Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Eye on Extremism February 21, 2017

Eye on Extremism

February 21, 2017

Counter Extremism Project

ABC Radio News: CEP Spokesperson Tara Maller Discusses Leaks Of Classified Information And Other National Security Topics With Connell Mcshane On The Imus In The Morning Program.

NPR: Iraq Opens Offensive On Western Mosul In New Push To Reclaim ISIS Stronghold

“The Iraqi offensive to retake the western half of Mosul has begun, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced Sunday. The long-awaited assault comes just over a month after Iraqi forces largely cleared Islamic State militants from the districts east of the Tigris River in the major Iraqi city. ‘We announce the start of a new phase in the operation, we are coming Nineveh to liberate the western side of Mosul,’ Abadi said in a televised speech. Using a common Arabic acronym for ISIS, Abadi added: ‘Our forces are beginning the liberation of the citizens from the terror of Daesh.’”
CBS News: ISIS Drones Pose Another Danger As Iraqi Troops Push For Western Mosul
“The new weapon in the ISIS arsenal isn’t on the battlefield -- but above it. New propaganda videos from ISIS appear to show armed drones dropping explosives on Iraqi troops with dead-center accuracy. As the militant group loses ground in Iraq it has been using drones with increasing levels of sophistication. Iraqi TV correspondent Abdul Hameen Zebari was wounded by an armed drone while travelling with Iraqi forces in Mosul. ISIS drones have also been used to deadly effect as surveillance, guiding car bombs through Mosul’s narrow streets, straight to Iraqi troop positions. Federal police commander General Ali al Lami said his troops are constantly on the lookout.”
USA Today: Trump Appoints Lt. Gen. H.R. Mcmaster His New National Security Adviser
“President Trump said Monday that Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster — a noted writer and intellectual who headed up a unit dedicated to anticipating future military challenges — will be his new national security adviser, replacing the dismissed Michael Flynn. ‘You're going to do a great job,’ Trump told McMaster as he made the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. After a weekend of job interviews, Trump called McMaster ‘highly respected by everyone in the military, and we’re very honored to have him.’ McMaster is stepping into a job occupied for less than a month by Flynn, who was one of Trump's closest campaign advisers last year and a lightning rod for criticism because of his provocative comments about Islam and his 2014 firing as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.”
BBC: Syria Conflict: Rebels Warns Truce May Collapse After Attacks
“Rebel factions in Syria that backed recent peace moves say an intensification of government attacks has put the current truce in jeopardy. They warn that they reserve the right to respond to recent bombings of areas around Damascus, Homs and the south. The rebels describe the attacks as a ‘bloody message’ from President Bashar al-Assad's government. This comes just days before UN-sponsored talks are due to start in Geneva, Switzerland. The UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has played down hopes for the talks on 23 February.”
Reuters: Saudi Arabia, Israel Present De Facto United Front Against Iran
“Saudi Arabia and Israel both called on Sunday for a new push against Iran, signaling a growing alignment in their interests, while U.S. lawmakers promised to seek new sanctions on the Shi'ite Muslim power. Turkey also joined the de facto united front against Tehran as Saudi and Israeli ministers rejected an appeal from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for Sunni Gulf Arab states to work with Tehran to reduce violence across the region. While Saudi Arabia remains historically at odds with Israel, their ministers demanded at the Munich Security Conference that Tehran be punished for propping up the Syrian government, developing ballistic missiles and funding separatists in Yemen.”
Washington Post: “Blind Sheik” Guilty Of 1990s Terror Plots Dies In US Prison
“The so called Blind Sheik, Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted of plotting terror attacks in New York City in the decade before 9/11 has died in a federal prison. He was 78. Abdel-Rahman, blind since infancy from diabetes, had diabetes and coronary artery disease, died Saturday at the Federal Correction Complex in Butner, North Carolina, said its acting executive assistant, Kenneth McKoy. The inmate spent seven years at the prison medical facility while serving a life sentence. “We are saddened by your departure, father,” the cleric’s daughter, Asmaa, tweeted in Arabic. Abdel-Rahman was a key spiritual leader for militants and became a symbol for radicals during his decades in U.S. prisons, where his captivity inspired plots, protests and calls for violence. The only person charged in the U.S. in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Zacarias Moussaoui, had said he was training for a mission to fly a jet into the White House if the government refused to free Abdel-Rahman.”
New York Post: Footage Shows ISIS Fighters Smiling Before Suicide Attack
