Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices last week which killed 12 people. The Yemen-based militant group’s online statement says it “chose the target, laid the plan and financed the operation.” [France 24]
The Paris attacks show a new “model of terror” comprised of “freelancers loosely inspired” by terrorist groups, reports Michael Pizzi, explaining why these “lone wolf” and “wolf packs” may be more dangerous than directly sponsored attacks. [Al Jazeera America]
A picture is emerging of gunman Amedy Coulibaly and his “path toward a friendship with a convicted terrorist, Islamic radicalization and last week’s bloody shooting spree,” write Stacy Meichtry et al. [Wall Street Journal]
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls put forward new security measures to the National Assembly yesterday, including increased powers to monitor communications and parts of the internet for extremist content. [Mashable’s Colin Daileda] The New York Times’ Alan Cowell and Maia de la Baume also report on France’s efforts to counter terrorism in the country.
The “profoundly disturbing” failure of Obama or Biden to attend the Paris rally demonstrates the urgent need for the president to replace his national security team, writes Leslie H. Gelb at The Daily Beast.
The attacks in Paris hit “Europe in a crucial time,” in which it is ever easier for “some right-wing politicians to exploit these acts of terrorism for their goals.” Ines Pohl, the managing editor of a German daily akin to Charlie Hebdo, argues that the answer to terrorism “cannot be to add fuel to the so-called clash of civilizations,” while noting the publication of the CIA torture report in German next week. [Politico Magazine]
IRAQ and SYRIA
President Obama will soon propose text for an AUMF against the Islamic State, the president told congressional leaders at a White House meeting yesterday. [Bloomberg News’ Kathleen Hunter]
A number of Syrian opposition leaders have undermined Russian efforts to start a new peace process. The opposition figures are refusing to attend preliminary talks in Moscow on Jan. 26, citing doubts as to Russia’s credibility as a mediator. [New York Times’ Anne Bernard]
U.S.-led airstrikes continue. The U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted four airstrikes against Islamic State targets on Jan. 12. Separately, U.S. and Coalition forces carried out a further seven strikes in Iraq. [Central Command]
SURVEILLANCE, PRIVACY, and TECHNOLOGY
President Obama unveiled his new cybersecurity legislative proposal yesterday, noting how “public and private networks are facing an unprecedented threat from rogue hackers as well as organized crime and even state actors.” [White House; DoD News] The proposal focuses on cybersecurity information sharing, modernizing law enforcement in this field, and reporting on data security breaches. Politico’s David Perera provides more details. Lawmakers leading on cybersecurity reform have largely welcomed the president’s new proposal, reports The Hill’s Cory Bennett.
A “full investigation” into the hacking of U.S. Central Command’s Twitter and YouTube accounts is being conducted by the FBI. Central Command chief Gen. Lloyd Austin emphasized that “the CENTCOM network was not compromised and no classified information was obtained by the group.” A day after the hack, a senior administration official warned that basic online security, involving usernames and passwords, “is not all that effective.” [BuzzFeed News’ Matthew Zeitlin]
The hack highlights the “perils of social media exposure,” but is unlikely to shift the military’s social media strategy, reports Phil Stewart. [Reuters]
Senate Republicans announced legislation that would thwart President Obama’s plans to close the military prison at Guantánamo. The bill would prohibit the transfer of medium or high-risk detainees to the U.S. for two years and includes a ban on transfers to Yemen. [Politico’s Jeremy Herb]
The difficulty of transferring Yemeni detainees out of Guantánamo is explored by Cora Currier and Margot Williams; the administration’s efforts remain focused on finding third countries to accept the Yemeni men cleared for release. [The Intercept]
A new Pentagon rule requiring military judges to move to Guantánamo is being contested by defense lawyers for alleged USS Cole bomber, Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, as unlawfully interfering with his death-penalty trial. [Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg]
The UN human rights office has called on Nigeria to restore law and order in the areas impacted by Boko Haram and create conditions suitable for effective investigation into the recent incidents of mass killings and forced displacement. [UN News Centre]
A five-hour gunbattle in northern Cameroon between Boko Haram and Cameroonian soldiers on Monday killed “scores” and forced thousands to flee. [Wall Street Journal’s Emmanuel Tumanjong]
“No one seems ready to catch the [Boko Haram] killers or take responsibility to stop the violence,” writes Barbie Latza Nadeau, who notes that in the run-up to national elections next month, Nigeria’s leaders “are almost as silent as the global community.” [The Daily Beast]
The Washington Post editorial board urges Nigeria, West Africa and the West to recognize Boko Haram as a “complex terrorism threat on a scale comparable to the Islamic State.” The board calls on the U.S. and other relevant governments to increase pressure on Nigeria to address the partisan issues fueling the country’s inability to combat the terror group.
ISRAEL and PALESTINE
The ongoing ICC dispute highlights “the close [Israeli-Palestinian] symbiosis,” reports John Reed, who notes the necessary cooperation on economy and security between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. [Financial Times]
The first trial against the Palestinian political apparatus in the U.S., brought by victims of terrorist attacks in Israel, began yesterday. Christopher M. Matthews reports on Tuesday’s proceedings. [Wall Street Journal]
The recently captured Ugandan LRA commander will be handed over to the International Criminal Court, following his surrender last week in the Central African Republic. [New York Times’ Jeffrey Gettleman]
The trial for former CIA official Jeffrey Sterling, accused of disclosing details of a covert Iranian operation, went ahead yesterday. The New York Times’ Matt Apuzzo has more details. Josh Gerstein covers how media attention has focused on journalists like James Risen in leak cases, while “their sources often pay the price for revelations.” [Politico]
China has recently attempted to fill the role of peacemaker between the Afghan Taliban and the country’s central government; Edward Wong explores the factors likely to have prompted this move. [New York Times]
Secretary of State John Kerry will meet his Iranian counterpart today in Geneva, part of a bid to continue negotiations on reaching a nuclear accord. [BBC]
Iran has suggested a prisoner swap for a former U.S. Marine detained in Iran for over three years, according to a letter written by him to Iran’s president. [New York Times’ Rick Gladstone]
An attack on a passenger bus in eastern Ukraine killed 12 people yesterday, while fighting intensified around the Donetsk international airport between pro-Russian separatists and government forces. The latest violence follows the collapse of the peace summit scheduled for this week. [Reuters’ Richard Balmforth]
Pakistan executed seven prisoners convicted of terrorism related activities yesterday. The executions coincided with Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the country. [New York Times’ Salman Masood and Michael R. Gordon]
Western states should provide military support to Egypt to assist in combatting Islamic extremism of the kind that led to the Paris attacks, said the Egyptian foreign minister on Tuesday. [Wall Street Journal’s Matina Stevis]
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