The Soufan Group Morning Brief


TUESDAY, JUNE 28, 2016

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) placed on hold the annual Intelligence Authorization Act on Monday over concerns about a provision that would expand FBI surveillance powers. The provision would allow the FBI to use “national security letters” to obtain citizens’ internet records and other online data without a search warrant during terrorism investigations. Wyden also raised concerns about another provision in the bill that would “erode the jurisdiction” of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which oversees executive branch policies related to terrorism. The Hill, Reuters

On Monday, House Democrats released their own 339-page report on the Benghazi attack ahead of the Republican-led investigation’s official findings, expected to be released Tuesday. The Democrats’ report claims the Benghazi inquiry was a politically motivated crusade that wasted time and taxpayer money. New York Times

Training Syrian rebels: U.S. military officials are debating new ways of training Syrian rebel forces fighting ISIS, despite earlier failures by the Obama administration to train moderate rebels. A revised training program reportedly has trained fewer than 100 fighters as “spotters” rather than ordinary infantry troops. One official said that “what we’re looking at now is taking out key enabler personnel from certain units, training them and then reinserting them so they can provide information to the coalition to enable us to then target ISIL.” Washington Post

Yemen’s ISIS affiliate carried out a series of bombings in the southern port city of Mukalla on Monday, killing at least 43 people and wounding several others. Two suicide bombers and other militants launched as many as seven simultaneous attacks in the city targeting intelligence offices, an army barracks, and several checkpoints. One bomb was reportedly hidden in a box of food brought to Yemeni soldiers to break their daily Ramadan fast. Mukalla was recently recaptured from Al Qaeda by pro-government forces in April. New York Times, Reuters, BBC

Al Jazeera: Suicide attacks kill fasting Yemeni soldiers in Mukalla
CNN: More than 40 killed in Yemen suicide attacks

Syria: ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on the Syria-Jordan border that killed seven Jordanian security forces and wounded 13 others last Tuesday. ISIS’s Amaq News Agency published a video that shows a militant detonating a vehicle filled with explosives near a military checkpoint in Rukban, Jordan. The Jordanian government sealed its borders with Syria in response to the attack, threatening aid deliveries to approximately 60,000 refugees living in camps along the border. New York Times

Afghanistan: U.S. airstrikes in northern Afghanistan killed at least seven  hostages held in a Taliban prison on Saturday, according to witnesses in the area. Afghan officials in Kunduz Province denied that hostages had been killed and claimed the Taliban had staged the deaths to lay responsibility on the American strikes. U.S. officials said they were investigating the incident. New York Times, Reuters

Iraq: Iraqi forces continued their fight against ISIS militants hiding in the outskirts Fallujah on Monday in an effort to keep them from launching a counterattack against the recently recaptured city. An Iraqi commander said that the remaining ISIS fighters “have two options: either they surrender or they get killed. We want to prevent them catching their breath and attacking our forces with car bombs.” Reuters

Turkey: On Monday, Turkey apologized for shooting down a Russian jet near its border with Syria last year that Turkey claimed had violated its airspace. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed regret over last November’s incident in a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin following a series of Russian sanctions on Turkey. New York Times, Reuters

Lebanon: Eight suicide bombers carried out a series of attacks on the Christian town of Al Qaa in northeastern Lebanon on Monday. At least five people were killed and a dozen others wounded in the coordinated attacks. New York Times

Canada: The Quebec government announced five new projects to prevent radicalization in schools. The projects, which include $165,000 in total funding, include theatre, workshops, and discussion groups, as activities to counter extremist messaging. Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil said Canada was “convinced of the importance of prevention and dialogue to fight prejudice and discrimination and to counter hate speech promoting violence.” Montreal Gazette, Vice News
ISIS and the Culture of Narcissism: “The terror group has moved away from the old recruiting tactics of groups such as al Qaeda, which sought to connect with deeply observant Muslims. Instead, ISIS is looking for a new type of recruit, one who spends as much time in the multiplex as in the mosque,” write Robert Pape and Walker Gunning in the Wall Street Journal. “At the core of ISIS’s strategy is an appeal to the individual’s sense of self—not his duty to community. ISIS tells its recruits that they will be recognized in ways they never were before. Their special talents will finally be noticed, and fighting and dying for ISIS will make them heroes.”

Angela Merkel Doesn’t Have a Brexit Plan, Either: “Tragically, it doesn’t appear that Merkel has the slightest inkling of what to do with her country’s new, even more powerful, status. She and Germany as a whole are so thoroughly intertwined with the problems plaguing the union that it’s nearly impossible to imagine Berlin summoning the vision and grit to overhaul the union in order to halt its decline,” writes Paul Hockenos on Foreign Policy. “The EU needs a remodeling and a fresh source of inspiration, something like the rallying cry for peace and prosperity that inspired enlargement and the integration process over the postwar decades. Simple gestures at peace and prosperity just don’t cut it anymore.”

How Obama's Iran Policy Undermines Clinton's Campaign Message: “Despite their governing partnership, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have very different views of Iran following last summer's nuclear deal,” writes Eli Lake on Bloomberg View. “Both support that pact and say that it makes the region and the world safer. But Obama has sought to integrate Iran into the community of nations, while Clinton promises to punish Iran's bad behavior.”

Out Now: Karen Greenberg's newest book, Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State, is the definitive account of how America's War on Terror sparked a decade-long assault on the rule of law, weakening our courts and our Constitution in the name of national security.

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Israel and Turkey Restore Relations

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