yobe states, raiding bases and killing dozens of troops. “They first dislodged soldiers at a checkpoint in Kimba in Biu… and then took over another post at Sabon Gari, five kilometres (three miles) away,” said one military officer of the latest attacks. The jihadists launched another attack on a base in nearby Wajirko, according to a militiaman in the area. On Monday, the jihadists had overwhelmed troops in Buni Gari village in neighbouring Yobe state, leading to “some losses”, an army officer said. “Troops were outgunned and forced to retreat after heavy fighting with the terrorists,” the military source said. ISWAP gunmen apparently attacked the village in reprisals over the killing of fellow jihadists in the village last month. Residents alerted soldiers in a nearby military base as they arrived in trucks.”


News 24: 13 Dead In Burkina Faso After Suspected Jihadist Attack

“Thirteen people died when suspected jihadists attacked a village in central-northern Burkina Faso, triggering a deadly bout of ethnic violence, local sources and a security official said on Wednesday. Gunmen on motorbikes attacked the village of Yirgou in Barsalogo district on Tuesday morning, “killing six people, including the village chief” and his son, the security official said. A Barsalogo resident, reached by phone by AFP from the capital Ouagadougou, said local villagers, who were from the Mossi ethnic group, then attacked a nearby camp of herders from the nomadic Fulani group, “accusing them of being accomplices of the terrorists.” “Seven Fulani herders were lynched and their homes were burned down,” the security official said. The mayor of Barsalogo district, Abdoulaye Pafadnam, said the 13 dead were buried at nightfall on Tuesday, but added it was possible the toll was even higher. “A precarious calm has returned to the village, thanks to the presence of defence and security reinforcements,” he said. “However, there are reports going around of armed groups coming from the Malian border, and these have caused a mobilisation of the koglweogo,” Pafadnam said, referring to a self-defence group.”

U.S. News & World Report: Two Militants Blow Themselves Up In Clashes With Tunisian Security Forces: Statement

“Two militants blew themselves up on Thursday following an exchange of fire with Tunisian security forces in the city of Jilma, 250 km (156 miles) south of the capital Tunis, the interior ministry said. The militants killed themselves after being encircled by security forces who stormed their hideout in the city, the ministry said in a statement. After an uprising against autocratic leader Zine Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, Tunisia has been battlling militant groups operating in remote areas near the border with Algeria. Authorities estimate about 3,000 Tunisians have joined Islamic State and other jihadist groups in Iraq, Syria and neighboring Libya, while high unemployment has stoked unrest in recent years in southern and central areas The North African country saw three major attacks in 2015, including two against tourists, one at a museum in Tunis and the second on a beach in Sousse. The third targeted presidential guards in the capital, killing 12. All three attacks were claimed by Islamic State.”

United Kingdom

Financial Times: Manchester Terror Suspect Acted Alone, Say Police

“Police said on Wednesday they were confident that a man arrested after stabbing three people in a suspected terror attack at a Manchester station acted alone. He has been detained under the Mental Health Act after assessment by doctors. The 25-year-old was arrested on New Year’s Eve after a couple in their 50s were injured in what police called a “frenzied attack” at Victoria station in the city centre. The injured man is expected to leave hospital on Thursday while the woman will remain there for some time with serious but not life-threatening injuries. A British Transport Police officer stabbed in his shoulder when confronting the man is now recovering at home. The unnamed man, who was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, can be held for up to six months in a secure medical facility under Section 3 of the Mental Health Act. Police will attempt to discover whether anyone encouraged the suspect to launch the attack, possibly online. “The investigation has moved at a very fast pace and detectives are increasingly confident that the man acted alone in the final stages of the attack.”


Fox News: German Car Attack: New Year’s Day Suspect Faces Attempted Murder Charges In Bottrop

“A German man who repeatedly drove into crowds and injured eight people in apparent intentional attacks against foreigners has been ordered kept in detention pending possible charges, police said Wednesday. The attacks began shortly after midnight on Jan.1, first in Bottrop in western Germany and later in the nearby city of Essen. The 50-year-old suspect, who comes from Essen, is believed to have no previous police record. The victims included a 46-year-old Syrian woman who suffered life-threatening injuries. Police said a judge on Tuesday night ordered the suspect held in detention while the investigation on suspicion of attempted murder continues. They say the suspect made anti-foreigner comments during his arrest and there were indications he had been treated for mental illness in the past. The attacks came after four teenagers from Afghanistan, Syria and Iran were arrested on suspicion of bodily harm following assaults on passers-by near the railway station in the southeastern town of Amberg on Saturday. The four were apparently intoxicated and 12 people were hurt, in most cases slightly. There was no indication of any link between the events, other than that both underlined tensions in Germany over migration.”


