Fdd's overnight brief

June 17, 2019

In The News


The country’s top paramilitary force is maintaining support for armed groups in the Middle East and finding new sources of funding, defying U.S. efforts to curb its activities abroad as tensions between Washington and Tehran soar following fresh attacks in the Gulf of Oman. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. and Iran on Friday traded accusations over the attack on two fuel tankers in the Gulf of Oman, as Tehran tried to deflect U.S. blame for an incident that has again ratcheted up fears of military conflict. – Wall Street Journal

As Iran and the United States face off in the Gulf of Oman, the risk may not be just at sea, but in Tehran and Washington, where both Iranian and American hard-liners are seizing on the moment for political advantage. – New York Times

American officials say an Air Force MQ-9 Reaper was shot at by an Iranian missile as it overflew two tankers that were attacked in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. – USNI News

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed Sunday that the US will guarantee free passage through the vital Strait of Hormuz, as he accused Iran of recent attacks on oil tankers and the downing of a US drone. – Agence FrancePresse

Rep. Dan Crenshaw blasted former President Barack Obama’s adviser Ben Rhodes for questioning whether Iran was behind the attacks on a pair of oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman this week. – Washington Examiner

A British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran for more than three years has begun a hunger strike to protest her detention, her husband said Saturday. – Associated Press

Iran’s atomic energy agency is expected to brief reporters Monday on the next phase of its retreat from obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal, the Iranian Students’ News Agency reported, as efforts to salvage the accord falter amid rising regional tensions. – Bloomberg

Iran will exceed an agreed cap on its inventories of low-enriched uranium in 10 days, potentially breaching for the first time a landmark 2015 agreement that was meant to prevent it from developing a nuclear bomb. The spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, also said the country would step up the pace of enrichment after that deadline. – Bloomberg

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in an interview that aired Sunday that “we have absolutely no appetite for going to war” with Iran amid heightened tensions with the Middle Eastern power.  – The Hill

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said in an interview that aired Sunday that U.S. tensions with Iran are “disturbingly reminiscent” of the lead-up to the Iraq War.  – The Hill

The international community should support the US in efforts to halt Iranian aggression in international waterways, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday, in his first comments about last week’s developments in the Gulf of Oman. – Jerusalem Post

Iran has multiplied the speed at which it enriches uranium but it is still far from the maximum rate possible under its nuclear deal with major powers, meaning it would be months before production ceilings are hit, diplomats who follow it say. – Reuters

Iran’s parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, hinted on Sunday that Washington could be behind the “suspicious” tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman in an attempt to pile pressure on Tehran, AFP reported, citing the Iranian IRNA news agency. – Arutz Sheva

All the formal requirements for a European payment system for barter-based trade with Iran designed to circumvent U.S. sanctions are now in place and it should be operational soon, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in Tehran on Monday. – Reuters

Trump administration security officials will reportedly discuss a decision to potentially send additional military to the Middle East following last week’s attack on two oil tankers which the administration has blamed on Iran. – The Hill

The United Kingdom is deploying a contingent of Royal Marines to protect their warships in the Persian Gulf as tensions rise between the United States and Iran. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: Time is on the president’s side here. His Iran policy serves American interests and the preservation of our international order. But Trump must not allow a fear of short-term strife and oil price hikes to interfere with America’s long-term strategic needs. – Washington Examiner

Bret Stephens writes: The world cannot tolerate freelance Somali pirates. Much less should it tolerate a pirate state seeking to hold the global economy hostage through multiplying acts of economic terrorism. Nobody wants a war with Iran. But not wanting a war does not mean remaining supine in the face of its outrages. We sank Iran’s navy before. Tehran should be put on notice that we are prepared and able to do it again. – New York Times

Anthony Cordesman writes: Iranian deniability becomes progressively less credible with time. The United States and Arab Gulf states can retaliate at low levels of conflict and choose higher value targets. The risk of escalation on both sides grows with each new incident, and the patience the Iranian people will show as their lives grow steadily worse is problematic. If Iran has chosen the path to hybrid warfare, it is far from clear that it can win. The good news is that the cumulative impact may well be less damaging to both Iran and its neighbors than any major conflict. The bad news is that the end result may simply turn the Gulf into even more of an unstable mess. – The Hill

