Fdd's overnight brief

October 7, 2021

In The News


A deadly attack on an oil tanker by explosive-laden drones. Unmanned aircraft launched from the Gaza Strip hitting Israeli neighborhoods. Strikes on Saudi Arabian refineries and pipelines and on bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq. – Wall Street Journal  

Iran said Wednesday that it has “serious concerns” about Israel’s presence in the Caucasus, as tensions mount between Iran and Azerbaijan over Baku’s ties with Israel, a major arms supplier. – Agence France-Presse 

Iran continued to deny accusations that it plotted to attack Israelis in Cyprus, days after Israel said Iran was behind plans for an act of terrorism orchestrated by Tehran against Israeli businesspeople. – Jerusalem Post 

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said the drones were being manufactured at eight plants in Iran, sometimes using materials smuggled from abroad, and then sent to countries like Iraq and Syria where they are assembled and then deployed. – Agence France-Presse 

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, said in Moscow on Wednesday that he expects negotiations on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to restart in Vienna soon, AFP reports. – Agence France-Presse 

In an interview published August 25, 2021 by the Iranian news outlet Tasnim, Ali Akbar Velayati, a close associate of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his advisor on international affairs, discussed the Afghan Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and what he called the successes of the resistance axis, led by Tehran, against Israel. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

Eric R. Mandel writes: As long as this American administration is in office, wholly invested in a return to the JCPOA, Iran believes its desire to create a permanent presence in Iraq — as it has in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen — will be relatively unimpeded. And it believes its cyber-attacks will never rise to the level of a significant military response as long as the JCPOA is alive. Allowing Iran’s smokescreen deniability-covered crimes to be acceptable to America is a dangerous policy that will undermine our long-term national security interests, at home and abroad. – The Hill  

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iranian drones are an emerging threat to the Middle East. In 2019, Iran used a combination of drones and cruise missiles to attack the giant Abqaiq oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia, using precision strikes to send a message that Iran’s drones could not strike at will across the region and destabilize economies and countries. – Jerusalem Post


The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction told a congressional subcommittee Wednesday that his office would probe allegations that former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani took millions of dollars with him when he fled the country in mid-August. – Washington Post  

While thousands of people crowded outside the main gates of the Kabul airport seeking to escape Afghanistan in August, the Central Intelligence Agency opened a back door about 2 miles away along the northern perimeter of the airfield. – Wall Street Journal  

His most recent assignment to Afghanistan, in July, brought Mr. Hicks full circle. He found himself near Bagram Air Base, where he had photographed the Northern Alliance’s execution of the Taliban fighter nearly 20 years earlier. – New York Times 

The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction rebuked the lack of accountability for the officials who led the Afghanistan War. John Sopko, who has led SIGAR since 2012, urged lawmakers to “hold people accountable” for the two-decade war that cost billions of dollars and thousands of lives during his Wednesday afternoon testimony in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. – Washington Examiner  

The Afghan air force personnel in Tajikistan are the last major group of such personnel abroad still believed to be in limbo after dozens of advanced aircraft were flown across the Afghan border to that country and to Uzbekistan in the final moments of the war. – Reuters  

Now the uncontested rulers of Afghanistan, the Taliban have set their sights on stamping out the scourge of narcotics addiction, even if by force. […] Police roundups of addicts did occur during previous administrations. But the Taliban are more forceful and feared. – Associated Press 

John Venable writes: Yes, our airmen stepped up again in Afghanistan and—in spite of the incredibly poor decisions and planning made above them—they managed to pull a whole bunch of rabbits out of another collapsing hat. It may seem miraculous to outsiders and—while they may take a moment to reflect on what they’ve done—to line airmen, this is just what they do. No other country in the world could have accomplished this feat. – The Daily Signal  

Dr. Salem AlKetbi writes: The world is not the same as it was in 1996 when the Taliban took power. As a matter of fact, the security vacuum has become a widespread phenomenon touching many countries and regions. Terrorist organizations now have many footholds on different continents. The approach to building peace and stability in Afghanistan must therefore be to find common ground and seek points of convergence. – Arutz Sheva 


Turkey’s parliament ratified the Paris climate agreement on Wednesday, making it the last G20 country to do so, after holding off for years due to what it saw as injustices in its responsibilities as part of the agreement. – Reuters  

In seeking to explain the more accommodating policy of Erdogan, Russian commentators concentrated on Turkey’s economic and political vulnerability. The latter was the result of a chill between Erdogan and the Biden administration that deprived Erdogan of the option to play both sides. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

