The Soufan Group Morning Brief


MONDAY, JULY 11, 2016

On Saturday, the U.S military transferred 41-year-old Yemeni national Fayiz Ahmad Yahia Suleiman from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay to Italy. Suleiman had been held at Guantanamo for 14 and half years and was one of the first prisoners to arrive at the prison in its first week of operation in 2002. He was never been charged with a crime and had been cleared for release by an Obama administration task force in 2009. The transfer marks the first time Italy has accepted a cleared Guantanamo detainee. There are now 78 prisoners remaining at Guantanamo Bay. Miami Herald, New York Times, Wall Street Journal

On Friday, the Periodic Review Board cleared Yemeni detainee Muhammed al Ghanim who arrived at at the prison the day it opened in January 2002. He was among the 20 detainees described by the Pentagon as the “worst of the worst” pictured in the iconic photos kneeling in orange jumpsuits at Camp X-Ray. The PRB recommended al Ghanim be transferred to a Persian Gulf country “with reintegration support.” The PRB also upheld the indefinite detention of 45-year-old Algerian Abdul Razak Ali, also known as Said Bakush. Out of the remaining 79 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, 30 have now been cleared for transfer. Miami Herald

Miami Herald: Guantánamo warden: Women to escort Sept. 11 defendants ‘if mission dictates’

The sniper who shot and killed five police officers in Dallas was believed to be planning a larger attack, according to Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown. Micah Johnson, a 25-year-old Army Reserve veteran, had been practicing detonations with explosive materials that could “have devastating effects throughout our city and our North Texas area.” Brown and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings defended the police department’s use of a robot explosive device that killed Johnson after negotiations during a standoff broke down, claiming that the police were in “great danger” and that “we believe that we saved lives by making this decision.”  New York Times

LA Times: 'Loner' Dallas gunman had bomb materials and kept journal of combat tactics
Washington Post: Five Dallas police officers were killed by a lone attacker, authorities say

Countering ISIS online: ISIS Twitter traffic has decreased by 45 percent over the last two years, according to the Obama administration. U.S. officials claimed the drop was a sign of progress in the effort to eliminate online ISIS propaganda. Data obtained by the Associated Press shows that anti-ISIS messages now outnumber pro-ISIS content in a 6-1 ratio. AP, The Hill

ISIS in Virginia: On Friday, Haris Qamar, 25, of Burke, Virginia was arrested and charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS. Qamar allegedly took photographs of D.C.-area landmarks as potential targets for what he believed was an ISIS-led terror attack. The false plot was an FBI sting operation. ABC, NBC

Bin Laden son: The son of Osama bin Laden has threatened revenge against the United States for his father’s death, according to an audio recording posted online. In a 21-minute online message titled “We Are All Osama,” Hamza bin Laden said “we will continue striking you and targeting you in your country and abroad in response to your oppression of the people of Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and the rest of the Muslim lands that did not survive your oppression.” Reuters

Capitol lockdown: The U.S. Capitol was put on lockdown for about 40 minutes on Friday, when police falsely believed an employee had taken a gun into the building. The Hill

ISIS has lost about a quarter of its territory held in Iraq and Syria in the last 18 months, according to a new report released by Information Handling Services (IHS) on Sunday. The report also warned that the group is likely to increase its “mass casualty attacks and sabotage of economic infrastructure across Iraq and Syria, and further afield, including Europe.” Reuters

Syria: ISIS fighters shot down a military helicopter on Friday, killing two Russian pilots. The incident occurred east of the ancient city of Palmyra, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. New York Times, BBC

Syria: The family of slain veteran journalist Marie Colvin has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Syrian government, claiming it tracked her movements, targeted, and then killed her as part of a strategy to silence journalists covering the Syrian civil war. Colvin was killed in February 2012 when Syrian government forces shelled an apartment building used by journalists in the city of Homs. New York Times, Washington Post

Yemen: On Sunday, a suspected U.S. drone strike wounded four Al Qaeda fighters in the central Marib province. The strike occurred only hours after exiled Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi arrived in the country to meet with military leaders of the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthi rebels. Reuters

NATO: NATO plans to expand its security patrols in the Mediterranean Sea in response to an increased threat posed by ISIS and to support EU-led operations to respond to the ongoing refugee crisis. The patrols will occur both at sea and by air, according to NATO military officials. Washington Post

New York Times: Obama Tells NATO That ‘Europe Can Count On’ the U.S.
BBC: Islamic State conflict: Nato surveillance planes to help US-led coalition

North Korea: North Korea’s military said on Monday that it will take a “physical response” to the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system the United States plans to install in South Korea. In a statement, North Korea’s military said “there will be physical response measures from us as soon as the location and time that the invasionary tool for U.S. world supremacy, THAAD, will be brought into South Korea.” Reuters
Is the Islamic State Unstoppable?: “The Islamic State is shifting tactics, and not just on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq. The group is reverting to insurgency tactics it relied on before June 2014, when it took over Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, and declared the formation of a caliphate,” writes Hassan Hassan in The New York Times. “Some people have suggested that this is a sign of the group’s desperation and weakness. In fact, it demonstrates its strength and long-term survival skills.”

A four-point strategy for defeating the Islamic State: “First, the United States should increase its support to those local armed groups that are acceptable to U.S. interests, whether they are fighting Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad or the Islamic State...Second, we must increase our overall military support,” write Michèle Flournoy and Ilan Goldenberg in the Washington Post. “Third, we must do more to get important external actors on board. In the near term, the greater U.S. commitment we propose will appeal to key partners, especially Turkey and Saudi Arabia...Finally, we should focus on governance and politics by providing support to local municipal structures that can provide services and outgovern the extremists.”

How the Success of U.S.-Backed Kurdish Forces Will Enable ISIL's Continued Presence in Eastern Syria: “Despite its defeats, simmering ethnic tensions may make it easier for the Islamic State to continue operating in Arab-majority areas being captured by the SDF, including the Manbij area, northern al-Raqqa Province, and southern al-Hasakah Province,” writes Asher Berman on Lawfare. “Local ethnic tension will make it easy for the Islamic State to find recruits among disaffected residents looking for ways to assert Arab control over Arab areas as the Islamic State pivots its prevailing posture in Syria from operating as a quasi-government toward a structure more in line with a networked terrorist group.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Examining the Dallas Attack

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.

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