As part of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment this week, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that “Global jihadists in dozens of groups and countries threaten local and regional U.S. interests, despite having experienced some significant setbacks in recent years, and ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Given its history, geography and demographics, Southeast Asia has proven to be hospitable terrain for myriad terrorist and insurgent groups. A recent attack against a church in Jolo in the southern Philippines highlights the enduring nature of the threat posed by jihadist militancy. Indonesia, the ...

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats released the Worldwide Threat Assessment on Tuesday, with Intelligence Community leaders briefing Senators on the biggest threats facing the U.S. While The Cipher Brief will cover all aspects of the broader threat matrix that includes China, Russia and North Korea, this week we are ...

New York State has convicted a white supremacist as a ‘terrorist’ for the first time in its history.  James Harris Jackson was convicted for the murder of Timothy Caughman, a 66-year-old African American man, in what has been classified as a hate crime.  Jackson pled guilty Tuesday to the charge ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Earlier this month, China released footage from a military exercise where the ‘Guam killer’ DF-26 ballistic missile was tested. In the 21stCentury, China has increasingly focused resources on modernizing its military to match its economic power. Chinese military modernization presents the most significant challenge to ...

By Larry Loftis Reviewed by: Carol Rollie Flynn, Cipher Brief Expert and Former Assoc. Deputy Director, National Counterterrorism Center, CIA.  Currently CEO & Managing Director, Singa Consulting Code Name: LISE: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Decorated Spy,  Gallery Books, January 15, 2019 Early in Larry Loftis' ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Since 2016, there have been more than 230 terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso, which threatens to destabilize the landlocked West African nation. In the north of the country, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Islamic State in Greater Sahara both pose growing security threats. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On January 26, a Venezuelan military attache defected to the U.S. and along with other military officers, recognized Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s president. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has kept favor with the military following tensions over his election, although this has recently begun to change. ...

ISIS has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack at a cathedral in the Philippines that left at least 21 people dead and scores injured. Earlier this month, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack in Syria that targeted and killed four Americans, one of them a Green Beret.  Al-Shabab, the terrorist group ...

As this month’s terror attacks in Syria and Nairobi make clear, organizations like ISIS and al-Shabab remain focused on launching attacks as a show of strength and resolve.  ISIS claimed responsibility for the Syria attack that killed four Americans and al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the Nairobi attack that killed at ...

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says countries around the world are detecting and reporting more victims of human trafficking than ever before.  One of the reasons for the increase in reporting could be that there is much more attention placed on the issue than in years past. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan will give terrorist groups like al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) more room to maneuver. AQIS is a major node in a network with deep roots in South Asia, and it works closely with other terrorist groups, including the ...

The Government remains shut down after President Donald Trump offered a plan over the weekend to provide temporary protection to some groups of immigrants if Democrats agree to fund the border wall.   Democrats refused the offer and are calling on the President to re-open the government while  they address issues ...

General Michael Hayden, the co-host of The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat Conference for the past two years, has famously said that the world has been more dangerous in the past, but it has never been more complicated.  He has also said that if the U.S. doesn’t get China right, nothing ...

French philosopher Voltaire claimed that "if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” The Kremlin, whenever it wishes to free a convicted Russian spy, twists this concept a bit: “If there's no espionage case, it's necessary to invent one”.  The recent arrest of U.S. citizen Paul ...

Russia’s willingness to detain a U.S. citizen in apparent retaliation for the recent case against Russian citizen Marina Butina should serve as a warning to U.S. citizens who are traveling - without the benefit of diplomatic immunity -  of the risks in traveling to countries where the rule of law ...

Bill Harlow knows how to use a word.  The Under/Cover Co-Editor and prolific author has worked with some of the very best in the national security world.  He was co-author of George Tenet’s At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA, as well as roughly a half ...

President Donald Trump now says U.S. troops will "slowly" be withdrawn from Syria after his controversial announcement in December, saying that troops would be pulled out within 30 days, led to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis and the accelerated resignation of Special Envoy to Syria, Brett McGurk. The ...

