Fdd's overnight brief

December 11, 2019

In The News


After demonstrators in Iran set fire to hundreds of bank branches last month in antigovernment protests, the authorities dealt with another less visible banking threat that is only now coming to fuller light: a security breach that exposed the information of millions of Iranian customer accounts. – New York Times

Iran will overcome U.S. sanctions by either bypassing them or through negotiations, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday, adding that Tehran will not cross its “red lines” in any talks with arch foe Washington. – Reuters

Iran said American authorities are holding about 20 Iranian nationals in jail, its official news agency reported Tuesday, a day after Tehran said it was ready for more prisoner swaps with the U.S. – Associated Press

Russia’s challenge to NATO and democratic nations, as well as Iran’s influence on the wider Middle East, remain two of the top threats to world peace, two former White House advisers to presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump said Tuesday. – Associated Press

Iran warned its citizens, particularly scientists, on Tuesday not to visit America, saying Iranians there were subjected to arbitrary and lengthy detention in inhuman conditions. – Reuters

The United Nations is “unable to independently corroborate” that missiles and drones used in attacks on Saudi oil facilities in September “are of Iranian origin,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council on Tuesday. – Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday the imprisonment of two French nationals in Iran was unbearable and demanded their immediate release, in a case that complicates French efforts to defuse tension between Washington and Tehran. – Reuters

The American envoy to the United Nations singled out the Iranian regime on Tuesday for criticism in a statement marking International Human Rights Day. – Algemeiner

Omid Memarian and Gissou Nia write: Some observers eschew any sort of statement from outside actors, believing that this provides fodder to the Iranian state to blame external forces for domestic unrest. However, calculated, strategic engagement is different from intervention. The international community has leverage over Iran’s decision-making. If there was ever a time to spend that political capital, it is now, before the Iranian state’s dark history of killing political prisoners repeats itself. – Washington Post

Amr Yossef writes: The above is, unfortunately, bad news for “civilianizing” the state in Iran for two reasons. First, the external environment seems more conducive to empowering the IRGC inside and promoting is offensive doctrine abroad. Not only have the IRGC-led interventions in Syria, Iraq and Yemen been thus far successful in defeating Iran’s foes and bolstering its allies and affiliated militias, but also the attacks in June-September 2019, as noted earlier, have been met with faint response by the United States. Second, U.S. President Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear agreement in May 2018 and the Rouhani government’s subsequent failure to prevent the adverse economic effects of restoring sanctions could well play into the hands of the IRGC as the recent anti-government demonstrations in Iran could show.  – Middle East Institute


The Trump administration’s rapidly shifting strategy in northern Syria has American commanders there scrambling to protect their forces from an expected surge in actions by military units from Turkey, Russia, Iran and the Syrian government, as well as their proxy forces, according to Defense Department officials. – New York Times

Russia, Turkey and Iran are concerned about the increased presence of terrorist groups in Syria’s Idlib province, the trio said in a joint statement after talks in Kazakhstan, pledging to coordinate actions aimed at eliminating the militants. – Reuters

Russian military forces moved into Islamic State’s former de facto capital Raqqa in northeast Syria following an agreement with the local Syrian Democratic Forces to fill a void left by the hasty withdrawal of U.S. Special Forces from the area. – Defense Post

Iran is building an underground tunnel to store missiles and large-scale weapons, according to satellite images obtained by Fox News and Western intelligence sources who reviewed the information. The structure, housed within the Imam Ali military base in Eastern Syria, is estimated to be nearly 400 feet long, 15 feet wide and 13 feet deep. – Fox News

The delegations of Turkey, Iran, and Russia have arrived in Kazakhstan’s capital, Nur-Sultan, for two days of trilateral talks, Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Aibek Smadiyarov has told reporters. The meetings are designed to find a permanent solution for the eight-year Syrian civil war and include ongoing talks on drafting a postwar constitution, political transition, security, and resettlement of refugees. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty


The battle for control of Libya threatened to escalate further this week as Turkey said it might intervene to stop the Russian-backed forces now closing in on Tripoli, the capital. – New York Times

The European Court of Human Rights called on Tuesday for the immediate release of Turkish businessman and activist Osman Kavala, saying there was a lack of reasonable suspicion that he had committed an offence. – Reuters

