New Allies in an Ancient Conflict Zone: The Middle East of Today & Tomorrow, with Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot

INSCT Event
Date: Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Time: Noon
Location: Global Collaboratory (Eggers 060)
Part of the Carol Becker Middle East Security Speakers Series.

Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot (Res.) is former Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (2009-2014), where he helped identify and implement the Israeli Government’s civil policy in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip. Prior to this position, he was a military secretary to three ministers of defense (2004-2009); Home Front Command Chief of Staff (2001-2004); and Head of Organization Department, Planning Directorate, IDF General Staff (1999-2001). Dangot holds an MBA (2014) from Bar-Ilan University. He comes to SU courtesy of the Our Soldiers Speak program.

 

 

 

Understanding Interdisciplinary Responses to International Terrorism & Violent Extremisms

INSCT Graduate Student Research
Date: April 21, 2017
Time: 11:50 a.m. – 1:50 p.m.
Location: Feinberg Lecture Hall (Dineen 360)

In partnership with Emory University, George Washington University, and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Strategic Partnerships with Colleges and Universities—and with feedback from state and federal policymakers—graduate students in the College of Law and Maxwell School will share findings from their research on international terrorism and violent extremism.

Topics include:

  • The role of the UN in crafting international counterterrorism policy.
  • Women’s leadership role in terrorist organizations.
  • The importance of anti-extremist K-12 educational programs, such as Holocaust and atrocity education.
  • Cross-cultural perspectives on what works in other settings (e.g., Israel, Egypt, Indonesia, Belgium, etc.).
  • The experience of vulnerable communities with CVE in the United States (e.g., Somali communities in Minnesota).
  • The challenge of implementing counterterrorist and counter-extremist laws and statutes.
  • The role of “hard” and “soft” power CVE mechanisms, including drones.

This capstone research has been developed under the guidance of INSCT Director of Research Corri Zoli and INSCT’s National Security and Counterterrorism Research Center (LAW 822), a working laboratory for contemporary national and international security law and policy challenges.

Graduate Student Contributions to Policy Solutions

Both professors William Banks and Corri Zoli were tapped by DHS as subject matter experts, along with Emory Law Professor Laurie Blank and George Washington Center for Cyber and Homeland Security Deputy Director Seamus Hughes, to provide recommendations to DHS Secretary John F. Kelly for improving strategic partnerships with colleges, universities, and the K-12 communities in fostering CVE-related academic research and programming. Students conducted the grounding research to develop these recommendations, which have been submitted to the DHS Academic Advisory Council (HSAAC) and to Secretary Kelly.

DHS & Countering Violent Extremism

While the subject of important social science debate, DHS draws on federal law to define a “violent extremist” as “individuals who support or commit ideologically-motivated violence to further political goals,” and “violent extremism” as “an unpredictable threat from a range of groups and individuals, including domestic terrorists and homegrown violent extremists.”

On this issue, DHS’s priority is on countering violent extremism (CVE)—building stronger, safer, resilient communities; addressing all forms of violent extremism, regardless of ideology; and preventing violence by focusing not on radical thought or speech, but on educating communities about the threat of recruitment, radicalization to violence, and innovative community responses.

Much of this work has been initiated by the US Office for Community Partnerships, whose mission is to develop and implement a full range of partnerships to support and enhance efforts by key stakeholders to prevent radicalization and recruitment to violence by terrorist organizations. Engaging the higher education community is part of these efforts in preventing violent extremism and strengthening community partnerships for addressing violent extremism. The Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council (HSAAC) and the Academic Subcommittee on CVE are designed to help leverage academic expertise for these efforts.

Senior Hamas Terror Planner Mazen Faqha Assassinated in Gaza

By Miriam Elman

(Re-published from Legal Insurrection | March 26, 2017) Mazen Faqha was a Hamas official responsible for organizing a 2002 suicide bombing attack in Israel.

Found guilty and given a life sentence for the crime that killed nine people and injured scores more, he was among the over 1000 terrorists—many of them also with blood on their hands and serving life sentences—released in 2011 as part of the prisoner exchange to free hostage IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Faqha was deported to Gaza.

From there, according to Israeli officials, he became a “key planner” in setting up Hamas terror cells in the West Bank, directing them as they organized and launched deadly terror attacks against Israelis.

