Category Archives: Terrorism

ISIS inspired Savage arrested for plot to attack Detroit church

Illustrative: Detroit skyline. (Andrea_44/Wikimedia Commons/File)

DETROIT, Michigan (AP) — Authorities have arrested a 21-year-old Michigan man whom they accuse of supporting Islamic State militants and plotting to attack a Detroit church.

Khalil Abu-Rayyan, of Dearborn Heights, appeared Thursday in US District Court in Detroit and remains jailed pending a Monday hearing. He hasn’t been charged with terrorism-related crimes but has been investigated since May and faces marijuana and gun charges.

US attorney’s office spokeswoman Gina Balaya said Saturday that Abu-Rayyan will have a court-appointed attorney at the hearing, but she doesn’t know who it would be. She said Abu-Rayyan had been under constant FBI surveillance recently due to growing concern about threats he made against the church, police officers and others in support of IS.

There’s no indication he was acting with others, authorities said.

In a criminal complaint, the FBI says Abu-Rayyan expressed support for IS “propaganda” postings on social media, including videos of its members beheading captives. It also says he made several incriminating statements to an undercover agent, including that he supported IS, had a “desire to commit a martyrdom operation,” and that he wanted to behead someone.

According to the complaint, Abu-Rayyan told the undercover officer he planned to “shoot up” a Detroit church but that his father found the gun, bullets and mask he was going to use. He also said he bought a “cowboy gun,” but he decided not to go through with the attack because it only held six bullets and he’d have to keep reloading it, it says.

Abu-Rayyan pleaded guilty last month to a pot possession charge, and he faces a Feb. 16 trial on a concealed weapon charge. Both stem from an October arrest.

The Detroit suburbs of Dearborn Heights and Dearborn have large, longstanding Arab and Muslim populations. US Attorney Barbara McQuade told The Associated Press that incidents like these are “an aberration” in the communities.

“We’ve not had any ISIS cases arising out of (the area),” she said. “A lot of people vocally and visibly oppose ISIS. … No one should make any conclusions about Dearborn or Dearborn Heights from this.”

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.

Iran has won Lebanon

 Hezbollah fighters, holding up Lebanese flags and the yellow flag of the militant Shiite Muslim group, parade through the southern suburbs of Beirut in November 2009. (AFP)

Hezbollah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah declared his victory in Lebanon in his last speech and he’s right. Hezbollah won Lebanon and no one seems to care.
March 14 dissolved long before its leaders nominated March 8 figures for presidency. Political opponents to the Party of God and its hegemony over Lebanon lost the battle a long time ago, when they compromised values for political gains. The state is increasingly weakened by the void in its institutions, corruption of its spearheads, and petty individual interests.

Regional powers are busy in Syria and Yemen while the international community seems to have given up on Lebanon. As long as Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria is not challenged by the international community, it means only one thing for Lebanon; that Iran has been given a free hand to take over. The release of a criminal and terrorist of Michel Samaha’s caliber is nothing but a sign of who runs the show, and how weak we are to even protest it.

Iran won Lebanon! And Iran can do anything it wants in Lebanon without any political opposition or challenges. And now Iran can focus to win what it needs in Syria, while everyone is busy making business deals with the “new Iran.” Lebanon, on the other hand, is going to pay a very high price for all these deals and compromises, more so as Iran, Russia and the Assad regime are scoring more gains in Syria.

Iran’s plan for Lebanon

To protect Hezbollah’s arms, Iran will do anything; whatever it takes and no matter how many people and lives are sacrificed. The arms are above all. The sacredness of these arms was justified by fighting Israeli aggression and occupation, and is justified today by fighting terrorism and takfiris. However, the real purpose and ultimate goal of Hezbollah’s arms is their mere existence.

Hezbollah’s arms are a symbol of its power and authority over Lebanon and the Lebanese. So without them, Hezbollah has nothing, and Iran will lose influence in Lebanon and the region. Even if they’re not in use, arms are the backbone of this power. With the changing dynamics in the region, Iran’s deal with the West and the escalating Sunni-Shiite conflict in the region, Hezbollah wants to make sure nothing changes the status quo of its arsenal. Today, there is no one to challenge Hezbollah’s arms in Lebanon. To guarantee that for the longest time possible, Hezbollah will need more void and the disintegration of state institutions, which will intensify and become worse.

The Sunni community will have to remain headless. Former PM Saad Hariri has been out of the country for years, and there’s no one else to challenge his popularity yet. The Saudi money stopped coming to the Sunni community, through Hariri’s institutions, as it used to, which left them in urgent need of leadership and financial support.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah is taking advantage of the situation by recruitingmore Sunnis into the Resistance Brigade [Saraya al-Moqawama]. For a mere $400 a month, Sunnis are joining the Brigade – not to fight in Syria – but only to receive training and stay on hold until further notice.

This “further notice” is probably a local moment, similar to the May 7 events of 2008, or the Black Shirts of 2010. “What the Sunnis are used for, however, are reconnaissance missions in Syria, as they have access to rebel areas and make good informants,” a Sunni activist in the Bekaa told NOW a few months ago. “They offer some money, but more than that, they offer weapons, and, most of all, protection and the illusion that they are powerful.”

In any case, Hezbollah prefers this community to stay leaderless because it simply gives them more power and sway over Lebanon, its state, and its communities.

