Fdd's overnight brief

October 28, 2020

In The News


Iran has begun construction at its Natanz nuclear facility, satellite images released Wednesday show, just as the U.N.’s nuclear agency acknowledged Tehran is building an underground advanced centrifuge assembly plant after its last one exploded in a reported sabotage attack last summer. – Associated Press

Inspectors from the U.N.’s atomic watchdog have confirmed Iran has started building an underground centrifuge assembly plant after its previous one exploded in what Tehran called a sabotage attack over the summer, the agency’s head told The Associated Press on Tuesday. – Associated Press

Iranian hackers suspected of emailing threatening messages to U.S. voters last week and spreading false information about compromised election systems ran a disinformation campaign last year targeting the Middle East, Facebook Inc FB.O said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Facebook on Tuesday announced it had removed three networks made up of dozens of accounts and pages tied to foreign malign influence efforts, including accounts linked to Iranian interference in U.S. elections. – The Hill

Yemen’s Houthis want to strengthen bilateral ties with Iran in various fields, the foreign minister for the Houthi administration that runs north Yemen told Iran’s new ambassador to the country on Tuesday, Houthi-run Saba Net news reported. – Reuters

The Trump administration’s imposition of new sanctions on Iran may have been intended to forestall a new nuclear deal with Tehran if Joe Biden is elected president, but it could backfire instead by strengthening Biden’s hand at the bargaining table. – Reuters

Among his statements, General Naghdi said that the American political establishment has conspired to conceal the truth about the casualties sustained during the Iranian attack on Ayn Al-Asad Airbase. Stating that not all IRGC Qods Force members are Iranian nationals, he said that Iran has a “popular army” of non-state supporters throughout the world, whom he argued are more valuable than national allies because they are more loyal and can operate undetected. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Omer Benjakob writes: The influence campaign – which also targeted voters in Alaska, Pennsylvania and Arizona – showed a new level of Iranian sophistication, according to three Israeli cyberexperts who spoke with Haaretz and are knowledgeable about how hackers from the Islamic Republic operate. […]The few details made public about how the email campaign was traced back to Iran show how complex such operations can be – both for the perpetrator and those trying to thwart them. – Haaretz


A Turkish court on Tuesday sentenced a Turkish employee of the American Consulate in Istanbul to more than five years in jail after finding that he had knowingly aided a terrorist group. – New York Times

Top Turkish officials condemned a caricature scorning President Tayyip Erdogan in the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, calling it a “disgusting effort” to “spread its cultural racism and hatred”. – Reuters

France urged fellow European Union leaders on Tuesday to adopt measures against Turkey, after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan questioned French President Emmanuel Macron’s mental health and called for a boycott of French goods. – Reuters

Turkey should not meddle in France’s domestic affairs, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Tuesday, after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called for a boycott of French goods, citing French leader Emmanuel Macron’s “anti-Islam” agenda. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is suing Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders after the anti-Islam politician posted a series of tweets against the Turkish leader, including one that described him as a “terrorist.” – Associated Press

The United States weighed in on escalating tensions between France and Turkey on Tuesday, telling Al Arabiya English that “unnecessary” infighting between NATO allies “only serves our adversaries.” – Al Arabiya English

The head of the organization representing Muslim clerics in France on Tuesday pushed back against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attacks on French President Emmanuel Macron and his call for a boycott of French goods. – Algemeiner

Zvi Bar’el writes: The United States presidential election may produce the golden key to the conflict, if Joe Biden is elected. But even if he is, Erdogan will have plenty of time to run riot before the inauguration. And even then there’s no guarantee that Biden can or wants to force Erdogan’s hand. Europe will apparently have to deal with Turkey on its own, with inferior ammunition in the face of the Turkish levers of pressure and threats. – Haaretz

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Turkey is pushing for extremist reactions to France, perhaps seeking to show Ankara can destabilize Europe by activating its media machine, thus sending a message to European leaders to obey Ankara or face the wrath of invented “insults to Islam” stories that will case protests and boycotts. – Jerusalem Post