On Friday March 24th, 38-year-old Faqha was assassinated by assailants using silencers, The Times of Israel reports:

Faqha was shot dead near his home in Tel el-Hawa, a neighborhood in southwestern Gaza City, by [unknown] assailants using a weapon equipped with a silencer. He was hit by four bullets to the head … Hamas said Israel was to blame and vowed revenge … The identity and motive of the assailants was not immediately clear. There was no official comment from Israel on his killing.”

Below I review the fallout from the killing of Mazen Faqha …

Thousands of militants and civilians in Gaza and the West Bank turned out for his funeral processions, and a swirl of accusations by various Palestinian terror groups, which are blaming Israel for “waging a clandestine war” and are now threatening retribution.

Early Sunday morning (EST), Israeli media reported that the IDF was being put on high alert in expectation of Hamas retaliationI begin with Faqha’s victims.

August 2002 Egged Bus Bombing

Born and raised in the West Bank village of Toubas, Mazen Faqha was a senior Hamas commander in the Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas), which carried out many suicide bombings during the bloody second intifada.

Faqha had a hand in a number of these attacks, but he was sentenced in 2003 for planning a suicide bombing on a civilian passenger bus near Safed in the north of Israel the prior summer. 

Here’s a summary of the terror attack from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with the names and photographs of those killed. 

Nine people were killed and some 50 wounded in a suicide bombing of Egged bus No. 361 traveling from Haifa to Safed at the Meron junction in northern Israel shortly before 9:00 Sunday morning. There were many IDF soldiers on the bus, which exploded as it was traveling near the entrance to the burial site of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, frequently visited by Jewish worshippers. The blast blew off the roof of the bus, which then burst into flames, killing or wounding nearly everyone inside, witnesses said. Among those killed were twere three soldiers, four Israeli civilians and two Philippine women. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. Overnight on Sunday, IDF troops captured Hamas commander Mazan Fukha, responsible for dispatching the suicide bomber, in the West Bank town of Tubas together with two of his deputies.”

For his crime, Faqha received nine life sentences—one for each person he killed. But he was jailed for only 8 years, when he was released in 2011 for IDF soldier Shalit, who by then had been held captive for 5 years in Gaza.

Under the conditions of his release, Faqha was supposed to refrain from engagement in terror or incitement to violence. In fact, he returned to terror activities, resuming a leadership position in the Qassam Brigades.

Thousands Attend the Funeral of a Slain Hamas Terrorist

Yesterday, thousands of Hamas supporters called for “revenge” during Faqha’s funeral in Jabalia, northern Gaza. The top brass of Hamas reportedly delivered fiery eulogiesHamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar, the new leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, headed the procession from Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital, where Faqha’s body was initially taken, to the al-Omari mosque, and from there to Sheikh Radwan cemetery.

Here’s some images from the funeral, where even children were spectators. Many more images can be found on the Internet. It’s also important to note that the funeral march included members and leaders from Gaza’s various political factions and armed groups, and not only Hamas supporters. Although more subdued, in the West Bank hundreds of Palestinians reportedly also marched to Faqha’s childhood home in the small village of Toubas. There, they viewed the Gaza funeral on TV.

Did Israel Assassinate Mazen Faqha?

As of this writing, Israeli officials haven’t commented on Faqha’s killing.

In fact, as noted by Avi Issacharoff for The Times of Israel, there’s “no firm evidence” of Israeli involvement.

But multiple terror groups—including Hamas, Hezbollah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and Islamic Jihad—stated that “Zionist fingerprints” were evident in the killing which had “clear marks of Mossad [Israel’s spy agency]” …

To the read the whole post, click here.

 

JNSLP Video: The Border & Beyond Now Online

The Border and Beyond: The National Security Implications of Migration, Refugees, and Asylum under US and International Law

February 28, 2017 | Georgetown Law

Panel 1: Immigration, Homeland Security, and the Constitution (9:05 – 10:30 AM)

Panelists will engage in debate on various constitutional issues, such as the separation of powers and the protection of civil liberties, in the context of recent events in the US in which both migration and national security have been implicated.

Moderator: William Banks, Director, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, Syracuse University

Panelists:

  • Jen Daskal, Professor of Criminal, National Security, and Constitutional Law, American University Washington College of Law; former Assistant Attorney General for National Security, US Department of Justice
  • Lucas Guttentag, Professor of the Practice of Law at Stanford Law School; Founder and former National Director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project
  • Marty Lederman, Professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown University Law Center; former Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice’s Office Legal Counsel
Panel 2: The US Refugee and Asylum Legal Regime (10:35 AM – 12:00 PM)

Panelists will explore the current status of US asylum and refugee laws and how the screening processes factor into national concerns. The panel also will discuss the Trump Administration’s recent executive orders relating to border security and refugee policy in the US.

