National Security Brief: U.S. Steps Up Role In Fight Against Extremists In Africa

The Wall Street Journal reports today that “The U.S. is markedly widening its role in the stepped up French-led military campaign against extremists in Mali, providing sensitive intelligence that pinpoints militant targets for attack.” U.S. drones have been setting up many of the targets, the Journal reports. French, U.S. and Malian officials say “the new arrangement with the U.S. has led in recent days to a raised tempo in strikes against al Qaeda-linked groups and their allies some time after the offensive began in January” including possibly against the mastermind behind the raid on an Algerian gas plant in January and Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, the commander of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s Mali wing.

In other news:

  • JTA reports: Israel should consider unilateral steps to separate itself from the Palestinians should peace talks fail, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said. “We should consider unilateral steps in order to place a wedge on this extremely dangerous slippery slope to a binational state,” Barak said Sunday at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference currently taking place in Washington.
  • The New York Times reports: The nation’s biggest banks wrongfully foreclosed on more than 700 military members during the housing crisis and seized homes from roughly two dozen other borrowers who were current on their mortgage payments, findings that eclipse earlier estimates of the improper evictions.
  • Reuters reports: Iran is building about 3,000 advanced uranium-enrichment centrifuges, the Iranian news media reported Sunday, a development likely to add to Western concerns about Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.