Turkey’s foreign minister suggested Wednesday that the United States could be barred from using two strategic air bases in retaliation to possible U.S. sanctions against his country, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. – Associated Press

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday named U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani as the leaders whom he most admires. – Associated Press

Turkey and Britain have agreed to speed up work on a project to build fighter jets, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told broadcaster A Haber on Wednesday. – Reuters

Writing in Issue 218 of the quarterly journal Birlik (“Unity”), which was released in the last quarter 2017, retired staff colonel and former secretary general for Turkey’s Defense Ministry Ümit Yalım cited historical agreements to say, ahead of a December 2017 visit at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Greece, that three quarters of the island of Crete, as well as 14 other islands, islets, and bluffs now “under occupation” by Greece in fact belonged to Turkey. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Seth J. Frantzman writes: The long term strategy of Turkey is to dominate the eastern Mediterranean, and also reach around to Qatar and Somalia so it has a footprint in the Gulf  and East Africa, as well as carving out statelets in northern Syria and Cyprus to pressure the EU and Syria. […]Turkey also wants to champion the Palestinians against Israel and support Hamas.  Unsurprisingly Hamas also has access to the sea in Gaza, Turkey may one day even seek an agreement with the Palestinians to rights off the coast in the Mediterranean. – Jerusalem Post

Jason Pack writes: Since 2011, Turkey’s interest in Libya has typically been analyzed as ideological and geopolitical — deriving from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s neo-Ottomanism, his desire to prop up Islamist movements akin to his own Justice and Development Party (AKP), and to extend his regional alliance with Qatar into North Africa.[…] As each foreign actor attempts to “cultivate a position” to either secure strategic goals or later bargain it away for an even greater objective, this drives increasing proxy involvement, undermines international mediation efforts, and makes it nearly impossible for the main supporters of the Libyan factions “to back down.” – Middle East Institute


With less than 48 hours to go until Israel is propelled into an unprecedented third election in under a year, political leaders Tuesday were slinging accusations over who was responsible for the deadlock. – Washington Post

The EU’s policy to label products of Judea and Samaria is a sensitive topic that can harm its relations with Israel, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein warned in the legislature’s annual gathering for heads of foreign missions. – Jerusalem Post

The Palestinian Authority has submitted an official request to Israel to allow residents of east Jerusalem to participate in new Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections, when and if they take place in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. – Jerusalem Post

The US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday received approval for its plans to build a permanent structure in the city. – Times of Israel

Saudi Arabia

The United States on Tuesday barred from entering the country Mohammed al Otaibi, the former Saudi consul general in Istanbul in October 2018, when Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed there, the U.S. State Department said. – Reuters

In a response to the widespread official condemnation, Hamad Al-Majed, a lecturer at Al-Imam university in Riyadh and a member of the King ‘Abdullah Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, wrote in his column in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that while Saudi Arabia should condemn the attack and work with the U.S. in its investigation, it should neither apologize nor exculpate itself.  – Middle East Media Research Institute

Will Todman writes: Although long-term trends have eroded the importance of kinship ties, Saudis stressed that the Kingdom remains a deeply conservative state and that kinship networks still try to help their own when they can. But Saudis perceived MBS’s reforms to be undermining and weakening many of those networks, and they argued that adaptation strategies would be necessary to make it through the bumpy ride. Those strategies are still being developed.- Center for Strategic and International Studies

Gulf States

Qatar’s premier attended an annual Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, its highest representation since 2017, but there was no public mention of a 2-1/2 year boycott by its neighbors despite hints of a thaw. – Reuters

Arab Gulf leaders gathered in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for an annual summit that was intended to showcase their unity in the face of shared threats. But looming over the meeting were their frayed ties and heightened worries about Iran. – Associated Press

The crisis with Qatar “continues,” a top United Arab Emirates official said after high-level Qatari participation at a Riyadh summit led to speculation that the regional rift could come to an end. – Bloomberg

Iyad el-Baghdadi and Ahmed Gatnash write: Like Mohammed bin Salman, the UAE’s leadership is attempting a double game, distracting the West with talk of modernization and moderate Islam while it fights tooth and nail against democracy and human rights across the region. That is no accident. – Washington Post

