Fdd's overnight brief

July 30, 2019

In The News


With Iran’s economy in free fall after the U.S. pullout from the nuclear deal and escalated sanctions on Tehran, prices of imported medicines have soared as the national currency tumbled about 70% against the dollar. Even medicines manufactured in Iran are tougher to come by for ordinary Iranians, their cost out of reach for many in a country where the average monthly salary is equivalent to about $450. – Associated Press

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Iran has rejected his offer made July 25 to go to Tehran to address the Iranian people. – Radio Farda

Iranians sending images to a U.S.-based activist over an anti-headscarf campaign could face up to 10 years in prison. – Associated Press

Iran’s foreign policy is to confront American hegemony and protect multilateralism, Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri said on Monday, adding that its reduction of commitments under a nuclear deal could be reversed if other parties upheld their side of the agreement. – Reuters

Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri called on China and other countries friendly with Iran on Monday to buy more Iranian oil, the oil ministry news website SHANA reported, as Chinese imports plunged after U.S. sanctions took effect. – Reuters

Britain on Monday ruled out swapping seized oil tankers with Iran as a second UK warship arrived in the Gulf to conduct convoys that have irritated Tehran. – Agence FrancePresse

Iran is capable of detecting American stealth aircraft, the Commander of the Iranian Army’s Air Defense Force Alireza Sabahi Fard claimed on Monday. – Jerusalem Post

Jason Greenblatt, the US Special Representative for International Negotiations, told Fox News in an interview that Iran is the biggest threat to the Middle East and the core conflict in the region is no longer the Israeli-Palestinian issue. – Arutz Sheva

Iran has enriched 24 tons of uranium since signing the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal, said the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, on Sunday, according to Radio Farda. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: It’s yet another reminder of how Iran’s misconduct threatens the entire region, and part of a disturbing pattern. In recent weeks, the regime has attacked ships and oil installations, shot down an American drone, restarted its uranium enrichment program, and even test-fired a ballistic missile, all while refusing good-faith efforts at mediation. It’s lashing out in the hopes that it can intimidate the world into doing what it wants. The U.S. and Europe shouldn’t give in to this kind of aggression. They should instead be united in opposing it. The waters of the Persian Gulf would be a good place to start. – Bloomberg

Zvi Bar’el writes: Since the imposition of American sanctions on Iran, the fight against corruption has been a mainstay of the policy of “economic resistance” declared by the country’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. […]the very fact that such research was carried out by parliament, and that a court was established to hear cases of economic corruption is at least an indication that the regime has not been ignoring public discourse. It shows that the country’s leadership understands the need, at least rhetorically, to fight corruption in order to quell protest and particularly to enlist the public in standing strong against the sanctions. – Haaretz


Israel and the United States are jointly working to have the United Nations Security Council to upgrade the mandate of the international peacekeeping force based in southern Lebanon, providing it with greater authority in an effort to weaken Hezbollah. – Jerusalem Post

US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) urged Latin America to acknowledge Hezbollah’s significant presence in their home countries and the terror that the organization perpetuates within their borders. – Jerusalem Post

Israel used their F-35i stealth fighter jets to conduct attacks on Iranian targets to Iraq in the past month, hitting two Iraqi bases used by Iranian forces and proxies and storing Iranian ballistic missiles, the London-based Saudi daily Al Sharq Al Awsat reported on Tuesday. […]Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah members were killed in the air strike, according to Al-Arabiya – Jerusalem Post


Syrian rebel commanders and rights groups said on Monday Russia and its Syrian ally are stepping up aerial strikes on heavily populated cities, in a new and bloodier phase of a three-month-old assault on the last opposition bastion in the northwest. – Reuters

Syrian government forces have recovered two villages from rebel fighters in northwestern Syria after days of bombardment, sources on both sides said on Monday. – Reuters

Russia’s air force helped the Syrian army to repel attacks carried out by militants in the Idlib province on Sunday, TASS news agency reported on Monday, citing a senior defense ministry official. – Reuters

In a harsh series of comments reported by Russia’s Tass News Agency on Monday, Russia claimed that the US was involved in “plundering Syrian oil facilities” and “training militants” in Syria. – Jerusalem Post

