From CEP's Eye on Extremism <[email protected]>
Subject Somalia Hotel Attack Claimed By Al-Shabab Kills 33
Date July 15, 2019 1:02 PM
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July 15, 2019

Voice Of America: Somalia Hotel Attack Kills 33 <[link removed]>

“Authorities in Somalia say the death toll from Friday’s attack on a hotel in the southern Somali port city of Kismayo has climbed to 33. Ahmed Mohamed Islan, also known as Madobe, the president of the Jubbaland regional administration, said another 56 people were wounded. “Our valiant security forces have ended the hotel attack after long hours of battle with the evils, and eventually protected many innocent people who were holed up in their hotel rooms,” Madobe said in a statement." Madobe said “those killed in the attack included two journalists, a presidential candidate for upcoming regional elections, and a U.N. agency staff member.  He said "Kenyans, Americans, a Briton, Tanzanians and a Canadian were among the dead”. Security officials in Kismayo told VOA Somali that at least four militants who carried out the attack were also killed by security forces.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Service Member Killed In Action In Afghanistan <[link removed]>

“The U.S. military says an American service member has been killed in action in Afghanistan, but offered no further details about the service member’s identity or circumstances surrounding the death. In a telephone interview, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said the militant group was behind Saturday’s killing, but offered no further details. U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been holding talks with the Taliban in recent weeks to try to negotiate an end to the war in Afghanistan. The current conflict began in 2001 with the U.S.-led invasion to unseat the Taliban and hunt down al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. After nearly 18 years, it is America’s longest war, in which over 2,400 American service members have died. Separately, Afghanistan’s Islamic State affiliate claimed Friday’s suicide attack that killed six people.”

The Wall Street Journal: Syrian Government Intensifies Strikes On Opposition Stronghold <[link removed]>

“By his front door in northwest Syria, Ahmad Haraki keeps a suitcase packed with bare essentials in case Syrian government and Russian airstrikes force him to make a quick escape. “We don’t own much, since we’ve been moving from the beginning,” the 32-year-old father of two said by phone from Idlib province, the country’s last remaining opposition stronghold. “The airstrikes are taking a toll, not only on our daily lives, but also mentally.” While much of the world’s focus on the Middle East centers on rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran, the Syrian government and its Russian allies have intensified airstrikes on Idlib and the surrounding areas in a monthslong campaign to recapture the territory, upending lives and leaving residents wondering where else they can go, eight years into a brutal war. On Friday, airstrikes hit several cities in Idlib, killing 10 people, according to the White Helmets, a rescue group operating in opposition-held parts of Syria. Bakeries and residential neighborhoods were targeted as they have been in other recent attacks, which have also frequently hit hospitals. Mr. Haraki said he and his wife have put off making any long-term decisions, including to have more children, as they constantly fear having to run for their lives.”

Bloomberg: Iran Won’t Be Alone If It Fights U.S., Lebanon's Hezbollah Says <[link removed]>

“Iran won’t stand alone in fighting the U.S. if war breaks out between the two nations, the Islamic Republic’s Lebanese ally Hezbollah said. Groups backed by Iran are currently in talks about the possibility of such a conflict, Hassan Nasrallah, chief of the militant organization, said in an interview broadcast Friday on its Al Manar TV. “Are we going to sit back and watch? Iran won’t be alone in the war, that is clear,” he said. Tensions have soared in the Persian Gulf region since the Trump administration stopped issuing sanctions waivers for buyers of Iranian oil and reimposed crippling economic measures against Tehran. The U.S. has blamed Iran for sabotaging oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, an oil chokepoint at the mouth of the Gulf, and for downing an American drone. Tehran denied responsibility for the ship attacks and said the drone violated Iran’s airspace.”

The New York Post: ISIS Propaganda Could Be Making A Comeback <[link removed]>

“The Islamic State has been all but obliterated from the battlefields of the Middle East. But it could be making a propaganda comeback. A spate of recent videos published to ISIS’ social media channels show fighters pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to Voice of America. The videos aim to prove “that ISIS has not been defeated and that its militants in several parts of the world remain loyal to their leaders,” a US counterterrorism official told VOA. So far, eight videos appeared as a series titled “The Best Outcome is for the Pious.” They feature ISIS fighters from West Africa, Sinai, and the Philippines, among others.”

The New York Times: Facebook Dodged A Bullet From The F.T.C. It Faces Many More <[link removed]>

“After Facebook was hit on Friday with a fine of around $5 billion for privacy violations, critics immediately said it escaped largely unscathed: The settlement neither bruised its bottom line nor severely restricted its ability to collect people’s data. Yet even if the Silicon Valley company dodged that bullet, its pain was just beginning. Regulators and lawmakers in Washington, Europe and in countries including Canada have already begun multiple investigations and proposing new restrictions against Facebook that will probably embroil it in policy debates and legal wrangling for years to come. And in some of these places, the authorities are increasingly coordinating to form a more united front against the company. In the United States, the potential for a federal antitrust investigation looms, several state attorneys general have initiated investigations of the company, and members of Congress are considering a federal privacy law and other restrictions. Not to mention that President Trump has turned up the heat on Facebook and other tech behemoths, including on Friday when he said that the platforms were “dishonest” and “crooked” and that “something is going to be done.”

