Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Eye on Extremism March 1, 2017

Eye on Extremism

March 1, 2017

Daily Mail: ISIS Leader 'Admits Defeat In Iraq And Orders Militants To Flee Or Kill Themselves In Suicide Attacks'
“ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has admitted defeat in Iraq and ordered militants to either flee or kill themselves in suicide attacks, it has been claimed. The terror mastermind is said to have issued a statement called 'farewell speech' which was distributed among ISIS preachers and clerics in parts of Iraq it still controls. According to local media, he urged supporters to run and hide and told 'non-Arab fighters' to either return home or blow themselves up with the promise of '72 women in heaven'.”
CNN: Iraqi Commander: ISIS Leaders 'Running Away' From Mosul
“The commander of Iraq's Federal Police has said ISIS militants in western Mosul are looking to cut and run from their defense of the group's last remaining stronghold in the country. Lt. Gen. Raid Shakir Jaudat said the militants were increasingly cut off from each other and that their leaders were fleeing the remaining pockets of militant control. ‘The terrorist organization Daesh (is) living in a state of shock, confusion and defeat, and its fighters are fighting in isolated groups,’ Jaudat said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.”
Reuters: Iraqi Officers Find Islamic State Members Hidden Among Refugees Fleeing Mosul
“A few hundred men who had scurried across front lines in a refugee exodus from Mosul sat on the ground in neat rows before an Iraqi intelligence officer who scanned the crowd for hidden militants. The officer pulled a teenager onto a raised platform and asked the group if he belonged to Islamic State (IS). Muffled groans were followed by nods and muttered comments. The youth was then dragged off to a pickup truck and his arms tied behind his back. He confessed to a three-month membership in IS and spending a week in a training camp, but said he had only been a cook and never carried a weapon. As growing numbers of residents flee fighting between insurgents and Iraqi military forces seeking to recapture the IS-held western half of Iraq's second largest city, security units have been transporting civilians to government-run camps and weeding out IS infiltrators.”
Newsweek: Al-Qaeda’s Former Affiliate In Syria Tells Opposition To ‘Step Aside,’ Promises Further Bombings
“In a rare video message, the chief of Al-Qaeda’s former affiliate in Syria said Monday that suicide bomb attacks seen in the country’s third city of Homs over the weekend would continue, and called on those representing the opposition at peace talks to ‘step aside.’ Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, claimed responsibility for a series of bomb blasts in the city that left at least 32 people dead, including General Hassan Daabul, an aide of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. ‘This operation is a lesson to the defeated politicians in Geneva, and previously in Astana,’ said Abu Mohamed al-Jolani.”
New York Times: A Fleeing Family Finds Iraqi Troops, And A Reprieve From ISIS
“From a ridge overlooking a village in western Mosul, the Iraqi troops spotted the family fleeing the Islamic State. Through their binoculars, the soldiers saw that the small group approaching us was waving a white flag, and so they held their fire. The family included three women — one of them pregnant — two men, several children and a dog. The soldiers, with whom I was embedded this week, walked down the trail to intercept the group on the flank of a hill exposed to the Islamic State’s mortar rounds. I saw them help up the grandmother in the family, who was lagging behind. She reached the top of the ridge, clutching her heart and saying, “Alhamdulillah,” meaning “Thank you, God.”
The New York Times: Russia And U.S. Clash Over Syria In Security Council Vote
“Russia and the Trump administration clashed in a vote at the United Nations Security Council for the first time on Tuesday, as the Kremlin vetoed a measure backed by the United States and its Western allies to punish Syria for using chemical weapons. While the Russians had long signaled their intent to block the resolution, which was supported by dozens of countries, the clash offered insights into the big divisions that remain between the Kremlin and President Trump, who has vowed to improve ties. Russia and China, two of the five permanent members of the Council, blocked the measure. It was the Kremlin’s seventh Security Council veto in defense of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria over the war that has been convulsing his country for nearly six years.”
Fox News: Taliban Reportedly Attacks 3 Targets In Afghanistan Capital