US President Donald Trump said Tuesday that there are up to 10 countries that he expects to soon normalize relations with Israel, but that the developments would largely happen after next week’s presidential elections. – Times of Israel

A new poll published by Arab News and conducted with YouGov showed that while people in 18 countries surveyed may be concerned about US President Donald Trump’s policies, they are supportive of US engagement with the region and solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Of particular importance, when asked about what the largest problems are in the region, many referenced economic problems or even Iran, but not Israel as a negative issue. – Jerusalem Post

Israel said on Tuesday the United States is effectively lifting a ban on U.S. funding of Israeli scientific research projects conducted in the West Bank and Golan Heights, areas Israel occupied in a 1967 war. – Reuters

A pair of lawmakers is readying legislation that would pave the way for the U.S. to provide Israel with bunker-busting bombs that could strike Iran’s underground nuclear facilities. – Politico

The United States has reneged on a 30-year-old agreement to give Israel its embassy in Tel Aviv at no cost in return for free land in Jerusalem for its embassy there, Channel 13 said in a report on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

The US is set to turn its declaration that settlements in Judea and Samaria are not necessarily illegal into action for the first time on Wednesday, expanding a set of scientific cooperation agreements with Israel to include those areas and the Golan Heights. – Jerusalem Post

Scattered groups of Arab Israelis and Palestinians demonstrated for a second consecutive day Tuesday against what they considered offensive remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron about Islam and depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. – Times of Israel

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday welcomed the reported words of the daughter of Lebanon’s president, who said she could envision a peace deal with Israel after border disputes and issues concerning the Palestinians were resolved. – Jerusalem Post

Israeli and Lebanese officials will meet on Wednesday for the second round of rare talks aimed at settling a maritime border dispute between the countries, the Energy Ministry said Tuesday. – Times of Israel

Michael Milstein writes: Though lacking much practical influence, volatility in much of the Arab region—especially in neighboring countries—is also worrisome news for Israel. Viewed as particularly threatening is the prospect of unrest in the Palestinian arena, which potentially has direct implications for Israel’s strategic posture. […]Israel has already made effective use of some of these tools over the course of the past decade to help stabilize the situation, primarily in the West Bank though in Gaza as well. – Washington Institute

Arabian Peninsula

The United States has conducted at least 190 armed actions, mostly airstrikes, in Yemen since President Trump took office in 2017, resulting in a minimum of 86 likely civilian deaths, a new study by a watchdog group has found. – Washington Post

Yemen’s Houthi movement attacked Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport on Tuesday with an explosives-laden drone, the group’s military spokesman said on Twitter. – Reuters

Most Saudi journalists hope for the reelection of the incumbent President Donald Trump, inter alia because of his aggressive position vis-à-vis Iran. Many of the writers expressed negative views regarding the era of President Obama, when Biden was vice president; they condemn that administration’s policies, including the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran that Obama promoted and what they said was the Democrats’ support for the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), and warned that these policies could be revived under a Biden presidency. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Gunmen shot dead a Houthi official in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Tuesday, a rare killing of a civilian administrator in the city controlled by the armed movement. – Reuters

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen and Giorgio Cafiero write: Down the road, could external pressures come down on Muscat to follow Abu Dhabi, Manama, and Khartoum’s lead in opening formal ties with Israel? Yes. There is reason to consider that the U.S. and the UAE will play cards to incentivize post-Qaboos Oman to normalize relations with the Jewish state. If the sultanate’s economic woes worsen, such pressure might be more difficult for Muscat to circumvent. Yet, if officials in the U.S. would like to stand by their longstanding partner amid a difficult period marked by COVID-19 and low oil prices, it would behoove Washington to support Muscat approaching Israel on its own terms. – Middle East Institute


The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday welcomed the permanent cease-fire agreement signed by the rival sides in Libya and called on the parties to implement it and “show the same determination in reaching a political solution.” – Associated Press

