The Soufan Group Morning Brief



A series of coordinated bombings at a Brussels subway station and the city's main airport killed at least 28 people and wounded dozens of others on Tuesday morning. According to reports, 13 people were killed in two explosions at the airport, and another 15 in a third at a central subway station, while 30 others were wounded. Belgian authorities believe the explosions were part of a suicide attack. The attacks come only days after the arrest of Salah Abdeslam, one of the alleged Paris attackers who was captured in Brussels on Friday and had reportedly been planning additional attacks on European targets. New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal

BBC News: Brussels explosions: Many dead in airport and metro terror attacks
NPR: Terrorist Bombing Strikes Brussels Airport: What We Know
Foreign Policy: Deadly Blasts Shock Brussels After Islamic State Militant’s Arrest
BuzzFeed News: “Many Dead And Many Injured” In Brussels Terror Attacks
Vice News: Dozens Killed by Multiple Explosions in Brussels Airport and Subway
Vox: Attacks in the airport and metro in Brussels: What we know from Belgium
The Justice Department believes it may be able to unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters without Apple’s cooperation, as Judge Sheri Pym postponed today’s highly-anticipated court hearing on Monday at the request of federal prosecutors. In a new court filing, the government said that “an outside party” has demonstrated a possible method for the FBI to unlock the phone. Prosecutors said they needed more time to determine “whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data” on the iPhone. New York Times, Politico, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CBS News, Associated Press

Associated Press: Johns Hopkins researchers find flaw in iMessage encryption
NPR: FBI Says It May Be Able To Access Shooter's iPhone Without Apple's Help
The Verge: Judge suspends Apple's San Bernardino case pending FBI hack
Forbes: The Apple-FBI Battle Is Dangerously Polarizing Public Opinion
Fortune: Tim Cook: 'We Will Not Shrink' in FBI Battle
Bloomberg: The Behind-the-Scenes Fight Between Apple and the FBI

Gitmo: During President Obama’s visit to Cuba on Monday, Cuban President Raul Castro called on the United States to return the “illegally occupied” Guantanamo Bay naval base back to Cuban control. Castro said the issue of Guantanamo was one of the “two main obstacles” to normalizing relations with the United States, the other being the ongoing American embargo against Cuba. Washington Post, Guardian, NPR

Washington Post: Raúl Castro, Obama spar on human rights, Guantanamo, views of U.S. and Cuba
New York Times: Cuba Meeting Between Obama and Castro Exposes Old Grievances
The Hill: Kirk to introduce new restrictions on Gitmo transfers

Drones: A new film, “Eye In The Sky,” focuses on the tactical, legal, and ethical dilemmas posed by drone warfare. Helen Mirren stars as a British army colonel who leads a secret drone mission in West Africa. The film has received mostly positive reviews for its captivating portrayal of issues in modern warfare, although some reviews have criticized it for ignoring issues such as imperfect intelligence and fog of war. Washington Post

Boston Globe: Thriller ‘Eye in the Sky’ leaves no room for breathing
The Intercept: Drone Warfare’s Ethical Dilemmas Are Focus Of Film “Eye In The Sky”
New York Review of Books: Killing from the Conference Room
PBS Newshour: ‘Eye in the Sky’ film puts the use of drones in the spotlight
Rolling Stone: Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul debate the merits of drone warfare in this torn-from-the-headlines drama
Chicago Tribune: 'Eye in the Sky' review: Helen Mirren's colonel must choose between military and morals

Spying investigation: On Monday, the Justice Department reportedly ended its counterintelligence investigation into former American diplomat Robin Raphel and will not file charges. The FBI had been investigating the former U.S. diplomat and CIA analyst on suspicion of sharing classified information with the Pakistani government. Raphel’s lawyer, Amy Jeffress, said that the “investigation was based on a fundamental misunderstanding,” and that diplomats should “be able to do their work without fearing that their routine diplomatic communications will subject them to criminal investigation.” New York Times, Washington Post

Supreme Court: Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland has often deferred to the government in cases concerning wartime detention, according to a report by The New York Times. Garland has seen at least 16 cases regarding Guantanamo bay detainees and, except for an outlier in 2008, has ruled in favor of the federal government. New York Times

