Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Eye on Extremism - November 8, 2016

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Eye on Extremism

November 8, 2016

Associated Press: Iraqi Kurdish Forces Advance As Mass Grave Found Near Mosul
“Iraqi Kurdish fighters exchanged heavy fire with militants on Monday as they entered a town held by the Islamic State group east of Mosul, while troops advancing south of the city discovered a mass grave containing some 100 decapitated bodies. The offensive to reclaim the town of Bashiqa is part of the broader push to drive IS out of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, relieving those living under its occupation from the type of brutality, such as mass killings, that the group has committed. IS militants have carried out a series of massacres since seizing large swaths of southern and central Iraq in the summer of 2014, often documenting them with photos and videos circulated online. On Monday, Iraqi soldiers advancing into the town of Hamam al-Alil, south of Mosul, discovered a pit containing dozens of decapitated skeletal remains, the military's Joint Military Command said.”
Reuters: Islamic State Brutality Comes To Light After Military Advance
“From behind the curtains of his bedroom window, 29-year-old Riyad Ahmed would peer out at Islamic State fighters dragging civilians into a makeshift jail across the street and then sending them in the middle of the night to be executed. The former English teacher from the town of Hammam al-Alil, south of the jihadists' Mosul stronghold, recalls hearing victims' cries of agony as he hid with dozens of neighbours in the shadow of one of the group's detention centres. ‘The devil himself would be astounded by Daesh's methods of torture. It is beyond the imagination,’ said Ahmed, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State. Iraq's army and federal police, participating in a U.S.-backed offensive launched last month to recapture the largest population centre under the jihadists' control, retook this area over the weekend.”
Reuters: Syrian Militias Make Slight Progress In Attack On Islamic State Stronghold Raqqa
“U.S-backed Syrian armed groups have captured a number of villages in the first days of an offensive to retake the city of Raqqa from Islamic State militants, a war monitor and a Kurdish source said on Monday. The ground forces are being supported by airstrikes mounted by a U.S.-led coalition, the source said. But he predicted the battle to drive IS from their Raqqa, their main stronghold in Syria, would ‘not be easy’. The operation by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and some Arab groups, began on Saturday and aims to encircle and ultimately capture Raqqa. It should add to the pressure on IS as it faces a major assault on its Iraqi bastion of Mosul. The attack, named ‘Euphrates Anger’ so far appears focused on areas north of Raqqa, south of the town of Ain Issa, 50 km (30 miles) away.”
CNN: US, Turkey Agree To Develop Long-Term Plan To Seize, Govern Syria's Raqqa
“American and Turkish military leaders have agreed to develop a long-term plan for ‘seizing, holding and governing’ the de facto ISIS capital of Raqqa in northern Syria, the US Department of Defense's news service reported Sunday. ‘The coalition and Turkey will work together on the long-term plan for seizing, holding and governing Raqqa,’ Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said after meeting his Turkish counterpart Army Gen. Hulusi Akar in the Turkish capital Ankara on Sunday, according to DoD News. Dunford's visit came after the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces -- which include several Kurdish militant groups that Turkey considers terrorists -- announced the launch of their military campaign, ‘Euphrates Rage,’ to seize Raqqa from ISIS. The operation coincides with the coalition campaign in neighboring Iraq to drive the terror group from Mosul, its stronghold in that country.”
Business Insider: The US Lost 6 Elite Green Berets In A 72-Hour-Span Last Week
“The Special Forces community is coping with the deaths of six of its elite operators in just a 72-hour span last week. Separate combat incidents in Afghanistan and Jordan resulted in the deaths of five Green Berets, while another died during scuba training at the Special Forces diving school in Florida. "They are in dark corners of the world and even their training is very dangerous," Jen Paquette, the executive director of the Green Beret Foundation, wrote on Facebook. Staff Sgt. David Whitcher, 30, died Wednesday during a dive training exercise off the coast of Key West, Florida, according to US Army Special Operations Command. He was previously assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.”
NBC News: Ohio Man Arrested At Columbus Airport On Way To Libya To Join ISIS, FBI Says