“A new video posted by ISIS reportedly shows a team of suicide car bombers — including one smiling Brit — driving Mad Max-style death-mobiles towards an Iraqi army base, moments before blowing themselves up. The footage, posted by the Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency, shows a British-born fighter named Abu Zakariya al-Britani grinning from ear to ear as he sits in one of the four car bombs used in a deadly attack near Mosul on Monday, Al-Masdar News reports. Another fighter, who also looks happy as can be, can be seen cheerfully pointing to the camera and saying something in Arabic before he shuts the driver’s door and pulls off.”
Fox News: ISIS Egypt Affiliate: Christians Are Our 'Favorite Prey'
“An Islamic State affiliate released a video Monday vowing that Egyptian Christians are their ‘favorite prey,’ showing images of a suicide bomber who killed nearly 30 people inside a packed Cairo church in December. ‘God gave orders to kill every infidel,’ one of the militants carrying an AK-47 assault rifle says in the 20-minute video. The video shows footage of Egypt's Coptic Christian Pope, Christian businessmen, judges and priests who either speak of the need to protect the minority or use derogatory terms to refer to Egypt's Muslim majority. The narrator says Christians were no longer ‘dhimmis,’ a reference to non-Muslims in Islam who enjoy a degree of state protection. Instead, the group describes the Christians as ‘infidels’ who are empowering the West against Muslim nations.”
Reuters: Merkel Calls For Joint Efforts With Russia To Battle Islamist Terrorism
“German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday said Europe's ties with Russia remained challenging, but it was important to work with Russia in the fight against Islamist terrorism. ‘The joint fight against Islamic terrorism is one area where we have the same interests and we can work together,’ Merkel said in a speech to the Munich Security Conference, where U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was in the audience. Merkel, who has been critical of a U.S. ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, underscored that Islam itself was not the source of terrorism. She said it was critical to include Muslim countries in the fight against Islamist terrorism.”
CBC News: Blast In Somalia Kills 34 In Mogadishu Marketplace
“Somalia's new president visited victims wounded by the Mogadishu car bomb that on Sunday killed 34. President Mohamed Abdulahi Mohamed also offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those who planned the blast. Many of the dead were carried away by their relatives soon after Sunday's blast in the western part of Mogadishu, said Capt. Mohamed Hussein. "It was a horrific and barbaric attack only aimed at killings civilians," he said from the scene of the blast. Ambulance driver Sabriye Abdullahi said some of the injured victims died on their way to the hospitals. "Many of them suffered extensive third-degree burns and others were burned beyond recognition," he said.”
Daily Mail: Civilians In The Crossfire Of Boko Haram And The Military
“The four women lay dazed on the beds of the clinic. The face of one of them was burnt. Another broke her leg during the Nigerian army offensive against Boko Haram Islamists in their village. Civilians have often been collateral damage in the conflict that has raged in remote northeast Nigeria for nearly eight years, leaving at least 20,000 dead and more than 2.6 million homeless. The women wait for their wounds to heal in the suffocating heat. "Boko Haram fighters would come to their village to steal food and hide," a nurse explained. "The army went there and put the women in a truck to evacuate them. "The military set the village on fire, so the insurgents couldn't hide anymore. But the fire 'jumped' in the truck." The women, with their heads covered and gold nose rings in the tradition of the ethnic Kanuri group, still look terrified.”
New York Times:  Trying To Stanch Trinidad’s Flow Of Young Recruits To ISIS
“By the time he was 17, Fahyim Sabur had memorized the Quran. At 23, he was shunning calypso parties and giving private Arabic lessons in his neighborhood here in Enterprise, about 20 miles south of Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago. A year later, he was on the battlefield in Syria, where he died fighting for the Islamic State. “He never spoke to me about it,” said his father, Abdus Sabur, 56, who sells meat patties on the street. “National Security called me one day and told me, ‘Your son is dead.’ ” Law enforcement officials in Trinidad and Tobago, a small Caribbean island nation off the coast of Venezuela, are scrambling to close a pipeline that has sent a steady stream of young Muslims to Syria, where they have taken up arms for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.”
CNN: Bill Gates Warns The World To Prep For Bio-Terrorism
“Bill Gates says it's time to redirect some of the money the world spends on weapons to prepare for a looming threat: terrorists with pathogens. He's warning that the threat of bio-terrorism is ‘right up there with nuclear war and climate change.’ Gates spoke at the Munich Security Conference in Germany on Saturday, and an abridged transcript of his speech was published by Business Insider. The billionaire Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30) co-founder turned philanthropist has invested heavily in health initiatives around the globe, and now he's speaking out in the hopes of spurring more investment in vaccines and medical research.”

