Bottom Line Up Front Just this week, members of Ukrainian far-right groups were photographed attending protests in Hong Kong against the Chinese government. White supremacy extremists likely traveled to Hong Kong to learn from and study the anti-government protests, riots, and resistance, even though they were not invited to ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On December 1, the Iraqi Parliament approved the announced resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. The courage of the protesters was on display even as the Iraqi security forces killed more than 400 protesters through a brutal countrywide crackdown. Protesters are demanding wholesale change ...

As NATO members meet in London this week, The Cipher Brief tapped former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Philip Breedlove (Ret.) to help cut through some of the rhetoric and understand the Alliance’s strategic importance today to both the U.S. and its allies. The Cipher Brief:  What needs ...

As NATO members meet in London this week, The Cipher Brief tapped former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.) to help cut through some of the rhetoric and understand the Alliance’s strategic importance today to both the U.S. and its allies. The Cipher Brief:  What's your ...

Bottom Line Up Front NATO countries gathered this week to celebrate the alliance’s 70th anniversary amidst growing uncertainty over the institution’s future. In a recent interview, French President Emmanuel Macron lamented that ‘what we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO.’ NATO has been criticized as an anachronism, ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Hunting the Caliphate: America's War on ISIS and the Dawn of the Strike Cell By Dana J.H. Pittard and Wes J. Bryant Reviewed by Brian Raymond Brian Raymond served as National Security Council Director for Iraq from 2014-2015. He participated in numerous meetings with President Obama in the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The top commander for U.S. forces in the Middle East warned that the growing U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf might not be enough to deter Iran from attacking Gulf states. The comments by CENTCOM commander Gen. McKenzie followed publication of a Defense Intelligence ...

The Commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, General Kenneth F. McKenzie, recently warned that the presence of an additional 14,000 U.S. troops sent to the Persian Gulf region over the past several months likely has not deterred Iranian efforts to launch future attacks there. General McKenzie highlighted the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The release of a trove of Chinese government documents offers close insight into a vast campaign of incarceration, intimidation, and abuse of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province. China has relied heavily on emerging technology and artificial intelligence to track, monitor, and ...

OPINION -- Many in the United States and China believe that we’re in a cold war and that conflict is inevitable. If true, that would be tragic not only for the United States and China, but for the world. More must be done now to ensure that this does not happen; that U.S.-China ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The protests in Colombia are driven by myriad issues—corruption, stagnant wages, grievances related to human rights, and a stalled peace process. The government has reacted with a show of force, with troops remaining on the streets of the capital and a curfew in effect for ...

BOOK REVIEW: Madame Fourcade’s Secret War:  The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler By Lynne Olson Reviewed by Rick Ledgett Rick Ledgett served as the Deputy Director of the National Security Agency from January 2014 until his retirement in April 2017, culminating a nearly 40-year career ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Senior U.S. officials have inexplicably parroted statements echoing the Kremlin’s talking points that Russia was a victim of a Ukrainian smear campaign. In a display of remarkably careless operations security, American government officials regularly communicated on unsecured lines in heavily-monitored counter-intelligence environments with little concern ...

OPINION – It was supposed to be Senate confirmation hearing for Stephen E. Biegun to be confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State, but really, it was President Trump’s Foreign Policy that was on trial in Washington last week. “This administration’s actions have undermined our ability to promote American foreign policy ...

Nine American women and children were killed by suspected drug cartel members in an attack in northern Mexico earlier this month, refocusing attention on the country’s long-standing drug and corruption issues. While hundreds of Mexicans die each year as the result of drug violence, this particular attack gained enormous attention ...

Mike Vigil is the former Chief of International Operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration. He is one of the most highly decorated agents within the agency. He is the author of DEAL and Metal Coffins: The Blood Alliance Cartel and Narco Queen. The Cipher Brief:  What should we be paying attention to given the current ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The United Kingdom recently announced that it had taken back several children who were living in territory formerly held by the Islamic State. Britain has consistently argued against bringing home its citizens who traveled to join the Islamic State and has stripped citizens of citizenship. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Protests in Haiti continue for a second straight month, though they have begun to lose momentum more recently. The protesters are demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, who has vowed to stay in office despite widespread demonstrations. The massive protests have exacerbated the already ...

