The Soufan Group Morning Brief


TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2016

Baton Rouge shooter Gavin Long, a former marine, reportedly used his military training to methodically stalk his targets before killing three police officers on Sunday. Baton Rouge police described the gunman as “moving tactically” from building to building, as he looked for targets and chose vantage points for his shots. Investigators into the shooting have yet to determine Long’s precise motives for the attack.
New York Times, Washington Post

NBC: Baton Rouge Gunman Gavin Long Stalked Cops With Military Focus, Police Say
Chicago Tribune: Baton Rouge officers 'targeted and assassinated,' police say

Google said on Monday that the number of government requests for its users’ data increased in the second half of 2015 to a new all-time high. The government made 40,677 requests in the second half of 2015, up from 35,365 in the first six months the year, according to an update to the company’s transparency report. The number of government requests for user data has increased every year since 2010. The Hill

Gitmo: The first day of a two-week set of pretrial hearings in the case of 9/11 attacks suspect Walid Bin Attash began on Monday. Prosecutors and lawyers met with the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, in a closed session for 21 before the session was adjourned. Bin Attash was one of the five men accused of training and supporting the 9/11 hijackers. Miami Herald

Internet freedom: The American Freedom Defense Initiative, a strongly anti-Muslim activist group, has lodged a complaint against U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, accusing her of censoring its alleged “hate speech” posts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The group claims that the “Good Samaritan” provision in Section 320 of the Communications Decency Act enables tech firms to violate free speech by allowing them to take down content under their own terms of service. Courthouse News Service

Hundreds of Afghan Taliban fighters launched an attack on the embattled northern Kunduz province in an effort to take control of another district in the province. Afghan officials said that security forces “have been able to push the Taliban back,” as eight Taliban members, including a commander, were killed in the fighting. Al Jazeera

Yemen: Two suicide bombers attacked a Yemeni military checkpoint near the city of Mukalla on Monday, killing 10 people. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack. Reuters

Turkey: The Turkish government has arrested thousands of people in connection with last weekend’s failed coup attempt. Around 18,000 people have been detained, including approximately 6,000 military personnel, 9,000 police, 3,000 judges, and 30 governors. New York Times

North Korea: North Korea fired three ballistic missiles off its eastern coast on Tuesday, according to the South Korean military. The three missiles were fired eastward for about 350 miles before falling into the sea off the eastern coast of North Korea. Tensions have mounted since the U.S. announced its decision to deploy the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea. New York Times, CNN

Germany: A 17-year-old Afghan migrant attacked several passengers with an ax and a knife on a train in southern Germany on Monday, injuring at least four people before being killed by police. Government officials said that “there are hints that may indicate a terrorist background, but these have not yet been proven.” New York Times
ISIS: The Durability of Chaos: “Trying to pin down a direct ISIS connection—while ramping up operations against ISIS in Syria and Iraq—may be missing the point. In Western political circles as with the Islamic State, and in the minds of their publics, the connection already is real, whatever actual facts may emerge,” writes Scott Atran in The New York Review of Books. “As a result, suspicion that any disgruntled Muslim is a possible terrorist-in-the-making will continue to make headway among non-Muslims while further disgruntling Muslims, just as ISIS wants.”

The Nice attack heralds a new kind of terror – one we can’t define: “The crucial point that many have missed is that it does not actually matter to Isis whether there is any real connection: whether the new ‘soldiers’ it claims after the fact are more disturbed than ideological,” writes Peter Beaumont in the Guardian. “What matters is the fact of the act alone and its power to frighten, divide and destabilise – and that the attack is understood to be inspired by Isis.”

Turkey and NATO: What Comes Next Is Messy: “Perhaps the most shocking thing about the attempted coup in Turkey was that it had not already occurred. The obvious tensions between civil and military authorities have been a long-simmering witches’ brew in Turkey,” writes James Stavridis on Foreign Policy. “We need to stand firmly on the side of the Turkish civilian government. Despite the authoritarian impulses of the current regime, it is unquestionably democratically elected and deserves support in the face of the coup attempt.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Consequences of U.S.-Russian Cooperation in Syria

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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