United States

Reuters: Neo-Nazi Faces Sentencing In Murder Of Protester In Charlottesville, Virginia <[link removed]>

“The self-professed neo-Nazi who drove his car into a crowd protesting against white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one of the demonstrators, was due in court on Monday for sentencing on his first-degree murder conviction. James Fields, 22, was expected to receive the maximum penalty of life in prison, as recommended by a Virginia state court jury that found him guilty last December of murder plus eight counts of malicious wounding and a hit-and-run offense. Fields, a resident of Maumee, Ohio, has already received a separate life sentence without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty in March to federal hate-crime charges stemming from the violence in Charlottesville on April 12, 2017. The deadly car-ramming capped a day of tension and physical clashes between hundreds of white nationalists and neo-Nazis who had gathered in Charlottesville for a “Unite the Right” rally, and groups of demonstrators opposed to them.”


The Washington Post: Syria Says Militant Attack Shuts Down Gas Pipeline <[link removed]>

“Militants targeted a gas pipeline in government-controlled central Syria, putting it out of order Sunday, according to state media. The SANA news agency didn’t name the attackers. The area in the central Homs province is close to where remnants of the Islamic State group are still holed up after losing all the territory they once held in the country. Separately and hours later, insurgents in the country’s northwest fired missiles at the government-controlled city of Aleppo, killing seven civilians and injuring 25 others, the state-run al-Ikhbariya TV said. The reporter, speaking from Aleppo, said the missiles set fire to a number of residential buildings and vehicles parked in two neighborhoods in the city. One taxi driver died in his car when a missile hit it, the reporter said, adding that an earlier missile had hit an 18-story municipal building crowded with people. The missiles were lobbed from a rebel-controlled area northwest of the city, he said. SANA said technical teams were working to fix the gas pipeline in Homs province, which links the Shaer fields to the Ebla processing plant. It did not elaborate on the extent of the damage or the nature of the attack. The agency said the pipeline carries about 2.5 million cubic meters of gas to the processing plant and onward to power stations.”

News 24: Clashes Kill More Than 100 Fighters In Northwest Syria <[link removed]>

“More than 100 fighters were killed in clashes between regime and jihadist-led forces in northwest Syria, a war monitor said on Thursday, as violence raged on the edge of an opposition bastion despite a September truce deal. Eight civilians also died in the latest violence, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Six of them, including a child, were killed in regime air strikes on the town of Jisr al-Shughur. A car bombing killed 13 people in nearby Afrin, the city that Turkey-backed rebels seized last year from Kurdish fighters. Syria's civil war has killed a total of more than 370 000 people and spiralled into a complex conflict since starting in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests. Syrians in Turkey's largest city fear tensions are on the rise as the economy stumbles and rising unemployment fuels anger against their presence, as many Turks see them as cheap labour taking over jobs and using services. Russian and regime aircraft have since late April ramped up deadly bombardment of the Idlib region of some three million people in northwest Syria, despite a deal to avert a massive government assault.”

Iraqi News: 6 Killed, 9 Injured In Terrorist Rocket Attack On Syria’s Aleppo <[link removed]>

“Six Syrian civilians were killed and nine others were injured on Sunday in a terrorist rocket attack on Aleppo city. According to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), terrorist groups located in Aleppo’s western countryside fired rocket shells at New Aleppo and Minian neighborhoods in Aleppo city, claiming the lives of six civilians and injuring 8 others. The injured were rushed to al-Razi Hospital and the University Hospital for treatment. Earlier in the day, terrorists positioned in the western parts of Aleppo province fired a rocket shell at the city, which fell in the surroundings of al-Qasr al-Baladi, injuring a little girl and causing material damage.”

Voice Of America: Islamic State Terror Group Ramping Up Video Messaging <[link removed]>

“Islamic State media operatives appear to have regrouped, at least in part, intent on showing the world that the terror organization is living up to its motto of “remaining and expanding” despite its lack of a physical caliphate. For almost a month, the group’s core media channels have been pumping out a series of videos showing fighters pledging allegiance, or renewing their pledges, to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  Intelligence officials and analysts say, so far, the group, also known as ISIS or by its Arabic acronym, Daesh, has produced and disseminated eight of these videos under the title, “The Best Outcome is for the Pious.” The video series “aims at proving that ISIS has not been defeated and that its militants in several parts of the world remain loyal to their leaders,” a U.S. counterterrorism official told VOA. IS media operatives issued the most recent of the videos this past Wednesday, the first-ever video from the terror group’s Turkish province. “If you think that by weakening the Islamic State and its soldiers, that they will divert from their path or leave their jihad, you have great delusions,” said a fighter, identified as Abu Qatada al-Turki, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group. Turki further threatened Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, calling him an “arrogant tyrant.”