As we head into 2019, the U.S. does so as a nation that has become accustomed to active shooters, evidenced by horrific tragedies that occurred in 2018.  On Feb. 14, 2018, 17 people died at Parkland High School. On Nov 8, 2018, at a country music bar in Thousand Oaks, ...

John Carlin brings a wealth of government experience to his new book, co-written with author Garrett M. Graff, Dawn of the Code War: America’s Battle Against Russia, China, and the Rising Global Cyber Threat. Part of that government experience includes serving as the former Assistant Attorney General for National Security, ...

Vice President Mike Pence put a little rocket fuel behind plans to create a new Space Force on Tuesday by announcing that President Donald Trump has directed the Pentagon to create a U.S. Space Command.  Speaking at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Pence said that the new Command will ...

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) released a 23-page report in October outlining proposed major changes for how it wants to screen passengers at airports to help keep them safe from terrorism.  The changes include far greater reliance on biometric technology and intelligence analysis to move people through screening points more ...

Bottom Line Up Front: Six months after the historic June 11, 2018 Summit between President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jung Un, the American public is losing patience with a North Korea that continues to make nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems.  Many now doubt that North Korea will ever ...

At a recent private D.C. dinner, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen gathered with academics and cyber experts from the private sector to talk candidly about urgent cyber threats and actions that DHS is taking to address them. It was an intimate event, hosted by Atlantic Council President Fred Kempe and ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.K. Parliament has issued a report detailing shortcomings with how its security services handled five terrorism cases in 2017. The challenges came not in the responses to these attacks, but rather the inability to ‘connect dots’ or deter people already identified as potential threats. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On December 1, President Trump met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Argentina. The meeting comes at a crucial time for the Sino-U.S. relationship, which has been continuously deteriorating throughout the Trump presidency. Both Xi and Trump are to ...

Former President George H.W. Bush, who died last Friday, held among his most cherished roles in U.S. Government, the role of Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Bush served as Director for just one year, from January 1976 to January 1977.  He came into the Agency during a time of ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On December 11, the British Parliament will vote on a ‘finalized’ deal for exiting the European Union (EU). The deal is two parts—a lengthy legally-binding agreement and a more controversial, less-detailed common approach to future trade relations. The EU is by far the largest market ...

OPINION -- The Middle East, like the rest of the world, is a “very dangerous place!” according to President Trump. The Saudis, with America’s tacit help, made it so. President Trump’s bizarre and strange recent statement giving Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) a pass on his involvement in ...

The U.S. is calling for more rigorous enforcement of sanctions against Russia after Russian ships fired on and seized three Ukrainian boats on Sunday, claiming the ships had ‘illegally’ entered its waters.  Russia has been using Ukraine as a provocation point for some time, so will the tougher enforcement of ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Hezbollah’s emergence as Iran’s key regional proxy has prompted additional U.S. efforts to choke off the terror group’s finances. Sanctions will likely be ineffective because Hezbollah is a sub-state actor with few connections to the formal global economy. U.S. sanctions against Hezbollah are modeled after ...

  Bottom Line Up Front After months of increasing restrictions, Russia recently blockaded the Sea of Azov at the Kerch Strait, denying Ukrainian ships the ability to enter. Russia fired upon and seized two Ukrainian gunboats and a tugboat as they attempted to sail from Odessa to Mariupol, with an ...

According to a recent report by the National Defense Strategy Commission (NDS), the U.S. Department of Defense and the White House "have not yet articulated clear operational concepts for achieving U.S. security objectives in the face of ongoing competition and potential military confrontation with China and Russia." The NDS is ...

Cipher Brief readers are wishing General Michael V. Hayden, a speedy recovery after the former CIA and NSA director suffered a stroke last week. Hayden, who is a member of The Cipher Brief's board of directors, suffered the stroke at home just before Thanksgiving.  According to a statement from the Michael ...