“A gun fight reportedly broke out between Afghan security forces and several gunmen in Kabul on Wednesday after an explosion rang out on the western side of the city. A police official told Reuters that the fire fight was ongoing near a district police headquarters located near a military training school. At least one person was killed and 35 wounded, Reuters reported. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had targeted three sites in Kabul, according to Al Jazeera. The militant group said many casualties were to be expected. The explosion was loud enough to be heard across the city.”
The Jerusalem Post: 'Israeli Immigrant Who Converted To Islam Attempted To Join Isis In Syria'
“Israeli security forces have arrested an Israeli citizen on suspicion of attempting to join the Islamic State terror group in Syria, the Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) announced on Wednesday. Valentine Vladimir Mazlovsky, 40, from the northern Israeli-Arab town of Shibli was arrested in early February after security officials obtained intelligence information that he was planning to travel to Syria, according to the Shin Bet. Mazlovsky immigrated to Israel from Belarus in 1996 and later converted to Islam in 2000.  During his mandatory military service in the IDF, Mazlovsky met his wife, from the town of Shibli, with whom he has five children.”
Deutsche Welle: Egypt's Sissi Vows To Help Coptic Christians Fleeing Sinai
“Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi was cited by the ‘Egypt Independent’ newspaper and Coptic Christian websites as ordering the government to provide immediate shelter to those who have left the peninsula in recent days. He said the country's Coptic Christian minority was being ‘targeted as part of a cowardly plot,’ after seven Christians were killed in suspected jihadi attacks in less than a month. A total of 450 people who have fled North Sinai, with many families receiving assistance from the local church and other faith communities in the northeastern city of Ismailia, the news agency EFE reported.”
The Guardian: Troops Kill 18 Boko Haram Insurgents In Yobe, Army Establishes New Brigade In Bayelsa
“Troops of Operation Lafiya Dole in the North-East have killed 18 Boko Haram terrorists who attempted to attack Kumuya Village in Gujba Local Council of Yobe State. A military source in Damaturu said yesterday that the terrorists were desperately sourcing for food around the village while fleeing Sambisa Forest that was captured last year by the military. ‘The insurgents attempted to attack Kumuya to cart away food items; but a fierce gun-battle ensued between them and our troops, leading to the death of 18 terrorists, while others sustained gunshot wounds,’ said the source.”
Reuters: U.N. Nuclear Watchdog Chief To Discuss Iran Deal With Trump Officials
“The chief of the U.N. atomic watchdog will hold talks on Iran's nuclear deal on Thursday for the first time with senior officials from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has branded it "the worst deal ever negotiated". The 2015 deal between Tehran and major powers places restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The accord will be the main topic of Yukiya Amano's talks in Washington, officials involved in the dealings of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Wednesday. Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has called for a "full review" of the accord, is among the senior U.S. officials Amano will meet, they said. Amano, whose agency is in charge of policing those nuclear restrictions under the deal, has publicly argued in favor of the agreement, describing it as a "net gain.”
The Wall Street Journal: Berlin Bans Muslim Group Accused Of Supporting Terrorism
“Local authorities on Tuesday banned a Muslim group accused of supporting terrorism, offering a fresh sign of Germany’s increased efforts to combat Islamist extremists in the wake of December’s deadly Christmas-market attack. Officials in Berlin, which is governed as a city-state, moved quickly through the arduous legal process of banning the Muslim group Fussilet 33 e.V. They did so after learning that Anis Amri, who attacked the market, was a frequent visitor at the group’s mosque, including on the day he rammed a truck into a Christmas market.”
Reuters: France Arrests Four Teenage Girls For Links With Jihadists In Syria
“French authorities arrested four teenage girls on Tuesday on suspicion of communicating with jihadists in Syria via the encrypted messaging app Telegram, a judicial source told Reuters. In a chatroom the suspects discussed the possibility of preparing violent attacks, the source said, without elaborating. Three of the four girls are minors, aged between 15 and 17 years, and the fourth is 18 years old. French TV channel France 3 reported that one of the girls was in contact with Rachid Kassim, a French Islamist militant who is suspected of having inspired some of the recent attacks in France. The U.S. military said in early February it had targeted Kassim in a strike near the Iraqi city of Mosul.”

