Lawfare News

Today's Headlines and Commentary

Clara Spera
Monday, September 15, 2014, 8:49 AM
The Islamic State released another horrifying beheading video this weekend. A video posted on Saturday shows brutal murder of David Haines, a British aid worker who was working in Syria when he was captured by members of IS. CNN covered the news. The video incited renewed international outrage targeted at the terrorist group.

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

The Islamic State released another horrifying beheading video this weekend. A video posted on Saturday shows brutal murder of David Haines, a British aid worker who was working in Syria when he was captured by members of IS. CNN covered the news. The video incited renewed international outrage targeted at the terrorist group. The AP reports that in Paris yesterday, diplomatic leaders from around the world met to discuss a collective strategy to defeat IS. During that meeting, several Arab nations offered to join the United States in airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The New York Times explains that the Obama administration won’t yet disclose which nations have extended their military support, indicating that Secretary of State John Kerry, who was at the meeting in Paris,will likely announce more details when he testifies before Congress later this week. Australia has pledged to contribute in the effort to defeat IS. Deutsche Welle reports that Australia will send “hundreds of soldiers” to the United Arab Emirates to support the US-led operation to defeat IS. One of the most unanticipated challenges in defeating IS is the group’s growing financial stability. The AP tells us that the group has “become a self-sustaining financial juggernaut, earning more than $3 million a day from oil smuggling, human trafficking, theft and extortion." IS’ vast amounts of revenue mean that the group is better able to gain control of parts of Iraq and Syria, without relying on outside support. Even amidst the recently announced American offensive against IS, it’s still unclear how big of a threat the group poses. The Washington Post explains that different U.S. agencies are reporting wildly different information about the size and power of the Islamic State, reflecting a deep uncertainty. White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough is denying claims that the Obama administration reprimanded and threatened legal action against the families of slain American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. USA Today reports that McDonough reiterated that the law prohibits ransom payments, but that there was no insinuation that legal action would be taken against the families of the American IS hostages when they made direct appeals to the terrorist group. The Times considers how the U.S.-led offensive against IS will effect Syrian leadership. President Bashar al-Assad, still clinging to power in Syria, may see the new American strategy, deploying air strikes in Syria and Iraq targeted at defeating militants, as possibly bolstering his grip on power: "To Mr. Assad and his closest advisers … the American decision represents a victory for his longstanding strategy: obliterating any moderate opposition to his rule and persuading the world it faces a stark choice between him and Islamist militants who threaten the West." The new Indian wing of al Qaeda (AQIS) has gotten off to a bad start. The Huffington Post explains that the new al Qaeda group attempted to storm an American Naval aircraft carrier, but targeted a Pakistani ship instead, accidentally. The Pakistani officers on board defeated the attackers. This news coincides with an announcement by leaders of al Qaeda insisting that the group is not in decline, as the U.S. State Department has recently suggested. Reuters reports that a high-ranking member of al Qaeda, Hossam Abdul Raouf, issued an online message adamantly claiming that the group is as strong as ever. Al Qaeda has not recognized the Islamic State as a legitimate ruling power in the Syrian and Iraqi regions. The Los Angeles Times reports that “at least” seven Muslim Brotherhood clerics and officials will be leaving Qatar – a move that may contribute to the mending of strained relationships in the Persian Gulf over Qatar’s sheltering of members of the Islamist group. It is unclear if Qatar will join in the regional effort, strung together by the U.S. and Secretary Kerry’s diplomatic efforts, against IS, but this news helps to shed Qatar’s image of being an overtly Islamist-friendly nation. Majid Rafizadeh, the president of the International American Council, has written a piece in the Huffington Post in which he wonders why Iran has recently gone quiet in publicizing its military operations and capacity, a clear policy shift from its previous “ostentatious attitude." Rafizadeh argues that the new, quiet Iran isn’t necessarily reeling in its military operations, but instead taking a new tactical approach to achieving its “hegemonic ambitions” by not calling too much attention to itself. President Obama is slated to announce a new, major American strategy to help fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The Wall Street Journal has the story. In Uganda, worries of an “imminent” terror attack still loom even after the Ugandan military arrested several terror suspects in Kampala. CNN reports that the U.S. Embassy in Uganda has instructed American citizens living in Uganda to stay indoors. The Times reports that American citizen Matthew Todd Miller has been sentenced to six years of hard labor by the Supreme Court in North Korea. Over at Politico, the discussion centers around whether or not Congress will vote on an AUMF granting President Obama the explicit authority to conduct a multiyear aerial campaign in Iraq and Syria. Any vote is likely to wait until after the midterm elections, but certain Congresspeople, like Senator Tim Kaine (D. – Va.) are convinced that it’s only a matter of time until Congress votes on an AUMF.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us onTwitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues. Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

Clara Spera is a 3L at Harvard Law School. She previously worked as a national security research intern at the Brookings Institution. She graduated with an M.Phil from the University of Cambridge in 2014, and with a B.A. from the University of Chicago in 2012.

Subscribe to Lawfare