The Soufan Group Morning Brief

The Morning Brief will return Wednesday, November 9 with full election coverage.


Federal officials warned authorities in New York City, Texas, and Virginia on Friday about an unspecific threat of attacks by al Qaeda militants around Election Day, putting local police on alert. The intelligence remained vague and authorities were investigating its credibility. CBS News reported Sunday that an unnamed law enforcement official had told the network that as many as a dozen people were being sought for interviews in relation to the possible threat. CBS News, Washington Post, Reuters, Dallas Morning News
USA Today: Islamic State calls for attacks on Election Day voters

Just over a week after roiling the election, and just 48 hours before Election Day, FBI Director James Comey said Sunday that a recently discovered trove of emails did not warrant any charges against Hillary Clinton. “Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton,” Mr. Comey wrote in a letter to the leaders of several congressional committees. He said agents had reviewed all communications to and from Clinton in the new trove from when she was secretary of state. Many of the emails were reportedly personal messages or duplicates of ones that the bureau had previously examined during the original inquiry. The announcement, however, did little to quell criticism of Comey’s handling of the matter on both sides of the political aisle. New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal
Terror plot sentencing: An 18-year-old Arizona man was sentenced to 8 years in prison on Friday of terrorism convictions stemming from a plot to attack a motor vehicle office in metro Phoenix. Mahin Khan of Tucson previously pleaded guilty to a range of terrorism charges after corresponding online with an undercover federal agent he believed to be a member of ISIS. Associated Press
Janet Reno dies: Janet Reno, the first female U.S. attorney general, died early Monday. She was 78. Washington Post
American held in Yemen released: An American held by Houthi rebels in Yemen for the past year and a half was freed this weekend negotiations involving Secretary of State John Kerry and the Sultan of Oman. Wallead Yusuf Pitts Luqman had been in captivity since April 2015, when he was taken off a bus while he and his family were trying to get to Saudi Arabia from Yemen, where he had been teaching English. Washington Post

A joint Kurdish-Arab militia, backed by the U.S., launched a long-awaited offensive on ISIS’s stronghold of Raqqa in Syria on Sunday, hoping to capitalize on losses the militant group has suffered in Mosul. The forces intend to encircle the city and cut off the resupply of arms, supplies and fighters. Within hours, the militia had captured a number of small villages north of Raqqa but remained at least 25 miles from the city. Wall Street Journal, New York Times
In Mosul, meanwhile, Iraq’s special forces worked to clear ISIS fighters from neighborhoods on the eastern edge of the city, as a series of ISIS bombings on Sunday, including in Samarra and Tikrit, killed at least 30 people. Associated Press
Reuters: Obama Unlikely to See Assault on Islamic State’s Syria Stronghold
Los Angeles Times: Islamic State Is Under Double-Barrel Siege in Mosul and Now In Raqqa
New York Times: Cautious Optimism Over Efforts to Combat ISIS in Baghdad

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused Europe on Sunday of abetting terrorism by supporting Kurdish militants, and said he did not care if critics called him a dictator. Criticism has poured in from around the globe after Friday’s arrest of lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, the second-largest opposition grouping in parliament, as part of a terrorism investigation. Hours after the leaders were detained, a car bomb killed 11 people and wounded scores of others outside a security headquarters in Diyarbakir, the nation’s largest Kurdish-majority city. Authorities immediately blamed the PKK. Reuters, Wall Street Journal
Not so divided after all on foreign policy: New data, released by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, suggests “that on foreign policy, at least, there is more consensus among American voters than is normally thought,” writes The New York Times in an editorial. “It offers some hope that Hillary Clinton, if she is the next president, could rally a majority of the nation around a common agenda. All bets are off if Donald Trump wins.”
CVE for white people: The Trumpist movement and the radicalization process: A Washington Post interview recently suggested that what’s lacking in this election is “empathy” for Trump voters, write Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes in Lawfare. “The truth of the matter is that we show fervent Trump supporters a heck of a lot more intellectual and emotional charity than we display for members of other groups supporting other illiberal movements.” We want to pose the question of what literature on radicalism and radicalization has to teach about the Trump movement.”
Pundits think al-Baghdadi is smart because he’s cruel. That’s nonsense.: “I think the Islamic State CEO is an unusually stupid terrorist—precisely because he’s turned cruelty into a sort of brand,” writes Max Abrahms in the Los Angeles Times. “For a decade, political scientists have known that terrorist groups suffer when they exercise too little restraint by attacking civilians. Civilian attacks carry substantial downside risks by strengthening the resolve of target countries, eroding their confidence in negotiations, lowering the odds of government concessions, reducing popular support for the group and, all in all, expediting its demise.”
Three surveillance scandals vindicate Snowden: “Three major events prove how widespread, and dangerous, mass surveillance has become in the West,” writes Glenn Greenwald in The Intercept. Taken together, a British special court’s denunciation of the country’s surveillance practices, another scathing ruling in Canada, and a scandal in Canada involving police surveillance of the press “constitute full-scale vindication of everything Snowden’s done.”
New York Review of Books: Seeing the Despair of Jihad
Just Security: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself When Reading Jameel Jaffer’s The Drone Memos
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Terror Threats to the U.S. Election

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.