United States

Haaretz: Despite Anti-Semitic Wave, U.S. Jews Won't Move To Israel Anytime Soon
“Despite the recent wave of anti-Semitism in the United States, American Jews are not expected to pick up in big numbers and leave for Israel, experts say.  On Monday, opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) called on the Israeli government to prepare for the eventuality of a massive flight of Jews from the United States. His remarks came amid the latest wave of bomb threats to hit Jewish community centers across the United States. But scholars and professionals knowledgeable about Jewish American immigration trends believe Herzog’s concerns are premature.”
The Hill: Trump To Remove Iraq From Travel Ban List In Revised Executive Order: Report
“A forthcoming executive order from the Trump administration banning travel from predominantly Muslim countries will no longer include Iraq, according to the Associated Press. The order is a revision to the travel ban implemented in the first days of Trump’s presidency, which temporarily prohibited individuals from seven countries from entering the United States. Iran, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Libya and Sudan were included in the initial order, which has been blocked by federal courts. The Associated Press on Tuesday night reported that the other six countries would remain on the list, citing four anonymous administration officials.”
Reuters: Trump Seeks 'Historic' U.S. Military Spending Boost, Domestic Cuts
“President Donald Trump is seeking what he called a ‘historic’ increase in defense spending, but ran into immediate opposition from Republicans in Congress who must approve his plan and said it was not enough to meet the military's needs. The proposed rise in the Pentagon budget to $603 billion comes as the United States has wound down major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and remains the world's strongest military power. The plan came under fire from Democratic lawmakers, who said cuts being proposed to pay for the additional military spending would cripple important domestic programs such as environmental protection and education.”


The Washington Post: Syrian Peace Talks Flounder As Participants Ask: Where Is America?
“The vacuum in U.S. policy on Syria is being keenly felt at the latest round of peace talks aimed at negotiating a political solution to the Syrian war — talks that seem destined to wind down this week without meaningful progress. Five days into a round of discussions intended to take place between delegations representing the Syrian government and the opposition, government and opposition negotiators still have not met. Instead, the talks, due to end Friday, have become snarled in debates about procedures and process without yet addressing the major issues surrounding the remote possibility of finding a political solution to the nearly six-year-old war.”
Voice Of America: Why No Geneva Breakthrough In Syrian Peace Talks
“Suicide bombings by militants in the town of Homs and airstrikes by government warplanes in recent days in northwest Syria have rattled United Nations-led peace talks aimed at finding a resolution to the six-year-long conflict in Syria. The warring sides have accused each other of seeking to wreck a peace process that has been limping along for months. Even before these latest developments, the signs indicated there would be no breakthrough this week in Geneva talks overseen by U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura. The only good thing that can be said about the Geneva-based process so far is that both opposition and regime delegations have remained in the Swiss town, albeit grudgingly.”


Reuters: Iraqi Army Controls Main Roads Out Of Mosul, Trapping Islamic State
“U.S.-backed Iraqi army units on Wednesday took control of the last major road out of western Mosul that had been in Islamic State's hands, a general and residents there said, trapping the militants in a dwindling area within the city. The army's 9th Armoured Division was within a kilometer of Mosul's ‘Syria Gate’, the northwestern entrance of the city, a general from the unit told Reuters by telephone. ‘We effectively control the road, it is in our sight,’ he said. Mosul residents said they had not been able to travel on the highway that begins at the ‘Syria Gate’ since Tuesday. The road links Mosul to Tal Afar, another Islamic State stronghold 60 km (40 miles) to the west, and then to the Syrian border.”
Reuters: Islamic State Militants Being Killed At Level They Cannot Sustain - UK General
“The U.S.-led coalition effort against Islamic State is killing the group's fighters more quickly than it can replace them, a senior British general said on Tuesday, with more than 45,000 killed by coalition air strikes up to August last year. On Tuesday, U.S.-backed Iraqi forces continued their offensive in Mosul, where several thousand Islamic State (IS) militants, including many who travelled from Western countries to join up, are believed to be based. ‘We are killing Daesh at a rate that they simply can't sustain,’ said Major General Rupert Jones, deputy commander for the Combined Joint Task Force coalition, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State. ‘The enemy cannot sustain the attrition that they are suffering and therefore they lose terrain, they lose battles.’”


