The Soufan Group Morning Brief


FRIDAY, JULY 8, 2016

On Thursday, Republican lawmakers questioned two Obama administration officials responsible for the negotiation of Guantanamo Bay detainee transfers, citing the recent disappearance of former Guantanamo detainee Jihad Diyab, who was transferred to Uruguay in late 2014. Uruguayan officials, who lost track of Diyab more than three weeks ago, believe he had crossed into Brazil. Members of the House Foreign Relations Committee also mentioned the risk of former detainees returning to the battlefield, after a report last month in The Washington Post that said at least a dozen former detainees have launched attacks that killed an estimated six Americans. Special envoys Paul Lewis, from the Pentagon, and Lee Wolosky, from the State Department, strongly defended the ongoing policy of transferring cleared detainees to other countries, saying former detainees who went on to kill Americans had been released by the Bush administration. Lewis and Wolosky insisted that the Obama administration uses a “rigorous and intensive” process to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo “in a safe and responsible manner.” Miami Herald, Reuters, New York Times

The Hill: Administration insists Gitmo transfers 'safe and responsible'

Five Dallas police officers were killed and six others were wounded by two snipers on Thursday night in downtown Dallas. Authorities believe four people coordinated the attack on a demonstration protesting police violence in the wake of the recent shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana. Three of the suspects have been detained, while police exchanged fire with a fourth held up in a garage in the early morning hours. Police are also investigating a suspicious package left near the site of the shootings. New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters

CNN: Live updates: 5 Dallas officers killed at protest
New York Times: How the Attack on Dallas Officers Unfolded

ISIS: Federal prosecutors said on Thursday that a top ISIS recruiter based in Syria helped direct an American college student on how to carry out a foiled terrorist plot on a police station in southern Ohio. Munir Abdulkader, 21, was in contact with Junaid Hussein, a well-known ISIS recruiter who was killed last August in Syria, according to court documents released on Thursday. Abdulkader was charged in a previously sealed indictment in May 2015 with providing material support to ISIS, attempting to kill police officers and employees of the United States, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Washington Post

Pentagon: Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Thursday that several details of the Obama administration’s plans for Afghanistan through the end of the President’s second term remain unclear, including the types of troops that will be deployed and how operations in the country will be funded. Carter said that the adjusted mission will remain focused on advising Afghan forces and carrying out counterterrorism operations. Washington Post

Drones: The Defense Department is seeking $20 million in funding to help combat ISIS’s use of “small and tactical unmanned aerial systems” for reconnaissance and assault purposes. A budget document said the Pentagon is attempting to “identify, acquire, integrate and conduct testing” of methods that are able to “counter the effects of unmanned aerial systems and the threats they pose to U.S. forces.” Business Insider

An ISIS suicide attack killed at least 35 people and wounded 60 others on Thursday near a Shiite mausoleum north of Baghdad. The vocal Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his militia, the Peace Brigade, to deploy around the Mausoleum of Sayid Mohammed bin Ali al-Hadi amid growing concerns of sectarian violence in Iraq. Reuters

Libya: Saif al-Islam, the son of former Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi, is still being held in a prison in western Libya, according to a Libyan military source. This contradicts reports that Saif al-Islam had been released after Libya’s new UN-backed government had granted amnesty for his death sentence. Reuters

Iraq: The death toll from Sunday’s truck bombing of a crowded market in Baghdad has risen to 292, according to Iraqi officials. ISIS claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack on the Iraqi capital since 2003. CNN

Saudi Arabia: Saudi officials have identified the bomber who attacked the Prophet’s Mosque in the city of Medina on Monday. 26-year-old Saudi national Naer Muslim Hamad reportedly had a history of drug abuse. The government also identified three individuals who carried out bombings in the province of Qatif on Monday.

France: A French teachers union is claiming that several exam proctors were told by inspectors to highlight exam papers for students who may show signs of radicalization. The exam reportedly covered the Middle East history, World War II, and the war in Algeria. The Telegraph

South Korea: The United States will install a sophisticated anti-missile system in South Korea, according to defense officials. The THAAD missile system is meant to deter the rising threat of a missile attack from North Korea. However, China has repeatedly voiced its opposition to the installation. Washington Post
Does NATO Still Exist?: “Discomforting as it may be, there’s reason to take a critical look at an even older accord that binds the nations of the West: the NATO treaty,” writes Jochen Bittner in The New York Times. “Signed 67 years ago, the treaty holds the promise that an attack on one of the organization’s member states will be regarded as an attack on all. This solidarity clause, Article 5, was written by politicians of another generation, one with harsher experiences in a much simpler world order.”

Whose World Is This?: US and UK Government Hacking: “On both sides of the Atlantic, we are witnessing the dramatic expansion of government hacking powers. In the United States, a proposed amendment to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure would permit the government to obtain a warrant, in certain circumstances, to hack unspecified numbers of electronic devices anywhere in the world,” writes Scarlet Kim on Just Security. “Meanwhile, across the pond, the British Parliament is currently debating the Investigatory Powers Bill, which (among many other things) would authorize the government to hack the devices of broad classes of people without geographic limitation. The exercise of these powers will have significant implications for the privacy and security of individuals around the world and therefore commands our attention.”

Despite Obama’s new executive order, U.S. drone policy may still violate international law: “There is little doubt after the July 1 executive order that the president hopes to bolster the legitimacy of U.S. drone policy before he leaves office. But the new requirements may have a limited effect. Obama inherited a drone program that was secretive, expansive in scope and a risk to civilian lives,” Ben Jones in the Washington Post. “Eliminating these aspects of the program has proven difficult. Institutionalizing and normalizing one of the most controversial policies of the Bush administration ultimately may be Obama’s legacy on drones.”

CATO Institute: Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State

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.

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Bahrain Restive Again

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