The United Nations acting Libya envoy expects coming political talks to designate a date for national elections, she told Reuters on Tuesday, after the country’s two warring sides agreed a ceasefire last week. – Reuters

Libya’s internationally recognized government has agreed to release two Russian political operatives who’ve been jailed for more than a year, officials said, signaling a detente with Moscow, which had backed a rival in a devastating civil war. – Bloomberg

Middle East & North Africa

French President Emmanuel Macron’s defence of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed sparked widespread protests, but in Tunisia, it triggered debate balancing hard-won rights of the revolution with respect of religion. – Agence France-Presse

Egypt has expressed reservations about Hamas’s close ties with Turkey. The Egyptian stance was relayed to Hamas officials who arrived in Cairo this week for talks with Egyptian intelligence officials on ways of easing tensions between the two sides.- Jerusalem Post

Ezgi Yazici and Isabel Ivanescu write: Competition between Russia and Turkey continued to escalate in 2020. The parties redoubled their commitments to opposing sides in Syria and Libya, and Turkey opened a new theater of competition in the Caucasus. Each of these conflicts is unique and discrete but must be understood within the cross-theater dynamics of Russia-Turkey competition. – Institute for the Study of War

Michael Rubin writes: Today, he remains largely silent while Turks bomb Kurdish villages and Turkish soldiers stop and interrogate local villagers. He has become to Kurdish nationalism what Marshal Philippe Pétain was to French nationalism. Repression and security are not synonymous, and Iraqi Kurds are discovering that the combination of Masrour’s volatility, greed, and incompetence will bring them neither freedom nor prosperity. The other Iraq indeed. – The National Interest 

Charles Thepaut writes: U.S.-European cooperation in the Middle East may not rank high in American voters’ minds, but the issue will demand close policy attention in the months ahead. […]the dynamic requires a full reset. As one continental diplomat lamented, “Under Bush, Europeans agreed less with the U.S. but were more consulted. Under Obama, they agreed more but were less consulted. Under Trump, they disagree and are barely consulted.” – Washington Institute


A senior Chinese official accused the United States on Wednesday of deflecting blame and breaking its word when it comes to fighting climate change, as the simmering diplomatic row between the world’s two biggest economies shifts to the environment. – Reuters

Top Republican Senator Marco Rubio has introduced legislation to block access to U.S. capital markets for Chinese companies that have been blacklisted by Washington, threatening a blow against Chinese firms that rely on U.S. investors for funding. – Reuters

US senators sought Tuesday to declare that China is committing genocide against Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims, a step that could ramp up pressure on behalf of the estimated one million-plus people in camps. – Agence France-Presse

A day after US president Donald Trump announced a new initiative to thwart Beijing’s alleged efforts to “steal” US technology, senior Chinese financial officials and Wall Street bankers sat down for a teleconference. – Financial Times

On October 23, 2020, Chinese President Xi Jin Ping delivered an address commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Korean War. […]Professor Yuri Tvarovsky, Chairman of the Expert Council of the Russian-Chinese Committee for Friendship, Peace and Development had already anticipated this speech after witnessing the attention that the official Chinese media was lavishing on the Korean War, following a long period when the war appeared to have been forgotten. – Middle East Media Research Institute

Joseph Bosco writes: China’s poisoned gift to the world — the coronavirus pandemic — is furthering the deterioration of its international standing by exposing the inhuman nature of the regime. It has reminded Western countries tempted by the allure of economic benefits — if they would only close their eyes and seal their lips — of why they are part of the West. Even European critics of President Trump’s rhetorical style and negotiating gambits have come to recognize their effectiveness in meeting the challenges from both Russia and China. – The Hill


For Mr. Rabani and thousands of bereaved families, things are not just unclear, but grim: For at least a year, the Afghan government has failed to provide funds, despite having the money for somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 claims of civilian casualties in 2019 and 2020, Afghan officials and human rights groups say. – New York Times