United States

Reuters: U.S. Steps Up Pressure On Europe To Boost Defence Spending
“The United States on Saturday redoubled its longstanding demand that Germany and other European countries spend more on defence, saying their failure to meet NATO's 2 percent military spending target was eroding the foundation of the Atlantic alliance. ‘When even one ally fails to do their part, it undermines all of our ability to come to each other’s aid,’ U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told the Munich Security Conference, even as he assured NATO allies of Washington's unwavering support. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Germany remained committed to reaching the NATO target, but that it would be hard to boost its defence budget quickly by the 25 billion euros ($26.5 billion) that would be required. Germany now spends about 1.2 percent of gross domestic product on the military.”
The New York Times: Mike Pence, In Europe, Says Trump Supports Partnership With E.U.
“Vice President Mike Pence told a rattled Europe on Monday that President Trump fully supported crucial European institutions — despite the president’s perplexing comments and occasional insults — and said he supported the firing of the national security adviser. ‘The president did ask me to come here to Brussels, to the home of the European Union, and deliver an additional message,’ Mr. Pence said while standing next to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council and a former prime minister of Poland. ‘So today it’s my privilege, on behalf of President Trump, to express the strong commitment of the United States to continued cooperation and partnership with the European Union.’”
Radio Free Europe: U.S. Defense Chief Nears Recommendation On Afghan Troop Levels
“U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he will make recommendations soon to President Donald Trump on whether to increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Mattis said on February 19 that the president had been ‘rightfully reticent’ on the matter, as he was waiting for input from his generals about the situation in Afghanistan -- where U.S. forces have been deployed against the Taliban and other extremist militants for more than 15 years. ‘We are putting our thoughts together now,’ Mattis told reporters during a visit to Abu Dhabi. ‘It shouldn't take too long.’”
Fox News: US Troops In Iraq Operating Closer To Front Lines
“After three years of being told they could not go to the front lines, U.S. troops advising Iraqi forces as they evict ISIS from Mosul no longer face those tight restrictions, according to the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, as the new defense secretary stood by his side in Baghdad. ‘It is true that we are operating closer and deeper into the Iraqi formation,’ Townsend told reporters travelling with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. ‘We adjusted our posture during the east Mosul fight and embedded advisers a bit further down into the formation.’ Townsend, who began his career in Baghdad as a Colonel leading a Struyker brigade during the surge in 2007, commands more than 6,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.”
Voice Of America: Why Isn't Afghan Taliban On US List Of Foreign Terror Groups?
“They both call themselves the Taliban. They regularly carry out deadly suicide bombings, kill civilians with impunity and, in many respects, behave like brutish terrorist groups. So why is one — the Tehrik-I Taliban of Pakistan — on the State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, while the other — Afghanistan's Taliban — is not? To the U.S., the Afghan Taliban is largely an insurgency with control over vast swaths of territory and aspirations to govern the country, while its Pakistani offspring is considered nothing but a terrorist organization. But the real reason the Afghan Taliban is not on the list has more to do with political considerations than whether or not it meets the statutory criteria for a terrorist designation.”
Reuters: U.S. Serviceman Dies In 'Non-Combat Related Incident' In Iraq, Says Coalition
“A U.S. serviceman died on Monday in a non-combat related incident outside the Iraqi city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, the U.S.-led coalition said. The United States is leading the mainly western coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and in Syria. It has more than 5,000 troops deployed in Iraq. Further information about the dead serviceman ‘will be released as appropriate,’ the coalition said in a statement.”
Associated Press: Apnewsbreak: Denver Slaying Suspect Supports Islamic State
A former U.S. soldier accused of shooting and killing a transit guard in downtown Denver last month says he is a supporter of the Islamic State group, but investigators say they have not found evidence the terror group had anything to do with the killing. In a telephone interview Thursday from Denver's jail, Joshua Cummings told The Associated Press he pledged his allegiance to ISIS after spending three days behind bars fasting. He said he did so to purge himself of an oath he took to uphold the U.S. Constitution when he joined the Army in 1996.”
The New York Times: Jim Mattis To Baghdad: ‘We’re Not In Iraq To Seize Anybody’s Oil’
“Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, on the first visit by a senior Trump administration official to Iraq, worked on Monday to repair breaches of trust with Iraq’s leaders caused by his boss just as the two sides began a major offensive to oust the Islamic State from its last stronghold in the country. Mr. Mattis found himself in nearly the same position he was in during his just-finished trip to Europe, where much of his time was spent reassuring wary allies that the United States was still committed to NATO after statements and actions by President Trump seemed to call old alliances into question.”


