The Soufan Group Morning Brief



The Iraqi Army has put on hold its operation to retake the city of Mosul from ISIS until more troops arrive to secure the operation’s staging grounds, according to a military spokesman on Wednesday. In the past three weeks, Iraqi forces have retaken only three small towns from ISIS in the Makhmour area about 40 miles north of Mosul, raising doubts about the Iraqi Army’s ability to retake the city. Reuters, Wall Street Journal

CNN: Advance on ISIS: The road to Mosul
The Hill: House Democrat warns Iran is destabilizing Iraq

Prisons located on U.S. soil currently hold 443 convicted terrorists, according to a report in The New York Times. Republican leaders have continued to argue against the closure of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay because they oppose the transfer of detainees to the homeland. The New York Times was able to confirm locations of approximately one third of the 443 terrorists held in American prisons, including Zacarias Moussaoui, an Al Qaeda member, and Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. New York Times
FBI: Speaking at a field office in Detroit, FBI Director James Comey warned that ISIS primarily uses Twitter and other social media platforms to recruit and radicalize Americans to commit acts of terror. Comey said that ISIS is “trying to encourage those who can’t travel to stay and kill where they are; kill anyone, kill somebody in law enforcement or the military best of all, serve the so-called Islamic State by killing in your community.” Comey’s visit came on the same day that the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed two lawsuits against the government’s terrorist watch list, claiming due process violations. CBS News, The Detroit News, Detroit Free Press

Washington Post: FBI: It’s ‘simply too early’ to say whether anything valuable is on the San Bernardino iPhone
Reuters: Exclusive: White House declines to support encryption legislation - sources

Pentagon: The U.S. military is considering opening additional small outposts in Iraq to provide artillery support and other aid to Iraqi forces fighting ISIS near Mosul, according to Pentagon officials. Around 200 U.S. Marines have been operating Fire Base Bell outside Makhmour since last month. CBS News

Surveillance: The FBI and Department of Homeland Security have conducted extensive surveillance flights over U.S. cities, according to a report by BuzzFeed News. From mid-August to December 2015, the government conducted more than 3,500 surveillance flights with aircraft equipped with high-resolution cameras. Flight paths, tracked by the website FlightRadar24, revealed that the aircraft conducted holding patterns over surveillance targets in major cities. BuzzFeed News, The Verge

Cybersecurity: The Department of Homeland Security is still facing difficulties recruiting tech experts to combat the increasing threat of cyberattacks on U.S. infrastructure, according to a report in The New York Times. Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson said the Department is “competing in a tough marketplace against a private sector that is in a position to offer a lot more money.” New York Times

Syria: Syrian government forces have begun a counter-offensive to retake a village south of Aleppo that was captured by the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front on Monday. Syrian troops, alongside Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon, began the operation overnight and into Wednesday, according to opposition activists. BBC News

Meanwhile, U.S. airstrikes struck a car carrying members of the Khorasan Group, a militant group operating in northwestern Syria. Pentagon officials described the targets as “core al-Qaeda” members. This is the second time this week that U.S. warplanes have targeted Al Qaeda-linked groups in Syria. Washington Post, Foreign Policy

Reuters: Islamic State attacks Syrian forces near Damascus
NBC News: Smuggler of Stolen Artifacts From Palmyra Speaks Out About ISIS' Illicit Operation
Guardian: Syrian fighter filmed eating organ of dead man is shot dead by militants

Nigeria: The Nigerian Army recently announced “Operation Safe Corridor,” which allows former militants to enter a “rehabilitation camp” in an effort to reintegrate Boko Haram members into society. Also, a joint Cameroonian and Nigerian multinational force arrested around 300 Boko Haram members during a three-day operation on the border areas between Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon. Newsweek

United Kingdom: The British government has announced new measures to prevent terror suspects from fleeing the country. The government plans to require terror suspects to surrender their passports and make it illegal for terror suspects who have been released on bail to leave the country. The Telegraph

Vice News: Exclusive: UK Did Not Consult Any Muslim Organizations About Flagship Anti-Radicalization Website
BBC News: Nato could do more on extremism, says British general

Egypt: The Obama administration is reportedly considering pulling troops out of a base in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula and moving them to more secure areas in the south due to growing threats from ISIS. Approximately 700 U.S. troops are currently part of the Multinational Force and Observers mission, which monitors compliance of a 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. Israeli and Egyptian officials have reportedly begun talks about moving the mission out of northern Sinai due to increasing threats from ISIS and other militants. CNN
Want to Save Syrian Refugees? Help Them Go to College: “This is a personal disaster for every single Syrian who expected to graduate from university. But it is also a disaster for the country and for the world,” writes Meredith Jung-En Woo on Foreign Policy. “How will Syria ever rebuild and recover without architects to redesign its demolished cities or lawyers to rewrite its constitution?”

Obama Should Return His Nobel Peace Prize: “President Obama claims undue credit for progress toward eliminating nuclear dangers,” writes Barry Blechman on The National Interest. “In fact, in nearly eight years, his administrations have taken only a few small steps toward limiting these risks, while launching a nuclear weapons modernization program of unprecedented scope and expense.”

Obama destroyed Syrians’ ‘glimmer of hope’ that America would intervene: “The White House argues there is nothing useful the United States could have done,” writes Fred Hiatt in The Washington Post. “Along the way Obama’s senior advisers pushed a series of options: destroy the helicopters dropping those barrel bombs, provide training or equipment for moderate rebels, create a safe zone where rebels and displaced people could regroup.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Driving Back al-Qaeda in Yemen

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.

Fordham Law School will host the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals for an Outreach Argument and Q&A: “United States v. Staff Sergeant Charles D. Buford Jr.” on Friday, April 15, 2016. To RSVP, click here.

Join Fordham for a discussion on "Iran-U.S. Relations after the Nuclear Deal" on Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 12:30pm  To RSVP, click here.

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

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