The U.S. envoy for Afghanistan said on Tuesday that violence there was too high and the Kabul government and Taliban insurgents must work harder toward forging a ceasefire at their peace talks. – Reuters

Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban insurgents rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations said on Tuesday. – Reuters

An hours-long attack on an Afghan police special forces base involving car bombs and an intense firefight killed five policemen and wounded dozens of people, officials said Tuesday, as violence continued to surge in the war-weary country. – Agence France-Presse

South Asia

India and the United States signed a pact Tuesday to share geospatial intelligence, paving the way for deeper military cooperation between the two countries as they confront an increasingly assertive China. – Washington Post

Thousands of Muslims took to the streets of the Bangladesh capital on Tuesday to protest against remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron in a row about cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. – Reuters

After 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a skirmish with Chinese troops along the Himalayan border this summer, New Delhi quietly dispatched a frontline warship on an unusual voyage to the South China Sea. – Financial Times


The Hong Kong police on Tuesday arrested a 19-year-old activist outside the United States consulate just as he was about to seek asylum, according to an advocacy group. – New York Times

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday the Chinese Communist Party was operating as a “predator” in Sri Lanka, as the top U.S. diplomat kept up tough criticism of China on a tour of Asia. – Reuters

The Pacific island of Palau will build an undersea telecoms cable financed by Australia, Japan and the United States in a $30-million project, Australia said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The Philippines is taking a page out of China’s book by building up its own fleet that includes fishing boats in the South China Sea, the Southeast Asian nation’s top diplomat said. – Bloomberg

The Indian Army deployed numerous T-72 tanks on some of the heights south of Pangong Tso. Those tanks reportedly moved to higher ground and potentially better defensive positions in late August and likely have spent nearly the two past months enhancing the positions. – The National Interest

The U.S. State Department directed some of its local embassy officials in a diplomatic cable to gauge whether their host country supports selecting South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee to be the next director general of the World Trade Organization, POLITICO has learned. – Politico

Michael J. Green and Gregory B. Poling write: As Japan becomes a key hub for security cooperation and capacity building in Southeast Asia, it is important to consider the next stage of strategy toward the region. […]It is exporting weapons systems and good governance models—a net good for the region—but often without coordinating with other U.S. allies. Japan, meanwhile, will need better systems to help Southeast Asian states sustain and maintain their new equipment.  – Center for Strategic and International Studies

South Caucasus

The two countries returned to all-out war a month ago, with Azerbaijan determined to retake the roughly 13 percent of its land that Armenia seized 26 years ago, displacing 800,000 Azerbaijanis in the process. The fighting threatens to draw in Turkey, on the Azerbaijani side, and Russia, which backs Armenia. – New York Times

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to pursue a diplomatic solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as fighting in and around the mountain enclave entered a second month on Tuesday, defying a ceasefire brokered in Washington. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a phone call with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday expressed his concerns over increased involvement of fighters from the Middle East in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Kremlin said in a statement. – Reuters

Fighting over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh raged on Tuesday, unimpeded by a U.S.-brokered cease-fire, while Armenia and Azerbaijan traded blame for the deal’s quick unraveling. – Associated Press

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said violence over Nagorno-Karabakh after a Washington-brokered ceasefire collapsed was “disappointing,” expressing optimism that the two sides would work things out but offering no other details. – Reuters

The defence ministry of the Nagorno-Karabakh region said on Tuesday it had recorded another 35 casualties among its military, pushing its military death toll to 1,009 since fighting with Azeri forces erupted on Sept. 27. – Reuters

Iran will send a top diplomat to Moscow, Baku and Yerevan this week to propose a plan to resolve the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. – Bloomberg

Backed by far superior military equipment and an airborne fleet of Israeli and Turkish drones that has inflicted major damage on Armenian tanks, air defences and heavy weapons, Azerbaijan’s army has made significant gains over the past fortnight, seizing back land surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh previously occupied by Armenian forces. – Financial Times


