Fdd's overnight brief

May 1, 2019

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani signed a bill into law on Tuesday declaring all U.S. forces in the Middle East terrorists and calling the U.S. government a sponsor of terrorism. – Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump’s unexpected decision to ban all Iranian oil purchases after May 1 – ending exemptions for eight nations – came after hawkish economic and security advisors allayed the president’s fears of an oil price hike, according to three sources familiar with the internal debate. – Reuters

Some 20 million barrels of Iranian oil sitting on China’s shores in the northeast port of Dalian for the past six months now appears stranded as the United States hardens its stance on importing crude from Tehran. – Reuters


The U.N. special envoy for Syria said Tuesday that he is “optimistic” an agreement can be reached on the long-sought formation of a committee to draft a new constitution for the war-torn country so it can meet this summer. – Associated Press

One Turkish soldier was killed and three were slightly wounded in northern Syria on Tuesday during an attack by the Kurdish YPG militia, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said. – Reuters

Late Monday night, the Department of Defense identified Pfc. Michael Thomason, 28, as the U.S. soldier who died in Syria on April 29. Thomason, a member of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), was serving in Syria in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led mission aimed at defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, on his first deployment since enlisting in December 2017. – Washington Examiner

Zvi Bar’el writes: Russian President Vladimir Putin can indeed credit himself with an important military accomplishment after transferring control of most of Syria’s territory to Syrian President Bashar Assad, but it seems this diplomatic minefield is presenting new and unexpected challenges for him that could erode the military achievements. The diplomatic plan Russia drew up looks, on its face, to be orderly and logical. According to the plan, Russia was already meant to be withdrawing some of its forces from Syria[…]. – Haaretz


President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that an F-35 fighter jet project would collapse if Turkey did not participate, and that it would be an injustice to exclude Ankara over its plan to buy the Russian S-400 air defense system. – Reuters

The family of a Palestinian found dead in a Turkish prison after being accused of spying for the United Arab Emirates demanded an investigation Tuesday. – Agence FrancePresse

The number of prisoners who have joined a hunger strike to press Turkish authorities to end the isolation in jail of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan has increased to close to 3,000, a human rights group said Tuesday. – Associated Press

Ryan Gingeras writes: Amid increased discussion of world affairs as defined by great power competition, Turkey is often overlooked. Ankara’s ties to NATO, and its diminutive role within global affairs for much of the 20th century, has led many foreign commentators to see Turkey as a secondary power, a power whose interests generally align closely to its Western allies.  […]Turkey is at most a few steps away from joining the ranks of the world’s most powerful states. Attaining such a status, for many leading commentators, is not wishful thinking but rather a birthright that past governments had forsaken. – War on the Rocks


Editors of the Israel Studies academic journal are rebuffing claims that their latest work was rooted in political advocacy, rather than academic scholarship, amid calls by some critics for retractions and reforms. – Algemeiner

Hoping to enliven fading Holocaust memories, Israeli entrepreneurs have dramatized the plight of a Jewish teenager murdered by the Nazis by imagining her documenting her final months over social media. – Reuters

In recent weeks, there has been an upsurge in discussion in the Arab media, particularly in the Lebanese and Syrian media, of the possibility of war this summer between Israel and Hizbullah, and perhaps even of war across the region. This is despite the fact that Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has reiterated that his organization is not anticipating a war in the near future and Lebanese President Michel Aoun also stated, on April 29, 2019, that war is not imminent. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Two Israeli residents of Be’er Sheva were convicted of racially-motivated assault against Arabs and sentenced to one year in prison on Tuesday. – Haaretz

Amid heightened tensions between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Palestinian factions in the coastal enclave have warned that failure to honor unofficial agreements regarding the territory will lead to increased arson attacks in the border region and rockets on Tel Aviv that would “ruin Eurovision,” the Lebanese Al Akhbar newspaper reported Wednesday. – Times of Israel