Reuters: Syrian Rebels Say Army Attacks Wrecking Ceasefire Efforts
“Syrian rebel groups who have participated in peace talks said on Sunday that an upsurge in Syrian army shelling and bombing was wrecking the prospects of maintaining a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey. The rebel groups, mostly backed by Turkey, have attended two rounds of talks in the Kazakh capital Astana. They said they supported a political solution but that war had been ‘imposed’ on them by the Syrian army and its allies. The groups operating as the Military Delegation of the Revolution said they reserved the right to respond to attacks which have mostly taken place in the south, in Homs and the outskirts of Damascus.”
Reuters: Syrian Government Forces Press Attack On Damascus Outskirts: Monitors, Medic
“Syrian government forces fired rockets at a rebel-held area on Damascus's outskirts on Sunday, pressing an attack that began the day before and has killed up to 16 people, a medical worker and war monitors said. The medical worker and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was the biggest attack on the Qaboun area, to the city's northeast, in at least two years. At least three shells hit government-held areas closer to the center of Damascus and near Qaboun on Sunday, but there were no reports of casualties, a Hezbollah-run military media unit and a Reuters witness said. There was no immediate government comment on the Damascus fighting. The Observatory said 16 people had died in the violence around Qaboun since Saturday, the highest death toll from fighting there for more than two years.”
The Washington Post: Four Russian Servicemen Killed By Roadside Bomb In Syria 
“Four Russian servicemen were killed by a roadside bomb in western Syria last week, according to the Russian military. The defense ministry said in a statement that the Feb 16. attack had targeted a Syrian military convoy close to Tiyas, an air base from which Russian war planes have launched raids on Islamic State fighters in the ancient town of Palmyra. It was not possible to immediately verify the Russian statement, and the attack has yet to be claimed by militants in Syria. But the announcement underscored the growing toll that Syria’s conflict has wrought on Russian military and mercenary forces fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”
CNN: Syria Ceasefire Opens Door For Political Solution, UN Says
“The UN's envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, says the latest ceasefire in the war-ravaged country is holding better than previous ones and that the pause in fighting should pave the way for talks toward a political solution. A ceasefire between the Syrian government and armed opposition groups was reached in late December. It was brokered by Russia and Turkey, now seen as guarantors of the agreement, and despite some violations, it has held longer than any others since the war began almost six years ago. ISIS and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formally known as Jabhat Al Nursa, are listed by the UN as terrorist groups and were not included in the ceasefire.”