Al Jazeera: At Least 22 Civilians Killed In Government Air Attacks In Syria <[link removed]>

“Air attacks by Syrian and Russian military aircraft have killed at least eight people in the northern region of Idlib in the last two days, while 11 people were killed in different areas of Idlib province on Saturday, according to the White Helmets rescue group. Three people, including a woman and a child, were killed in air raids in the town of Kafarya in eastern Idlib, the organisation said. Eleven people were injured, including a White Helmets rescuer, the organisation said in a tweet. Earlier in the day, air attacks in the Khan Sheikhoun town killed at least six people, including four children and two women, when their house was targeted, the White Helmets reported.”

Nine.Com.Au: Islamic State Oil Minister 'Killed' In Syrian Hideout: Report <[link removed]>

“A high-ranking Islamic State leader who allegedly masterminded the extremist group's half-billion-dollar oil smuggling enterprise has been killed in a firefight, according to reports. Thabit Sobhi Fahd Al-Ahmad, a self-styled minister of oil in the now dismantled so-called caliphate, was gunned down in his hideout by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), according to a statement. The SDF statement said the attack in Deir Al-Zor province, east of Syria, was carried out in cooperation with the US-led Coalition forces. Ahmad was considered to have a close relationship with the elusive leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who remains at large - despite several reports in the past claiming he had been killed. The smuggling of black market oil had been a lucrative cornerstone of the IS economy, which helped the group take over vast swathes of Iraq and Syria.”


Al Jazeera: Hezbollah Warns Iran Able To Bombard Israel If War Starts <[link removed]>

“The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah has warned that Iran “is able to bombard Israel with ferocity and force” if a war breaks out with the United States. Sayed Hassan Nasrallah's remarks were broadcast on the movement's Al-Manar television on Friday, following weeks of increasing tensions between the United States and Iran. “When the Americans understand that this war could wipe out Israel, they will reconsider,” Nasrallah said. “Our collective responsibility in the region is to work towards preventing an American war on Iran.” He said neither Saudi Arabia nor the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had any interest in conflict. On Friday, the US House of Representatives voted to restrict Trump's ability to attack Iran, voicing fear that his hawkish policies are pushing towards a needless war. The US considers Hezbollah - the only faction not to have disarmed after the Lebanese 1975-1990 civil war - a “terrorist” organisation. But it is also a major political player in the small Mediterranean country, taking 13 seats in parliament last year and securing three posts in the current cabinet. Nasrallah also said he had decreased the number of his movement's fighters supporting President Bashar al-Assad's government in neighbouring war-torn Syria.”

The Wall Street Journal: Call Iran’s Bluff With An Offer Of Nuclear Power <[link removed]>

“The Iranian regime recently announced its decision to produce fissile material with a purity of more than 4.5%. Iran’s nuclear program is again on the march. In truth, it never stopped—contrary to glowing media reports and efforts by some Western leaders to spin on what the regime was doing. Under the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iranians could ramp up quickly and easily from the enrichment levels necessary for peaceful nuclear power to levels needed to make a bomb. The 10-year sunset clause allowed Iran to go back to enriching uranium at any level. The agreement also didn’t restrict Iran’s ballistic-missile program, which gives it a way to launch a nuclear bomb. All this, combined with an incredibly weak inspection regime and the deal’s complete silence on Tehran’s sponsorship of terrorism, made the JCPOA, as President Trump rightly put it last year, a “one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made.” We supported his decision to withdraw from it.”

The Wall Street Journal: Europe Rallies To Save Iran Nuclear Deal <[link removed]>

“European foreign ministers said the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran can still be saved, despite U.S. threats to further tighten sanctions on Tehran. Arriving in Brussels to discuss the nuclear deal and Iran’s military actions in the Middle East, U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Monday, “We are looking to find a way to preserve the nuclear deal which we think is the best way of keeping the Middle East, as a whole, nuclear-weapon free,” he said. “Iran is still a good year away from developing a nuclear weapon. We think there is still some closing but small window to keep the deal alive,” Mr. Hunt added. Since the start of July, Iran has breached two limits in the 2015 deal on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium and the level it enriches uranium at. Enriched uranium can be used as fissile material in a nuclear weapon. European officials say the steps taken thus far by Iran don’t significantly reduce the one-year period it would take the country to amass enough nuclear fuel for a bomb.”

Reuters: With Iran Deal Teetering On Brink, Europeans Assess Next Steps <[link removed]>

“European foreign ministers will seek to flesh out how to convince Iran and the United States to reduce tensions and initiate a dialogue when they meet in Brussels on Monday amid fears that the 2015 nuclear deal is close to collapse. U.S.-Iranian tensions have worsened since U.S. President Donald Trump decided last year to abandon the nuclear deal under which Iran agreed to curtail its atomic program in return for relief from economic sanctions crippling its economy. In reaction to the re-imposition of tough U.S. sanctions, which have notably targeted Iran’s main oil revenue stream, Tehran has scaled back on some of its nuclear commitments under the deal, leading the European parties to the pact, France, Britain and Germany, to warn it about not fully complying with the terms.”