Middle East & North Africa

Abductions have continued and at dawn on Saturday, more protesters were taken from the Tigris riverfront as they drove home from Tahrir. […] In Iraq, where militias and sectarian violence killed tens of thousands in the 2000s, kidnappings have long been common. – Agence France-Presse

Two former prime ministers of Algeria accused of corruption were convicted and sentenced to prison on Tuesday in a landmark trial, unleashing cheers of joy from pro-democracy activists demanding an overhaul of the gas-rich country’s political system. – Associated Press

Trump administration officials have made a sudden about-face from trying to crush the Houthi rebellion to extending an olive branch to the Iranian-backed rebels in an effort to follow Saudi Arabia’s lead on the war in Yemen. […]But the Trump administration no longer considers the Shiite Muslim rebel group to be an Iranian proxy, according to State Department officials. – The National Interest

Sarah Feuer writes: Washington should present a united front with the international community on the following imperatives: quietly urging Algeria’s security apparatus to respect the people’s right to protest; conveying to the Hirak that protests must remain peaceful; and urging whoever emerges from the vote in a position of authority to seriously address the movement’s grievances and lay the groundwork for much-needed longer-term reforms in the economic and political realms. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday the Trump administration was “hopeful” North Korea will continue to work toward denuclearization and refrain from long-range missile tests, as Pyongyang’s deadline for Washington to reconsider its approach to talks looms. – Reuters

Donald Trump called for the population of Seoul to be moved during an Oval Office meeting when tensions between the US and North Korea were at their height, according to a new book about the president’s relations with the US military. – The Guardian

All year, President Donald Trump refused to respond as North Korea carried out short-range missile tests and chipped away at crippling international sanctions. He even ignored a new volley of insults branding him a “heedless and erratic old man.” That restraint may not last much longer as North Korea hints darkly that it will make a major move by the end of this month, possibly including a long-range missile launch or a nuclear bomb test as a “Christmas gift” to the U.S. – Bloomberg

Nicholas Eberstadt writes: If a U.S.-led North Korean threat-reduction effort looks likely to succeed, Pyongyang will use every menacing gambit it can muster to get America’s leaders to desist. They must not be unnerved. Mr. Kim intends to threaten the U.S. with nuclear weapons. America has to stop him before his leverage grows. – Wall Street Journal

Crispin Rovere writes: The risk is that Kim Jong un may now believe Trump has invested too much political capital in rapprochement to return to fire and fury, and that a significant provocation would induce concessions or acceptance rather than retaliation. My hope is that the North Korean leader can be persuaded this would be a fatal miscalculation, as I believe it should be. Unfortunately, if those arguing for continued ‘strategic patience’ carry the day, Kim Jong-un may be proven right. – The National Interest


The two Canadian men detained in China just nine days after Meng’s arrest, in an act widely seen as retaliation, do not enjoy such a leisurely existence. Tuesday marked a year since their detention. – Washington Post

U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators are laying the groundwork for a delay of a fresh round of tariffs set to kick in on Dec. 15, officials on both sides said, as they haggle over how to get Beijing to commit to massive purchases of U.S. farm products on which President Trump is insisting for a near-term deal. – New York Times

China nudged past Turkey as the leading jailer of journalists this year, a press advocacy group reported in its annual survey, partly because of severe repression in China’s Xinjiang region and Turkey’s eradication of “virtually all independent reporting,” which has left many reporters unemployed, driven into exile or intimidated into self-censorship. – New York Times

Canadian legislators on Tuesday delivered Prime Minister Justin Trudeau his first parliamentary defeat since his re-election by approving the creation of a special committee to examine relations with China, which is locked in a dispute with Ottawa. – Reuters

Chinese officials lashed out at the U.S. on Wednesday over recent legislation passed by Congress criticizing Beijing for its policies in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang region in western China, as well as ongoing trade disputes. – Associated Press


Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai on Tuesday blamed excessive U.S. spending in Afghanistan for widespread corruption there, after The Washington Post’s release of a collection of U.S. government documents that show U.S. officials knowingly misled the American public, hiding information on the war in Afghanistan and turning a blind eye to widespread fraud. – Washington Post