CNN: Iraq Starts Operation To Drive ISIS Out Of West Mosul
“Iraq has launched an operation to regain control of western Mosul from ISIS militants, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Sunday. The operation comes weeks after Iraqi forces recaptured eastern Mosul across the Tigris River. On the first day of the new offensive, Iraqi Federal Police forces said they killed 79 ISIS militants, destroyed weapons facilities and regained control of 10 villages. The prime minister described the operation as a ‘new dawn’ in the liberation of Mosul, ISIS' last major stronghold in the country. ‘Go forward with my blessing, heroic forces of Iraq,’ he said on state television.”


Reuters: Turkish Soldiers Accused Of Trying To Kill Erdogan Go On Trial
“Prosecutors called for life sentences for more than 40 Turkish soldiers on Monday at the start of their trial for attempting to assassinate President Tayyip Erdogan during last year's failed coup, according to the indictment obtained by Reuters. Under tight security, the defendants were bussed in to a courthouse in the southwestern city of Mugla, not far from the luxury resort where Erdogan and his family narrowly escaped the soldiers, fleeing in a helicopter shortly before their hotel was attacked. More than 240 people were killed during the failed coup on July 15, when a group of rogue soldiers commandeered tanks, warplanes and helicopters, attacking parliament and attempting to overthrow the government.”
Reuters: Turkey Detains 26 People After Car Bomb, Governor Says PKK Responsible
“Turkish police detained 26 people over a car bomb attack in the south-eastern town of Viransehir, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Saturday. A vehicle loaded with explosives was remotely detonated late on Friday in the garden of a housing complex for judges and prosecutors, killing an 11-year-old boy and a security guard. Seventeen people were injured. ‘The vehicle had been detonated just as a security guard who saw it being parked was about to intervene with a gun, killing him,’ Soylu told reporters in Viransehir, adding that the blast caused damage to 14 buildings nearby.”
Reuters: Turkey Says U.N-Led Syria Talks In Geneva Only Place To Discuss Political Solution, Transition
“Turkey's foreign minister said on Sunday U.N.-led peace talks on Syria in Geneva were the only place to negotiate a political solution and transition. ‘Astana has never been an alternative to Geneva,’ Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told delegates at a security conference in Munich, referring to talks held between Turkey, Russia, Iran and Syrian factions in the Kazakh capital. ‘It's a good confidence building measure and to maintain a ceasefire. It's a good step forward. But now we need to resume Geneva talks which is the main basis for the political solution and transition,’ he said.”
Reuters: Turkey Sets Out Raqqa Operation Plans To U.S.: Report
“Turkey has presented two proposals to the United States for how to carry out a joint military operation to drive Islamic State from its stronghold in the Syrian city of Raqqa, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported on Saturday. Ankara has said repeatedly that the planned operation should be conducted by local Arab forces, possibly with support from Turkish troops, as opposed to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) -- an alliance dominated by Kurdish YPG militia. Washington's support for the SDF, which launched a campaign to encircle Raqqa in November, has caused tension with NATO-ally Turkey. Ankara views the Kurdish militia as an extension of militants fighting on its own soil.”
Reuters: Turkish Military Says 44 Islamic State Militants Killed In Syria
“Forty-four Islamic State militants were killed by Turkey-backed operations around the Syrian town of al-Bab and in U.S.-led coalition air strikes on Monday, the Turkish military said on Tuesday. One Turkish soldier was killed and two were wounded during work to clear landmines and explosives in the area, the army said, reiterating that it had largely established control in the residential areas of al-Bab. The Islamic State stronghold, 30 km (20 miles) from the Turkish border, has been a prime target since Turkey launched an incursion with Syrian rebels last August to push the jihadists from its frontier and prevent gains by a Kurdish militia. Turkey's army said 15 of the jihadists were killed in clashes, artillery fire and air strikes during operations in al-Bab, while the remaining 29 were killed and four buildings were destroyed in the coalition air strikes.”