“An Ohio man was arrested at the Columbus airport Monday as he was boarding a flight on his way to join ISIS, federal prosecutors said. The man, Aaron Travis Daniels, 20, of Columbus — also known as Harun Muhammad and Abu Yusuf — admitted having sent money to an intermediary for ISIS recruiter Abu Issa al-Amriki and having planned to travel to Libya ‘for the purpose of joining’ the terrorist group, the FBI said in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus. ‘He's accused of paying money that was intended to go to a foreign terrorist organization — in this case [ISIS],’ U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman said in a brief news conference outside court Monday. ‘And then further, he was accused of attempting to provide himself as a fighter’ for ISIS.”
The New York Times: Court In Israel Sentences Palestinian Teenager To 12 Years For Stabbings
“The two teenage cousins met after school, discussed the tensions surrounding the Aqsa Mosque and other issues angering the Palestinians. They decided to avenge their grievances with knives. The younger one, Ahmad Manasra, 13, took a decorative six-inch blade from a cupboard in his parents’ bedroom, according to newly released legal documents. Hassan Manasra, 15, armed himself with a large kitchen knife. The pair then set off for a neighboring Jewish area of East Jerusalem. Details of the case emerged on Monday when an Israeli court sentenced Ahmad to 12 years in prison for his role in the October 2015 stabbing attack that critically wounded an Israeli boy, who was 13 at the time, and an Israeli man. Hassan was fatally shot by police as he ran at them with his knife near the scene of the stabbings.”
BBC: Israel's Arab Soldiers Who Fight For The Jewish State
“It is dawn in the Negev desert and Mahmud Kashua is saying his first prayers of the day - a gun by his side. Mahmud is one of a growing number of Israeli Arabs who have volunteered to serve in the army of the Jewish state. ‘I consider myself an Arab and a Muslim but I also consider myself part of this country,’ Mahmud tells me during a break in live fire practice on the range. ‘It's our state and we have to give back, to help as much as we can to the state which protects us.’ Over six months a BBC Arabic documentary team gained extraordinary access to the Gadsar - an all-Arab unit of 500 within the Israeli Defence Force. Ten times as many Israeli Arabs - Muslims and Christians - are joining the IDF compared to three years ago.”
Reuters: U.S. Charges Turkish Gold Trader's Brother In Iran Sanctions Case
“The brother of a Turkish gold trader has been charged in a U.S. indictment accusing both men of conspiring to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions on behalf of Iran's government and Iranian entities, prosecutors said on Monday. Mohammad Zarrab, a dual citizen of Turkey and Iran, was charged in an indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, two months before his brother Reza Zarrab was set to face trial following his arrest earlier this year. The new indictment added new claims that Reza Zarrab, 33, participated in transactions to benefit Iran-based Mahan Air, which the U.S. government has sanctioned for providing services to Iran's Quds Force as well as Hezbollah.”
BBC: Nigeria Sends Female Police To Protect Boko Haram Victims
“Police in the north-eastern Nigerian state of Borno say they have deployed 100 female officers to camps for those who have fled Boko Haram's insurgency. The female officers will ensure the protection of women, said state police commissioner Damian Chukwu. A Human Rights Watch report last week alleged that several women had been sexually abused by security officers. Boko Haram's seven-year battle to create an Islamic state has forced thousands from their homes. The deployment of the officers, drawn from various divisions, is also to ‘dig out true happenings’ in the camps, Mr Chukwu told the Nigerian News Agency. President Muhammadu Buhari said he was ‘worried’ and ‘shocked’ about the HRW report and ordered an investigation into the alleged abuses.”
Daily Mail: Germany's Public Broadcast TV Is Condemned For Allowing Muslim Woman In Full Niqab To Praise Islamists Who Join ISIS In Syria's 'Promised Land'
“Germany's public TV broadcaster has been condemned for allowing a Muslim woman in full niqab to praise Islamists who join ISIS in Syria's 'promised land'.  The ARD show hosted by Anne Will featured a man who had lost his daughter to ISIS, a politician, an expert on Islam and an imam discussing the question of 'why young people are being radicalised'. The fifth guest was Nora Illi, the women's representative of an unofficial group called the Islamic Central Committee of Switzerland, who attended the live show in a niqab. Illi said she had turned to Islam after dabbling with Buddhism because she was 'fascinated by Islam's diversity' and argued that 'in Islam, women have many rights and possibilities', a statement swiftly challenged by other guests on the show.”

