Fdd's overnight brief

November 14, 2019

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


A fugitive Iranian businessman charged with financial crimes and accused of ties to President Hassan Rouhani’s brother, who has been jailed for graft, has returned home, the country’s judiciary said on Wednesday. – Reuters

A 58-year-old Iranian citizen has been arrested in Sweden on suspicion of murder in Iran in 1988, prosecutors said on Wednesday, and national news agency TT said the case involved killings of political prisoners. – Reuters

A long-awaited State Department watchdog report will find that the Trump administration’s point man on Iran, among other officials, retaliated against an agency employee in part because of her Iranian-American background, two knowledgeable sources told The Daily Beast. – The Daily Beast

A Turkish-Iranian gold trader in U.S. custody is continuing to provide information that could be critical to unraveling a multi-billion-dollar sanctions evasion scheme involving Iran — the biggest in recent U.S. history, Justice Department officials say. – NBC News

Jordan Steckler writes: Thus far, the U.S. has acted unilaterally in restoring nuclear sanctions on Iran. This approach has been effective, but has not completely dried up Russia and China’s appetite for continued trade and investment with Iran. […]Most importantly, it would deliver the message to Iran that moderating its behavior, not nuclear extortion, is the only viable path to escape the economic morass that the regime has wrought. – United Against Nuclear Iran

Daniel Roth writes: In barring Mahan Air, Europe is severing the most likely physical pathways for regime operatives to sow their discord across the continent. […]With Italy the latest to comes to its senses, it is final call for Spain and Greece to get on board with their continental cousins and ban Iran’s terror airline, Mahan Air. – Times of Israel


The US is currently not fulfilling Israel’s request that it condition financial aid to Lebanon on efforts to dismantle Hezbollah’s attempt to acquire precision-guided missiles, a senior US State Department official said Wednesday. – Times of Israel 

Eric R. Mandel writes: The Lebanese people, including Shiites now taking to the streets, blame Hezbollah for their economic ills, while knowing that they will be the ones who pay the price of the next war. […]Now might be the right time for the United States to offer to return the military aid — under our terms and with strings attached — anticipating the likelihood of another, not so distant war. – The Hill

Michael Young writes: Whatever the outcome, Mr Aoun’s reckless decision to ignore the protesters, a step that Hezbollah has supported, means that both are taking Lebanon into the unknown. Even if the country could avoid a domestic conflict, a clearly pro-Hezbollah government rejected by most Lebanese would not avert an economic calamity or isolation from the west and the Arab world. Lebanon could find itself on its own, perhaps as the Venezuela of the Middle East. – The National


As Trump administration officials try to convince allies that the United States remains committed to the fight against the Islamic State in Syria they are facing a significant roadblock: President Trump’s own policy reversals. – New York Times 

Russia has begun setting up a helicopter base in the north-eastern Syrian city of Qamishli, the Russian Defense Ministry’s Zvezda TV channel said on Thursday. – Reuters

The U.S. Commerce Department on Wednesday added more than a dozen companies and individuals to its trade blacklist for allegedly providing material support to chemical and biological weapons activity in Syria and diverting U.S. items to Iran without authorization. – Reuters

President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that the U.S. mission in Syria is focused solely on protecting oil fields, which appears to contradict the Pentagon’s contention that fighting ISIS is the priority. – Politico

General Mazloum Kobane, commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), told Sky News the combination of the Turkish incursion into northern Syria, Western indifference to that and the West’s unwillingness to take back its IS fighters is creating the perfect environment for an IS resurgence. – Sky News (UK) 

Turkey’s interior minister said Wednesday that his country’s forces have captured an “important” figure within the Islamic State group, in Syria. – Associated Press

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said in an interview on Russia Today that was published on November 10, 2019, that the Syrian Army did not use chemical weapons before handing its stockpile over to the international community and that the accusations and purported evidence of rebel groups using chemical weapons that were given to them by the regime are faked. – Middle East Media Research Institute


A long-awaited meeting between President Trump and Turkey’s leader ended Wednesday without a resolution of key issues on which the two sides have been divided, including Ankara’s purchase of a Russian air-defense system and the U.S. partnership with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. – Wall Street Journal

