The Soufan Group Morning Brief


MONDAY, JULY 18, 2016

A lone gunman killed three police officers and wounded three others on Sunday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana before being killed in shootout. Officials identified the shooter as 29-year-old African-American Marine Corps veteran Gavin Long. The motive of the attack remains unclear, as some speculate whether the attack was in retaliation for the police killing of an African American man in Baton Rouge less than two weeks ago. New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal

New York Times: Baton Rouge Police Shooting: What We Know and Do Not Know
Reuters: Ex-U.S. Marine kills three policemen in racially tense Baton Rouge

The top war crimes prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins said that he is willing to keep his job beyond the end of his current term, which concludes in late 2017, if the Pentagon decides to extend his service. Martins was originally due to retire in November 2014, and has already received a three-year extension. Miami Herald, Washington Post

28 Pages: The long-classified 28 pages of the 9/11 Congressional Commission report were released to the public on Friday after being reviewed by U.S. intelligence agencies. The pages do not appear to reveal much new information about alleged Saudi government ties to the 9/11 attacks. Of the Saudi officials listed in the document, many had been investigated by the FBI and CIA since the report was released in 2004. Washington Post, New York Times

Orlando shooting: Investigators have found no evidence that Orlando shooter Omar Mateen chose to target the Pulse nightclub because of its gay clientele. An FBI official said on Friday that “while there can be no denying the significant impact on the gay community, the investigation hasn’t revealed that he targeted Pulse because it was a gay club.” In the days after the attack, Attorney General General Loretta Lynch had said “this was clearly an act of terror and an act of hate.” Washington Post

False Credentials: Former Fox News contributor Wayne Simmons was sentenced to nearly three years in prison on Friday for claiming he had worked for the CIA. He was also convicted on other fraud charges, as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm. The Pentagon believed Simmons’s claims and had allowed him to tour the prison at Guantanamo Bay in 2006 with a group of “media analysts.”Miami Herald, Washington Post, AP

Surveillance: The Obama administration is working with foreign governments on a set of agreements that would allow for U.S. technology companies for the first time to be served with warrants for searches and wiretaps. A senior Justice Department official said that foreign investigators would be able to serve a warrant directly to U.S. firms to obtain a suspect’s emails or monitor communications in real time, as long as the surveillance does not involve U.S. citizens or residents. Wall Street Journal

In response to Thursday night’s truck attack in Nice, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said if elected he would seek from Congress a formal declaration of war against ISIS. He also called for the “extreme vetting” of immigrants, including a complete ban on those from “terrorist nations.” New York Times

Washington Post: Would declaring ‘war’ on ISIS make victory more certain — or would it even matter?
New York Times: Newt Gingrich Echoes Donald Trump With Remarks on Muslims and Terrorism

On Friday, the United States and Russia announced a tentative deal to coordinate airstrikes against ISIS and the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. After several hours of discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Secretary of State John Kerry did not provide details of the agreement, saying that more work needed to be done to finalize the deal, which he emphasized was not “based on trust.” New York Times

Iraq: Powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr encouraged his followers to target U.S. forces in Iraq deployed in support of military operations against ISIS. Al-Sadr said that the 560 additional troops announced last week “are a target” for his Peace Brigades militia. Reuters

Turkey: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed his government successfully put down a coup attempt by a military faction that began on Friday. Thousands of soldiers have been arrested and hundreds of judicial members have been removed from their posts in connection to the failed coup which left 290 people dead and more than 1,400 injured. President Erdogan demanded that the United States extradite exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is suspected of inciting the coup and now lives in Pennsylvania. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the State Department has received no formal request for extradition.  CNN

Washington Post: U.S. planes grounded at key Turkish air base in fight against ISIS after coup attempt
New York Times: Erdogan Triumphs After Coup Attempt, but Turkey’s Fate Is Unclear
CNN: Who is Fethullah Gulen, the man blamed for coup attempt in Turkey?

France: Investigators into Friday’s truck attack in Nice found that the perpetrator, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, had only very recent, loose links with terrorism -- that his list of phone contacts included local jihadis. Investigators also found that Bouhlel had struggled with mental illness and showed no interest in religion. Financial Times

Israel: Eight ambassadors to Israel have signed a letter written to the Israeli military accusing it of violating international humanitarian law after forces confiscated European-funded shelters for Bedouins in the occupied West Bank. Ambassadors from Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Ireland, and Norway signed the letter, which described the shelters as being “provided as part of a broader humanitarian intervention for vulnerable Palestinian households.” Guardian
Can We Stop Terror-by-Truck?: “If we are serious about eliminating this threat, the West has to make some major changes. First, and most obviously, we have to recognize that the Islamic State’s occupation of large sections of Iraq and Syria is not a distant tragedy, but the driving force behind these attacks, operationally and inspirationally,” writes Ali Soufan in The New York Times. “Theoretically, the United States leads a coalition of 65 nations against the Islamic State. In reality, most of these countries do little besides talk tough….Moreover, too many countries in the region see the Islamic State as a secondary threat, subordinate to sectarian rivalries. Such sectarianism can only perpetuate conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen; this, in turn, draws valuable oxygen away from the struggle against the Islamic State and the Qaeda franchises.”

Terrorism: The jihad-crime nexus: “There have been eight lethal terrorist attacks in Europe since 2014….What do these attacks have in common? The terrorists are almost invariably criminals who have either served time in the French or Belgian prison systems, or they have been convicted for lesser offenses but have avoided jail time,” writes Peter Bergen on CNN. “Prisons in France and Belgium have incubated many jihadist terrorists. This is because the proportion of the French prison population that is Muslim is estimated to be around 60%, which is extraordinarily high given that Muslims account for 8% of France's population.”

A Lesson for Newt Gingrich: What Shariah Is (and Isn’t): “Start with a crucial distinction. Shariah doesn’t simply or exactly mean Islamic law. Properly speaking, Shariah refers to God’s blueprint for human life,” writes Noah Feldman in The New York Times. Not all Muslims “agree on what Islamic law requires in practice. They’re disagreeing about what God wants, to be sure. But almost all faithful Muslims would say that they believe there is a single, truthful answer that lies in Shariah — we just cannot be absolutely sure as humans what that answer is.”

Spy or Whistleblower? Should Obama Settle With Snowden?: “President Obama has an opportunity in his final months in office, when presidents traditionally exercise their pardon and clemency powers, to direct his Attorney General to offer a reasonable settlement to Snowden through his attorneys,” writes Ronald Goldfarb on Newsweek. “He is unlikely to pardon Snowden, as Snowden’s ACLU attorney Ben Wizner asks, but there is no good reason why his Attorney General should not negotiate a balanced settlement that recognizes Snowden’s and the government’s unique position in this historic face-off.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Turkey in Full Crisis

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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