That “cooked” U.S. intelligence on the Islamic State has claimed its first casualties: “Two senior intelligence analysts at U.S. Central Command say the military has forced them out of their jobs because of their skeptical reporting on U.S.-backed rebel groups in Syria, three sources with knowledge of their claim” told The Daily Beast’s Shane Harris and Nancy Youssef. “One of the analysts alleging reprisals is the top analyst in charge of Syria issues at CENTCOM. He and a colleague doubted rebels’ capabilities and their commitment to U.S. objectives in the region. The analysts have been effectively sidelined from their positions and will no longer be working at CENTCOM.”
Another shoe to drop? “Earlier allegations from CENTCOM, the military command responsible for overseeing the Middle East, had focused on leaders there fudging intelligence reports about U.S. efforts to attack ISIS and undermine its financing operations. That analysts are now raising red flags around reporting on Syrian rebel groups suggests that, at least from the analysts’ perspective, there is a broader systemic problem than was previously known.”
There are already two investigations into the matter—one from the Pentagon’s inspector general and the second from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’s congressional task force. The latter, at least, has had problems getting CENTCOM’s analysts to talk. More here.
Meanwhile, in fighting news: Separate offensives in Iraq and Syria chipped away at ISIS-held cities in Hit (in central Iraq, held since October 2014) and al-Qaryatain (in central Syria, held since August 2015). A week after its launch, “Iraqi forces took the northern edge of the Islamic State-held town of Hit, west of Baghdad, on Sunday in an operation led by the country’s elite counterterrorism forces,” AP reported. And “Syrian and allied forces backed by Russian air strikes drove Islamic State militants out of the town of al-Qaryatain on Sunday after encircling it over the past few days,” Reuters reported.
ISIS attackers used car bombs, suicide belts and mortars to unleash a wave of violence across five locations in Iraq this morning, killing more than two dozen “members of Shi’ite militias and military forces,” Reuters reports.
ISIS guy schwacked by U.S drone. And you may as well call it revenge, since the U.S. says he was an Islamic State “rocket expert” who was “involved in an attack that killed a Marine and injured eight others” on March 19, The Wall Street Journal reported this weekend. Who was he? “Jasim Khadijah, a former Iraqi officer not considered a high-value target,” The Guardian reports.
Nusra guy killed by someone’s air force. It happened in rebel-held Idlib province in Syria on Sunday. Rebels said the attack appeared to be from a U.S. drone, but there’s been no American confirmation of this just yet. Who was this fella? Abu Firas, a man in his mid-60s who was born near Damascus and once worked as Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda envoy for Pakistan. Firas also helped found the Pakistan-based extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, according to Long War Journal’s bio on Firas from 2014. Interesting bit from his past: He reportedly fought Bashar al-Assad’s father’s regime in the late 70s before moving on to the foreign fighter playground that was Afghanistan in the decade to follow.
Some 1,200 miles southeast in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, ISIS took responsibility for detonating a bomb near a police station Saturday night that killed at least one person.
And about a week ago, the U.S. Navy seized “1,500 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 200 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and 21 .50-caliber machine guns” likely headed to Yemen from Iran. The AP has that one, here.
From Defense One
How bad would a radiological terror attack be? Keturah Hetrick walks us through the variables, then guides us to an interactive map where we can simulate a wide variation of outcomes for “nuclear terrorism.” Read, here.
The U.S. should never develop another joint fighter. When the services try to develop common weapons, the savings rarely materialize, but the problems sure do. The Niskanen Center’s Matthew Fay lays out the argument, here.
What the Pentagon’s bug bounty program won’t fix. The defense secretary reveals a prize pool of $150,000, but will the program show the limits of Silicon Valley solutions to DOD problems? Tech Editor Patrick Tucker reports, here.
How should the world respond to terrorism? The Atlantic inverts the classic Q&A to explore the complexities that shape global responses to terror groups. Read that, here.
Welcome to the Monday edition of The D Brief, by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. On this day in 1933, the USS Akron was destroyed in a thunderstorm over the Atlantic, killing 73 in the deadliest airship disaster ever. Subscribe to the D Brief: http://get.defenseone.com/d-brief/. Got news? Let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The other conflict on Russia’s doorstep. A month and a half after Moscow announced it would soon send $200 million in air-defense weapons and equipment to the Armenian military, Russia now wants Armenia to stop warring with its neighbors in the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan, after more than two dozen soldiers died in fighting there over the weekend.
Some context: “Nagorno-Karabakh has been under the control of local ethnic Armenian forces and the Armenian military since a war ended in 1994 with no resolution of the region’s status. Fighting flared up there over the weekend, with a boy and at least 30 troops killed on both sides on Saturday, the worst fighting since the end of a full-scale war in 1994,” AP adds.
How corrupt leaders hide their money. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko are among the 40 or so world leaders fingered in a gigantic leak of email and other documents lays out how dozens of the world’s most corrupt political leaders steal and hide billions of dollars. Leaked from a Panama law firm, the cache of 11.5 million documents detail just how the wealthy and powerful have sent money offshore for 40 years. USA Today: “Sunday’s jaw-dropping “Panama Papers” leak, which shows a global network of offshore companies helping the wealthy hide their assets, is already being called “the Wikileaks of the mega-rich.” Read USAT’s explainer, here. And The Guardian whipped up a short video explaining how Putin might have hidden a billion dollars, here. More than 100 news organizations are still chewing through the mammoth cache, so expect many, many more things like that.
Lastly today: We may have a new task for our emerging NCOs in the U.S. Army—the service wants pocket-sized drones for its squads as early as 2018, Army Times reported on Sunday. “The service on March 1 requested information papers from industry on what technology might be available for what it’s calling Soldier Borne Sensors… The technology and concept are not new. British and Norwegian forces have been using PD-100 Black Hornet drones since about 2012, and the British have heavily leaned on them in Afghanistan. Last spring, the Army tested them along with a number of other gadgets at Maneuver Battle Lab Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments at Fort Benning. U.S. special operations forces have deployed with them.”
A quick rundown of its perks—it should weigh less than a third of a pound and ideally fit into a cargo pocket; it needs to be deployable within 60 seconds and fly for 15 minutes with the ability to detect a human-sized object within 50 to 75 feet with “90 percent probability,” and operators should be able to work with the device from as far away as 1,200 meters. Its first “industry day” is scheduled for next Tuesday. More here.