Murat Kubilay writes:Instead of focusing on traumatic market fluctuations like in 2018 and 2020, market quakes of a sufficient magnitude are more likely to be accompanied by a sharp rise in poverty. Such a level of mass poverty could well discredit the ruling party and undercut its track record for competence in tackling the economic crisis for long-time voters, thus making Erdoğan’s bid for extending his presidency harder. –Middle East Institute  


Israel has warned its missions around the world of a possible Iranian terror threat, a television report claimed on Wednesday, following the arrest of an Azeri national over an alleged plot to assassinate one or more Israeli businesspeople in Cyprus. – Times of Israel  

An Israeli right-wing opposition legislator is seeking to outlaw the planned reopening of a U.S. mission in Jerusalem that has traditionally been a base for diplomatic outreach to the Palestinians. – Reuters  

Egypt has agreed to allow increased trade and travel through the Rafah crossing with Gaza Strip starting on Sunday, as a Hamas delegation meets with Egyptian officials in Cairo, the Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Thursday. – Jerusalem Post 

Iranian threat actors are running a highly targeted cyber-espionage operation against global aerospace and telecommunications companies, stealing sensitive information from targets around Israel and the Middle East, as well as in the United States, Russia and Europe, according to a report published Wednesday by Israeli cybersecurity company Cybereason. – Jerusalem Post 

Dozens of Jewish settlers swept down from the dusty hills, hurling rocks at a small Palestinian village in broad daylight, smashing windows, cars and water cisterns as families hid inside their homes and Israeli soldiers looked on. – Associated Press 

The Biden administration is leaning on Israel to hold back on West Bank settlement construction, though both parties want to avoid any tension over the matter, the Axios website reported Wednesday, citing Israeli and US officials. – Times of Israel 

A senior Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday that Israel is engaging with a wide swath of regional countries in a bid to normalize ties, including Oman, and hopes to forge one or more deals within a year. – Times of Israel 

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will visit Washington next week to visit with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, his office announces. The trip will take place on October 12-14, according to a statement from Lapid’s office, which gives no further details on the visit. – Times of Israel 

Prisoner exchange talks between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, have stalled, Arabic-language media reported Wednesday. – Algemeiner 

Seth J. Frantzman writes: But if Israel treats these communities like havens for terrorists, it could create a cycle of resistance. That is what Israel has always feared since the 1950s. No one wants to enable Hamas or extremists to gain a foothold. This means that illegal construction, illegal weapons and even the infiltration of extremist preachers into mosques – sometimes informed by networks linked to Hebron and even as far afield as Turkey – have been ignored. – Jerusalem Post 

Editorial: On the 40th anniversary of Sadat’s assassination, at a time when some want to throw a lifeline to an Iran still shaped in Khomeini’s image in order to get it back into the 2015 nuclear deal, it is incumbent upon the world, led by the US, to contemplate Sadat’s legacy; not only what he did in forging peace with Israel, but also how to keep those forces that killed him – forces that then, as now, gained inspiration from Iran – from getting stronger. – Jerusalem Post 


Framed beneath glaring floodlights, the Sadrist campaign rally bursts with noise and color. Supporters pump emerald flags aloft as an acolyte sings the candidate’s praises through tinny speakers. – Washington Post 

After Iran’s missile attack on Iraq’s Ayn Al-Asad air base on January 8, 2020, new speculation suggests that Tehran is planning to target Al-Harir base, where U.S. forces are present, if Iranian Kurdish opposition groups do not vacate it. – The National Interest  

Iraq has signed a contract with a United Arab Emirates-based renewable energy developer to build five solar power plants in the oil-rich country with a chronic energy problem, the company said Thursday. – Associated Press  

Douglas Ollivan writes: If Iraq can begin the process of reform, start to build infrastructure, and gradually develop a non-oil economy, it would then have a fighting chance against the very real problems that the country’s elite has — to date — avoided confronting. Conversely, if Iraq’s politicians attempt to again muddle through and avoid making hard choices about Iraq’s path forward, then conditions could quickly worsen. Iraq’s elites may try to just keep playing the same game, but the chess board is crumbling beneath them. – War on the Rocks  

Bilal Wahab and Calvin Wilder write: For these and other reasons, the United States should gradually refocus its energy on backing—and making asks of—the Iraqi state rather than individual politicians or groups. The people would especially welcome anti-corruption efforts, banking reforms, and measures that deny electoral legitimacy to individuals who are complicit in the murder of opposition activists. If Washington can lead an international and regional effort to help Iraq solve these problems, it will boost America’s local image, strengthen the Iraqi state, and check Iran’s increasingly lawless militia network. – Washington Institute 