Last month, Secretary Mattis and his counterparts from across the Americas met in Mexico City for The Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas to discuss shared regional defense challenges. The event was especially important for North American defense cooperation between the United States, Canada and Mexico.  Secretary Mattis noted ...

  Bottom Line Up Front More than two decades after the official end of the wars in the Balkans, ethnic divisions still define the political landscape of Bosnia and Herzegovina. While combat subsided in the mid-1990s, the country remains as divided as ever, particularly along religious and ethnic lines, with ...

BOOK REVIEW: Dawn of The Code War: Americas Battle Against Russia, China, and the Rising Global Cyber Threat By: John P. Carlin with Garrett M. Graff, Public Affairs, New York, 2018 Reviewed by Peter M. Tran In 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter that “Our new Constitution is now established, and ...

OPINION -- U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials have treated WikiLeaks as a hostile, foreign intelligence service and Julian Assange, its director, as a potential target for criminal prosecution, since the Obama administration. Last week’s inadvertent disclosure of a sealed federal indictment against Assange in Federal District Court in Eastern ...

  Bottom Line Up Front At some point today, the U.S. government is expected to release its assessment on the murder of U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. President Trump has already minimized the assessment, questioning ‘will anybody really know?’ when asked about the Khashoggi murder ...

  Bottom Line Up Front By October 2019, the U.S. will have spent approximately $6 trillion in efforts related to support of the so-called ‘global war on terror.’ This figure factors in the true costs of a series of seemingly endless military campaigns, to include debt payments and spending across ...

President Donald Trump is expected to receive a full report on the killing of Washington Post Journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday.  The President called a leaked CIA conclusion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the Khashoggi's killing "very premature" in comments over the weekend, though he ...

Bottom line: Terrorists are turning to the dark web’s crypto-bazaars, social media channels and e-commerce sites to buy more coveted military equipment than the usual rocket launchers and AK-47s in the traditional black market. These digital black markets are also allowing terrorist organizations from Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, as ...

  Bottom Line Up Front As the extent of Russia’s manipulation of Facebook became more apparent following the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, the social media company reluctantly investigated itself and discovered serious shortcomings. In the aftermath of the Saudi-ordered murder of Jamal Khashoggi, there was renewed attention to the use ...

OPINION -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has managed to wage a global charm offensive, even while supporting a number of actions that have drawn world criticism, including the GRU-sponsored attempted assassination (using a nerve agent, Novichok) of former GRU officer Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England, the GRU-sponsored hacking of web ...

OPINION -- Democrats controlling the House next January should see an Armed Services Committee that supports some reduced defense spending in fiscal 2020, and an Intelligence Committee that protects, rather-than-attacks, the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Both committees will open aggressive inquiries into Trump activities in ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On November 11, reports indicate that at least 149 Yemenis were killed in fighting for the port city of Hodeida. The toll includes 110 Houthi fighters, 32 pro-pro-government fighters, and 7 civilians. The United Nations is warning again that the disruption or destruction of the ...

China's state news agency Xinhua, has shown the world just how far China has come in the artificial intelligence race with the introduction of a digital news anchor. The digital anchor not only read the news at China's World Internet Conference last week, but it also demonstrated the capabilities of ...

In a recent interview, The Cipher Brief sat down with former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden to talk about global threats, and in particular, cyber threats and efforts to address them, specifically within the private sector.  Hayden has famously said before that when it comes to cyber, ‘the cavalry ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On November 6, the United Nations stated it had found over 200 mass graves in Iraq in areas once held by the Islamic State. The UN assessment of at least 12,000 people buried in these mass graves is likely an underestimate of the murders committed ...

THE SPY WHO WAS LEFT BEHIND by Michael Pullara, Scribner, New York, 2018 Reviewed by Joseph Augustyn There are currently 129 stars carved into the white Alabama marble wall in the lobby of CIA Headquarters, each star representing a CIA employee who died in service to their country.  One of ...