The Israeli military deployed Iron Dome missile defense batteries throughout the country on Tuesday, following a rocket attack from Gaza the previous night and ahead of what is expected to be a sensitive next few weeks. – Times of Israel

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group on Tuesday denied firing a rocket toward Israel on Monday night that prompted the military to scale back a recently expanded fishing zone in the Gaza Strip. – Times of Israel

A host of celebrities have denounced calls for a boycott of the Eurovision Song Contest set to be held in Tel Aviv next month. The list of well-known signatories includes KISS’s frontman Gene Simmons, who is Israeli-American, British comedian and actor Stephen Fry, television host Sharon Osbourne, comedian Al Murray, and about 100 others. – Times of Israel

A Palestinian Authority court that convened in Nablus on Wednesday sentenced a Palestinian to five years in prison for attempting to sell land to Israeli Jews. – Times of Israel

Israeli researchers reported Wednesday that violent attacks against Jews spiked significantly last year, with the largest reported number of Jews killed in anti-Semitic acts in decades, leading to an “increasing sense of emergency” among Jewish communities worldwide. – Associated Press


Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan, in a phone call on Tuesday, called for a ceasefire in Libya and renewal of a political process under the aegis of the United Nations, the Kremlin said in a statement. – Reuters

With the frontlines around Libya’s contested capital Tripoli stalemated, the two rival factions are bringing oil and money supplies into the firing line of their battle for power. – Reuters

A UN expert on illegal Libyan weapons, Dr Moncef Kartas, is being kept in prison by the Tunisian government in violation of international law, a letter signed by more than 90 weapons experts, academics and Libyan researchers has claimed. – The Guardian

The U.N. human rights chief says thousands of lives are at risk in parts of conflict-ridden Libya, decrying an escalation of attacks in residential areas with artillery, rockets and airstrikes. – Associated Press

Philippine officials said Wednesday that they have issued a mandatory evacuation order for more than 1,000 Filipinos in the Libyan capital amid escalating fighting, rocket fire and airstrikes. – Associated Press

Middle East & North Africa

Islamic State remains a potent threat around the world despite reduced capabilities, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday, adding its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had made his latest video appearance in a “remote area”. – Reuters

Intelligence services are checking the authenticity of a video which Islamic State said showed its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but if real it would reinforce that fact that the group is still active, France’s defense minister said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Amnesty International on Wednesday condemned the prolonged detention of 10 journalists by Huthi rebels in Yemen, saying it reflected “the dire state of media freedom” in the war-torn country. – Agence FrancePresse

Yemen’s Houthi movement on Tuesday asked the United Nations to arrange the sale of Yemeni crude oil and use the revenues to finance fuel imports and pay public sector salaries via the central bank. – Reuters

Brett McGurk writes:  China is making a risky bet in the Middle East. By focusing on economic development and adhering to the principle of noninterference in internal affairs, Beijing believes it can deepen relations with countries that are otherwise nearly at war with one another—all the while avoiding any significant role in the political affairs of the region. This is likely to prove naive, particularly if U.S. allies begin to stand up for their interests. – Defense One

Korean Peninsula

A U.S. federal judge ordered three Chinese banks to provide documents sought by a grand jury and federal prosecutors investigating a Hong Kong-based front company for North Korea’s nuclear program, according to an opinion unsealed late Tuesday. – Wall Street Journal

North Korea’s vice foreign minister said on Tuesday the United States will face “undesired consequences” if it fails to present a new position in denuclearization talks by the end of the year, state media reported. – Reuters

A senior North Korean diplomat on Tuesday accused U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of making “foolish and dangerous” comments, after Pompeo said Washington will have to “change paths” if nuclear negotiations with North Korea break down. – Associated Press

Robert R. King writes: The bottom line is that the detention of U.S. citizens in North Korea is part of a corrupt effort to increase the regime’s perceived standing, to garner international attention, and even to make a bit of money from excessive hospital fees. It serves to emphasize again the Mafiosi nature of this rogue regime. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