ModeratorJason Dzubow, Partner, Dzubow & Pilcher, PLLC; Adjunct Professor of Asylum Law, George Washington University Law School

Panelists:

  • Mark Hetfield, President and CEO, HIAS, the oldest international migration and refugee resettlement agency in the US.
  • Anne Richard, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration; former Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy, International Rescue Committee
  • Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, University of Maryland-College Park
Luncheon Keynote Address by Elisa Massamino, President & CEO, Human Rights First (12:30 PM – 1:05 PM)
Panel 3: Migration and Security Threats Abroad (1:15 PM – 2:40 PM)

Panelists will discuss the security implications of the refugee crisis in Europe and the potential legal obligations that the US might have under international law to assist its allies in handling the situation.

Moderator: David Stewart, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center

Panelists:

  • Bec Hamilton, Professor of National Security, International, and Criminal Law, American University Washington College of Law
  • Karin Johnston, Professor of International Politics, American University School of International Service
  • A. Trevor Thrall, Senior Fellow, Defense and Foreign Policy Department, Cato Institute; Associate Professor, George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government
  • Mark Iozzi, Democratic Counsel, House Foreign Affairs Committee

“Feigned” Surprise: William C. Snyder Discusses US Attorneys’ Dismissals with Sinclair

‘You’re fired’: Experts confirm Trump’s dismissal of 46 U.S. attorneys was totally normal

(Sinclair Broadcasting Group | March 13, 2017) Immediate outrage over any action taken by President Donald Trump has become the new normal, so it wasn’t a surprise to see a wave of criticism follow the administration’s call for the resignations of the remaining 46 U.S. attorneys appointed by Barack Obama.

Syracuse University law professor and former assistant U.S. attorney William C. Snyder made clear that all United States attorneys are presidential appointees who are typically replaced at the change of administration. “Any surprise at that is feigned.”

Within President Trump’s first month in office, 47 of the 93 U.S. attorneys offered their resignation. They were political appointees under Barack Obama and most if not all recognized the fact that after January 20, their days under the new administration were numbered. On Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered the message for the remaining attorneys to immediately step down from their posts.

This kind of house-cleaning at the Department of Justice is entirely typical for a new administration, even though different presidents have approached the matter in different ways. On Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer characterized the transition, saying it is “standard operating procedure for a new administration around this time to ask for the resignation of all the U.S. attorneys” …

… Syracuse University law professor and former assistant U.S. attorney William C. Snyder made clear that all United States attorneys are presidential appointees who are typically replaced at the change of administration. “Any surprise at that is feigned.” The way that process is done, however, differs depending on the administration …

… Bill Clinton was a different story. He broke with tradition in an even more dramatic way than President Trump, firing all 93 U.S. attorneys in one day. In March 1993, Clinton’s Attorney General, Janet Reno penned a similar letter to the one Sessions sent out on Friday calling for every attorney to submit his or her resignation.

“I remember it well,” said Snyder, who was serving as an assistant U.S. attorney at the time. “I was with the person who was named Acting U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia that afternoon, and he was completely shocked and surprised to have been named. He had received no contact from anyone about that, prior to the call from the White House advising that he was named Acting U.S. Attorney.”

The man he was scheduled to replace, U.S. Attorney Jay B. Stephens, challenged the order to resign. The perception at the time was that his dismissal was politically motivated and intended to stop his ongoing investigation of a Clinton ally in Congress for financial crimes. Stephens, like Bharara, was ultimately fired and the scandal received ample press coverage at the time.

“The Clinton action in 1993 was viewed with outrage as a departure from the norm,” Snyder explained …

To read the complete story, click here.

David M. Crane Explains NC Commission’s Investigation of Rendition Program to The Independent

A major new inquiry has just been opened and it could reveal just how complicit the UK was in CIA torture

(The Independent | March 16, 2017) A major new inquiry has just been launched into the role of the US state of North Carolina in the CIA’s torture and rendition of terrorism suspects after 9/11. The CIA apparently used an aviation contractor based in North Carolina to fly kidnapped captives to secret prisons around the world, where they were brutally tortured. It is estimated that at least thirty four individuals were transported by the CIA front company, Aero Contractors, including a number of Britons.

