The Soufan Group Morning Brief

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A UN report released on Monday accuses the Syrian government of “massive and systematized violence” against detainees in what it describes as a campaign of “extermination.” The report, the result of an over four-year-long investigation, provides disturbing details of the Assad government’s inhumane treatment of civilian prisoners. According to interviews with hundreds of witnesses and survivors, the Syrian government has routinely tortured detainees, denying them food, water, and medical care. The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria called on the UN Security Council to impose sanctions upon the Syrian military and civilian officials involved. New York Times, BBC News, TIME, Guardian

Buzzfeed News: U.N. Report Details Horrific Torture And “Extermination” Of Syrian Prisoners
The Atlantic: How Not to Protect Syrian Civilians
Wall Street Journal: Syria Forces Squeeze Rebels Around Aleppo
Newsweek: U.S Officials Step Up Push For A Syrian Ceasefire, Aid For Civilians
On Monday federal prosecutors charged the wife of a senior ISIS commander with the kidnapping of Kayla Mueller, an American aid worker held by ISIS who was allegedly killed by a Jordanian airstrike last February. The Iraqi woman, Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar, also known as Umm Sayyaf, was captured by U.S. Special Operations forces in a raid in eastern Syria last June and questioned by the FBI’s High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group. Sayyaf remains in Iraqi custody in the Kurdish city of Irbil, where she was transferred after being captured. Her husband, ISIS finance chief Abu Sayyaf, was killed in the raid. She reportedly admitted to her role in detaining Mueller and other hostages, as well as storing large amounts of ISIS cash in her home. Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Guardian

FBI Hacked: The Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security are investigating a report by the tech website Motherboard on Sunday that hackers posted over 20,000 FBI and 9,000 DHS employees’ personal data online. The data included employees’ names, job titles, government email addresses, phone numbers, and home addresses. Washington Post, CNN, U.S. News & World Report

Motherboard: Hacker Publishes Personal Info of 20,000 FBI Agents
Business Insider: Hacker group releases thousands of names and job titles supposedly belonging to FBI, DHS employees
WIRED: Hacker Leaks the Info of Thousands of FBI and DHS Employees

ISIS in Washington: A man suspected of supporting ISIS was charged with illegally possessing firearms on Monday. 33-year-old Daniel Franey, a former U.S. Army servicemember, made statements supporting the extremist group and allegedly called Osama Bin Laden “a beautiful man.” In conversations with an undercover agent, Franey referenced a potential attack on a U.S. military base and his intent to join ISIS overseas. However, he claimed he did not want to kill anyone and wanted a gun only for protection. Franey had been barred from possessing firearms under an earlier court order. Franey faces five counts of unlawful gun possession but does not face terrorism charges. New York Times, ABC News

ISIS in Minnesota: A man accused of leading a group of Somali-American friends to leave the United States to fight with ISIS is expected to plead guilty in a federal court on Thursday. 20-year-old Abdirizak Mohamed War­same was charged last December with conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. He was the tenth Somali-American from Minnesota charged in the plot. Three suspects have already pleaded guilty, five others await trial in May, and the FBI believes one is currently in Syria. Minneapolis Star Tribune, Pioneer Press

Mosque Shooter: A man who allegedly fired his rifle at a Connecticut mosque is expected to plead guilty to a federal hate crime this Thursday. Ted Hakey shot at Baitul Aman Mosque after he learned of last November’s terrorist attacks in Paris. The mosque was empty at the time and there were no injuries in the attack. Hakey faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. New York Times
U.S. defense officials said that around 200 additional troops are headed to Afghanistan’s Helmand province to help train Afghan security forces. U.S. officials declined to offer details about the upcoming reinforcement, but claimed the move was part of a “planned deployment.” Afghan security forces in Helmand province have seen high desertion rates, corruption, and leadership problems in the face of the recent increase in Taliban attacks. Reuters, Guardian, International Business Times

Somalia: Somali authorities confirmed on Monday that last week’s explosion aboard a Somali passenger jet was caused by a bomb hidden in a laptop computer. The suicide bomber who attempted the attack had intended to board a Turkish Airlines flight, but changed his target after the flight was cancelled. Airport surveillance footage showed the handoff of the laptop to the suspected bomber, Abdullahi Abdisalam Borle. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which left one man dead and caused an emergency landing, although investigators believe it was linked with al-Shabab. Wall Street Journal, BBC News, Guardian

Vice News: Video Shows Airport Workers Allegedly Handing Bomb to Suspected Somali Plane Bomber

Afghanistan: A Taliban suicide bomber killed at least three people and wounded eight in an attack in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Monday. The city had been relatively calm in recent months, largely immune from the mounting violence in other areas of the country. A separate attack in southeastern Paktika Province killed at least six and wounded nine others on Monday. New York Times
Canada: On Monday, Canadian officials confirmed that the country will suspend its combat role in the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State. However, Canada plans to triple its number of military trainers in northern Iraq from about 70 to more than 200 personnel. Canada will cease airstrikes against ISIS on February 22, as part of a campaign pledge by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Hill, NPR

Vice News: This Is How Canada Is Overhauling Its Fight Against the Islamic State

India: David Headley, an American citizen of Pakistani descent, who helped plan the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks told an Indian court on Monday that he reportedly met with two Pakistani military intelligence agents in the lead-up to the attacks. The Indian court will continue its questioning this week, as the prosecution attempts to present evidence of Pakistani officials’ involvement in the attacks. Headley is currently serving 35 years in U.S. prison for his role in the attacks, which killed 166 people. New York Times, Voice of America

Russia: Russia’s FSB security agency said on Monday that it has detained seven alleged ISIS members suspected of planning an attack on Moscow. Russian security officials uncovered a bomb-making laboratory during searches of the suspects’ homes in the city of Yekaterinburg. Reuters, New York Times, ABC News, Buzzfeed News

Newsweek: ISIS Attack On Moscow Averted, Say Russian Security Services

Protecting U.S. Innovation From Cyberthreats: America’s dominance in the digital world “is threatened by foreign governments, criminals and lone actors who are targeting our computer networks, stealing trade secrets from American companies and violating the privacy of the American people,” writes Barack Obama in The Wall Street Journal. “These cyberthreats are a national-security risk few of my predecessors faced...protecting America’s digital infrastructure is going to remain a top national-security priority.”

Evidence of Prisoner Abuse, Still Hidden: “The Pentagon continues to fight the release of roughly 1,800 photos gathered as part of criminal investigations into allegations of prisoner mistreatment by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan,” writes the Editorial Board of The New York Times. “America’s recent wartime history, which includes ugly chapters, should be fully recorded and reckoned with.”

The rising storm of ethnic fear in Europe and the United States: “The problem in both Europe and the United States is not just a huge influx of migrants, but a lack of political leadership,” writes Richard Cohen in The Washington Post. “At the moment, too many politicians have their fingers to the wind.”
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For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Sending Soldiers to Syria

The Center on National Security at Fordham Law will host “A Discussion with Peter Bergen, Author of United States of Jihad” on February 12, 2016. To RSVP, click here.

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