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Category Archives: Syria

More Arrests of Americans Attempting to Fight for ISIL in Syria

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Monday, April 20, 2015 at 1:30 PM

Six Somali-American men from the Minneapolis area have been arrested on material support charges, based on allegations that they were attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIL. The complaint and corresponding FBI affidavit are posted here. Note that the complaint is a handy case study in the variety of investigative techniques that FBI might . . .
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Indictment of US Citizen Who Trained with al Nusrah and Returned to Attack

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 5:42 PM

A grand jury in Ohio has indicted Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, a recently-naturalized US citizen and resident of Columbus, with two material support counts (and one false statement count) based on allegations that he traveled to Syria to fight, that he received military-style training from al Nusrah, and that he came back to the United States . . .
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The Lawfare Podcast, Episode #118: Oula Abdulhamid Alrifai on One Syrian’s Story and One Country’s Tragedy

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Saturday, April 11, 2015 at 1:55 PM

When Oula Abdulhamid Alrifai was just shy of 19 years old, she fled her hometown of Damascus, Syria with her family; her parents were facing death threats from the Bashar Assad regime. She came to Washington in 2005, and since then, as she has gone to college and started a career in Washington Mideast policy work, . . .
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“A Necessary, If Still Unpalatable, Potential Ally in Combating the Islamic State”

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Thursday, April 2, 2015 at 9:07 AM

Remember these words the next time the New York Times runs a pious editorial decrying—with a spurious combination of selective facts and distorted law—some morally complicated aspect of U.S. counterterrorism policy. Remember them the next time the New York Times runs an editorial invoking the great moral authority of the paper of record on, well, just about anything. Remember them because . . .
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Four Years on, Syria’s Refugees Search for a Future

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 3:30 PM

Editor’s note: The following was originally published on Markaz, a publication run by the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy.  The Syrian uprising began four years ago. On Sunday, thanks to the Korber Foundation, I was able to make a brief visit to Zaatari Refugee Camp outside Amman, Jordan. Established two years ago, Zaatari is now . . .
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Senate Foreign Relations Hearing on ISIS AUMF

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 3:44 PM

Earlier this morning, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony from Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey on the president’s proposed Authorization for the Use of Force (AUMF) against ISIS. You can watch the full hearing here.

Live: Gen. John Allen Addresses the Future of the Fight Against ISIL

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Monday, March 2, 2015 at 4:45 PM

At 5:00 pm, General John Allen, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, will deliver a keynote address at the Atlantic Council on the future of the fight against the Islamic State. You can watch the event live below:

HASC Testimony: Towards a Better AUMF

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Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Prepared Testimony of Robert Chesney Charles I. Francis Professor in Law Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Director, Strauss Center for International Security & Law The University of Texas at Austin Before the House Armed Services Committee  February 26, 2015 “Outside Perspectives on the President’s Proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Islamic . . .
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HASC Testimony: An Alternative to the Administration’s AUMF Draft

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Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Prepared Statement of Benjamin Wittes Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution before the House Committee on Armed Services “Outside Perspectives on the President’s Proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” February 26, 2015 Thank you Chairman Thornberry, Ranking Member Smith, and members of the committee . . .
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Errors and Misconceptions About the Obama Draft AUMF

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Monday, February 16, 2015 at 3:03 PM

Much of the discussion in recent days about the Obama draft AUMF for ISIL contains mistakes and misconceptions, at least as I see matters. The Draft AUMF Does Not Limit The President.  The biggest canard has come from several Republicans who continue to talk as if the President has proposed an authorization that limits his . . .
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Reactions to the ISIL-Specific AUMF

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Friday, February 13, 2015 at 2:24 PM

Below you will find a compilation of public statements and reactions to President Obama’s draft ISIL-specific AUMF.  In short: Democrats are concerned there aren’t enough limits, and Republicans can’t understand why President Obama is not being aggressive enough. (And of course, Jack Goldsmith finds it hard to fathom.) Republicans Speaker John Boehner ISIL is at war . . .
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More on Administration’s Draft AUMF

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Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 12:50 PM

Some follow-ups to my earlier post on the administration’s ISIL-specific AUMF: Marty Lederman has a good analysis of the substance of the draft AUMF that is consonant with my analysis.  Marty charitably notes that the draft “raises some questions that I doubt the President intended to leave unsettled for future administrations.”  Those questions include the . . .
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White House ISIL AUMF Released to Congress

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 9:52 AM

This morning, the White House released a proposed Authorization for the Use of Military Force against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to Congress. You can find the AUMF transmittal letter and the text of the draft AUMF below. Lawfare will have more on the proposed draft in the days to come. AUMF Transmittal . . .
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Is Jordan Attacking ISIS on a New Legal Theory?

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Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 4:00 PM

In the past few days, in the wake of ISIS’s horrific burning of a Jordanian air force pilot, Jordan has adopted a highly combative tone toward the group.  It has matched this rhetoric with action: Its air force carried out dozens of strikes against ISIS targets on Thursday.  This is a significant increase from the number and pace . . .
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Neither War Nor Peace: Israel’s Northern Borders

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Friday, January 30, 2015 at 11:49 AM

For now, the recent eruption of violence along the Israeli-Lebanese border appears to be contained. With thousands of its fighters bogged down in Syrian battles, Hezbollah’s strategic context is radically different from 2006, when a carefully planned kidnapping of Israeli soldiers dragged Israel into a bloody war in southern Lebanon.  Most analysts seem convinced that . . .
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Rep. Adam Schiff Introduces Updated AUMF

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 5:38 PM

Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), who serves as the ranking member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has released a revised and updated draft Authorization for the Use of Military Force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The bill is broadly similar the one that Representative Schiff introduced last September. Like the previous . . .
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Did the FBI Just Prevent an Attack in DC from a Homegrown ISIS Supporter?

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 6:12 PM

A very, very big arrest in Cincinnati today, involving allegations that a man named Christopher Cornell (online alias Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah) had planned to travel to DC in order to carry out an attack (via assault rifle) at the Capitol. It appears Cornell was arrested today after he purchased two ArmaLite M-15s. How did the . . .
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A Coffee Shop on the Israeli-Al Qaeda Border

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 5:13 PM

The last time I was on the Israeli-Syrian border looking at the ruined Syrian city of Quneitra was thirty years ago. I was fifteen and taking a summer course in Israel. And an Israeli soldier manning a border position was explaining to my class the mechanics of this tense but oddly stable border, over which . . .
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The UK’s Article 51 Letter on Use of Force in Syria

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Friday, December 12, 2014 at 9:53 AM

Several weeks ago, the United Kingdom submitted an Article 51 letter to the Security Council providing notice that the UK was taking measures against ISIS “in support of the collective self-defence of Iraq as part of international efforts led by the United States.”  The letter further stated that the UK “fully supports these international efforts, . . .
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A “Buffer Zone” Inside Syria, and Its Complications

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Friday, December 5, 2014 at 6:34 PM

The United States and Turkey seem to be having increasingly detailed discussions about establishing a no-fly zone (or “buffer zone”) inside the northern Syrian border adjacent to Turkey. The press reports that Turkey is conditioning the U.S. use of Turkey’s Incirlik air base for armed flights on the U.S. willingness to establish such a zone. The . . .
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