A powerful suicide bombing targeted an under-construction medical facility on Wednesday near Bagram Air Base, the main American base north of the Afghan capital, the U.S. military said, and six Afghans were reported wounded. – Associated Press

Noah Rothman writes: For the better part of this decade, Americans had resigned themselves to losing the war in Afghanistan, itself a display of contempt for the officials who told them otherwise. The government documents uncovered by the Post demonstrate that this faithlessness was mutual. But the report is short on more gratifying alternatives to the course America has taken over the 21st century. Perhaps there aren’t any. – Commentary Magazine


The U.S. sanctioned four top military generals from Myanmar, including the commander-in-chief, for overseeing a campaign of alleged murder, rape and displacement against hundreds of thousands of members of the country’s Rohingya minority and others. The Treasury Department also sanctioned individuals in five other countries under a law authorizing such action against those who commit gross human-rights violations.  – Wall Street Journal

Lawmakers in India are expected to enact a fundamental change to its citizenship law to include religion as a criterion for nationality for the first time, deepening concerns that a country founded on secular ideals is becoming a Hindu state that treats Muslims as second-class citizens. – Washington Post

An international lawsuit seeking to establish that Myanmar committed genocide against its Rohingya Muslim minority began as representatives for Gambia, the Western African nation that filed the case, argued the ethnic group continues to face threats of destruction by authorities who need to be stopped and held accountable. – Wall Street Journal

A panel of foreign experts recruited to ensure the objectivity of an investigation into allegations of excessive force by Hong Kong police during recent protests said it was stepping down after their concerns about the probe went unresolved, a step likely to fuel criticism of the review. – Wall Street Journal

After listening to accusations of atrocities that took place in her country, Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday categorically rejected charges of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority, maintaining her government’s long-standing denial of culpability. – Washington Post

The South Pacific region of Bougainville voted overwhelmingly to become the world’s newest nation by gaining independence from Papua New Guinea, results showed Wednesday. – Associated Press

Taiwan’s top diplomat said Tuesday that his government stands with Hong Kong citizens pushing for “freedom and democracy,” and would help those displaced from the semi-autonomous Chinese city if Beijing intervenes with greater force to quell the protests. – Associated Press

India is reviewing trade and goods agreements with its Southeast Asian neighbors to boost exports after opting out of a China-backed trade pact. – Bloomberg

The UK has broken ranks with the UN and will keep funding “closed” Rohingya camps inside Myanmar despite fears that doing so may entrench “apartheid-like” conditions in the country, the Guardian has learned. – The Guardian


President Donald Trump warned Russia not to interfere in U.S. elections in talks with Russia’s top diplomat on Tuesday, the White House said, after meetings where the two sides made no visible progress on nuclear arms control. – Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday said Moscow wanted to publish a cache of communications with Washington that he said cleared Russia of allegations it interfered in the 2016 U.S. election, but that the United States has blocked their release. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that residents of separatist-held regions of eastern Ukraine could be targeted by government forces if Kiev is granted total control over the border between them and Russia. – Reuters

Ukraine and Russia on Tuesday both hailed the outcome of peace talks in Paris even though they failed to solve the core issues blocking the resolution of the five-year separatist conflict in Ukraine’s east. – Associated Press

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo clashed publicly with Russia’s top diplomat Tuesday over Moscow’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. – USA Today

Sen. Tom Cotton writes: Yet Russia is not a good-faith actor. Moreover, the Open Skies Treaty no longer serves to reduce tensions or build trust, if it ever did. Instead it gives Russia a spying capability it wouldn’t otherwise possess, which jeopardizes U.S. security. – Washington Post


Every year, the Flemish city of Aalst holds a three-day carnival attracting tens of thousands of people. In 2009, UNESCO added the event to its coveted World Heritage List. Then came last year’s carnival, which included a float depicting caricatures of orthodox Jews with large, hooked noses alongside rats and bags of money, playing off painful and sometimes dangerous anti-Semitic tropes targeting Jews. […] But this month Belgium formally asked UNESCO to strip the Aalst carnival of World Heritage status when its General Assembly gathers this week in Colombia for its annual meeting. – Washington Post