The Hill: UK Ties Iranian Tanker's Release To Promise On Syria <[link removed]>

“The United Kingdom on Saturday tied the release of an Iranian oil tanker to a guarantee it would not go to Syria. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told his Iranian counterpart that he would facilitate the release of the Grace One, which the British Royal Marines seized off the coast of Gibraltar last week. The tanker was captured on suspicion of planning to breach European sanctions on oil shipments to Syria. Iran has denied that the tanker was headed to Syria. Hunt said he held a “constructive call” with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif and reassured him “our concern was the destination, not the origin, of the oil." Hunt elaborated in a statement from the Foreign Office, saying: “This was about the enforcement of EU Syria sanctions: action was taken because of where the oil was going — a sanctioned Syrian entity — not because it was from Iran."


Al Jazeera: Iraq: ISIL Atrocities Are Over But Where Are Missing Yazidis? <[link removed]>

“It is going to be five years next month since the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) launched a mass killing campaign in northwest Iraq. It is estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 Yazidis were killed because of their religious beliefs. Many more are missing. Earlier this year, UN teams began exhuming bodies from mass graves to identify the dead and gather evidence of ISIL atrocities for eventual trials. Forensic specialists are having trouble matching the samples with Yazidi survivors because they are scattered both in Iraq and abroad. Some of the survivors are women who were sold into slavery. Many have lost their husbands and children, while others are unable to return home because of the trauma they suffered.”

Iraqi News: Military Intelligence Apprehends IS Militants In Mosul <[link removed]>

“The Iraqi Military Intelligence Directorate announced, on Saturday, apprehending a member of the Islamic State group, while he was trying to enter Mosul coming from Erbil. The Directorate said in a statement that based on accurate intelligence information, Military Intelligence forces managed to apprehend on of the terrorists, who were serving as security members in the Islamic State group, while he was trying to enter Makhmoud District in Mosul, coming from Erbil. It is noteworthy that Iraqi security forces manage, from time to time, to arrest wanted persons on criminal and terrorism charges, in different areas of the country. In 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria seized control of the city of Mosul and an estimated 500,000 refugees fled the area. The Iraqi government managed to recapture the city in the “Battle of Mosul” three years later, during which the city sustained heavy damage.”

Iraqi News: Security Forces Dismantle IS Explosives Factory In Kirkuk <[link removed]>

“An official source informed, on Sunday, that security forces discovered 10 explosive devices, inside a hideout belonging to the Islamic State group, in Domez area, in Kirkuk. In a press statement, the source said that al-Hashd al-Shaabi troops (paramilitary forces) found 10 bombs inside a hideout in Domez area, in Kirkuk Province. He further explained that the hideout belongs to the Islamic State group. The source added, on condition of anonymity, that the Bomb Squad is on its way to the area of incident to dismantle or detonate the bombs. It is noteworthy that the Islamic State group launched a suicide attack on the city of Kirkuk in October 2016, less than a week after the beginning of the Battle of Mosul that was launched by Iraqi security forces and allies."


The Washington Post: U.S. Service Member Killed In Afghanistan, Military Says <[link removed]>

“A U.S. service member was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday, a NATO statement said. A spokesman for the Resolute Support mission said that, in accordance with policy, no additional information will be released until 24 hours after the deceased’s next of kin is notified. In a tweet, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said two American soldiers were killed and three wounded in a bomb attack in Wardak province, west of Kabul. He offered no additional evidence. A seventh round of talks between U.S. and Taliban representatives concluded early last week in Doha, Qatar. The negotiations focused on the possible withdrawal of U.S. troops and efforts to end the 18-year war. The top U.S. negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, described the recent discussions as “the most productive session to date.” American officials have expressed a desire to reach a peace deal by Sept. 1, ahead of Afghan presidential elections scheduled for later that month. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks during the peace talks, including a July 1 assault in Kabul that claimed dozens of lives. The United States has been fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan since 2001. More than 2,400 U.S. military personnel have died in the conflict.”

The New York Times: The Taliban Promise To Protect Women. Here’s Why Women Don’t Believe Them. <[link removed]>

“At just 29, Zainab Fayez made herself into one of Afghanistan’s foremost defenders of women. As the first and only female prosecutor in Kandahar Province, deep in the conservative south of the country, she sent 21 men to jail for beating and abusing their wives or fiancées. I thought I should speak with her. I had gone to Afghanistan to ask women one of the most urgent questions hanging over the peace talks now unfolding between Taliban leaders, the Afghanistan government and American diplomats: After 18 years of gains for Afghanistan’s women, what are these women thinking now that the Americans might leave, and the Taliban might return? But as I prepared to travel to Kandahar to meet Ms. Fayez, I discovered that she had fled the city. She had received a warning she could not ignore: a handwritten note, tacked to the windshield of her family car, folded over a bullet. “From now on, you are our target,” the letter said, “and we will treat you like other Western slaves.” It was signed “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the formal name the Taliban use for themselves. Many Afghan women seized on the freedoms that emerged after the American invasion and collapse of the Taliban government in 2001. They do not want to go back to the terms of Taliban rule — to the floggings and banishment from public life.”

