Bottom Line Up Front Just last week, seven members of the so-called Islamic State, all of them from France, were sentenced to death by an Iraqi court. Many Western countries have refused to take back citizens who traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State. An estimated ...

  Bottom Line Up Front: On May 19, 2019, a prison riot in Vakhdat, Tajikistan, left 29 people dead, including supporters of the so-called Islamic State. Allegedly orchestrated by militants, government information about the riot is limited and leaves many questions unanswered. Tajikistan has seen an uptick in jihadist-inspired violence ...

Japan’s cybersecurity will be put to the test over the next 18 months. The world’s attention will be fixed on the island country as it hosts two major events: the Rugby World Cup in September and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. The tournaments will likely be an attractive target for ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Toward the end of May, John Walker Lindh was released from U.S. federal prison after serving 17 years of a sentence stemming from ten charges related to terrorism. At least 90 more terror-related offenders will be released in the United States over the next five ...

The Association of the United States Army (AUSA) held a symposium in Hawaii last week to talk about Land Power in the Pacific (LANPAC). We caught up with Cipher Brief Expert LTG (Ret.) Guy C. Swan III, who currently serves as Vice President of AUSA, to talk about the global ...

  Bottom Line Up Front In 2017, the National Security Agency lost control of a cyberweapon known as EternalBlue, leaked online by a group known as 'the Shadow Brokers.’ Malicious code can be traded and sold on the Dark Web, available to those with the resources to purchase it or ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The only consistency in the Trump administration’s Middle East policy has been to support autocratic regimes and strongmen, as it has in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Trump administration’s top national security officials met with Congress multiple times in May to discuss how the President ...

Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.) was the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and is an Operating Executive at The Carlyle Group. His is the author of several books, including Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans. I think of being at sea on Memorial Day in the ...

Admiral James 'Sandy' Winnefeld served for 37 years in the United States Navy. He retired in 2015 after serving four years as the ninth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the United States' number two ranking military officer.  Memorial Day is not Veterans Day. The latter officially ...

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 in cryptology at NSA and in the U.S. Army. He previously led the Media Leaks Task Force, the Agency’s response to the Snowden ...

Rob Lively retired after 28 years of military service, as the Command Sergeant Major of a Special Missions Unit within The United States Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Memorial Day, by definition, is a federal holiday designated on the last Monday in May to honor those ...

John McLaughlin is a distinguished practitioner in residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.  He served as the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2000-2004 and Acting Director of the CIA in 2004. On Memorial Day, I think of two groups of former colleagues who ...

Lieutenant General Guy C. Swan III (Ret.) currently serves as an AUSA Vice President. During more than 35 years of active service he commanded at every level through Army Service Component Command.  On this Memorial Day I and many members of the West Point Class of 1976 will be remembering ...

Jimmy Hatch served 25 years and 11 months in the US Navy. The majority of that time was as a part of Naval Special Warfare.  He deployed multiple times to combat zones as a shooter and as a K9 handler.  He is the Founder of Spike’s K9 Fund, a 501c3 ...

Kevin Hulbert is a former senior intelligence officer in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations who retired in June 2014, having served multiple overseas tours as CIA Chief of Station and Deputy Chief of Station.  He is currently the President of XK Group.   On many days, but especially on Memorial ...

  On May 10, 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a raise in tariffs on Chinese imports from 10 to 25%, further escalating the ongoing trade dispute with Beijing. The hike in tariffs came as a surprise as both the U.S. and China had been raising expectations in early May ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. is threatening the E.U. over the latter’s initiatives to increase member defense spending and cooperation. Washington objects to conditions in the European Defense Fund and Permanent Structured Cooperation on Defence and Security that restrict non-E.U. participation. The U.S. is stressing the issue as ...

Bottom Line Up Front The Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies are making moves to retake Idlib from the last remaining pocket of rebel fighters holed up in the province. A combination of Russian airpower and Syrian Army ground forces have moved aggressively to retake sections of southwestern ...

As tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to rise, Cipher Brief expert Norm Roule answered subscriber’s questions in a Cipher Brief Members-Only webcast. What follows is a slightly edited (for length and clarity) transcript of that webcast. For more opportunities to engage directly with the experts on pressing national ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Moscow Rules: The Secret CIA Tactics That Helped America Win the Cold War By Antonio and Jonna Mendez Reviewed by Robert Dannenberg, 24-year CIA veteran who was responsible for running Moscow operations both from CIA headquarters and in the field  “There is no limit to a human being’s ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Reprisal attacks stemming from the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka have exacerbated religious and ethnic tensions, destabilizing the country as the government struggles to formulate an adequate response. Sri Lanka has a painful recent history of ethnic and religiously-driven violence. The ideology of 'bin Ladenism’ ...

A series of events last week led to escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran. While tensions had seemed to ease somewhat on Friday, President Trump tweeted on Sunday ‘If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!’ Intelligence sources told ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Germany is experiencing a renewed wave of virulent anti-Semitism and intimidation and violence directed toward immigrants, especially Muslims. Some German politicians have displayed admirable leadership to speak out strongly against anti-Semitism and calling for fellow Germans to 'stand against this with all our means.' This ...

WEEKEND EXTRA -- What did U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo really get out of last week’s talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin? Unlike some other Cipher Brief Experts, Steven Hall,  former member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service,  makes the case for why the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front After the well-documented Russian disinformation and influence campaign in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, some elements of the U.S. government and defense establishment are taking significant steps to prevent a similar event in 2020. After successfully thwarting online influence operations prior to the 2018 U.S. ...

