The Soufan Group Morning Brief



The Justice Department will require all federal prosecutors to coordinate with Washington in cases involving national security in a broader sense than before, according to a report in The New York Times. In a nationwide letter to federal prosecutors, Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates said that all cases involving national security in any way, will involve greater oversight and control in Washington. The new rules came after federal prosecutors mishandled the cases of several Chinese-Americans accused of espionage, against whom the charges were eventually dismissed or dropped. The cases have led to accusations of racial profiling. New York Times

FBI Director James Comey indicated that the FBI does not intend to tell Apple how the government unlocked the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. Comey acknowledged that the FBI does fully understand how the hacking tool works, saying “are we aware of the vulnerability, or did we just buy a tool and don’t have sufficient knowledge of the vulnerability that would implicate the process?’’ The FBI reportedly informed apple of a flaw in its iPhone and Mac software on April 14, as part of the so-called Vulnerability Equities Process. Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Washington Post

Boston Globe: FBI won’t reveal method for cracking San Bernardino iPhone
CBS News: FBI hesitates to disclose details of iPhone software vulnerability

Surveillance: Prosecutors informed an Iraqi refugee who is accused of travelling to fight alongside terrorist organizations that he faces evidence gathered from the government’s warrantless surveillance program. The disclosure brings into question the constitutionality of the FISA Amendments Act, which allows the government to collect international communications of foreign citizens even when they communicate with Americans. Thomas A. Durkin, a defense attorney for the refugee Aws Mohammed Younis Al-Jayab, said that he intends to challenge the evidence. New York Times

Cyberwarfare: The Pentagon has declined to provide details about how the U.S. military is targeting ISIS through the use of cyberwarfare, in an effort to prevent the group from taking steps to avoid the attacks. Adm. Mike Rogers, the head of U.S. Cyber Command said he is “not interested in giving [ISIS] any advantage.” Wall Street Journal

The Pentagon said on Tuesday that the number of foreign fighters entering Iraq and Syria has dropped from 2,000 new recruits per month to only 200 per month over the past year. Air Force Maj. Gen. Peter E. Gersten, the deputy commander for the U.S. military’s fight against ISIS, said that the 90 percent drop was a direct result of airstrikes targeting ISIS infrastructure. Earlier this month, the State Department said the number of ISIS fighters in Iraq was at its lowest point in the last two years. Washington Post, Reuters, Voice of America, CBS

Newsweek: In the Fight Against ISIS, US Adopts Israeli 'Roof Knocking' Tactic
TIME: Money to Burn: Up to $800 Million Of ISIS Cash Destroyed in Airstrikes
CNN: ISIS internal docs show struggle to retain fighters, cut costs

Yemen: A suspected U.S. drone strike killed local Al Qaeda leader Abu Sameh al-Zinjibari and five of his aides on Tuesday in the town of Amoudiya in southern Yemen. Government officials believe al-Zinjibari was in charge of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s finances in Yemen. Reuters, Associated Press

Iraq: Iraqi forces have fully recovered the city of Hit from ISIS control. Hit is located on a strategic supply route from Iraq to Syria. ISIS has lost about 40 percent of its territory in Iraq, according to U.S. officials. CBS News

Syria: Five rescue workers were killed in strikes on their group’s headquarters near Aleppo in northern Syria on Tuesday. The organization, the White Helmets, has helped save as many as 50,000 people in first-response efforts after attacks on civilian areas in Syria. New York Times

Bangladesh: Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Bangladesh, Ansar al-Islam, has claimed responsibility for the brutal murder of two LGBT rights activists. Xulhaz Mannan, a USAID employee and editor of an LGBT magazine, and his friend Tanay Majumder were hacked to death with machetes and then shot for being, as the group claimed, “the pioneers of practicing and promoting homosexuality in Bangladesh.” BBC News

Canada: A former Member of Parliament has led an online petition demanding the federal government begin an inquiry about the treatment of prisoners during the war in Afghanistan. Former MP Craig Scott believes the Canadian government used a system called Person Under Control (PUC) under which detainees of higher intelligence value were kept off of official records and interrogated by “other government agencies.” Huffington Post
Obama’s Middle East: Goodbye Orthodoxy, Farewell Orthopraxy: “President Barack Obama has turned over the table of orthodox foreign policy theory and practice in the Middle East. The United States may now have choices before it that are better grounded in fact, but has roiled the region in the process,” writes W. Robert Pearson at The Middle East Institute. “It is the short-term consequences of the American shift that have attracted the most attention, but it is the long-term that will produce the most important outcomes.”

The next Chernobyl may be intentional: Chernobyl’s 30th anniversary on April 26 comes against the backdrop of growing apprehension that nuclear reactors may become a terrorist target,” writes Bennett Ramberg on Reuters. “Serious concern arose during the recent Islamic State attacks in Brussels. Evidence suggested that the assailants were considering a nuclear-related incident. The terrorists had a senior Belgian nuclear official under surveillance, and two former nuclear power-plant employees were reported to have joined Islamic State.”

Boko Haram’s Terrorist Behind the Curtain: Boko Haram is constantly evolving. As it has come under increased pressure from a regional military coalition, the group has clearly pivoted — but it’s not yet clear in which direction,” writes Max Siollun on Foreign Policy. “Last year, it forged an alliance with the Islamic State, but at the same time it has embraced asymmetric terrorist tactics not designed to capture or hold territory, a move seemingly at odds with its stated goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Islamic State Eyes Southeast Asia

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