The services that help form an unofficial backbone for the internet are facing pressure to stop working with certain sites tied to extremism — a sign of the growing tension between the demands to crack down on content linked to violence and the internet's tradition of openness. The Counter Extremism Project, a non-profit that focuses in part on disrupting extremist recruitment online, says in letters to Cloudflare, WordPress parent Automattic and GoDaddy that the companies should stop providing services to sites associated with terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Axios got an early look at the letters, which were sent this week. Why it matters: These are three members of a club of companies that can, effectively, decide whether someone gets to host a website.
A homemade bomb sent a scorching cloud of smoke and flames through a London subway car Friday, injuring at least 18 rush-hour commuters and sending people scrambling for safety in what police are calling a terrorist incident. There was no immediate claim of responsibility and authorities gave no details on possible suspects, but the incident was quickly labeled a terrorist strike and security measures were tightened across London’s vast mass transit network. British state broadcaster, the BBC, reported the device had a timer, suggesting some degree of bomb-making knowledge was used in creating the device. The head of London Police’s counterterrorism unit, Mark Rowley, confirmed the blast was from an improvised explosive device and said the 18 injured largely suffered from flash burns at the Parsons Green station, about a mile southwest of central London.
The U.S. military confirmed a Daily Beast report Thursday that an American fighting in Syria for the so-called Islamic State has been taken into custody. “The U.S. citizen is being legally detained by Department of Defense personnel as a known enemy combatant,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said. A source familiar with the situation told The Daily Beast earlier that the American was captured by Kurdish forces. Other military spokespeople indicated that the fighter “surrendered” on or around Tuesday. In either case, the detention of an American fighting for ISIS on an active battlefield would set up a major decision for Donald Trump about the future of wartime captures.
Islamic State has claimed suicide attacks that killed at least 50 people and injured more than 80 in a southern Iraqi city on Thursday. A statement on the Amaq news agency, which supports the hardline Sunni Muslim group, said the attacks carried out by the its suicide fighters targeted a restaurant and a checkpoint, killing ‘dozens of Shi‘ites’.
The United States on Thursday waived sanctions on Iran in what was characterized as a holding action until the White House decides next month whether to continue with the landmark nuclear agreement by certifying Iran is meeting its commitments. At the same time, the White House signaled its determination to confront Tehran over actions the United States considers in defiance of the intent of the 2015 deal. “The administration seeks to bring a change in Iran’s behavior,” said a senior administration official who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. The official cited Iran’s ballistic-missile tests, support for terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, backing of militias fighting in neighboring countries and human rights abuses, including the detention of several U.S. citizens.
North Korea has fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan before landing in the northern Pacific Ocean. It was the second aggressive test-flight over the territory of the close US ally in less than a month and it followed the sixth and most powerful nuclear test by North Korea to date on September 3. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile travelled about 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) while reaching a maximum height of 770 kilometers (478 miles). The missile, launched from Sunan, the site of Pyongyang's international airport, flew farther than any other missile North Korea has fired. The distance it flew is slightly greater than between the North Korean capital and the American air base in Guam.
The leader of Yemen’s Shiite rebels threatened on Thursday to attack territory in the United Arab Emirates, a key member of a Saudi-led coalition fighting to defeat his Iranian-backed forces and restore an internationally recognized government. In a speech aired on the rebel-run al-Masirah TV, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said the UAE is now within range of missiles available to his forces after a ‘successful’ missile test showed they could reach the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi. ‘All companies (working) in the UAE should no longer see it as safe,’ he said.
Iraqi security forces have freed most of northern Iraq from the grip of the Islamic State. But U.S. and Iraqi officials warn that thousands of militants remain in the country and are ready to wage a ferocious fight in a desert region bordering Syria. The bulk of the war against the Islamic State was finished when Iraqi security forces reclaimed the cities of Mosul and Tal Afar this summer. But the battle looming in western Anbar province is expected to be one of the most complex to date. The vast region will be difficult to surround, and clearing it will probably involve coordination among the U.S.-backed forces and the Syrian regime, Russia and Iran.
The US military has detained a US citizen who had been fighting with ISIS in Syria, a Pentagon spokesman confirmed to CNN Thursday. ‘Syrian Democratic Forces turned over to US forces an American citizen who surrendered to the SDF on or around September 12,’ US Marine Corps Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway told CNN, referring to the US-backed Kurdish led group fighting ISIS in Syria. ‘The US citizen is being legally detained by Department of Defense personnel as a known enemy combatant,’ he added. Rankine-Galloway referred CNN to the Department of Justice for additional information. The Department of Justice and the FBI declined to comment.
