The Soufan Group Morning Brief

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At least five different medical facilities, including a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders, were hit by airstrikes in northern Syria on Monday, killing at least 50 civilians. Two schools were also hit in rebel-held areas in Aleppo and Idlib provinces, according to the United Nations. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the bombings cast “doubt on Russia’s willingness and/or ability to help bring to a stop the continued brutality of the Assad regime.” The airstrikes against civilian targets occurred despite apparent progress by the United States and Russia towards a partial ceasefire on Friday. New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Reuters

Washington Post: Turkey strikes Kurdish militia in Syria, demands it withdraw
Buzzfeed News: Here’s How Syria’s Regime Is Profiting From People Under Siege
Atlantic: Deadly Strikes Against Civilians in Syria

Tests conducted by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that mustard gas was used by ISIS against Kurdish troops in August of last year, according to a source within the OPCW. The tests were part of an investigation by the OPCW and the Iraqi government into the possible use of the chemical weapon after the soldiers became ill during fighting against ISIS militants south of Erbil last year. Reuters, Yahoo News, Guardian, BBC News

The Independent: ISIS used chemical weapons in battle against Kurds, say officials
Newsweek: U.S.-led coalition targets ISIS banks in Mosul strikes
The trial of Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, an Arizona man who allegedly helped plan potential ISIS-related terrorist attacks, is set to begin today in Phoenix. Kareem is accused of hosting two gunmen at his home to discuss plans and provide weapons for an attack against a cartoon contest depicting the prophet Muhammad in Texas last year. He also allegedly inquired about explosives for a potential attack on the 2015 Super Bowl in Phoenix. He is charged with conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. This is the first time the federal government will bring an ISIS-related case to trial. The government has previously charged 78 other individuals with crimes related to ISIS since March 2014, according to Karen J. Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School. Although 25 of the individuals charged have pleaded guilty, none of the cases have been brought to trial. Chicago Tribune,

Newsweek: Texas ISIS-linked Muhammad cartoon contest trial to begin

Torture: The director of the government team in charge of interrogating key terror suspects said research supports the conclusion that “rapport-based techniques elicit the most credible information.” Frazier Thompson, head of the FBI’s High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, made his comments after presidential candidate Donald Trump recently called for a return to “enhanced interrogation” methods such as waterboarding. NPR

Buzzfeed News: Head of Obama’s secret interrogation group says unit has been deployed 34 times
Newsweek: CIA would refuse Trump torture orders, top former officials say

Gitmo: Pretrial hearings are set to begin today in the case of five suspects accused of planning the 9/11 attacks. The chief prosecutor in the case, Brig. Gen. Mark Martins said in a February 10 letter that “much work remains” in the trial. Miami Herald, NPR

Guardian: A tour of Guantanamo Bay: ghostlike figures wait as a promise goes unfulfilled
Lawfare: What Gordon England didn’t tell you about Guantanamo transfers

Countering Extremism: The Justice Department and other government agencies are considering creating special programs to help reintegrate inmates convicted on terrorism-related charges, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal which cites research from the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School. The Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons said that inmates convicted on terror charges are given the same opportunities for re-entry programming as other inmates, such as drug treatment and faith-based programs, but that there are no programs “with a proven track record of success for terrorism.” Wall Street Journal
In Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate held in South Carolina, Donald Trump attacked Jeb Bush, reminding him that “The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign.” Trump went on to criticize President George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003. Trump asserted that the American public was misled by the government and stated “they lied. And they said there were weapons of mass destruction and there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.” Jeb Bush responded by saying “while Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe.” The South Carolina Republican primary takes place on February 20. New York Times, CNN, Politico

TIME: Donald Trump: truth teller?
Atlantic: Was Donald Trump really against the Iraq war?
The Daily Beast: Donald Trump: Bush lied, people died
Boko Haram fighters have been trained in Somalia by Al-Shabab before returning to Nigeria, according to the president of Somalia. In a statement made at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said that were “proofs and evidence that [for] some time Boko Haram has been trained in Somalia.” Reuters

Vice News: Boko Haram fighters are traveling to Somalia for training, president says
Newsweek: Is Al-Shabab training Boko Haram fighters?
Wall Street Journal: Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for Somali plane bomb
Voice of America: Pentagon denies U.S. drone crash in Somalia

Afghanistan: Taliban insurgents carried out suicide attacks in captured military Humvees in the southern province of Helmand on Saturday, killing at least six Afghan security forces. Two stolen Afghan Army Humvees were used in the attacks against security checkpoints. The United States recently deployed 500 additional soldiers to Helmand to help support the struggling Afghan security forces. New York Times, Reuters

Washington Post: The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is leaving, but the troops are staying

Pakistan: 97 al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants were arrested in Karachi on Friday, according to a Pakistani military spokesperson. Security forces also foiled a plot to break Omar Saeed Sheikh, convicted of killing American journalist Daniel Pearl, out of prison. Reuters, Deutsche Welle
United Kingdom: On Friday 22-year-old Tarik Hassane pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder and preparing terrorist acts despite preparations by his defense team. Hassane was accused of plotting a drive-by shooting in London inspired by the Islamic State in 2014. Wall Street Journal,

Canada: The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) plans to hire new staff for their “applied psychology section,” according to a report by Vice News. The Canadian intelligence agency seeks to understand what motivates people to join groups like the Islamic State. The job posting states that “members of this small unit are tasked to assist the Service in better understanding radicalization and terrorism.” Vice News
The Syria Ceasefire Plan Is A Sign Of The Decaying World Order: “Common sense will not end the conflict in Syria. That takes leverage. Mr. Putin is not interested in being our partner,” writes Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in War On The Rocks. “This is diplomacy in the service of military aggression. And it is working because we are letting it.”

Does the U.S. Overstate the Threat of Terrorism?: “While terrorist attacks like San Bernardino and the Boston Marathon bombings are absolutely deplorable, they too are rare, and should not be viewed through the same lense as major events like September 11, 2001,” writes Rachel Rizzo in The National Interest. “The United States should instead put more focus on issues that can significantly change the international geopolitical landscape, such as a revanchist Russia.”

Time to Hit Pause on the US Army’s Drawdown: “It appeared the U.S. could withdraw most of its land forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, but there was a dangerous miscalculation,” writes Gordon Sullivan on Defense One. “The strategic assessment underpinning the force cuts did not envision an aggressive Russia, the rise and depravity of the Islamic State group, and an increasingly unpredictable North Korea.”

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For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Iran Assessed as Major Threat

The Urban Consortium at Fordham Law will host a press conference with Mayor Jozias van Aartsen and Dr. Benjamin Barber to announce the Inaugural Event of the Global Parliament of Mayors TODAY February 16, 2016. To RSVP, click here.

The Center on National Security at Fordham Law will host “Iran in Context” with Laura Secor and Hooman Majd on February 23, 2016. To RSVP, click here.
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