The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2016
MANHUNT INTENSIFIES FOR BERLIN CHRISTMAS MARKET ATTACKER

Berlin was on high alert Wednesday, as German authorities continued to search for one or more attackers responsible for killing 12 people and wounding dozens more in a truck attack at a popular Christmas market in the capital on Monday. A suspect arrested shortly after the attack was released Tuesday for lack of evidence. According to CNN, police are now searching for a Tunisian man in his early 20s. The suspect’s identity papers were reportedly found inside the cabin of the truck used in the attack. CNN, NBC News

On Tuesday, ISIS claimed that the market attacker was a “soldier” of the terrorist group responding to its call to target nations fighting the group in Iraq and Syria. Washington Post

As the manhunt continued, Chancellor Angela Merkel was facing mounting criticism from opposition groups, as well from her own party, over her open-door refugee policy. Wall Street Journal, New York Times
Related:
Washington Post: Truck Attack May Be Part of ISIS Strategy to Sharpen Divide Between Muslims and Others
Washington Post: A History of Terrorism in Europe, Visualized
Deutsche Welle: German Terrorism Expert: ‘Worst Fears Have Come True’ in Berlin
Wall Street Journal: Germany’s Cherished Christmas Markets Reexamine Security After Truck Attack
New York Times: In Turkey, a Capstone to a Violent Year. In Germany, a Realization of Fears.

In the Wall Street Journal, a look at Trump’s response to Berlin attack and the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey suggests “his White House will take a sharply different approach to such unexpected crises.” Wall Street Journal
Related:
The Atlantic: What Their Reactions to Monday’s Attacks Reveal About Trump and Obama
Bloomberg View editorial: The Trump World Order
ORLANDO SHOOTING VICTIMS’ FAMILIES SUE TECH COMPANIES OVER ISIS PROPAGANDA
The families of victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting are suing Facebook, Twitter, and Google in federal court, arguing that the tech giants allowed the spread of ISIS propaganda that radicalized the gunman. The families are accusing the companies of providing support to ISIS, though the gunman, Omar Mateen, did not appear to have official ties to to the terrorist group. The victims’ families say the group’s indirect influence over the gunman is at least partly attributable to its “unfettered” ability to recruit fighters on social media. The suit also accuses the companies of profiting from ISIS material through its ad-driven revenue model. “Without … Twitter, Facebook, and Google (YouTube), the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years into the most feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible,” the lawsuit reads. Washington Post, The Verge

Clinton FBI warrant unsealed: Allies of Hillary Clinton ripped into the FBI and Director James Comey on Tuesday, after an unsealed warrant from Oct. 30 revealed that the bureau had no evidence of actual wrongdoing when it told a federal judge it needed to resume its investigation of Clinton’s use of a private server just days before the election. Politico, Washington Post

Accused NY-NJ bomber pleads not guilty to NJ charges: Ahmad Rahimi, the man accused of planting bombs in New York and New Jersey this fall, appeared in court Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to New Jersey state charges that included attempted murder of police officers wounded in a shootout upon his arrest. Reuters, Associated Press


ISIS CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR DEADLY ATTACK IN JORDAN
ISIS has claimed responsibility for an attack on a popular tourist attraction in Jordan over the weekend. The attack, in the southern Jordanian city of Karak, was carried out using automatic weapons and hand grenades and killed 10 people, including the head of the military’s special forces. CNN, New York Times

INDONESIAN POLICE KILL THREE TERROR SUSPECTS AS BOMB IS FOUND IN JAKARTA
Indonesian counterterrorism police shot and killed three suspects on Wednesday near Jakarta, and said they discovered bomb-making equipment at the house where the suspects were living. According to police, the men were planning to stage a terror attack on Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve using explosive devices. Guardian

Yemen war: Saudi Arabia has admitted that it used UK-manufactured cluster bombs against Houthi rebels in Yemen, increasing pressure on the British government to curb arms sales to Riyadh. The Saudis have said they will cease using the cluster bombs. Guardian
TOP OP-EDS
The unnoticed trend that worries Europe’s counterterrorism agencies: “New data shows that European authorities aren't just guarding against terror plots using weapons like trucks or bombs,” writes Rick Noack in the Washington Post. “They are also concerned about a more conventional threat: illegal firearms that may be increasingly easy for suspected terror networks to obtain.”

A terrorist truck in Germany: “Germany is due for a wrenching debate about how to balance the fear of its past against the severity of the Islamist dangers it faces now,” writes the Wall Street Journal in an editorial. “Mrs. Merkel’s magnanimous welcome [to migrants] last year must be tempered by real-world threats that are growing.”

America’s national security agencies under Trump -- four lessons from Nixon: “Richard Nixon came into office with nothing but disdain and mistrust for the CIA,” writes Matteo Faini in War on the Rocks. “In his dealings with his intelligence agencies, Nixon dug his own political grave. The more he ordered his intelligence agencies to commit improper activities, the more it gave them the power to blackmail the presidency. For the intelligence community, the main lesson is that acquiescing to a president’s request to politicize its estimates may buy short-term access but not long-term influence.”
EDITOR'S PICK

UPCOMING EVENT
Is the United States Prepared? Zero Days, Cyber Wars, and the Russian Hack
Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 6pm

 
SOUFAN GROUP
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