Jon B. Alterman writes: On Thursday, June 13, two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz were attacked. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the United States assessed the attack and concluded that it was perpetrated by Iran. The Iranian government has denied involvement and rejected the accusation. In response, the U.S. Central Command released video footage that it claims shows an Iranian patrol boat removing an unexploded ordnance from the hull of one of the tankers. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


At least 10 civilians and 35 combatants, mostly pro-regime forces, were killed Saturday in clashes and air strikes that erupted at dawn in northwestern Syria, a war monitor said. – Agence FrancePresse

A Turkish observation post in Syria’s Idlib region was attacked with mortar fire and shelling from an area controlled by Syrian government forces, causing damage but no casualties, the Turkish Defence Ministry said on Sunday. – Reuters

An explosion on Saturday in a Syrian ammunition depot in a military zone west of the capital was caused by wildfires, state television reported. – Reuters


The top two candidates to be Istanbul’s mayor faced off in the nation’s first televised election debate in 17 years on Sunday, trading charges over the outcome of an earlier vote and offering different approaches to economic growth. – Bloomberg

The Pentagon’s latest deal with Lockheed Martin for new F-35 jets includes some for Turkey, raising the question of what will happen if the country is pushed out of the program. – Defense News

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he expected Russian S-400 missile defense systems to start arriving in Turkey in the first half of July, broadcaster NTV reported on Sunday, a development set to fuel tensions with NATO ally Washington. – Reuters

Harold Hutchison writes: Under Erdoğan, Turkey has gone from being a reliable ally to a borderline enemy. Erdoğan’s poor human rights record, his willingness to stick up for Hamas, and his actions at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom make yanking the F-35 the right decision. Should Erdoğan’s regime leave power, perhaps America can look at resuming Turkey’s participation in the program. But until then, sending F-35s to a regime that could turn hostile would be a big mistake. – Washington Examiner

Soner Cagaptay and Andy Taylor write: Turkey and Russia are not allies or friends. Erdogan’s security concerns, mistrust of the West, and inability to secure American-made missiles left him searching for an alternative. Erdogan is unlikely to walk away from Putin’s shrewd S-400 offer because he fears Russian reprisal. As a result, the consequences for U.S.-Turkey relations could be grave. – The Hill


Shrugging off opposition from the international community, Israel’s government on Sunday unveiled a new Jewish settlement in a secluded and breezy area of the disputed Golan Heights named after President Trump. – Wall Street Journal

Israel’s foreign minister on Sunday said the country would have a “key role” to play in an upcoming economic summit in Bahrain, organized by the White House as the first step in its plan to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians. But it remains unclear whether Israeli officials are invited. – Washington Post

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg says if he won he wouldn’t reverse President Trump’s controversial decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem. – The Hill

Israel has close to 100 nuclear weapons, a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has found. While Israel has a long-standing policy of not commenting on its nuclear arsenal, according to the report there are approximately 30 that are gravity bombs, which can be delivered by fighter jets – some of which are believed to be equipped for nuclear weapon delivery – and approximately 50 warheads that can be delivered by land-based ballistic missiles such as the Jericho III intermediate-range ballistic missile – which, according to foreign reports, has a range of 5,500 km. – Jerusalem Post

A senior Fatah official from Hebron claimed on Sunday that several gunmen tried to assassinate him, while two other officials said they, too, were targeted by the assassins. – Jerusalem Post

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday met with a delegation from the Conference of Imams in France, as well as social activists from the French and Belgian Muslim communities. The visit was an initiative of pro-Israel group the European Leadership Network, and is intended to promote interfaith understanding and coexistence. – Algemeiner

A major spending bill in the Senate includes a veiled warning to Israel not to allow Beijing to run one of its ports and reconsider massive investments to flowing into Israel from China. – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Palestinian media reported that a force belonging to the Hamas military wing opened fire on a group of Israeli soldiers near the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis early Monday, forcing them to retreat. – Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced criticism Monday after a fresh infusion of Qatari cash was allowed into the Gaza Strip late the previous day despite ongoing violence emanating from the territory. – Times of Israel

The incendiary balloon terrorism from the Gaza Strip shows no signs of slowing down despite the Qatari aid being transferred to the enclave, with dozens of fires being started in the nearby Israeli communities over the weekend. – Ynet

The mayor of a West Bank village was expelled from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party after pictures emerged of Israeli ultra-Orthodox settlers attending his son’s wedding celebration. – Ynet