Reuters: Afghan Radio Station Shuts Down After Threats By Suspected Taliban <[link removed]>

“A private radio station in Afghanistan has shut down after numerous threats from a suspected Taliban commander who objected to women working as presenters, officials at the radio station said on Monday.  The incident comes as the Taliban are discussing a peace deal with the United States that could see them re-joining mainstream society, and that has brought new scrutiny of their attitudes to issues like women’s rights and the media.  The private radio station, Samaa, has been broadcasting political, religious, social and entertainment programs in the central province of Ghazni since 2013.  Its 13 employees, including three women presenters, broadcast in Afghanistan’s two main languages - Dari and Pashto.  The radio station’s director, Ramez Azimi, said Taliban commanders in the area had sent written warnings and telephoned in, to tell the radio station to stop employing women.  “The Taliban also came to my house and issued a threat,” Azimi said.  He said the threats had forced him to suspend broadcasts.  Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied that a Taliban commander had issued the threats.  “We are trying to find details,” said Mujahid.  The Taliban say many people falsely identify themselves as Taliban, often in the course of private disputes.”


The Asia Age: Nothing New To Al Qaeda’s Threat Over Kashmir <[link removed]>

“The security forces' officials combating a three-decade-old insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir have said that there is “nothing new” to Al Qaeda’s latest threat over the state. However, they are not going to make light of the potential danger. “There's nothing new to Al Qaeda’s threat. We’re used to hearing such talk. But, as we have only delivered some fatal blows to terror and militancy in J&K and not eradicated it completely, we can't afford to lower our guard,” said a senior officer of local police's Special Operations Group (SOG) which is known for its aggressive counterinsurgency operations. The officer who spoke to this newspaper on the condition of anonymity was echoing external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar who during a routine weekly briefing sought to shrug off the Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri threat over Kashmir saying the security forces deployed in the Himalayan state are capable of dealing with it effectively. He said, “We’re used to such sort of threats. I don’t think we should take them seriously. Our security forces are capable of dealing with such situations effectively.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: Washington Concerned Over Houthi Execution Verdicts <[link removed]>

“The US on Sunday voiced concern over the unfair sentence issued by Yemen’s Houthi militias to execute 30 political prisoners in Sanaa. US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus tweeted that “the US is seriously concerned by the Iranian-backed Houthis’ sentencing of 30 political prisoners to death in Yemen”, including academics and political figures who were arrested on baseless charges and physically tortured during the arrest. “We urge the Iranian-backed Houthis to retract these sentences, treat detainees humanely, and cease arbitrary detentions,” Ortagus said. In Aden, the Supreme Judicial Council said the death sentence issued last week by a Houthi-run court against the 30 detainees is illegal. The court has no mandate to issue or hold such trial as the council transferred its authority in April 2018 from Sanaa to Marib.”

Middle East

Voice Of America: Israel Threatens 'Crushing' Response To Any Hezbollah Strike <[link removed]>

“Israel's prime minister says it will deliver a “crushing” strike against Hezbollah if the Lebanese militant group attempts to attack. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reacting to comments made by Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah. In an interview Friday, Nasrallah boasted that his group is much stronger than during the 2006 war and is capable of striking anywhere in Israel. Pointing to a map, Nasrallah identified a list of targets he said his group could strike, saying “in all fields, the resistance has developed in quantity and quality.” Speaking to his Cabinet Sunday, Netanyahu criticized what he called Nasrallah's “arrogant” words. He says “if Hezbollah dares to do something stupid and attack Israel, we will strike it and Lebanon, a crushing military strike.”

The Telegraph: The Truth About Sex And Isil - From The Ex-Soldier Who Rescued 70 Jihadi Brides From Its 'Giant Brothel' <[link removed]>

“After a long day patrolling the Isis border with a Kalashnikov, what the young jihadi fighter looks forward to is getting back to the ‘women’s guesthouses’ for a shower and a one-night ‘pleasure marriage.’ If he happens to bring a loaf of bread or a bar of chocolate, skinny-ribbed girls will line up to be blessed by an imam before climbing into the bridal bed. The marriage will last a couple of hours and be annulled in the morning so the woman can be passed on to someone else. This is just one of the many stories I heard from the 70 or so women, children and disaffected fighters I helped to rescue from the so-called Islamic State, over three years.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Kuwait Busts Terrorist Cell Linked To Muslim Brotherhood <[link removed]>

“Kuwait announced on Friday the arrest of a terrorist cell linked to the Muslim Brotherhood group. The Ministry of Interior said that the members of the cell, all of whom are Egyptian, have outstanding judicial sentences against them by authorities in Egypt. Some of the sentences reach up to 15 years in prison. The ministry personnel located and arrested the fugitives, who had escaped from Egypt to Kuwait. During interrogations, they confessed to carrying out terrorist operations in Egypt, reported the Kuwait news agency (KUNA). Investigations are underway to find out their accomplices, said the ministry, warning that it would crack down ruthlessly against saboteurs.”