Brett McGurk, the U.S. special envoy to the coalition against Islamic State, on Thursday said he was encouraged that the Iraqi Kurdish leadership could embrace a plan to delay an independence referendum. Moving forward with the referendum on Sept. 25 would be a ‘risky’ move for Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region because there was no international support for it at this moment, McGurk said in a news conference.
Around the time President Trump announced his new strategy for Afghanistan, a delegation of American and Afghan military officials arrived in New Delhi. They wanted to learn more about the Indian Territorial Army, which has been deployed in contentious areas to ease the burden on India’s regular army. The American military has turned to that force as a potential model for how to maintain the Afghan government’s waning control — without too high a cost — in difficult parts of Afghanistan at a time when the Taliban are resurgent.
The Russian Navy on Thursday fired seven cruise missiles at Islamic state targets in the suburbs of Syria’s Deir al-Zor, the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement on Thursday. It said the missiles were fired from two submarines in the eastern Mediterranean from a distance of 500-670 kilometers (727 miles). ‘The targets were command posts, communication centers, as well as militants’ weapons and ammunition stockpiles in areas of south-east Deir al-Zor under the control of Islamic State,’ the ministry said.
Buses carrying evacuated Islamic State militants and members of their families have reportedly reached IS-held territory in eastern Syria. Syria's government allowed the convoy to travel across the country as part of a deal that saw the militants leave an enclave on the Syrian-Lebanese border. But it was stranded in the desert for days after a US-led coalition vowed to stop it reaching Deir al-Zour province. Activists said late on Wednesday that the buses had made it through. Anti-IS coalition drones left the skies above the convoy on Friday, after conducting strikes that left craters in roads, destroyed bridges and targeting militants who fled.
Russia, Turkey and Iran are close to finalizing an agreement on creating four de-escalation zones in Syria, a senior Russian negotiator said on Thursday. The three sides are discussing details of the agreement at meetings in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, Alexander Lavrentyev, who leads the Russian delegation, told reporters. ‘Our main task at this international meeting on Syria is to finalize and establish four de-escalation zones,’ Lavrentyev said. ‘We are very close to reaching an agreement on creating these four zones.’
Syrian activists say at least 20 civilians have been killed in air and missile strikes across east Syria, where U.S. and Russian-backed forces are racing to take territory from the Islamic State group's shrinking Euphrates river valley domain. Turkey-based activist Omar Abou Layla says local activists reported ‘fanatical’ levels of strikes on three IS-held towns and villages on the Euphrates River valley on Thursday, including an attack on the national hospital in the IS stronghold of al-Mayadeen. Six civilians were killed. He put the toll at 20 killed across the province. He blamed the strikes on the Russian air force, which is supporting government forces advancing in the region.
An observer group says intense clashes are ongoing in the Syrian central province of Hama between pro-government forces and members of the Islamic State group. Syrian troops have been on the offensive in central Syria against IS for weeks under the cover of Russian airstrikes. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the fighting is concentrated in the Okeirbat area that government forces regained control of on Thursday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a phone call on the Syria crisis with his American counterpart Rex Tillerson, the ministry said in a statement on Friday. Lavrov and Tillerson spoke late on Thursday and discussed cooperation in their attempts to resolve the Syrian crisis with an emphasis on de-escalation zones, the ministry said.
The U.S. has opted not to intervene in a months-long advance by the Syrian military and its Russian and Iranian allies designed to defeat the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in its final, eastern stronghold in Syria. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the anti-ISIS Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve, told reporters in Washington via video chat Thursday that the U.S.-led coalition had decided not to enter the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, where Syrian troops recently broke an ISIS siege against comrades trapped behind enemy lines for three years.
At least 60 people have died in gun and bomb attacks in southern Iraq. Two restaurant and a police checkpoint were hit with more than 100 people also wounded in the attacks claimed by isis. One attacker detonated his explosive vest inside the restaurant, south-west of Nassiriya in the Thi Qar province, while three to four other attackers opened fire at the people inside, police sources said. Security officials described the attacks as an attempt to send a message to Isis followers that the group is still strong and can operate in other parts of Iraq following the loss of the Iraqi city of Mosul. "After losing the war in Iraq and the shrinking of its power, Daesh returned back to its old style of an insurgency, by carrying out suicide attacks, which is a clear sign that the terrorist group is retreating," police intelligence colonel Murtatha al-Yassiri told Reuters.