Saudi Arabia

A Saudi teenager who faced possible execution for acts he was accused of committing as a child has been handed a 12-year prison sentence instead, a human rights group that has been monitoring his case said on Sunday. – New York Times

Lawmakers on Wednesday grilled a State Department official over President Donald Trump’s decision to sell arms to Saudi Arabia without congressional review, with the top Democrat on the House panel describing the move as a “slap in the face” and Republicans also voicing objections. – Associated Press

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is blaming Iran for last week’s attack on two ships in the Gulf of Oman, calling on the international community to take a “firm stand towards an exponential regime that supports terrorism and spreads killing and destruction.” – CNN


Houthi rebels in Yemen recently shot down a U.S. government-operated drone with assistance from Iran, the U.S. military said in a statement on Sunday. – Reuters

Yemen’s Houthi movement launched fresh drone attacks targeting Jizan and Abha airports in southern Saudi Arabia, the group’s Al-Masirah TV said on Saturday, adding the installations were out of service. – Reuters

As the smoke settles in the Gulf of Oman following an attack on two Japanese-operated oil tankers – which President Trump firmly blamed on Iran Friday after assessing intelligence – there is growing alarm over tensions between Iran and its arch-nemesis Saudi Arabia inside Yemen, with U.S. weaponry at the center. – Fox News

Middle East & North Africa

The UAE’s foreign minister said on Saturday a “state sponsor” was involved in a May 12 attack on oil tankers in the Gulf, but did not name any particular country. – ReutersThe Royal Navy plans to deploy 100 marines to the Persian Gulf to protect British ships after a series of attacks on vessels, the Telegraph newspaper reports. – Bloomberg

Libya’s internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj said on Sunday he was not prepared to sit down with eastern commander Khalifa Haftar to negotiate an end to the two-month offensive against Tripoli. – Reuters

Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyeb said in a series of interviews that aired on Channel 1 (Egypt) between May 17 and June 2, 2019 that the Western notion of equality is “false.” He criticized Western civilization for not being based on any principles or heritage and said that this is why gay marriage is considered acceptable in the West.  – Middle East Media Research Institute

Militants in Iraq fired three mortar shells early Saturday into an air base just north of Baghdad where American trainers are present, causing no casualties, the Iraqi military said. – Associated Press

Korean Peninsula

A year after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s historic first meeting with President Trump, his government is once again hurling insults at the U.S.—while keeping Mr. Trump out of the rhetorical line of fire. – Wall Street Journal

A decade after leaving her family behind to flee North Korea, the defector was overwhelmed with excitement when she spoke to her 22-year-old son on the phone for the first time in May after he too escaped into China. – Reuters

At least 30 North Korean escapees have been rounded up in a string of raids across China since mid-April, according to family members and activist groups. – Reuters


China’s leader, Xi Jinping, was in Tajikistan on Saturday, celebrating his 66th birthday with the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, when the political crisis in Hong Kong took a dramatic turn with an unexpected retreat in the face of mass protests. – New York Times

An attempt by Hong Kong’s leader to push a Beijing-backed extradition bill galvanized unprecedented resistance to tighter mainland control, presenting Chinese President Xi Jinping with the most high-profile challenge yet to his authority. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump has said a new round of tariffs are needed to force a recalcitrant China to end unfair trade practices and help U.S. manufacturers compete. But with public hearings on the new tariffs set to begin Monday, the U.S. trade representative’s office has been flooded with letters from companies like Atlas PyroVision saying they have few options besides China. – Wall Street Journal

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross played down prospects of a major trade deal if President Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping meet at the Group of 20 summit in Japan later this month, but he said he believes the two sides will ultimately get back to negotiations. – Wall Street Journal

China-based biotechnology startups looking to go global are poaching talent from the biggest American pharmaceutical companies, promising managers and medical chiefs lucrative pay packages and a more entrepreneurial work environment—all without asking them to uproot their lives in the U.S. – Wall Street Journal

More than 20 Chinese activists who took part in the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement called on Monday on the United Nations’ top human rights body to investigate Beijing’s deadly crackdown 30 years ago. – Reuters

China and the United Nations have reached a “broad consensus” about counter-terror work, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday after a controversial visit by a senior U.N. official to the restive far western Chinese region of Xinjiang this week. – Reuters