Arab News: How Qatar Is Molding Americans’ Opinion In Favor Of Extremism <[link removed]>

“Qatar is investing billions of dollars in American universities, cash-hungry lobbyists in Washington, DC, journalists, mainstream activist groups and policy think tanks in an apparent drive to soften criticism of its activities that researchers focused on terrorism say fuels violent extremism. The researchers argue that these concerns should have led the discussion that President Donald Trump held with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on July 9 at the White House. Though in the past Trump has criticized Qatar over its support for terrorism, this meeting focused only on economic issues. Journalist and activist Mike Cernovich, who was involved in exposing the sexual harassment allegations that forced Congressman John Conyers to resign and opened the seat to Palestinian activist Rashida Tlaib in Michigan’s 13th District, released a documentary in March titled “Blood Money: How Qatar Bought off the D.C. Media Establishment” to argue the case for greater scrutiny of Qatar’s activities. Cernovich has come under attack from liberal writers, including some secretly funded by Qatar’s foreign allies. But Cernovich’s documentary raises serious concerns about how Doha has spread its influence deep into critical US establishments to shape Americans' perception of Qatar, playing down its dubious associations and extremist agenda.”


Egypt Today: Egypt Urges Enhancement Of Anti-ISIS Efforts <[link removed]>

“Egypt has participated in meetings of a liaison strategy group of the anti-Daesh Global Coalition, stressing the need to exert further efforts to combat terrorism and Daesh extremist ideologies. The 2-day meetings wound up on Sunday in Washington, where the Egyptian delegation was chaired by Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Hafez. Hafez placed emphasis on the necessity to continue to exert further efforts to combat all forms of terrorism after the field victories over Daesh. He reiterated that terrorism can only defeated finally through adopting an international approach for an all-out confrontation of terrorist groups on all levels and face the extremist thoughts of Daesh and all terrorist activities. Hafez cited the initiative launched by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to renew religious discourse, praising the role played by Azhar and Dar al Iftaa to counter terrorism.”


The Telegraph: Boko Haram Leave Trail Of Opioid Addicts In Nigeria Desperate To Numb The Pain Of War And Hopelessness <[link removed]>

“Six years since the day when Boko Haram gunmen stormed his home town of Bama, Abel Habila still has trouble blotting out the memories. Prayer has helped, but far more effective are the red and yellow pills that he buys from the street dealers near his home. “At first they just helped me to forget the trauma of the attack, and how we had to run for our lives,” he said, voice already drowsy from the two doses he has had this morning. “But now I take them for other reasons too - just to blot out the pain of life here in Nigeria, the boredom and hopelessness. My consumption has rocketed.”


The New York Times: At Least 26 Dead In Somalia Hotel Attack Claimed By Shabab <[link removed]>

“The death toll from a car bomb and gun attack on a hotel in Somalia rose to 26 on Saturday, officials said. A former politician and two prominent Somali journalists were among the dead. One of the journalists was identified as Hodan Nalayeh, a well known Canadian-Somali who was lauded as a hero and an inspiration to fellow Somalis. Three Kenyans, three Tanzanians, two Americans and a Briton also died in Friday’s attack, according to Ahmed Mohamed Islam, the president of the Jubbaland region where the attack took place. The attack in the southern port city of Kismayo targeted the Asasey Hotel, which is popular with politicians and Somali expatriates. The Shabab, an Islamic rebel group with links to Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack. The group, which has killed thousands across East Africa, seeks to overthrow Somalia’s Western-backed government and has accused the president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, of being an apostate and an American “puppet.” The attack began Friday evening when at least four Al Shabab militants stormed the Asasey Hotel. Over the next 14 hours, government troops besieged the hotel compound and killed some of the attackers, officials said. It ended Saturday morning after an all-night siege by Somalian troops who shot and killed some of the attackers in the compound, officials said.”

The New York Times: She Moved Back To Tell Her Homeland’s Story, Then Fell Prey To The Unsparing Narrative Of Terrorism <[link removed]>

“She grew up in Canada, but like many children of immigrants, dreamed of reclaiming her heritage. So Hodan Nalayeh, a journalist, founded an online show, Integration TV, to chronicle life in her country of birth, Somalia and in the Somalian diaspora. Then in December, she moved back there, newly married. Ms. Nalayeh’s reporting steered clear of politics, her friends and colleagues said, focusing instead on the lives of women and young people, on the struggles of the poor to make ends meet, and on the natural beauty of the country. “She never spoke about the ills of the country,” said Fadumo Qasim Dayib, a Somali who met Ms. Nalayeh a few years ago. “She tried to stay neutral so that she wouldn’t be seen as a threat.” In the end, that proved no protection. Ms. Nalayeh was killed in a terrorist attack this weekend on a hotel in the southern port city of Kismayo. Responsibility for the attack, which began Friday night, was claimed by the Shabab, an Islamist rebel group with links to Al Qaeda. The Shabab has killed thousands across East Africa in its bid to overthrow Somalia’s Western-backed government. Ms. Nalayeh’s husband, Farid Jama Suleiman, a hotel developer and former minister in the regional government of the surrounding area, was also killed.”