Iraqi security forces have made great progress toward defeating the Islamic State in Iraq. Whether this military success will translate into enduring stability will depend in large part upon the attitudes of Iraqi Sunnis toward the postwar state. Since 2003, Iraqi Sunnis have viewed the political system as unfair and marginalizing their role in the nation’s politics. A recent public opinion survey we carried out reveals a startling and potentially significant shift in Sunni attitudes toward the Iraqi state. A nationwide poll of Iraqis carried out by the Almustakilla for Research group in April 2017 found that for the first time since our surveys began in 2003, Sunni Arab public opinion in Iraq is very positive about the political situation in the country, while the Shiite Arab view of politics has grown more negative.
The United States and Western allies pressed Iraqi Kurdish leaders to ditch a ‘very risky’ independence vote on Thursday, presenting an alternative plan in an attempt to avoid conflict between the oil rich region and central government in Baghdad. The referendum, slated for Sept. 25, has become a potential flashpoint in the region, with Western powers concerned it could ignite conflict with Baghdad and divert attention from the war against Islamic State militants. ‘Heading into a referendum for Sept. 25, there is no prospect for international legitimacy,’ Brett McGurk, a U.S. special envoy, told reporters after a delegation also including the U.N. and Britain met Kurdish President Massoud Barzani.
Iraq is holding hundreds of women foreign fighters who battled for the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in a prison near the northern city of Mosul, according to authorities. An investigations officer told the Associated Press that 531 women born outside of Iraq had been split into a group separate from a larger contingent of women and children. The officer, who spoke to the news agency on condition of anonymity, said the women ‘are being investigated’ for their close links to the jihadi group. Iraqi forces have rounded up ISIS fighters, both women and men, in the campaign to liberate Mosul.
At least 60 people have been killed in two attacks in southern Iraq, police and health officials say. A suicide bomber detonated a vest and gunmen opened fire inside a restaurant near Nasiriya, capital of Dhiqar province, security sources said. Soon afterwards, a car bomb exploded at a nearby checkpoint. So-called Islamic State said it carried out the attacks. Shia Muslim pilgrims including Iranians were killed by the suspected militants. According to news agency AFP, one report said the attackers were disguised as members of Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) - a mainly Shia group that has fought alongside Iraqi forces against IS.
Turkey feels betrayed by some European Union leaders who have called for the end of accession talks but still hopes eventually to join the bloc, Turkish EU Minister Omer Celik said on Thursday. The European Union has become increasingly critical of Turkey’s membership drive since President Tayyip Erdogan launched a crackdown on critics - including journalists and academics - after a failed 2016 coup. Erdogan accused Berlin of ‘Nazi-like’ tactics in March when it prevented Turkish ministers speaking at expatriate rallies in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an election debate ten days ago it was clear Turkey should not join the EU and entry talks should end, despite it being a crucial NATO ally.
A decision by the BRICS nations to name and denounce specific terrorist organizations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere is sparking debate among academics and analysts in China. Earlier this month, the group, comprised of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, extended their support to Kabul’s counterterrorism efforts during a meeting in China. The move caused some nervousness in Islamabad, forcing Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif to first visit Beijing and then fly to Tehran, canvassing support for his country.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans to step up air strikes on Islamist militants in Afghanistan risk increasing civilian casualties and stirring resentment, despite an initial welcome by Afghan officials and international allies. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has avoided vocal criticisms of errant air strikes, but in previous years they sparked intense friction and soured ties between his predecessor, Hamid Karzai, and the international coalition in Afghanistan. With the U.S. set to resume a more active role in the war, many analysts expect a rise in the U.N.-documented first-half figure of 232 civilian casualties from international and Afghan air operations, a spike of 43 percent from a year earlier.
Yemen’s Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said on Thursday his group could target Saudi oil tankers should Saudi Arabia attack Yemen’s main port at Hodeidah. ‘We could target Saudi oil tankers and we could do anything,’ he said. In a televised speech, the leader also said his group’s ballistic missiles were capable of reaching the United Arab Emirates’ capital of Abu Dhabi and anywhere inside Saudi Arabia. It was unclear whether the Houthi group has the capability to carry out its threats.
