The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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THURSDAY, AUGUST 11, 2016
PENTAGON RELEASES REPORT DETAILING GITMO DETAINEES

On Wednesday, the Pentagon released an unclassified version of a report detailing the remaining detainees held at Guantanamo Bay at the request of Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) who has been pushing the Obama administration for further transparency about transfers from the military prison. The report provides detailed backgrounds of more than 100 detainees, including those who have already been transferred to other countries and those who have been cleared for release by the Periodic Review Board. It describes Al Qaeda bomb makers, bodyguards, and high value detainees such as 9/11 plotter Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, as well as lower-level members of al Qaeda such as cooks and translators with little role in militant operations. Miami Herald

Related:
Boston Globe: New report will fuel debate over closing Guantanamo prison
The Hill: Pentagon releases report detailing Gitmo detainees' backgrounds
Reuters: Cook, bookkeeper and 'worst of the worst' held at Guantanamo

The Periodic Review Board at Guantanamo Bay convened to consider the case of 41-year-old Malaysian national Mohd Farik Bin Amin. Bin Amin is suspected of training at an Al Qaeda camp in 2000 and of being linked to the accused mastermind of the 2002 Bali nightclub attack Hambali (Riduan Isamuddin). Bin Amin has been held at Guantanamo since September 2006. Human Rights First

U.S. MILITARY SAYS IT HAS TAKEN 45,000 ISIS FIGHTERS OFF THE BATTLEFIELD
The top commander in the fight against ISIS said on Wednesday that the U.S.-led military coalition has taken 45,000 enemy combatants off the battlefield and has reduced the total number of ISIS fighters to between 15,000 and 20,000. Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland said that both the quality and number of ISIS fighters is declining, but noted the difficulty in determining exact figures. CBS

State Department: The State Department condemned anti-blasphemy in foreign countries in its annual religious freedom report released on Wednesday, singling out Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, Pakistan, and Mauritania. The report said “such laws conflict with and undermine universally recognized human rights.” Washington Post

NATO: In response to the recent rapprochement between Turkey and Russia, NATO issued a statement on Wednesday calling Turkey a “valued ally” whose alliance membership “is not in question.” NATO said it was also responding to “speculative press reports regarding NATO’s stance regarding the failed coup in Turkey and Turkey’s NATO membership.” Washington Post

Twitter ISIS lawsuit: On Wednesday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed against Twitter by family members of victims of an ISIS attack on a law enforcement training center in Jordan last November. The families of American contractors Lloyd Fields and James Creach alleged that Twitter was liable for the two mens’ deaths because ISIS used the social media platform to communicate and spread propaganda. U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick ruled that the Communications Decency Act relieves Twitter of liability for the posting of information by users. Politico


DNC HACK LARGER THAN ORIGINALLY THOUGHT
A Russian cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee’s computer network was larger than it first appeared, hacking the private email accounts of over 100 Democratic party officials and groups, according to those familiar with the case. The FBI has broadened its investigation of the cyberattack and has begun notifying officials about the potential breach of their data. New York Times


U.S.-BACKED LIBYAN FIGHTERS CLAIM VICTORY OVER ISIS IN SIRTE
Militias loyal to the UN-backed Libyan government said on Wednesday that they defeated ISIS in the coastal city of Sirte. U.S.-backed militias claimed to have seized the heavily fortified Ouagadougou Center, which served as ISIS’s headquarters in the city. Several Libyan news agencies reported that Libyan forces were still fighting the remnants of ISIS militants hiding in residential neighborhoods. New York Times, Reuters

Syria: At least four people were killed and dozens of others poisoned when a gas, believed to be chlorine, was dropped in explosive payloads in airstrikes near Aleppo on Wednesday. Monitoring and human rights groups in the area said helicopters dropped the gas alongside barrel bombs on the neighborhoods of Seif al Dawla and Zubdiya. Reuters

Related:
Washington Post: Battle for Aleppo may be the most crucial of the Syrian civil war

Turkey: Bomb blasts in two cities in southeast Turkey killed nine civilians and wounded dozens of others on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, four Turkish soldiers were killed and nine others wounded when militants fired rockets and long-range weapons across the Iraqi border. Turkish officials blamed the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for the attacks. Reuters

On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to give an ultimatum to the United States, demanding the extradition of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who he has accused of plotting last month’s failed coup attempt. Erdogan said “sooner or later the US will make a choice. Either Turkey or FETO,” referencing Gulen’s opposition movement. CNN


Ukraine: On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the Ukrainian government of plotting terrorist attacks in Crimea and claimed that two Russian servicemembers were killed in clashes over the past week. Putin warned that Russia would respond, saying “there is no doubt that we will not let these things pass.” Ukrainian officials denied the claims and called Putin’s accusations “fantasies.” New York Times, Guardian

Assange: Ecuador and Sweden have agreed to allow Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to be questioned by Swedish prosecutors about allegations of rape made against him. Swedish officials will be allowed to enter the Ecuadorean embassy in London where Assange has been living since 2012. New York Times

Australia: Leaked documents published on Wednesday reveal details about the harsh conditions faced by detained asylum seekers in Australia. Asylum seekers held on the remote Pacific island of Nauru have reported episodes of violence, sexual assault, and self-harm, many of which involving children. Guardian, New York Times
TOP OP-EDS
Save the Refugees on the Berm: “For millions of Syrian civilians trapped for five years by a relentless war, mere lifesaving aid, let alone refuge, is out of reach. But for the 75,000 displaced people caught on Jordan’s desert frontier with Syria, salvation is only yards away. Unlike many of their fellow citizens, they can be saved,” writes Jason Cone in The New York Times. “They are assembled in a kind of buffer zone on an inhospitable strip of land, much of it within Jordanian territory, just north of the official Jordanian border. But that border is closed, which prevents aid from reaching these desperate refugees and at the same time prevents them from seeking safety. If they move, they risk being pushed back into Syria or perishing in the harsh desert. Both options are morally intolerable and completely avoidable.”

Tunisia’s War on Islam: Is overzealous prosecution of the war on terror contributing to radicalization?: There have been “thousands of victims of the arbitrary and often violent methods the country’s police employ against conservative young men and women. A joint report on torture in Tunisia submitted by several local and international NGOs to the United Nations was unequivocal: ‘Torture is widespread, in all its manifestations,’ it reads, ‘and its practice tends to increase after each terrorist attack,' ” writes Asma Ghribi on Foreign Policy. “It’s all part of an ongoing crackdown that has followed a spate of terror attacks in the past few years.”

Mass Surveillance Isn’t Colorblind: “While mass surveillance is a problem for everyone, these tools aren’t used blindly. Due to biases shaping police practices, people of color, religious and ethnic minorities, and political dissidents are far more likely to be victims of unwarranted monitoring,” writes Sandra Fulton on Foreign Policy in Focus. “The growing use of facial-recognition technology and massive databases that store and record sensitive information — from fingerprints to iris scans — has helped make it all way too easy.”

 
EDITOR'S PICK

SOUFAN GROUP
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Iran’s Growing Cyber Capabilities

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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