Monday 10.15.18
  • A Moroccan associate of the Sept. 11 hijackers is being moved from a German prison in preparation for deportation after serving most of a 15-year jail term for helping organize the 2001 attacks on U.S. targets, authorities said on Monday. Mounir El Motassadeq was a member of a group of radical Islamists based in the northern German port city of Hamburg who helped bring about the suicide attacks with hijacked airliners that killed nearly 3,000 people.
  • The Taliban have attacked an army base in western Afghanistan, killing 17 Afghan soldiers and abducting 11 others, officials said Sunday. Ghausuddin Noorzai, the district chief in Pusht Rod, said another four soldiers were wounded in the attack, which began late Saturday and continued into Sunday morning. He said the Taliban also overran two checkpoints near the base, seizing weapons and ammunition.
  • In a statement released today, the Taliban confirms that its representatives met with a team of American negotiators in Doha on Oct 12. The Americans’ stated goal for the nascent talks is to have the Taliban reach a political settlement with the Afghan government. However, the Taliban recently rejected Afghanistan’s elections, calling for attacks to disrupt them. And the Taliban has consistently rejected President Ashraf Ghani’s government as illegitimate.
  • Syria’s main jihadist group signaled on Sunday it would abide by the terms of a Russian-Turkish deal to prevent a Syrian government offensive on rebel-held Idlib the day before a critical deadline. Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist alliance spearheaded by al Qaeda’s former Syrian affiliate previously known as the Nusra Front, said it had adopted its stance after taking time for “consultation”.
  • The Israeli military says Israeli troops have shot and killed a Palestinian after he attempted to stab a soldier in the West Bank. The military says the alleged attacker did not wound any soldiers during Monday’s incident. It says troops fired toward him and the he was “neutralized and killed.” The incident comes as security forces continue to search for a Palestinian who shot and killed two Israelis in a West Bank industrial park last week before fleeing the scene. The military also notified the man’s family on Monday that it intends to demolish his home in response to the attack.
  • An Egyptian court on Sunday upheld death sentences for three people for establishing and running a militant group known as Ansar al-Sharia, two judicial sources and state news agency MENA said. The charges included killing at least 10 police officers and attempting to kill more in a series of attacks between August 2013 and May 2014. The court upheld sentences issued in August. The decision can be appealed within 60 days.
  • Islamic State in Nigeria might kill healthcare workers it has held hostage since March within 24 hours, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Sunday, calling for mercy and urging Nigeria’s government to intervene. Medical workers Hauwa Mohammed Liman and Alice Loksha were working in the town of Rann when they were kidnapped along with ICRC midwife Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa, who was killed in September, the ICRC said in a statement.

Tuesday 10.16.18

  • An Afghan official says a Taliban attack on a security outpost in northern Samangan province has killed seven policemen, including a deputy provincial police chief. The provincial governor, Abdul Latif Ibrahimi, says the attack occurred late on Monday in Dari Suf district. Ibrahimi told The Associated Press on Tuesday that another five policemen were wounded in the attack. He says the attackers made away with two armored personnel carriers, a police vehicle and an ambulance.
  • Two Indian soldiers were injured after a terrorist attacked a police camp in India’s Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama last night. The terrorist attacked the sentry post of the CRPF camp in Kakapura, an official said. The two soldiers who had bullet injuries were taken to the District Hospital in Pulwama. The area was cordoned off following the attack. The attack comes days after a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist was killed in Jammu and Kashmir's Kangan.
  • At least 10 Iranian security personnel including Revolutionary Guards were kidnapped on the border with Pakistan on Tuesday, state media reported, and a separatist group that claimed responsibility described the act as revenge for oppression of Sunni Muslims. The Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s top security force, said in a statement carried on state television that some of its members were abducted by a militant group at a border post in the city of Mirjaveh in Sistan-Baluchestan province.
  • The Trump administration yesterday designated Hezbollah as a top transnational criminal organization, devoting more resources to targeting the Lebanese paramilitary group’s racketeering and drug trafficking activities abroad. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a Justice Department task force specifically targeting Hezbollah along with four Latin American cartels. Hezbollah may seem like the odd man out in a list of gangs that are predominantly active in Latin America, but the Lebanese organization does its own fair share of trafficking and money laundering throughout South and Central America. 
  • Yesterday, Shabaab fighters attacked a Somali-led operation near Araara, Somalia, according to a US Forces Africa Command (AFRICOM) press release today. US service personnel were not present on the ground, but the US military did conduct self-defense airstrikes after the Somali force came under small arms fire. The airstrike killed four Shabaab terrorists and did not injure or kill any civilians. This is the third time in the past month that US forces have conducted defensive airstrikes following Shabaab attacks.
  • Islamists in Nigeria have killed an aid worker who was being held hostage after a deadline imposed by the militants expired, the Nigerian government said on Monday. Medical workers Hauwa Mohammed Liman and Alice Loksha were working in the town of Rann in March when they were kidnapped by Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) along with International Committee of the Red Cross midwife Saifura Hussaini Ahmed Khorsa, who was killed in September. The militants said in a video posted online last month that they would kill at least one hostage once a deadline due to elapse on Monday had passed.

