Monday 9.10.18
  • French police detained a man who wounded seven people in a knife attack in central Paris late on Sunday, police and judicial sources said on Monday, adding there was no initial indication the incident was linked to terrorism. The attacker, who one police source said was from Afghanistan, stabbed tourists and passersby along the Bassin de la Villette, a popular outdoor canal area in the northeast of Paris where many people gather on warm evenings.
  • Taliban insurgents have launched separate attacks on Afghan security forces in the country's north, killing at least 37, provincial officials said Monday. Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi, head of the provincial council in Kunduz province, said that at least 13 security forces were killed in an attack on a checkpoint they were manning in Dashti Archi district, with another 15 security forces wounded there. The firefight began late Sunday and continued into Monday morning.
  • Seventeen years into the war in Afghanistan, American officials routinely issue inflated assessments of progress that contradict what is actually happening there. Since 2017, the Taliban have held more Afghan territory than at any time since the American invasion. In just one week last month, the insurgents killed 200 Afghan police officers and soldiers, overrunning two major Afghan bases and the city of Ghazni. The American military says the Afghan government effectively “controls or influences” 56 percent of the country. But that assessment relies on statistical sleight of hand. In many districts, the Afghan government controls only the district headquarters and military barracks, while the Taliban control the rest.
  • Iran’s Revolutionary Guards fired seven missiles in an attack on Iraq-based Iranian Kurdish dissidents that killed at least 11 people on Saturday, the elite military unit was reported as saying by Iranian news agencies on Sunday. Iraqi Kurdish officials said Iran attacked the base of an Iranian Kurdish armed opposition group in northern Iraq on Saturday, killing at least 11 people and wounding scores more.
  • Basra airport was attacked with rockets on Saturday after another night of protests against Iraq’s political elite, during which demonstrators set fire to the Iranian consulate and briefly took oilfield workers hostage. Iraq’s second city has been rocked by five days of demonstrations, in which government buildings have been ransacked and set alight by protesters angry over political corruption. Protests first erupted in July over poor government services, but intensified this week.
  • Hailing from far and wide, they flocked to Syria to wage "holy war". Now foreign jihadists face a fight to the last to hold onto Idlib, their final bastion. Syrian troops, backed by Russia and Iran, have massed around the northwestern province ahead of an expected onslaught against the largest rebel-held zone left in the country. Since 2015, Idlib has been home to a complex array of anti-regime forces: secular rebels, Islamists, Syrian jihadists with ties to Al-Qaeda -- and their foreign counterparts. The non-Syrians include fighters from Uzbekistan, Chechnya and China's ethnic Uighur minority who cut their teeth in other wars but then swarmed to Syria to take up the cause.
  • Yemeni tribal leaders say a suspected U.S. drone strike has killed four alleged al-Qaeda militants including a field leader in the country's south. The tribal leaders said on Sunday that the operatives were killed when an unmanned aircraft targeted a group of al-Qaeda militants in the district of Ahwar, one of al-Qaeda's strongholds in the southern Abyan province.
  • Egyptian security forces have killed 11 suspected jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula as they press a campaign against Islamist militants in the area, a security source said Monday. The military launched a sweeping operation in February focused on the Sinai in eastern Egypt aimed at wiping out jihadists, including from the Islamic State group, who have been waging a bloody insurgency.
  • Armed groups vying for control of the Libyan capital have agreed to set up a mechanism to “consolidate” a recently agreed ceasefire, the United Nations’ Libya mission, UNSMIL, said on Sunday. On Tuesday, the United Nations persuaded various armed groups to halt fighting that had killed dozens in Tripoli, one of the many sites of unrest gripping the oil producer.
  • Two staff of Libyan state oil firm and two gunmen were killed in an attack on the National Oil Corporation’s (NOC) headquarters in Tripoli on Monday, a security official said. Forces linked to the Tripoli government published pictures of a leg which it said belonged to one of the gunmen who had blown himself up.
  • Four years ago, thousands of Tunisian jihadists began flowing to the battlefields of Iraq, Libya and Syria to join the Islamic State and al-Qaeda — more than from any other nationality. Ever since, Tunisian and Western authorities have feared their return and the possible chaos that could follow. So far, those fears haven’t materialized, according to Tunisian authorities, Western diplomats and regional analysts. Instead, the Islamic State and al-Qaeda are recruiting a new generation of locals to stage terrorist attacks at home, including one in July near the Algerian border that left six national guardsmen dead.
  • A suicide car bomb rammed into a local government office in Somalia’s capital on Monday, killing at least six people in an attack claimed by al-Qaeda-linked al Shabaab. A loud blast destroyed the office in Mogadishu’s Hodan district and sent up huge clouds of smoke. A Reuters reporter saw five bodies and the body parts of a sixth person.
  • Burkina Faso has become a frequent target for terrorist attacks. But while jihadist activity was previously confined to the north of the country, it is now moving to the east, a region already suffering from rampant organised crime. On September 5, a group of Burkinabé soldiers were travelling to defuse mines laid by jihadist groups when, in the eastern town of Kabonga, they were hit by an improvised explosive device (IED). Two were killed and six were injured, while the perpetrators of the attack have not been identified.

