Insurgent Use of
Unmanned Aerial Systems: A Cat-and-Mouse Game |
Levi Maxey, The Cipher Brief
Last month, Kurdish forces in northern Iraq shot down an Islamic State
drone booby-trapped with explosives that later killed two Peshmerga
soldiers as they inspected it. The drone was not like the Reaper or
Predator drones the U.S. uses to rain Hellfire missiles down in its global
war on terror but was instead a small hobby drone, like the many
available for purchase online.
UAVs As Mobile IEDs| Robert J. Bunker, Adjunct Research Professor,
Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College
The Islamic State (IS) and some of the other Jihadi groups provide
great case studies of how insurgent groups has utilized UAS over the
last few years. These systems were originally used in the May-August
2014 by IS for reconnaissance and mission planning as well as
propaganda/information operations purposes with Jihadi video
Non-Kinetic Solutions to UAS|Michael Balazs and Jonathan Rotner, MITRE Corporation
"Each [counter-UAS technology] has its pros and cons. There is no
one modality that is going to be able to stop all the different kinds
of threats. Instead you have to start layering different defenses.
There is also no environment that you are defending that is perfectly
representational of all other environments."
Column: Fine Print
The Test Facing Congress and the Incoming Trump
Administration|Walter Pincus, The
"When it comes to dealing with the Pentagon budget, the Iran
nuclear deal, fighting Islamic terrorists, cyber warfare, China, NATO,
and Russia, I’d put more faith in congressional leadership than the
incoming President and those immediately around him."
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Israeli Optimism About a Trump Presidency
| Ambassador Michael Oren, Member, Israeli Knesset
"What has been indicated to us is that the Trump administration
will have a different position both on the peace process and on the
Iranian nuclear deal. This is something we’re going to have to explore
with him. In theory, our position in the government is that we favor
the two-state solution for the two peoples and believe the settlement
issue will be resolved within direct talks."
Hacking the Vote: Lacking Attacks - Threats
Remain | Robert Katz, Founder and Executive
Director, Innovation Intelligence Institute
While many citizens worried foreign interests were seeking to influence
the election, the first cases of substantiated hacking attempts solely
involved registration systems, which are separate from vote casting or
counting. Those breaches posed no direct risk to election results.
Dead Drop: November 11 | Anonymous MEOW MIX: Apparently,
when you have a book out, you must go to great lengths to promote it.
Case in point: Douglas Laux, whose book “Left of Boom: How a Young CIA
Case Officer Penetrated the Taliban and Al-Qaeda,” was published in
April. Laux is featured in Catster magazine in an article called, “So
You’re a Spy and You Have a Cat: How Does That Work?”
That, admittedly, is a question we have never pondered. We DID learn
something from the article, however. Laux says he named his Russian
Blue cat “Mr. Oleg Penkovsky” after the Soviet colonel who spied on
behalf of the CIA in the 1960s. Being a good spy, the cat generally
goes by a pseudonym, “Bubbins.” No doubt this helps preserve his cover.
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U.S. Temporarily Closes Embassy in Kabul The U.S.
Embassy in Kabul announced it would shut down "as a temporary
precautionary measure" one day after a suicide bombing at Bagram
Airfield, a key U.S. military base in Afghanistan. The bombing
killed four Americans, including two soldiers and two contractors, and
left another 16 U.S. service members injured. The Taliban claimed
responsibility for the blast, saying it was revenge for U.S. airstrikes
in the region.
The Cipher Take: The German Consulate
in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif was targeted just days earlier,
as insurgents killed six people and left more than 100 injured. The
attack also comes little more than a week after a firefight between
Afghan and Taliban forces in northern Kunduz province resulted in the
deaths of two U.S. Special Forces troops and more than 30 Afghans,
including three members of the Afghan Special Forces. Taliban
orchestrated violence continues to plague Afghanistan and the
deteriorating security situation is cause for grave concern for American
Turkish-Backed Syrian Rebels Target City of al Bab On Monday
Turkish-backed Syrian rebels under the Euphrates Shield coalition
announced that they were poised to take the city of al Bab from ISIS
militants. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,
residents report that Turkish and Free Syrian Army shelling has already
begun in areas surrounding the city and, on Sunday, Turkish warplanes
struck 15 targets in the area. The city of al Bab and its surroundings
are strategically located between Aleppo to the south, the Kurdish
region of Afrin to the west, Euphrates Shield-controlled territory to
the north, the Kurdish region of Kobane to northeast, and ISIS-controlled
Raqqa to the east.