A former C.I.A. officer accused of conspiring with the Chinese government as America’s spy network in China was being dismantled is expected to plead guilty to federal charges on Wednesday, according to court papers. – New York Times

As U.S. and Chinese officials try to close a trade deal, the punitive tariffs the governments slapped on each country’s goods in the conflict stand as a major obstacle, according to officials and others briefed on the talks. – Wall Street Journal

Today, 32 years after he founded the telecom giant with $3,000 of borrowed money, Mr. Ren is struggling to prove that Huawei is a private enterprise and independent of the Chinese government. The task is more urgent than ever. – New York Times

Top US and Chinese trade negotiators resumed talks on Wednesday as they an eye an endgame to a months-long dispute that has hit businesses with bruising tariffs. – Agence FrancePresse

The White House is ramping up pressure to reach a trade deal with China in the next two weeks, warning that the U.S. is prepared to walk away from the negotiations. – Bloomberg

For months, Huawei Technologies Co. has faced U.S. allegations that it flouted sanctions on Iran, attempted to steal trade secrets from a business partner and has threatened to enable Chinese spying through the telecom networksw it’s built across the West. Now Vodafone Group Plc has acknowledged to Bloomberg that it found vulnerabilities going back years with equipment supplied by Shenzhen-based Huawei for the carrier’s Italian business. While Vodafone says the issues were resolved, the revelation may further damage the reputation of a major symbol of China’s global technology prowess. – Bloomberg

Jason Oxman writes: Like-minded countries must not only press China to live up to its promises, but also share information with the U.S. and other economies regarding China’s adherence to the deal. Trump has invested significant time, energy, and resources in seeking to make a historic and groundbreaking deal. We applaud the president and his administration for their efforts. We urge Trump to strike a strong deal that addresses China’s unfair trade policies in a systemic way, ends tariffs, and recruits other countries to ensure that his legacy with respect to U.S.-China trade relations endures. – Washington Examiner


The American military command in Afghanistan has halted regular assessments of how many people and districts the government and insurgents there control, it emerged on Wednesday — eliminating what has long been an important public measure of progress in the war. – New York Times

American and Taliban negotiators began a new round of peace talks Wednesday in Doha, Qatar, aimed at securing a lasting peace agreement that would include Taliban guarantees regarding terrorism and a phased withdrawal of American troops. – New York Times

A new round of peace talks between the Taliban and the US starts Wednesday in Qatar, an official for the insurgents said, as the foes seek a way out of America’s longest war. – Agence FrancePresse

Afghanistan’s usually bustling capital Kabul slowed to a crawl Tuesday amid massive security for a high-stakes peace summit previously targeted for insurgent attacks. – Agence FrancePresse

Afghan government forces have launched attacks in a bid to clear rival militants who have been battling each other for territory near the Pakistan border in fighting that has forced thousands of villagers from their homes, officials said on Tuesday. – Reuters

South Asia

More than a week after devastating bombings in Sri Lanka, a government minister and a U.S. diplomat warned that the group that carried out the attacks could launch further strikes.  – Washington Post

A charismatic leader who allegedly helped plan and execute Sri Lanka’s Easter bombings called before the attacks for killing non-Muslims in Facebook posts that remained online despite complaints from moderate Muslims who say they asked the company to take them down. – Wall Street Journal

An alleged follower of Zahran Hashim—the suspected organizer of the deadly Easter bombings in Sri Lanka—was in custody in India after investigators said he conspired to launch a suicide attack in the southern state of Kerala. – Wall Street Journal


New Zealand police said they uncovered ammunition and a suspected bomb in a vacant property in Christchurch, where a gunman killed 50 people last month. The area was evacuated and a no-fly zone was established Tuesday as a defense-force bomb squad rendered the suspected bomb safe. A 33-year-old Christchurch man was arrested. – Wall Street Journal

