The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23, 2016
MANHUNT FOR THIRD BOMBER CONTINUES AS ISIS CLAIMS BRUSSELS ATTACKS

Authorities are searching for one of three suspects that were caught on surveillance video at the Brussels airport, despite early morning reports that police had arrested a third suspect. Two of the attackers, identified as brothers Khalid and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, are believed to have been suicide bombers who died when their bombs exploded in the airport's departure area. Investigators said the third suspect, Najim Laachraoui, fled and “left a bomb in the airport, but it didn't explode.” Police had been searching for the three men in connection to raids on an apartment in the Forest district of Brussels on March 15. Police found a fourth, unexploded bomb in a nearby Brussels home hours later. Belgian investigators also reportedly found a bomb-making factory and an ISIS flag during raids across the country. ISIS claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attacks on the Brussels airport and subway station, which killed at least 30 people and wounded hundreds of others. New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, NBC News

Related:
Washington Post: How vulnerable is the United States to a Brussels-like attack?
CNN: Brussels attack: Surveillance footage, cab driver offer clues in investigation
New York Times: A Blurry Photo Hints at ISIS Tradecraft
New Yorker: Terror in Brussels
Washington Post: How Belgium became the hub of terror in Europe
Atlantic: Brussels Attacks: The Latest
The Hill: US European Command bans troops from travel to Brussels
Guardian: Here's how not to respond to the Brussels attacks
TIME: How to Help Victims of the Brussels Attacks

ASH CARTER SAYS U.S. TROOP LEVELS IN IRAQ ARE HIGHER THAN CAP
Defense Secretary Ash Carter acknowledged on Tuesday that the number of American troops on the ground in Iraq is higher than the Obama administration’s cap of 3,870 soldiers. Speaking in front of the House Armed Services Committee, Carter said that “There are some people who are subject to the troop caps, and there are some people who rotate in for a short amount of time, that are not subject to the troop caps.” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that he believes the real number is closer to 5,000 troops. The Hill

Related:
Wall Street Journal: Marine’s Death in Iraq Points to Deeper U.S. Involvement
Washington Post: What the Marines’ new fire base means for the fight against the Islamic State and the battle of Mosul
The Daily Beast: ISIS Knew Just Where to Hit These U.S. Marines

NSA: On Tuesday, a panel of three judges in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit over the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records. Anna J. Smith of Idaho had sued the government in 2013, arguing that her Fourth Amendment protections of unreasonable searches and seizures were violated by the government’s collection of her call records. The court found “that Smith’s claims related to the ongoing collection of metadata are moot and vacate and remand for their dismissal,” as the NSA collection program ended last November. Courthouse News Service, Associated Press


CRUZ SAYS HE WANTS TO “PATROL AND SECURE MUSLIM NEIGHBORHOODS”
In response to Tuesday’s terror attacks in Brussels, Ted Cruz said in an online statement that the United States needs to “empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized” and that “we know what is happening with these isolated Muslim neighborhoods in Europe.” Donald Trump praised Cruz’s plan calling it a “good idea” and echoed his earlier support for the use of torture saying he “would do a lot more than waterboarding” and claimed that the use of torture could have prevented the Brussels attacks. Associated Press, Washington Post, New York Times

Related:
CNN: Donald Trump: Abdeslam would have talked 'a lot faster with the torture'
Vox: Experts say Ted Cruz’s plan to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods” is counterproductive and unconstitutional
NY Mag: On Muslim Rights, the Republican Party Is Now the Trump Party
The Nation: Ted Cruz’s Radical New Proposal: Patrol and ‘Secure’ Muslim Neighborhoods
New York Times: Hillary Clinton Vows to ‘Defeat Terrorism’ but Cautions About Shutting Borders and Torture


U.S. GENERAL APOLOGIZES FOR HOSPITAL ATTACK IN AFGHANISTAN
On Tuesday, Gen. John Nicholson, the new commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, apologized to the victims of the American bombing of a Doctors Without Border hospital last October that killed 42 people. Speaking with family members of victims of the hospital staff in Kunduz, Nicholson said that he “wanted to come to Kunduz personally and stand before the families and the people of Kunduz to deeply apologize” for the attack. New York Times, Reuters

Yemen: U.S. airstrikes in Yemen killed “dozens” of Al Qaeda fighters at a suspected training camp, according to a Pentagon spokesman. The bombing was one of the largest U.S. airstrikes in Yemen in months. Meanwhile, peace talks between Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government are expected to begin in Kuwait next month, according to a senior Yemeni government official. There have been several failed attempts at negotiations between the sides, as airstrikes from the Saudi-led military coalition continue to hit Al Qaeda-linked targets in eastern Yemen. Washington Post, Reuters

Somalia: Somali security forces reportedly killed 65 al-Shabab fighters over the last five days of clashes with the militant group in the semi-autonomous Puntland region in the northeast of the country. Officials said that “the fighting is almost over and the security forces are now pursuing the remnants of the militants.” AFP


ICC: The International Criminal Court convicted Jean-Pierre Bemba, a Congolese politician, of war crimes and crimes against humanity on Monday for his role in a deliberate campaign of rape, murder, and torture in the Central African Republic between 2002 and 2003. The landmark decision is the first time the ICC has focused on sexual violence as a weapon of war. It is also the first time a suspect has been convicted over crimes committed by others under his “effective command and control.” New York Times, BBC News, AFP

Canada: On Tuesday, the Canadian government announced the creation of a new Office of the Community Outreach and Counter-radicalization Coordinator which will lead the country’s efforts against radicalization. With a budget of $35 million over five years, the office will also support community outreach and coordinate joint federal-provincial and international initiatives to counter radicalization. Ottawa Sun
TOP OP-EDS
The Islamic State’s European Front: “The Brussels attacks “must be seen in context: The United States and its Western allies are hitting the Islamic State hard in its bases in Iraq and Syria. The jihadist group may finally be on the defensive,” writes Daniel Byman in The New York Times. “But meantime, it is lashing out, taking its fight — and its struggle for supremacy among jihadists — global. Europe has emerged as a key battleground.”

Our response to the Brussels bombings requires patience and restraint: “There is no way any community can make itself immune to terror attacks. Since they are random, no protection can defend that community from them,” writes Simon Jenkins in the Guardian. “No amount of police work or surveillance, no deployment of armies or navies, let alone of missiles or nuclear weapons, can guard against them. Intelligence and surveillance can go so far, but the bombers and killers will get through any net.”

American Presidential Campaigns in the Age of Terror: “Trump has said that the Paris attacks in November, and the atmosphere of fear that followed them, elevated his own candidacy; surely he believes that further attacks will favor his theatre of strength,” writes Benjamin Wallace-Wells in The New Yorker. “After Paris, Obama insisted that the massacre there was the mark of a subsiding threat, not a strengthening one. His Administration has held that preventing terrorism does not require wars, or a repeal of civil liberties, but only enhanced and vigilant police action.”
EDITOR'S PICK

SOUFAN GROUP
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Terror Strikes Brussels

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.

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