Deutsche Welle: Largest Post-Coup Trial Opens In Turkey
“Turkey's largest trial of suspects allegedly involved in the failed coup last year began on Tuesday in the Sincan prison outside of Anakara. The courtroom used for the trial was built specially to hold more than 1,500 people, including 720 defendants. Roughly 330 suspects face multiple life sentences for their alleged links to last year's attempt to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. However, some 240 are in police custody, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. The first suspect to testify was military cadet Abdulkadir Kahraman, who told the court that his commander ordered troops to prepare for operations because there had been a terror attack. Other suspects offered similar testimonies during the hearing.”
The Washington Post: Arrest Of German Journalist In Turkey Strains Relations Between Erdogan And Merkel
“The arrest of a German journalist in Turkey on terrorism-related charges sparked demonstrations in Germany on Tuesday and a growing diplomatic rift between the two NATO allies, as Germany’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador in protest. The journalist, Deniz Yucel, a Turkey correspondent for the ­daily Die Welt newspaper, was formally charged Monday after being detained for about two weeks, according to his attorney, Veysel Ok. The accusations related to several articles by Yucel and included charges of ‘spreading propaganda of a terrorist organization and for inciting the public to hatred’ — a reference to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, according to a summary of the case by P24, a Turkish civil society group that tracks press freedoms.”


Voice Of America: Afghan Taliban Statement Puts American Author's Whereabouts In Question
“The Taliban in Afghanistan on Tuesday denied holding an American writer who went missing on a research trip in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region more than two years ago, leaving his whereabouts in question. ‘Our mujahedeen have no activities in Waziristan, and thus they have no involvement in the arrest of the missing American,’ a Taliban statement said in response to an appeal by the man's wife, Jane Larson, who spoke to Radio Liberty last week. Paul Overby, 74, last had contact with his wife on May 17, 2014, after leaving the Khost region of Afghanistan. Larson last month appealed for his release to Pakistani media, revealing for the first time that the family thought he had been abducted.”
Associated Press: Former Addicts Try To Help Drug Users In Afghanistan
“Raheem Rejaey was a drug addict for 17 years. He lived under bridges in Kabul or in the ruins of buildings. His clothes reeked. In his misery, he tried suicide several times, he said, once intentionally overdosing and lying unconscious in a street for two days, undiscovered. So he can feel the pain of other addicts as he searches for them in the streets of the Afghan capital. Clean for six years, the 54-year-old Rejaey volunteers for the Bridge Hope Health Organization, a group made of up of former addicts like himself who help get care and counseling to drug users.”
The New York Times: In Taliban Attacks, A Reminder That Winter Offers Afghans No Mercy
“After 16 years, Afghanistan’s long war shows no sign of taking a day off, even in midwinter. On Tuesday, 11 police officers were killed in a Taliban attack in the south, but that was only one in a long and not unusual series of assaults against Afghan security forces. In recent weeks, there have been several episodes in which two or three Afghan police officers were killed. Last year, 10 police officers were killed in one attack, a few days after 17 were killed. On Jan. 31, the Taliban tunneled under an army post in Sangin district and blew it up, killing as many as 20 soldiers.”


