The Soufan Group Morning Brief


THURSDAY, MAY 19, 2016

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Wednesday that intelligence officials are seeing “some indications” of cyberattacks on 2016 presidential campaigns. One official said that U.S. intelligence is “aware that campaigns and related organizations and individuals are targeted by actors with a variety of motivations, from philosophical differences to espionage, and capabilities -- from defacements to intrusions.” In 2008 and 2012, Republican presidential nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney faced several cyberattacks on their campaigns. Washington Post, The Hill

ABC: Security Concerns Raised for Democratic National Convention After Nevada

On Wednesday, the House debated an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would repeal the 2001 authorization for use of military force used by the Obama administration in its military operations against ISIS. The amendment, introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), would end the 2001 war authorization within 90 days of President Barack Obama signing the 2017 defense bill. The Hill, Huffington Post

28 Pages: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told lawmakers on Tuesday that he will tell the White House by the end of the week whether or not he supports declassifying the 28 pages of a 9/11 congressional inquiry report that some believe link Saudi Arabia to the attacks. The Obama administration has said that it will make a decision about the classified pages in June. The Hill

Minnesota ISIS trial: A key witness in the trial of three Somali-Americans accused of attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIS testified on Wednesday. 20-year-old Abdirahman Bashir, a former friend of the defendants, served as an FBI informant and was paid tens of thousands of dollars for his cooperation with the government. His testimony reportedly included secretly-recorded conversations with the defendants about their plans to travel to Syria. ABC, CBS

Airport security: The TSA claims that increasingly long airport security lines are the result of a nearly 12 percent increase in the number of passengers and a 12 percent decrease in the number of security screening staff since 2011. The TSA said budget cuts caused the decrease in personnel, while Republican lawmakers have blamed the agency for reducing the number of screening staff in recent years. Tightened security procedures have also contributed to the longer lines. New York Times

Despite saying that it would withdraw the majority of its military forces from Syria, the Russian military remains entrenched in Syria and is expanding its operations in some areas, including the opening of a forward operating base near the city of Palmyra, according to Pentagon officials. A Pentagon spokesperson said on Tuesday that Russian capabilities are “almost identical” to what they were before Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his partial withdrawal in March. Washington Post

Nigeria: One of the nearly 300 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram over two years ago was found on Wednesday. Members of a vigilante group waiting to ambush Boko Haram fighters found 19-year-old Amina Ali in the forest while carrying a baby near the border with Cameroon. Accompanying her was a suspected Boko Haram member who claimed to be her husband. New York Times, BBC News

New York Times: Victims of Boko Haram, and Now Shunned by Their Communities

Iraq: A house rigged with explosives south of Baghdad killed nine Iraqi soldiers on Wednesday. The soldiers were carrying out a raid in response to intelligence about a meeting of high-profile militant leaders in the house in the town of Latifiya. Reuters

Libya: ISIS militants have killed at least 49 people in the Libyan city of Sirte, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch. ISIS reportedly controls 120 miles of territory along the Libyan coast and has as many as 10,000 fighters in the country. CNN, TIME, NPR

Daily Beast: Hell on Earth: Life Under ISIS in Libya

China: Two Chinese fighter jets intercepted a U.S. military aircraft on Tuesday over the South China Sea. On Wednesday, the Pentagon described the intercept as “unsafe” as the U.S. reconnaissance aircraft carried out “a routine U.S. patrol,” in international airspace. Reuters, NBC

Pakistan: The United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China held talks in Islamabad on Wednesday about how to bring the Taliban into negotiations over the conflict in Afghanistan. However, the meeting showed little progress and provided few details as to how to bring the insurgent group to the negotiating table. An Afghan spokesman said that his government would focus more on “intra-Afghan” negotiations moving forward. VOA, ABC
Islamic State is successfully radicalizing Americans. How do we stop them?: “In the end, we found no clear profile. The path to radicalization wasn’t linear or predictable. Islamic State recruits were old and young, rich and poor, college graduates and high school dropouts. Some had deep knowledge of Islam, while others had only a superficial understanding of the faith,” writes Seamus Hughes in The Los Angeles Times. “If red flags exist, it is family members who might spot them. Such early suspicions are best described as simply ‘parents’ intuition.’ ”

Can Boko Haram Be Defeated?: “Today, Boko Haram is no longer occupying large parts of Nigeria. Instead, it has morphed into a group of well-organized bandits. The military’s successes changed Boko Haram’s threat, but didn’t eliminate it,” writes Max Siollun in The New York Times. “This doesn’t mean that Boko Haram isn’t dangerous. The group still has the potential to harm Nigeria’s neighbors, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. And Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State in March 2015 could be a magnet drawing foreign jihadist fighters to West Africa.”

How the War on Terror Failed Yemen: “Military training has become a centerpiece of Western counterterrorism and state-building efforts around the world...The track record of these programs has been patchy at best, but few have been as disastrous as in Yemen,” write Jack Watling and Namir Shabibi on Foreign Policy. “Eight years of Western training not only failed to build a military that could defend the state, but led to a myopic focus on counterterrorism that accelerated its implosion.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Energy Targets of Terror

Join the Center on National Security on Wednesday, June 1 for a discussion with Director Karen J. Greenberg, author of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State. To RSVP click here

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