Fdd's overnight brief

April 24, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Fighting between Israel and Hamas intensified in northern Gaza, the first battleground in the war, where 200 days into the conflict territory is still heavily contested and Israel says thousands of militants remain. – Wall Street Journal 

The spokesperson for Hamas’ armed al-Qassam Brigades, Abu Ubaida, called on Tuesday for an escalation across all fronts in a televised speech marking 200 days since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7. – Reuters

Newly installed Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa announced a package of reforms on Tuesday aimed at strengthening the Palestinian Authority (PA) amid increased global pressure for a revival of political dialogue with Israel. – Reuters

Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of standing “shoulder to shoulder with the rapists and murderers of Hamas” for declining to include the terror group in a report published Tuesday on organizations suspected by the UN of committing acts of sexual violence during conflict. – Times of Israel

One of the most passionate voices in support of a large-scale Israel Defense Force operation to clear Hamas from its last major stronghold in the Gaza Strip’s southernmost city of Rafah comes from a man raised by the terrorist organization. – Times of Israel

Editorial: Leaks from American sources must be carefully managed to ensure they do not further inflame an already volatile situation. The security and stability of nations, particularly in such sensitive contexts, depend on the prudent handling of sensitive information and a commitment to preventing unnecessary chaos and anxiety. – Jerusalem Post

Amb. Gilad Erdan writes: A meeting where a terror entity could be given full membership status. This is how far the UN has fallen. And this is why the UN – in its current format – has no future. I truly pray for brighter days. For a time when the U.N. can successfully combat the forces of darkness, not welcome them and be influenced by them. – Fox News


The U.S. government on Tuesday announced criminal charges and sanctions against four Iranians over an alleged multi-year cyber campaign targeting more than one dozen American companies, the Treasury Department and the State Department said. – Reuters 

An Israeli attack on Iranian territory could radically change dynamics and result in there being nothing left of the “Zionist regime”, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi was quoted as saying on Tuesday by the official IRNA news agency. – Reuters

Iran reportedly made a deal last winter to acquire a number of Russian Su-35 Flanker-E fighter jets, which are frequently compared to American F-16 Fighting Falcons. Over the weekend, rumors circulated that Tehran was expecting an imminent delivery of Su-35s based on a report from SNN, an Iranian state news agency with ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). – Newsweek

The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog has said that it would take Iran just weeks to have enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb, and that Tehran’s activity, alongside the limited access it grants to its facilities, “raises eyebrows.” – Times of Israel

The Argentinian Foreign Affairs Ministry made an official request to arrest Iranian Interior Minister and former Quds Force commander Ahmad Vahidi for his role in the 1994 AMIA bombing, the ministry announced Wednesday morning. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

A Moscow court rejected an appeal by Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich against his detention, meaning the U.S. citizen, who has been awaiting trial for over a year, will remain behind bars until at least June 30. – Wall Street Journal 

The explosion lit up the night sky, sending flames hundreds of feet into the air. Another huge blast followed a few seconds later, then a third. The booms carried for miles across the fields east of Chasiv Yar, and a few moments later, a jet ripped through the sky. – Wall Street Journal

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that it has suspended consular services for Ukrainian men of military fighting age who have left the country, potentially cutting off their ability to renew passports or access other essential citizen services. – Washington Post

A deputy minister of defense in Russia has been detained on charges of taking a “large scale” bribe, the country’s top law enforcement investigators announced on Tuesday. – New York Times

Fire broke out at energy facilities in Russia’s Smolensk region after a Ukraine-launched drone attack and people were evacuated from parts of Lipetsk in Russia’s southwest after a drone there fell on an industrial park, regional officials said. – Reuters

Russia will intensify strikes on Ukrainian storage bases that house Western-supplied weapons, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday, as the United States prepares to approve and deliver a long-delayed batch of new military aid. – Reuters

The United States is preparing a $1 billion military aid package for Ukraine, the first to be sourced from the yet to be signed Ukraine-Israel bill, two U.S. officials told Reuters on Tuesday. – Reuters

Russian troops will strike in unexpected parts of the front when they conduct their summer offensive in Ukraine and could try to advance on the northeastern city of Kharkiv, the commander of Ukraine’s National Guard said on Tuesday. – Reuters

