Ischia (Italy) (AFP) – G7 countries and tech giants including Google, Facebook and Twitter on Friday agreed to work together to block the dissemination of Islamist extremism over the internet.
“These are the first steps towards a great alliance in the name of freedom,” Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti said after a two-day meeting with his Group of Seven counterparts, stressing the role of the internet in extremist “recruitment, training and radicalisation.”
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the goal was to ensure pro-jihadist content “is taken down within two hours of it going online.”
The acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke has called on Silicon Valley to remove extremist content, Reuters reported.
The United States and Britain are set to push social media firms to deal with the problem at a G7 meeting of interior ministers this week, Duke told reporters in London where she had been meeting British Home Secretary (interior minister), Amber Rudd.
“There has been a shift and for us somewhat with the Charlottesville incident,” she said. “There are a lot of social pressures and they want do business so they really have to balance between keeping their user agreements and giving law enforcement what they need.” Continue reading →
The years-long, Indigenous-led fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) briefly captured the nation’s attention last fall as images of peaceful resisters being sprayed with water canons and surrounded by police in tanks and other military-grade equipment were spread widely, fueling global outrage and a fierce protest movement against the oil pipeline.
Now that the pipeline is operational and already leaking, internal documents obtained by The Intercept and reported on Saturday reveal the deep collusion between local police forces, the pipeline company, and defense contractors as they executed “military-style counterterrorism measures” to suppress the water protectors.
TigerSwan, described as a “shadowy international mercenary and security firm” that “originated as a U.S. military and State Department contractor helping to execute the global war on terror,” was hired by Energy Transfer Partners to spearhead “a multifaceted private security operation characterized by sweeping and invasive surveillance of protesters,” The Intercept wrote.
Reportedly, one of TigerSwan’s contractors leaked 100 internal documents to reporters Alleen Brown, Will Parrish, and Alice Speri, who were able to assemble roughly 1,000 more via public records requests.
The trove paints a damning picture of the police response to the Indigenous-led effort to block construction of the pipeline on sacred, treaty land and is a shocking example of how anti-terrorist rhetoric and tactics could be applied to any uprising the government would like to suppress.
According to the reporting:
Internal TigerSwan communications describe the movement as “an ideologically driven insurgency with a strong religious component” and compare the anti-pipeline water protectors to jihadist fighters. One report, dated February 27, 2017, states that since the movement “generally followed the jihadist insurgency model while active, we can expect the individuals who fought for and supported it to follow a post-insurgency model after its collapse.” Drawing comparisons with post-Soviet Afghanistan, the report warns, “While we can expect to see the continued spread of the anti-DAPL diaspora…aggressive intelligence preparation of the battlefield and active coordination between intelligence and security elements are now a proven method of defeating pipeline insurgencies.”
“As policing continues to be militarized and state legislatures around the country pass laws criminalizing protest,” Brown, Parrish, and Speri write, “the fact that a private security firm retained by a Fortune 500 oil and gas company coordinated its efforts with local, state, and federal law enforcement to undermine the protest movement has profoundly anti-democratic implications.”
Not only that, but Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, who oversaw the police response to the DAPL resistance, has been advising other law enforcement on how to deal with protests and demonstrations.
Indeed, the documents reportedly show that Energy Transfer Partners has “continued to retain TigerSwan,” despite the fact that the anti-DAPL camps have disbanded. The security firm continues to produce so-called situation reports that document “the threat of growing activism around other pipeline projects across the country.” These reports include “intelligence on upcoming protests,” information gleaned from social media, and “extensive evidence of aerial surveillance and radio eavesdropping, as well as infiltration of camps and activist circles.”
In some cases, persons “of interest” were even tracked when they crossed over state lines.
The Manchester suicide bomber was repeatedly flagged to the authorities over his extremist views, but was not stopped by officers, it emerged Wednesday night.
Counter Terrorism agencies were facing questions after it emerged Salman Abedi told friends that “being a suicide bomber was okay”, prompting them to call the Government’s anti-terrorism hotline.
Sources suggest that authorities were informed of the danger posed by Abedi on at least five separate occasions in the five years prior to the attack on Monday night.
The authorities were also aware that Abedi’s father was linked to a well-known militant Islamist group in Libya, which is proscribed in Britain. Abedi also had links to several British-based jihadis with Isil connections.
Yesterday his father was detained by Libyan militia in the capital Tripoli while the suicide bomber’s two brothers have separately been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences. Continue reading →
Last week MintPress News reported al-Nusra has rebranded itself as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and by doing so is no longer on the U.S. terror watchlist.
This frees up the most effective jihadist “rebel” group in Syria to continue the CIA instigated war against Bashar al-Assad’s government.
The State Department has yet to put Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) on the terror watchlist and it probably will not do so anytime soon. The Syrian Arab Army is beginning to make progress in the war. Continue reading →
The senators on Thursday unveiled a new Authorization for Use of Military Force against ISIS, al Qaeda and the Taliban, their second attempt to prod their colleagues to formally vote on the military effort.
But their first attempt, introduced in 2015, went nowhere. Congressional leadership has shown no interest in taking up a new war authorization, as both the Obama administration and now the Trump administration have said they have the legal authority needed under the 2001 authorization passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and the 2002 Iraq War authorization. Continue reading →
“I was telling [Fox host] Steve [Doocy] on the way in here, if he knew what I knew about terrorism, he’d never leave the house in the morning,” Kelly said on “Fox & Friends,” according to The Hill.
