The Soufan Group Morning Brief



The Periodic Review Board has declined to clear Yemeni detainee Muhammed al Ansi for transfer from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, citing “significant derogatory information regarding the detainee’s past activities in Afghanistan.” Al Ansi is believed to be a former bodyguard to Osama bin Laden. President Jimmy Carter’s Atlanta-based Carter Center, a philanthropic organization, had offered assistance to help al Ansi with his resettlement if transferred to another country. Al Ansi has been held at Guantanamo since 2002 and has not been charged with a crime. Miami Herald

Miami Herald: Guantánamo Periodic Review Board Guide

The technical method used to unlock the phone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook is unlikely to help authorities open many other iPhones in other criminal cases, according to government officials and legal experts. Due to both technical and legal reasons, the FBI is unlikely to use the same technique to unlock devices in state and local crimes throughout the country. The method used in the San Bernardino case involved a specific version of the iPhone operating system, and may not work on any other version of the software, according to reports. NBC News, Wall Street Journal

NSA: A top lawyer for the U.S. intelligence community is defending the NSA’s plans to share citizens’ information with other agencies before applying privacy protections to them. Robert Litt, the General Counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said that “There will be no greater access to signals intelligence information for law enforcement purposes than there is today.” Just Security, The Hill

Foreign Policy: Watch Thy Neighbor: To prevent whistleblowing, U.S. intelligence agencies are instructing staff to spy on their colleagues.

Radicalization: ISIS fighters are motivated to join the militant group for reasons “that have little to do with belief in extremist Islam,” according to a report published on The Nation. Lydia Wilson’s interviews with ISIS prisoners, as well as analysis by other radicalization experts, show that fighters are motivated by “many different pull factors.” The Nation

Syria Travel Warning: The State Department issued a new travel warning on Syria on Thursday, advising U.S. citizens against visiting the country, despite a reduction in violence since a ceasefire began last month. The State Department warned that “although a Cessation of Hostilities was announced by the International Syria Support Group Ceasefire Task Force in February 2016, fighting still persists between combatants in Syria.” The Hill

On Thursday, senior members of the Afghan Taliban said that Abdul Qayum Zakir, a prominent member of the group, has recognized the new leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, after previously dissenting against Mansoor’s appointment. Zakir’s pledge of loyalty helps to close some of the divisions that emerged within the Afghan Taliban after the announcement of former leader Mullah Omar’s death last summer. Associated Press

Nigeria: Boko Haram kidnapped at least 300 children from an elementary school in the northeastern town of Damasak back in 2014, according to an investigation by Human Rights Watch. None of the children have been returned since the kidnapping, according to interviews with Damasak residents. Human Rights Watch criticised the lack of action taken to recover the schoolchildren, saying that “the authorities need to wake up and find out where the Damasak children and other captives are and take urgent steps to free them.” Newsweek

Turkey: A car bomb killed seven police officers and wounded over 25 others in the southeastern town of Diyarbakir on Thursday. A parked car filled with explosives was detonated by remote control, according to security officials. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Reuters

Syria: At least 23 people were killed by Syrian government airstrikes on a rebel-controlled suburb in Damascus on Thursday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least four children were killed in the strikes. Reuters

Belgium: The U.S. government has sent FBI teams to help Belgian authorities with their investigation of the March 22 attacks in Brussels. The Belgian interior minister is also expected to discuss security cooperation regarding the terror attacks with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch this week while attending the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC. Reuters

France: Belgian prosecutors said on Thursday that Salah Abdeslam, the only living suspect arrested that was involved in last November’s Paris attacks, has been cleared for extradition to France. However, the transfer may take several weeks as Belgian authorities want to question Abdeslam in connection with the Brussels bombings. Voice of America, BBC News

New York Times: Investigators Pursue Leads on Frenchman Accused of Terror Plot
The Salman Doctrine: the Saudi Reply to Obama's Weakness: “It is now clearer than ever that America and Saudi Arabia are on a collision course over strategic decisions in the Middle East,” writes Nawaf Obaid in The National Interest. “At the center of many of these doctrinal differences is the Saudi assertion that Iran is at the root of numerous security problems now plaguing the Middle East. Obama’s assertion that Saudi Arabia should “share” the region with Iran is patently absurd, given Tehran’s vast and unending support for terrorism.”

Pakistan: The Army Steps In: “In fact, the army has no political, constitutional, or legal cover for going into Punjab. That would require the government to invite the army in,” writes Ahmed Rashid in The New York Review of Books. “But over the past few days, as hundreds of arrests have taken place in Punjab, General Sharif and Nawaz Sharif have not met or apparently conferred with one another, adding to the uncertainty.”

The Liberation of Mosul Has Begun: “It has always been clear that there will be no defeating the Islamic State in Iraq without liberating and stabilizing Mosul,” writes Michael Knights on Foreign Policy. “After the city is captured, of course, its liberators will face a whole set of new challenges...the authorities will need another way to tackle the issue of all the abuses that pro-IS locals have heaped upon their fellow Moslawis.”

New Yorker: George Packer Talks to Dorothy Wickenden About Tunisia

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Confronting the Terror Threat to Oil and Gas

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.

Center on National Security
Fordham University School of Law
150 W. 62nd St. 7th Floor
New York, NY 10023 US
Copyright © 2016 Center on National Security, All rights reserved.