The U.K. will supply Ukraine with additional long-range Storm Shadow missiles as Western countries pledge fresh military aid to Kyiv ahead of an anticipated Russian summer offensive. – Newsweek

The new $61 billion U.S. aid package provides Ukraine with a much-needed boost against Russia’s invasion. The package includes air defense, artillery, and long-range rocket-launched missiles. The first Ukrainian pilots are also close to completing their conversion training on F-16 fighter jets. These additive capabilities will bolster Ukraine’s defenses and enable its more effective targeting of and imposition of friction upon high-value Russian targets. – Washington Examiner

Russia has deployed a “shadow fleet” of oil tankers in the Baltic Sea to circumvent economic sanctions and also engage in espionage, according to a top Swedish military official. – Washington Examiner

David Ignatius writes: Thanks to President Biden and a strong bipartisan majority in Congress — and most of all to what might be hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded Ukrainians who fought through the darkest moments — the survival of an independent Ukraine looks more certain today than it did a week ago. – Washington Post

Paul Krugman writes: Will this change? Europe is moving toward increased military capacity, but more slowly than it should, and American aid remains essential. So as I said, I’m relieved that America has finally released essential aid, but still very worried about the future. For now, at least, U.S. support remains crucial to Ukraine’s survival. – New York Times

Jack Detsch writes: “Ukraine is developing fortifications. They are building a defense depth,” said Rob Lee, a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Eurasia program who last traveled to Ukraine in November. “But the problem is when you have this manpower problem and ammunition problem at same time, it creates issues.” And as production ramps up, Ukraine may be losing more troops that it can’t replace. “It took people two years to actually realize you need to invest in the defense industry,” Ustinova said. – Foreign Policy


The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah on Tuesday claimed that it had made its deepest attack into Israel since October, striking a barracks north of the city of Acre with drones and setting off sirens across the country’s northern coastline. – New York Times

Following the anti-tank missile attack on Avivim, the IDF says troops are shelling the launch sites with mortars. No injuries were reported in the missile attack, but damage was caused to homes and a fire was sparked. – Times of Israel

The Israel Defense Forces announced Tuesday morning that the air force killed two key operatives of Hezbollah’s air defense system and elite Radwan Force. – Haaretz


European Union auditors said on Wednesday that they are unable to establish whether some of the billions of euros the bloc has given to Turkey to help it cope with Syrian refugees is actually having any impact. – Associated Press

A United Nations judge was unlawfully jailed when he was arrested in Turkey in the wake of a 2016 coup attempt despite holding diplomatic immunity, the European Court of Human Rights said Tuesday. – Associated Press

Turkey’s poor human rights record and economic factors are undermining the effectiveness of the European Union’s migration deal with Ankara, EU auditors said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he does not believe the Palestinian militant group Hamas will leave Qatar, where it is based, adding he had seen no such signs that Doha wished the group to leave, either. – Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said in remarks published on Tuesday he believed Iraq saw the need to eliminate the Kurdish PKK militia and had the will to do so, adding Ankara wanted Baghdad’s support in that battle. – Reuters

During the first two months of the Gaza war, Turkey offered several Arab countries to devise a plan for a security arrangement, which would include the deployment of joint forces in Gaza on the day after the war, Reshet Bet radio reported. – Arutz Sheva

Middle East & North Africa

The U.S. military called on Iraq’s government on Tuesday to take steps to safeguard American troops in both Iraq and Syria after failed attacks a day earlier by Iran-aligned militia. – Reuters

Moroccan officials want to turn the country into an aviation hub, luring investors aiming to spread out their supply chains to more nations with available and affordable workers. – Associated Press

Qatar said Tuesday there were no plans to end the presence of an office for Palestinian terror group Hamas in Doha while the country’s mediation efforts continue in the Gaza war. – Agence France-Presse

Essa Al-Nassr, a member of the Qatari legislative Shura council, spoke on Monday at an Arab League session, expressing antisemitic remarks and inciting to violence and terrorism. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

A high-level North Korean economic delegation was on its way to Iran, the North’s state media said Wednesday, for what would be the two countries’ first known talks since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. – Associated Press

Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said the country will continue to build overwhelming and the strongest military power to protect its sovereignty and regional peace, the North’s KCNA news agency reported on Wednesday. – Reuters

North Korean hackers have stolen technical data from South Korean defense companies, Seoul says. The Hacking groups, which are believed to have North Korea’s state backing, mounted the “all-out” cyberattacks for over a year, Korean National Police Agency said Tuesday, warning others in the industry to beef up security. – Newsweek


Amid growing U.S. worries that Russia’s war on Ukraine is being made possible by Chinese support for Moscow’s defense industry, Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in China on Wednesday on a three-day mission to push leaders to cut ties with the Kremlin. – Washington Post

China called on the US to rein in support for Taiwan, after a bill providing some $8 billion in aid for the island was approved by the Senate in Washington. – Bloomberg

Gabriel B. Collins and Steven R. Miles writes: China might respond to U.S. LNG export restrictions with reciprocal export bans on critical minerals and other commodities. It would also further encourage Beijing’s already robust instincts to securitize Chinese energy policy, further undermining global climate goals. Now is the time for the United States to emphasize an energy abundance agenda, not politicize energy exports. – Foreign Policy

Evan S. Medeiros writes: Today, these foundational questions remain unanswered, and they could become far more dire for U.S. leaders if mishandled now. If the war in Ukraine has reminded us of anything about U.S. strategy, it is that both clarity of purpose and political consensus are needed. On China, the biggest risk today is not that China’s rise will fade away (and Washington will have overreacted). Instead, it is the possibility that the United States will fail to build and sustain support for a long-term competition across all dimensions of power. – Foreign Affairs

South Asia

An Australian journalist with the country’s public broadcaster was pressured to leave India after Indian authorities expressed anger over her reporting on Sikh separatism and informed her that her journalist visa would not be renewed, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the journalist, ABC South Asia bureau chief Avani Dias, said Tuesday. – Washington Post

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his power at home secured and his Hindu-first vision deeply entrenched, has set his sights in recent years on a role as a global statesman, riding India’s economic and diplomatic rise. – New York Times

The emir of Qatar landed in Nepal Tuesday on his first-ever visit to the South Asian country, after visiting Bangladesh and the Philippines, where improving migrant workers’ conditions in the Gulf state and a Nepali student still held hostage by Hamas are expected to be on the agenda. – Associated Press

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi arrived in Sri Lanka on Wednesday for a brief state visit aimed at strengthening ties, during which he will also open a $514-million hydropower project. – Reuters


Thai company SCG Plastics has agreed to pay about $20 million to settle allegations that it used the U.S. financial system to receive hundreds of millions of dollars for products made in Iran, in violation of U.S. sanctions. – Wall Street Journal 

A Myanmar rebel group has withdrawn its troops from a town along the Thai border following a counteroffensive by soldiers of the ruling junta from whom the resistance fighters had wrested the key trading post this month, an official said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Japan’s trade and finance ministries said on Wednesday they will initiate an anti-dumping investigation into graphite electrodes from China. – Reuters

Former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, a senior figure in the country’s ruling party, met with Donald Trump on Tuesday, becoming the latest U.S. ally seeking to establish ties with the Republican presidential candidate. – Reuters

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manesseh Sogavare said he narrowly won his seat and still exercises power over security in the Pacific Islands nation, as he vies with opposition parties to form government after an election delivered no clear winner. – Reuters

Armenia and Azerbaijan on Tuesday came a step closer toward normalizing relations after a bitter conflict over territory, as experts in both countries worked to demarcate their boundaries and the first border marker was placed. – Associated Press

None of it has happened — and an armada of Chinese fishing boats, coast guard cutters and a giant vessel dubbed the “Monster” are making sure it won’t anytime soon. – Bloomberg

Derek Grossman writes: Still, Wellington’s strategic pivot is good news for Washington and its allies—even if it is still unclear how, exactly, New Zealand’s pivot will support concrete U.S. objectives in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. However, the United States should temper its expectations: New Zealand is likely to continue to preserve productive relations with China while it emphasizes the importance of stronger security ties with Washington. – Foreign Policy


