WASHINGTON, December 15 -- Most consumers don't know about it, but Cloudflare is a tech giant that helps keep a huge portion of the internet running.
According to a report from the Huffington Post, at least seven of its customers are under sanctions by the US Treasury Department, and six are on the US Department of State's list of foreign terrorist groups. One of the groups named in the report is the Taliban, which isn't on the State Department's foreign terrorism group list. Also named in the report are several Palestinian groups, al-Shabaab and the Kurdistan Workers' Party, all of which are on the list. The designation is meant to make things like international commerce and travel harder for the groups on the list.
"Designations of foreign terrorist groups expose and isolate these organizations, deny them access to the US financial system, and create significant criminal and immigration consequences for their members and supporters," the State Department says on its website. What's more, the Treasury Department's sanctions, which apply to all seven groups, are meant in part to prevent US businesses from providing services to foreign terrorist groups. A Treasury Department spokeswoman said the department doesn't comment on individual matters that involve US companies doing business with sanctioned groups or any potential enforcement actions. The State Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Cloudflare's general counsel, Doug Kramer, told CNET the company has a process for checking whether a potential customer is sanctioned by the Treasury Department. What's more, if it finds any current customers are already on the sanctions list, it'll end services to them. Kramer declined to confirm whether the groups were clients, saying it's company policy not to name customers. The Huffington Post reported that it learned the groups were Cloudflare customers after asking independent experts to evaluate the groups' websites.
"It's a very difficult task and one that a lot of tech companies have struggled with," Kramer said, "because there's not always a one-to-one correlation between a domain name and a specific group."
Cloudflare manages requests by web users to visit its clients' websites, among other services. It doesn't host websites. If hackers want to take down a website by overwhelming it with requests, something called a DDoS attack, Cloudflare can stop them. The list of customers is one example of how major tech companies, as they take over more and more of the internet's infrastructure, can end up providing services for groups that promote violence and extremist ideas. It's an issue the company has faced in the past. Cloudflare faced scrutiny in August 2017 for providing -- and then ending -- services to the neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer. The controversy started after other web service companies, like GoDaddy and Google, removed their support for the website a few days earlier, in the aftermath of the Charlottesville demonstration and death of counter-protester Heather Heyer. The Daily Stormer published an offensive article about Heyer, and tech companies began to stop providing the website with internet services.
At the time, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said in a statement the company doesn't pick and choose its customers based on their ideological beliefs. However, the Daily Stormer had gone too far by spreading rumors that Cloudflare supported its neo-Nazi ideology, he said. "Our terms of service reserve the right for us to terminate users of our network at our sole discretion," Prince said. At the same time, Prince called his own company's decision "dangerous," saying it could open the door to a less free internet governed by large companies. "Without a clear framework as a guide for content regulation, a small number of companies will largely determine what can and cannot be online," he said. Kramer said Cloudflare still takes the same approach it did in the case of the Daily Stormer. The company won't pick and choose its customers based on content alone. "We've continued to take the position that we think there's much more harm than good to be done if we start to decide what content should be up and what shouldn't," Kramer said.
The company will comply with sanctions from the Treasury Department, he said, adding, "We don't want to go beyond the determinations of what government officials and regulators think."
Infowars and Silicon Valley: Everything you need to know about the tech industry's free speech debate.
PARIS, December 13 -- The death toll in an attack on Strasbourg's Christmas market rose to three on Thursday as police searched through eastern France and manned checkpoints on the German border in a hunt for the fugitive gunman.
Police issued a wanted poster for Cherif Chekatt, the main suspect in the attack, who was on an watchlist as a potential security threat. Authorities say the 29-year-old was known to have developed radical religious views while in jail. France has raised its security threat to the highest level in response to Tuesday evening's shooting rampage, which Strasbourg's mayor said was indisputably an act of terrorism. Two people were killed and a third victim who was hospitalised has now died, the Paris Prosecutor's office said. A fourth victim has been declared brain-dead. At least 12 people were wounded, several of them critically. More than 700 police were taking part in the second day of the manhunt in Strasbourg, which lies on the west bank of the Rhine river, and the surrounding region.
Armed French and German police manned controls on either side of the Europe Bridge, which spans the frontier. Traffic on the French side was heavily backed up as officers inspected vehicles during the morning rush-hour. Police in the German town of Kehl, on the opposite riverbank, said they had received several reports of possible sightings on Wednesday but all were false leads. Asked if French police had been instructed to catch Chekatt dead or alive, government spokesperson Benjamin Griveaux told CNews: "It doesn't matter. The best thing would be to find him as quickly as possible."
It took police four months to track down Salah Abdesalam, the prime surviving suspect from the November 2015 militant assault on Paris, in an apartment in Brussels. One hundred and thirty people were killed in that attack as well as seven gunmen and bombers.