On Tuesday, more than six years after the Sochi Games, Russia’s efforts to deny and defy the global sporting community’s findings about its state-backed doping program reached yet another low: The Court of Arbitration for Sport’s antidoping division stripped the Russian biathlete Evgeny Ustyugov of the medals he won at the Vancouver and Sochi Winter Olympics. – New York Times

It may be that Moscow still intends to interfere: the FBI director Christopher Wray said last month that the bureau has seen “very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020” – mainly involving misinformation with the primary goal of denigrating Joe Biden. And the US indictment of six Russian military intelligence hackers last week served as a reminder of the potential threat. – The Guardian

As the Su-57 moves farther along in serial production, Moscow is laying the groundwork for the next generation of Russian combat aircraft. – The National Interest

Avraham Shama writes: The U.S. must wake up and take a measured response. […]The U.S. has all the expertise needed to take these measures, but it has not been willing to bite the bullet. The U.S. won the Cold War. So far, it’s losing the cyberwar against Russia. This must not happen. – The Hill

Peter Suciu writes: Last week, CNN reported that new satellite images suggest that Russia could be preparing to resume test flights at the previously-dismantled launch site near the Arctic Circle and that they likely involve the controversial missile. […]Little is known about the exact design of the cruise missile, but experts suggest it employs a nuclear-powered ramjet engine, and uses a rocket booster to accelerate to an optimal speed. It could certainly present a real threat to U.S. military targets including capital warships such as an aircraft carrier. – The National Interest


In France, a nation still traumatized by some 36 Islamic State-inspired terrorist attacks in the last eight years, including two that together killed more than 200 people, those broad measures have found widespread support.[…]In the Muslim world, these actions, and the tone coming from top French officials, have opened France to criticism that the nation’s complicated, post-colonial relationship with its six million Muslim citizens has taken an ugly turn. – New York Times

The U.N. human rights office on Tuesday condemned the “horrific murder” of French school teacher Samuel Paty who was beheaded this month by a suspected Islamist after he used caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a class on freedom of expression. – Reuters

Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya appealed to Belarusians on Tuesday to throw their support behind a national strike to oust President Alexander Lukashenko, but the government insisted that companies were working as normal. – Reuters

France warned its citizens in several Muslim-majority countries to take extra security precautions on Tuesday as anger surged over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, and the head of Russia’s Chechnya region said Paris was pushing people towards terrorism. – Reuters

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he would turn up the heat on associates of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who recently won an election that the opposition says was rigged. – Reuters

France is increasing security at religious sites as the interior minister said Tuesday that the country faces a “very high” risk of terrorist threats, amid growing geopolitical tensions following the beheading of a teacher who showed his class caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. – Associated Press

Britain must spell out how far it wants to diverge from European Union rules if it wants access to the bloc’s financial market from January, a top European Commission official said on Tuesday. – Reuters

U.S. citizen Vitali Shkliarov has left Belarus after being freed from detention there, the Russian news agency RIA reported on Tuesday, citing his lawyer. – Reuters

The European Union and Britain are engaging intensively to clinch a deal on their future relationship, before a transition period ends on Dec. 31, the European Commission said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Hungary’s foreign minister said on Tuesday Ukraine’s decision to bar the entry of two Hungarian government officials over what it called meddling in local elections was “pathetic and nonsense”. – Reuters

Spain and Gibraltar are seeking a last-minute Brexit deal to strengthen ties and preserve free movement across their border as they try to avoid reigniting the centuries-old dispute over the territory’s sovereignty. – Financial Times

Andreas Kluth writes: At the Munich Security Conference in 2014, several German leaders promised that they would cooperate with their allies “earlier, more decisively, and more substantially.” Nothing much came of those words, in part because popular opinion remains wary of Germany throwing its weight around. But the world has changed. Whoever wins next week — and the polls favor Biden — should remember America’s long and tortuous friendship with Germany. Rejuvenating it on new terms would be good for both countries, and the world. – Bloomberg