Turkey’s government used a Washington law firm to gather information about its critics, including residents of the U.S., who it believed were allied with a movement that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regards as a central enemy, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. – Wall Street Journal

One month ago, President Trump warned President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey not to “be a fool” or “a tough guy” by invading northeastern Syria. […]On Wednesday, Mr. Trump seemed unbothered by the episode and gave Mr. Erdogan a warm welcome, offering little sign of frustration with Turkey’s authoritarian leader over an incursion that scrambled American policy in the region. – New York Times 

Turkey’s military incursion in Syria has given President Tayyip Erdogan a bump in opinion polls and exposed potential cracks in an informal political alliance that claimed surprise victories over his ruling party in local elections this year. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed he will work to protect religious minorities in the Middle East, despite past persecution of Christians in the region. – Washington Examiner 

President Donald Trump said he’ll discuss a trade deal with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a White House meeting on Wednesday. – Bloomberg

President Trump on Wednesday said his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has a “great relationship with the Kurds” amid concerns of possible ethnic violence against the minority group in northern Syria. – The Hill

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Wednesday that he had returned a letter sent by President Trump warning him not to be a “tough guy” before Turkey began a military assault against Kurdish forces in northern Syria. – The Hill

Turkish officials say two explosions at an ammunition depot in southeast Turkey have injured 16 military personnel and one civilian. – Associated Press

Since removing Turkey from the multinational F-35 program over its purchase of a Russian air defense system, the U.S. has found alternate suppliers for all but a dozen components Turkey is producing for the Lockheed-made fighter jet. – Defense News 

Kathy Gilsinan and Melvyn Ingleby write: Whatever their personal relationship, Trump and Erdoğan are coming together with some requests the other side can’t really honor. The U.S. military won’t completely sever relations with Kurdish fighters in Syria; Erdoğan is unlikely to give up his Russian air defense system. For all the two have in common—including their mutual love of “straight talk”—the visit may amount to a date night in a marriage that’s fundamentally beyond repair. – The Atlantic 

Blaise Misztal writes: Both leaders believe they will benefit from a warm and cordial White House visit. But while Trump is hoping to demonstrate his dealmaking savvy and foresight in exiting Syria, only Erdogan will leave the meeting having gained anything. For the United States, the outcome is likely to be an even more adversarial and uncooperative Turkey. – NBC News


Hamas, the militant group that runs the Gaza Strip, has been trying for over a year to keep a lid on its conflict with Israel, to improve the abysmal quality of life for the two million Palestinians under its control, and to keep millions of dollars in cash coming in each month from its generous allies in Qatar. But a nettlesome, unruly and heavily armed little group called Palestinian Islamic Jihad has repeatedly sabotaged those plans by firing rockets at Israel, which more often than not has responded by raining down destruction on Hamas’s own installations and men. – New York Times 

Rasmi Abu Malhous, an Islamic Jihad terrorist said to head its rocket unit, was killed in an overnight strike on the Gaza Strip, an IDF Arabic-language spokesperson said on Thursday morning. The strike, which targeted a house in Deir al-Balah, reportedly claimed the lives of an additional five members of the same family. – Times of Israel 

Israel and the militant Islamic Jihad group in Gaza appeared to have reached a cease-fire on Thursday to end two days of heavy fighting that killed at least 34 Palestinians and paralyzed parts of Israel. – Associated Press

The State Department on Wednesday expressed concern Wednesday over a top European Union court decision mandating that products from Israeli settlements must be labelled as originating outside Israel. – The Hill

In the wake of the ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas slammed the European Union for its “weak position towards the Palestinian cause” and claimed that a “Zionist lobby” dominated “political actors in Brussels.” – Jerusalem Post 

Both Israel and the Palestinian factions in Gaza must refrain from further violence if they want to prevent the outbreak of a fourth Gaza war, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov tweeted on Thursday morning. – Jerusalem Post 

Presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg condemned rocket attacks against Israel as violence escalates with militant groups in the Gaza Strip. – The Hill

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that the fighting with Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip had been successful so far and the next phase of the operation had already been decided upon. – Algemeiner 

