The Soufan Group Morning Brief



Two Tunisian men who were held for 12 years at a CIA prison in Afghanistan described previously unreported interrogation techniques that included threats with a makeshift electric chair and and beatings with batons that left them with broken bones, Human Rights Watch reported on Monday. The two men, Ridha al-Najjar, 51, and Lotfi al-Arabi El Gherissi, 52, spoke of their time spent in detention at the sparsely-documented CIA “Cobalt” black site in Afghanistan. A CIA spokesman said that the agency “reviewed its records and found nothing to support these new claims.” Reuters, Washington Post

The Intercept: Former CIA Detainees Describe Previously Unknown Torture Tactic: A Makeshift Electric Chair
Guardian: Tunisian men detail CIA black site torture involving electric chair and more
The Hill: Ex-CIA detainees describe previously unknown interrogation tool

Three Kansas Republican Congress members are accusing the Pentagon of breaking the law by spending money to evaluate potential alternative sites for the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. Kansas Republican Reps. Mike Pompeo, Kevin Yoder, and Lynn Jenkins wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter that “rather than spending zero dollars on site surveys, as mandated by U.S. law, the Department of Defense has spent over $25,000.” The Hill

ABC: Guantanamo Detainees to Shelter From Hurricane, Officials Say

Maryland terror case: A 24-year-old Maryland man was charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS on Monday after he allegedly planned to kill a member of the U.S. military. Nelash Mohamed Das, a citizen of Bangladesh living in Hyattsville, MD, allegedly accepted a firearm from an FBI agent and planned to kill a U.S. servicemember in a sting operation. Washington Post, NY Daily News

On Monday, the United States suspended bilateral talks with Russia over the protracted conflict in Syria after continued bombings against civilian and rebel-held areas in Aleppo. Russian President Vladimir Putin responded by withdrawing from a nuclear arms agreement that calls for the United States and Russia to reduce their weapons-grade plutonium stockpiles. New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters

Reuters: Putin suspends nuclear pact, raising stakes in row with Washington

Syria: A leading Al Qaeda figure was killed in a drone attack on Monday, according to Nusra Front sources. Sheikh Abu al Faraj al Masri was killed in a suspected U.S. drone strike near the rebel-held city of Idlib in northwest Syria. Masri was a key leader of the radical militant Egyptian Islamic Jihad movement and was imprisoned for seven years for his connection to the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. Masri was also held under a secret CIA rendition program after another arrest in Azerbaijan in 1998. Reuters, ABC

A bomb blast killed at least 20 people at a Kurdish wedding in northeast Syria on Monday. Amaq, an ISIS-affiliated news agency, said a suicide bomber attacked a group of Kurdish YPG fighters in the city of Hasaka. Reuters

Afghanistan: The Taliban overran several neighborhoods in the city of Kunduz on Monday. Taliban fighters reportedly planted their flag in the city’s main roundabout in the center of the provincial capital on Monday, one year after insurgents mounted a similar offensive against the city. New York Times, Reuters

Iran: Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and his family filed a federal lawsuit against the Iranian government on Monday, claiming that he was tortured during his 18 month imprisonment. Rezaian also claims that he was specifically targeted for arrest in order for Iran to gain leverage in negotiations over last year’s nuclear agreement. Washington Post

Egypt: Egypt’s Interior Minister said on Tuesday that Egyptian forces had killed a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader in a shootout. Mohamed Kamal, 61, was a member of the group’s top leadership and had allegedly been responsible for the Brotherhood’s “armed wing.” Yasser Shehata, another leader, was killed in the raid on an apartment in Cairo’s Bassateen neighborhood. Reuters
The Problem With the Islamic Apocalypse: “Not every Muslim believes such apocalyptic prophecies, most of which don’t exist in the Quran. Most of those who believe in them would also not have any sympathy for the ferocious, brutal Islamic State. Yet Islamic apocalypticism is still a powerful force,” writes Mustafa Akyol in The New York Times. “Even aside from jihadist violence, Islamic apocalypticism often has negative consequences. When recent history and current events are seen as best explained by prophecies, it becomes difficult to analyze them. “

The Hot Corner: “A nation of just under 10 million - with perhaps 4 million Greek-Americans here in the United States, by the way - Greece sits astride the most dangerous corner of Europe. It has become a gateway for hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants, most of them passing through toward destinations deeper in Europe,” writes James Stavridis on the Huffington Post. “But unfortunately for Greece, the rest of Europe is increasingly resistant to taking in this mobile population, leaving ongoing financial stress on the already severely battered Greek economy.”

The Jihadist Too Violent for ISIS: “The disputed leader of Boko Haram knows how to cheat death — and do it in style….But if Shekau looks untouchable in the fight against the Nigerian army, he has proved much more vulnerable to threats from within his organization,” writes Max Siollun on Foreign Policy. “At the heart of Boko Haram’s most serious leadership rift in years are fundamental disagreements over ideology, tactics, and the group’s relationship with the Islamic State. Boko Haram has never been a one-man show. It has always had competing factions led by powerful local commanders who disagree on how to achieve the group’s goal of an Islamic caliphate.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: A Global Climate of Conflict

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