News tidbits


Justice Department Secures Denaturalization Of Convicted Terrorist Who Sought To Help Al Qaeda Destroy The Brooklyn Bridge [DOJ]

On Feb. 3, Judge Staci M. Yandle of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois entered an order revoking the naturalized U.S. citizenship of convicted terrorist, Iyman Faris.
Faris, a native of Pakistan, was convicted in 2003 of providing material support to al Qaeda and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Faris is currently serving his criminal sentence at the U.S. Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, with a projected release date in August 2020.
Because of the Court’s order, Faris is no longer a U.S. citizen and may be subjected to removal proceedings.
Analyst comment: “Iyman Faris” is positive in FBI holdings.

Suspected Neo-Nazi Pleads Guilty To Gun Crime [DOJ]

A suspected neo-Nazi has pleaded guilty to a gun crime following an investigation by the FBI.
Aiden Bruce-Umbaugh, 23, pleaded guilty to possession of firearms and ammunition by a prohibited person in Lubbock [Texas] in January.

U.S. Expands Use Of Coronavirus Diagnostic Test [Reuters]

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday granted emergency use approval for state public health laboratories to start testing for the new flu-like coronavirus from China using kits developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Once the labs have the kits, they could start testing within five or six days. Initially, labs will send samples to the CDC to confirm their results.
From MSN via CNN: Two flights evacuating hundreds [about 550] of US citizens from the epicenter of the coronavirus in China are scheduled to depart for the U.S. soon. Two More Flights Carrying Americans Fleeing Coronavirus Are Expected To Leave Wuhan, China, Today

Trial Begins For Former CIA Employee Accused Of Leaking Agency Hacking Tools [Washington Post]

Joshua Schulte, 31, is charged with disclosing classified information to WikiLeaks after allegedly stealing it from a secretive CIA unit where he worked.
In more than 8,000 pages of material published in 2017 — known as the Vault 7 leaks — WikiLeaks showed how the CIA breaks into smartphones and Internet-connected devices, including televisions.
The disclosure “was the single biggest leak of classified national defense information in the history of the CIA,” Assistant U.S. Attorney David Denton told jurors.


U.S. Commander Visits Iraq Amid Tensions Over Strike That Killed Iranian General [Washington Post]

Gen. Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie Jr., the head of U.S. Central Command, met with officials in Baghdad on Tuesday, the highest-level visit to Iraq by a U.S. military leader since an American airstrike there killed an Iranian general and plunged U.S.-Iraqi relations into crisis.
On a day-long unannounced trip, McKenzie also visited U.S. troops at al-Asad military base, one of the targets of a ballistic missile attack that Iran launched in retaliation for the death of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani.
McKenzie told reporters after his visit that he discussed the future of the foreign military presence and other matters with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, President Barham Salih and parliamentary speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi.

Muqtada Al-Sadr Chastises Supporters [In Iraq] For Violence On Protestors [SITE Intelligence Group]

He issued two statements through his Twitter account, one instructing the "blue hats" not to "suppress the voices" chanting against him, and to empower security forces and protect revolutionaries, not harm them, and the other, giving greetings to protestors who allowed order to be restored to schools.
He told the latter: "It is necessary to support the revolution in large numbers, so as to strengthen its structure and so that it becomes powerful against the corrupt, and preserves peace and prestige".

ISIS Not Weakened By Baghdadi's Death, Took Advantage Of Turkey's Syria Invasion, Defense Intelligence Agency Says [MSN via Fox News]

The Islamic State (ISIS) increased its number of attacks by nearly 20 percent following Turkey's invasion of northern Syria last year after President Trump withdrew American troops from the area, intelligence officials said, while also saying the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi had no immediate impact on the terror group.

Turkey Deploys Extremists To Libya, Local Militias Say [ABC News via AP News]

Syrian militants affiliated with groups such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State group are currently being sent by Turkey to fight on behalf of the U.N.-supported government in Libya, according to two Libyan militia leaders and a Syrian war monitor.
Both sides in Libya's civil war receive equipment and backing from foreign countries.
But Turkey, which has long trained and funded opposition fighters in Syria and relaxed its borders so foreign fighters joined IS, has in recent months been airlifting hundreds of them over to a new theater of war in Libya.