Legislation seeking bolstered collaboration with Israel in countering the threat posed by “killer drones” in the Middle East was introduced in the US House of Representatives on Wednesday. – Algemeiner 

Amnesty International falsely accused Israel of bombing a Palestinian human rights organization’s office on Tuesday, when the incident actually involved a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket. – Algemeiner 

After a day of rocket fire from Gaza, the top three hashtags trending on Twitter in India are #IsraelUnderFire, #IsraelUnderAttack and #IndiaWithIsrael. – Jerusalem Post

Seth J. Frantzman writes: While the battle against PIJ was limited and Israel only used a small amount of its capacity, the real challenge is in the north and against Iran and its other proxies. – Jerusalem Post


Even before the start of protests that have forced out Lebanon’s prime minister, her confidence was fading in a financial system long regarded as a pillar of stability. But now, like many Lebanese, she thinks the system is broken. – Reuters

President Michel Aoun said on Wednesday economic conditions in Lebanon were deteriorating further as a result of the situation in the country but the start of oil and gas exploration would help to gradually improve things. – Reuters

A new wave of protests paralyzed Lebanon on Wednesday after President Michel Aoun enraged demonstrators by urging them to end their revolt against corruption and cronyism in the political establishment. – Reuters

The United States supports the Lebanese Armed Forces and has not halted its financial assistance, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker told reporters in Jerusalem on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post


Waves of violent protests have engulfed Baghdad and Iraq’s southern provinces, with demonstrators chanting for the downfall of a political establishment that they say doesn’t prioritize them. […]The fruits of these riches are rarely seen by the average Iraqi because of financial mismanagement, bureaucratic inefficiency and corruption, experts and officials told The Associated Press – Associated Press

Security forces killed two protesters and wounded 35 others in Baghdad on Thursday, police and medical sources said, as thousands of Iraqis continued a wave of anti-government protests. – Reuters

Iraqi officials must ramp up their response to mass demonstrations demanding an overhaul of the political system, the United Nations’ representative in Baghdad told AFP in an exclusive interview Wednesday. – Agence France-Presse

Hind Hassan writes: The media alone cannot overcome the world’s disappointing compassion fatigue on Iraq. It is likely that, even with more coverage of Iraq, atrocities would still take place — and parts of the world would still remain silent. But effective reporting would likely put pressure on authorities to investigate accusations of abuses and hold offenders accountable. And without it, Iraq’s new generation will fall into the same cycle of violence and hopelessness as the ones before them. – Washington Post

Arabian Peninsula

Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s Iran-backed rebels are holding indirect, behind-the-scenes talks to end the devastating five-year war in Yemen, officials from both sides have told The Associated Press. – Associated Press

An Emirati soldier in the United Arab Emirates troops that are part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen was killed in Saudi Arabia’s Najran area on Wednesday, Emirates state news agency (WAM) reported. – Reuters

Houthi militants fired a missile at the Saudi-led military coalition’s heaquarters in the city of Marib on Wednesday during a visit by the Yemeni defence minister, killing at least five soldiers, local officials said. – Reuters

Benjamin Zycher writes: Instead, it is reasonable to surmise that potential buyers may sense that there is an asymmetric information problem: The Saudi government knows more than it is conceding publicly about external and internal threats to its ownership of the future revenues to be earned from petroleum operations. This hypothesis may be little more than speculation, but it is not inconsistent with the recent course of events. – American Enterprise Institute

Middle East & North Africa

The United States and other Western countries urged Egypt on Wednesday to investigate alleged killings and torture by its security forces and to release journalists and others arrested for exercising their right to freedom of expression. – Reuters

Simon Henderson writes: Whatever the outcome, Israeli gas supplies remain a politically sensitive subject in both Egypt and Jordan, potentially complicating their future energy cooperation. At the same time, the current level of cooperation would have been unimaginable just a few years ago, and the latest news provides further encouragement. – Washington Institute

Karen Young writes: The Middle East needs more IPOs, but first it needs to grow companies that neither compete with the state for business, nor depend on the state as a key investor or customer. […]Real growth opportunities will come from firms that meet local needs and have the capacity to grow across the region and beyond, without three years of constant media hype or political intervention. – Al-Monitor