Tuesday 9.11.18

  • The Taliban overran the Kham Ab district center in Jawzjan province, Afghanistan in the last 24 hours, and is threatening the provincial capital of Sar-i-Pul, as the group continues to pressure Afghan forces in the north. The chief of police for Kham Ab confirmed that the Taliban overran the government buildings and took control of the district. During the assault, 10 security personnel were killed, seven were captured, and seven “uprising forces” or local militia defected to the Taliban, TOLONews reported. An estimated 50 security forces have been surrounded.
  • A suicide bomber detonated his explosives-filled vest among a group of people protesting a local police commander in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing 32 and wounding about 130, a provincial official said. Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor said the all 32 people killed in the attack were innocent civilians gathered for a protest. A number of wounded people are in critical condition, he said.
  • The last vestige of Islamic State territory in Syria came under attack, as members of an American-backed coalition said Tuesday that they had begun a final push to oust the militants from Hajin, the remaining sliver of territory under the group’s control in the region where it was born. The assault is the final chapter of a war that began more than four years ago after the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, seized enormous tracts of land in Iraq and Syria and declared a caliphate.
  • An ambush by the Islamic State jihadist group has killed 21 regime fighters in Syria's southern province of Sweida, a Britain-based war monitor said on Tuesday. The attack occurred late Monday in the rural Tulul al-Safa area of the province, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) southeast of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Eight jihadists were also killed in subsequent clashes in the area, which is the jihadists' last bastion in Sweida, the Observatory said.
  • The head of Iran’s armed forces demanded on Tuesday authorities in neighboring Iraq hand over separatist Kurdish dissidents stationed there and close their bases, according to a report by the semi-official Fars news agency. Major General Mohammad Baqeri was quoted three days after reports that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards fired seven missiles at the base of an Iranian Kurdish armed opposition group in northern Iraq, killing at least 11 people.

