The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2016
STUDY FINDS SNOWDEN LEAKS HAD ‘CHILLING EFFECT’ ON INTERNET USE

A new study found that Edward Snowden’s disclosures had a “chilling effect” on how people searched the Internet in the months following the revelations of the government’s mass surveillance program. The study, published in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal, focused on significantly reduced traffic data to Wikipedia sites related to terms such as “al-Qaeda,” “jihad,” “Iraq,” or “nuclear enrichment,” as evidence that people changed their behavior to avoid seeming suspicious. Washington Post, The Hill, Reuters

HOUSE PASSES BILL TO COUNTER ISIS RECRUITMENT
The House of Representatives passed a bill late Tuesday intended to counter ISIS’s online recruitment efforts. The bill calls on the Department of Homeland Security to use testimonials of “former or estranged violent extremists or their associates” in its online counter-recruitment efforts. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) said “this is a common-sense measure to help destroy terrorist recruitment methods, by using the testimony of those who have seen the evil of these groups firsthand.” The Hill

CIA: The CIA reportedly violated federal laws and internal regulations by hiring independent contractors to do the work of CIA employees, according to a CIA Office of Inspector General audit report. VICE News obtained the 2012 audit report from a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit which said that the CIA “relies heavily on independent contractors to accomplish important facets of its mission.” VICE News

FBI vs. Apple: The FBI confirmed on Wednesday that it will not inform Apple how it unlocked the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. The FBI announced it will not begin the Vulnerabilities Equities Process, under which several government agencies would explore the possibility of disclosing software vulnerabilities to affected companies. Wall Street Journal, ABC News


TRUMP LAYS OUT FOREIGN POLICY AGENDA
Following a sweep of primary contests in five states, Donald Trump laid out his foreign policy agenda during a speech in Washington, DC. He criticized American allies for not taking responsibility for their own defense, said he would attempt to repair ties with Russia, and attacked his opponents for being too aggressive on foreign affairs issues. Trump added that “We’re going to finally have a coherent foreign policy, based on American interests and the shared interests of our allies.” New York Times

Related:
CNN: Trump's foreign policy speech: What the world says about him
Politico: Trump fails to impress foreign-policy experts
The Hill: Trump: Obama turned Iran into ‘great power’


U.S.-RUSSIA COOPERATION FAILING IN SYRIA AS CEASEFIRE NEAR COLLAPSE
This week Russia accused the Obama administration of “appeasing” its regional allies by ignoring the presence of terrorists among opposition forces. Some U.S. intelligence and State Department officials reportedly believe that Russian and Syrian forces are clearly violating the two-month-old ceasefire and are provoking the opposition to do the same. UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura called on the U.S. and Russian leaders to salvage the “barely alive” ceasefire that began in late February. Washington Post, Reuters

Libya: At least a dozen Egyptians and three human smugglers were killed over a money dispute in the Libyan town of Bani Walid on Wednesday. According to Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, a group of Egyptian migrants killed the Libyan smugglers and were then caught by Libyan authorities as they tried to drive the bodies away. A fourth smuggler opened fire on the migrants after they were taken to a nearby police station. Reuters, ABC News

Turkey: A female suicide bomber wounded at least 13 people in the northwestern city of Bursa on Wednesday. The explosion occurred near the 14th-century Ulu Camii, or Grand Mosque, a popular tourist destination in the city’s historic district. The bombing took place only a few hours after the American Embassy issued a warning to American citizens about credible threats against tourist sites in Turkey. New York Times


Germany: On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the replacement of Germany’s spy chief, Gerhard Schindler. According to government officials, the surprise move came in response to new challenges and security threats, as well as potential reforms being considered by an oversight committee formed in the wake of the 2013 Snowden leaks. Last year, German intelligence agents in Schindler’s agency told the committee that they had conducted searches requested by the NSA, without confirming whether they complied with German law. New York Times, Reuters

Related:
New York Times: Flooded With Migrants, Germany Struggles to Integrate Them

Canada: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that he will work with the British government to halt ransom payments to terrorist groups. Speaking a day after a Canadian hostage was killed by Abu Sayyaf, a Philippine terror group linked to ISIS, Trudeau said “Canada does not and will not pay ransom to terrorists, directly or indirectly,” Guardian, Toronto Star

Related:
CBC News: Kevin Mohamed denied bail for terrorism-related charge in Brampton

France: Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving suspect in last November’s Paris attacks, was extradited to France from Belgium on Wednesday. A French court later charged Abdeslam with murder connected to terrorism, participation in a terrorist conspiracy, and possession of weapons and explosives, according to prosecutors. New York Times, CNN
TOP OP-EDS
Show Iran a Little Disrespect: “Many Western journalists, diplomats and others seem desperate to believe that Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, is a moderate in a sea of hardliners, a rare Iranian with whom the West can and has done business,” writes Eli Lake on Bloomberg View. “If only Zarif were worthy of Kerry's attentiveness. He is not. Kerry is sincere in his desire to resolve past differences between the U.S. and Iran and place the relationship on a sounder footing.”

The Once and Future Superpower: Why China Won’t Overtake the United States: “Economic growth no longer translates as directly into military power as it did in the past, which means that it is now harder than ever for rising powers to rise and established ones to fall,” write Stephen G. Brooks and William C. Wohlforth in Foreign Affairs. “And China—the only country with the raw potential to become a true global peer of the United States—also faces a more daunting challenge than previous rising states because of how far it lags behind technologically.”

Missing in Action: The U.S. still lacks a comprehensive counterterror strategy: “Though the Bush administration created a department of homeland security after 9/11 and President Obama has issued two national security strategies since 2008, Washington has yet to formulate, let alone implement, a comprehensive strategy to counter the Islamic State (ISIS) and the proliferation of like-minded Islamist groups,” writes Judith Miller in City Journal. “Obama can claim partial credit for the fact that since 9/11, comparatively few Americans—45—have been killed on American soil as a result of jihadi violence, including the 14 recent victims in San Bernardino. But the number of terrorist plotters, particularly of the homegrown variety, is increasing.”
EDITOR'S PICK

SOUFAN GROUP
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Saudi Arabia’s Plan to Get Off Oil

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