Kelly said terrorism is “everywhere. It’s constant. It’s nonstop. The good news for us in America is we have amazing people protecting us every day. But it can happen here almost anytime.” Continue reading →
In a news conference that made headlines around the world, Duterte said the police chief in Malabang was stopped at a checkpoint on his way home from work and slaughtered by terrorists on the spot. “They decapitated him then and there,” he said.
The Philippine president’s claim spread quickly, with much of the local and foreign press reporting it as fact. Soon, unconfirmed reports of “beheadings” became a major part of the story line.
Asked to comment on the declaration of martial law on the southern island of Mindanao, Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told journalists Friday in Beijing that she “wouldn’t want to second-guess what you would do in a situation where you have people being beheaded on television and church groups taken hostage.”
But the Malabang police chief is alive — The Washington Post spoke to him on Friday. And The Post could find no new evidence of televised beheadings on Mindanao, though unconfirmed accounts of beheadings are circulating widely online. (There have been beheadings there in the past, and a priest and some followers were indeed taken hostage this week, according to a Filipino bishop.) Continue reading →
He was granted a short private audience with the head of the Catholic Church on the latest leg of his overseas trip.
The two men have in the past clashed on issues such as migration, climate change and a Mexico-US wall.
Mr Trump is now in Brussels for talks with Nato and EU officials.
He will also hold meetings with Belgium’s King Philippe and Prime Minister Charles Michel.
After the meeting between President Trump and the Pope, the Vatican said there had been an “exchange of views” on international issues.
Mr Trump, who BBC Europe editor Katya Adler says seemed star-struck, said of the Pope: “He is something, he’s really good. We had a fantastic meeting and we had a fantastic tour, it was really beautiful. We’re liking Italy very much… it was an honour to be with the Pope.”
Later Mr Trump tweeted: “Honor of a lifetime to meet His Holiness Pope Francis. I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world.”
Mr Trump and his entourage arrived at the Vatican just before 08:30, in a meeting that was arranged at the last minute.
The US president was greeted by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the head of the papal household, and escorted by the Swiss Guard to the offices of Pope Francis.
Correspondents say Mr Trump seemed subdued during their initial meeting, while Pope Francis was not as jovial as he sometimes is with world leaders.
The two men appeared much more relaxed at the end of their 30-minute private meeting.
The Vatican said later that they shared a commitment to “life, and freedom of worship and conscience” and expressed hope that they can collaborate “in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to migrants”.
On international affairs, their “exchange of views” covered the “promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue”, and highlighted the need to protect Christian communities in the Middle East.
After the meeting, they exchanged gifts. Mr Trump gave the Pope a boxed set of writings by the civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
The Pope gave Mr Trump a signed copy of a message he delivered for World Peace Day, along with some of his writings about the need to protect the environment.
He also presented him with a small sculptured olive tree, telling Mr Trump through an interpreter: “It is my desire that you become an olive tree to construct peace”.
Mr Trump responded by saying: “We can use some peace.” He also said he would read the texts the Pope gave him.
Mr Trump also met Italy’s president and prime minister while in Rome.
Seeking common ground – analysis by the BBC’s Jon Sopel, Rome
Ever so slowly and flanked by the Swiss Guard the leader of the world’s pre-eminent superpower walked through the Vatican to meet the leader of one of the world’s pre-eminent religions.
And were there ever two more different people? Pope Francis with just the merest hint of a smile; President Trump beaming. They sat across from each other in the pontiff’s study as though one was going for a job interview.
During the election campaign, when Pope Francis visited the US-Mexico border he said that people who choose to build walls and not bridges weren’t Christian. Donald Trump said those comments were disgraceful.
And in February, just after Donald Trump had tried to introduce his travel ban from six mainly Muslim countries and suspended the refugee programme, the Pope tweeted: “How often in the Bible the Lord asks us to welcome migrants and foreigners, reminding us that we too are foreigners!”
The normal mantra when two world leaders meet is to say “there is more that unites us than divides us”. Almost certainly true. But there are real differences as well.
And the entourage?
Mr Trump was joined not only by his wife, daughter and son-in-law but also Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser HR McMaster.
Both Melania and Ivanka Trump were dressed in black with their heads partially covered, in keeping with a traditional Vatican protocol that is no longer expected to be rigorously observed.
Melania, a Catholic, asked the Pope to bless her rosary beads.
In a light-hearted exchange, Pope Francis asked her what she gave her husband to eat. It was initially thought he had suggested “pizza” to her, but in fact he said potica, which is a cake from Mrs Trump’s home country of Slovenia. She laughed in response, and agreed with him.
What next for Mr Trump’s trip?
This is Mr Trump’s first visit to Europe since taking office in January.
Security has been stepped up across Rome, with the areas around the Vatican City, the Italian presidential palace and the American ambassador’s residence, where Mr Trump is staying, temporarily closed to traffic.
Despite the heavy police presence, about 100 anti-Trump protesters held a rally in one of Rome’s squares on Tuesday evening.
Significant protests are also expected in Brussels where he will meet EU and Nato officials.
This visit will be about damage limitation with the fervent hope of establishing some kind of transatlantic chemistry, the BBC’s Europe editor Katya Adler says.
She adds that the tone in Brussels has gone from off-the-record sneering when the erratic and unpredictable Mr Trump first won the November elections, to outright concern now that the implications of his presidency have begun to sink in.