United States

Reuters: U.S. Charges Turkish Gold Trader's Brother In Iran Sanctions Case
“The brother of a Turkish gold trader has been charged in a U.S. indictment accusing both men of conspiring to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions on behalf of Iran's government and Iranian entities, prosecutors said on Monday. Mohammad Zarrab, a dual citizen of Turkey and Iran, was charged in an indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, two months before his brother Reza Zarrab was set to face trial following his arrest earlier this year. The new indictment added new claims that Reza Zarrab, 33, participated in transactions to benefit Iran-based Mahan Air, which the U.S. government has sanctioned for providing services to Iran's Quds Force as well as Hezbollah.”
The Hill: US Admits Civilian Deaths In Afghan Airstrike
“The U.S. military is acknowledging that civilians were likely killed in an airstrike in Afghanistan last week after conducting an initial investigation. ‘I deeply regret the loss of innocent lives, regardless of the circumstances,’ Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, said in a weekend statement. ‘The loss of innocent life is a tragedy and our thoughts are with the families. We will work with our Afghan partners to investigate and determine the facts, and we will work with the government of Afghanistan to provide assistance.’ The statement did not include the number of casualties, but reports have indicated at least 30 civilians were killed and another 25 injured.”
Fox News: Kidnapped US Marine Vet Is Freed In Yemen After More Than A Year
“An American citizen detained by Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen for more than a year and a half has been released, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday. In a statement, Kerry welcomed reports of the release of Wallead Yusuf Pitts Luqman, recognizing it as a ‘positive gesture by the Houthis.’ Last month, in a Facebook posting, Luqman's wife Jihan Mohamed appealed for her husband's release, saying he was being ‘held unjustly’ without charges by the Houthis' political security organization in the capital Sanaa. She said her husband had been in Yemen teaching English and was detained in April 2015 while trying to leave the country by bus.”
Reuters: U.S. Ready To Resume Air Strikes In Libya If Needed: Pentagon
“The United States is prepared to carry out more air strikes against Islamic State militants in Sirte if requested by Libya's U.N.-backed government, even though the militant group no longer controls much territory there, the Pentagon said on Monday. Since August the United States has carried out more than 350 air strikes against Islamic State at the request of the Government of National Accord (GNA). However, none have been carried out since Oct. 31, officials said. ‘If additional air strikes are needed, we will be prepared to deliver those air strikes,’ Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said at a news conference. Islamic State took full control of Sirte, a city of some 80,000 inhabitants, in early 2015. Its loss would leave the jihadist group without any territorial control in Libya.”


Reuters: Russia Says Ceasefire In Syria's Aleppo In Place Unless Militants Attack
“The Kremlin said on Monday Russia's air force would stick to the ceasefire in Syria's Aleppo unless militants launch an offensive. ‘The (Russian) president deems a regime when Russian air forces don't carry out strikes on eastern Aleppo as reasonable if militants don't start combat action,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.”


CNN: Man In A Bulletproof BMW Saves 70 People From ISIS Snipers
“When Ako Abdulrahman came under attack from ISIS militants advancing around the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, he realized he needed protection. The Kurdish Peshmerga fighter decided to invest in an armored car, but he had little clue the vehicle would end up saving the lives of dozens of people. After shopping around, he settled on a bulletproof BMW, and paid $10,000 for the early 1990s model at a car auction. ‘My friends were very happy when I bought the armored car,’ he tells CNN. ‘We started driving in it to the front line near Kirkuk, not worried about ISIS drive-by shootings or roadside bombs.’ Abdulrahman, 32, lives with his wife and four children in Taza Khurmatou, some 23 kilometers south of Kirkuk.”
Reuters: Iraq Peshmerga Storm Islamic State Town As Army Battles In Mosul
“Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces stormed an Islamic State-held town northeast of Mosul on Monday, clearing a pocket of militants outside the city while Iraqi troops wage a fierce urban war with the jihadists in its eastern neighborhoods. As the operation against Islamic State's Iraqi stronghold entered its fourth week, fighters across the border launched an offensive in the Syrian half of the jihadist group's self-declared caliphate, targeting its base in the city of Raqqa. An alliance of U.S.-backed Kurdish and Arab groups launched the campaign for Raqqa, where Islamic State has been dug in for nearly three years, with an assault on territory about 50 km (30 miles) to the north which they have dubbed Euphrates Anger.”