Korean Peninsula

North Korea has a message for President Trump and the United States: The clock is ticking, and a bomb is about to explode. There are seven weeks until North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un is scheduled to deliver a keynote New Year’s Day speech. That will come a day after his self-imposed year-end deadline expires for the United States to come up with new proposals to restart nuclear talks. – Washington Post 

North Korea’s supreme decision-making body lashed out Wednesday at planned U.S.-South Korean military drills and warned that the United States will face a greater threat and harsh suffering if it ignores North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s end-of-year deadline to salvage nuclear talks. – Associated Press

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday that he is open to the possibility of altering American military activities in South Korea if it would help advance a diplomatic deal with North Korea to eliminate its nuclear program. – Associated Press

Germany, France and Britain on Wednesday strongly condemned the dozen sets of ballistic missile launches by North Korea since May and urged Pyongyang to engage in “meaningful negotiations” with the United States on its nuclear and missile programs. – Associated Press

Top U.S. military officer General Mark Milley met with his South Korean counterpart on Thursday to discuss military cooperation and the North Korea threat while seeking more money to pay for American troops stationed in the country. – Reuters

The U.S. and key allies are seeking to hold a United Nations Security Council debate on North Korea’s human rights record after failing to do so last year, according to diplomats familiar with the discussions. – Bloomberg


China’s economy is showing fresh signs of weakness even as inflation continues to tick higher—a conundrum for policy makers as the trade dispute with the U.S. drags on. – Wall Street Journal

Trade talks between the U.S. and China have hit a snag over farm purchases, as officials seek to lock down the limited trade deal President Trump outlined last month. – Wall Street Journal

The European Union is discussing a visit for ambassadors to China’s far western region of Xinjiang, where Beijing has been accused of oppressing ethnic Uighurs, but the trip is unlikely to happen unless certain conditions are met, diplomats said. – Reuters

President Trump’s effort to refocus national security policy on China is being resisted by government bureaucrats and by some within his own administration, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley said on Monday. – Washington Examiner 

China will make a billion-dollar investment in the Brazilian port of Sao Luis via China Communications Construction Company (601800.SS), two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The board that oversees retirement savings for U.S. government employees will allow one of its funds to invest in an international index that includes Chinese companies, despite the threat of legislation from lawmakers who say the investments will undermine national security and contribute to China’s economic and corporate growth. – Bloomberg

Mark Helprin writes: China should be eager to join the two other leading powers in attempting to control the ever-present nuclear danger, and liberals and arms-control enthusiasts should support and commend any attempt to accomplish this, regardless of which U.S. administration makes the effort. Matters such as these may not be shiny and sparkling enough to command much airtime, but keep in mind that ultimately what this is all about—the detonation of masses of nuclear weapons—is brighter than a thousand suns. – Wall Street Journal

Josh Rogin writes: The United States needs a president who sees the China challenge clearly, who recognizes the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party for what they are, and who believes confronting that challenge head on is more important than making money and getting along. Mike Bloomberg is the wrong man for that job. – Washington Post


At least 12 people were killed, three of them children, and 20 others were wounded when a car bomb exploded near the Kabul airport early Wednesday, Afghan officials said, the first major attack on the Afghan capital after about a month of relative calm. […]No group has publicly claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack. – Washington Post 

The planned exchange of two senior Taliban commanders and a leader of the Haqqani militant group for an American and an Australian kidnapped in Afghanistan in 2016 has not taken place, a diplomat and a former Afghan official said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The US Air Force (USAF) released more munitions over Afghanistan in October than in the same month in previous years since 2010, according to US Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT). – Jane’s 360 


Japan’s economy grew at the slowest pace in a year as the U.S.-China trade dispute and Tokyo’s frictions with South Korea weighed on exports. – Wall Street Journal

Hundreds of mainland Chinese students fled across Hong Kong’s border into Shenzhen on Wednesday, seeking temporary shelter in hostels, hotels and relatives’ homes after days of heightened violence on several university campuses in the city. – Wall Street Journal

Protesters armed with firebombs and bows and arrows on Thursday reinforced the fortifications they had built on Hong Kong university campuses in anticipation of clashes with the police, as the city’s morning commute was snarled for a fourth straight weekday. – New York Times 