Alexander Decina and Katherine Nazemi write: With this, even if Assad were willing, he could not easily push the wider reforms often demanded by Western policymakers — on human rights issues, detainees and humanitarian access — or even put forth his own vision for the country. The security apparatus is not a tool that Assad can simply choose to wield or put down. Rather, it is a collection of actors and structures to navigate — each with their own interests, agency and leverage. – Washington Post

Joseph V. Micallef writes: The intensity of the fighting has diminished, and the pace of military operations is lower. The war, however, is far from over. Moreover, there are a range of secondary issues that were bound up with the civil war, which remain unresolved. The success of the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian backers notwithstanding, the civil war is now largely stalemated, as are many of the secondary issues that were linked to it. – Militay.com


Mr. Amos is one of many Michigan tart-cherry farmers struggling amid a flood of low-price dried cherries from Turkey. The industry petitioned the U.S. government to impose duties on the imports, claiming Turkish importers underprice the fruit and the Turkish government unfairly subsidizes the industry. The U.S. government said in June that there was enough evidence to proceed with an investigation. – Wall Street Journal

Member of Hamas’ Politcal Bureau Dr Khalil Al-Hayya revealed yesterday that a senior delegation of his movement met with the Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister in Turkey. – Middle East Monitor

President Trump doesn’t want to punish Turkey further for purchasing advanced anti-aircraft weaponry from Russia, putting him on a collision course with Republican lawmakers intent on rebuking the wayward NATO ally. – Washington Examiner

Michael Rubin writes: Perhaps, then, the European Union and the United States could respond to Turkish provocations in the Eastern Mediterranean by denying Turkish Air landing rights. Let the airline fly to Somalia, Sudan, Azerbaijan, and Pakistan, but there is no reason why European countries should support Turkey’s economy at a time when Erdoğan seeks to supplement it with theft. – Washington Examiner

Nikos Tsafos writes: How long this stand-off continues depends primarily on Turkey’s appetite for escalation, but longer-term tranquility will require addressing some fundamental disagreements that have proven intractable for decades. Even so, the conflict between Turkey and Cyprus has not been, so far, a big obstacle for gas development. That might change in the future. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Jonathan Marks writes: About the only thing the BDS National Committee seems to dislike in Erdogan’s repressive government is its incomplete rejection of Israel. But BDS advocates don’t mind taking advantage of his hospitality, perhaps because he whispers sweet nothings like, “whoever is on the side of Israel, let everyone know that we are against them.” The indifference of BDS advocates to the academic freedom they pretend to cherish when it suits them is nothing new. But their championship-level hypocrisy continues to impress. – Commentary Magazine


A confidential report by the ethics office of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees claims its top management including Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl “have engaged in sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority.” – Associated Press

The Caribbean island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis recognized the “State of Palestine” on Monday. – Times of Israel

In the face of Iran’s continued development of long-range missiles, Israel and the United States completed a series of tests of the long-range Arrow 3 ballistic missile defense system at the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska (PSCA) in Kodiak, Alaska, which included the successful interception of an “enemy” target. – Jerusalem Post

Videos of the incident circulated on social media evoked furious responses from many Saudis, who condemned the attackers, accused the Palestinians of ingratitude towards Saudi Arabia, and directed curses at them, some of them quite harsh. Some also complained that the Palestinians treat Al-Aqsa as their private property, and called to transfer the custodianship over it from Jordan to Saudi Arabia or Israel. One particularly virulent tweet called to expel the Palestinians to Jordan. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Matthew J. Aiesi writes: It is important to document war crimes when and where they occur so that perpetrators can be held accountable, and so that an accurate and factual record is compiled. The international community should unequivocally condemn the targeting and threatening of civilians, the use of illegal weapons in armed conflicts, and the deliberate and organized strategy of committing war crimes to seek political change. […]Until impunity for war crimes ends, Hamas will likely continue to find it politically advantageous to commit them. – Lawfare

David Pollock writes: A new poll by the Palestine Center for Public Opinion, taken June 27-July 19, shows that the majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza oppose their leaderships’ preemptive rejection of the Trump Administration’s peace plan—despite widespread popular disapproval of the current U.S. president. The survey also shows a dramatic rise in the proportion supporting an enhanced role in peacemaking for the Arab states. More specifically, however, only a minority voice a favorable attitude toward the June regional economic workshop in Bahrain, with many saying they have not heard or read enough about it. – Washington Institute