At least five people died at sea off the coast of northern France on Tuesday during an attempt to cross the English Channel, as governments on both sides of the waterway struggle to deter migrants from making the dangerous voyage to Britain. – New York Times

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meets German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday, a long-awaited trip to Berlin the British leader hopes will deepen security cooperation after he announced London’s move to increase defence spending. – Reuters

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday he would lift defence spending to 2.5% of GDP a year by 2030, saying the British arms industry must be on a “war footing” when the world is at its most dangerous since the Cold War. – Reuters

The Dutch national intelligence agency said Tuesday that threats targeting the Netherlands are increasingly connected to worldwide turmoil, including the wars in Gaza and Ukraine. – Associated Press

Law enforcement officers in Bosnia arrested 23 people suspected of belonging to a “global drug kingpin’s inner circle,” including police and security officials, in a clampdown on criminal networks controlling much of Europe’s cocaine trade, authorities said Tuesday. – Associated Press

With its capital closer to St. Petersburg than Berlin, the Nordic nation of 10 million people has been on edge since Russia’s annexation of Crimea a decade ago. But faced with an increasingly emboldened Vladimir Putin, NATO’s newest member says it has to be ready if the conflict spreads through the Baltics. – Bloomberg

The EU needs to get serious about competing with China for influence around the world with a megaplan for international investments that’s relentlessly focused on what works. – Politico

Dalibor Rohac writes: There are more than a few wrinkles to the idea of Hungary as a bulwark against antisemitism, however. If Hungary’s foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, was assuring his Israeli counterpart of Hungarian solidarity after Iran’s attack, less than two months earlier (and just days after Hungary’s putative defense of Israel at the Council of the EU) he had been signing a memorandum of understanding in Tehran to promote deeper economic cooperation with Iran in areas such as the pharmaceutical industry, health care, agriculture, and water management.” – American Enterprise Institute


The World Bank has suspended funding for a tourism project in Tanzania that caused the suffering of tens of thousands of villagers, according to a U.S.-based rights group that has long urged the global lender to take such action. – Associated Press

Two former United Nations employees in Montreal have been charged with participating in a conspiracy to sell Chinese-made drones and other military equipment in Libya, Canadian police said Tuesday. – Associated Press

U.S. officials are starting to accept that their strategy of pressing Niger and other war-battered African countries to break off ties with Moscow and embrace democratic norms is no longer working. – Politico

The Americas

Federal prosecutors unsealed a years-old indictment charging 10 people with operating a scheme to evade U.S. restrictions on Venezuela’s state-controlled oil company Petróleos de Venezuela through the illegal supply of aircraft parts. – Wall Street Journal 

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday he is willing to receive an envoy from the United Nations’ human rights office, after his government asked staff to leave the South American country earlier this year. – Reuters

The head of Mexico’s detective service acknowledged Tuesday that the country is “the champion” of fentanyl production, something that appears to run counter to past statements by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. – Associated Press

Latin America

Raising their textbooks and diplomas and singing the national anthem, hundreds of thousands of Argentines filled the streets of Buenos Aires and other cities on Tuesday to demand increased funding for the country’s public universities, in an outpouring of anger at libertarian President Javier Milei’s harsh austerity measures. – Associated Press

Colombia’s government on Tuesday rolled out new incentives to reduce electricity consumption in the South American nation, which has been hit by a severe drought that has diminished the capacity of local hydroelectric plants and brought officials close to imposing power cuts. – Associated Press

Catarina and her family live in a traditional Quilombola community, descendants of Afro-Brazilian slaves whose rights to their land and way of life are protected under Brazilian law. Now, their fight against a UK-owned mining company is set to move to a top court in London. – BBC

In the latest sign of a rightward swing of the pendulum in Latin America, voters in Ecuador opted overwhelmingly  for tough anti-crime measures, including joint army and police patrols against cocaine gangs.  – New York Sun

North America

Canada’s broad support for immigration, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said is necessary to counter an aging labor force and low fertility rates, has set the country apart.[…] But now, amid a housing affordability crisis and strain on social services, Trudeau’s government is rolling up the welcome mat for some immigrants. – Washington Post

Canada and its Five Eyes Alliance partners are working on put forward a response to tackle the price manipulation of critical metals, Canada’s Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Tuesday. – Reuters