BBC: Egypt Parliament Expels MP Critical Of Human Rights Record
“Egypt's parliament has expelled an MP who was an outspoken critic of the government's human rights record. Mohammed Anwar Sadat, a nephew of the late President Anwar Sadat, was accused of forging signatures on a draft bill and leaking sensitive information to foreign organisations. Speaker Ali Abdel Aal said 468 of the 596 MPs in parliament, which is dominated by President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi's supporters, voted to unseat him. Mr Sadat has denied the allegations.”
The Times Of Israel: Senior Palestinian Official Denied Entry To Egypt
“A senior Palestinian official has been denied entry to Egypt, prompting a Palestinian delegation to withdraw in protest from a counterterrorism conference he was to attend, officials said Tuesday. Jibril Rajoub, a senior member of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, said he was ‘surprised by the Egyptian security decision to ban me from entering Egypt.’ Rajoub, who also heads the Palestinian Football Association, said the Egyptian minister of youth and sports had been waiting at the airport to meet him. An Egyptian airport official said Rajoub was rejected ‘on the instruction of one of the Egyptian security services,’ without giving further details.”

Middle East

Haaretz: Netanyahu, Minister Hid Intel About Strategic Hamas Attack That Could Have Sparked War
“For months in advance of the Israeli army's 2014 operation in the Gaza Strip, top political, military and intelligence-community leaders concealed information from the security cabinet about a possible strategic attack by Hamas, according to the special report on the war by State Comptroller Joseph Shapira, released on Tuesday. Had the attack been carried out, Shapira notes, it could have constituted a casus belli. Specifically, says the comptroller in his critical report on Operation Protective Edge, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Israel Defense Forces Chief-of-Staff Benny Gantz and the heads of the Shin Bet security service and Mossad all withheld information about an attack being planned by the Gaza-based Islamist movement.”
Reuters: Israel Removes Settlers From Homes On Private Palestinian Land
“Israeli police began removing settlers and hundreds of supporters on Tuesday from nine houses built illegally on privately owned Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. Police carried some of the settlers and protesters out of the red-roofed structures in the settlement of Ofra, while others walked out, escorted by officers. Israel's Supreme Court has ordered the demolition of nine buildings in the settlement of more than 3,000 people after finding that those homes were constructed on land where Palestinians proved ownership.”


Politico: Europe’s Libyan Gamble
“The EU has pinned its hopes on cooperation with a deeply unstable Libya and a ragtag, resource-poor coast guard as it seeks to show it can control migration in a year of major elections in countries including France, Germany and the Netherlands. When the first cadets of an EU-sponsored training course for the Libyan coast guard graduated in Malta earlier this month, no less a figure than Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, was on hand to celebrate. The new recruits are part of a multi-million euro program the EU hopes will help it stop the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean — and lower the death toll of a dangerous journey that claimed the lives of 5,000 people last year.”


The Washington Post: German police say suspected Islamist extremist accused of plot was once a neo-Nazi
“Last week, German police arrested a 26-year-old man on suspicion of plotting an Islamist-inspired attack. The man, identified only as ‘Sascha L.,’ is accused of plotting to lure police officers and soldiers into a trap. When authorities searched his apartment in Northeim, Lower Saxony, they found chemicals and electronics that could be used to make explosives. Such plots have not been infrequent in Germany over the past few years. However, when looking through Sascha's history, authorities found another detail that made his case more unusual: Until 2013, the suspected Islamist extremist may have been a neo-Nazi.”
The Daily Caller: Germany Launches 24 Raids, Shuts Down ISIS-Linked Mosque In Berlin
“The German capital of Berlin banned the so-called ‘Fussilet 33’ mosque Tuesday after 400 law enforcement officers raided 24 locations across the city. The mosque is considered a meeting place for radical Islamists in the German capital. Anis Amri, the Tunisian refugee behind the truck attack Dec. 19 at a Christmas market in Berlin, frequented the mosque. The mosque has been under surveillance since 2015 for its links to recruitment activities for Islamic State. It is also accused of raising funds for the terror group’s activities in Syria. Berlin authorities have stepped up counter-terror measures since the truck attack and arrested three Islamic State suspects last week.”
Deutsche Welle: Bavaria Moots Unlimited Preventive Custody For Terror Suspects
“The conservative government in Bavaria is preparing a radical alteration to the state's preventive custody laws that would allow judges to set their own limits on the incarceration of ‘dangerous persons,’ rather than stick to the 14 days that German law currently allows. The bill, which has already been approved by the Bavarian cabinet, is part of a new ‘anti-terror’ package designed to improve surveillance of people security forces deem ‘Gefährder’ (a term used by the intelligence agencies literally meaning ‘endangerer’).”

