The Soufan Group Morning Brief



Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the long-awaited military campaign to retake Iraq’s second-largest city from ISIS control early Monday morning. The operation began with Kurdish forces advancing on several villages on the outskirts of Mosul. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the operation to retake Mosul was a “decisive moment” in the fight against ISIS. The U.S. military has provided extensive planning and support to the Iraqi military over the last several months in the effort to retake the city. Around 30,000 Iraqi troops are expected to participate in the offensive against estimates of between 4,000 to 8,000 ISIS fighters. One of the greatest concerns amid the fighting is the potential for a humanitarian crisis, with over 1.5 million civilians still living within the city. New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, CNN

Prior to the announced start of the Mosul offensive, more than 50 people were killed in Baghdad on Saturday in attacks against a Shiite gathering, a police checkpoint, and the family of a Sunni paramilitary leader, according to medical and security officials. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks which occurred as the Iraqi military began its final preparations the Mosul operation. New York Times
BBC: Battle for Mosul: Operation to retake Iraqi city from IS begins
CNN: Humanitarian crisis looms amid Mosul offensive
BuzzFeed News: Everything You Need To Know About The Mosul Offensive Against ISIS
Washington Post: Mosul offensive poses key test for U.S. strategy against Islamic State

Vice President Joe Biden said on Sunday that the United States plans to retaliate against Russia for its suspected role in the online hacking of American political groups. In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Biden said that a U.S. response “will be at the time of our choosing….And under the circumstances that have the greatest impact.” The CIA is reportedly preparing options for a clandestine cyber operation to “embarrass” the Kremlin leadership, according to government officials. NBC, New York Times, The Hill

The Verge: The CIA is reportedly preparing for a major cyber attack against Russia

Kansas: Authorities arrested three militia members on Friday after they allegedly planned to bomb a housing complex home to Somali immigrants in Garden City, Kansas. The three men, Curtis Allen, 49, Gavin Wright, 49, and Patrick Stein, 47, were arrested Friday morning on charges of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction after they allegedly stockpiled weapons and wrote a manifesto about their motivation to kill Muslims. The men reportedly referred to Muslims as “cockroaches” and met several times to discuss the plot. New York Times, Washington Post

Terror case in Wisconsin: Two Milwaukee men were charged in Federal court on Friday with attempting to join ISIS in Syria. Jason Michael Ludke, 35, is charged with attempting to support a foreign terrorist organization, and Yosvany Padilla-Conde, 30, is charged with aiding and abetting Ludke. The two men allegedly told an undercover FBI agent on social media last month that they planned to join ISIS. The two men face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. AP

Gitmo: Family members of 9/11 attacks victims appeared before the war court at Guantanamo Bay during pretrial hearings in the case of the accused plotters of the attacks on Friday. Families accused the defense lawyers for the five 9/11 suspects of delaying the justice process in the death-penalty trial. Miami Herald

Miami Herald: Do lawyers for alleged Sept. 11 plotters have a secret defense pact? Guantánamo prosecutor asks judge to investigate
Reuters: Wheels of justice barely turn at Guantanamo prison

On Saturday, WikiLeaks published a transcript of a speech Hillary Clinton gave at a Goldman Sachs event in 2013 in which she mentioned her views about the use of covert action. In her speech Clinton said, “my view was you intervene as covertly as is possible for Americans to intervene,” in dealing with issues like the conflict in Syria. Clinton added that the United States “used to be much better at this than we are now.” New York Times

USS Mason took several defensive countermeasures in response to two suspected incoming missile strikes on Saturday. Earlier in the week, the USS Mason was targeted from Houthi rebel-held areas and the U.S military carried out retaliatory strikes against Houthi radar sites used to target the U.S. ship. ABC, The Hill

Turkey: Turkish police reportedly killed the regional leader for ISIS in Gaziantep, Turkey during a raid on his terror cell’s house on Sunday. Three police officers were killed during the operation against Mehmet Kadir Cabel. Cabel’s wife and two children were captured, as well as least 19 other suspected ISIS members. CNN

United Kingdom: British soldiers are being investigated over allegations of mistreating two Iraqi detainees in 2003. An undisclosed number of British soldiers are facing allegations of mistreating Iraqis Faisal al-Saadoon and Khalaf Mufdhi after the two were accused of involvement in the deaths of two British soldiers. BBC

India-Pakistan: On Sunday, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Pakistan “the mothership of terrorism” during a meeting with the heads-of-state of the Brics development group -- Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Modi added that Pakistan is “nurturing a mindset that terrorism is justified.” Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated last month when Indian forces launched a series of “surgical strikes” against what India described as “terror launch pads” along the contested border with Pakistan. Guardian
Engaging the "Not-Yet-Guilty" in the Fight against Terrorism: “Currently, we rely on unstated expectations that family members or religious leaders will initiate de-radicalization efforts informally, challenging extremist narratives by providing alternative interpretations of religious passages used to justify violence or addressing foreign policy grievances with the necessary political context,” writes Talene Bilazarian on Lawfare. “But these individuals often lack the necessary training or state support to offer tailored interventions to radicalized individuals. An approach that relies on the goodwill and know-how of well-placed, trained individuals to challenge radicalization locally, without any orchestration, has repeatedly failed.”

Obama administration debates the wisdom of rushing to retake Raqqa: “Inside the Obama administration, there is concern in some quarters that the military planning for retaking Raqqa is outpacing the planning needed to make sure that the city does not descend into new chaos or follow-on conflict once liberated,” writes Josh Rogin in the Washington Post. “There’s no agreed-upon governance plan, no comprehensive humanitarian response and no consensus on who will provide security for the area once the terrorists are ousted, administration officials told me….Winning the battles against the terrorists is the easy part. Stabilizing places like Raqqa is the real challenge. Sometimes that necessitates taking our time.”

What Can the Next President Do About Russia?: “There is also a larger foreign-policy question that must be the first order of business for the new president: How does the U.S. build leverage on the ground, from the Baltic Sea to the Syrian desert, that puts America in a position where negotiations with Russia can make a strategic difference?,”writes Robert Kaplan in the Wall Street Journal. “American diplomacy can be meaningful only if the U.S. can better reassure its Middle Eastern allies with, for example, a more-robust deployment of military assets, from special-forces trainers to warships in the Eastern Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. Even ending sequestration would help in this regard—anything that provides a better context for projecting power. Diplomacy is not a replacement for force, but its accompaniment.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Islamic State After Dabiq and Mosul

Center on National Security
Fordham University School of Law
150 W. 62nd St. 7th Floor
New York, NY 10023 US
Copyright © 2016 Center on National Security, All rights reserved.