Just Security: Justice Garland and National Security Accountability: What’s Missing from the Dueling Guantánamo Accounts
Opinio Juris: Responding to Steve Vladeck and Charlie Savage on Garland

On Monday the Pentagon confirmed that the U.S. military had established a small base staffed only by U.S. Marines in northern Iraq. The Pentagon claims it is not conducting a ground operation in Iraq and that the outpost is meant to provide long-range artillery support to Iraqi forces fighting ISIS. A Pentagon spokesman said that a group of 10 ISIS fighters attacked the base on Monday. No U.S. personnel were injured and at least two ISIS fighters were killed. The small outpost had been kept secret because the Pentagon claimed it wanted to allow forces to “become fully operational” and “ready to fight.” New York Times, CNN, Washington Post

Washington Post: The U.S. air war against ISIS enters new phase — but the fight for Mosul is coming
Guardian: After invading Iraq 13 years ago the US is still making the same mistakes

Syria: Russia warned on Monday that it would unilaterally resume airstrikes in Syria against groups it finds in violation of a fragile ceasefire unless the United States agrees to new rules of engagement as part of ongoing peace talks in Geneva. A statement from the Russian Defense Ministry said it was “unacceptable” for the United States to further delay coordination on ceasefire rules. Wall Street Journal, BBC News, Washington Post

U.S. World & News Report: Russia Steps Up War Rhetoric in Syria
Reuters: Islamic State forces kill 26 Syrian soldiers near Palmyra: monitor

Mali: Gunmen attacked the headquarters of a European Union military training operation at a hotel in the capital of Bamako on Monday. There were no reported casualties and no group had yet taken responsibility for the attack, although Mali and neighboring West African countries have recently been the target of attacks by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Reuters

Belgium: French and Belgian Police intensified their search for a new suspect linked to November’s Paris attacks. Investigators said on Monday that they had found DNA samples from 24-year-old Belgian Najim Laachraoui in houses used to plan the terror attacks. Laachraoui, also known as Soufiane Kayal, allegedly traveled to Syria in 2013 and to Hungary in September with Salah Abdeslam, the Paris attack suspect who was arrested on Friday. CNN, New York Times

United Kingdom: Only one third of the nearly 4,000 people referred to a British government deradicalization program over the last year were Muslims, according to new statistics released by the National Police Chief Council under a Freedom of Information Act request. The program was designed to combat radicalization by ISIS and other jihadist groups as the British government introduced a requirement for local authorities, prisons, and schools to monitor and report possible instances of radicalization. Breitbart
Trump and Torture: “Perhaps because of this blowback, Trump reversed course in an unexpected but welcome bow to the rule of international law,” writes David Luban on Just Security. “Despite their limitations,” torture statutes implemented in the Convention Against Torture “were a gigantic step forward, and they would be a legal roadblock to President Trump’s pro-torture agenda. What could he do about them?”

The Iran Deal's Bigger Loser: “The decision to fork over $100 billion in sanctions relief to Iran as part of last summer’s nuclear deal could be the worst thing that’s happened to the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah in years,” writes Jonathan Schanzer in Foreign Affairs. “After decrying Hezbollah’s destabilizing activities around the region for years, earlier this month, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) finally slapped sanctions on the group, branding it as a terrorist organization and taking measures to freeze its assets.”

Learning From Vladimir: “It took Mr. Putin just six months to show the world that modest military inputs can decisively tilt the balance of power, and that not every Mideast intervention descends into quagmire,” writes Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal. “The point of intervention isn’t to solve everything. And as Vladimir has reminded the world again, trying to solve everything solves nothing.”
New York Review of Books: Voices from a Different Syria

The New Yorker: Exporting Jihad

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: An Al-Qaeda Resurgence in Africa

The Center on National Security at Fordham Law will host a full-day conference “Hindsight: Reflections on 15 years of The War On Terror” on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. To RSVP, click here.

Call for Papers: Revisiting the Role of International Law in National Security. For more information, 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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