The investigation is looking backwards as well as forwards, as authorities try to piece together how they missed signs that a highly-coordinated attack against soft targets in Paris was being planned – especially when some of the perpetrators were already under surveillance.
CRACKS IN THE RUSSIAN-IRANIAN ALLIANCE. The Wall Street Journal reports there is a concerted effort underway to pull Moscow away from its close relationship with Tehran, as American officials identify “tensions” between Russian and Iranian leaders. Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly told Arab states that he would help contain and diminish Iran’s role in Syria during a recent summit in Sochi, Russia. Now the United States, Europe and many Middle Eastern countries see a chance to persuade Russia that its backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – something very important to Iran to maintain – is hindering fuller cooperation in the fight against ISIS, which has become more important in the wake of the Paris attacks. Russia has made no statements suggesting they are changing their position – but the U.S.-allied countries hope the “tensions” push Russia into closer coordination with them, instead of Iran.
THE IMAGINARY DOOMSDAY DEVICE. The New York Times Magazine has a story about red mercury, a substance with almost mythically destructive powers, which ISIS and other terror groups have been trying to get their hands on for years. Only thing is, it doesn’t exist. But that hasn’t stopped some groups looking for a quick way to nuclear-bomb-style impact from chasing it.