The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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WEDNESDAY, JULY 20, 2016
SUSPECTED U.S. AIRSTRIKE KILLS 56 CIVILIANS IN SYRIA

At least 56 civilians were killed on Tuesday by a suspected U.S. airstrike north of the besieged ISIS-held city of Manbij in northern Syria, according to the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been fighting to retake the city from ISIS since the end of May in an effort to cut off the group’s access to the Turkish border. New York Times, Reuters, CNN

PENTAGON TO DISCUSS PLANS TO RETAKE MOSUL AND RAQQA
Defense Secretary Ash Carter will meet with defense ministers from allied nations this week to discuss upcoming military operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Pentagon officials will present plans for operations to retake the ISIS-held city of Mosul as well as the group’s de facto capital Raqqa in Syria. Washington Post

Related:
Reuters: As Mosul fight approaches, worries about the day after

Al-Shabab trial: The trial of two women accused of supporting al-Shabab, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, began on Tuesday in Alexandria, Virginia. The defense attorney of 46-year-old Hinda Osman Dhirane admitted her client was a strong supporter of the group saying, “we make no bones about the fact she was a supporter of al-Shabab...But it's talk. It doesn't prove that she necessarily provided substantial assistance to al-Shabab.” Dhirane and 36-year-old Muna Osman Jama were charged in 2014 with sending money to al-Shabab fundraisers. AP

Orlando Shooting: During interviews two and a half years prior to last month’s attack, Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen lied to investigators saying that he had been teased and verbally abused by coworkers for being Muslim. Mateen said that, in response, he falsely claimed to have ties to Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan and the Tsarnaev brothers who were responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings. NPR


U.S.-BACKED FORCES RETAKE KEY ISIS HEADQUARTERS IN SYRIA
On Tuesday, U.S.-backed Syrian forces recaptured a strategic ISIS headquarters building in the town of Manbij. Over 450 coalition airstrikes supported the operation to retake the headquarters, which was also used as a command center and logistics hub. The Hill

Turkey: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered the arrest of over 50,000 soldiers, police, judges, civil servants, and teachers since last weekend’s failed coup attempt. A government spokesman said that Turkey is preparing a formal request to the United States for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, an exiled cleric accused of plotting the coup. Reuters

Related:
Washington Post: The U.S. stores nuclear weapons in Turkey. Is that such a good idea?


France: More than one third of the victims of last week’s truck attack on a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice were Muslim, according to the head of the Union of Muslims of the Alpes-Maritimes, a regional Islamic association. New York Times

Germany: On Tuesday, ISIS claimed responsibility for an ax and knife attack by a 17-year-old Afghan refugee on a train in southern Germany. Four people were seriously wounded in the attack. New York Times

Related:
Deutsche-Welle: Germany faces self-radicalization among frustrated young refugees

Brazil: A Brazilian group calling itself Ansar al-Khilafah pledged allegiance to the Islamic State on the Telegram messaging app on Tuesday, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. However, experts are questioning the legitimacy of the threat, calling into question whether or not the obscure group actually exists. ABC, Washington Post

Russia: Russia’s domestic intelligence service, the FSB, searched the offices of another Russian investigative agency on Tuesday in a sign of dysfunction within the country’s security services. FSB agents raided the Investigative Committee and arrested three senior prosecutors. New York Times
TOP OP-EDS
A new jihadist threat may be on the horizon in Syria: “Kerry’s diplomacy suffers from a weak U.S. bargaining position. Russia and Syria think they’re winning, as they tighten their siege of Aleppo and other rebel strongholds. There’s little incentive for them to make the serious concessions that might bring buy-in from the opposition,” writes David Ignatius in the Washington Post. “The United States, by contrast, has failed in a three-year, CIA-led effort to build a moderate opposition force that could draw rebels away from Jabhat al-Nusra and its Sunni allies.”

America the weak?: “Watching the first night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was to enter a parallel universe where the United States is on the ropes; to hear it from the stage, it is a country in retreat with a weak military, besieged by foreign terrorists,” writes Peter Bergen on CNN. “The truth is there is no evidence that there is a single terrorist sent by ISIS in the United States. Based on an examination of the public record, seven Americans have trained in Syria with militant groups and have returned to the States. None of them trained with ISIS, and six of those militants who returned are now in jail (one died in a suicide attack in Syria in 2014).”

This Is Europe’s Last Chance to Fix Its Refugee Policy: “Rather than uniting to resist this threat, EU member states have become increasingly unwilling to cooperate with one another….The trust needed for cooperation is lacking. It will have to be rebuilt through a long and laborious process,” writes George Soros on Foreign Policy. “This is unfortunate, because a comprehensive policy ought to remain the highest priority for European leaders; the union cannot survive without it.”

Jihad and the French Exception: “France’s model of integration is generous in its principles but too rigid in its practice. The realities of French society today call for a more pragmatic and flexible approach, with fewer ideological diktats and less anxiety about plurality.” writes Farhad Khosrokhavar in The New York Times. “France isn’t what it used to be, and it’s time it came to terms with that idea.”
EDITOR'S PICK

SOUFAN GROUP
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Shifting Indicators of Terrorism

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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