Arabian Peninsula

A congressional effort to block certain arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates fell short on Monday after the Senate failed to override President Trump’s veto of the measures. – Wall Street Journal

An attack on a market killed at least 10 civilians including children in Yemen’s northern Saada province on Monday, a medical source and the warring parties who blamed each other said. – Reuters

The Australian manufacturer of weapons systems being sold to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has maintained none of its products have ever been used in Yemen. – The Guardian

Yemen’s internationally-recognized government says the Houthi rebels were behind a strike on a market that killed at least 14 civilians, including children, and wounded 27. – Associated Press


More than 12,000 children were killed and injured in armed conflicts last year — a record number — with Afghanistan, the Palestinians, Syria and Yemen topping the casualty list, according to a new U.N. report. – Associated Press

Missiles on Monday hit Tripoli’s only functioning Mitiga airport which remained closed to air traffic, causing chaos and fear among passengers, witnesses said. – Reuters

Air space re-opened at the Libyan capital’s only functioning airport, Mitiga, on Monday an hour after it was closed by strikes, a witness said. – Reuters

A United Nations envoy called on Monday for a truce to be declared in Libya around Aug. 10, and warned that an influx of weapons from foreign supporters in violation of an arms embargo was fueling the conflict. – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a Los Angeles-based investor and informal adviser to President Trump, sought powerful positions in the Trump administration in 2017 while pushing a U.S. nuclear energy policy in the Middle East that could benefit his company, according to a new report by congressional Democrats. – Washington Post

Tom Barrack, an equity investor and a close ally of President Trump, sought Saudi government funding in a bid to buy ailing U.S. nuclear reactor builder Westinghouse, according to a House report that reveals new details of an effort to transfer sensitive nuclear technology to the oil-rich kingdom. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. calls for Japan’s help protecting shipping from Iranian attacks have put Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a bind between angering his country’s military ally and upsetting voters suspicious of overseas deployments. – Bloomberg

Sarah Feuer and Reda Ayadi write: Morocco’s foreign policy orientation under King Mohammed has largely advanced U.S. interests, and the country has proven itself a reliable ally in an increasingly unpredictable region. As the king enters his third decade of rule, Washington should ensure that Rabat has the tools needed to continue facilitating regional stability. To that end, policymakers should devise ways to strengthen U.S. Africa Command. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on a North Korean man on Monday it accuses of evading trade restrictions and being an employee of a government department that helped develop the nuclear-capable missiles Pyongyang fired last week. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday he hoped working-level talks to revive denuclearization talks with North Korea could occur “very soon” but emphasized that a follow up leaders’ summit was not planned. – Reuters

South Korea is bracing for Japan’s decision to drop it from a “white list” of countries that enjoy minimum trade restrictions, which could come as soon as Friday, Seoul’s foreign minister said, as companies prepared for the possible fallout. – Reuters


A court in southwestern China has handed an unusually heavy punishment — 12 years in prison — to one of the country’s most prominent activists despite appeals for clemency from international rights organizations and U.N. experts. – Washington Post

Senior Chinese officials made the surprising announcement on Tuesday that the authorities had released most detainees held in the government’s mass internment program for ethnic minority Muslims in China’s far west, but provided no firm numbers or specific details to support their assertion. – New York Times

A month after President Donald Trump said he would allow U.S. companies to resume selling to blacklisted Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei HWT.UL, his administration has done little to clarify what sales will be permitted. – Reuters

Walter Russell Mead writes: China has responded to the newly competitive international situation by deepening its relationship with a strategic partner. Combine the jostling ambitions of two rising world powers with the disruptive economic, military and cultural consequences of the information revolution, and the causes of our distemper are easier to understand if not, unfortunately, to resolve. – Wall Street Journal

Kathy Gilsinan writes: There’s no guarantee that a U.S. president, especially Trump, would resort to war in either case. But these are among the scenarios war-gamers at the Rand Corporation have studied to see if the United States could prevent China from claiming territory by force. It’s not clear that the U.S. could. – Defense One


Civilians are being killed and wounded at a “shocking and unacceptable” level in Afghanistan’s war despite a push to end the 18-year-old conflict, the UN said Tuesday. – Agence FrancePresse

At least 3,812 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first half of 2019 in the war against militant groups, including a big increase in the number of casualties caused by government and NATO-led troops, the United Nations said on Tuesday. – Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump wants combat forces reduced in Afghanistan by the next U.S. presidential election, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday, introducing a timeline to Washington’s plan for cutting troop numbers there. – Reuters