Morocco Busts ISIS-Affiliated Terrorist Cell [Asharq Al-Awsat – UK]

Morocco’s interior ministry announced Tuesday that it had dismantled a terrorist cell that was plotting attacks in the kingdom.
The six-member cell was operating in Casablanca, Mohammedia and Azilal, reported the state news agency (MAP).
The members, whose ages ranged between 18 and 59, had pledged allegiance to ISIS. They were planning on carrying out attacks in Morocco ahead of declaring the establishment of a “state” loyal to ISIS.

Iran To Execute Alleged Spy Who Gave Nuclear Secrets To CIA [ABC News via AP News]

Iran said Tuesday that its top court confirmed a death sentence for an Iranian man convicted of spying for the CIA, with state media alleging that he had shared details of the Islamic Republic's nuclear program with the American spy agency.
Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili identified the purported spy as Amir Rahimpour and said he would be executed soon. Esmaili did not elaborate on what Rahimpour was accused of doing, nor on his age or background.
See also RFE/RL: One Person In Iran Sentenced To Death, Two Others To Prison For Spying For CIA

Key [Al Shabaab] Terror Suspect Escapes From [Uganda] Police Jail [Daily Monitor – UGA]

A prime terror suspect of the al-Shabaab militants has escaped from [Ugandan] police detention.
Abdul Kadir Mohamed Mohamud Sandir and five other Somali nationals had plotted to carry out terror attacks at Parliament, Oasis Mall, Makerere University and two other key sites in Kampala city centre in 2014.
Sandir [reportedly] escaped from police custody 10 days ago.

Federal Government Of Somalia, Africom Conduct Airstrike Against Al-Shabaab Terrorist [DOD]

In coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia, U.S. Africa Command conducted an airstrike targeting an al-Shabaab terrorist in the vicinity of Beer Xaani, Somalia, Feb. 4.
Initial assessment concluded the airstrike killed one (1) terrorist.

Al Shabaab 'Fires Two Members Of Executive Council' After They Pushed To Stop Attacks On Civilians [Telegraph – UK – snippet view]

Somali jihadist group Al-Shabaab has expelled top members of its executive council after they expressed concern over attacks against civilians, according to Somalia’s intelligence agency.
Al-Shabaab’s leader Ahmed Diriye fired senior members Mahad Karate and Bashir Qorgab after the two asked him to stop targeting civilians in the capital Mogadishu, the National Intelligence and Security Agency, said on Twitter.
Full article requires a subscription that CT Watch does not have.

Afghan Taliban Urges Pompeo to Refrain From 'Blame-Shifting' [VOA News]

The Taliban rejected charges Tuesday by the United States that the insurgent group lacks “will or capacity or both” to take steps needed to advance turbulent negotiations between the two foes aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan.
The rebuttal came a day after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded “demonstrable evidence” from the Taliban it would lower the level of Afghan violence before reaching a peace deal.
See also SITE: Afghan Taliban Spokesman Accuses U.S. Secretary of State Of "Blame-Shifting" Regarding Negotiations

Hashem Abedi: Manchester Arena [UK, 2017] Attack Brother 'Equally Guilty' [BBC]

The brother of the Manchester Arena bomber was "just as guilty" of the murder of the 22 people who died in the attack.
Salman Abedi detonated a "large home-made improvised explosive device" outside an Ariana Grande concert on 22 May 2017.
His brother, Hashem Abedi, is standing trial over his "role in perpetrating these terrible events".

French Barracks Attacker Was A Trainee Soldier [Reuters]

A man who attacked officers with a knife in a French police barracks was a trainee soldier, officials said, in the second case in four months of a violent assault by someone from within France’s security services.
An intelligence source named the suspect as 19-year-old Matthias R and said police had searched his military lodging in Dieuze and raided his home in central France but found no obvious links to Islamist militant networks.
See also The National – UAE: French Police Attacker Inspired By ISIS Made Pre-Attack Call To Pledge Allegiance

French Teenager Put Under Police Protection After Instagram Anti-Islam Rant [France24]

The case of 16-year-old Mila - who has received a slew of death threats for calling Islam “a shitty religion” - has come just over five years after a group of French cartoonists from the Charlie Hebdo magazine were gunned down by jihadist gunmen after poking fun at the Prophet Mohammed.
See also SITE: Jihadi Chatroom User Threatens French Teenager For Insulting Islam

[Israeli] Navy, Shin Bet Thwart Attempted Weapons Smuggling Into Gaza From Sinai [Jerusalem Post]

The Israel Navy has thwarted an attempt to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip from the northern area of the Sinai Peninsula, the military cleared for publication on Tuesday.
The joint operation with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) took place three months ago.