“Disclosures of new information could fuel litigation and serve as a ‘catalyst for further action.’”

Aero’s involvement in the CIA program was first revealed in 2005, prompting local activists to press for an official investigation. But, despite repeated meetings with state officials, including North Carolina’s Attorney General, no action was taken. According to Dr Christina Cowger, chair of the inquiry’s board, they were “taking their cue” from President Obama, who had decided in 2009 not to prosecute Bush officials. Their lack of cooperation led to the formation of a citizens’ inquiry, the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture.

After years of preparation, that inquiry is now ready to go. It is led by several commissioners, including some with high-level government service. At a briefing for reporters on Wednesday, Jennifer Daskal, one of the commissioners and a former official in President Obama’s Justice Department, explained that the inquiry was “important” due to the “relative lack of significant accountability” for CIA wrongdoing so far and “particularly important” in light of President Donald Trump’s willingness to consider reviving CIA torture …

… “Certainly the UK will be brought into this,” said commissioner David Crane, a professor at Syracuse University College of Law and founding chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Other nations which held detainees transported by Aero Contractors, such as Morocco and Poland, will also be examined. The inquiry may help lift the lid on how many countries participated in the program. It was believed that 54 were involved, but new research shows that 15 more countries, including France and Japan, cooperated …

… The inquiry is unlikely to result in any criminal investigations, given the history of impunity for CIA torture so far. But disclosures of new information could fuel litigation and serve as a “catalyst for further action”, David Crane told me. Jonathan Freeman, another commissioner and a fellow at the Truman National Security Project, hopes that the inquiry will create a “transparent process” and effect “a change in policy, even on a subtle level”. But the going might be tough, especially with Trump in the White House.

To read the complete story, click here.

See also: Associate Press/Charlotte Observer: Citizens’ group aims to investigate CIA rendition program (March 15, 2017) 

Great Merit: David M. Crane Discusses Ukraine’s ICJ Case Against Russia With UATV

On March 6, 2017, representatives of Ukraine and Russia met at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, to argue claims made by Ukraine about Russia’s involvement in the annexation of Crimea and in alleged operations in Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

Specifically, Ukraine accuses Russia of violating the 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism by supporting eastern Ukrainian separatists. It also claims that Ukrainian and Tatar minorities in Crimea are being treated unfairly under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

“Ukraine’s Claim in The Hague has Great Merit” — Former Chief Prosecutor for UN Court

(UATV | March 13, 2017)

Israel Passes Law Barring Foreign BDS Activists From Entry

By Miriam Elman

(Re-published from Legal Insurrection | March 9, 2017) On Monday night (March 6), Israel’s parliament (the Knesset) passed in its second and final reading a law barring the entry of foreign nationals who have “knowingly and publicly” called for boycotting Israel or who “represent an organization” that calls for such a boycott.

The law extends the ban to those foreign visitors (excluding permanent residents) who back the anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement and to those who support the boycott of settlement goods in Judea and Samaria/the West Bank.

From Inside Higher Education: Writing for the blog Legal Insurrection, Miriam Elman, an associate professor of political science at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, described the ban as “a perfectly reasonable move for Israel to prevent foreigners from abusing tourist visas in order to try to destroy Israel.” “Israel isn’t particularly unique in refusing entry to people determined to be threats to the state, but the law makes such bans more transparent because individuals would no longer be refused entry into Israel on a case-by-case basis, left solely up to the discretion of the government,” she wrote.

The legislation, which passed with 46 votes in favor and 28 against, was sponsored by center-right political parties and had been in the works for over a year, as discussed in detail in my prior post, Will Israel Bar Entry of Foreign BDS Activists?

As noted, the law aims to combat anti-Israel, BDS-promoting tourist activism that’s gone on unimpeded in the country for years. These foreign activists foment and participate in often violent protests, then take film of the Israeli police response in order to demonize Israel in furtherance of the boycott movement.

To my mind, it’s a perfectly reasonable move for Israel to prevent foreigners from abusing tourist visas in order to try to destroy Israel.

How Israel’s New Anti-BDS Entry Law Will Work

The new legislation is supposed to improve the current situation by replacing an existing law that grants any foreign visitor from a friendly country an automatic 3-month entry visa, except for those who the Interior Minister specifically barred.