The Pentagon will unveil a new Indo-Pacific strategy at the Shangri-La Dialogue this May, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver told a media roundtable in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last week. – USNI News

William A. Carter and WIlliam Crumpler write: As the threat of cyberattacks has risen in recent years, financial institutions (FIs) and regulators have taken a range of steps to strengthen the security and resilience of the financial system to cyber threats. In the Asia-Pacific region (APAC), regulators have introduced a raft of new regulations and controls to bolster the resilience of FIs in their jurisdictions. While greater attention to—and engagement on—these issues is important, the development of new regulatory regimes across APAC has created challenges for multinational FIs and regulators, and could hinder the growth of the financial services and fintech industries within the region. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Fishermen off the northeastern coast of Norway may have spotted the first evidence of a renewed Russian program to use marine mammals for military operations, according to widespread media reports on Tuesday. […]The use of animals for military operations isn’t all that unusual. During the Cold War, the Soviet navy trained dolphins for military use, but the program was discontinued sometime after 1991. – New York Times

Maria Butina, the only Russian arrested and convicted in the three-year investigation of Moscow’s interference in US politics, on Tuesday called her conviction absurd and a “disgrace” for American justice. – Agence FrancePresse

Leonid Bershidsky writes: Putin has a knack for alienating neighbors and allies by demanding too much from them. Now that even usually submissive Belarus is snapping back and hitting oil-dependent Russia where it hurts, he must wonder whether he has any friends left in Russia’s immediate post-Soviet neighborhood — and consider changing his strategy to a more accommodating one. Georgia and Ukraine would especially appreciate that. – Bloomberg

Suzanne Spaulding, Devi Nair, and Arthur Nelson write: The U.S. justice system is under attack as part of a long-term Russian effort to undermine the appeal of democracy and weaken the West. Via multi-platform disinformation opera­tions, Kremlin-backed operatives work to exacerbate existent divisions within populations and increase overall mistrust and paranoia against democratic institutions. In the process, justice systems are portrayed as corrupt, inept, and hypocritical. This report describes the nature of this threat and proposes measures for countering it. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Europe’s refugee crisis peaked in 2016, but it never fully went away. Now, nationalists from Spain to Finland are successfully exploiting anti-immigration concerns among some voters as they make new gains against establishment parties. – Wall Street Journal

France’s zero-tolerance approach to protest violence will be tested Wednesday when a heady mix of labour unionists, “yellow vest” demonstrators and hardline hooligans are expected to hit the streets on Labour Day. – Agence FrancePresse

Greek officials are seeking closer ties to the U.S. military, a move that occurs as Turkey refuses to back down on acquiring a Russian air defense system that could compromise NATO aircraft. – Air Force Times

Senior German and Norwegian defense officials met in Munich on Monday to plot a path for the two countries’ multibillion-dollar joint submarine program. – Defense News

Election authorities in Ukraine have officially named TV star and comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy as the country’s new president. The Central Election Commission on Tuesday presented the official results of the April 21 vote, showing Zelenskiy beat incumbent President Petro Poroshenko by winning 73% of the vote. – Associated Press

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld writes: The German Agency for Domestic Security recently published a report on Muslim antisemitism in the country – a development that is unprecedented not only for Germany but for all of Europe. The report makes clear that Muslim antisemitism is a major problem in Germany. At long last, Muslim antisemitism in Germany has been officially detailed for the public. – Besa Center


An April 19 U.S. airstrike in Somalia killed the al-Shabaab militant believed responsible for an American soldier’s death last year in an attack on an isolated outpost, according to the U.S. military. – Wall Street Journal

In the U.S.-backed war against the militant group al-Shabab in Somalia, Americans wage their battles mostly from the air, with unmanned drones. On the ground, at sweltering checkpoints and in dusty trenches across Somalia’s southernmost states, soldiers from neighboring Kenya do almost all the fighting. – Washington Post