Xinhua: Somali Forces Kill 15 Al-Shabab Militants After Hotel Attack <[link removed]>

“At least 15 al-Shabab militants were killed on Saturday in a military operation in Somalia's southern regions barely a day after the terrorist group claimed more than 20 lives in a deadly attack. Somali National Army (SNA) forces senior commander said Sunday the forces conducted an offensive against al-Shabab in Wanlaweyn town in Lower Shabelle region. “Our forces advanced to take control of areas from al-Shabab extremists. We killed 15 of them and captured Yaq Buraweyne, Madah Marodi and Idow Jalad villages,” SNA commander in charge of the 35th division Mohamed Abdullahi Arale said. He added that the forces will proceed with the operations until they drive the militants out of the entire Lower Shabelle region. Residents said they heard the sound of heavy gun fight between the militants and the army. “A fierce battle broke out in Yaq Buraweyne village between government forces and al-Shabab militants, both sides fought for a while but government troops are now in the town and the militants withdrew from it,” Jamal Ga'al , a local resident told Xinhua by phone. Somali forces have stepped up operations on al-Shabab extremists in central and southern regions to flush the militants out of those regions.”

CNN: She Moved From Canada To Somalia To Tell Positive Stories, But Ended Up Dead In A Terrorist Attack <[link removed]>

“"What a blessing to be back home in Somalia after 30+ years away," Hodan Nalayeh posted on her Instagram on May 1 this year, in what she described as "her first Ramadan back home." But, eight weeks later, she was dead. Nalayeh was a victim of a brutal terrorist attack that ripped through Kismayo, the normally serene and beautiful port city in Jubaland, about 500 kilometers (300 miles) south of the capital Mogadishu. She was among 26 people who died after several gunmen stormed the Asasey Hotel after a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle loaded with explosives outside the hotel. The attackers battled with Jubaland's security forces for 12 hours, authorities said.”


The Irish Times: Terrorism Risk In African Region Similar To Iraq And Syria, Conference Hears <[link removed]>

“United Nations secretary general António Guterres has called for more support for Sahel states fighting terrorism, saying the African region is on the “front line” and needs help. “The trauma from terrorism causes lasting damage to individuals, families and communities,” Mr Guterres said, while speaking at the opening of a counterterrorism conference in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, on Wednesday.  He told reporters that jihadi groups were particularly gaining ground in west Africa. “It started in Mali, it went to Burkina Faso, Niger and now, when we speak with the presidents of Ghana, Benin, Togo, and Ivory Coast, they say that terrorism is coming to their borders.” Mr Guterres also asked the international community to aid the G5 Sahel Joint Force – a military effort involving Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Niger, and Mauritania, which was established in 2014.  Women’s voices must be central in any response, Mr Guterres added. “Common to each of these groups, regardless of their ideology, is the subjugation of women’s and girls’ rights. African Union Commission chairman, Moussa Faki Mahamat, accused the international community of “procrastinating”, saying the situation in the Sahel is a “phenomenon that has the same characteristics” as what happened in Iraq and Syria.”

United Kingdom

Sky News: Islamic State Supporter Farhad Salah Plotted To Use Driverless Car In Terror Attack <[link removed]>

“An Islamic State (IS) supporter who was arrested amid fears of a Christmas terror plot has been found guilty of planning an attack using a remote-controlled explosive and a driverless car. Farhad Salah, 24, was convicted at Sheffield Crown Court after jurors heard that he messaged a contact on social media about using an autonomous vehicle to deliver a potentially deadly device. Writing on Facebook, the Iraqi told them he also wanted to find someone who could help him travel to Syria, with the court told how he was a supporter of IS. He appeared in court with a co-defendant, Chesterfield chip shop owner Andy Star, 32, who was charged with the same offence - marking the second time the pair had been tried on these charges. By the end of the first trial last year, a jury failed to reach verdicts on either of them. This time round, Judge Paul Watson told Mr Star, also from Iraq, that he should not face a second retrial and a not guilty verdict was recorded, although he will remain in detention on immigration matters. But Salah will be sentenced on 24 July, with the five-week trial having heard how he and Mr Star were in the early stages of testing small explosive devices when they were arrested during raids on their homes in December 2017.”

The National: UK Terror Police Investigate If Christian Charity Paid Ransom To ISIS <[link removed]>

“UK police are investigating a Christian charity to determine if it financed terrorism after its chairman was involved in the freeing of 226 hostages held by ISIS in Syria in 2016. The Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organisation (Acero) is chaired by the bishop of Syria, Mar Afram Athneil, but is run by Andy Darmoo, 71, who is the director of a lighting company in southern England. In its financial statements for the year ended July 31, 2016, Acero has an expenditure of £147,689 (Dh682,000) marked as “Iraq Hostages”. An Associated Press report in 2016 described Mr Athneil as being “almost exclusively” behind the year-long brokering of the deal to free the hostages. Three were murdered on camera by ISIS. The exact ransom amount is unknown but is estimated to be in the millions. “In January 2018, the Met received a referral from the Charities Commission over concerns relating to alleged payments to Syria by” Acero, a statement by London’s metropolitan police said. “This matter is being investigated by officers from the National Terrorism Financial Investigation Unit (NTFIU), which is part of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, to determine if terrorist financing offences have been committed,” it said.”


