The Soufan Group Morning Brief



The first prisoner subjected to the CIA’s harsh post-9/11 interrogation program will appear before the Periodic Review Board at Guantanamo Bay later this month, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday. Saudi-born Palestinian Abu Zubaydah, also known as Zayn al Abdeen Mohammed al Hussein, was waterboarded 83 times, forced into a coffin-sized wooden box, held naked, and kept awake for prolonged periods of time, according to details from the 2014 Senate Torture Report. Ali Soufan, the former FBI agent who interrogated Abu Zubaydah before he was tortured by the CIA said that “We know that we went on a crossroad and we took the wrong turn....Abu Zubaydah and his case represents that. He represents the falsehood of what’s called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’.” Karen J. Greenberg, Director of Fordham Law School’s Center on National Security, said that “Abu Zubaydah is at the heart of everything that keeps Gitmo from closing: the issue of torture.” The Guardian

A House Republican task force has found that leaders from U.S. Central Command’s intelligence directorate pressured lower-level analysts to downplay the threat posed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, altering intelligence reports about the group, according to three officials familiar with the task force’s findings. A 10-page report from the task force’s five-month investigation is expected to be released by the end of next week. Daily Beast

Washington Post: ISIS and its allies were responsible for 26 percent of terrorism deaths in 13 years

Gitmo: Former Guantanamo detainee Jihad Diyab is reportedly being held by Venezuela’s intelligence agency after he traveled to Caracas in an attempt to reunite with his family. Diyab was released to Uruguay almost two years ago after being held at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay for 12 years. He has been detained in Venezuela without access to lawyers or visitors since approximately July 30, according to his lawyer Jon Eisenberg. Reuters

Police killings: The Obama administration is planning to create a system to better track killings by police officers in an effort to respond to widespread concern of police actions around the country. The Justice Department said it would ask law enforcement agencies and medical examiner’s offices to file paperwork when there are indications or reports that an individual has died in police custody, according to a notice published in the Federal Register this week. New York Times

Arms sales: The State Department has approved the sale of military equipment worth over $1 billion, to Saudi Arabia, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday. The equipment includes over 130 Abrams battle tanks and 20 armored recovery vehicles, among other equipment. Reuters, The Hill

New York terror case: On Tuesday, 19-year-old Imran Rabbani was sentenced to 20 months in prison after pleading guilty to a non-terrorism charge. In a plea deal, Rabbani admitted charges of conspiring to impede federal officers by force, intimidation and threat. He was arrested last year and charged with conspiring to provide support to ISIS for his suspected ties to alleged ISIS supporter Munther Omar Saleh. Saleh allegedly planned to carry out an attack with a pressure cooker bomb. Reuters, NY Daily News

Intense fighting in the contested city of Aleppo has left two million people without access to running water, the United Nations said on Tuesday. In a statement, the United Nations said it is “extremely concerned that the consequences will be dire for millions of civilians if the electricity and water networks are not immediately repaired,” and called for a “full-fledged cease-fire or weekly 48-hour humanitarian pauses to reach the millions of people in need throughout Aleppo and replenish the food and medicine stocks, which are running dangerously low.” New York Times

Yemen: The Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen significantly escalated its bombing campaign against Houthi rebels on Tuesday, striking the capital Sana’a and killing at least 21 people, including many civilians, across the country. The strikes come shortly after UN-sponsored peace talks broke down between the warring parties in Kuwait. New York Times

Libya: U.S. Special Operations forces are providing direct on-the-ground support to forces fighting ISIS in Libya in a major operation to retake the city of Sirte. U.S. troops are reportedly coordinating airstrikes and providing intelligence information from a joint operations center on the city’s outskirts. Washington Post

Germany: A German special police unit detained a Syrian asylum-seeker on Tuesday suspected of plotting a terrorist attack during the opening of the German national soccer league season. Police officers arrested the 24-year-old suspect in the city of Mutterstadt after receiving a tip about a possible attack. New York Times, Wall Street Journal

Russia: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday near St. Petersburg in an effort to normalize relations with Russia after the downing of a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border last year. The two presidents announced a resumption of trade and energy ties, including the reinstatement of an annual bilateral trade goal of $100 billion. Reuters
The lives of Muslim terror victims matter too: “When Islamic terrorists killed a priest in France last month, it was front-page news. Yet when terrorists in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, killed more than a dozen civilians that same day, the story received much less prominent coverage.” writes Abdi Nor Iftin in the Washington Post. “It goes without saying that terrorism victims in the developing world are humans whose lives are as valuable as those in the West. Less appreciated is that our cultures are also as valid, and are being destroyed.

What Intelligence Briefings Can Tell Us About Candidates: “The members of Obama team took such dialogue seriously. They would go their own way, of course, but they didn’t instinctively reject alternative views. I suspect Secretary Clinton would react much the same,” writes Michael Hayden in The New York Times. “How Mr. Trump — who routinely describes those with alternative views as weak, corrupt or stupid — would respond is anyone’s guess. But I’d rather not find out.”

How Not to Plan for ‘The Day After’ In Libya: “The Obama Doctrine offers an attractive strategic approach, first and foremost by minimizing the risks of a major U.S. ground war,” writes Dominic Tierney on The Atlantic. “But the Obama Doctrine also encourages a short-term, stop-gap view of war, one that focuses on tactical operations rather than on a clear endgame….The White House doesn’t want to think too far ahead in Libya, because a credible plan to stabilize the country could draw the United States into a greater commitment than Obama wants, while raising the dreaded specter of nation-building.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Terror Attacks on Mourners

Call for Applicants: The Center on the Future of War at Arizona State University is seeking a full-time Research Fellow. This position offers opportunities for the fellow to pursue individual policy research while also contributing to collaborative projects with the institution. CV and Cover Letter must be submitted by August 15, 2016. For a full description of the position, click here.

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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