Jordan hopes to start supplying Lebanon with electricity by the end of the year, Sky News Arabia reported on Thursday, citing an interview with the kingdom’s energy minister, Hala Zawati. – Reuters 

Lebanon is a country teetering on implosion, threatening the world with a flood of terrorism, narcotics and refugees. Besides everything else that ails the country, and there is plenty, it must now plead for donations for its army. – The Arab Weekly 

Lebanon has received six MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) MD 530 ‘Little Bird’ scout and light-attack rotorcraft from the United States. The delivery of the helicopters aboard a chartered cargo aircraft was announced on the official website of the Lebanese Army on 6 October. – Jane’s 360  

Gulf States

The hacking, which came to light in a civil suit ruling in a London court, added a new wrinkle to an already complicated snarl of Arab royal family conflicts, diplomacy and the world of highly secretive companies that sell expensive hacking technologies to governments around the world, which can use them as they see fit. – New York Times  

Qatar’s foreign minister visited Abu Dhabi and met with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in the latest sign of warming ties after the two Gulf neighbors ended a bitter three-year dispute earlier this year. – Bloomberg  

Former U.N. human rights commissioner Mary Robinson, visiting Dubai, urged the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday to free a pro-democracy campaigner jailed in 2018 for criticising the government on social media. – Reuters  

A Saudi appeals court has upheld a lengthy prison sentence handed to aid worker Abdulrahman al-Sadhan earlier this year by a counterterrorism court, his sister said. Sadhan, who was detained by Saudi authorities in March 2018, was reportedly sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by a 20-year travel ban, the U.S. State Department said in April. – Reuters  

Saudi Arabia has lobbied heavily against a Western resolution that would extend the mandate of U.N. investigators who have documented possible war crimes in Yemen, including by the Riyadh-led coalition, activists said on Wednesday. – Reuters  

Middle East & North Africa

The decision by the president, Kais Saied, to name Najla Bouden, a senior civil servant in the higher education ministry and lecturer in geological engineering, as the first female prime minister of Tunisia, or indeed of any Arab country, made waves around the world. – The Guardian  

Tunisia’s independent media regulator said on Wednesday it had closed an unlicensed television station that has been strongly critical of President Kais Saied since he seized most powers in July in a move his foes call a coup. – Reuters  

Neville Teller writes: One result of a perceived reduction in the US’s commitment to the region may well be an increase in Israel’s stature as a leading regional power – a stalwart ally against Iran’s ambitions to dominate the region. Israel would also become a useful portal to Washington. 

This readjustment in the power balance in favor of Israel could well be the factor that pushes Saudi Arabia – and with it perhaps other Arab states – into joining the Abraham Accords. – Jerusalem Post 

Dr. Khalid al-Jaber writes: Recent events in Afghanistan, in which Washington abruptly withdrew its support for the administration of Ashraf Ghani—and then did nothing to prevent the Taliban takeover of Kabul—underscore the inherent risks in entrusting one’s security to the United States. None of the states of the Middle East, whether pro- or anti-American in character, have any desire to see those events repeated in their own countries. To prevent such an outcome, diplomacy and engagement, even if challenging and unsuccessful in the short run, is essential for the peaceful and prosperous future of the region. – The National Interest 

Korean Peninsula

North Korea restored a hotline this week to bring back another avenue for dialogue with Seoul. And South Korea and its allies are trying to decipher what Kim Jong Un’s regime wants to say. – Washington Post 

North Korea appears to have taken steps to conceal upgrades to an uranium-enrichment plant from spy satellites, as it reopens communications with South Korea’s pro-engagement president, Moon Jae-in. – Bloomberg  

Intensifying competition between the US and China is forcing South Korea, a crucial American ally that has long sought to maintain cordial ties with Beijing, to confront an awkward choice. – Financial Times 

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is sending COVID-19 aid for North Korea through China’s border port of Dalian, despite few signs North Korea has eased strict border lockdowns to keep the virus out. – Reuters  


White House officials are planning to schedule a virtual meeting between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in coming weeks, a senior administration official said. – Wall Street Journal  

The Chinese government waited until the midst of the pandemic in July 2020 to say out loud what had been clear for months, if not years: relations between Washington and Beijing had reached their worst point since diplomatic ties were established in 1979. – Washington Post 