Two U.S. service members were killed in Afghanistan on Monday, the NATO-led Resolute Support mission said in a statement, as the United States seeks to reach a negotiated end to the nearly 18-year-old war. – Reuters

A Pew poll found a majority of veterans believe the war in Afghanistan wasn’t worth fighting, but U.S. troops want to keep deploying to the country, enlisted leaders say. – Washington Examiner

The U.S. government was “unprepared” to equip Afghan security forces, despite spending billions on weapons, according to the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction. – Washington Examiner

Vinay Kaura writes: In immediate terms, the meeting seems to have broken the ice between Washington and Islamabad. It was nothing less than a diplomatic triumph for Khan, a target of Trump’s verbal fire not long ago, to meet the U.S. president as an honored guest at the White House. However, what brought the two leaders together is the intractable Afghan conflict, and it appears Trump now sees Pakistan as part of the solution, rather than the source of the problem. – Middle East Institute


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will tackle a number of the U.S.’s most critical foreign policy issues across the Asia-Pacific region when he jets off to a series of meetings this week in Thailand, Australia and the Federated States of Micronesia. – Wall Street Journal

China signaled Monday that it wants a political rather than a military solution to the increasingly violent protests in Hong Kong, apparently putting the onus for dealing with the unrest squarely on the city’s embattled leader. – Washington Post

Lawmakers in Congress from both political parties have accused the Trump administration of delaying an $8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, the self-governing democratic island off the coast of China that is supported by the United States. – New York Times

Joshua Wong, the student activist who shot to fame during Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement protests five years ago, said the U.S. government should suspend sales of riot gear to the city to prevent human-rights abuses as the weeks-long demonstrations intensify. – Bloomberg

Japan has formally expressed interest in joining the F-35 program as a full partner, but the Pentagon plans to shoot down that request, Defense News has learned. – Defense News

Vietnam must take steps to cut its trade surplus with the U.S., Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in comments released Monday, as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on the Southeast Asian country. – Bloomberg

Rising tensions in the South China Sea and the fallout from U.S.-China trade war are set to dominate talks this week as top diplomats converge in Bangkok for a key Southeast Asia summit. – Bloomberg

The United States is planning to build additional military infrastructure in Australia once Congress gives approval to the U.S. Navy for $211.5 million, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Tuesday. – Reuters

While Washington defends its Navy’s transits through disputed waters in the South China Sea as upholding international freedom of navigation, Beijing blasts these operations as provocative and clear violations of its domestic law, a leading Chinese naval expert said last week; and both positions could harden. – USNI News

Joseph Bosco writes: The people of Hong Kong are leading the way in the first major ideological confrontation of the new cold war that the People’s Republic of China has launched against the West. […]The United States and other Western governments, with far more sophisticated instruments of communications at their disposal, should follow the Hong Kong protesters’ lead and prepare an unapologetic name-and-shame campaign against Chinese leaders. – The Hill

Anthony Kim writes: The United States and Mongolia have made the strategic choice to forge and defend a relationship based on “shared commitment to freedom, democracy, and human rights.” That choice must be reinforced with concrete action that can further enhance the two nations’ strategic and pragmatic partnership. – Heritage Foundation


President Trump is ignoring a legal requirement to punish Russia’s use of a chemical weapon to poison a former spy in the U.K., according to top lawmakers. – Washington Examiner

Serbia’s leader on Monday praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for boosting the Balkan nation’s military with battle tanks and armored vehicles, amid Western fears that the arms buildup could threaten fragile peace in the region. – Associated Press

Canada’s government said on Monday it is worried that the Russian police detained more than 1,000 people in Moscow over the weekend around a protest to demand opposition members be allowed to run in a local election. – Reuters

Leonid Bershidsky writes: The flip side of such action, of course, is that it can also fuel the vague irritation many Russians feel. Even if they don’t rise up at the sight of some young people being beaten up – as Ukrainians did in 2013 – the Kremlin’s message that protesting is pointless is a dangerous one in Russia, too. There won’t a revolution over a rigged city council election, but Putin is playing with fire. Suppression is never a long-term answer. – Bloomberg


An international team of researchers has traced an unusual 2017 radioactive release that blanketed a large part of Europe to Russia. – Washington Post