Wednesday 10.17.18

  • A Taliban bombing in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province killed a candidate running in the parliamentary elections this weekend, a provincial official said, as attacks elsewhere in the country killed six policemen and two soldiers. The attacks came as the Taliban warned teachers and students not to participate in the vote and not to allow schools to be used as polling centers. The insurgents said in a statement that they will target Saturday’s elections, which they view as illegitimate, but that they do not want to harm civilians.
  • The White House announced yesterday new sanctions on Iran — specifically on the volunteer Basij militia, which operates under the auspices of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The sanctions also target three Iranian banks accused of providing financial support to Basij-controlled companies. The paramilitary force is tasked with exerting the IRGC’s will over Iranian society. But it also fights on behalf of the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria.
  • Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Tuesday they had killed the “mastermind” behind an attack on a military parade in the Iranian city of Ahvaz last month which left 25 people dead, nearly half of them members of the Guards. The Guards said in a statement published on state media their forces had killed a man named Abu Zaha and four other militants in Diyala province in Iraq. One news website run by Iran’s state television said Abu Zaha was a member of Islamic State.
  • Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is launching increasingly daring operations to degrade the capabilities of armed Kurdish opposition groups. In its latest move, it has deployed thousands of troops to difficult mountain ranges in the western part of the country used as safe havens by the groups for decades. The IRGC's operations have taken on an air of urgency since US President Donald Trump's May 8 announcement that he was withdrawing the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, and re-imposing sanctions against Iran.
  • The United States’ top military officer said on Tuesday that little progress had been made in dealing with the underlying conditions that have given rise to armed Islamist militants, even as military gains have been made against groups like Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. “Little progress has been made in addressing the underlying conditions that lead to violent extremism,” said Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a house in the largest city in southern Israel early on Wednesday, prompting Israeli air strikes that killed a militant in the Palestinian enclave. The attacks came a day after Egyptian mediators started a round of talks with officials from the Hamas Islamist group that controls Gaza, as part of efforts to negotiate a long-term ceasefire after months of violence along the border with Israel. The rocket hit a two-story house in Beersheba before dawn, the Israeli military said. It gutted most of the home, blowing out concrete walls and its stone facade, showering its yard and an adjacent street with rubble.
  • At least 17 people have been killed and dozens more wounded in an attack at a college in Russian-annexed Crimea. Officials initially said an "unidentified explosive device" detonated, but now say all the victims died of gunshot wounds at the technical college in Kerch. Russian investigators said an 18-year-old student blamed for the attack had killed himself. The incident had initially been described as a "terrorist act", but Russia's investigative committee has now reclassified it as "mass murder".
  • Former president Barack Obama had vowed to close the US military-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but now it will stay open for at least 25 years, the officer in charge of the facility said Tuesday. Rear Admiral John Ring said the prison, which holds several alleged plotters of the 9/11 attacks, is focused on readiness to make "sure that the facilities are going to last for 25 years."