Arab states support a transition in Sudan that balances the ambitions of the people with institutional stability, a senior United Arab Emirates minister said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Sudan’s main protest group said on Tuesday the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) appeared “not serious” about transferring power to civilians. – Reuters

Rwanda has detained a rebel leader from a group responsible for deadly attacks and the government has accused him of being complicit in committing terrorist acts, foreign affairs minister Richard Sezibera said on Tuesday. – Reuters

United States

The accused gunman in a deadly attack on a synagogue outside San Diego pleaded not guilty in his first court appearance, as prosecutors said they would weigh the death penalty for hate-crime charges. – Wall Street Journal

Democratic lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol say the Trump administration has failed to satisfy concerns they’ve raised for months about the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico, threatening to sink President Donald Trump’s top legislative priority. – Politico

In the hours before a gunman opened fire on worshipers at a Southern California synagogue, killing one and wounding three, an anti-Semitic manifesto was uploaded to an online message board. […]the post garnered the attention of other users of the far-right message board, who reported it to the FBI only minutes before the shooting at Chabad of Poway. In the aftermath, it also heightened scrutiny of whether the site and other social media platforms, largely untouched by government regulation, are taking sufficient steps to combat the proliferation of abusive content and extremism. – Washington Examiner

The first black woman to serve as American University’s student government president is seeking more than $1.5 million in court-ordered damages against a neo-Nazi website operator who orchestrated an online harassment campaign against her. – Times of Israel

Anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. remained at near-record levels in 2018, according to an Anti-Defamation League report released Monday. – Huffington Post

A group of Jewish students at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst has asked a judge to order a panel discussion about Palestinian human rights off campus because it is anti-Semitic. – Associated Press

Editorial: In the 1930s and the 1940s, The Times was largely silent as anti-Semitism rose up and bathed the world in blood. That failure still haunts this newspaper. Now, rightly, The Times has declared itself “deeply sorry” for the cartoon and called it “unacceptable.” Apologies are important, but the deeper obligation of The Times is to focus on leading through unblinking journalism and the clear editorial expression of its values. – New York Times

Dara Horn writes: The existence of Jews in any society is a reminder that freedom is possible, but only with responsibility — and that freedom without responsibility is no freedom at all. […]The freedoms that we cherish are meaningless without our commitments to each other: to civil discourse, to actively educating the next generation, to welcoming strangers, to loving our neighbors. The beginning of freedom is the beginning of responsibility. Our night of vigil has already begun. – New York Times


The Trump administration raised its stakes in support of Venezuela’s opposition movement, endorsing a call Tuesday by U.S.-backed Juan Guaidó and a small group of military supporters for an uprising, as embattled President Nicolás Maduro worked to crush protests. – Wall Street Journal

President Trump threatened Tuesday to impose a “full and complete embargo” and more economic sanctions on Cuba if that government does not end what Trump called deadly intervention in Venezuela, where soldiers and opposition forces clashed in the streets in what U.S. officials said may be a pivotal uprising. – Washington Post

Thousands of Venezuelans clashed in the streets with pro-government forces following an audacious call by opposition leader Juan Guaidó to join him and a small group of military officers in overthrowing President Nicolás Maduro’s government. – Wall Street Journal

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was prepared to flee Venezuela amid an uprising by opposition forces but changed his mind at the last minute after Russia persuaded him to stay.  – USA Today

European countries urged restraint in Venezuela on Tuesday and called for new elections as a way to settle the political crisis in the South American country, but there wasn’t a unified voice immediately on whether to support or condemn the opposition’s move to oust President Nicolás Maduro. – Associated Press

Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez has left Chile’s diplomatic residence, which he entered on Tuesday, and moved to the Spanish embassy, Chile’s foreign minister Roberto Ampuero said on Twitter. – Reuters

National security adviser John Bolton said “all options” remain “on the table” as the United States considers how to respond to the coup attempt now being staged in Venezuela. – Washington Examiner