The Cipher Take: The move to al Bab
is likely an effort to prevent Syrian Kurds from reuniting the regions
of Kobane and Afrin. Ankara views the most powerful Syrian Kurdish
group – the PYD – as a direct threat to Turkish stability due to its
close relationship with the Turkey-based PKK. By all accounts,
Turkey’s intervention in Syria is largely an
effort to curb the spread of this group, and to prevent it from
establishing a presence along the Turkish border. As the U.S.-backed
Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are primarily made up of PYD
forces, prepare to liberate Raqqa from ISIS, any move by Turkey to take
al Bab has the potential to distract from this operation, especially
given Turkish pronouncements that they intend to take the
Kurdish-controlled city of Manbij shortly after. At the same time, from
the Syrian government perspective, al Bab is dangerously close to
northern Aleppo, and government forces are unlikely to welcome the
presence of Turkish-backed forces there.
EU Foreign Ministers Say Turkey Accession Talks Will
Continue At a meeting
of 28 EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, representatives
criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s policies but voted
to continue accession talks with the country. Following an attempted
military coup in July this year, the Turkish government has cracked
down on over 110,000 supposed dissidents. Those detained and arrested
have included teachers, lawyers, clerics, police officers, and members
of the military. This crackdown, as well as a possible resumption of
the death penalty in Turkey, had prompted some EU leaders to call for a
suspension of the EU accession talks with Turkey.
The Cipher Take: The European Union
is in a tough spot when it comes to Turkey. In the aftermath of the
attempted coup, the Turkish president has clearly become far less
liberal. However, the migration deal reached between Turkey and the EU
this year has successfully staunched the flow of refugees from Syria
into Europe through Greece. Immigration has become one of the most
important political issues in Europe, and Turkey’s role as the
gatekeeper of Syrian refugees has given Ankara new leverage over the
EU. The possibility of EU accession is also one of Europe’s few
remaining points of leverage over Turkey, and any attempt to abandon it
would likely drive the country out of the European orbit entirely.
President-elect Trump and Xi Hold First Phone Call On Sunday
evening, President-elect Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping
held their first phone call in what both sides are calling a cordial
and productive first conversation. Trump expressed that the Sino-U.S.
relationship would be “one of the strongest” while Xi said that “facts
have shown that cooperation is the only correct choice.” Additionally,
the two leaders have agreed to meet at an early date.
The Cipher Take: On the campaign
trail, Trump had some rather harsh things to say about China. He
dredged up the phrase currency manipulator (something most economists
now agree no longer applies to Chinese monetary policy) and proclaimed
that he would put a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports to America.
Trump has previously said that the Chinese invented climate
change to hurt American businesses. So, it is certainly good news that Trump and Xi got off to a good
start and intend to continue communication in the future. How the
two nations decide to cooperate in the coming years will have important
ramifications for the global economy and international security.
Militant Violence Escalates in Myanmar Myanmar state
media announced on Monday that the military had killed 30 fighters from
a Rohingya militant group in what is being called the largest
escalation in violence since hostilities broke out a month ago. The attack
on the militants was launched after nine police officers were killed
across three outposts in the restive Rakhine region. In addition to
attacks by police, satellite images show that 430 Rohingya homes have
been burned by state security forces, according to Human Rights Watch.
The government maintains that the houses were set alight by militants.
The Cipher Take: Approximately 1.1
million Rohingya live in Myanmar, though they are not recognized as
citizens and are denied many basic rights. Violence between Rohingya
militants and the government has been ongoing for decades, though this
most recent outbreak has been the worst since 2012 when hundreds were
killed in sectarian violence between the Muslim Rohingya and multiple
Buddhist ethnic groups. As the violence continues, the possibility of a
swift peaceful settlement grows more remote.
Nigerian Army Clashes with Militants Clashes
between Nigeria’s largest Shia group, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria
(IMN) and police broke out during an annual religious procession
just outside the city of Kano in northern Nigeria, leaving at least
nine dead and many more injured. The outbreak was the latest in a
series of incidents between the IMN and police in northern
The Cipher Take: According to a judicial
report released in August, 347 IMN members were killed and buried in
mass graves after clashes with the Nigerian army in December 2015. Last
month, two IMN members were killed during religious processions in
northern Nigeria. Some analysts have drawn parallels between the IMN
and the rise of Boko Haram, whose insurgency began
in 2009 after security forces killed hundreds of its members.
Friend Finder Networks Breached, Again Over 412
million accounts from adult services website Friend Finder Networks
have been leaked online, exposing the email addresses, passwords, dates
of last visits, browser information, IP addresses, and site membership
statuses for all sites run by Friend Finder Networks. Among the leaked
details were 78,301 U.S. military email addresses, 5,650 U.S.
government email addresses, and 96 million Hotmail accounts. It appears
that even though some of the passwords were cryptographically hashed
using SHA-1, the protection was easily cracked.
The Cipher Take: Only the Yahoo
breach of 500 million accounts is larger than this hack. The breach is
the network’s second; they were hacked in May 2015, leaking the
personal details of almost four million users including their login
credentials, emails, and even more personal information. Due to the
nature of the services as well as the government accounts, those with
leaked accounts could not only experience personal embarrassment, but
they may also be prime targets for blackmail and phishing attacks in