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday urged EU leaders to drop their opposition to renegotiating Brexit, as the pound slumped on growing concerns about a no-deal departure. – Agence FrancePresse

Ukraine plans to launch a worldwide Russian-language TV channel, as part of an effort to win the hearts and minds of people living in the eastern Donbass region and Russia, a senior presidential official was quoted as saying on Monday. Ukraine’s new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy won a landslide election victory this year promising to end the Donbass conflict between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatist forces that has killed 13,000 people in the past five years. – Reuters


Villagers were walking home from a funeral in northeast Nigeria this weekend when gunmen on motorbikes surrounded them in a graveyard and opened fire. The attack bearing the hallmarks of terrorist group Boko Haram left at least 65 people dead, authorities said Monday, as residents urged the military to ramp up protection in a region gripped by extremist violence. – Washington Post

India will co-operate with Mozambique to fight terrorism and radicalization, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said during a visit to the southeast African nation. – Bloomberg

An official in Congo says that four people, including two expatriates, working for the Canadian gold mining company Banro were abducted last week in the southern Maniema province of eastern Congo. – Associated Press

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is the “last hope” for Africa’s most advanced economy, but his government must turn incentive policies into laws to secure more Chinese investment, a senior Chinese diplomat told Reuters. – Reuters

United States

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday defended his decision to block an election security bill and lashed out at critics who suggested he was helping Russia, accusing them of engaging in “modern-day McCarthyism” to “smear” his record. – Washington Post

Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib once again expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and accused the Israeli government of “racist policies”. – Arutz Sheva

Adam Day writes: With deep divisions on the Security Council and increasing tensions threatening in the Gulf, the role of U.S. ambassador to the U.N. is critical to global security and international cooperation, on issues ranging from North Korean non-proliferation to peacekeeping in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the field of international peace and security, there are no higher stakes than those deliberated upon at the Security Council. […]In the coming months, there will be ample opportunities for Craft to articulate the U.S. position on major peace and security issues at the U.N. — having clarity now on these critical questions will be equally important. – The Hill

Latin America

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has turned his country into a terrorist sanctuary and committed the grave error of protecting guerrilla groups and drug traffickers, Colombian President Ivan Duque said on Monday, as tensions between the neighboring countries escalated once again. – Reuters

The United Nations on Monday condemned the “reprehensible” murder of a tribal chief in northern Brazil, even as President Jair Bolsonaro and investigators cast doubt on whether the killing was deliberate. – Agence FrancePresse

Grady Means writes: It’s impossible to predict what will happen next in Venezuela, when Nicolás Maduro will be replaced as president and by whom, when China will be forced to change sides to protect its investments, and how reconstruction will unfold. But, it will all change soon, and the result almost certainly will represent a strategic win for Trump and the United States —Russia and Cuba will need to pull back, China will struggle to break even. That will be another success for Trump’s unusual, but effective, brand of foreign policy, which has been remarkably patient and avoided new shooting wars. Call it another circuitous route to Pax Trumpus. – The Hill


Cybersecurity proposals by China have U.S. businesses worried that the draft regulations represent additional barriers to the Chinese market, a concern that could complicate U.S.-China trade talks. – Wall Street Journal

The video-sharing platform YouTube is striving to block those who would use it to promote racism, hate speech, violence and disinformation, its number two executive has told AFP, as the Google-owned company comes under increasing scrutiny. – Agence FrancePresse

Britain hosted a meeting of senior security ministers from the U.S.-led ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance on Monday for talks on tackling cyber threats ranging from political hacking to child pornography. – Reuters

Google’s ties to Huawei— the Chinese tech giant considered a threat to US security by the Trump administration — may run deeper than previously known, according to a report by The Information on Monday. – Business Insider

Federal officials on Monday reportedly arrested a Seattle woman and accused her of stealing records, including some bank account and Social Security numbers, from more than 100 million Capital One customers and potential customers. The hack of the Virginia-based bank is believed to be one of the biggest data breaches ever to hit a financial institution and comes a week after credit monitoring company Equifax reached a $700 million settlement relating to the theft of 147 million customers’ data in 2017. – The Hill

In the months before the 2016 presidential election, one U.S. state received a notification from a federally-backed cybersecurity group, warning about suspicious cyber activity directed at its networks. The state IT officials did not share the alert with other state government leaders and as late at January 2018, the same officials reported nothing “irregular, inconsistent, or suspicious” took place before the vote. – Fifth Domain

