The Soufan Group Morning Brief


Morning Brief: U.S. Airstrikes Target ISIS In Libya
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2016
U.S. AIRSTRIKES TARGET ISIS IN LIBYA

Early this morning, American fighter jets struck an ISIS camp, killing more than 40 fighters and recruits near the Libyan city of Sabratha, about 50 miles from Tripoli. According to U.S. officials, the airstrikes targeted Noureddine Chouchane, an ISIS militant suspected of organizing the attacks on the National Bardo Museum in Tunis and on a beach resort in Sousse last year. The air operation comes as the United States and allies are considering increased military action against ISIS in Libya, which controls territory along the coast. A U.S. military spokesperson told reporters the operation was focused on killing Chouchane and did not represent the start of a major U.S. offensive. New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, Guardian, BBC News

Related:
Reuters: Libya's North African neighbors brace for any Western strikes
The National Interest: A Warning Before Injecting U.S Military Force Into Libya Again
Washington Post: The U.S. must act in Libya before the Islamic State grabs more territory
GUANTANAMO PROSECUTORS AGREE TO TURN OVER CIA DOCUMENTS IN 9/11 CASE
On Thursday, U.S. prosecutors agreed to turn over more than 1,000 pages of CIA documents during pretrial hearings in the case against five suspects involved in the 9/11 attacks. The documents include a timeline of where the five detainees were held, photographs of living conditions, and statements obtained during their interrogations, according to chief prosecutor Brig. Gen. Mark Martins. However, the defendants’ defense attorneys argued that the U.S government is allowed too much power in deciding which documents and information are allowed to be submitted as evidence. Reuters

Related:
Miami Herald: Guantánamo war court screens grisly ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ torture scenes

Cuba Visit: President Obama does not plan to visit Guantanamo Bay during his visit to Cuba next month. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters on Thursday that a visit to the U.S. base and military prison is “not a part of this trip,” after the White House announced President Obama’s first visit to the country. USA Today

Related:
Reuters: Obama to meet Raul Castro, dissidents on historic trip to Cuba

Visas: The Department of Homeland Security added Yemen, Somalia, and Libya as “countries of concern” under new restrictions to its visa waiver program on Thursday. Individuals who have traveled to the countries within the last five years will now have to apply to U.S. consulates for travel visas. The new restrictions to the visa waiver program are part of a counterterrorism effort that began in response to the November Paris attacks to combat the threat of foreign fighters entering the United States. New York Times, Reuters, Voice of America, The Hill

San Bernardino: FBI agents searched the home of the brother of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook on Thursday. After searching the home of Syed Raheel Farook for four hours, investigators left with several boxes, envelopes, and a computer. Los Angeles Times, The Hill, Associated Press

FBI Informants: A new documentary, “(T)error,” explores the use of FBI informants in terrorism investigations. The film focuses on informant cases, some of which, according to Karen J. Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, were “so aggressive” as to border on entrapment. Almost half of the more than 500 terrorism-related convictions in federal court since the 9/11 have relied on informants, according to a report in The New York Times Magazine. New York Times Magazine


KENYA CLAIMS DEATH OF AL-SHABAAB SPY CHIEF
The Kenyan government announced on Thursday that it had killed Mohamed Karate, Al-Shabaab’s head of intelligence, as well as 10 other commanders in an airstrike on February 8. However, Al-Shabaab denied the government’s claim, and stated that Karate is still alive. Also known as Abdirahim Mohamed Warsame, Karate was the alleged mastermind behind an attack on a Kenyan military camp in southern Somalia last month that killed over 100 soldiers. Wall Street Journal, Reuters, BBC News

Syria: U.S.-led airstrikes in northeast Syria killed at least 38 civilians in the last two days, according to a report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The British-based monitoring group said the airstrikes also killed 35 ISIS fighters. U.S. officials said they were looking into the credibility of the reports and will start an investigation if needed. Reuters

Related:
New York Times: Agreement Clears the Way for Airdrops of Humanitarian Aid in Syria
Reuters: U.N. Syria envoy says February 25 talks resumption not realistic
CNN: Syria health care has collapsed following attacks on hospitals, MSF says
Guardian: Hundreds of armed rebels cross from Turkey into Syria, says monitor
Washington Post: Pentagon: U.S. has told Russia where U.S. special forces are in Syria

Iraq: “Highly dangerous” radioactive materials that went missing in Iraq could be used in a dirty bomb, according to Iraqi officials. The materials, belonging to a U.S. oilfield services company, went missing from a storage facility near Basra last November. Iraqi officials expressed concern that the materials could fall into the hands of ISIS. However, the State Department said it has seen no sign that ISIS or other militant groups have acquired the missing materials. Reuters, Guardian, The Hill
 


Canada: The Canadian government dropped its appeal to return former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr to jail. Khadr, a Canadian citizen, was released on bail in May of last year while he appeals an eight-year sentence for murder by a U.S. military court. The 29-year-old Khadr pleaded guilty in 2010 to charges including the murder of a U.S. servicemember in Afghanistan. He was transferred back to Canada in 2012 as part of a plea deal. Wall Street Journal, Reuters, CBC, Vice News

Belgium: A suspect in the Paris terror attacks held surveillance footage of a top Belgian nuclear official, investigators announced Thursday. The hidden camera footage was found last November by authorities while searching the home of Mohamed Bakkali, who was arrested following the Paris attacks and faces terrorism charges. The information raises fears that ISIS is planning to obtain radioactive material or carry out attacks on nuclear power facilities. New York Times, Reuters
TOP OP-EDS
Why Apple Is Right to Challenge an Order to Help the F.B.I.: “Congress would do great harm by requiring such back doors,” writes The Editorial Board of The New York Times. “Criminals and domestic and foreign intelligence agencies could exploit such features to conduct mass surveillance and steal national and trade secrets.”

Beating ISIS propaganda? We can't just leave it to governments: “Though the internet should be made more hostile to the kind of messages ISIS peddles, we will end up driving ISIS supporters underground when ideas go unchallenged,” writes Jonathan Russell on CNN. “As the dark net proliferates, we may one day look back to this period of open jihadist messaging as the golden era for us to understand their narrative, counter it and make effective threat assessments.”

The Syrian conflict has reached a critical moment: “Given the opposition’s weakness, this reluctance to embrace a truce is understandable, but it’s wrong,” writes David Ignatius in The Washington Post. “Any chance to reduce violence and create space for political discussion should be seized.”
EDITOR'S PICK

WEEKLY PODCAST
Spycast:
The CI Professional: An Interview with Dr. John Schindler

SOUFAN GROUP
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Capitalizing on Chaos in Yemen

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.
 




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