Whoever leaked UK-U.S. trade papers online ahead of Britain’s general election took extensive precautions to cover their tracks, which experts who suspect Russia was behind the effort say points to a professional and well-planned operation. – Reuters

The European Union’s new top justice official on Tuesday accused Poland and Hungary of backsliding further on democratic standards as the bloc’s ministers met to encourage them to adhere to the rule of law. – Reuters

In Northern Ireland, pro-Brexit unionists insist the general election isn’t really about Europe. Their opponents disagree. – Politico

A Prague district has approved a plan by its mayor to build a monument to the soldiers of Gen. Andrei Vlasov’s army, a move that has angered Russia. – Associated Press

Leonid Bershidsky writes: The emergence of 34-year-old Sanna Marin as Finland’s new prime minister is no fluke: In recent years, Europe has seen its leaders get younger as the new generation appears better at navigating increasingly complex political landscapes. – Bloomberg

Ali Demirdas writes: Macron’s frame of mind reflects the current state of NATO, a less relevant security mechanism without clearly defined goals; also a victim of the power struggle between both sides of the Atlantic. He is also motivated by the seemingly imploding of the united Europe project, which is likely going to bring about a leadership race on the continent. It appears Turkey’s rising influence in the former Ottoman lands has reminded Macron that the French and the Turks used to vie for influence in Europe. – The National Interest


Islamist Al Shabaab gunmen attacked a hotel in Somalia’s capital near the presidential residence on Tuesday and police said they killed two attackers and rescued dozens of people from inside. – Reuters

Militant groups and global military powers both pose a threat to peace and stability in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Tuesday after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for forging a peace accord with Eritrea. – Reuters

Sudan’s ousted long-time leader Omar al-Bashir was summoned for questioning on Tuesday over his role in the 1989 coup that brought him to power. – Reuters

U.N. experts say the interference of Chadian and Sudanese fighters in Libya is “a direct threat” to the security and stability of the war-torn country, which a leader of the Islamic State extremist group has declared “one of the main axes” of its future operations. – Associated Press

United States

Two gunmen went on an hourslong shooting rampage Tuesday, targeting a Jewish grocery store and getting into a firefight with police that ended in six deaths, including a police officer and the two suspects, officials said. – Wall Street Journal

The Pentagon has suspended operational training for all Saudi military students in the United States, indefinitely halting flight instruction, firing range training and all other operations outside the classroom in the wake of a shooting last week at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida by a member of the Saudi Royal Air Force. – New York Times

U.S. President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order on Wednesday threatening to cut federal assistance to colleges that fail to combat anti-Semitism, a senior administration official said on Tuesday. – Reuters

The Americas

Representatives of the United States, Mexico and Canada on Tuesday agreed to amend a North American trade deal, accepting significant changes demanded by House Democrats on workers’ rights, environmental protection and prescription drug prices. – Washington Post

Federal agents arrested Mexico’s former top security official and charged him with receiving millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel while he was in charge of the country’s war on drug gangs from 2006 to 2012, U.S. officials said Tuesday. – Wall Street Journal

A top adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump flew to Buenos Aires but decided not to attend Alberto Fernandez’s inauguration after learning that a top minister to Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro would be attending. – Bloomberg

The Pentagon’s inspector general is launching an “evaluation” of the Trump administration’s military deployments to the U.S.-Mexico border, the watchdog office announced Tuesday. – Politico

Tyler Cowen writes: Paul Volcker is being remembered this week, deservedly, for helping to usher in an era of American prosperity in the 1980s by bringing U.S. inflation down from double digits. Yet an equally significant part of his legacy is the effects of the Volcker shock, as it is called, on the economies of Latin America. For most of Latin America, the 1980s were a lost decade. Volcker was not at fault for the debacle, but the episode reveals the moral dilemmas facing any central banker. – Bloomberg


Almost half of British political ads on Facebook — worth a combined £7.4 million — disappeared from the social media giant’s online records for more than 24 hours, only days before the United Kingdom’s general election, according to analysis provided to POLITICO. – Politico