Pankaj Mishra writes: Ignoring France’s irrevocably diverse population and fragile security situation, as well as a highly unstable international climate, Macron has taken to peddling an unsustainable idea of French glory in his bid for re-election. The dangers of his opportunism include greater polarization at home and broader, more intense conflicts abroad. They should not be underestimated. – Bloomberg


An American citizen was kidnapped in southern Niger early Tuesday near an area where militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are known to attack, U.S. and Nigerien officials said. – Washington Post

Heavy-handed tactics by Tanzania’s government to silence opponents, the media and civil society threaten to undermine the legitimacy of the presidential election Wednesday — and the country’s reputation for political stability. Western diplomats, opposition leaders and human rights groups accuse President John Magufuli of trying to fend off his main challenger, Tundu Lissu, by cracking down on political activity, restricting and barring journalists, and passing laws that tighten his grip on the country. – Washington Post

A series of elections across Africa threaten to roll back democracy on the continent and destabilize some of the few economies around the world still projected to grow this year. – Wall Street Journal

International mediators urged Guinea to lift a blockade of the home of its main opposition leader Tuesday, while the EU said there were doubts about the credibility of last week’s presidential election. – Agence France-Presse

Yet three years on, Mr Macron’s attempt at a reset appears to many to have run into the sand, leaving French troops bogged down in a war against Islamist terror in the Sahel and its diplomats embroiled in the fractious politics of several resource-rich former colonial territories such as Guinea and Mali. – Financial Times

A court in South Africa has pronounced the first-ever criminal verdict in a case of antisemitism, after it found a freelance journalist guilty of posting abusive tweets targeted at the Jewish community on Twitter. – Algemeiner

Latin America

Drawing on his experience in Central America, Mr. Biden and his team of foreign policy advisers have created plans for the region that are both a repudiation of Mr. Trump’s hardball approach and an attempt to resurrect Obama-era initiatives. – New York Times

Venezuela’s top prosecutor said on Tuesday opposition activist Roland Carreno had been arrested, hours after opposition leader Juan Guaido denounced what he called the “forced disappearance” of the Popular Will party’s coordinator. – Reuters

An Iranian plane owned by a company sanctioned by the United States for allegedly shipping weapons to Syria landed in Venezuela on Tuesday, according to an opposition Venezuelan lawmaker and flight tracking data. – Reuters

Fugitive Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez said on Tuesday he would use his newly-won freedom in Spain to convince more countries to condemn President Nicolas Maduro’s government as dictatorial and support democratic change. – Reuters

Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA this week began using a new location near La Borracha island in the Caribbean sea for transferring Venezuelan crude from one ship to another for exports, according to tanker tracking data seen by Reuters. – Reuters

Brendan O’Boyle writes: If Mr. Arce can make positive institutional changes, while navigating Bolivia’s complicated politics and troubling economic panorama, he may be able to govern with the best of MAS’s values, tackling poverty and celebrating Bolivia’s rich ethnic and cultural diversity without Mr. Morales’s divisiveness and strongman tendencies. Ultimately, that could help him create his own legacy and set an example for political movements across the region. – New York Times

North America

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd lawyers resumed witness testimony in a Vancouver court on Tuesday, asking why aspects of Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou’s arrest did not set off “alarm bells” to the arresting federal police officer. – Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump issued a proclamation on Tuesday formally removing tariffs on raw aluminum imports from Canada but threatening to reinstate them if there was a surge in imports of the metal across the northern U.S. border. – Reuters

Biden’s environmental plans and desire to “transition from the oil industry” could pose challenges for Canada, the world’s fourth-largest crude producer, which sends virtually all its exports south of the border. – Reuters

The Ontario cabinet has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s “working definition of anti-Semitism” after recent vandalism at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa. – The Star