Wednesday 9.12.18

  • Since the lightning rise of the Islamic State in 2014, law enforcement has scrambled to stop an endless array of plots. It is only now, more than four years after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his caliphate, that the cadence has finally slowed. Islamic State attacks in the West fell steeply in 2018 compared with the previous four years, the first time the number has fallen since 2014. But the number of attempted attacks remained steady, suggesting that the group remains committed to carrying out catastrophic harm.
  • Al Qaeda released a new message from its leader, Ayman al Zawahiri, to commemorate the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 hijackings earlier today. Titled “How to Confront America,” the talk is intended to rally jihadists and supporters against their common perceived enemy. Much of the message is not a how-to so much as it is a restatement of al Qaeda’s anti-American view. Zawahiri portrays the US as the chief enemy of Muslims around the globe. Of course, al Qaeda has repeatedly plotted and called for terrorist attacks inside the West. But that is not the only way Zawahiri thinks the jihadists should continue to fight the Americans.
  • The Taliban are preparing to send a delegation for further talks with U.S. officials about ending the conflict in Afghanistan, two officials involved with the process said on Tuesday, adding that the meeting could address a possible prisoner swap. The two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Taliban leaders were meeting to discuss the makeup of the three- or four-person delegation and the subjects to be discussed.
  • The United States warned Iran on Tuesday it will “respond swiftly and decisively” to any attacks by Tehran’s allies in Iraq that result in injury to Americans or damage to U.S. facilities. The statement by the White House press secretary accused Iran of not preventing attacks in recent days on the U.S. Consulate in Basra and the American Embassy compound in Baghdad.
  • At least six people were killed and 42 wounded when a suicide bomber detonated a car full of explosives at a restaurant on a highway near the Iraqi city of Tikrit on Wednesday, police and medical sources said. Police said the attacker targeted the Qala’a restaurant which is usually frequented by security forces members and paramilitary fighters.
  • Turkey has stepped up arms supplies to Syrian rebels to help them stave off an expected offensive by the Syrian army and its Russian and Iran-backed allies in the northwest near the Turkish frontier, rebel sources told Reuters. Senior rebel officials said Turkey had sent more military aid to rebels in and around the Idlib region since a summit meeting with Iran and Russia last week failed to agree a deal to avert a government offensive into the area.
  • The Turkish secret service staged an operation deep in the heartland of the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad to capture and bring back to Turkey the prime suspect in a 2013 bombing, officials said Wednesday. Turkish citizen Yusuf Nazik, who is accused of planning the May 2013 Reyhanli bombing, was apprehended in an operation carried out by the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT).
  • Heavy fighting resumed on the outskirts of Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah, days after U.N.-sponsored talks between the warring parties collapsed, military sources said on Wednesday. The renewed skirmishes could put further pressure on U.N. special envoy Martin Griffiths, who vowed to press ahead with diplomacy after an attempt to hold peace talks in Geneva was abandoned on Saturday when the Houthi movement’s delegation failed to show up.
  • Rockets were fired late on Tuesday in the direction of the airport in Libya’s capital, residents said, forcing flights to be diverted, less than a week after the United Nations brokered a fragile truce between rival armed groups in Tripoli. Separately, Islamic State claimed responsibility for a shooting attack on the headquarters of Libyan state oil company NOC in Tripoli, the jihadist group’s news agency said on Tuesday.

Thursday 9.13.18

  • Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will be forced to take terrorist content off their sites within an hour or face multimillion pound fines, under fresh proposals from the European Union. Julian King, the British security commissioner in Brussels, said there had been a shift in the nature of terror attacks, with people being increasingly radicalised and then receiving their instruction online. He said online material has played a part in every attack on European soil in the last 18 months.
  • Bulgarian authorities have charged a Swiss citizen with terrorism and arms smuggling after he was arrested trying to cross the border with Turkey to reach Syria, the prosecutors office said on Thursday. The man, wanted by the Swiss authorities, was captured in an operation by the national security service, border police and prosecutors at the Kapitan Andreevo border check point on Sept. 11 and charged the following day, prosecutors said.
  • An Afghan official says Taliban attacks have killed at least 10 soldiers and two policemen. Provincial council chief Farid Bakhtawar in Farah province says that Taliban fighters tried to overrun the army base in Pusht Road district early on Thursday morning. He says they were using artillery to attack the troops and at least 10 soldiers were killed and three wounded in the four-hour-long gun battle.
  • Negotiations between the United States and the Afghan Taliban for a political settlement to end the protracted war in Afghanistan are stuck over the issue of maintenance of U.S. military bases in the country, according to Waheed Muzhda, a former Taliban official in Kabul who remains in regular contact with Taliban leaders. The “U.S. wants the Taliban to accept at least two military bases, Bagram and Shorabak. The Taliban are not willing to accept it,” Muzhda said, adding the insurgent leaders are unwilling to accept anything more than a nominal number of troops required to secure the U.S. diplomatic mission.
  • Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Thursday that a missile strike they launched on a Kurdish rebel base in neighbouring Iraq last week should serve as a warning to "arrogant foreign powers". The elite Guards fired seven medium-range ballistic missiles at the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran in Koysinjaq in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, causing major casualties and damage with what they described as a precision strike.
  • Twitter Inc. shut down the account of a prominent Iraqi militia leader after he was accused by the U.S. government of inciting violence against American diplomats in Basra, where the U.S. consulate came under a rocket attack. The episode illustrates the importance that social media has come to play in mobilizing political support in Iraq—and, potentially, in encouraging militia attacks. It comes as Iraqi politicians are struggling to form a new government and the U.S. and Iran are vying for influence.
  • Republican U.S. senators plan to introduce legislation on Wednesday seeking to counteract what they see as Iran’s increasing influence in Iraq, amid concern about attacks in Iraq by groups U.S. officials consider Iranian proxies, a Senate aide said on Wednesday. Among other things, the bill, whose text was seen by Reuters, would impose terrorism-related sanctions on Iranian-controlled militias and require the U.S. Secretary of State to publish and maintain a list of armed groups receiving assistance from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC.