China is urging its liquefied natural gas importers to procure more supply to fix its energy crisis, while providing little financial support for firms paying record-high rates for the super-chilled fuel. – Bloomberg  

China is releasing Australian coal from bonded storage, despite a nearly year-long unofficial import ban on the fuel, as it scrambles to ease a national power crunch stemming from a coal shortage, traders familiar with the matter said. – Reuters  

Hong Kong’s leader outlined plans for a massive urban development on the border with China that appeared designed both to ease the world’s most expensive housing market and prove her own loyalty to Beijing. – Bloomberg   

An article published August 21, 2021 by the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily media outlet, titled “Everyone Can Feel That A Profound Change Is Underway!” stressed that China is undergoing profound socio-economic transformations. It underlined China’s need ‘to clean’ all forms of “cultural chaos” and build a “healthy” and “virile” culture. – Middle East Media Research Institute  

John Lee writes: The primary cause of inequality in China is entrenched privileges for state-owned enterprises and the well-connected at the expense of the truly private economy. Until discrimination against the latter is reduced, wealth won’t be better distributed, and household income won’t increase enough to drive and sustain the domestic consumption-led growth promised by Chinese leaders. – Wall Street Journal  

John Redwood writes: Xi has moved to strengthen his and the party’s control in many fields. The People’s Bank of China has Guo Shuqing as party secretary as well as a deputy governor of the bank. As a full member of the Communist Party Central Committee, Guo probably has more political clout than the governor. He is also the chief banking regulator. This double banking of command, common in China, is now more critical as the party increases its grip on behalf of the president. – Financial Times 

South Asia

It was announced this week that India will be sending its Su-30 Flanker fighter jets to Japan for a series of joint exercises with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF.) – The National Interest  

Military-appointed authorities in Myanmar are making progress in addressing its currency crisis, with the kyat stabilising and efforts underway to keep prices under control, a senior central bank official said. The kyat lost more than 60% of its value in September, driving up food and fuel prices in a fragile economy that has languished since a Feb. 1 military coup and is on course for a double-digit contraction this year. – Reuters  

Paul Donowitz writes: U.S. policy must support such attempts at ethnic reconciliation — it is only through a political solution to Burma’s internal conflicts that the country will have a truly sustainable democracy. We welcome the BURMA Act and urge Congress to move quickly to pass this important piece of legislation. – The Hill  


Taiwan’s military is facing its most dire challenge from China in decades, the island’s defense minister said, reflecting a surge in tensions after a flurry of Chinese military sorties in the region sparked expressions of concern from the U.S. – Wall Street Journal  

Australia said Wednesday that it would stop processing asylum-seekers at offshore detention centers in Papua New Guinea, which have been criticized by human rights groups, by the end of the year. – New York Times  

Taiwan will ensure regional peace and stability and seeks to work with other like-minded democracies, President Tsai Ing-wen told senior French and Australian dignitaries on Thursday, days after a dramatic spike in tensions with China. – Reuters  

The electricity crisis is roiling energy markets from Europe to Asia, with fuels that can be used for heating or power generation such as propane, diesel and fuel oil in high demand. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicts the crunch will drive greater consumption of crude later this year, while China has ordered state-owned firms to secure energy supplies for winter at all costs. – Bloomberg  

Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo declared her bid for the presidency in the 2022 elections, as she strongly criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s pandemic response and called for a change in the way the nation is governed. – Bloomberg  

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday Washington had reassured them that its approach to the island had not changed, a day after President Joe Biden said that he and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to abide by the “Taiwan agreement.” – Reuters  

France said on Wednesday its ambassador to Australia would return to his post, ending a diplomatic protest over Canberra’s decision to scrap a contract to buy French submarines. – Agence France-Presse 

Michael Mazza writes: In wartime, Australian nuclear submarines could contribute to allied blockade operations, interdict naval forces in the South China Sea seeking to support an assault on Taiwan, and carry out strikes on the Chinese mainland. If Australian submarines are operating in coalition with the United States, they might also free up more American subs to stalk Chinese ballistic missile boats. – Global Taiwan Institute  

Bradley Jardine and Edward Lemon write: At present, Russia and China do not appear to be competing in Central Asia. But this will be tested as China’s rise in the region continues during the early post-American era. China may not be eating into Russia’s share of the arms market at present, but it may start to do so as China’s domestic arms industry develops and continues to seek export markets. – War on the Rocks  