Reuters: Afghan Villagers Flee Pakistani Cross-Border Firing: Aid Group
“Hundreds of Afghan families have been displaced by cross-border rocket and artillery fire by Pakistani troops, an aid group said on Monday, as tension rose after Pakistan said militants implicated in recent attacks had taken shelter in Afghanistan. As many as 200 families have been displaced from their homes, while some civilian casualties have also been reported after Pakistani border troops fired rockets and artillery, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). Islamic State's regional branch claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on Thursday at a Sufi shrine in Pakistan's Sindh province. The toll in that attack has reached 90 people dead and more than 350 wounded, police said on Monday.”
Radio Free Europe: ICRC Calls For Immediate Release Of Abducted Workers In Afghanistan
“The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has called for the immediate release of two staff members abducted during an ambush in northern Afghanistan last week that killed six workers. The aid workers were in a convoy carrying supplies to areas hit by avalanches when they were attacked in the northern province of Jowzjan on February 8. ‘We call on the abductors' sense of humanity and request the immediate, safe and unconditional release of our colleagues and to avoid taking any action that could endanger their lives,’ Monica Zanarelli, ICRC chief in Afghanistan, said in a statement released on February 18.”
Voice Of America: Pakistan, Afghanistan Move To Defuse Border Tensions
“Pakistan and Afghanistan have issued conciliatory statements in an apparent attempt to defuse days of border tensions stemming from charges Afghan soil was used for masterminding last week’s terrorist attacks in Pakistani cities. Pakistani troops have been staging cross-border shelling to target what authorities claimed were camps of Jammat-ul Ahrar, or JuA, a splinter faction of the anti-state Pakistani Taliban for being behind most of the deadly violence. Islamabad maintains that JuA leaders are sheltering in Afghan border areas from where they plot and direct violence against Pakistan. Security officials also confirmed Monday, the military deployed additional heavy artillery at main border crossings to deter illegal movements.”


The Times Of Israel: Egypt Court Upholds Death Sentences For Soccer Rioters
“Egypt’s highest appeals court on Monday upheld the death sentences against 10 people convicted over a soccer riot that killed over 70 fans in 2012, becoming one of the world’s deadliest soccer disasters. The verdict by the Court of Cassation is final. The defendants were charged with murder, along with other charges. The court also upheld convictions of 22 suspects who received up to 10 years’ imprisonment over the rioting. A total of 11 defendants were sentenced to death but one remains at large and was tried in absentia. The rioting erupted in February 2012, at the end of a league match in the Mediterranean city of Port Said between Cairo’s Al-Ahly, Egypt’s most successful club, and home side Al-Masry.”

