The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017
GOOGLE UNCOVERS RUSSIA-BOUGHT ADS ON ITS PLATFORM

Google has found evidence that Russian agents bought ads on its wide-ranging networks in an effort to interfere with the 2016 presidential campaign.

The Silicon Valley giant has found that tens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads by Russian agents who aimed to spread disinformation across Google’s many products, which include YouTube, as well as advertising associated with Google search, Gmail, and the company’s DoubleClick ad network, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss matters that have not been made public. Google runs the world’s largest online advertising business, and YouTube is the world’s largest online video site.

Using accounts believed to be connected to the Russian government, the agents purchased $4,700 worth of search ads and more traditional display ads, according to a person familiar with the company’s inquiry. Google found a separate $53,000 worth of ads with political material that were purchased from Russian internet addresses, building addresses or with Russian currency. It is not clear whether any of those were connected to the Russian government. Washington Post, New York Times
Related:
Axios: How the Russians Operated Under Our Radar
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MAN ACCUSED IN NYC TERROR PLOT IS FILIPINO SURGEON FROM ISIS HOTBED
A Filipino citizen accused of funding the foiled terror plot in New York is an orthopaedic surgeon previously based in Marawi City in the Philippines, where armed groups linked with Islamic State have staged a bloody battle for more than four months.

Suspect Russell Salic is highly educated and well-connected. The mayor of Marawi City, Majul Gandamra, said he used to have links to the Amai Pakpak medical center, one of the most advanced hospitals in a region known for its poverty. The hospital was among the first facilities attacked by ISIS-linked groups when the conflict erupted on May 23.

The U.S. government has accused Salic of sending $423 to fund a foiled jihadist plot to attack targets in New York, including concert venues, subway stations and Times Square. A Philippines government investigator, lawyer Abdul Jamal Dimaporo of the National Bureau of Investigation, said Salic admitted sending the money but claimed it was for charity and did not know it was used to purchase bomb materials. Guardian


IRAN WARNS U.S. AGAINST BLACKLISTING REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS
Iran promised on Monday to give a “crushing” response if the United States designated its elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group.

The pledge came a week before President Trump announces a final decision on how he wants to contain Tehran. He is expected on Oct. 15 to decertify a landmark 2015 international deal to curb Iran's nuclear program, in a step that potentially could cause the accord to unravel.

Trump is also expected to designate Iran's most powerful security force, the Revolutionary Guards, as a terrorist organization, as he rolls out a broader U.S. strategy on Iran. Reuters

U.S. MILITARY REEVALUATES NIGER MISSION AFTER DEADLY AMBUSH
The U.S. military says it is reassessing its training mission in Niger after a deadly ISIS ambush killed four elite U.S. soldiers on a routine patrol with local forces last week.

The decision to review the role of American forces in western Africa came after a search-and-rescue team recovered the body of a fourth American soldier killed in Wednesday’s attack. The four Americans were part of a 12-member Army team taking part in a joint foot patrol with about 30 Nigerien soldiers near the Mali border.

The ambush marked the first time militants have killed elite U.S. soldiers training and advising forces in Niger. The U.S. has a drone base in Niger, and it is building a second one there to help with counterterrorism operations, including surveillance of militants coming across the border from Libya and Mali. Wall Street Journal


AUSTRALIA SEEKS NEW POWERS OVER BUSINESSES IN NATIONAL SECURITY LAW
Australia is considering new powers to protect critical infrastructure as it confronts concerns that foreign investment has left communications and energy assets vulnerable to terrorism and cyberattacks.

The proposed laws, which include “last resort” powers allowing authorities to intervene in privately owned businesses if national security is deemed to be at risk, come as a government report showed cyberattacks rose by 15 percent last year. Wall Street Journal

RULING: TORTURE VICTIMS WRONGLY IMPRISONED IN UK
Hundreds of victims of torture have been wrongly locked up in immigration detention centers in the United Kingdom, a high court judge there has ruled, following a challenge by seven survivors of serious abuse.

Justice Duncan Ouseley ruled that aspects of a UK Home Office policy introduced in September 2016 known as “Adults At Risk” wrongly allowed many who had been tortured overseas to be imprisoned. Guardian

UK man jailed for planning train bombings: An ISIS supporter in the UK who planned to blow up railway lines using a bomb built with Christmas tree lights has been jailed for at least 15 years. Zahid Hussain, 29, a former nightclub doorman, was caught on CCTV climbing into a storm drain under the mainline out of Birmingham to London as he researched possible targets. His pressure cooker bomb, packed with 3.5lb of shrapnel, would have caused a “significant explosion” and multiple fatalities had it been viable, a judge said on Monday. Guardian, Associated Press
TOP OP-EDS
Why I’m not panicked about that American citizen being held in military custody: “Of all the things that alarm me about the state of the world right now,” writes Benjamin Wittes in Lawfare, “the probably lawful detention of a single person in a zone of active military operations is low on the list. I’m much more worried about other things. But there are other reasons for my complacency as well, reasons rooted less in competing priorities for my attention than in the development of detention law and policy over the last decade.”

Trump is going to make a huge mistake on the Iran deal: “The president’s unwillingness to accept the truth about the Iran deal — that it is working to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and that it is clearly in America’s national security interest — will have far-reaching consequences,” writes Wendy Sherman in the New York Times. “For one, this decision will breach the trust of America’s partners and isolate our country. It will drive a wedge between the United States and Europe, weakening the critical trans-Atlantic relationship and increasing the influence of Iran, Russia and China. And unjustified unilateral American action will give the Iranians the moral high ground, allowing them to rightly say that it was the United States, not them, who killed the deal.”

Designating Iran’s military a terrorist group would hurt U.S. troops: “Designating the IRGC a terrorist entry probably sounds great after that third beer, but none of the people advocating this idea, or their children, are likely to suffer the consequences,” writes James Durso in The Hill. “If Iran reciprocates, U.S. military personnel captured by Iran or its surrogates would lose Geneva Conventions protections or the intermediation of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Iran or its surrogates may not follow the conventions based on what we have seen of their treatment of Iranian-American civilians, but, on the other hand, the U.S. Navy crews who wandered into Iranian waters in early 2016 and were captured by the IRGC Navy received passable treatment.”
EDITOR'S PICK

SOUFAN GROUP
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