A candidate for the Communist Party in Russia’s parliamentary elections, Mikhail Lobanov, went overnight from being an obscure university math lecturer to being the new face of a rising threat to the Kremlin. – Washington Post 

With winter fast approaching and a stunning energy price surge pummeling Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin chose an opportune moment to use his country’s leverage as an oil and gas superpower. – Bloomberg  

Russia deployed “attack drones” and “tracked robots” in recent war games for the first time, according to a top defense official. “A system of putting out of order a swarm of a hypothetical enemy’s attack drones at a distance was employed successfully,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday, per state media. – Washington Examiner  

The seemingly warm relations between the Russian leadership and the Taliban, an extremist Islamic movement that many in the West consider a terrorist organization, have been a kind of mystery for a rather long time. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

In this interview, TNI Editor Jacob Heilbrunn speaks with the prominent Russian television host Vladimir Soloviev. Soloviev presides over the most popular political show on Russian federal television and also has developed a significant YouTube following. He is well-known in Russia and the West for his outspoken views which appeal to many and offend others. – The National Interest  

Alexei and another now released inmate, 40-year-old Rustam — who spoke to AFP from his native country Tajikistan and whose name has also been changed — said they were transferred from Angarsk to Irkutsk’s Detention Centre No. 1 after the unrest. It was there, they said, that they were assaulted by inmates on the orders of prison guards. – Agence France-Presse 

Advanced contacts for a meeting in Moscow between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin are currently taking place. – Arutz Sheva 

Tom Rogan writes: Further rubbing salt in the wound, Putin has just cut a separate energy supply deal with his EU friend in Hungary, Viktor Orban. It will mean redirecting gas transits out of Ukraine. The problem for Ukraine, and for Western security, is that the fees associated with these transits are critical to the revenue base of Kyiv’s pro-Western government. While Ukraine’s existing contract means it remains entitled to those fees, Gazprom is likely to stop paying them regardless. – Washington Examiner  


NATO will expel eight Russian diplomats who were members of the country’s delegation to the military alliance, alleging they were working as spies, the latest development in an increasingly frayed relationship between the Kremlin and Western forces. – Washington Post  

The European Union has spent years and billions of euros preparing Balkan countries to join the bloc, an effort the U.S. has supported in the hopes that it would spread stability in a region long racked by political volatility and sporadic violence. – Wall Street Journal  

Karwan’s family had stumbled into a geopolitical fight between Belarus and Poland that has escalated into a man-made humanitarian disaster for Europe. […]Poland’s right-wing government, determined to keep out refugees and economic migrants, has flooded the eastern border area with security agents, while keeping out prying eyes by declaring it an emergency exclusion zone off limits to all but residents. – New York Times  

Declaring that Britain would not return to the “broken model” of the past, Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed on Wednesday to engineer a radical transformation of the country’s economy to a future defined by highly skilled workers earning higher wages. – New York Times  

Emmanuel Macron made the case for a more assertive European Union foreign policy over a summit dinner on Tuesday and met with mixed reviews from the bloc’s other leaders. – Bloomberg  

A court in Cyprus on Wednesday extended the detention of a man that Israel alleges was a would-be assassin recruited by Iran to attack Israeli businesspeople on the island. – Reuters  

A Polish commander has said Russia’s Zapad 2021 military drill with Belarus featured a wide range of hybrid warfare tools that Moscow is using to advance its regional influence. – Defense News 

Therese Raphael writes: Johnson is a master of shifting blame and changing the subject. But far better for the government to work with businesses to drive up not just wages, but the supply side changes that would put Britain’s economy on a better growth trajectory and deliver the rebalancing he’s promised. – Bloomberg  

Katia Glod writes: Following the Russian model, which combines elections at various levels in the same poll, the Belarusian local elections will now also take place in conjunction with the parliamentary vote. The measure effectively robs the public of an election campaign that could have likely stirred up protests and given the chance to vote for anti-regime candidates. – Center for European Policy Analysis 


Days after kicking out seven U.N. officials, Ethiopia accused them without providing evidence Wednesday of inflating the magnitude of humanitarian crisis and taking sides in the war in its Tigray region, while U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pressed the country’s ambassador for documentation of the allegations. – Associated Press  

But violence has spiralled in recent months, forcing thousands of already vulnerable people like Aliyu to flee their homes in a situation that aid agencies fear risks becoming a humanitarian crisis. – Agence France-Presse 

Google announced plans on Wednesday to invest $1 billion in Africa over the next five years in an effort to bolster internet access and to fund startups focused on the continent’s digital transformation. – The Hill  