Thursday 10.18.18

  • Gen. Abdul Razeq, one of Afghanistan’s most powerful security officials, was killed on Thursday when a bodyguard opened fire following a meeting in the governor’s compound in the southern province of Kandahar, officials said. Gen. Scott Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan who had been at the meeting with Razeq only moments earlier, was uninjured in the attack, but the local commander of the NDS intelligence service was killed and the provincial governor was severely wounded.
  • When the White House ordered American diplomats this summer to engage the Taliban directly in the hopes of jump-starting an Afghan peace process, many in Afghanistan welcomed it as a vital first step in trying to break the stalemate that dominates the 17-year war here. Publicly, President Ashraf Ghani was among them, projecting a measured tone. But officials say that in private, the Afghan leader repeatedly expressed concern and resistance to American officials about the prospect of talks that did not include his government.
  • A year after a US-backed alliance of Syrian fighters drove the Islamic State group from the northern city of Raqqa, traumatized civilians still live in fear of near-daily bombings. "Every day we wake up to the sound of an explosion," said resident Khaled al-Darwish. "We're scared to send our children to school... there's no security," he added. The jihadists' brutal rule in Raqqa was brought to an end in October 2017 after a months-long ground offensive by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces supported by air strikes from a U S-led coalition.
  • Three teams of Islamic State terrorists were to have traveled to Germany in 2016 to prepare for and carry out a devastating attack — with the target possibly a music festival. A man, Oguz G.,  and woman, Marcia M., who traveled to Syria in autumn 2015 to join ISIS were to have played a central role in the attack. The plans were foiled both as a result of the investigation and the purging of ISIS from areas that it once occupied. Zeit reported that the couple handed themselves in to Kurdish authorities in October 2017. Since then, they have been held in detention in northern Syria.
  • President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Islamic State militants had seized nearly 700 hostages in part of Syria controlled by U.S.-backed forces and had executed some of them and promised to kill more. Speaking in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, Putin said the hostages included several U.S. and European nationals, adding that Islamic State was expanding its control in territory on the left bank of the River Euphrates controlled by U.S. and U.S.-backed forces.

Friday 10.19.18

  • The State Department announced today that it is offering rewards of $5 and $10 million for information concerning two Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leaders. Both jihadists attended al Qaeda training camps in pre-9/11 Afghanistan before relocating to Yemen, where they eventually assumed leadership positions. They are openly loyal to al Qaeda’s overall emir, Ayman al Zawahiri. Qasim al-Raymi (or al-Rimi) was named AQAP’s emir in June 2015 after his predecessor, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, was killed in an American drone strike. Raymi quickly reaffirmed his allegiance to the “beloved father,” Zawahiri, after assuming AQAP’s top spot.
  • Afghanistan's election commission has postponed Saturday's elections in Kandahar province for a week, following a deadly attack there that killed at least two senior provincial officials, including its powerful police chief. The Independent Election Commission's deputy spokesman, Aziz Ibrahimi, says the decision on the postponement was made to allow mourners to observe funeral rites for the slain police chief, Abdul Raziq, and others killed in the attack.
  • Two highly trained Afghan airmen were killed by an assassin who waited for them on their way to work. Mahboobulhaq Safi, 30 — once Afghanistan’s only C-130 flight engineer — was shot six times Aug. 27, along with Col. Mohammed Shah, 45, one of the country’s few C-130 pilots. Strengthening Afghanistan’s airpower is crucial in helping its military fight the Taliban and other militants. The U.S., for example is planning a $11.4 billion modernization campaign to increase Afghan airmen by 20 percent and triple the number of Afghan aircraft by 2023, according to a Defense Department report in June. Because of their importance in the war effort, Afghan pilots are targeted for assassination and often struggle to keep themselves and their families safe.
  • A bombing targeting a NATO convoy near Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, has killed at least two civilians and wounded several alliance soldiers, Afghan and NATO officials say. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said a suicide bomber rammed his car into the convoy. Wahida Shakar, spokeswoman for the provincial governor in Parwan, said the attack occurred late on October 17 in the Bagram district. Bagram is located about 40 kilometers from Kabul and is the site of a sprawling U.S. military base.