A new report warns that the cybersecurity vulnerabilities related to military space systems, specifically terminals and command-and-control systems, deserves renewed attention from NATO countries. – Fifth Domain

The Army has its sights set on cloud computing and is looking to the “tactical cloud” to bring forward the power, speed and scalability benefits of commercial cloud deployments. – C4ISRNET

Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger writes: As we look ahead to the next decade, Congress must give the Cyber Command the resources it needs to invest in the development of better capabilities to prevent our adversaries from closing the gap.  – Fifth Domain

James Di Pane and Alexandra Marotta write: The United States cannot afford to rest on its current cyber capabilities. Our adversaries continue to sharpen their cyber forces, and the U.S. cannot afford to lose that competition. We must stay ahead of our adversaries and continue to invest in the U.S. Cyber Command so it can reach its full potential. – The Daily Signal


The newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Paul Ignatius (DDG-117), joined the fleet over the weekend in a commissioning ceremony in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – USNI News

This is the Navy’s 67th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and it features the latest technology and weapons systems, with the most advanced combat capabilities in the air, on the water and under the sea. – Military.com

The Marine Corps is in the market for a new body scanner that can help officials equip Marines with the best-fitting body armor and gear — and it will even show how to squeeze leathernecks wearing full battle rattle into tactical vehicles. – Military.com

Jim Lacey writes: In the final analysis, EABO is a concept designed to exploit geography and contribute to winning a hard war against a nation with military capabilities approaching those of the United States.  It gives the American military its best chance to win such a conflict. But, vastly more important, if the United States is prepared to implement this concept, it presents the nation with the best possible chance of deterring a future conflict and preserving the peace. Not a bad outcome for a concept I originally considered dumb. – War on the Rocks

Long War

Alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has opened the door to helping victims of the terrorist attacks in their lawsuit against Saudi Arabia if the U.S. government spares him the death penalty at a Guantanamo Bay military commission, according to court documents. – Wall Street Journal

Now defense lawyers in the Sept. 11 case — which has been stuck in pretrial hearings since 2012 and will not go to trial before next year — are stepping up their arguments that those teams were not so clean after all. – New York Times

The head of the UN special probe into Islamic State group crimes has called for trials like those at Nuremberg of Nazi leaders to ensure the jihadists’ victims are heard and their ideology “debunked.” – Times of Israel

Two men who came to the U.S. from Somali as refugees were arrested after attempting to fly from Arizona to Egypt, allegedly with the intention of joining the Islamic State. – Washington Examiner

A top UK Jewish group praised the British government on Monday for its reassurance that sanctions on terrorist organizations, including Hamas, will continue after Britain leaves the European Union. – Algemeiner

Trump Administration

President Trump’s announcement Sunday that he will nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) as the next director of national intelligence drew immediate opposition from Senate Democrats and tepid support from key Republicans, an early indication that the junior congressman might not sail smoothly to confirmation. – Washington Post

President Trump’s plan to nominate a political ally as director of national intelligence was seen by current and former officials as a move to subdue spy agencies that he has long regarded as disloyal, and silence one of the few pockets of occasional dissent in his administration. – Washington Post

President Donald Trump’s new pick to lead the country’s vast intelligence apparatus fell into favor with the White House as a longtime, vocal critic of the Russia investigation and the officials who launched it. – Politico

Two senators — a Republican and a Democrat — are asking for stronger sanctions against Russia in next year’s defense bill, pushing for the final version to include penalties that would be triggered by future election meddling and could hit Russian sovereign debt, energy and defense. – Bloomberg

Editorial: Democrats want to use “Russia” as an excuse for losing an election. For that reason, Trump wants to deny there’s a problem. Both sides have to grow up and confront a common enemy. – Washington Examiner

Eli Lake writes: Coats minced no words when warning of the threat Russia and other foreign actors pose to American elections, and resisted Trump’s pressure to insert himself into the government’s investigation of Russian interference. The president in turn kept his national intelligence director out of the loop. […]There is a lesson here for Trump. Even if Ratcliffe is everything the president apparently hopes he is, there is nothing he can do as director of national intelligence to shape the investigations into the FBI’s initial probe of his campaign.  – Bloomberg