Huawei’s American chip suppliers, including Qualcomm and Intel, are quietly pressing the U.S. government to ease its ban on sales to the Chinese tech giant, even as Huawei itself avoids typical government lobbying, people familiar with the situation said. – Reuters

A Chinese-owned company is making circuit boards for the top-secret next generation F-35 warplanes flown by Britain and the United States, Sky News can reveal. – Sky News (UK)

China’s foreign ministry said on Saturday Hong Kong matters were a Chinese internal affair and no country, organization or individual has a right to interfere. – Reuters

Editorial: Hong Kongers don’t trust Ms. Lam or China to shelve the bill permanently, and demands for Ms. Lam to resign are growing. Now is a good moment for the U.S. to underscore to China and Ms. Lam the cost of robbing the legal autonomy China promised Hong Kong in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. President Trump has remained silent, but Members of Congress in both parties are speaking up. – Wall Street Journal

Jillian Kay Melchior writes: Ms. Lam announced Saturday that she would indefinitely suspend the legislation. On Sunday she issued a statement that “the chief executive apologizes to the public” for “causing disappointment and grief among the people.” She said there is “no timetable” for picking the bill back up. The suspension is significant. Hong Kong’s political system is rigged to ensure pro-Beijing lawmakers hold a legislative majority. In practice the chief executive answers to Beijing, not to voters. Ms. Lam’s announcement means that Hong Kong protesters forced Beijing and the chief executive to retreat. – Wall Street Journal

Keith Bradsher writes: Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, has a very loyal majority in the territory’s legislature. She has the complete backing of the Chinese government. She has a huge bureaucracy ready to push her agenda. Yet on Saturday, she was forced to suspend indefinitely her monthslong effort to win passage of a bill that would have allowed her government to extradite criminal suspects to mainland China, Taiwan and elsewhere. Mrs. Lam’s decision represented the biggest single retreat on a political issue by China since Xi Jinping became the country’s top leader in 2012. – New York Times


But two weeks later, amid growing animosity between Washington and Tehran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed to the Kabul bombing as an example of one “in a series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American and allied interests.” – Washington Post

The Afghan government released 490 Taliban fighters and commanders from its prisons earlier this month, as part of a goodwill gesture to persuade the militant group to come to the table for direct talks with the Ashraf Ghani-led administration. – Fox News

Andrea Bottner writes: This ongoing peace process in Afghanistan will be a real test of the commitment we make to women around the world. It will be evidence of how seriously we will implement the new Women, Peace and Security Government Strategy. – The Hill


China and Taiwan are vying for influence over the Solomon Islands, in a diplomatic contest that could foreshadow conflict in the same place U.S. Marines fought a major battle during World War II. – Washington Examiner

The Philippines has asked the United Nations to make protecting life at sea a priority after the collision this month between a Filipino fishing boat and a Chinese vessel in the South China Sea. – Bloomberg

China has rejected Philippine allegations that a Chinese fishing vessel abandoned 22 Filipinos after it sank their boat in the South China Sea, as pressure builds on President Rodrigo Duterte to take a tougher line. – Reuters

Nisha Gopalan and Matthew Brooker write: For Beijing, the lesson is that Hong Kong became successful precisely because it has a different system from the mainland. Tampering carries risks. It’s still possible to kill the golden goose. – Bloomberg


The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said. – New York Times

An official from Russia’s security council described as absurd accusations that Moscow used disinformation to sway voters towards right-wing parties in last month’s European Union elections, Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper reported on Sunday. – Reuters

Prime Minister Theresa May is considering a face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at this month’s G20 summit in Japan in an effort to begin a thaw in relations before a new British leader comes to power, The Times newspaper reported. – Reuters

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) in an interview that aired Sunday responded to a report that the Defense Department is ramping up digital attacks on Russia by saying he is glad the Trump administration is getting aggressive on cybersecurity. – The Hill


President Aleksander Lukashenko was once shunned as Europe’s last dictator. Now in his 25th year in office, he still rules Belarus with an iron fist, but is ostracized no more. As rivalries among the world’s great powers intensify, this nation of 9.5 million people at the crossroads of Eurasia is turning into the newest arena of competition among Russia, the West and China. – Wall Street Journal

The director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum quit his post on Friday amid criticism that he had become too politically involved in the battle over the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, which was recently designated as anti-Semitic by the German Parliament. – New York Times