The Christmas market, a hugely popular attraction in the historic city, remained closed on Thursday. Witnesses told investigators that the suspect Chekatt cried out "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greater) as he opened fire on the market, a target Paris Prosecutor Remy Heitz suggested may have been chosen for its religious symbolism. Chekatt's police file photo shows a bearded man of North African descent, with a prayer bruise on the centre of his forehead. He has 27 criminal convictions for theft and violence, and has spent time in French, German and Swiss jails.
ANKARA, December 12 -- Turkey on Wednesday warned it will launch a new operation in Syria within days against US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria, risking renewed tensions with NATO ally the United States.
Addressing a defense industry meeting in Ankara on Wednesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the target of the operation would be the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG - which Turkey views as a terrorist group linked to the insurgency within its borders. Washington's relationship with the YPG, seen as a key partner spearheading the fight against terrorists in Syria, is a major bone of contention between the US and Turkey. Ankara has repeatedly lambasted Washington for providing military support to the militia and threatened to attack areas held by the YPG. Erdogan announced the plans for a new offensive a day after the Pentagon said observation posts were in place on the Syria-Turkey border to prevent altercations between the Turkish army and the militia.
"We will start an operation to free the east of the Euphrates from the separatist terrorist organization in the next few days," Erdogan said, referring to territory held by the YPG. Turkey says the YPG is a "terrorist offshoot" of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984. The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
"The target is never American soldiers but terrorist organization members active in the region," Erdogan told the audience at a defense industry summit.
The Pentagon on Tuesday announced the posts' establishment on the northeast Syria border region despite calls from Ankara not to go ahead with the move. Erdogan claimed Turkey was not being protected from terrorists but "terrorists were being protected" from possible action by Turkey. In October, Turkey shelled YPG positions east of the Euphrates in the Kobane region. Youssef Hammoud, spokesman for a coalition of pro-Ankara rebels, said the aim of a new operation would be to remove the YPG from an area spanning Manbij to Tal Abyad. American forces have worked closely with the YPG under the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance against the ISIS terrorist group. US forces have joined the SDF east of the Euphrates as well as in the flashpoint city of Manbij, west of the river. In a bid to avoid any clash, the NATO allies agreed a "roadmap" for Manbij in June. In November, Turkish and American troops launched joint patrols in the northern city. Part of the agreement was that the YPG would leave Manbij and that the NATO allies would work together to establish a local security structure and decide who will govern.
But Erdogan on Wednesday said Turkey "still not got the result it wanted" in Manbij. "There has been a delaying tactic undeniably used in Manbij, and right now it is still being used," he said, adding that the threat from ISIS no longer existed in Syria.
ERBIL, December 3 -- The US-led coalition has confirmed it has killed a senior Islamic State (IS) member responsible for the murder of a US citizen in 2014.
“Coalition forces conducted precision strikes against a senior [IS] member, Abu al Umarayn, and several other [IS] members on Dec. 2 in the Badiyah Desert, Syria,” coalition spokesperson Col. Sean Ryan said in a statement. “Al Umarayn had given indications of posing an imminent threat to Coalition Forces, and he was involved in the killing of American Citizen and former US Army Ranger, Peter Kassig,” he added. According to the US-led coalition, the jihadist has been linked to and directly involved with executing several other prisoners. “Coalition airstrikes continue to disrupt [IS] command and control on the battlefield as we remove key figures from their ranks,” the coalition statement further read.
Kassig, a 26-year-old who provided aid to Syria, was captured in October 2013. IS militants beheaded him in 2014. He earlier served as a US army ranger until 2007. Kassig was not the only victim of kidnapping.
Journalist James Foley, the first US journalist to be held captive, was also murdered by IS in 2014. Austin Tice, another journalist and former marine, disappeared while reporting in Syria in 2012. Some believe he is still alive.
NEW YORK, November 28 -- The UN Council on Human Rights-linked Committee for the Protection against Racial Discrimination discussed the situation of religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq, Qatar and Honduras at a session held at the UN Geneva Office with the participation of international NGOs.
During the Iraqi debate, civil society group Minority Rights underlined how there are still religious and ethnic inequalities in Iraq. While the minorities in Iraq cannot benefit from the riches of the country, the group underlined that the religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq are in danger of attack.
In a speech on behalf of the International Geneva Center for Justice, it was stated that the Iraqi government never obeyed international treaties to protect minorities. Emphasizing that the Iraqi government supports local militia forces that are violating human rights, the Geneva Center for Justice called on Iraqi government to ban violent videos in Iraq. Maat for Peace and Development and Human Rights, said that women in Iraq face great discrimination and violence. Iraqi government policies have actually strengthened attacks on women, and the two organisations called on the government to develop policies to protect religious and ethnic minorities, and particularly to protect women.