Reuters: Driving Kurdish Militia Out Of Syria's Manbij Is Turkey's Priority: Deputy PM
“Turkey told the head of the U.S. military, Joseph Dunford, during his visit this weekend that Ankara's priority in Syria is driving the Kurdish YPG militia from the town of Manbij, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday. Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting, Kurtulmus also said that using non-Arab elements to drive Islamic State out of its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa would not contribute to peace in the region. The U.S.-backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), of which the YPG is a major component, said on Sunday it had launched an operation to push the jihadists out of Raqqa.”
Reuters: Turkey-EU Relations Going Through 'Fragile' Period: Turkish Minister
“Relations between the European Union and membership candidate Turkey are going through a ‘fragile’ period, Turkish EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik said on Monday, accusing those who would call for a freeze in talks with Ankara of racism. Celik was speaking at a news conference after meeting EU ambassadors in Ankara after strong European criticism of Turkey's arrest of pro-Kurdish lawmakers accused of links to Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants.”
Reuters: Trial Begins Of Islamic State Suspects In Turkey's Worst Suicide Bombing
“More than a dozen suspected members of Islamic State appeared under police protection in an Ankara courtroom on Monday accused of involvement in Turkey's deadliest suicide bombing, which killed more than 100 people in the capital just over a year ago. The defendants were brought into the courtroom under the protection of riot police in body armor and helmets, as families and lawyers of the victims chanted ‘murderers’ and demanded the state also accept responsibility. ‘If the security measures used to protect the killers today were taken during the rally, the Ankara train station massacre wouldn't have taken place,’ said Mahmut Tanal, a member of parliament for main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).”
Reuters: Turkey's Treatment Of Dismissed Officials Reminiscent Of Nazis: Luxembourg
“Luxembourg's foreign minister said on Monday that the Turkish government's handling of civil servants dismissed after a failed coup attempt reminded him of methods used by the Nazis, and that sooner or later the EU would have to respond with sanctions. But Berlin appeared to dismiss the idea, saying it was important to keep channels open to a key partner in fighting terrorism. More than 110,000 public servants - from soldiers and judges to teachers, politicians and journalists - have been detained, suspended or sacked since the failed military coup in July, in what President Tayyip Erdogan's critics say has turned into a crackdown on all forms of dissent.”

Middle East

Reuters: Israel Says 'No' To Middle East Peace Conference In Paris
“Israel on Monday formally rejected France's invitation to take part in a Middle East peace conference in Paris later this year, saying it was a distraction from the goal of direct negotiations with the Palestinians. At a meeting in Jerusalem with Israel's acting national security adviser and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's diplomatic adviser, French envoy Pierre Vimont was informed that Israel wanted nothing to do with the effort to revive talks that last broke down in 2014. ‘(They) told the French envoy in a clear and unequivocal manner that Israel's position to promote the peace process and reach an agreement will only come through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,’ Netanyahu's office said in a statement.”


International Business Times: Talks With Boko Haram To Free Chibok Girls 'Still Ongoing' Claims Nigeria
“Talks between the Nigerian government and terror group Boko Haram are ongoing, the country's minister of information has claimed. Alhaji Lai Mohammed denied allegations Nigeria had interrupted dialogue with the terrorists regarding the release of nearly 200 girls held captive by the group. Rumours that talks had been interrupted spread after attacks blamed on Boko Haram killed at least six people in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, earlier in November. ‘It is not true. Talks are still very much on course,’ Mohammed told the Guardian Nigeria newspaper. Boko Haram abducted 219 schoolgirls from Chibok, a village in the restive Borno state, in April 2014. One Chibok girl was rescued by the army in November. Earlier this year, a Boko Haram faction released 21 of the girls following negotiations brokered by Switzerland and the Red Cross.”
The Guardian: Army Chief Urges Online Media To Exercise Restraint In Reporting Boko Haram
“The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has again called on the Nigeria media, especially online publications, to be patriotic in their reportage of the Boko Haram activities. The army chief made the call on Monday in Abuja while speaking to newsmen after declaring open a one-day seminar on ‘Assessing the Threats of Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria’. Buratai noted that the online media had misunderstood Nigerian Army in its handling of the war against terrorism in the North-East. ‘We call on Nigerians, Nigeria press, especially the online media, to take note that they are Nigerians; they should behave like Nigerians and be patriotic.’”
Newsweek: Nigeria’s Chibok Girls: How Many Have Escaped Boko Haram?
“For more than two years, Nigeria’s war with Boko Haram has been synonymous with the militant group’s highest-profile abductees. Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 girls from a school in the town of Chibok, in northeastern Nigeria, on April 14, 2014. The abduction sparked international outrage, with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls shared by millions of people—including America’s First Lady Michelle Obama—in a frantic bid to rescue the girls. While the Nigerian government has managed to secure the release of some girls, the vast majority remain missing and the issue has fallen from the global news agenda.”
BBC: Nigerians Pay Tribute To 'War King' Killed By Boko Haram
“Tributes are being paid to a Nigerian army commander nicknamed ‘war king’ after he was killed by Islamist militants Boko Haram. The militants killed Lt Col Muhammad Abu-Ali on Friday. The 36-year-old was one of five soldiers killed by Boko Haram fighters who attacked a military base in Mallam Fatori, northern Borno State. Boko Haram has been fighting the Nigerian army in its quest for an Islamic state in northern Nigeria. Col Abu-Ali was nicknamed Sarkin Kaki, which is Hausa for war king, and was promoted rapidly through the ranks to Lieutenant Colonel after he was one of those who led the operation to re-take the town of Baga from Boko Haram. Hundreds of people were massacred by Boko Haram in Baga in January 2015 when the army ran away from the town in what was regarded as the worst attack of Boko Haram's insurgency.”