In a frequently tense relationship often defined by a shared border, the United States sent two officials with a different perspective to Mexico this week for a bit of space diplomacy. – Associated Press

The number of Chinese citizens coming across the southern border from Mexico has skyrocketed to the fastest-growing demographic of illegal immigrants in recent months, triggering serious concerns among lawmakers in Washington. – Washington Examiner

United States

The Senate passed a long-delayed $95.3 billion foreign-aid package sending much-needed ammunition and military equipment to beleaguered Ukrainian soldiers and fortifying Israel’s missile defense systems, while also forcing the sale of Chinese-controlled TikTok in the U.S. – Wall Street Journal 

Here we go again: another potential TikTok ban is in the works, for the 647th time. Except now it looks a lot more serious for the Chinese-controlled social-video app and its 170 million U.S. users. – Wall Street Journal

Student protests in the U.S. over the war in Gaza have intensified and expanded over the past week, with a number of encampments now in place at colleges including Columbia, Yale, and New York University. Police have been called in to several campuses to arrest demonstrators. – Reuters

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s approach to the war in Gaza and said he should resign because he is an “obstacle to peace.” – Newsweek

President Biden praised the Senate after the chamber passed a $95 billion emergency foreign aid package, saying he would sign the legislation on Wednesday at the White House. – The Hill


The hackers who attacked UnitedHealth Group’s Change Healthcare unit were in the company’s networks for more than a week before they launched a ransomware strike that has crippled vital parts of the U.S. healthcare system since February. – Wall Street Journal 

A Spanish judge has reopened a probe into the suspected spying on the cellphone of Spain’s prime minister after receiving a request to collaborate with a similar investigation in France. – Associated Press

The US Department of Justice recommended a 36-month prison sentence for Changpeng Zhao, the former chief executive officer of Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange. – Bloomberg

Australia’s domestic intelligence chief warned that artificial intelligence is likely to dramatically improve the capabilities of the nation’s enemies — resulting in increased espionage, disinformation and radicalization. – Bloomberg

Digital regulators in Europe are clamping down on a new feature by TikTok that rewards users for consuming videos and interacting with creators, citing addiction concerns among children. – Business Insider

The Democratic operative behind an AI-generated robocall impersonating President Joe Biden that reached thousands of New Hampshire voters earlier this year said he is cooperating with state and federal authorities and that a lawsuit filed against him is without merit — even as he claimed not to have seen it. – CyberScoop

Chinese and Russian hackers have turned their focus to edge devices — like VPN appliances, firewalls, routers and Internet of Things (IoT) tools — amid a startling increase in espionage attacks, according to Google security firm Mandiant. – The Record

Poisoned data sets, trojan horses, and ever-changing cyber threats could derail the Army’s plan to broadly adopt AI. But a new 100-day plan aims to root out obstacles and prepare the service to scale third-party models and algorithms. – Defense One


The Defense Innovation Unit is working quickly to determine how and where to spend the nearly $1 billion Congress provided in March through the fiscal 2024 appropriations act. – Defense News

The U.S. Army is revising its artificial intelligence bill of materials effort following meetings with defense contractors. – Defense News

Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said he expects “a major announcement” in the next few weeks on a new multi-year procurement agreement to build three San Antonio-class amphibious warships and an America-class big deck amphibious warship at HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi. – USNI News

Lockheed Martin took a $100 million loss on a classified program inside its missiles and fire control unit and could rack up an additional $225 million in losses by the end of the year, executives said today. – Breaking Defense

Long War

Western intelligence prevented at least 10 jihadist attacks across Europe last year and the current war between Israel and the militant Palestinian group Hamas has increased the threat of further attacks, Dutch intelligence agency AIVD said on Tuesday. – Reuters

The U.S. on Tuesday imposed sanctions on leaders of militant groups over the taking of hostages, including Americans, in West Africa, the Treasury and State departments said. – Reuters

Australian police arrested seven teenagers accused of following a violent extremist ideology in raids across Sydney on Wednesday to protect the community from a potential attack, officials said. – Associated Press

African leaders discussed anti-terrorism solutions on the continent during a high-level security summit in the Nigerian capital Abuja Monday amid a rise in terror attacks. – CNN