Middle East

The Times Of Israel: Palestinian Police Foil Stabbing Attack At Checkpoint — Report
“Palestinian security forces thwarted a stabbing attack on Monday evening when they stopped a man who was heading to a West Bank checkpoint carrying a knife, the Hebrew-language Ynet website reported. The incident happened at the Gilboa checkpoint in the northern West Bank. Palestinian police apprehended the suspect as he approached the crossing from the West Bank into Israel. A search uncovered the knife and during questioning the suspect admitted he was planning to knife Israelis, the report said. On Friday, a group of Israeli settlers, including three off-duty soldiers, were rescued by the mayor of a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank after they entered the area and were quickly set upon by local residents, the army said at the time.”
The Jerusalem Post: Israeli-Arab With Isis Ties Planned Tel Aviv Bus Attack'
“Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) along with the police announced on Monday the recent arrest of an Israeli-Arab citizen on suspicion of planning a terror attack in Israel as well as contacting the Islamic State terror group in Syria. According to the Shin Bet, 35-year-old Enes Haj Yahia, a resident of Taybeh was arrested following intelligence that he was promoting terror activities inside Israel. The suspect was also accused of being in contact with Islamic State militants and distributing material and military knowledge about the preparation of explosives.”
The Jerusalem Post: Two Rockets From Sinai Explode In Southern Israel; None Hurt
“Two rockets launched from the Sinai Peninsula exploded near Moshav Naveh in southern Israel’s Eshkol Regional Council on Monday morning, the IDF reported. No air-raid sirens were activated in the area as the projectiles were headed toward open territory, a military source added. There were no reports of injury or damage. Monday’s rocket attack came the day after Islamic State-linked media claimed that an unmanned Israeli drone had bombed and killed five members of ISIS in Egypt in the northern Sinai. According to the Islamic State-linked Amaq agency, the five ‘fell as martyrs to the Jewish enemy’ in a strike that targeted a car carrying the terrorists in the village of Shibana south of Rafah, near the Egypt-Israel border.”
The Times Of Israel: Hezbollah Warns ‘No Red Lines’ In Next War With Israel
“Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Monday doubled-down on his recent saber-rattling against Israel and warned that his terror group will not hold back from attacking sensitive Israeli targets if the Jewish state goes to war with Lebanon. During a television interview with the Iran’s state-run Islamic Republic News Agency the terror chief repeated a previous threat to fire rockets at Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona and a huge ammonia storage tank in Haifa. Hezbollah will not keep to any ‘red lines’ in a future war with Israel, Nasrallah cautioned.”
The Times Of Israel: Hamas Condemns 6 ‘Informants For Israel’ To Death By Hanging
“Six Gazans were condemned to be hanged over charges they informed for Israel, two Hamas-run military courts ruled Sunday. Three men were sentenced to hang by the permanent military court and death sentences for another three were upheld by the supreme military court, according to a statement on the Hamas-run Gaza Palestinian interior ministry website. Sunday’s verdicts raise the number of people on death row to 10. Seven other people were given prison sentences Sunday ranging from 12 to 17 years long for spying for Israel.”


Reuters: Libya's Seraj Sees Russia As Possible Intermediary With Eastern Commander
“Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Seraj of the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli said on Sunday he would like Russia to help overcome deadlock in the country, which is struggling with divisions among militias and an Islamist militant threat. In an interview with Reuters, Seraj expressed hope that Moscow might act as an intermediary between him and Khalifa Haftar, a military commander who is supported by factions based in the east of Libya. Seraj's Government of National Accord has been trying to formulate plans for unified Libyan security forces since arriving in Tripoli in March, but has made little progress. Neighboring Egypt talked this month to the Tripoli and eastern factions, which are both vying for control of the whole country. However, it failed to engineer a meeting between the two key figures, Seraj and Haftar.”
BBC: Libya's Eastern Authority Bans Women Travelling Solo
“Military officials controlling eastern Libya have banned women under 60 from travelling abroad on their own. The ban is said to be for ‘national security reasons’ and not driven by religious ideology. BBC North Africa correspondent Rana Jawad says it will affect all passengers transiting through the east. Libya is divided between two authorities - one in the east and an internationally recognised one based in the capital, Tripoli. The eastern government is based in al-Beyda and the ban was first enforced in the city's Labraq international airport. The authorities in the east under the command of Gen Khalifa Hefter have control over an area stretching from Ajdabiya to Tobruk.”
Voice Of America: North African Diplomats Seek Solution For Chaotic Libya
“The presidents of Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia will hold a summit soon to try to find ways to reconcile neighboring Libya's rival political factions and stem the country's chaos, diplomats said Monday. The summit was announced in Tunis after a new round of diplomatic efforts for Libya, where two rival administrations are jockeying for power and where the Islamic State group and other extremists have prospered amid the political vacuum. Libya's neighbors are highly concerned about spillover of extremist violence. Diplomats meeting in Tunis released a statement declaring their ‘attachment to Libya's sovereignty and territorial integrity,’ arguing against foreign intervention or any military solution to Libya's crisis.”