The Straits Times: Australia Says It Has Right To Strip ISIS Recruiter’s Citizenship

“Australia’s government is confident it has grounds to strip an alleged ISIS recruiter of citizenship, a minister said yesterday, as questions arose over whether doing so could be illegal and leave the man stateless. The case highlights the problems many governments face as they consider what action to take against people who have travelled abroad, often to the Middle East, to join militant groups. Under Australian law, a person can only be stripped of his citizenship if he is a dual citizen, thereby preventing people from being made stateless. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said Melbourne-born Neil Prakash, who is imprisoned in Turkey, was a dual citizen as he also has Fijian citizenship. Prakash ceased to be an Australian “by virtue of his actions in fighting for Islamic State from May 2016”, and he had been notified of the decision in December, Mr Dutton said. “The advice to the government based on all the intricate detail and fact of this particular matter is that Mr Prakash is, by operation of law, a citizen of Fiji,” he told reporters in Brisbane. Prakash has been in Turkey on trial for charges relating to being a member of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militant group since being caught there in October 2016. Australia believes Prakash is a dual national because his father is Fijian.”

The Sydney Morning Herald: Disordered, Unplanned: Everyday Terrorism Is Spreading Like A Virus

“The Japanese driver was a 21-year-old, who said he “would not make any excuses” for his self-declared act of terror because it was “in retaliation for an execution”. Perhaps he’s referring to a particular execution, or perhaps this was his protest against capital punishment; at this stage we don’t know. Meanwhile, in Germany, police arrested a 50-year-old who officials said “had the clear intention to kill foreigners”, and had been making anti-foreigner comments during his arrest. He managed to hit some Syrian and Afghan citizens. We’re told he may have been treated for mental illness in the past. There’s no common profile here. No similar age, no common ideological orientation. Even the mental illness component hasn’t yet been raised in the Japanese case. All that’s left is the method. Ramming pedestrians has now become its own thing, a phenomenon in its own right rather than the exclusive tool of anyone or anything. In short, it has become contagious. Given the seminal examples of Nice and Berlin in 2016, we tend to regard this kind of attack as a signature of Islamic State. And it’s true that until 2017, this was overwhelmingly an Islamist style of attack, stretching from Barcelona to Stockholm, and incorporating a suite of attacks in France.”

Daily Mail: How An ‘ISIS Extremist’ Was Able To Live In Australia For A Year Because Of A Disastrous ASIO Bungle – And Now He Could Be Let Loose From Detention

“An alleged ISIS extremist could be released on to Australian streets after a simple procedural bungle by Australian security services. The Iraqi refugee, codenamed BSX15, arrived on Christmas Island six years ago on October 31, 2012, and was let loose on a bridging visa for almost a year. No one noticed because the name he used on his immigration paperwork was just two letters different – an extra ‘i’ and ‘n’ – to that of a man ASIO identified as an ISIS member. Finally, he was hauled in for questioning in October 2013 and three months later thrown in to immigration detention where he has remained ever since. However, he is successfully fighting deportation through the Federal Court, winning the right to appeal in 2017 – and had his costs paid for by the taxpayer. He argued his adverse security assessment, which prevents his protection visa from being granted, should be quashed on a technicality. BSX15 prevailed because in 11 hours of interviews over three sessions until January 2012, ASIO agents never actually asked him if he was who they thought he was. The alleged extremist claimed at his arrival by boat that he was Shia Muslim of Kurdish descent from Mandali on the Iraq-Iran border.”

Southeast Asia

The Straits Times: Veterans Group Rejects Petition To Turn Malaysia Into An ‘Islamic State’

“The National Patriots Association (Patriot) has rejected a Muslim group’s petition to declare Malaysia an Islamic state, saying that the Federal Constitution must remain as the founding fathers intended. Brigadier-General (Retired) Mohamed Arshad Raji, the president of the association that comprises military and police veterans, said any suggestion to amend the Constitution should be for making it more democratic and not more autocratic. “Patriot is with G25 in stating that we will not support amendments that will change us from a democracy to an authoritarian regime or to a theocracy,” he said in a statement on Thursday (Jan 3). G25 is a group made up of prominent Malays known for pushing a more moderate view of Islam. Datuk Mohamed Arshad said Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma), which had launched its petition to reject a secular government, should define what it meant by “Islamic state”. “If it means that the system of government is to be run by a council of ulama that supersedes the current democratic parliamentary system, then it will be a futile cause as mainstream Malaysians will not support it.” “Examples are aplenty of Muslim countries with a theocratic system (that are) not well governed and not progressive, even to the extent of being failed states,” he added.”


Reuters: San Bernardino Shooting Lawsuits Vs Facebook, Google, Twitter Dismissed

“A federal judge has dismissed lawsuits seeking to hold Facebook, Google and Twitter liable to victims of the December 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California for letting Islamic State flourish on their social media platforms. In a decision late Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in San Francisco said the attack, which killed 14 people and injured 22 others, was not the direct result of the companies’ alleged providing of resources to Islamic State. “A contrary conclusion poses boundless litigation risk and is not tenable given how interconnected communication services are with modern economic and social life,” the judge wrote. Beeler also found no liability for aiding and abetting terrorism under the 2016 Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, finding allegations only that the companies were “generally aware” that Islamic State used their services. The plaintiffs included victims and relatives of victims of the Dec. 2, 2015 attack at a government building by Syed Farook, 28, a U.S.-born son of Pakistani immigrants, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, 29, a native of Pakistan.  Authorities have said the couple was inspired by Islamist militants.”

