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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2016
JOINT CHIEFS WILL NOT TRANSFER GUANTANAMO DETAINEES TO HOMELAND
The U.S. military will not cooperate with the Obama administration to transfer any Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States unless the law which prohibits such transfers is changed, according to a letter from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Congress. Lt. Gen. William Mayville, Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote that “current law prohibits” such transfers and that “The Joint Staff will not take any action contrary to those restrictions.” Mayville added that the Joint Chiefs of Staff agree with the Obama administration’s goal to close the prison, calling it a “responsible end to holding detainees at Guantanamo.” The Hill, Bloomberg View

The Pentagon announced on Tuesday the decision that one of the remaining 91 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison was not linked to Al Qaeda and was a “low-ranking” militant. Appearing in front of the Periodic Review Board, Ayyub Murshid Ali Salih, a Yemeni citizen, captured in September 2002 in Karachi, Pakistan, had been accused of being part of an Al Qaeda terrorist cell. He has been held at Guantanamo since October 2002. Miami Herald, Associated Press

Related:
Reuters: 9/11 suspect asks again to fire his lawyers in Guantanamo trial
Associated Press: As a prisoner in Guantanamo, Younis Chekkouri learned about the new group of Islamic extremists advancing through Syria and Iraq
NSA COLLECTS LESS DATA THAN SUSPECTED
The National Security Agency probably collects less data about Americans’ international Internet communications than experts originally expected, according to a newly declassified NSA inspector general report obtained by The New York Times. Information collected by NSA programs such as Upstream likely only includes emails to, from, or about NSA foreign targets, rather than all data crossing U.S. borders, as originally suspected. ACLU lawyer Patrick Toomey argues, however, that constitutional issues remain, despite the new revelations. New York Times

Related:
NY Mag: Report: NSA’s SKYNET may be targeting innocent civilians with drones

San Bernardino: A U.S. judge ordered Apple Inc. to assist the FBI in unlocking the mobile phone of one of the San Bernardino attackers on Tuesday. Judge Sheri Pym of U.S. District Court in Los Angeles ruled that Apple must provide “reasonable technical assistance” to FBI investigators in order to help access data on an iPhone owned by Syed Rizwan Farook. Reuters, New York Times, Washington Post

Related:
Buzzfeed News: Judge orders Apple to help unlock San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone
Politico: Feds get order to force Apple to unlock San Bernardino shooter's phone
RECORD NUMBER OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES IN AFGHANISTAN LAST YEAR
At least 11,000 civilians were killed or injured in Afghanistan in 2015, according to a United Nations report. Last year was the worst year for civilian casualties in Afghanistan since the UN began recording the statistics in 2009. Although there was a 4 percent decrease in the number of civilian deaths from 2014, there was a 4 percent increase in the number of overall civilian casualties, including those wounded. Reuters, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian

Related:
New York Times: Penetrating every stage of Afghan opium chain, Taliban become a cartel
The Hill: In Afghanistan, things aren't getting better

Syria: The Syrian government reportedly approved humanitarian access to seven areas on Tuesday, including the besieged city of Madaya. UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura emerged successful after crisis negotiations in Damascus with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem. UN convoys will begin delivery of humanitarian aid “as soon as possible in the coming days.” Reuters, BBC News

Related:
Washington Post: Russia pushes back against reports its planes bombed hospital in Syria
Atlantic: Allegations--and denials--in the Syrian conflict

ISIS: The Islamic State has cut salaries for its fighters across its self-proclaimed caliphate and is struggling to pay for utilities in its stronghold of Raqqa. The group has faced mounting pressure on its finances, due in large part to US-led coalition and Russian airstrikes against ISIS-held oil fields and facilities. In a sign of its desperation, ISIS reportedly has lowered its ransom price for detainees and prisoners to $500 per person. The group’s financial difficulties trickle down to even simple morale-boosting comforts and perks, as ISIS has reportedly stopped providing free energy drinks and Snickers bars to its supporters. Associated Press, CBS News

Related:
Slate: The official currency of ISIS’s caliphate: the U.S. Dollar
Newsweek: Financial woes mean ISIS struggles to pay its fighters and the bills
Belgium: Police raided nine houses and arrested 10 individuals in Brussels on Tuesday as part of an investigation into an ISIS recruitment network. The operations took place in several neighborhoods including Molenbeek, where several suspects in the Paris terror attacks allegedly lived and planned last November’s attacks. Three of the 10 arrested were charged with terrorism-related crimes. The other seven were questioned by authorities and then released without charge. New York Times, Reuters

Austria: The Austrian government announced on Tuesday that it will significantly tighten border controls and institute daily quotas of asylum seekers allowed to enter the country from Slovenia. Austrian officials said the precise details of the plan, including the quota numbers, will be released today. Wall Street Journal, Deutsche Welle, Financial Times

Germany: Over 200 police and intelligence officers raided an office building and 10 homes in Bremen on Tuesday as part of a crack-down on a banned Salafist group. Officers seized several computers, hard drives, cellphones, and other electronic equipment in the coordinated operations. The group in question, called the Islamic Support Association, has sent more than 15 people to join ISIS in Syria, according to German officials. New York Times

Donald Trump: I Will Do Whatever It Takes: “I have made it clear in my campaign that I would support and endorse the use of enhanced interrogation techniques if the use of these methods would enhance the protection and safety of the nation,” writes Donald Trump in USA Today. “Though the effectiveness of many of these methods may be in dispute, nothing should be taken off the table when American lives are at stake.”

Why Obama’s Middle East Policy Is Failing: “The murderous jihadists of Islamic State, or ISIS, are only one symptom of a much larger problem in the Middle East,” write Kenneth Pollack and Barbara Walter in The Wall Street Journal. “By fixating on this one symptom--rather than its sources--and then trying to convince everyone else in the region to do the same, we are setting ourselves up for failure.”

Governance Is The Key To Defeating IS: Lessons Learned From Counterterrorism In Yemen: “The problem of Islamic State and extremism in Yemen should be addressed from a governance perspective, rather than a security-centric one,” writes Nadwa Dawsari in Lawfare. “The traditional approach of relying solely on national actors--often viewed by locals as illegitimate and corrupt--to fight terrorism is ineffective and, in many instances, counterproductive.”
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For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: A Regional Showdown in Syria

ANNOUNCEMENTS
The Center on National Security at Fordham Law will host “Iran in Context” with Laura Secor and Hooman Majd on February 23, 2016. To RSVP, click here.
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, KAREN J. GREENBERG, DIRECTOR, CENTER ON NATIONAL SECURITY, FORDHAM LAW SCHOOL
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