Three suspected al Qaeda militants were killed in a drone strike in southern Yemen late on Thursday, a local security official and residents said. The strike in Mudiyah district in Abyan province on the Arabian Sea coast had targeted a motorcycle which the suspected militants were riding, the official said. Abyan is one of several provinces in central and southern Yemen where Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and its local affiliate Ansar al-Sharia operate. AQAP has taken advantage of a more than two-year civil war between the Iran-aligned Houthi group and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Saudi-backed government to strengthen its position in the impoverished country.
Israeli security forces seized tens of thousands of shekels early Thursday in the area of the southern West Bank village of Yatta, saying the money was destined for the family of a Palestinian teenager who stabbed an Israeli woman to death in her West Bank home. The Israel Defense Forces said NIS 48,000 ($13,500) from the Hamas terror group was likely meant to rebuild the family house of Morad Bader Abdullah Adais in Yatta, destroyed by Israel after Adais killed Dafna Meir at the entrance to her home in the nearby settlement of Otniel.
The gas-rich nation burned through $38.5 billion of its vast financial reserves in June and July, ratings agency Moody's estimated this week. And there's no sign of the dispute being resolved any time soon. "In the short term, we expect tensions to persist, quite possibly to escalate," Moody's said in a report on Wednesday. "The severity of the dispute is unprecedented. On June 5, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut all diplomatic and transport links with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Qatar denies the accusations. Qatar had in the past relied heavily on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for much its imports, including a third of its food supply. It also imported most of its construction materials from the two countries.
Russia has reportedly rebuffed an Israeli demand to ensure that Iranian forces and Iran-backed Shiite militants not be allowed to operate within 60-80 kilometers of the Syrian frontier with Israel in the Golan Heights. The demand was initially raised by Israel in July, when negotiations were under way for a ceasefire deal in southern Syria between President Bashar Assad and Syrian rebels, under the auspices of the Washington and Moscow. Russian has rejected the plea, according to reports Thursday on Israel’s Channel 2 TV and in the Haaretz newspaper. Instead, it has committed only to keeping Iranian forces five kilometers from the Golan Heights frontier.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Thursday welcoming recent efforts to bring opposing sides together on the conflict in Libya, which Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling ripe for mediation to end the chaos and restore peace. The resolution extends the U.N. political mission in the country until September 15, 2018, with a mandate ‘to exercise mediation and good offices’ to support ‘an inclusive political process’ and a Libyan transition. Libya sank into chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moammar Gadhafi. It is split between rival parliaments and governments in the east and west, each backed by a set of militias, tribes and political factions.
Ten months after Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari declared a victory over Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group is stepping up attacks in the far northeast of the country. Boko Haram militants deployed at least 80 children as ‘human bombs’ this year, Mark Lowcock, the United Nations under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said on Tuesday in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, the group’s birthplace. The most spectacular attack occurred in July when the Islamist fighters targeted a state oil company research team, killing 48 people and seizing several hostages.
Earlier this year, The Cipher Brief examined the deteriorating security situation across North Africa, contending that al Qaeda’s regional offshoot, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), was poised to wreak havoc and generate further instability throughout the Sahel. Over the past nine months, this appears to have been the case as AQIM has accelerated its operations and stretched its target set into new territories. Last week, the U.S. evacuated more than 100 Peace Corps volunteers from the West African country of Burkina Faso, which has witnessed an uptick in extremist related activity since January. The announcement came one month after a mid-August terrorist attack on a prominent Turkish café in the Burkina Faso capital city of Ouagadougou left nearly 20 people dead, including foreigners from Kuwait, Canada, France, Lebanon, Nigeria, Senegal, and Turkey.
London Underground passengers have been injured following an explosion on a District Line train in south-west London. Police and paramedics were called at 08:20 BST (07:20 GMT) on Friday to Parsons Green station in Fulham. Pictures show a white bucket on fire inside a supermarket bag, but does not appear to show extensive damage to the inside of the Tube train carriage. Witnesses described seeing at least one passenger with facial injuries. Others have spoken of ‘panic’ as alarmed passengers left the train at Parsons Green station.