Wired: The Year The Alt-Right Went Underground

“I was at what should have been a farmers’ market in Berkeley, California, last year when a throng of black-clad antifascists tried to scrap it out with far-right ralliers in the middle of a park named after Martin Luther King Jr. I watched scrawny college students get pummeled by hulking, be-swastika-ed ex-soldiers and ex-law enforcement officers in motorcycle gear. The antifascists’ one reprisal was setting off a homemade smoke bomb, which promptly blew back into their own faces, drawing raucous jeering from the white supremacists. It was as close to a war zone as I ever hope to be, and it was unequivocally a win for the racists. They had proved they could march into a historic bastion of nonviolent liberalism and troll its occupants into a frothy-mouthed rage, fulfilling their own prophecies of an extremist “alt-left” while also making national news. I went home that night more worried about America, and especially protest in America, than I had ever been before. It was easy to imagine the Bay Area becoming an extremist battleground—each weekend an opportunity for the next rally turned riot.”

Financing of Terrorism

Baghdad Post: Iran Floods Iraq With Drugs To Fund Its Terrorist Acts

“The flow of Iranian drugs into Iraq has become a critical phenomenon that is becoming increasingly dangerous. This is especially true as the pace of drug smuggling from Iran to Iraq has intensified in an unprecedented manner. Experts say that what is happening is, in fact, a new and major war being waged by Iran {against Iraq}, which is being deliberately targeted by its gangs. They stressed that Iran-affiliated militias are dumping narcotics on Iraq {specifically} targeting Iraqi youth, with the aim of earning hundreds of millions of dollars to fund terrorist acts. As for the method of introducing these materials into Iraq, a source working at the Shalamjah border crossing between Iran and Iraq, who asked not to be identified, said that drugs from Iran enter Iraq concealed in food or medical supplies. The entire operation is protected by well-organized armed groups.”


Gulf 365: Iraq: Launch Of A Military Operation To Hunt Down ISIS Cells 

“An Iraqi military operation was launched to track ISIS cells in an area northeast of Diyala province, which is east of Baghdad. Iraqi security sources said that a joint security force launched a large-scale military operation Wednesday morning in the area of the Almukhisa orchards and al-Kubba within the so-called Waqf, near the outskirts of al-Abarah and Abu Saida, northeast of Diyala province. It added that “the operation came to ensure security and stability and to trace the remnants of ISIS cells, especially following repeated sniper attacks targeting security forces there recently.”

Muslim Brotherhood

The Seventh Day: Expert: The European Union Will Treat The Muslim Brotherhood As A Terrorist Group After The Brexit

“Dr. Said Al-Lawandi, an international relations expert at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said that there are some setbacks awaiting the Muslim Brotherhood abroad in 2019. The international community is preparing to act in 2019, based on a worldwide consensus against terrorism, which is considered a global scourge. Thus, many organizations, especially those affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS, will be terror listed, stressed al-Lawandi. In his remarks, he asserted that Europe would deal with the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group in 2019, especially after Britain withdraws from the European Union. The Egyptian expert explained that Britain had prevented {the other} European countries from taking decisions against the Muslim Brotherhood.”


Erem News: Large Sums Of Money Go From Iraq’s Budget To Fund Hezbollah And The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps

“On Wednesday, the prominent Iraqi politician Mithal al-Alusi disclosed that funding for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Hezbollah in Lebanon, and other militant groups in Iraq and Syria comes out of the Iraqi state budget. Al-Alusi said in a statement, “The United States and the European Union have information that these entities are being financed out of the budget of Iraq,” stressing that “Iraq is now Iran’s hostage, especially when there is a large parliamentary bloc in the Iraqi Council of Representatives, whose deputies follow the orders of Qasem Soleimani” On his part, the prominent Sunni leader, Atheel al-Nujaifi, also claimed that hundreds of billions of dollars from the Iraqi budget have gone to finance Iran’s wars in the region.”


Gulf 365: Houthi Commandeered 697 Relief Trucks

“The High Relief Committee said that the Houthis seized and prevented the entry of more than 88 relief, commercial and oil vessels to the ports of Hodeidah and Salif in the province of Hodeidah, Yemen, during the period extending from May 2015 to December 2018. These include 34 vessels held for more than six months, by which time most of its cargo had expired. The militants also targeted seven relief, commercial and oil vessels by direct shelling, including four Saudi ships, two UAE ships and one Turkish ship in the Red Sea. The Committee explained in a statement published by the Yemeni News Agency yesterday that the Houthis, during the same period, commandeered 697 relief trucks on the roads linking the provinces of Hodeidah, Sanaa, Ibb, Taiz, Hajja and Dhamar, as well as at the entrances of the Yemeni provinces under their control.” Certai

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