Forced to flee their country a decade ago to escape allegedly state-sponsored killer squads, Sri Lankan journalists living in exile doubt they’ll be able to return home soon or see justice served to their tormentors — whose alleged ringleader could come to power in this weekend’s presidential election. – Associated Press

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd (0293.HK) on Wednesday said the short-term outlook remained “challenging and uncertain” due to anti-government protests in its home market as it lowered its profit guidance for the second time in less than a month. – Reuters

Former democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi is among several top Myanmar officials named Wednesday in a case filed in Argentina for crimes against Rohingya Muslims, the first time the Nobel Laureate has been legally targeted over the crisis. – Agence France-Presse 

China said on Wednesday Taiwan was scaremongering with talk of a possible Chinese attack, after Taiwan’s foreign minister said Beijing could resort to military conflict to divert domestic pressure if an economic slowdown bites. – Reuters

Barkha Dutt writes: Many in India respond to these arguments by pointing to the happy integration of Muslim citizens in India compared with the poor state of minority rights in Pakistan. But this benchmarking against Pakistan is redundant. Our countries are built on competing ideas of nationhood. – Washington Post


America’s top diplomat in Ukraine, William B. Taylor Jr., described Russia on Wednesday as Ukraine’s “bully neighbor.” Taylor’s remarks during the first open hearing of the impeachment inquiry repeatedly came back to the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists that began in 2014. […]Here’s what happened and where the conflict stands. – Washington Post 

As the impeachment spectacle unfolds in Washington, attention is focused on President Trump and the ramifications for domestic politics. But the scandal is having a major impact on Ukraine, weakening President Volodomyr Zelensky’s position as he hopes to start face-to-face talks in coming weeks with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia over ending the war with Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. – New York Times 

Russia on Wednesday accused Washington of hunting its citizens across the world and said it had made a formal diplomatic protest after Israel extradited a Russian man to the United States where he faces a slew of serious cyber crime charges. – Reuters

Ambassador William Taylor told Congress that he was “pleased” with President Trump’s decision to provide Ukraine with weapons to defend itself from Russia. – Washington Examiner


The Spanish police said on Wednesday that they were searching for Hugo Carvajal, the former intelligence chief of Venezuela, after Spain’s national court reversed an earlier decision and ordered the extradition of Mr. Carvajal to the United States to stand trial on drug-trafficking charges. – New York Times 

After a far-right lawmaker accused Germany’s president of “eroding” the rule of law and circulated remarks widely viewed as anti-Semitic, his colleagues on Wednesday ousted him as chair of a parliamentary committee on the grounds that he was unfit for office. – New York Times 

U.S. President Donald Trump said after talks with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday that Europe should pay more to cover the costs related to Syrian refugees. – Reuters

Pope Francis spoke against the concerning rise of anti-Semitism in Italy Wednesday, calling the movement “inhuman” and “un-Christian.” – The Hill

The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) declined on Wednesday to launch an investigation into the decision made by the White House to hold up military aid to Ukraine, citing a desire not to interfere with the House’s impeachment inquiry. – The Hill

The French parliament confirmed on Wednesday that it would discuss a resolution on the “resurgence” of antisemitism in the country that has so far been mired in political controversy, with critics of the text rejecting the inclusion of anti-Zionism among the “new forms” of Jew-hatred to have emerged more recently. – Algemeiner 

The official tasked by the German government with combating rising antisemitism has urged that the country’s criminal code be amended so that offenses motivated by hatred of Jews can be subjected to harsher punishment. – Algemeiner 

Daniel Fried writes: Such a Ukraine would show the appeal and strength of the democratic model in the face of authoritarian aggression. Ukraine’s success would inspire other countries under Kremlin pressure, and possibly Russians themselves. And democratic solidarity in support of Ukraine would validate the enduring power of the American and transatlantic goal of a free world so despised and opposed by Putin and his friends. Success in Ukraine might even help Americans recall our own best values and traditions. It’s worth making the effort. – The Hill


The United States said Wednesday it is “gravely disappointed” and will reevaluate its relationship with South Sudan over the failure of its rival leaders to form a coalition government according to the country’s fragile peace accord. – Associated Press