Federal prosecutors are recommending a prison sentence of six months or more for a Treasury Department official who admitted leaking more than 2,000 highly confidential bank reports to BuzzFeed, which used the information for stories about special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. – Politico

Jeh Johnson and Jonathan Greenblatt write: Regardless of who occupies the Oval Office in 2021 or who controls Congress, it is imperative that our government come together to confront domestic-based violent extremism.[…]Leaders who refuse to condemn hate and bigotry lower the bar for all the rest of us, make the previously deplorable acceptable, and — for the dangerous few who lurk among us — make violence inevitable. – The Hill


President Trump’s campaign website was briefly taken over by hackers who defaced the site on Tuesday. – New York Times

And on Wednesday, lawmakers will confront the chief executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter. The topic of discussion: whether that law enables bad behavior from the companies. – New York Times

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s watchdog body said on Tuesday that officials at its Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency had not adequately planned for potential violence at polling places and vote counting stations. – Reuters

The first day of Facebook Inc’s effort to stop new political advertising being introduced in the final stretch of U.S. election campaigning was marked by complaints that the planned moratorium was beset by glitches. – Reuters

The nation’s spy office says it is moving to brief a bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers that has called for more details related to Russian and Iranian election meddling after Tehran allegedly sent threatening spoofed emails to Democrats while pretending to be the Proud Boys in what America’s spy chief called an effort to harm President Trump’s reelection. – Washington Examiner

The U.S. government is warning of an advanced North Korean hacking group that has targeted the U.S., South Korea and Japan with cyber-intrusions to collect intelligence on issues including nuclear policy and sanctions. – Bloomberg

Alex Webb writes: As the EU proceeds irrespectively with plans for a new antitrust toolbox, antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager and her cohort will have to make difficult choices about whether and how to use those new powers[…]Although it may appear that Europe and the U.S. are now singing from the same hymn sheet, there is a subtle discord. Any perceived European overreach could set the two regions on a collision course. – Bloomberg


Space Force Gen. Jay Raymond predicted Tuesday that future warfighters will deploy to the space domain to provide “enhanced security” of America’s vital space architecture. – Washington Examiner

U.S. Space Force may not have its own academy or boot camp, but the newest military branch is establishing a non-commissioned officer academy for its enlisted space members, according to the service’s top leader. – Military.com

The U.S. Navy is developing an campaign plan for unmanned vehicles that will prioritize commonalities across the service’s ever growing portfolio of drones and unmanned vessels. – C4ISRNET

As the Pentagon races to develop hypersonic weapons, it is turning to universities for help on speeding up the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the field. – Defense News

GM Defense delivered its first Infantry Squad Vehicle to the U.S. Army in an Oct. 27 ceremony at its proving grounds and production facility in Milford, Michigan, just 120 days after being chosen to build the new troop carrier. – Defense News

Lt. Gen. John Morrison, the Army’s first deputy chief of staff for the G-6, a new position created after the Army announced it would be splitting its CIO/G-6 office over the summer, told reporters Tuesday that his new office will focus on strategy, network architectures, and implementation of command, control, communications, and cyber operations efforts. – C4ISRNET

Long War

Last week was a bad week for Al Qaeda around the world. […]Yet nearly two decades after the 9/11 attacks and with many of its top leaders dead, Al Qaeda remains resilient and has “ingrained itself in local communities and conflicts” spanning the globe, from West Africa to Yemen to Afghanistan, a U.N. counterterrorism report issued in July concluded. – New York Times

The Czech parliament has classified all branches of Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and called on the Czech government to push for other countries in the EU to adopt this classification, the Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

A Manhattan federal judge on Tuesday ordered that a former New York City accountant who admitted to scoping out the New York Stock Exchange for al Qaeda be released early from his 18-year prison sentence. – Reuters

A Malian court opened proceedings Tuesday against alleged Islamists who are accused of killing over two dozen people in attacks targeting foreigners in 2015, in a rare terror trial in the Sahel state. – Agence France-Presse