The Biden administration called a news report that Ethiopian Airlines Group ferried arms to Eritrea a grave allegation and noted Ethiopia could be hit with U.S. sanctions if conflict in the Tigray region persists. – Bloomberg  

Guinea’s military junta on Wednesday named Mohamed Beavogui, a former civil servant and expert in agricultural finance, as prime minister to preside over a promised transition back to democratic rule following a coup in September. – Reuters  

Mawi Asgedom writes: If the Biden administration fails to apply the genocide designation to Tigray, the message will be clear to any future war criminal: We will look the other way no matter what you do. You can gang rape girls, starve your people, murder masses of civilians, and in response we will share only toothless statements of concern. For the sake of my people in Tigray, and people across the world, the United States must immediately call the Ethiopian government’s actions in Tigray a genocide. – Washington Post 

The Americas

The investigation into the July 7 attack in which President Jovenel Moïse was shot several times at his private home and his wife injured continues as many wonder who masterminded and financed the assassination. […]Authorities say other suspects are still on the run, including a former Haitian senator. – Associated Press 

Two right-wing political parties in Brazil decided on Wednesday to join forces to become the country’s largest political party, with plans to field an alternative to President Jair Bolsonaro in next year’s elections. – Reuters  

Peru’s President Pedro Castillo replaced a prime minister accused of terrorist sympathies with a less controversial choice in a bid to improve his administration’s sour relations with lawmakers. – Bloomberg  

President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, liberal Big Tech critic Jonathan Kanter, received bipartisan support for his confirmation during a Senate hearing Wednesday. – Washington Examiner 

Colombia deployed a new unit of 14,000 military personnel on Wednesday to increase government control of a conflict hotspot near the Venezuelan border, where multiple armed groups compete for control of cocaine production. – Reuters  


The Biden administration will impose new cybersecurity requirements on some railroad and other surface-transit systems, the latest effort by the federal government to compel certain private industries to boost their cyber defenses in the face of proliferating ransomware attacks and other disruptive threats, officials said. – Wall Street Journal  

Chinese spies are using Facebook to find Uyghur Muslims around the world, according to a whistleblower who argues the tech titan’s neglect of such behavior is a national security risk to the United States. – Washington Examiner  

Using a little known contracting method, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is now able to test out the commercial capabilities it’s interested in before it buys them. – C4ISRNET 

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has a new strategy for tackling the torrent of data pouring into the organization from all over the world, and it relies on automation, artificial intelligence and improving access to information. – Defense News 

Whistleblower Frances Haugen’s testimony to US senators on Tuesday shone a light on violence and instability in Myanmar and Ethiopia in recent years and long-held concerns about links with activity on Facebook. – The Guardian  


The U.S. Army can simultaneously field two clean sheet-designed future vertical lift aircraft, assuming costs remain affordable, according to an Oct. 6 report by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. – Defense News 

Austal USA has received its first contract to build a steel ship after revamping its aluminum-only construction yard in Alabama, with the U.S. Navy awarding the company $144 million to design and build two towing, salvage, and rescue ships (T-ATS). – Defense News 

The United States has deployed Rockwell B-1B Lancer bombers to the United Kingdom, with the Bomber Task Force (BTF) arriving at Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford in Gloucestershire on 6 October. – Jane’s 360 

The US Army has launched Block 2 production of the Boeing CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopter, with the manufacturer announcing two awards valued at a combined USD165 million. – Jane’s 360 

Long War

Moroccan police said on Wednesday they had broken up a cell linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) group in the port city of Tangiers, arresting five people suspected of planning cross-border attacks, AFP reported. – Arutz Sheva  

Germany and Denmark have brought home 11 women and 37 children from a camp in northeastern Syria where suspected Islamic State members have been held, the German foreign ministry said Thursday. – Associated Press  

A British woman who joined the Islamic State group with her young children has said UK politicians should “open your minds” to allowing them to return. Nicole Jack and her three daughters are currently being held in a detention camp in Syria alongside thousands of wives and children of IS fighters. – BBC  

An ex-CIA officer turned whistleblower against torture has called for the release of a suspected terrorist he captured nearly 20 years ago. John Kiriakou told the BBC that the torture and imprisonment of al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah has been “more than adequate punishment”. – BBC  

Supreme Court justices asked Wednesday if the U.S. would allow a Guantanamo Bay detainee to testify about his alleged torture and confinement by the CIA, a move that could sidestep a dispute over the government’s assertion of the “state secrets privilege.” – CNBC