The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16, 2016
PARIS TERROR SUSPECT KILLED IN BRUSSELS RAID, MANHUNT CONTINUES
One suspect believed to be linked to last November's attacks in Paris was shot dead on Tuesday by police during a raid on a house in Brussels. At least two suspects had reportedly barricaded themselves inside the home and exchanged fire with authorities. The other shooter reportedly fled, as police locked down the surrounding area while the manhunt continued. Four officers were wounded in the raid carried out by Belgian police with support from their French counterparts. New York Times, Guardian, Reuters, NPR

Related:
BBC News: Brussels raid: High alert after Paris-linked raid
Buzzfeed News: Counterterrorism Police Hunt For Two People In Brussels After Raiding Apartment
COUNTER-EXTREMISM CHIEF PLANS FOR DISCRETE ANTI-ISIS CAMPAIGN
The new head of the Obama administration’s anti-ISIS messaging campaign said that the government plans to discreetly provide local nonprofits, regional leaders, and activists with financial support to enhance credible moderate voices against the extremist group’s recruitment messaging. Michael Lumpkin, the chief of the new Center for Global Engagement, stated that he intends “to do what we have done in special operations” against ISIS and that “you need a network to defeat a network, so we’re going to take a network approach to our messaging.” The Daily Beast

Gitmo: A Guantanamo inmate famous for his bestselling memoir Guantánamo Diary will receive a hearing in front of the prison’s Periodic Review Board in June. 45-year old Mauritanian national Mohamedou Ould Slahi has been held at the military prison for the past 14 years without being charged with a crime. He was transferred to U.S. custody in 2002 after being arrested in Mauritania on allegations of his involvement with Al Qaeda. The Intercept

Related:
The Hill: House GOP: Gitmo only 'responsible and safe choice' for ISIS detainees

FOIA reform: A White House spokesperson said that President Obama intends to sign a new Freedom of Information Act bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday, if it remains in its current form. The reform bill would establish a centralized portal to request records from all government agencies, among other measures to improve American citizens’ access to information and comply with an effort to maintain “a presumption of openness” regarding government records. Politico, Associated Press

DARPA: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently announced a program to award any “skilled hobbyists” who can turn “commercially available technologies” into weapons. The program will accept proposals that “reconfigure, repurpose, program, reprogram, modify, combine, or recombine” any readily available technology as long as they are follow legal guidelines. The government research agency is attempting to identify and predict ways in which potential adversaries may use modern technology against the U.S. military and its allies. Defense One, Fortune


RUSSIAN WARPLANES LEAVE SYRIA ON 5TH ANNIVERSARY OF CONFLICT
Russian fighter jets flew home as Vladimir Putin followed through on his announced withdrawal of the “main part” of Russia’s military presence in Syria on Tuesday, raising hopes for ongoing peace talks between government and opposition representatives in Geneva. UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura called the surprise Russian move a “significant development” for the negotiations, as the conflict in Syria entered its sixth year. Despite the withdrawal, Russia intends to maintain a military base, keep powerful anti-aircraft systems, and station an undeclared number of forces in Syria. Reuters, Washington Post

Related:
New York Times: Putin’s Syria Tactics Keep Him at the Fore and Leave Everyone Else Guessing
Huffington Post: Putin's Withdrawal From Syria Shows His Real Objective Wasn't Fighting ISIS
Slate: What Does Russia’s Withdrawal From Syria Mean?
Foreign Policy: He Came, He Saw, He Withdrew From Syria

Afghanistan: A fifth district in Helmand province fell to the Taliban on Wednesday as security forces fled the Khan Neshin district after heavy firefights, according to Afghan officials. Taliban advances in Helmand have come despite the arrival of as many as 700 additional U.S. soldiers to provide support for Special Operations forces in the area. Five of the 14 districts in Helmand are now under Taliban control. New York Times


United Kingdom: A senior British lawyer, barrister Rupert Pardoe, has raised concerns over his client being sent to a maximum security prison where he claims “prison authorities have lost control” and where “there’s a degree of fear as to the need to conform to certain religious views.” His client, a member of a smash-and-grab robbery gang, is fearful of being returned to Belmarsh prison where radical Muslim inmates have reportedly created an intimidating atmosphere. British Justice Secretary Michael Gove previously ordered an inquiry into the issue of radicalization in British prisons, where the proportion of Muslim inmates has risen sharply in recent years. The Telegraph

Related:
Wall Street Journal: U.K.’s Proposed Overhaul of Spy Regulations Clears Legislative Hurdle

China: China is reportedly seeking further cooperation with the United States on issues such as internet security, anti-terrorism, and anti-corruption. On Monday, Chinese officials told FBI Director James Comey on his visit to Beijing that the two countries should “deepen law enforcement and security cooperation in the fields of internet security and counter-terrorism.” Reuters
TOP OP-EDS
Strategies To Counter Terrorist Narratives are More Confused Than Ever: The elements that are important in developing counter-narratives include “personalized outreach, an understanding of grievances and motivations, and peer networks. Without full consideration of each element, counter-narratives are not likely to be successful,” writes Christina Nemr on War on the Rocks. “These ideas don’t have the instantaneous sex appeal of large-scale productions involving Hollywood or Madison Avenue, but they are serious and practical efforts designed to accomplish the foremost goal of CVE efforts.”

Putin Got Exactly What He Wanted in Syria: “Putin revealed that Russian forces did not come to Syria to fight radical Islamic terrorists or ISIS, as he and other Russian government officials have repeatedly stated since their military operation kicked off in September,” writes Evelyn N. Farkas on Defense One. “The Kremlin’s objective was always to achieve a negotiated settlement through the Geneva Talks that allows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to remain in power for some time and for Russia to retain its key influence over his government. It was not to fight terrorism in Syria.”

Understanding the Islamic State: “President Obama and Donald Trump are both inadvertently helping the Islamic State through rhetoric that is either too cautious or too rash,” writes Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post. “Obama, through his studious avoidance of explicitly calling terrorists or the Islamic State either Islamic or Muslim, is “silly,” perhaps “cowardly” and likely unproductive. And Trump, with his other-izing approach to problem solving...contributes to recruitment and radicalization by marginalizing Muslims.”
EDITOR'S PICK

SOUFAN GROUP
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Putin’s Surprise Withdrawal

ANNOUNCEMENTS
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.

The Center on National Security at Fordham Law is seeking an intern to start immediately and work until July 2016. To apply, click here.
 




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