Financing of Terrorism

The Seventh Day: Lebanese Minister: Terrorist Financiers Look For Countries That Lack Effective Protection Systems
“Lebanese Justice Minister Salim Jreissati stressed that the global banking sector, in general, and the Arab banking sector, in particular, face multiple and significant challenges including the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. He asserted that the financial crisis and political shifts the world has been witnessing have magnified these challenges, resulting in a boom in money laundering and terrorist financing through new and diversified methods, forms and activities. Those involved are exploiting the advanced technologies in the sphere of payment methods and modern banking services. He added that money launderers, terrorist financiers and tax evaders always seek out countries where effective protection is absent or those which provide the greatest banking secrecy to depositors. This {comfortable climate} leads many to deposit their money in such countries, far away from authorities in their homeland.”

Muslim Brotherhood

The Seventh Day: Egypt: Former Investment Minister Summoned Regarding Brotherhood Financing Charges
“Attorney General of East Cairo Prosecution, Counsellor Ibrahim Saleh, issued an order to summon Yehia Hamed, Egypt's Minister of Investment during the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, to a hearing in the group's financing case (No. 653 of 2014) by the Supreme State Security. This move comes after the Prosecution received a list of more than 100 names designated as terrorist entities.”
The Seventh Day: Egypt: Prosecutors Summon Daughter Of Sports Commentator On Charges Of Muslim Brotherhood Financing
“Attorney General of East Cairo Prosecution, Counsellor Ibrahim Saleh, summoned Engy Alaa Sadek, the daughter of a prominent sports commentator, to hear her version on charges concerning Muslim Brotherhood's funding, in case No. 653 of 2014. It is noteworthy that several years ago, Engy filed an appeal to the Administrative Court at the State Council against the decision to seize her movable and liquid properties. This decision, which banned her from free disposition of her property, was issued by the Brotherhood Asset Freeze Committee.”
Dostor: Germany: Muslim Brotherhood Societies In Germany Under Surveillance By Local Intelligence Agencies
“German Ambassador to Cairo, Julius Georg Luy, declared in a news conference on Tuesday that his country has been constantly monitoring the activities of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated associations in Germany. He disclosed that his country periodically looks into the tendency of these societies to embrace violence. According to Julius Georg, Germany is conducting strict background checks on these associations, through local German Intelligence agencies, which have placed all the Brotherhood associations under their surveillance. Whenever the agencies find these associations instigating or getting set to use violence or to commit any violation of the German constitution, they intervene immediately. The ambassador explained that in Germany there specific requirements and conditions are necessary for the classification of a terrorist organization, such as adopting violence to achieve political goals. However, the German government has not come up with evidence of this so far regarding the Muslim Brotherhood.”


Elwehda: USA Opposes Lebanese Extraction Of Oil Due To Hezbollah
“Informed Lebanese sources revealed that the United States will not allow Lebanon to extract oil and gas as long as Hezbollah dominates state institutions. Washington fears the terror group may use {profits} to finance its activities just at a time when the US administration is tightening anti-Hezbollah measures. On January 4th, 2017, the new Lebanese government approved two important decrees which determine the blocks in which oil and gas drilling is permitted. This means that the bidding process for marine petroleum and gas reserves, stalled since 2013, can be resumed. A Lebanese newspaper reported "there are diplomatic whisperings, being conveyed to Lebanese officials across multiple channels, about how to protect {the country's} oil wealth, fearing Hezbollah's domination, especially in the southern oil blocks." The report added that the United States posed questions to Lebanese officials about the fate of this wealth under Hezbollah, which controls Lebanon by virtue of its military strength.”


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