The Soufan Group Morning Brief


TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2016

The Pentagon announced on Monday that it transferred two longtime Guantanamo detainees to Serbia. Tajik national Omar Abdulayev had been cleared for transfer since 2009, but had refused repatriation over fears of inhumane treatment in Tajikistan. Yemeni national Mansoor al Dayfi was cleared for release last October. Both prisoners had been held at Guantanamo since 2002 and neither had been charged with a crime. This is the first time Guantanamo detainees have been transferred to Serbia. There are now 76 prisoners remaining at Guantanamo Bay. Miami Herald, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal

The Periodic Review Board approved the release of 34-year-old Yemeni national Shawqi Awad Balzuhair on Monday. Balzuhair, described by U.S. intelligence as a “low-level militant”, allegedly traveled to Afghanistan in 2001 and received basic training in an Al Qaeda camp. He arrived at Guantanamo in October 2002, during the prison’s first year of operation. Of the 76 prisoners remaining at Guantanamo, 28 have been cleared for transfer. Miami Herald

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Monday that the U.S. military will deploy an additional 560 troops to Iraq to help support military operations against ISIS. The decision came after Iraqi security forces recaptured a key airfield from ISIS over the weekend. The additional troops would be “predominantly” assigned to protect, outfit, and secure the Qayyarah Air Base about 40 miles south of the ISIS-held city of Mosul. The announcement increases the Pentagon’s number of U.S. servicemembers in Iraq to 4,647. New York Times, Washington Post

Dallas shooting: Police remain concerned about Dallas shooter Micah Johnson’s threats of a bombing or other explosive devices in the Dallas area. Police Chief David O. Brown said “the concern is we haven’t found something that’s out there,” after investigators discovered Johnson had acquired bomb-making skills and a large supply of material to build explosive devices. New York Times

Terrorist Financing: On Monday, the House failed to pass a measure to enhance a provision of the Patriot Act that encourages financial institutions and the federal government to share information with each other about transactions connected to terrorism. Opponents of the bill said it would “permit the government to demand information on any American from any financial institution merely upon reasonable suspicion.” The Hill

Two UN peacekeepers were killed on Monday during fierce clashes in the capital, Juba, between forces backing two political rivals. South Sudanese President Salva Kiir demanded a ceasefire between government forces and those loyal to his rival, Vice President Riek Machar. Over 150 people have been killed since fighting broke out last Thursday. The State Department ordered all nonessential personnel to leave the U.S. Embassy on Sunday amid fears that the country is slipping into civil war. New York Times, The Hill, CNN

Somalia: On Monday, al Shabab militants claimed responsibility for an attack on a Somali military base outside the capital, Mogadishu. Five soldiers were killed when a car bomb exploded and gunmen attacked the base which is located about 30 miles outside the city. New York Times

ISIS: ISIS has launched a local language publication in an effort to increase recruitment in Southeast Asia. The propaganda tool, titled al-Fatihin, or “The Conquerors,” began on June 20 with the tagline, “The newspaper for Malay-speaking migrants in the Islamic State.” ISIS reportedly has a brigade of Malay-speaking recruits from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines based in Syria called Katibah Nusantara. TIME

South Africa: South African authorities charged twin brothers on Monday with terror offenses for allegedly planning to attack the U.S. Embassy in South Africa and attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIS. The brothers, Brandon-Lee Thulsie and Tony-Lee Thulsie, were arrested Saturday in Johannesburg along with two other suspected accomplices. New York Times

North Korea: North Korea said on Monday that it will close its last diplomatic communication channel  with the United States after Washington placed sanctions on the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, and other officials over human rights abuses. All matters related to the United States, including the handling of detained U.S. citizens, will be conducted under the country’s “wartime law,” according to the North Korean state news agency. CNN, Reuters
Is the surge in terrorist attacks coincidence or coordinated campaign?: “What we see are some attacks that appear to support a logical strategy: destabilizing Turkey, stoking sectarian tensions in Baghdad, shaking up Saudi Arabia,” writes Brian Michael Jenkins on The Hill. “A displaced terrorist group can still carry on a global campaign. Following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the dispersal of al Qaeda in late 2001, a global campaign of terrorism unfolded with major al Qaeda terrorist attacks” around the world.

Obama plans major nuclear policy changes in his final months: “The Obama administration is determined to use its final six months in office to take a series of executive actions to advance the nuclear agenda the president has advocated since his college days. It’s part of Obama’s late push to polish a foreign policy legacy that is plagued by challenges on several other fronts,” writes Josh Rogin in the Washington Post. “By focusing on nuclear weapons, Obama sees an opportunity to cement a foreign policy legacy despite setbacks and incomplete efforts in several other areas. But by doing it unilaterally, without congressional buy-in, and in a hurried way, he risks launching policies that might not last much longer than his presidency.”

What Attacks in Baghdad, Istanbul and Saudi Arabia Show About Terrorism and the New Normal: “Whatever the president’s intentions: Islamic State and its affiliates and the extremist ideology they represent are a generational problem that, at least right now, lacks a comprehensive solution. The (relatively) good news is that terrorism has not become an existential threat,” writes Aaron David Miller in the Wall Street Journal. “Whatever we might tell ourselves or aspire to in terms of stopping attacks and eradicating the sources that inspire and enable them, terrorist attacks are part of the new normal. We are no more likely to ‘win the war’ against terrorism than the wars we launched against drugs, poverty, cancer, or mental illness."

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: More U.S. Troops in Iraq

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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