As European leaders prepare to formalise Monday the launch of a next-generation combat jet, analysts warn the continent’s air forces are increasingly outpaced by American and soon Chinese aerospace industries that are swimming in cash. – Agence FrancePresse

President Donald Trump said London “needs a new mayor ASAP,” responding to a string of knife and gun attacks that have left three people dead and others injured over the past 24 hours. – Washington Examiner

A French soldier opened fire on Sunday at a man clad in a North African-style robe who was threatening military personnel with a knife in Lyon, police and the public prosecutor said. – Reuters

A man arrested on suspicion of murdering a senior politician in Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats has links to Germany’s increasingly militant Far-right scene, local media reported last night. – Telegraph

Controversial UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn was blasted from all sides on Sunday after he claimed there was no “credible evidence” of Iranian involvement in a recent attack on two oil tankers. – Algemeiner

An Islamic State-affiliated media outlet has issued multiple threats against tourist sites in Spain, as the U.S. State Department continues to warn travelers that terrorists are plotting attacks in the country. – Washington Examiner

NATO members in Europe should band together and sharpen their focus on short- to medium-range air defense, with Germany taking the lead in forging a coalition, analysts on the continent argue. – Defense News

Robert Sarner writes: As the global pandemic of anti-Semitism worsens, its impact deepens. According to Paris writer Marc Weitzmann, such is the situation for Jews in France today that many play down, if not conceal, their Jewish identity in public. Weitzmann himself readily admits to not exhibiting outward signs of his Jewishness when circulating in the city. Having just spent the past four years studying the resurgence of Jew-hatred in France for his new book, Weizmann is keenly aware of the potential, sometimes lethal, danger Jews face in his native country. – Times of Israel


The ousted president of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, will soon appear in court to face charges of corruption and possessing foreign currency, the country’s acting prosecutor general said Saturday. – New York Times

Once a camel trader who led a militia accused of genocidal violence in Darfur, Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan now sits at the pinnacle of power in Sudan, overlooking the scorched streets from his wood-paneled office high up in the military’s towering headquarters. – New York Times

The roadside bomb that disabled an American vehicle in Niger last week was rudimentary and harmed no one, but its location — roughly 70 miles into the country’s interior and minutes from an American Army outpost — was unusual and alarming, military officials said. The strike was the latest in a string of attacks carried out by Islamic State affiliates using roadside bombs in Niger that have, until now, mostly targeted Nigerien forces. – New York Times

A car bomb exploded on Saturday at a checkpoint near the Somali Parliament, killing at least eight people and injuring 16 others, medical and police officials said. – Reuters

Security forces in Central African Republic beat and detained two journalists working for French news wire Agence France-Presse (AFP) covering a banned opposition protest in the capital Bangui, the reporters said Sunday. – Agence FrancePresse

A top Sudanese general vowed Sunday to send to the “gallows” those who carried out a deadly crackdown on protesters earlier this month that killed dozens and left hundreds wounded. – Agence FrancePresse

China and Russia on Friday rejected calls from European and African countries to freeze the planned shutdown of a peacekeeping mission to Sudan’s Darfur region. – Agence FrancePresse

At least 10 Kenyan police officers died after their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device near the Somali border in a suspected extremist attack on Saturday, officials said. – Associated Press

Cameroon’s government said on Sunday that separatists in its restive English-speaking region had detonated an improvised explosive device that killed four police and wounded six. – Reuters

An armed gang killed at least 34 people in attacks on villages in northwest Nigeria, police said on Sunday, part of a wave of violence the government has blamed on bandits. – Reuters

Allied French and Malian forces killed 20 militants in an operation in a part of northern Mali where Islamic State operates, a spokesman for the West African nation’s military said on Sunday. – Reuters

The top U.S. diplomat to Africa said there must be an “independent and credible” investigation into the Sudanese military’s violent dispersal of a protest camp in the capital earlier this month, as the ruling military council failed to announce the findings of its own investigation on Saturday as promised. – Associated Press

United States

A man was arrested after allegedly threatening to commit a mass shooting at a synagogue, police in California said Friday. – The Hill

Public officials who “support and endorse antisemitism,” such as US Rep. Ilhan Omar and British Labour Party head Jeremy Corbyn, should be removed from office, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said Sunday at The Jerusalem Post conference in New York. – Jerusalem Post