Editorial: Therefore, whatever its ultimate outcome or, indeed, its strategic wisdom, Tuesday’s uprising is not a “coup attempt,” as the Maduro regime, echoed by too many people abroad, calls it. Rather, it is the latest in a series of legitimate and, for the most part, nonviolent efforts by Venezuelans, both civilian and military, to throw off an oppressive, toxic regime so that they can freely elect a legitimate government. Supporters of freedom and democracy should stand in solidarity with Mr. Guaidó and the many thousands of Venezuelans now bravely asserting their rights. – Washington Post

Eli Lake writes: It’s unclear what will unfold in Venezuela now that interim president Juan Guaido has called for the military and citizens to take to the streets. What is clear, however, is that this is not a coup. […]Guaido and his supporters are now trying to save their country from Maduro’s misrule. If the military does indeed defect this week, forcing Maduro to leave, Guaido has pledged to quickly prepare Venezuela for real elections. That’s not an anti-democratic coup. It’s a democratic rescue mission. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: Trump has thus taken a significant step forward here in the best interests of America and the world. Maduro is a mad killer who has starved his people onto the precipice of a cholera epidemic. But thanks to Trump’s tweets, Cuba faces a moment of truth. Does it choose Maduro, or does it test American resolve? Cuba should choose wisely. As President John F. Kennedy showed 57 years ago during the Cuban missile crisis, it is unwise to bet against a determined American president. – Washington Examiner


The National Security Agency revealed the identities of many more citizens, permanent residents and corporations who were mentioned in intelligence reports last year, in a process known as “unmasking” that has been a source of controversy for President Trump and his allies in Congress.  – Washington Post

The auto industry is downplaying the immediate risk of car-hacking after a report about a cyber-intruder’s use of GPS trackers that allowed him to monitor the location of thousands of vehicles in commercial fleets and even turn off their engines. – Washington Post

As the U.S. Department of Defense increasingly worries about damage that could result from a massive cyberattack, national security leaders are debating the best strategy to prevent such incursions. Should they adopt a philosophy that aims to stop an attack of any kind or should they try to dissuade enemies from specifically pursuing a cyberattack? – Fifth Domain

Security officials from British telecoms operators are to meet with the leading U.S. diplomat on cybersecurity in London on Tuesday to discuss the risks of equipment made by China’s Huawei, according to five people familiar with the matter. – Reuters

A request by the United States to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for one of the biggest ever leaks of classified information will be heard by a London court on Thursday. – Reuters

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., unveiled new legislation Tuesday to help prevent foreign interference in future elections. – Washington Examiner


The nominees to head the Navy and the Marine Corps warned the Senate Tuesday that failing to secure a proper defense budget would have a devastating effect on the ability of both services to operate in the future. – Washington Examiner

The U.S. Air Force has finally flown its variant of the F-35 in combat, using two of the aircraft to take out an ISIS tunnel network and weapons cache in Iraq on April 30. Tuesday’s airstrikes — the first U.S. use of the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing model at war — follow the combat employment Israel Defense Forces’ F-35As in May 2018 and U.S. Marine Corps’ F-35Bs in September 2018. – Defense News

The White House has canceled plans to decommission an aircraft carrier 25 years early as a cost savings measure, a plan that was largely opposed on Capitol Hill. – Defense News

Hurricane relief efforts at Tyndall Air Force Base will begin lapsing Wednesday due to a lack of funds, preventing the start of all new work and deferring more than 120 projects planned to begin after May 1. But that’s just the start of the Air Force’s money problems, which have resulted in a shortfall of more than $4 billion in fiscal 2019. – Defense News

The next commandant may need to reduce the size of the Marine Corps and focus on a smaller number of priority missions, to ensure that the service can stay ready to meet its requirements under the National Defense Strategy in a resource-constrained budget. – USNI News