It’s been a week of escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran, beginning on Monday with reporting by The New York Times that senior U.S. leaders were reviewing plans to send as many as 120,000 U.S. troops to the region, in the event that Iran launches attacks against U.S. interests, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Most states, particularly those in the West, have refused to repatriate their citizens who joined the Islamic State and who now reside in crowded camps. Thousands of Islamic State family members are being held in the al Hol Camp in Syria, living in fetid conditions ...

If you’ve done any reporting on national security issues in Washington DC, you probably already know JJ Green.  He’s been covering national security for the city’s most popular radio station, WTOP, for 15 years now.  As you can imagine, he’s seen a lot of changes in that time. The Cipher ...

  Bottom Line Up Front China has created a highly controlled environment in Xinjiang where it monitors ethnic Uighurs, relying on emerging technologies to track and surveil its citizens. The Chinese Communist Party cites widespread religious extremism as the reason behind its draconian counterterrorism strategy. There is a palpable fear ...

Tuesday’s meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov covered a wide range of issues, including arms control, the situation in Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, Syria, to name a few.  The Cipher Brief reached out to expert, Robert Dannenberg, a 24-year veteran of the ...

Tuesday’s meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Sochi, Russia, was the result of a recent phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.  According to Lavrov, both heads of state directed to their subordinates to intensify the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front  Tensions have spiked between the U.S. and Iran recently, with both countries engaging in a series of tit-for-tat actions and heated rhetoric. But conflict should not be considered inevitable; containing Iran is possible and presents a favorable alternative to direct military conflict. Iran’s ‘playbook’ is ...

OPINION -- There was a flurry of arms control talk after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Trump administration is “at the very beginning of conversations about renewing” the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).  He made the comments during testimony April 10, before the Senate ...

BOOK REVIEW: Leading Intelligence Analysis: Lessons from the CIA’s Analytic Front Lines By Bruce E. Pease Reviewed by Christopher A. Corpora, PhD., Professor of Practice in Intelligence Studies, Mercyhurst University Many industries, governments and other complex social environments present a wide range of challenges to those who might lead in these ...

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this week in Russia. The talks are expected to focus on the situation in Venezuela as opposition leaders Juan Guaido continues efforts to oust Nicolas Maduro.  State Department officials said ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. State Department is reportedly increasing its counterterrorism efforts, even as its diplomatic portfolio is further reduced. The State Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance program (ATA) has long served as a critical component of the department’s liaison efforts. However, the Trump administration’s open disdain for diplomacy ...

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is calling for unity and says that his country is facing ‘unprecedented’ pressure as the U.S. continues to ratchet up sanctions.  Tehran said last week it will no longer comply with portions of the negotiated nuclear agreement, an agreement which the U.S. left last year, while ...

South Korea says that North Korea launched what appeared to be two  short-range missiles on Thursday, which would constitute the second round of missile tests in the past five days. Meanwhile, the U.S. announced it has seized a North Korean shipping vessel that it says was in violation of international ...

Baseball in the Polymeropoulos family is our life. We spend the majority of our year engrossed in my 17-year-old son’s fledgling career, playing across the country in travel tournaments, and helping his high school baseball team with volunteer work. The travel is relentless, and sometimes it rains. I also have ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The Trump administration is reportedly considering designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). Given the history of the group and its deep roots in society and religion, the designation would complicate existing issues and comes with significant drawbacks. The Muslim Brotherhood is ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Recent unrest in Venezuela and the continuing uncertainty over whether embattled President Maduro will step down continues to drag on. Following a recent coup attempt, some have speculated that Russia involved itself to save the Maduro regime. The deteriorating situation has caused more than 3 ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On May 6, the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) once again pushed for a transfer to civilian rule in Sudan. While the AU and the UN are pushing Khartoum to transition away from strongman rule, regional powers are seeking to guard their ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On May 5 the Turkish Foreign Minister said his country would accept delivery of Russian S-400 missiles. The prospect of a NATO member purchasing advanced Russian missile systems, specifically designed to shoot down NATO planes, is creating serious tensions within the decades-long alliance. There is ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Protected By Michael Trott Reviewed by Thomas Pecora, former CIA GS 15 Senior Security Officer Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a “bodyguard” for a high-ranking U.S. government official, the CEO of a large corporation, or the family of a billionaire?  In The Protected, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Murder rates in Mexico are again on the rise due to shifting dynamics between the cartels and a struggle for control of lucrative drug trafficking routes. There are several large cartels responsible for smuggling drugs into the U.S.; the most advanced groups have also developed ...

Recent Russian activities around the world are signaling a resurgent Russia, one that wants to shake up a world order that has existed for seven decades, according to Cipher Brief expert and Former Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, General Jack Keane (Ret.).    General Keane was one of three ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Later this month, French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will co-host a conference with the stated objective of regulating violent extremist content online. The conference is in response to the live-streamed and downloadable March 15 terrorist attacks at two mosques ...

There are multiple international dynamics at play in Venezuela this week, particularly between the U.S., which is supporting the uprising of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, and Russia, a supporter of the government of Nicolas Maduro.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a strong and unusually public allegation this week ...

Bottom Line Up Front As U.S-supported Saudi air strikes continue to kill Yemeni civilians, a bill to end that support remains stuck in the Senate. In April, President Trump vetoed a different bill passed by both chambers aimed at ending U.S. support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, something ...

The leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Qassem Soleimani said this week that Iran will never negotiate with the Trump Administration after the U.S. ended its practice of issuing waivers to countries that buy oil from Iran. The move, announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week, ...