United Kingdom

International Business Times: Five London Teenagers Arrested On Suspicion Of Planning Trip To Join Banned Terrorist Group
“Police have arrested five young men across the UK capital on suspicion of travelling to join a banned terror group. It follows raids at four separate properties in January. The group range in age from 15 to 19. All five are being questioned at a central London police station. Scotland Yard did not give any further information at this stage on which organisation the teenagers were trying to join. ‘Officers from the MPS Counter Terrorism Command have today, Monday 20 February, arrested five males under 20-years-old on suspicion of Preparation of Terrorist Acts, Contrary to Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006,’ a Met Police spokesman said.”


Deutsche Welle: Refugee Coordinator Predicts Record Deportations In 2017
In an interview with the Sunday edition of Bild newspaper, Peter Altmaier - the head of the Chancellor's Office and the government's coordinator on refugee affairs - says he expects unprecedented numbers of people to be deported from Germany in the coming months. ‘Last year, 80,000 people whose applications for asylum were rejected returned to their countries of origin,’ Altmaier said. ‘That was a record, and the numbers will continue to rise. In 2016, some 700,000 applications for asylum were made, and almost 300,000 were rejected. We want to deport these people swiftly. Otherwise it hurts the credibility of our country and its laws.’”
The Times Of Israel: Merkel To Security Summit: Islam Is Not The Source Of Terror
The Islamic faith is not the cause of terrorism, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday, and urged members of the Muslim clergy to fight back against a ‘false’ interpretation of the religion that permits acts of violence to be carried out in its name. Arguing for Muslim states to cooperate with the rest of the world to stamp out terror, the chancellor told an international security conference in Munich that this is the only way to persuade non-Muslims that the religion is one of peace. Merkel previously denounced ‘Islamist terrorism’ as the greatest challenge facing Germany, and called on her fellow citizens to hold firm to democratic values in the face of jihadist terror.”
CNBC: Russia, Terrorism Demand A ‘Collective’ Response: German Defense Minister
“Terrorism and Russia are the greatest threats facing society today and a ‘collective defense’ will be the only way to uphold Western democratic values, Germany's defense minister said. In a clear nod to the NATO alliance, which has faced heated debate lately over the defense spending of member countries, Ursula Von der Leyen told CNBC Saturday that the West must maintain a united front against forces that threaten to undermine international peace. ‘We are in the coalition against terror. This is a threat that will keep us busy for a long time. The other one is, of course, that Russia is projecting its power with military means and hybrid war scenes in other countries which is not acceptable for us. We have to focus on territorial defense as well as on crisis and conflict management and fighting terror.’”


Voice Of America: French Far-Right Chief Says Assad Solution To Syria Crisis
“French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen on Monday called Syrian President Bashar Assad ‘the most reassuring solution for France,’ a major divergence with her nation's official policy. Le Pen, head of the anti-immigration National Front, spoke after meetings with Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri. They were among numerous officials, including the Christian Maronite patriarch, that Le Pen was meeting on her two-day visit to Lebanon, a former French protectorate. The trip represented the first major foray into foreign policy for Le Pen, a leading candidate in France's April 23 and May 7 election.”


Voice Of America: Jewish Communities In Europe Warn Of Rising Anti-Semitism
“Jewish communities in Europe say they feel especially vulnerable following the terror attacks across the continent in recent years, and want governments to dedicate extra policing and intelligence efforts to keep them safe. Community leaders meeting at the Munich Security Conference Sunday also warned that the rise of populist far right parties threatens their way of life. Jewish leaders say the plight of their people in Europe will always be seen in the shadow of the Holocaust. U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence and his family travelled the few kilometers out of Munich Sunday to the site of the former Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. U.S. troops liberated the camp on April 29th 1945.”


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