The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30, 2016
POST-BRUSSELS POLL FINDS HALF OF AMERICANS SUPPORT TRUMP’S MUSLIM BAN
A new poll conducted by Morning Consult shows that more than 50 percent of Americans support Donald Trump’s proposal to prohibit Muslims from entering the United States and 49 percent agree with Ted Cruz’s call for patrols of Muslim neighborhoods. However, the poll was conducted just two days after the  bombings in Brussels last week, reportedly influencing the American public’s sentiment in the immediate aftermath ISIS attacks, as 81 percent of respondents said they had seen, heard, or read of the bombings “a lot” or “some.” President Obama has sharply criticized the anti-Muslim proposals and former CIA Director Michael Hayden has agreed that Trump’s comments have made America “less safe.”   The Atlantic, The Hill

Related:
Morning Consult: Half of Voters Back Muslim Travel Ban, Patrols of Muslim Neighborhoods
NY Mag: Obama to the Republican Party: You Created Trump’s Muslim Ban
USA TODAY: Poll: Americans care more about terror than privacy, civil rights
Al Jazeera: Trump rhetoric making US 'less safe', says ex-CIA chief

U.S. EVACUATES FAMILIES OF DIPLOMATS AND MILITARY PERSONNEL FROM SOUTHERN TURKEY
On Tuesday, the Obama administration ordered more than 650 Americans to leave areas in southern Turkey due to security concerns. Pentagon and State Department officials said they had directed family members of diplomats and military personnel to leave the country, which has been the target of four major terrorist attacks this year. The order also restricts diplomats to “mission critical” travel in Turkey. The State Department issued a new travel warning for the country citing “increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey.” Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Reuters, CBS News

Related:
The Daily Beast: ISIS Fears Run Americans Out Of Turkey
Reuters: Israel urges citizens to leave Turkey, cites Islamic State threat
Politico: Pentagon orders military families out of parts of Turkey

Surveillance: The chairman of a federal privacy watchdog board announced he will resign this summer, two years before the end of his term. David Medine, chairman of the five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) said that he was departing early to work on data privacy of low-income consumers in developing countries. The PCLOB has previously shed light on and criticized the NSA’s mass surveillance programs. The Hill, The Intercept

Gitmo: 40 Guantanamo Bay detainees have yet to be reviewed by the Periodic Review Board, according to a report by the Miami Herald. Although it has been over five years since the Obama administration established the Periodic Review Board in March 2011, experts believe it is unlikely that all of the Guantanamo detainees will get a hearing before the end of Obama’s second term. Out of the 24 inmates who have received full board hearings, only four have been deemed too dangerous to release. Miami Herald

Related:
RT America: Video: Pentagon dragging its feet on Gitmo releases?
Denver Post: Colorado governor opposes possible Gitmo detainee transfer

ISIS in Minnesota: On Tuesday, a state court charged 23-year-old Abdul Raheem Habil Ali-Skelton with three felony counts of making terroristic threats after he allegedly threatened to “shoot up” a Walgreens store. Ali-Skelton claimed he was carrying a gun and would “shoot up the place,” according to a complaint by the store manager. Ali-Skelton is expected to plead guilty in U.S. District Court next month to separate charges of lying to the FBI about his contact with ISIS. Associated Press

ISIS in Mississippi: 20-year-old Jaelyn Young pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. Young and her fiance Muhammad Dakhlalla were accused of attempting to join ISIS in Syria after being arrested before boarding a flight from Mississippi with tickets for Istanbul last August. Dakhlalla pleaded guilty on March 11 to a similar charge and awaits sentencing. CBS News, ABC News


UN REPORT HIGHLIGHTS CHILD CASUALTIES IN YEMEN
At least six children per day are killed or wounded amid the fighting in Yemen, according to a report released by the United Nations on Tuesday. The UNICEF report highlighted that “children are paying the highest price” in Yemen and added that the country is at the “point of collapse” with the potential to become a failed state. New York Times, NPR

Related:
UNICEF: Yemen’s children on the brink as country risks becoming a failed state
Associated Press: An Infant's 5-Month Life Points to Hunger's Spread in Yemen

Syria: Russian special forces, known as Spetsnaz, played a critical role in the Syrian government’s recapture of the city of Palmyra, according to a report in the Washington Post. The Russian government announced that the city was “liberated with participation of Spetsnaz and military advisers.” Russian special forces have also played an important role in support of Syrian government operations against U.S.-backed rebels. Washington Post

Related:
New York Times: ISIS Fighters Laid Mines Around Palmyra’s Ancient Ruins Before Retreating, Syrians Say
New Yorker: On the American Front Line Against ISIS


Belgium: Belgian and U.S. investigators believe that a second attacker likely was involved in last week’s attack on a Brussels subway station. Investigators have not ruled out the possibility that the third unidentified attacker in airport surveillance footage could have also been the second assailant in the subway bombings. Wall Street Journal

Related:
New York Times: How ISIS Built the Machinery of Terror Under Europe’s Gaze
Huffington Post: A Look Inside The Devastation At Brussels’ Airport
ABC News: Haunting Photos From Brussels Airport Reveal Extent of Damage Caused by Bombings
BBC News: Brussels attacks: 'Months' until airport fully reopens

France: French President Francois Hollande announced that he has abandoned his efforts to pass a bill that would have revoked the citizenship of convicted terrorists and added further security measures to the state of emergency in France that has been in place since last November’s terror attacks. In a statement this morning, Hollande said that the bill “seems out of reach,” as the two houses of parliament continue to disagree on the bill. Associated Press

Egypt: A hijacking of an EgyptAir flight from Alexandria to Cairo was reportedly not related to terrorism, according to Egyptian and Cypriot officials. The hijacker, 59-year-old Egyptian Seif Eldin Mustafa, claimed to be wearing a suicide belt and forced the aircraft to reroute its course to Cyprus. He reportedly was attempting to connect with his ex-wife and three children who live in Cyprus. Despite Mustafa’s threats, investigators found no explosives and no passengers were harmed. The incident raises further questions about the quality of Egyptian airport security measures. Washington Post, CNN, New York Times
TOP OP-EDS
The Islamic State in Europe: Terrorists Without Borders, Counterterrorists With All Borders: “Belgium, like most other European countries, suffers from a counterterrorism capacity problem….the natural government response to tragedies like Brussels is to call for commissions to investigate intelligence failures and subsequently redesign large bureaucracies,” writes Clint Watts in War on the Rocks. “Reshaping ineffective bureaucracies will take years. Success in this area might only come once the Islamic State phenomenon is already fading.”

Yemen’s President: A Path to Peace: “Now my government and the coalition have shifted the balance of power on the ground. Nearly 75 percent of the land previously occupied by the Houthi-Saleh forces has been liberated,” writes Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi in The New York Times. “We will shut down, once and for all, the terrorist safe havens and again work with the West and Arab partners to rid our territory of the extremists who plot attacks on targets in the United States, Europe, Arab states and elsewhere.”

The FBI gained access to the iPhone — but we had already lost our privacy: “Nothing has been settled. While Apple and the government were duking it out in court, local prosecutors across this great nation cut and pasted the FBI’s request and demanded the keys to the cellphones they had seized in their own investigations,” writes Richard Cohen in The Washington Post. “You could almost suspect they did this in cooperation with Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, who had argued that if the company opened the door for the FBI, every sheriff who had just made a marijuana bust would be at the courthouse door seeking a search warrant.”
EDITOR'S PICK

SOUFAN GROUP
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Resilience and the Terror Threat in Europe

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.




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