The new law flips the situation around such that entry for individuals affiliated with designated pro-BDS organizations would be automatically banned, unless the Interior Minister allows it.

So a key component of the law is “shifting the burden” from the state to the foreign activists themselves. Now, instead of the Ministry of the Interior having to account for why someone shouldn’t be admitted into the country, it’ll be up to the BDS-supporting visitors to “persuade the state” why she or he should be allowed in.

The law aims to address the absurd situation that’s developed in Israel where foreign BDS activists enter Israel under false pretenses and routinely take advantage of automatically issued tourist visas to engage in political warfare against the state.

Every nation on the planet is entitled to control its borders and determine which foreign nationals can enter. Israel isn’t particularly unique in refusing entry to people determined to be threats to the state, but the law makes such bans more transparent because individuals would no longer be refused entry into Israel on a case-by-case basis, left solely up to the discretion of the government.

I wrote in my prior post:

“By making the default option not to grant a visa unless the government says otherwise, the new law would effectively identify and advertise which of the dozens of NGOs currently operating inside Israel are deemed to be harmful to the Jewish state.”

Bottom line: As Naftali Bennett—education minister and leader of the Jewish Home party—said on Twitter (see in Hebrew below) when it passed, the law is “necessary and logical” and “let’s Israel defend itself from those who wish it ill.”

Barring Entry Only to Major BDS Leaders Who Call for Israel’s Destruction

Will a left-wing Jewish American college student who tweeted using the hashtag #BDS or who called for a boycott on her Facebook page be turned away at Ben Gurion Airport because of the new anti-BDS entry law?

What about someone who made a one-time donation to a BDS-supporting organization, or who signed a pro-BDS petition at some point in the last few years?

None of these people would be blocked (although, as I noted in my prior post, there’s always the chance that an over-zealous Interior Ministry official will enforce the law improperly).

The law is meant to advance steps to “oppose those who call for Israel’s demise.” But it’s supposed to apply to “major BDS activists” and foreign BDS campaigners “with standing” who can “really impact the situation” by getting others to boycott Israel. It’ll apply to “known organizations” and their main activists and won’t involve any “blacklists” of other individuals.

It certainly won’t be applied to someone who just “posts a comment on Facebook against Israel.”

In the category of those who would be blocked from entry by the new law are BDS-backing foreigners who spend their time in Israel not doing touristy things but collecting false information and ‘evidence’ about Israel’s alleged perfidy and malevolence to spread on social media and to share back home to captive audiences.

Also included will be BDS activists who act to harass and obstruct IDF and security personnel by organizing or participating in violent protests, making contact with representatives of terror organizations, and inciting Palestinians or Jewish settlers to violence …

To read the whole post, click here.

Surveillance of Presidents and People: William C. Banks Speaks to CNN, Bloomberg, Other Media

In the wake of two surveillance-related stories in the past few days, the media have turned to the national security expertise of INSCT Director William C. Banks.

The first story concerns the explosive March 4, 2017, claim made by President Donald J. Trump on Twitter that former President Barack Obama personally ordered a “wiretap” of the Trump presidential campaign before the November 2016 election, presumably to ascertain links between the campaign and the Russian government. This claim led to media questions about how and why a wiretap of phones or electronic communications could be made by the government, the workings of the FISA court (where such a request might lawfully be made), and whether or not President Trump could find and release this information in order to quell confusion and concern. Banks addressed these issues nationally with CNN’s Erin Burnett Outfront (see video clip below); MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show (on background); and the Sinclair Media Group (“Congress poised to investigate Trump’s wiretap claims”).

Secondly, on March 7, 2017, Wikileaks released thousands of documents that appeared to catalog the CIA’s domestic cybersurveillance and cyberespionage capabilities, and in particular new technology that enables the agency to surveil targets via personal electronic devices. Banks discussed this issue on Bloomberg Radio with fellow national security expert Steve Vladeck of the University of Texas School of Law (see audio clip below).


Graham Threatens Subpoena for Trump Wiretap Info

(CNN Erin Burnett Outfront | March 8, 2017)


WikiLeaks Reveals CIA Cyber-Spying Tactics

(Bloomberg Radio | March 8, 2017) Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, and William Banks, Director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism at Syracuse University College of Law, discuss new documents released by WikiLeaks, which, if true, show the extent of the CIA’s abilities to use personal technology devices to monitor seemingly private conversations and messages. They speak with June Grasso and Michael Best on Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg Law.”