London's Metropolitan Police are investigating an explosion that struck a subway station Friday morning, calling it a terrorism incident. "We can confirm that we treated a total of 19 patients — mostly for minor injuries — and took them to three London hospitals" after the incident at the Parsons Green metro station," said Natasha Wills, of the London Ambulance Service. Along with those taken to hospitals by ambulance, four people "self-presented" at London hospitals after the blast at the above-ground station, the National Health Service says. No deaths have been reported as a result of the blast, which seems to have left a small fire burning in a bucket inside a train car. Emergency calls went out at 8:20 a.m. local time, when a fire was reported at the station.
More than one person per day on average is arrested for a terror-related offense in the U.K., according to government figures released Thursday. There were 379 terror-related arrests during a 12-month period ending in June. The figure marks a 68 percent increase from the year before and is the highest since the government started collecting data in 2001. More than 90 percent of all offenses are related to Islamic fundamentalism. Three major terror attacks have taken place in the country since March. Of the 379 arrests, 12 are related to the Westminster attack in March, 23 are connected to the bombing at Manchester Arena in May, and 21 were made after the London Bridge attack in June.
The number of people arrested in Britain on suspicion of terrorism offences rocketed by 68 percent in the last year to the highest figure on record during a period when the country suffered four deadly attacks, figures showed on Thursday. Statistics from the Home Office (interior ministry) showed there were 379 arrests in the year to June, up from 226 from the 12 previous months, and the most since 2001 when the data began to be collected. Britain is on its second-highest threat level, ‘severe’, meaning an attack is highly likely and 36 people were killed in terrorist incidents in the first six months of 2017.
The EU’s open borders have helped terrorists launch attacks on the continent, Jean-Claude Juncker confessed yesterday. In a frank admission, the European Commission president said the Schengen zone had allowed extremists to move freely between countries. But Mr Juncker said he still wanted to push ahead with plans to extend the border-free travel area to include Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia. Terrorists involved in both the Paris and Berlin attacks were able to escape across borders into other countries thanks to the removal of checkpoints.
France's foreign minister called on Turkey's government Thursday to respect European Union values and to work to improve its strained relations with Germany and other EU nations. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said at a news conference with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara that France does not want to see a ‘rupture’ in Turkey's connection to the European bloc. Le Drian also called for a swift trial for jailed French journalist Loup Bureau, who has been jailed in Turkey since July 26 on suspicion of terrorism ‘so that he may rapidly return to France and to his family.’
An assailant attacked a soldier on a counter-terrorism patrol in Paris on Friday, France’s armed forces minister said, the latest in a series of strikes targeting troops protecting transport hubs and tourist sites. The assailant was wrestled to the ground before being detained. The soldier, part of Operation Sentinel, a force deployed in the wake of Islamist attacks was unhurt in the incident. French media reported he was armed with a knife. It happened at the Chatelet subway station, a busy central hub for the metro and the suburban RER rail network that carries commuters into the capital from the capital’s sprawling suburbs.
Russian security services believe Islamic State is behind a wave of hoax bomb threats that have forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from government buildings, shopping malls and airports across the country, state news service RIA Novosti reported. Reinforcing concerns about terrorist risk, RIA on Thursday cited an unnamed security official as saying that investigators had traced the calls to people based abroad linked to the extremist group and other organizations. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a series of deadly attacks in Russia, including a suicide bombing in April in St. Petersburg that killed 14 people.
An Indian priest who was held by the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has been welcomed at the Vatican by Pope Francis after 18 months of captivity in Yemen. The pontiff hosted Father Tom Uzhunnalil at his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, on Wednesday. In pictures published by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Uzhunnalil is shown kneeling and kissing the feet of Francis. The Pope responded by helping him up and kissing his hands. Jihadists captured Uzhunnalil in the southern Yemeni city of Aden in March 2016, taking him from a home for the disabled and the elderly. The charity was run by the Missionaries of Charity, an organization founded by Mother Theresa. Four of its nuns were killed in the attack, along with 12 other people.
Austria, France, Germany, Denmark and Norway have called on Brussels to extend the length of time members of the passport-free Schengen area can reintroduce border controls from two to four years. ‘We call on the [European] Commission to submit draft legislation aimed at amending the provisions … to allow member states to reintroduce internal border controls for periods longer than currently provided for,’ according to an unofficial document seen by POLITICO. At the peak of the migration crisis in September 2015, five countries — Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, which is not in the EU — reintroduced internal border controls to stem the flow of refugees and asylum seekers. In May, the countries were authorized to extend the controls until mid-November.
Source : https://www.counterextremism.com/roundup/eye-extremism-september-15-1