The Wall Street Journal: The New Anti-Semitism <[link removed]>

“When France’s Yellow Vests began to protest weekly last November, it was about President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to raise fuel taxes. Within a few months, it also started to be about the Jews. Signs that labeled Mr. Macron as a “whore of the Jews” and a slave of the Rothschilds, a reference to the president’s past employment with the investment bank, became a fixture of the demonstrations. In February, several Yellow Vest protesters—since disavowed by the movement—assaulted the Jewish philosopher Alain Finkielkraut on the doorstep of his Paris home, yelling, “You will die,” “Zionist turd” and “France is for us.” “When there is a world-wide economic and social malaise, people look for scapegoats—and the Jews have always served as scapegoats,” said Francis Kalifat, the president of CRIF, the council uniting France’s Jewish institutions. “Anti-Semitism creates bridges between the far right and the far left: They have such a hatred in common that they come together.”


The Jerusalem Post: Terrorist Group Hezbollah Linked To 30 Mosques/Centers In Germany <[link removed]>

“The intelligence agency for the city of Hamburg has reported that 30 mosques and cultural centers in Germany have ties to the US-classified terrorist organization Hezbollah. “In Germany there are currently about 30 known cultural and mosque associations in which a clientele regularly meets that is close to Hezbollah or its ideology,” the agency wrote this past week. According to the 282-page document reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, “The collection of donations is one of the most important tasks of the associations” where Hezbollah operatives meet. “The associations are characterized by the effort to strengthen the bonds of the Lebanese living here [in Hamburg] with their homeland and to the organization.” The intelligence document raises the question of how much money German Hezbollah members are sending to Lebanon to aid in advancing terrorism and to wage war against Syrian civilians. The Post has previously reported on Hezbollah-controlled centers in the cities of Bremen and Münster along with other Hezbollah meeting places in the state of Lower Saxony. The Hamburg report shows a larger presence of Hezbollah locations than previously documented by German authorities.”


Associated Press: EU Supports Iraq-Proposed Conference On US-Iran Tensions <[link removed]>

“The European Union supports an Iraqi proposal to hold a regional conference amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran, the group’s foreign policy chief said Saturday. Iraq is an ally of the two rival nations, which are on a collision course as the Iran nuclear deal threatens to unravel. Iraq has offered to mediate between Tehran and Washington, while Iran has pressed European parties to the nuclear agreement to offset the effects of U.S. sanctions. Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, on her first visit since 2014, said the EU shared with Iraq the approach to dealing with the difficult situation, adding that the priority is to avoid escalation and any miscalculations that could lead to “dangerous consequences” for Iraq and beyond.”


The Wall Street Journal: FTC Approves Roughly $5 Billion Facebook Settlement <[link removed]>

“The Federal Trade Commission has endorsed a roughly $5 billion settlement with Facebook Inc. over a long-running probe into the tech giant’s privacy missteps, according to people familiar with the matter. FTC commissioners this past week voted 3-2 in favor of the agreement, with the Republican majority backing the pact while Democratic commissioners objected, the people said. The matter has been moved to the Justice Department’s civil division and it is unclear how long it will take to finalize, one of the people said. Justice Department reviews are part of FTC procedure but typically don’t change the outcome of a decision by the commission. A settlement is expected to tighten government restrictions on how Facebook treats user privacy. The additional terms of the settlement couldn’t immediately be learned. An FTC spokeswoman declined to comment, as did a Facebook spokesman.”

Deadline: Facebook-Driven Area 51 Storming May Be Countered With Force, Says Us Air Force <[link removed]>

“Fun and games on Facebook may have serious consequences for the foolish. That was the message delivered by the US Air Force, who have responded to a Facebook’s group’s efforts to have 450,000 people storm a top secret military base. Conspiracy theorists have always believed that Area 51 in Nevada holds information about extra-terrestrial activities on our planet, possibly including actual alien remains and aircraft. That belief spawned a Facebook group suggesting that a wave of humanity could overwhelm the defenses at the base and discover the truth. More than 400,000 people have joined a Facebook event page calling for storming Area 51, with many more indicating interest. The proposed event is scheduled for Sept. 20. “We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry,” the event description reads. “If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Lets see them aliens.”

Forbes: Facebook Embeds 'Hidden Codes' To Track Who Sees And Shares Your Photos, Report <[link removed]>

“Facebook has become synonymous with privacy violations in the year since Cambridge Analytica came to light. Now in the same week that details of the record $5 billion FTC fine emerged, an Australian cyber researcher has reopened a years-old debate as to whether the social media giant is embedding "hidden codes" in photos uploaded by users onto the site. "Facebook is embedding tracking data inside photos you download," Edin Jusupovic claimed on Twitter, explaining he had "noticed a structural abnormality when looking at a hex dump of an image file from an unknown origin only to discover it contained what I now understand is an IPTC special instruction." The IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) sets technical publishing standards, including those for image metadata.”

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