Nigeria’s state security agency on Wednesday denied that its officers opened fire on campaigners calling for the release of a Nigerian activist and former presidential candidate who remains in detention despite having been granted bail. – Reuters

Unknown gunmen killed six farmers near Tanzania’s southern border with Mozambique, a senior police official said on Wednesday, amid growing concerns over Islamist militants in a poor region where foreign companies are developing gas deposits. – Reuters

Latin America

On her first day as Bolivia’s caretaker president, Jeanine Añez appointed a new army chief and proposed new elections, moving to fill a power vacuum amid protests by supporters of exiled former President Evo Morales. – Wall Street Journal

Bolivia’s former president Evo Morales rejected the self-proclaimed presidency of an opposition senator Wednesday, but police barred his lawmakers from entering the legislature to undo it, deepening the political crisis in South America’s poorest country. – Washington Post 

A group of supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó seized the Venezuelan Embassy in Brasilia early Wednesday, claiming its employees defected and voluntarily let them. – Washington Post 

Bolivia’s former President Evo Morales said on Wednesday that he condemned U.S. recognition of the South American country’s new “de facto government” that has installed itself since his departure. – Reuters


Shockwaves are rippling through the cybersecurity community after researchers hired to test the digital and physical defenses of Iowa county courthouses ended up facing criminal charges instead. – Washington Post

The Navy and the Air Force are taking the first tentative steps to create a joint battle network that would allow Navy ships and aircraft to share targeting information with Air Force aircraft, Navy and Air Force officials confirmed to USNI News on Wednesday. – USNI News 

The Navy’s explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) community is modernizing the way it mans, trains and equips its force to leverage new technology and lessons learned in nearly two decades of ground wars in the Middle East. – USNI News 

Lawmakers said Wednesday they’re unlikely to authorize the Pentagon to award a coveted multi-year contract to build F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters unless the program solves such problems as chronic shortages of spare parts that often wear out quicker than anticipated. – USNI News 

The Navy will spend the next year negotiating a contract for the first two hulls in the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program, in a strategy that would get the first two boats on contract and under construction quickly and then insert cost-saving lessons learned into later ships. – USNI News 

The Pentagon and Lockheed Martin are at odds over how much data the military can have access to for its own jet, the F-35, and that’s creating renewed friction in the fight to fix longstanding issues with the automated logistics system vital to keeping it flying. – Defense News 

The U.S. Army is currently set up to afford fielding two future vertical lift aircraft types simultaneously in roughly a decade, but the service should be careful when estimating the actual cost of keeping the fleets running, according to a Nov. 13 report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. – Defense News 

The U.S. Air Force is the only American military service to have a designated headquarters office, led by a senior official, specifically to guide foreign policy and help broker arms sales. – Defense News 

The U.S. may be set to test a new ground-launched ballistic missile in the coming weeks, the first test of that particular weapon since the country withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty earlier this year. – Defense News

Long War

France commemorated the fourth anniversary of the Islamic State attacks that struck the heart of Paris with a solemn reading Wednesday of the names of 131 dead, and the growing certainty that the group’s recruits will return home in increasing numbers. – Associated Press

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Wednesday that Germany and the Netherlands had agreed to take back German and Dutch Islamic State detainees and their families from Turkey, after Ankara started to repatriate the fighters this week. – Reuters

A Hungarian court on Wednesday began the trial of a Syrian man accused of terrorism and crimes against humanity as a military leader of Islamic State near the city of Homs in 2015, saying he participated in the murders of dozens of people. – Reuters

Trump Administration

The first day of public impeachment hearings unearthed new evidence potentially implicating President Trump more directly in a scheme to center American policy toward Ukraine on political investigations, heightening the stakes of upcoming proceedings that will include a set of critical witnesses. – Washington Post 

Republican political operative Roger Stone undermined the effectiveness of the congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election by repeatedly and deliberately lying under oath to help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign avoid embarrassment, prosecutors told jurors in closing arguments at his trial Wednesday. – Associated Press

Attorney General William Barr said he does not recall President Trump asking him to hold a press conference clearing him of any wrongdoing during a July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. – Washington Examiner