The Soufan Group Morning Brief



On Wednesday, the Periodic Review Board approved the release of 45-year old Mohamedou Ould Slahi, the author of “Guantanamo Diary” a 2015 bestselling memoir of his time spent as an inmate in the U.S. military prison. In the book, Slahi details the torture and sexual abuse he endured at the hands of American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay. Slahi, a Mauritanian national, had been suspected of fighting alongside Al Qaeda and of having links to one of the plotters of the 9/11 attacks. He has been held at Guantanamo for nearly 14 years and has never been charged with a crime. Of the remaining 76 detainees held at Guantanamo, 31 have been approved for transfer. New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, Miami Herald

Miami Herald: New question burdens 9/11 trial: Can death-penalty case proceed without capital defender?

The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York threw out a previous ruling that had upheld the government’s bid to seize a Manhattan skyscraper linked to Iran on Wednesday. The court also reversed a ruling that would have allowed hundreds of victims of “terrorist acts” linked to Iran to collect proceeds from the sale of the tower at 650 Fifth Avenue, near Rockefeller Center. The court sent the cases back to a district judge for further proceedings, finding no proof that the owners of the building were directly linked to Iran. AP, New York Times, Reuters

Iran sanctions: On Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on three senior Al Qaeda members living in Iran. The three men, Faisal Jassim Mohammed Al-Amri Al-Khalidi, Yisra Muhammad Ibrahim Bayumi, and Abu Bakr Muhammad Muhammad Ghumayn, have allegedly helped Al Qaeda with its finances, logistics, and dealings with Iranian authorities. Reuters, Politico

TSA: House members Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) are backing a bill that would put pressure on the TSA to implement tougher security measures on Amtrak trains, in compliance with a post-9/11 initiative. After the 9/11 attacks, Congress tasked the TSA with creating a regulatory framework to address potential terrorism and security threats on passenger rail systems. The Hill

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan declared a state of emergency on Wednesday as he continued his crackdown against thousands of members of the security forces, judiciary, civil service, and academia. Erdogan said the state of emergency, which will last for three months, will allow the government to swiftly act against suspected supporters of the coup. Haartez, New York Times, Reuters

Mali: Mali’s government extended a state of emergency in the country for 10 days on Wednesday, after suspected Islamist militants killed 17 soldiers in an attack on an army base on Tuesday. More attacks occurred on Wednesday, as militants fired at a military patrol vehicle in the remote northern town of Mboukari. Reuters, New York Times

Libya: Three French soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash near Benghazi, President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday. The French forces were conducting an intelligence-gathering mission when the accident occurred. Reuters

Afghanistan: With the help of U.S. airstrikes, Afghan security forces fought back Taliban attacks on a vulnerable southern district in Helmand province on Wednesday, according to government officials. In the last week, Taliban forces launched attacks on the Sangin district center in the south of Helmand province. Reuters

Europe: A new report from EU law enforcement agency Europol shows a record number of terror attacks carried out, planned, or thwarted in European Union countries in 2015. The 211 attacks in 2015 were the most for any year since records began in 2006. The report also mentioned two “worrying developments” -- the “substantial numbers of returned foreign terrorist fighters that many member states now have on their soil” and a “significant rise” in nationalist or racist sentiments in Europe. BBC, TIME

Wall Street Journal: European Terrorism Arrests Rise as Jihadist Groups Focus on Urban Attacks

France: French military intelligence estimates that about 100 foreign fighters per week continue to enter Syria from Turkey to join ISIS. France’s foreign minister raised concern about whether Turkey is a reliable partner in the fight against ISIS on Wednesday. Reuters
The Dangers of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Programs: “Various reports of ill-advised FBI efforts to catch would-be future terrorists include violations of human rights such as surveillance and infiltration of communities, creating and facilitating ‘terrorist’ plots—which they then ‘interrupt,’ and so-called  ‘Shared Responsibility Committees,’ write Alice LoCicero and J. Wesley Boyd in Psychology Today. “Worst of all, programs like Cointel-Pro violate First Amendment rights and disproportionately affect Muslim communities. They are at best misguided, and at worst, vicious.”

A Grand and Disastrous Deceit: The Chilcot Report “offers a long and painful account of an episode that may come to be seen as marking the moment when the UK fell off its global perch, trust in government collapsed and the country turned inward and began to disintegrate,” writes Philippe Sands in the London Review of Books. “The report spreads the responsibility far and wide, covering politicians, civil servants, the military and lawyers. Yet, devastating as it is, the report does pull some punches. There is no allegation, explicitly at least, of lying, deceit or manipulation, even if the facts as presented make possible the inference.”

Living With Death in Baghdad: “The corrupt politicians...are robbing Iraqis not only of their wealth, but of life itself. The case of the fake bomb detectors exemplifies the relationship between corruption and death,” writes Sinan Antoon in The New York Times. “Throughout the last decade, Iraq paid more than $80 million for bomb detectors. Many thousands of Iraqi lives later, it turned out they could not detect anything more than golf balls. The British policeman-turned-businessman who made them in his yard was convicted of fraud and sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2013. But these bomb detectors were still in use when I last visited Iraq — and until earlier this month.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Turkey in the Aftermath of a Failed Coup

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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