The Soufan Group Morning Brief


FRIDAY, APRIL 29, 2016

The Supreme Court approved a change to federal rules that would make it easier for the FBI to hack into computers linked to criminal investigations. The change allows judges to issue warrants to remotely search computers that may be located outside of their district. A Justice Department spokesperson defended the change saying “the use of remote searches is often the only mechanism available to law enforcement to identify and apprehend” criminals. Foreign Policy, Bloomberg, The Intercept

The Hill: Dem rallies opposition to new fed hacking powers

Syed Raheel Farook, the brother of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook and a Navy veteran, along with his wife Tatiana Farook and her sister Mariya Chernykh were arrested and then indicted on charges on Thursday related to their roles in a sham marriage in violation of immigration laws. Chernykh is accused of entering into a sham marriage with Enrique Marquez Jr., who was charged with providing material support to terrorists, after he allegedly purchased a gun for Syed Rizwan Farook. Investigators said they do not believe the three had any knowledge of last December’s terror attack. New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press

Washington Post: FBI arrests brother of San Bernardino attacker and two other relatives, charges them with marriage fraud

Data security: Federal officials are concerned that a company hired non-U.S. citizens to work on a project to build a sensitive phone-number database which tracks almost every phone number in North America. Telcordia, a Swedish-owned company, is rewriting the database’s code at the request of the FBI and FCC over fears that a Chinese citizen with a U.S. work permit had access to the project and helped write the code. Washington Post

Gitmo: South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley spoke out against any potential transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to her home state on Thursday. Speaking at a Congressional hearing, Haley affirmed her opposition to transferring Guantanamo inmates to the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, which has been identified as a potential site to transfer detainees if Guantanamo is shuttered. Huffington Post, Voice of America

Associated Press: GOP Senator Blocks Vote on Army Secretary Over Guantanamo

Deradicalization: The FBI reportedly plans to use confidential “Shared Responsibility Committees” to enlist counselors, social workers, religious figures, and community members to prevent at-risk individuals from radicalizing, according to a letter obtained by The Intercept. Civil liberties groups are concerned that the FBI will use the committees to expand its network of informants, a claim denied in the document. The Intercept

ISIS Hack: ISIS-linked hackers targeted approximately 3,000 New Yorkers in a cyberattack, posting their personal information online. The hackers were part of a pro-ISIS group called the “United Cyber Caliphate.” The FBI and NYPD do not suspect any threat of violence. NBC New York

Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Iraq on Thursday in an effort to bolster support for the fight against ISIS. Vice President Biden met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri in Baghdad to discuss plans to retake Mosul. He later made a stop in Erbil to meet with Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani to discuss Kurdish peshmerga forces’ role in the offensive. New York Times, Reuters

New York Times: With Iraq Mired in Turmoil, Some Call for Partitioning the Country

Syria: ISIS claimed responsibility for attacks against Turkish-held positions along the Syria-Turkey border on Thursday. ISIS released a video showing its fighters destroying what appeared to be artillery equipment and a tank, raising concerns about increased violence along the Turkish border. Washington Post

Reuters: Air strikes on Aleppo hospital kill doctors and children
Washington Post: Facing skepticism, military leaders say Islamic State strategy is making headway
Reuters: U.S. military softens claims on drop in Islamic State's foreign fighters

Afghanistan: A suicide bomber who attacked Kabul last week may have been a former inmate at Bagram prison. Abdul Wali, the alleged bomber, was reportedly released from the prison in 2014 by then Afghan President Hamid Karzai despite the objections of U.S. officials. The attack, which targeted an intelligence training office, killed 64 people and wounded around 350 others. Washington Post

Reuters: U.S. military punishes 16 over 2015 Afghan hospital bombing

Israel: Negotiations over a new ten-year military aid package from the United States to Israel have stalled due to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s objections to last year’s nuclear agreement with Iran. Netanyahu reportedly believes he can secure an even larger aid package, greater than the proposed estimate of $40 billion, from Obama’s successor. New York Times

Haaretz: Italy Uncovers Plot to Attack Israeli Embassy, Vatican

United Kingdom: British police said three people have been charged with terrorism offenses related to the Paris and Brussels terror attacks. UK residents Mohammed Ali Ahmed, Zakaria Boufassil, and Soumaya Boufassil were arrested nearly two weeks ago as part of an investigation with French and Belgian authorities. Wall Street Journal
In Iraq, the Mosul offensive is off to a slow and shaky start: “The Iraqi army isn’t ready yet to take a small, well-fortified village such as Al-Nasr. So it’s hard to imagine that Mosul itself could be cleared by the end of the year, as the Obama administration has hoped,” writes David Ignatius in The Washington Post. “The ‘day after’ in Mosul may be an even bigger problem than the assault itself.”

How The Islamic State’s Propaganda Deeds Into Its Global Expansion Efforts: “As ISIL seeks to establish new wilayats abroad and pull more foreign fighters into its ranks, one of its most potent weapons is its robust propaganda apparatus,” write Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Nathaniel Barr, and Bridget Morengapril on War on the Rocks. “ISIL also tailors its message to each new theater. The movement is adept at fitting its narratives to local political and social conditions, and exploiting societal grievances and fault lines.”

ISIS and the ‘Loser Effect’: “In 2014, ISIS racked up a series of stunning successes as it pushed through Iraq and Syria, gaining momentum and new recruits with each victory,” writes Dominic Tierney in The Atlantic. “But in recent weeks, Syrian government forces liberated the city of Palmyra from ISIS, signifying a broader retreat for the extremist group over the past year. Can ISIS survive the label of loser?”

Covert Contact: How Will ISIS Evolve and How Will Our Response Evolve with Them?

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The European Union’s Refugee Quandary

Join the Center on National Security on Wednesday, June 1 for a discussion with Director Karen J. Greenberg, author of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State. To RSVP click here

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