It was also pointed out that everyone, especially women, targeted by DAESH should actually enjoy protection. Many international non-governmental organizations pointed out in their speeches that ethnic and religious minorities targeted by DAESH still live in a vulnerable situation. International NGOs said that the Yazidis who were specifically and violently targeted by DAESH, are still facing many dangers, and underlined that people who fled their houses due to DAESH attack still cannot return to them because of security reasons.
The speeches also emphasized that Yazidis and women still live in a vulnerable situation of discrimination and called upon the Iraqi government to take action on this.
BERLIN, Februari 8 -- A man has been arrested on suspicion of being an ISIS terrorist after entering Europe claiming to be a Syrian refugee.
The 34-year-old man was arrested at a refuge centre after police raided a number of locations in Germany this week. Here, he is pictured surrounded by a cache of heavy weaponry including automatic rifles and grenades. The picture shows the suspect knelt next to his haul of Ak47s , possibly loaded magazines, hand grenades, camouflage and protective gear.
He smirks as he holds a hand gun towards the camera. Police believe the man, who hasn't been identified, was planning to massacre civilians in Germany after receiving training from IS thugs in Syria.
The proposed attack comes as a top German spy warned ISIS was planting fighters disguised as refugees in Europe. German cops in Attendorn said the man arrived in the country at the end of 2015, claiming to be fleeing the civil war. It is now believe he is part of the terror cell. His wife, who has not been named, has also been taken into custody.
They were taken as 450 heavily-armed police stormed properties across the country on Thursday.
SIRTE, January 31 -- Related local sources confirmed the death of one Islamic State commander, last night, in Sirte, Sudanese national called Hamad Abdel Hady, nicknamed Abu Anas Al-Muhajer.
Sources said, to Al-Wasat website, that a sniper inside the city managed to kill the Sudanese, an official in the IS sharia court, upon his arrival to medical facility opposite to a park in Sirte. “State of terror prevailed among the IS ranks after the death of Al-Muhajer, they randomly shot in the air to scare inhabitants, while searching for the sniper” one source said.
On another side, source inside the common security chamber in the Central Region of Libya said that the military planes flied over Sirte, Hawara, Bin Jawad and Nufalya to monitor movements and positions of the IS elements, and according to sources, the airplanes are affiliate to chief staff of the General National Congress (GNC).
Inside Bin Jawad, sources said that IS elements confiscated number of Salafist houses and wrote slogans as “property of IS”.
Banning of pants
The IS elements detained many citizens affiliate to police and army, accused them of Infidelity giving them time till the end of October.
Some displaced citizens from Sirte in Ajdabiya said that the IS banned youth from wearing tight pants.
At Bin Jawad, the group stormed many houses, and announced it will revenge detainees, who were arrested last week, for different reasons including cooperation with the army, Libya Dawn, Operation Dignity, and others fled the city.
The IS control Bin Jawad since the 4th January after retreating from Al-Sedra and Houroj oil ports.
ROTTERDAM, November 29 -- Mainstream Muslim scholars must engage with reinterpreting passages of the Qur'an that seem to support ISIS' treatment of women.
From where we are positioned, the refugee camp appears enormous. Big, heated tents are situated next to each other in rows. Bread is made in a traditional earth oven, several metres beneath the ground. The dough is stuck to the clay walls and baked with the lid attached to the top of the oven. When the bread is done, it plunges downwards and hits a grate placed inside the oven.
We run into girls on their way to school. A girl wearing a pink sweater and leopard-patterned corduroys plays football with a tin can. Two girls sit behind a tent, one of them combing the other's hair. Next to a man who sells clothing, children in army sweatpants play. They smile and fool about while I take their pictures, and they communicate with signals, which, for a split second, recall the sign gesticulated by ISIS fighters pointing towards the sky and Allah.
The impression I get is similar to that of a visit to a Christian refugee camp in Erbil, a few hours south of the Yezidi camp in Dohuk. Tens of thousands of Christians fled the village of Qaragosh, which was seized by ISIS in August 2014. The residents ran out of water and electricity supplies following the arrival of ISIS in the province capital of Mosul. Still, the 50,000 Christians believed they were safe. Women and men reveal the sense of horror that proliferated as ISIS drew closer to their village. One of the refugees recounts:
“ISIS approached the town and laid out the options: to die, to convert, to flee or to pay a Christian tax to continue to live under their regime. So we left all our possessions, for we had heard what happened to the Yezidis in Sinjar. Some old men did not leave, either because their health did not allow them to, or because the news reached them too late. They stayed behind. I do not know what happened to them.”
This camp, too, is characterised by its placidity. Some girls sit on a bench and do their homework. Another one is seated on the ground. A woman, who wears sweatpants embroidered with characters from the Disney movie Frost, prepares tomatoes and eggs in a frying pan. Nissar Potnus, 58, says:
"They pillaged our homes, robbed them of valuables. They broke into houses and took everything. Even refrigerators. They took our livestock. Everything. My car was left behind. Everything we built over the whole course of our lives is gone. Nonetheless, we fear nothing but the loss of our women. We are aware of what happened to the Mosul women. Many young, Christian women were kidnapped from their families, and the Christian families received life threats when attempting to retrieve the women...Before Daesh arrived, we co-existed peacefully with Muslims. Then, everything changed.”
“ISIS fighters are sexually frustrated losers.” Those were the words of London mayor Boris Johnson. It is a simplistic and banal statement, although there is no doubt that ISIS wields women and sex as draw cards to recruit western men. This assertion is also reflected in the numerous stories about western men who have travelled to IS occupied areas.
One of them, Raphael Hostey, 22, who travelled to Syria from Manchester in 2013, is part of ISIS’ recruitment team, which assists newly arrived fighters from the west across the border. He was believed to be an ordinary chap from the UK who attended John Moores University in Liverpool prior to his departure to Syria, where he gained the nickname “Al Britani Afro”. Raphael left both his wife and children in Manchester. Now he is accused of “stealing” girls from fellow fighters, and of demanding from prospective female travellers to Syria, with whom he chats online, to remove their hijab and niqab so he can determine which of them are the prettiest.
Where Boris Johnson is right is that ISIS is a state established by men, for men, in order to cater to men obsessed with weapons, murder and torture, and who have an urge to rape and abuse women and children. The regime provides them with a religious legitimacy with no basis in Islam. They misuse religion to fulfil sadistic fantasies involving children and women. They exploit the fact that imams and Muslim theologians lag behind in efforts to answer important questions concerning women and gender equality in a modern world. The imams not only fall short of providing answers on the position of women in society, but also on the issue of homosexuality. Out of fear of discomfort, and due to uncertainty in tackling these kinds of universal debates, they remain silent. It yields mullahs the power to define these issues.
ISIS throws living people off tall buildings in Raqqa, just because they are gay, and does so in the name of Islam. They abuse children and women while appealing to the Qur'an. Western Muslims feel stripped of explanations when these issues are up for debate, because their alleged fellow believers have nothing in common with their religion.
Salah Abdesalam, a Belgian national, is suspected to be hiding in the Brussels area and carrying what might be an explosive device. Charles Michel, Belgium's prime minister, moved to increase the state of alert in Brussels to the highest level early on Saturday in response to the threat.
Metro services and major events have since been suspended as hundreds of police officers and soldiers fanned out across the city. Residents have been asked to stay indoors and avoid crowded areas amid the alert, which is in force only in Brussels.
Emergency phone lines have been set up to report suspicious activity, as well as sightings of Abdesalam.
Belgium has been at the forefront of efforts to track down those involved in helping execute the November 13 attacks in Paris, which targeted a concert hall, football stadium, cafe and shopping mall. On Thursday, the country's security services launched raids in the Molenbeek and Jette neighbourhoods of Brussels and made further arrests on Saturday.
The attacks were blamed on the Islamic State (IS) group, and several of the attackers are believed to have received training in Syria.
The apparent ringleader, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was a Belgian national who fought with IS and is suspected of helping to inspire or direct previous attacks targeting France. Since the start of October, IS has launched a number of attacks against targets outside the territory it primarily operates in, including in France, Lebanon, and Turkey.
The group has also claimed credit for bringing down on October 31 a Russian airliner in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula by smuggling a bomb on board.
PARIS, November 16 -- The French presidency on Thursday said it would deploy its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to boost its operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
The presence of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the flagship of the French navy, will add to the six Rafale jets stationed in the United Arab Emirates and the six Mirages flying out of Jordan.
The Charles de Gaulle did a two-month stint in the Gulf from February, from where strikes against IS in Iraq were carried out, before returning to its base in the French port of Toulon.
During this time about 20 aircraft carried out 10-15 combat sorties a day, according to the army.
France launched air strikes against the jihadists in Syria in October, after a year of bombing IS in Iraq, saying it was acting in self defense.
France was hit by a jihadist attack in January that left 17 dead and has foiled several other attempted attacks. The country fears hundreds of citizens that have left to fight with IS in Iraq and Syria will return to launch attacks on home soil.
Since beginning operations in Iraq, French fighter jets have carried out 1,285 aerial missions, resulting in 271 strikes and the destruction of 459 targets.
Only two known strikes have so far been carried out in Syria.
One of the top authors of The Peet Journal is Pete McGea. As a native born Scotsman, Pete
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