Mike Pietrucha and Jeremey Renken write: The resurgent Russian threat differs from the older Soviet threat. Today, Russia has the ability to threaten airbases, ports, and supply points with precision missiles in a way the Soviets did not.  […]In order to recognize the full potential of distributed operations, the Air Force should relook at airlift provided by aircraft that are much smaller than the C-130 or C-17, and can operate from shorter and rougher airfields, or no airfield at all. In short, we need to reconstitute our small tactical airlifters. – War on the Rocks

Long War

Attorneys for a man convicted of providing guns to two Islamic State followers killed as they tried to attack a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas claim authorities didn’t reveal until three years after his trial ended that the FBI placed a surveillance camera outside the plotters’ Phoenix apartment. – Associated Press

An Australian court on Wednesday found a man guilty of plotting to blow up an Etihad Airways flight out of Sydney at the behest of the Islamic State militant group, by hiding a bomb in the luggage of his brother. – Reuters

Mark Domingo, who was arrested and charged for allegedly scheming to conduct multiple terrorist attacks to avenge the New Zealand shooting last month, was reportedly demoted and discharged from the U.S. Army for a serious offense. – Washington Examiner

An Egyptian court handed life sentences to Hassan Malik, a leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, as well as his son Hamza and five others on Tuesday after convicting them of terrorism offences. – Reuters

The spokesman for Turkey’s ruling AK Party said on Tuesday that if the United States designated the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization, it would hamper democratization efforts in the Middle East and serve militant groups like Islamic State. – Reuters

Sam Mullins writes: The United States has been tremendously successful in securing the homeland against foreign terrorists since 2001 and in fact most attacks since then have been conducted by long-term residents and citizens, who evidently radicalized at home. […]Looking across the Atlantic, where terrorist infiltration has taken place on a much larger scale and with devastating consequences, Americans should feel reassured that their own borders do not suffer from the same gaping holes in security that terrorists were able to exploit in Europe. – War on the Rocks

Trump Administration

The day before special counsel Robert S. Mueller III submitted his report to the Justice Department last month, Washington was abuzz with what revelations it might contain about contacts between the 2016 Trump campaign and foreign officials. But President Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, was an ocean away, delivering a paid speech to a room full of Romanian politicians and policy elites. – Washington Post

Democrats in Congress can move ahead with their lawsuit against President Trump alleging that his private business violates the Constitution’s ban on gifts or payments from foreign governments, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. – Washington Post

The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday made a criminal referral to the Justice Department for Erik Prince, the billionaire founder of the private military contractor Blackwater and an ally of President Trump, accusing him of “knowingly and willfully” making false statements to Congress. Prince’s statements “impaired the Committee’s understanding of Russia’s attempts to contact and influence the incoming Trump Administration,” Schiff wrote in his referral letter[…]. – Washington Post

In recent months, U.S. national security officials have been preparing for Russian interference in the 2020 presidential race by tracking cyber threats, sharing intelligence about foreign disinformation efforts with social media companies and helping state election officials protect their systems against foreign manipulation.  – Washington Post

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III wrote a letter in late March complaining to Attorney General William P. Barr that a four-page memo to Congress describing the principal conclusions of the investigation into President Trump “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of Mueller’s work, according to a copy of the letter reviewed Tuesday by The Washington Post. – Washington Post

As the Russia investigation heated up and threatened to shadow Donald Trump’s presidency, he became increasingly concerned. But the portrait painted by special counsel Robert Mueller is not of a president who believed he or anyone on his campaign colluded with Russians to interfere in the 2016 election. Instead, the Trump of the Mueller report is gripped by fear that Americans would question the very legitimacy of his presidency. Would Trump, the man who put his name on skyscrapers and his imprint on television, be perceived as a cheater and a fraud? – Associated Press

Intelligence agencies stopped updating the House Intelligence Committee about the counterintelligence into President Trump’s 2016 campaign after former FBI Director James Comey was fired, Chairman Adam Schiff said on Tuesday. – Washington Examiner

An examination of the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation will “find nothing” on the White House, according former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes. – Washington Examiner