It is no secret that Hermione revealed that the basilisk traveled via the pipes in the second installment of the Harry Potter series. When I began my consulting career with the National Communications System (NCS) and cybersecurity became the sexy cousin, the communications muggles liked to remind the cyber wizards ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Turkey recently sent a dozen Islamic State prisoners back to their respective home countries, while Erdogan has promised to send more home over the next weeks and months. Most countries, particularly in the European Union (EU), have refused to repatriate captured foreign fighters, stripping them ...

  Bottom Line Up Front According to the U.S. State Department, global terrorism clustered in three regions in 2018, with South Asia, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for nearly 85 percent of global attacks. The Islamic State is seeking to plot a resurgence, attempting to revive its logistics ...

As street protests continue unabated in Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, and other Middle Eastern countries, regimes have used the social media platforms and traditional media to track, control, and repress their citizens. Iran has shut down the Internet and other digital platforms. Since traditional media and journalism outlets, especially newspapers ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The recent unrest in Iran is unlikely to bring about political change or extract significant government concessions to popular demands. Despite the protests, the government is unlikely to alter its stance on talks with the Trump administration or retrench any of its regional interventions. The ...

OPINION -- Donald Trump as president displays weakness toward those he envies as strong foreign leaders, while he acts like a bully toward leaders he considers less powerful than himself.  Those contrasting natures were on full display last Wednesday. At the same time Trump was offering unwarranted concessions to Turkish ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Jihadist attacks in the Sahel are increasing in intensity against both military targets and Western economic interests. Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS) continues to demonstrate its strong and growing capabilities in the Sahel, especially Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso is now a full-fledged operational area ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Following weeks of protests, longtime Bolivian leader Evo Morales fled the country in mid-November and was granted asylum by Mexico’s government, in what some are calling an illegitimate ouster. On November 12, deputy senate leader Jeanine Áñez announced that she would assume the presidency of ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Saudi Arabia cultivated ties with Twitter employees and persuaded them to spy on various user accounts and report back to Saudi leadership. The Saudi government seems unable and unwilling to tolerate any criticism, no matter how benign. The Saudis command a legion of virtual bots ...

OPINION -- It is common for the leadership of the Intelligence Community to send notes to the workforce. The leaderships’ thoughts on all sorts of issues – from intelligence successes and failures to key personnel assignments and critical budget decisions and, yes, sometimes when the IC appears in the media ...

OPINION -- Traveling in Greece on personal business during late October, it was remarkable to hear from a variety of Greeks, their unvarnished views of the Trump administration as well as their overall opinion of where America sits in the current world order. It was a unique experience for me, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Last week 15 people were killed and five others wounded in an insurgent attack on a checkpoint in southern Thailand, home to a long-simmering low-intensity conflict. The ethnic Malay Muslim insurgency against the Buddhist Thai majority in the southernmost reaches of the country is among ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Since the protests began in October, security forces have killed more than 319 and injured as many as 15,000 civilians. In a tactic common to governments attempting to attenuate the momentum of the protests, the internet and access to social media has been shut down ...

OPINION -- President Trump had showed a change of attitude toward Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his new Ukrainian government before last July 25, when he asked Zelensky for a “favor”. The sources and reason for that change of attitude should be one of the early issues explored at tomorrow’s ...

  Bottom Line Up Front In 2019, it is easier than ever for nation-states or wealthy individuals to pay virtual mercenaries to conduct a range of illicit activities including espionage, data theft, and cyber intimidation and harassment. Companies require permits from their respective governments to export surveillance software, but government ...