Alarab: Tunisia: National Strategy To Fight Extremism And Terrorism
“Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi has signed the "national strategy to combat extremism and terrorism", which will go into effect immediately upon approval by the People's Congress (Tunisia's parliament). According to the {office of the} Tunisian Presidency, Essebsi's signature on this strategy-paper came following approval by the Tunisian National Security Council during its meeting on Monday (yesterday), presided over by Essebsi. The Presidency explained that this strategy, which has been formulated {gradually} through many stages and involves the civil society, is based on principles of information sharing, protection and prevention, tracking and readiness to respond to terrorist crimes.”

Muslim Brotherhood

The Seventh Day: "Muslim Brotherhood" Group Exploits Credit Cards To Withdraw Dollars From Egyptian Banks
“The Muslim Brotherhood initiated, with the backing of its international organization, a new plot to destabilize the Egyptian pound and affect its exchange rate in both public and private banks. The scheme entails the smuggling of credit cards by brokers, smugglers and "suitcase" dealers, through the various Egyptian sea ports, land crossing points and airports. These cards are then used to withdraw the US currency, regardless of its rate. This comes especially after banks lifted the ceiling for credit card withdrawals abroad. Sources claim that the Brotherhood is trying to exhaust Egyptian banks and deplete the country's foreign currency reserves. This will reflect directly on the value of the pound compared to the basket of foreign currencies, and will push the rate down to its lowest-ever level. The sources explained that the group 'leases' citizens' credit cards in exchange for repaying the amount of withdrawal, plus commissions on monthly withdrawals of up to 2000 pounds (roughly $130) for a single card. The Brotherhood's plot strives to test the banks' ability to satisfy the demand for dollars, in the upcoming months, so as to meet the growing needs of businessmen, importers and industrialists.”
Elwehda: Muslim Brotherhood Urges Followers To Withdraw Money From Egyptian Banks
“Mahmoud Fathy, the leader of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Fadila (Virtue) Party, who is currently a fugitive {residing} in Turkey, called to withdraw money from Egyptian banks and invest it in gold or real estate. This is part of a scheme to damage the Egyptian economy and create chaos. Fathy added, in a letter to members of the Brotherhood, "Egyptians abroad should not send their money to Egypt, so that the money withdrawals will impact the economy.”
Masrawy: Libyan Army: Muslim Brotherhood Loyalists Seize Over 21 Million Pieces Of Weapons
“Colonel Ahmed Al-Masmari, Spokesman for the Libyan Armed Forces, stated that extremist groups operating under the umbrella of the Muslim Brotherhood seized over 21 million pieces of weapons from the Libyan army warehouses in 2011. Al-Masmari added that these weapons were then smuggled to 20 countries by Brotherhood militants in Egypt and Tunisia. Al-Masmari noted that Qatar has been backing terrorist groups in Libya with both money and weapons, stressing: "Heavily loaded aircraft landed in Tripoli following the outbreak of the Libyan revolution against Muammar Gaddafi, under the pretext of supporting the rebels." Al-Masmari emphasized that the Libyan National Army, which is the property of the people, aims to liberate Libya from terrorism and support stability.”


Alyemen Today: Houthi Group Forcing Wholesalers And Foreign Exchange Offices To Pay Huge Sums Of Money
“Local sources in the city of Amran confirm that the Houthi militias are forcing shopkeepers, especially private wholesalers and foreign currency exchange offices, to pay varying sums of money to cover their {the Houthis'} financial expenses. The sources disclosed that those who delay payment are arrested. They then face fabricated charges to extort them and force them to pay large sums of money. The sources claim this has happened to many merchants. In the same context, local sources in Shaharah District revealed that the {Houthi-affiliated} principal of Uthman Bin Affan School, Yahya Saleh Shamlan, introduced a 500-riyal ($2) tax on each student in the school. Students are threatened with expulsion if they do not pay the exact amount.”

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