The National Defense Authorization Act released Dec. 9 contains several provisions aimed at securing U.S. election infrastructure months before presidential primary season is in full-swing. – Fifth Domain

The new National Defense Authorization Act revamped the cybersecurity responsibilities of the Department of Defense’s chief information officer, upping its responsibility for intrusion prevention and data sharing. – Fifth Domain

Michael Hayden writes: Unfortunately, the rise in digital crime has not been matched by U.S. government investment in law enforcement’s capacity to conduct digital investigations. States and localities lean heavily on better-resourced federal agencies or pool scarce resources. Private companies can offer some access to encrypted devices using existing security weaknesses, but this is cost-prohibitive for smaller agencies and, in fact, emphasizes the necessity of encryption: The existence of such vulnerabilities shows that our existing technologies are already too insecure. – Bloomberg


The Pentagon must press Lockheed Martin Corp. to recoup fees paid to the No. 1 defense contractor for F-35 parts that weren’t ready to use in the planes after delivery to the military, according to the planned defense policy bill for this fiscal year. – Bloomberg

The first test shot of Lockheed Martin’s precision strike missile at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, was a success, the company said in a statement. – Defense News

Congress wants the Pentagon to produce a five-year plan for the European Deterrence Initiative fund, much like what is required each year when the Defense Department rolls out its base budget request. – Defense News

The US Navy’s new top officer is doubling down on the service’s commitment to getting the new generation of nuke-launching ballistic missile submarines fielded as soon as possible. – Defense News

The U.S. Navy’s newfound zeal for unmanned surface vessels has been met by skepticism in Congress. – Defense News

Congress intends to drop the cost of future aircraft carriers, a move that lawmakers often employ to try to force the U.S. Navy and shipyards — in this case, Huntington Ingalls Industries — to stay inside their fiscal limits, according to the new defense authorization bill. – Defense News

Congress wants the Missile Defense Agency to take the lead on developing a space-based sensor layer capable of tracking hypersonic weapons, despite a number of objections made by the Trump administration earlier this year. – C4ISRNET

Congress is offering the Defense Department the option to purchase Turkey’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and giving the defense secretary discretion to spend up to $30 million to store the fifth-generation jets until a plan for their use is formalized, according to the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2020. – Military.com

The final version of the defense policy bill for fiscal 2020 directs senior Pentagon and service officials to do a better job of tracking troops’ high deployment rates. The language comes in the wake of several misconduct scandals in the special operations community. – Military.com

The top Pentagon acquisition official said Tuesday that the U.S. military is ramping up its counter-drone effort as commanders downrange continue to struggle with these small, often difficult-to-detect threats. – Military.com

Long War

A man has been arrested in Bristol on suspicion of Islamist-related terrorism offences, police have said. – BBC

Finding a common European approach to repatriating militants is complicated by the fact that not all nations on the continent share the same concerns. The European Parliament has not adopted an official position on the repatriation of ISIS fighters, as it falls under the jurisdiction of individual EU member states. – NPR

A Pakistani court on Wednesday indicted Islamist militant Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of deadly 2008 attacks in Mumbai, on terror financing charges, a government prosecutor said. – Reuters

Trump Administration

President Trump met with Russia’s top diplomat in the Oval Office on Tuesday, creating a dramatic contrast as House Democrats unveiled articles of impeachment against him for his actions in Ukraine, an ally fending off a Russian-backed insurrection. – Washington Post

President Trump plans to sign an executive order on Wednesday targeting what he sees as anti-Semitism on college campuses by threatening to withhold federal money from educational institutions that fail to combat discrimination, three administration officials said on Tuesday. – New York Times

A federal judge in Texas has blocked the Trump administration from using billions of dollars in funding from the Defense Department to pay for construction of a long-promised wall on the Mexican border. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said on Tuesday he is still not fully convinced that the FBI acted without bias when it opened its 2016 investigation into possible links between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. – Reuters

President Donald Trump lashed out Tuesday at FBI Director Christopher Wray, expressing dissatisfaction that Wray didn’t cast a watchdog report on the origins of the Russia investigation as devastating for the bureau. – Associated Press

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) on Tuesday blocked an attempt by Democrats to pass legislation meant to prevent Russia and other countries from interfering in elections. – The Hill