The Soufan Group Morning Brief

MONDAY, MARCH 14, 2016

On Sunday, members of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb carried out an attack on a beach resort town in Ivory Coast killing at least 16 people, including four Europeans. The six gunmen targeted hotels on a beach at Grand Bassam, a popular destination for western tourists about 25 miles east of the capital Abidjan. This is the third major attack claimed by AQIM in West Africa since last November, following attacks on western targets in the capitals of Burkina Faso and Mali. New York Times, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, CNN

NPR: Gunmen Assault Tourist Hotels In Ivory Coast, Killing At Least 14
Bloomberg: Al-Qaeda Claims Ivory Coast Raid Killing 16 Civilians, Soldiers
Vice News: Gunmen Killed 16 People at a Beach Resort in Ivory Coast on Sunday
President Obama spoke about the encryption debate and for the first time about the stand-off between the FBI and Apple over unlocking an iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. In an interview at Austin’s South by Southwest Festival, Obama said that an “absolutist view” on these issues “does not strike the kind of balance that we have lived with for 200, 300 years” and that such a stance is “fetishizing our phones above every other value.” The President added that if the government does not have some inroads past encryption, “then everyone is walking around with a Swiss bank account in your pocket. So there has to be some some concession to the need to be able to get to that information somehow.” New York Times, NPR

Former CIA Director James Woolsey said on Friday that the FBI is attempting to order Apple to change the operating system of the phone in question. Speaking to reporters, Woolsey said the the FBI was “not just trying to get into one phone. They were trying to change some important aspect of Apple's operating system.” Woolsey added that he thinks “Apple is generally in the right on this” and the government “should not have to have a back door in their phones.” CNBC

Fortune: Here's What Obama Said at SXSW About Apple vs. FBI
Tech Insider: Now we know where Obama stands on the Apple vs. FBI case

ISIS in Mississippi: On Friday Muhammad Dakhlalla pleaded guilty to charges of providing material support to terrorism. The 23-year-old Mississippi man and his fiancee, Jaelyn Delshaun Young, were accused of attempting to join ISIS in Syria after being arrested before boarding a flight from Mississippi with tickets for Istanbul last August. Dakhlalla faces up to 20 years in prison, $250,000 in fines, and lifetime probation. Associated Press, The Hill

Terror trial: On Friday jurors in Phoenix began deliberations in the case of Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem, who is accused of training and providing weapons to two men who tried to attack an anti-Muslim cartoon contest in Texas last year. Kareem, also known as Decarus Thomas, is charged with providing material support to ISIS and with unlawful possession of a firearm. New York Times, Guardian, CNN

PBS Newshour: Conviction in first ISIS trial in the U.S. underscores foreign fighter threat

ISIS in Florida: A federal judge delayed the trial of a Florida man accused of conspiring to detonate a bomb at a Florida Keys beach to July 11 from April 4. 23-year-old Harlem Suarez was arrested after he reportedly accepted an inert device he believed to be a bomb from an FBI employee posing as an ISIS member. Suarez is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Associated Press

On Sunday evening, a car filled with explosives blew up in a public square in the center of Ankara, Turkey, killing more than 30 people and wounding more than 100 others. The attack came only a day after the U.S. Embassy warned of a potential terrorist plot against government facilities in the city. No group claimed immediate responsibility and Turkish authorities said investigations of what it is calling a “terror attack” are underway. New York Times, CNN

Afghanistan: An insurgent group that has fought alongside the Taliban has reportedly said it will participate in peace talks with the Afghan government. The group, Hezb-i-Islami, led by former Afghan Prime Minister and warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, said it is “prepared to participate in the talks to show to the [Afghan] nation it wants peace.” Voice of America

Yemen: Secretary of State John Kerry met with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Saturday to discuss a possible ceasefire in Yemen similar to the agreement brokered in Syria. The meeting came as forces loyal to Yemen’s president reportedly broke a Houthi rebel siege around the city of Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city. Reuters

New York Times: Quiet Support for Saudis Entangles U.S. in Yemen

Canada: The Quebec government is offering a $400,000 grant to support deradicalization efforts at a Montreal junior college. Last year, several students at College de Maisonneuve were arrested on suspicions of their intent to join jihadist groups abroad. Huffington Post

Washington Post: Canada to boost its advise-and-train mission, intelligence capabilities in Iraq

China: Statistics from China’s top court reportedly indicated that convictions for crimes including “violent terrorism” almost doubled in 2015. China convicted 1,419 individuals on charges related to “endangering national security and violent terrorism,” up from 712 in 2014. This increase came after a government “strike hard” campaign against unrest in the largely Muslim region of Xinjiang in western China, home to the country’s ethnic Uighur population. AFP, Associated Press

France: On Friday, two teenage girls, ages 15 and 17, were charged with criminal conspiracy in connection with a terror plot after the two exchanged messages on Facebook in which they discussed planning an attack similar to last November’s attacks in Paris. Paris prosecutors said that plans for the attack were only at a preliminary stage and that “neither weapons, nor explosive substances have been discovered.” The French interior ministry has reportedly flagged 867 French adolescents for radicalization, while 81 minors have left the country to join jihadist groups in Syria. France24, The Independent

United Kingdom: Staff at a nursery school raised concerns over a four-year-old’s drawing of a cucumber, threatening to refer the child to a British deradicalization program. The staff had believed the boy was saying “cooker bomb” when describing a picture he drew of his father cutting a cucumber with a knife. BBC News, Guardian
It’s Time to Seriously Consider Partitioning Syria: “What is increasingly apparent amid all this misery is that Syria as a nation is increasingly a fiction,” writes James Stavridis on Foreign Policy. “Like Humpty Dumpty in the children’s nursery rhyme, the odds of putting Syria back together again into a functioning entity appear very low. It is time to consider a partition.”

How to break the deadlock over data encryption: “Many in law enforcement are scornful of what they see as decisions motivated by business interests and remain adamant that anything less than a real-time, on-demand decryption capability is unacceptable,” write Adam Segal and Alex Grigsby in The Washington Post. “It does not have to be like this. There are solutions that allow law enforcement to gather the evidence it needs without introducing encryption backdoors. Here are three worthy of consideration.”

The Obama-Trump Doctrine: “From a distance, Donald Trump and Barack Obama have very different outlooks on the world,” writes Eli Lake on Bloomberg View. “But Goldberg's deeply reported essay shows that for all their differences, Trump and Obama share similar foreign policy instincts. Both men, for example don't think much of America's traditional alliances. Nor do they think much of the U.S. foreign policy establishment.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Two Attacks and Two Terror Trends

The Center on National Security at Fordham Law will host a full-day conference “Hindsight: Reflections on 16 years of The War On Terror” on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. To RSVP, click here.

The Center on National Security at Fordham Law is seeking an intern to start immediately and work until July 2016. To apply, click here.

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