The Early Edition: March 28, 2016

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.

PAKISTAN

At least 72 people were killed and hundreds injured in an apparent suicide bombing in Lahore, Pakistan on Sunday. The bombing targeted Christians celebrating Easter in a large park in the city. At least 17 children were killed. [Wall Street Journal’s Saeed Shah and Qasim Nauman]

Jamaat-e-Ahrar, a splinter faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the blast. A spokesman for the terror group said the bombing was also meant to show the government “it cannot deter us even in their stronghold, Lahore.” [New York Times’s Salman Massod] Authorities are now searching for fighters associated with Jamaat-e-Ahrar. [The Guardian’s Taha Siddiqui]

IRAQ and SYRIA

Syrian government forces have recaptured Palmyra, driving out Islamic State fighters who had occupied the city for the better part of a year. More of the city’s famous ruins were intact than had been hoped. [New York Times’s Hwaida Saad and Kareem Fahim; Agence France-Presse] Bomb squads are working to remove mines and bombs that were planted by the Islamic State before they fled. [Associated Press’s Albert Aji]

A top Islamic State commander was killed by US commandos in a raid last week, according to US Defense Secretary Ash Carter. The commander, known as Haji Imam, was considered to be the group’s heir apparent. [Washington Post’s Joby Warrick et al.]

An Islamic State suicide bomber killed at least 41 people who had gathered to watch a soccer match in a stadium south of Baghdad on Friday evening. The attack injured an additional 105 people. [Washington Post’s Mustafa Salim and Liz Sly]

The US is expected to increase the number of troops in Iraq fighting the Islamic State during the new few weeks. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and Defense Secretary Ash Carter have recommended the increase to help Iraqi forces as they accelerate their push into Islamic State strongholds. [Wall Street Journal’s Ben Kesling]

US-led airstrikes continue. US and coalition forces carried out two strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on March 25. Separately, partner forces conducted 11 strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

EUROPEAN TERROR THREAT

The death toll from last week’s bombings in Brussels has been updated. Four of the injured have died, bringing the total up to 35. [Associated Press] Two more Americans were confirmed among the dead. [Reuters] One of the Belgians killed was Andre Adam, Belgium’s ambassador to the US during the Clinton administration. [Politico’s Jules Johnston]

Brussels prosecutors have charged three more people with participating in a terrorist group. The charges come after a series of raids following last week’s attacks. [Reuters]

Belgian police used water cannons to disperse a large group of demonstrators on Sunday after they ignored an official call for marches to be postponed. Most of the protesters gathered peacefully to express solidarity with the victims, but according to media reports, police used the water cannon to quell a group of right-wing nationalists who had confronted Muslim women in the crowds and made Nazi salutes. [BBC; Reuters’s Barbara Lewis]

As Europe investigates Islamic State attacks in Paris and Brussels, it is finding a web of interlocking terror cells across the continent. European authorities are seeking closer US assistance in mapping the extent of the terrorist network. [Wall Street Journal’s David Gauthier-Villars et al.]

CYBERSECURITY, PRIVACY, and TECHNOLOGY

A readily available Google search process may have been used to identify a New York dam as a vulnerable system before Iranian hackers allegedly took control of it in 2013. The process, known as “Google dorking,” is neither illegal nor always malicious, but can be used to identify insecure systems. [Wall Street Journal’s Christopher M. Matthews]

Facebook is taking heat again over its “Safety Check” process in the wake of this weekend’s suicide bombing in Lahore, Pakistan. Many users who live thousands of miles from Lahore were asked to confirm their safety. Facebook apologized, saying, “This kind of bug is counter to the product’s intent.” [Reuters’s David Henry]

YEMEN

Suspected US drone strikes in Yemen killed at least 14 men with alleged ties to al-Qaeda this weekend. The air raids took place in Abyan province, with one killing six and the other killing eight, according to local sources. [Reuters]

Tens of thousands gathered in Sanaa to protest on the first anniversary of the US-backed, Saudi-led coalition’s entrance into the country’s civil war. The war has killed thousands and some argue it has strengthened the Islamic State and al-Qaeda in Yemen. [Washington Post’s Ali al-Mujahed and Sudarsan Raghavan]

What does Yemen look like after a year of fighting and airstrikes? Siobhan O’Grady has compiled a series of photos that show what the country looked like at the start of the war and what it looks like now. [Foreign Policy]

The Saudi-led coalition completed a prisoner swap in Yemen, exchanging nine Saudi prisoners for 109 Yemeni nationals. The exchange comes ahead of a planned truce and peace talks aimed at ending the year-long war with Houthi rebels. [Reuters]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

North Korea released a propaganda video depicting a nuclear strike on Washington, DC on Saturday. The video also warned “American imperialists” not to provoke the country. [New York Times’s Choe Sang-Hun]

Dozens of Guantánamo detainees are still waiting their first review to see whether they qualify for transfer or release. Carol Rosenberg takes a look at the Periodic Review Board process, its delays, and its future. [Miami Herald]

Japan has switched on a radar station in the East China Sea, establishing a permanent intelligence gathering post close to Taiwan and a group of islands disputed by Japan and China. The new station is at the western extreme of a string of Japanese islands in the East China Sea, about 90 miles south of the disputed islands known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. [Reuters]

A suspected attempted suicide bomber in Cameroon may be one of the schoolgirls abducted from the Chibok community by Boko Haram nearly two years ago. Two girls were arrested in northern Cameroon carrying explosives, and one claimed she was one of the missing Chibok girls. [Reuters]

“Only through the short view of modern history does this type of war look new.” Luke Glowacki discusses the historical roots of violent conflict and posits that this background may explain the rise and tactics of the Islamic State. [Washington Post]

There is no consensus on why someone becomes a terrorist, despite millions of dollars of government-sponsored research on the topic, writes Matt Apuzzo. Some experts have raised concerns that the research on predicting terrorism is now “demand driven” and fails to consider the harms it might cause. [New York Times] 

Filed under:
About the Author(s)

Megan Graham

Former Assistant Managing Editor and Security, Privacy, and Technology Fellow at Just Security Follow her on Twitter (@meganmcgraham).