But the most significant part of this plan is the Shiites in Lebanon. They are the ones providing fighters for the war and protecting the party and its weapons. The supporters will die for Hezbollah and Iran, but they won’t die for Lebanon. This loyalty and dedication needs to endure. Without it, Hezbollah loses a lot, but it requires a lot as well; that is, money, for services, media, and compensations. The money is coming, despite the recent US sanctions. But the challenges are elsewhere.

Containing discontent

Hezbollah’s support-base is increasingly complaining. It started with the parents of the kids who died fighting in Syria, but it seems even the fighters themselves are complaining now.
Sources in the southern suburbs tell NOW that the increasing number of young men coming back in coffins – and sometimes not even coming back – without any benefit or victory felt, has intensified discontent. “When Hezbollah was resisting Israeli occupation, its victories were felt by the people. For example, they could go back to their occupied towns and villages in the South. Today, their victories have no practical repercussion on the community, but their losses do; it the death of our children, brothers and fathers,” she said.

On a different level, many businessmen in Lebanon are panicking after the US Treasury sanctions started targeting more people. Hezbollah’s economic support-base has never been targeted as it is today. Any businessman dealing with any of Hezbollah’s institutions is today reconsidering their deals – even if it is the selling of office supplies or catering services. This is not going to hurt Hezbollah significantly, but it will certainly increase the level of discontent by a community suffering more and more of isolation.

Hezbollah is trying to fight this discontent by increasing the funding for propaganda and services. For example, Iran is trying to take advantage of the severe financial crisis in Lebanon’s media sector – mainly due to the ceasing of Saudi funding for Lebanon’s media – to increase its support to its own media. For instance, recent reports show that Iran is spending millions of US dollars on media institutions, mostly located around the Iranian embassy in Beirut. Houthis, Iraqis and Hezbollah share a lot of these spaces and editorial operations. While Lebanese media – newspapers and TV channels – are closing or downsizing, Iranian-funded media outlets are prospering, expanding and hiring more than ever.

The whole point is to expand the propaganda rhetoric in order to contain the increasing discontent. Despite the challenges, the Party of God is steadily moving to take whatever is left of Lebanon. If no one stops it, Lebanon will be a state-within-Hezbollah’s-state, not the other way around. And we are not far from it.

Hanin Ghaddar is the managing editor of NOW and a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council. She tweets @haningdr.

Twitter suspends 125,000 accounts over ISIS, terrorism links

9a6d1666624e17aaa5a16d58ffc74b6a

Bulk of accounts suspended by US social media site linked to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

The effort signaled efforts by Twitter to automatically identify tweets supporting terrorism, reflecting increased pressure placed by the U.S. government for social media companies to respond to abuse more proactively. Child pornography has previously been the only abuse that was automatically flagged for human review on social media, using a different kind of technology that sources a database of known images.

Twitter also said Friday it has suspended more than 125,000 accounts for threatening or promoting terrorist acts, mainly related to Islamic State militants, in the last eight months. Social media has increasingly become a tool for recruitment and radicalization that’s used by the Islamic State group and its supporters, who by some reports have sent tens of thousands of tweets per day.

Tech companies are dedicating increasingly more resources to tracking reports of violent threats. Twitter said Friday that it has increased the size of its team reviewing reports to reduce their response time “significantly.” The San Francisco-based company also changed its policy in April, adding language to make clear that “threatening or promoting terrorism” specifically counted as abusive behaviour and violated its terms of use.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is now active in eastern LibyaIslamic State of Iraq and the Levant is now active in eastern Libya  Photo: PA

In January, the White House made good on President Barack Obama’s promise to reach out to Silicon Valley to tackle the use of social media by violent extremist groups. Those particularly include the Islamic State group, which inspired attackers who killed 14 in San Bernardino, California, last December.

A post on one of the killers’ Facebook pages that appeared around the time of the attack included a pledge of allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State group.

Facebook found the post – which was under an alias – the day after the attack. The company removed the profile from public view and informed law enforcement. But such a proactive effort is fairly uncommon.

The Obama administration sent several top officials to San Jose, California, including FBI Director James Comey, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers.

Among issues discussed was how to use technology to help speed the identification of “terrorist content,” according to a copy of the White House briefing memo obtained by The Associated Press.

“We recognise that identifying terrorist content that violates terms of service is far more difficult than identifying images of child pornography, but is there a way to use technology to quickly identify terrorist content? For example, are there technologies used for the prevention of spam that could be useful?” the memo stated.

Since late 2015, Twitter began using “proprietary spam-fighting tools” to find accounts that might be violating their terms of service by promoting terrorism, sending them to be reviewed by a team at Twitter. That group also now looks into other accounts similar to those reported to them by other users.

Twitter said it has already had seen results, “including an increase in account suspensions and this type of activity shifting off of Twitter.”

http://s.telegraph.co.uk/graphics/html/TwitterEmbed/Version1/web21788.html

But it also noted that there is no “magic algorithm” for identifying terrorist content, which is why even humans reviewing the material are ultimately making judgment calls “based on very limited information and guidance.” Free speech and local law in an area can also complicate matters.

“Like most people around the world, we are horrified by the atrocities perpetrated by extremist groups. We condemn the use of Twitter to promote terrorism,” Twitter said in a statement released Friday. It said it would continue to “engage with authorities and other relevant organisations to find solutions to this critical issue and promote powerful counter-speech narratives.”

The Supreme Council of Cyberspace

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 15,400 other followers

%d bloggers like this: