The process of removal of extremist content is progressing on Facebook

Facebook, the world’s largest social media website, has been facing constant pressure in the United States of America and the United Kingdom to intercept and remove extremist content on its enormous platform more effectively. On November 29, the social media giant announced that it had begun removing 99 per cent of the extremist content. As it prepared for a meeting on tackling ‘terror’ content with the European authorities, content related to Al Qaeda and other Islam militant groups was removed.

According to Reuters, Monika Bickert, head of global policy management and Brian Fishman, Facebook’s head of counter-terrorism policy, stated in a blog post that 83 per cent of the extremist content uploaded on Facebook is removed within an hour of their original upload time. In June, Facebook mentioned that it had significantly escalated its AI (artificial intelligence) that enabled swift recognition and removal of such content.

As per NDTV, Bickert and Fisherman stated, “It is still early, but the results are promising, and we are hopeful that AI will become a more important tool in the arsenal of protection and safety on the internet and on Facebook.” They also mentioned that Facebook’s advanced AI managed to remove 99 per cent of the extremist content related to ISIS and Al-Qaeda before it was flagged down by its users. In some cases, it was removed even before the content went live.

The blog post is right on mark with respect to timing, as it comes a week before Facebook and other social media’s meeting with the European Union government and EU executive. The agenda of the meeting will revolve around how to tackle such disturbing content.

Sources:

Reuters, NDTV

US service member missing after Black Hawk crash

On Friday, August 25, a United States Black Hawk helicopter crashed off the coast of Yemen during a training mission. The US military has said that the search for one US service member is underway.

In a statement released by the US Central Command it was revealed that five other service members who were on the aircraft have been rescued after the crash that took place around 4 pm, reported NDTV.

Colonel John Thomas, CENTCOM spokesman said, “When the incident took place the helicopter was not very high above the water.”

Further, in an interview with Reuters, A US official said that the cause of the crash is under investigation. This is not the first incident; there have been a number of aviation mishaps involving US military aircraft in the past few months. A Black Hawk US Army helicopter crashed on a Maryland golf course in April and last month in July, a military transport plane crash killed 16 service members.

The US military has been carrying out precision air strikes against al Qaeda insurgents in Yemen, which is currently embroiled in a deadly civil war, launching at least 80 since the end of February.

Sources – Express (U.K), NDTV

Pakistan may loose it’s status as major non-NATO ally 

Republican Congressman Ted Poe and Democratic lawmaker Rick Nolan introduced a bill, which calls for revoking the major non NATO ally status of Pakistan. The status was granted to the country in 2004 to help US fight the terrorist outfits Al-Qaeda and Taliban.
“Pakistan must be held accountable for the American blood on its hands,” said Poe, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and serves as chairman of the Sub-committee on Terrorism, Non-proliferation and Trade, in a report by the Times of India.

“For years, Pakistan has acted as a Benedict Arnold ally of the United States. From harbouring Osama bin Laden to backing the Taliban, Pakistan has stubbornly refused to go after, in any meaningful way, terrorists that actively seek to harm opposing ideologies,” he said in the report.

Poe also made it very clear that it was time to make a clean break with Pakistan, but at the very least, US should stop providing them  the eligibility to obtain their sophisticated weaponry in an privileged status.

Being a MNNA entitles a country for priority delivery of defence materials, a US loan guarantee programme and an expedited arms sale process.

Under this status a country can stockpile US military hardware, be sold more sophisticated weaponry and participate in defence research and development programmes.

Sources: Times of India, India Today

 

Al-Qaeda veteran killed in Syria during airstrike

The Pentagon claimed on Wednesday that American airstrikes in Syria’s Idlib province were responsible for the death of eleven militants with links to the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda. The deceased included Al-Qaeda veteran Abu Hani al-Masri, who was a close  ally of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of Al-Qaeda.
The airstrikes were reportedly carried out over the period of two days. The first airstrike killed 10 militants in a building near Idlib that was regularly used as a meeting place for the Al-Qaeda, while al-Masri was killed on the second day. Al-Masri has been affiliated with the al-Qaeda since the 1980s.
Navy Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesperson, addressed the press on Wednesday, saying “These strikes disrupt Al Qaeda’s ability to plot and direct external attacks targeting the US and our interests worldwide. These extremists are increasingly questioning the loyalty of their members as paranoia spreads throughout their network about the many strikes conducted against them. U.S. forces have struck multiple meeting locations, an established basic training camp, and four leaders since the beginning of the year.”
The Pentagon has recently faced criticism due to continous airstrikes in Idlib, after an airstrike on February 1 caused damage to the headquarters of the Syrian Red Crescent, and caused the death of four Red Crescent employees. However, the Pentagon has supported the efficiency of these airstrikes, claiming that 150 al-Qaeda affiliated militants have been killed since the beginning of 2017.

Osama’s son Hamza bin Laden declared as “Global Terrorist”

After Osama bin Laden, the head of al-Qaeda, his son Hamza bin Laden has been designated as global terrorist by the United States State Department.

As reported by Indiatoday, the State Department said, “determined to have committed, or posed a serious risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security.” Hamza, a youngster in his mid-twenties, had been added officially to the terrorist group in 2014 by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who succeeded Osama.

The State department also mentioned about an audio message by the younger Laden to warn for acts of terror in the Western capitals as a revenge against his father’s assassination in 2011 by U.S. special forces.

Hamza also warned for lone wolf attacks against U.S., Israelis and French interests in Washington, Tel Aviv and Paris.

The State Department announced penalties against Ibrahim al-Banna who served as the group’s security chief. He had written hailing the September 11 attacks as virtuous, in an English-language magazine. He had also threatened to target Americans all over the globe.

Sources: Indiatoday, BBC

 

Al-Shabaab militant group blasts Mogadishu; 16 killed

Somali capital Mogadishu shook to a blast carried out by a suicide car bomber, which killed at least 16 and left dozens injured. “We assisted 48 wounded people and carried 16 others who were killed in the blast,” said Abdikadir Abdirahman Adem, director of Mogadishu’s AMIN ambulance service.

The intensity of the bomb was so great, that it was heard across the city, with thick plumes of smoke covering the skyline reported The Guardian.

The blast site was close to the entrance of Mogadishu’s port, some taxmen along with security personnel got injured.

Al-Qaida inclined Al-Shabaab militant group claimed responsibility for the blast, in their Telegram messaging account. They targeted a military base which is located close to the airport.

Their motive is to usurp the government of Somalia, and in their bid to do so they carry out regular terror attacks on not only civilian clustered areas but also on government and military outfits. Elections in Somalia are knocking at the door, as the country is set to go to poll onDecember 28.

SOURCE : BBC

Image Source : EPA

Remembering 9/11, fifteen years on

September 11, 2016 marks the 15th anniversary of the most deadly terror strikes to ever occur on United States’ soil. Nearly 3,000 innocent lives were lost when a terror attack of gigantic proportions was put into action by Al-Qaeda, led by Osama Bin Laden. Four planes were hijacked, out of which two crashed into the twin towers of World Trade Center, New York, one crashed into the Pentagon, and one crashed near Pennsylvania, apparently missing its actual target. Fifteen years later, the horror of the attacks is still fresh.

On the eve of 9/11, United States has come together to remember those innocents who lost their lives, as well as those, who died trying to save others. Family and friends said their prayers for the loved ones who have gone, and tributes were paid to the officers who had fallen fighting for others. Wreaths were laid, and the US flag was flown high in thousands as America vowed, ‘We will never forget’.

United States’ President Barack Obama also released a video in which he acknowledged the efforts of the first responders and thanked them for their sacrifice. He honoured the memory of those who lost their lives that fateful day, and highly condemned the actions of terrorists who are spilling blood throughout the world today. He stated that “Terrorists will never be able to defeat the United States. Their only hope is to terrorise us into changing who we are or our way of life. That’s why we Americans will never give in to fear. And it’s why this weekend we remember the true spirit of 9/11.” Obama’s address at the Pentagon will be to commemorate memories of the dead, and all their names will be read out in a remembrance service at the site where the Twin Towers once existed, now known as Ground Zero.

As the World Trade Center towers came crashing down, the world watched in dreadfulness as the scale of destruction unfolded. The amount of planning and coordination it took to execute this attack has proved to be a landmark in the history of terror strikes.  Fifteen long years have passed since the world witnessed such senseless destruction, and hence, a befitting tribute was truly in order.