The Soufan Group Morning Breif

WEDNESDAY, November 2, 2016

In her first interview to the media, Noor Salman, the wife of Orlando gunman Omar Mateen, denied any involvement in the attack that killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in June or any knowledge of what her husband was going to do. “I was unaware of everything,” she said. “I don’t condone what he has done. I am very sorry for what has happened. He has hurt a lot of people.” She described Mateen as someone who angered easily and beat her often, but claimed she was afraid to leave him out of fear he would obtain custody of their son. She says she knew her husband watched jihadist videos, but she did not think much of it because the FBI seemed to have cleared him in 2013, after agents investigated him on two separate occasions.
She lives in legal limbo in an undisclosed location, her attorneys say, with prosecutors weighing charges that could include lying to the FBI. Her lawyers say she told investigators “everything she knew to the best of her ability.” New York Times
Amid a firestorm of outrage over FBI Director James Comey’s decision to notify Congress last week about a renewed inquiry into Hillary’s Clinton emails, a little-used FBI Twitter account announced on Tuesday that the agency had published on its website 129 pages of internal documents related to a years-old investigation into former president Bill Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich. The timing of the document release, which the FBI said was coincidental and connected to pending FOIA requests, immediately raised new questions about partisanship at the country’s chief law enforcement agency just days before the presidential election. Washington Post
According to the New York Times, “the mood at the FBI is dark, and nobody is willing to predict what the coming days will bring, particularly if agents and analysts do not complete their review of [Huma] Abedin’s emails by Election Day. Officials said it would take something extraordinary to change the conclusion that nobody should be charged.” New York Times
Guilty verdict in synagogue firebombing: A former Rutgers student was found guilty of terrorism charges in connection with the firebombing and vandalism of several synagogues in 2011 and 2012 in northern New Jersey. Aakash Dalal, now 24, will be sentenced in December; an accomplice was found guilty in May.
Cabbie convicted of aiding terror group returns to Somalia: Ahmed Nasiri Taalil Mohamud, a California cab driver convicted in 2013 of funnelling thousands of dollars to al Shabab, has been turned over to authorities in Somalia after serving six years in prison. Associated Press

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met with a group of Western reporters and researchers on Monday in Damascus, in an attempt to rebrand his regime and rehab his current image as a genocidal strongman. “I’m just a headline—the bad president, the bad guy, who is killing the good guys,” Assad said. “You know this narrative. The real reason is toppling the government. This government doesn’t fit the criteria of the United States.”
He added that “the whole argument that the United States wants to fight ISIS is not correct. This is an illusion and misinformation. In reality, everything the United States has been doing in Syria, at least since what they call the international alliance against ISIS, is to expand ISIS.” Assad also insisted that he has no regrets about the effects of the more than five-year civil war and that he plans to remain president at least until his third seven-year term ends in 2021. New York Times, New Yorker
After Iraqi special forces entered Mosul on Tuesday, soldiers encountered fierce resistance from ISIS militants hoping to maintain control of the northern ISIS city. Backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, Iraqi forces were anticipating a block-by-block and house-by-house offensive to drive out the ISIS fighters. Los Angeles Times, Washington Post
Reuters: Documents Show Islamic State Obsessions: Beards and Concubines
Washington Post: Trapped in a House with Islamic State Fighters
At least seven Indian civilians were killed in cross-border firing between Indian and Pakistani security forces on Tuesday, as hostilities between the rival neighbors continue to escalate. Shooting and shelling across the border have claimed the lives of more than a dozen people in the past 10 days. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated rapidly in the past two months, after India blamed Pakistan for an assault on an Indian army base that claimed the lives of 19 Indian soldiers. Wall Street Journal

India: The U.S. has issued a travel advisory for India following reports that ISIS militants may be plotting attacks there. Reuters
Nigeria: Boko Haram militants have been blamed for a car bomb that killed 9 people on Tuesday at a military checkpoint on a road leading to Nigeria’s northeastern city of Maiduguri. Associated Press
United Kingdom: Top cops in Britain are warning that terrorist plots averted in the past few years have increasingly involved would-be attackers trying to get their hands on illegal guns in order to carry out Paris-style attacks. Wall Street Journal
Canada: Police in Montreal have come under withering criticism for their decision to place a prominent Canadian journalist under secret surveillance, including capturing calls and texts to and from his iPhone, as part of a probe into corruption in Montreal’s police force. La Presse columnist Patrick Lagacé was under surveillance for nearly six months, even though he had neither reported on the corruption case nor had any strong connection to it. Montreal Gazette, New York Times
Yemen: The U.S. has placed sanctions on Al Omgy Exchange, a Yemen-based money-exchange house, and its two owners for alleged connection to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Wall Street Journal
A judge keeps his eye on police spies: “The New York Police Department has had a long history of trampling on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens engaged in political movements and other activities through illegal and suspicionless surveillance,” writes the New York Times in an editorial. “Judge Charles Haight of Federal District Court in Manhattan pointed to that dishonorable record in a ruling made public on Monday  in which he rejected the proposed settlement of two lawsuits brought against the city’s Police Department for its surveillance of Muslim citizens.”
Five things I learned in Russia last week: “I was in Sochi all last week with a healthy fraction of the Russian foreign policy elite,” writes Dan Drezner in the Washington Post. If I learned anything, it’s that “Russian-American relations are going to be bad for a good long spell.”
Felling ISIS and facing reality about terrorism: “We should reflect on the arguments we were hearing not very long ago that more force than the Obama administration was using would be needed to defeat the ISIS menace,” writes Paul Pillar in the National Interest. “Well, ISIS is being defeated without such a U.S. ground force. In fact, the defeating is perhaps going too fast, in that the main question is not whether such defeat is happening but rather how unstable will be the situation left in the wake of an extinguished ISIS mini-state.”
New York Times: The Khizr Khan Voters
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief:  Hizbollah and Lebanon’s New President

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