Across the world’s liberal democracies, anti-Semitism has metastasized into a crisis too large to ignore. Below, find some key resources Hudson Institute has produced to confront this problem: a national poll gauging the perspectives of likely 2020 voters on anti-Semitism; an English translation of a new report by the German government’s domestic intelligence service; and a major event on modern anti-Semitism’s spread across Europe and the U.S. – Hudson Institute

Lela Gilbert writes: The good news is that Americans are far less antisemitic than their European cousins. A majority of the poll’s responders are paying close attention to the political issues America faces today, including those regarding antisemitism and Israel. And before long, they will have their say in another poll: the 2020 presidential election. – Jerusalem Post

Latin America

Thousands of Mexican National Guard members and other security forces are being deployed to the nation’s southern border with Guatemala this weekend, as the Mexican government seeks to make good on a deal struck with President Trump to reduce illegal migration. – New York Times

Mexico released the side agreement made with the U.S. that outlines additional measures it would take if it fails to stem a surge in migration from Central America to the U.S., including becoming a “safe third country.” – Wall Street Journal

Major European nations are considering imposing sanctions on Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro and several top officials for their recent crackdown on political opponents, although divisions remain over the timing of any action for fear of derailing a negotiated exit to the country’s crisis, The Associated Press has learned. – Associated Press

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Saturday called for an investigation into claims his representatives misappropriated funds intended to help defectors from the Venezuelan military living in Colombia. – Reuters


The number of warheads has decreased over the past year, even as countries continue to modernize their nuclear forces, according to an annual assessment of global nuclear arms. – Defense News

Xenotime, a group of hackers that has previously targeted oil and gas companies, has been targeting the U.S. electric grid in recent months, according to new research released Friday by cybersecurity group Dragos. – The Hill

On May 9, the White House announced its intent to nominate acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan for the full job. More than a month later, the Senate is still waiting for the nomination to arrive on its desk, but that doesn’t mean behind-the-scenes activity isn’t happening. According to a senior defense official, Shanahan’s nomination is continuing forward but has been dragged along by a slow start to the process and the need to gather information going back decades, all while trying to handle the “unique” situation of managing the Department of Defense on a day-to-day basis. – Defense News

Long War

A New York man who attempted to join the Islamic State was sentenced to 20 years in prison after he tried to provide material support to the terror group and boasted about how easy it would be to carry out an attack in Times Square. – Washington Examiner

The telephone data collection program run by the National Security Agency in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks — which was amended following its public disclosure by contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 — may no longer be “useful,” the former head of the agency, retired Army Gen. Keith Alexander, said Friday. – CBS News

Editorial: The most serious problem is that a tribunal would delay justice for terrorists and their victims, delay rehabilitation for those who can benefit, and delay a resolution to the looming humanitarian crisis in the holding camp. The longer a process takes, the more likely that regrouped ISIS remnants in Iraq and Syria could organize prison breakouts. No leaders like bringing terrorists back to their country, but the alternative is to risk them escaping or being cut loose. Better to know and control the threat today than be surprised by it in a year or a decade. – Wall Street Journal

Pesha Magid writes: Thousands of people left Europe to fight for the Islamic State, a fact that years later European countries still appear reluctant to reckon with. But as Europe debates how to dispose of the fighters, Iraqis are left with a different question. “Iraq has the right not to be used as the most violent country,” said Pascale Warda, the president of the Iraqi Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, after attending the trials. “Why shouldn’t those countries take responsibility? Why should the responsibility be on our people?” – Foreign Policy

Trump Administration

President Trump appeared to shift his stance on how he would handle information about political rivals offered by foreign actors, saying Friday he would take a look at any material but also alert federal investigators. – Wall Street Journal

Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, defended President Trump saying he would not immediately call the FBI if a foreign power gave him dirt on a political opponent, saying an ally may provide valuable information. – The Hill

President Trump late Saturday ramped up his attacks against The New York Times, accusing the newspaper of committing “a virtual act of Treason” over its report about the U.S. increasing cyberattacks on Russia’s electric power grid.  – The Hill

President Trump in an interview broadcast Sunday repeatedly said special counsel Robert Mueller found no collusion with Russia and “essentially” ruled out obstruction, coming back to the point in response to a number of questions at the same time a new poll showed that the number of Americans who support impeachment is growing. – The Hill

President Trump’s declaration that he would accept dirt on his 2020 opponents from foreign governments is threatening his already strained relationships with the intelligence and law enforcement communities. – The HiIl