 Friday 9.14.18

  • A coalition of Iran's allies and Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is increasingly likely to form the next Iraqi cabinet, and agree to expel US forces through political means. Such a coalition would increase pressure on oil companies to help provide basic services, but would also resort to greater use of force to end and prevent further protests. If no such coalition is formed, there will be a greater risk of Shia-Shia fighting affecting Baghdad and southern provinces, including government buildings and energy assets.
  • Fighters from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces sing for courage as they ready for battle, this time for an assault on the Islamic State group's last stronghold in the country's east. The US-backed SDF and their American advisers have been grouped on the outskirts of the village of As-Susah on the east bank of the Euphrates River in Deir Ezzor province. As pick-up trucks loaded with fighters of the joint Kurdish-Arab force skid along snaking dirt roads, coalition forces have been firing rounds of mortar fire and rockets at jihadist positions.
  • Kurdish fighters in northern Syria detained an alleged Italian member of the Islamic State group as he was trying to flee across the border to Turkey, they said Thursday. The People's Protection Units (YPG) have captured several foreign IS fighters since the jihadists' so-called caliphate collapsed nearly a year ago. "On August 27, a mercenary called Semir Bogana was captured as a result of a special operation conducted by our Anti-Terror Units, when he was trying to flee to Turkey," said the YPG.
  • A Syrian rebel commander said on Thursday rare military exercises with U.S. marines in southern Syria sent a strong message to Russia and Iran that the Americans and the rebels intend to stay and confront any threats to their presence. Colonel Muhanad al Talaa, commander of the Pentagon-backed Maghawir al Thawra group, told Reuters the eight days of drills that ended this week at the U.S. military outpost in Tanf were the first such exercises with live-fire air and ground assault, involving hundreds of U.S. troops and rebel fighters.
  • The Israeli Security Agency says it has dismantled a Hamas cell, made up mostly of women, in Hebron in the southern West Bank. The agency said Aug. 28 that over the previous few weeks it had arrested seven women it claims were recruiting members and coordinating events in mosques, working to expand Hamas' popular base and spreading incitement on social media websites. The cell, the agency said, also had been helping prisoners' families, trying to influence municipal affairs in Hebron, running charitable institutions and reaching out to foreign institutions for funding and aid to Gaza and to finance military activities. 
  • A new type of unmanned explosive-rigged boat has been discovered by pro-government forces off Yemen's Red Sea coast. The Fifth Military Region, a command that includes the coastal province of Hajjah that neighbours Saudi Arabia, reported on 8 September that one of its naval patrols had chanced upon what it described as a "booby-trapped boat belonging to the [Iranian-backed] Houthi militia" near Al-Fasht Island.
  • On Sept. 11, Al-Qaeda’s Somalia branch attacked US and partner forces, resulting in casualties on both sides, according to a US Forces Africa Command (AFRICOM) press release today. The attack occurred in Mubaraak, a central village located approximately 37 miles west of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. US personnel did not incur injuries or casualties and are fully accounted for. Following the attack, the United States conducted a defensive airstrike which killed two Shabaab terrorists and wounded an additional one. AFRICOM does not assess any civilian casualties.
  • A group of former national security officials is urging the Trump administration to reconsider a controversial report on the connection between terrorism and immigration, saying the report falsely gives the impression that immigrants are responsible for the majority of terrorist attacks in the United States. The officials, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former White House terrorism czar Richard A. Clarke made the call in a letter sent Thursday to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.