   Bottom Line Up Front Russia has extended its global disinformation campaign to Africa, where it seeks to promote pro-Russian and anti-Western attitudes through propaganda. After each disinformation campaign, Moscow assesses its efforts and then tweaks tactics accordingly, adapting to new countermeasures as necessary. This campaign was centered in and ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iran is working with key allies in Iraq and Lebanon to forestall political change in the face of significant protests in both countries. Protesters in Lebanon and Iraq are primarily opposing governmental corruption, but are also angered by Iran’s support for key Shi’a factions in ...

The Cipher Brief’s Expert Take column highlights the thinking of our experts based on their areas of expertise.  Emile Nakhleh is a former member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service. Lebanon’s largely peaceful “Arab Spring” is a model in civic activism for the greater Middle East. Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s ...

BOOK REVIEW: Agent Running in the Field by John le Carre Reviewed by Nick Fishwick Nick Fishwick CMG retired in 2012 after nearly thirty years in the British Foreign Service. He did postings in Lagos, Istanbul and Kabul. His responsibilities in London included director of security and, after returning from ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Last week, Twitter announced it would no longer accept political ads. Meanwhile, Facebook officials have lamented that it would be a bad thing for democracy if social media companies were left to discern fact versus fiction. Even with world-class programmers and sophisticated algorithms, Facebook has ...

OPINION -- More than 231 years ago, Alexander Hamilton foresaw the controversy around today’s impeachment inquiry into President Trump when he published Federalist Paper 65 on March 7, 1788.  In it, Hamilton wrote that the Constitutionally established, House of Representatives investigative role in the impeachment process “will seldom fail to agitate ...

Protesters came out in support of Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Sunday but they were followed by anti-government protesters who have been calling for a change in the ruling class.   Prime Minister Saad Hariri stepped down last week under pressure from protesters. Meanwhile, there is growing unrest in Baghdad as ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Following the recent death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the so-called Islamic State announced its new leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi. The selection of al-Qurayshi is intended to ensure continuity, signaling that the new leader will carry on the legacy of the caliphate. One of the ...

The killings of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his possible deputy by U.S. special operations forces are major losses for the extremists, ones that are likely to usher in a period of chaos and improvisation among ISIS fighters. But it would be a fatal mistake to assume that the deaths have destroyed ...

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran is on life support.  Despite the pledges of allegiance to its implementation, Iran is now likely to undertake its fourth phase of reduction in commitments on or around November 5.  A familiar circular firing squad of recriminations will then commence: the ...

The Cipher Brief’s NEW Open Source Collection Report (OSINT) uses open source data to track trends around the world that impact national and global security. We break the world down by region and provide you with a recent timeline to help understand the pace at which events are developing and ...

The nation and the world welcomed President Donald Trump’s Oct. 27 announcement that ISIS leader Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed by the U.S. military at his hideout in Northwest Syria. Our gratitude goes out to the military, the intelligence community, State Department and law enforcement for its coordinated effort to kill ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi continues his crackdown on any dissent, real or imagined. Since anti-corruption demonstrations began in late September, the government has arrested thousands. There are widespread and credible reports of torture and indefinite detention. Meanwhile, the United States is openly supporting its ...

This week, Russia test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile from its new nuclear submarine, as Facebook says Moscow is stepping up its efforts to spread disinformation in Africa.  That’s just this week.  Going back a few more days, U.S. and British officials say Russian hackers piggy-backed on an Iranian spy operation ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Deeply dissatisfied with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposal, disgruntled Unionists in Northern Ireland have gathered to loudly voice their opposition. Paramilitary activity throughout Northern Ireland has been on the rise, calling into question for the first time since the late 1990s, the stability ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On October 29, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced he and his government would resign, amid massive protests. Although the protests initially cut across sectarian divides, more recently, there have been hints of disunity within the country-wide protest movement. Government officials from both France and ...

OPINION -- President Trump’s sending U.S. military troops to control the oil fields in northern Syria can only be interpreted as introducing financial deal-making into his running of U.S. foreign and national security policies. Trump made clear in his Sunday press conference that he sees control of the Syrian oil ...