Lebanese-American Who Worked For Israel Charged With Murder [Asharq Al-Awsat – UK]

A military investigative judge charged a Lebanese-American man with murder and torture of Lebanese citizens on Tuesday, crimes he allegedly committed during Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon. The accusations could carry a death sentence.
Amer Fakhoury is accused of working as a senior warden at Khiyam Prison, which was run by an Israel-backed Lebanese militia. The prison has been described by human rights groups as a center for torture.

Turkey Warns Of Further Military Action As Syria Presses Offensive In Rebel-Held Province [MSN via Washington Post]

Turkey’s president warned Tuesday that his government would not allow Syria’s military to advance farther across a rebel-held northern Syrian province, a day after tensions between the two countries escalated into some of their deadliest clashes in years.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday condemned the attack on the Turkish soldiers, calling it a “grave escalation,” adding that “we fully support Turkey’s justified self-defense actions in response.”
See also VOA News: Turkish-Russian Tension Over Syria Opens Door To Washington

AQ-Aligned Factions In Syria Open Enrollment To Join In Fight Against Regime Forces And Iranian And Russian Allies [SITE Intelligence Group]

Two Syria-based jihadi factions aligned with al-Qaeda (AQ), Ansar al-Tawhid and Kata'ib Fateh, opened enrollment in their respective ranks to join in the fight against regime forces and their Iranian and Russian allies.
Each unit published a poster on their respective channels on February 3, 2020, providing WhatsApp and Telegram contact information for Muslims to apply for registration.
Both advertisements appeal to the reader to defend their religion. While Kata'ib Fateh calls for physical participation, Ansar al-Tawhid also asks for donations of money and weapons.
See also SITE: AQ-Aligned Ansar Al-Tawhid Fundraises For Weapons & Military Equipment

Kurdish Forces Capture 'Major' ISIS Militant In Diyala [Rudaw – Kurdish – IRQ – Feb. 3]

"Yesterday (Feb. 2) our Asayesh (security) forces near Nawjul managed to capture a major terrorist who is known as Abu Haris al-Diyala," Osman Abdulkarim, spokesperson of Garmiyan Asayesh told reporters in a press conference on Monday.

Military Talks to End Libya Fighting Underway [VOA News]

U.N.-sponsored military and security talks aimed at achieving a lasting cease-fire in Libya are underway in Geneva. The negotiations are held as Libya’s warring parties continue to violate a temporary truce agreed to in mid-January.
Five high-ranking officers appointed by the Government of National Accord in Libya and five other high-ranking military officers appointed by rebel commander Khalifa Haftar are in attendance.
This is the first time ever that high-ranking officers from both sides are getting together to talk peace.

Meeting Between Sudan Leader, Netanyahu Debated In Sudan [AP News]

A surprise meeting between Sudan’s leader and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stirred controversy in Sudan on Tuesday, with the government saying it wasn’t notified ahead of time and critics lambasting the talks on social media.
Others said Monday’s meeting would improve Sudan’s standing with the United States and help Khartoum shed its pariah image. Sudan is desperate to lift sanctions linked to its listing by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terror.
See also Reuters: Sudan's Burhan Casts Doubt On Rapid Normalization Of Ties With Israel

Oil Majors Request More Mozambique Troops After Islamist Attacks: Sources [Club of Mozambique via Reuters – Feb. 2]

Exxon Mobil Corp and [French oil company] Total have asked Mozambique to send more troops to guard their operations in the far north after a surge of attacks by Islamist militants.
Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado is home to one of the world’s biggest gas finds in the past decade, and both oil majors are working on massive LNG projects that could transform the economy.

Analyst: Thailand Sidelining MARA Patani Via New Peace Talks With BRN [Benar News – MYS]

Thailand’s government appears determined to sideline negotiators who have represented separatist groups in Thai Deep South peace talks since 2015, the director of a think-tank based in the troubled border region told BenarNews.
Meanwhile members of MARA Patani, a panel of rebel factions that has engaged in the Malaysia-brokered talks for the past five years, said they would not participate in or had not yet been invited to direct negotiations announced last month between Bangkok and BRN, the most powerful of the southern insurgent groups.