The Soufan Group Morning Brief



Officials from U.S. Central Command altered intelligence reports about ISIS in order to provide a more optimistic outlook of military operations against the extremist group, according to a report released on Thursday by a congressional panel. An investigatory task force established by the Republican chairmen of the House Armed Services Committee, Intelligence Committee, and Defense Appropriations Subcommittee found “widespread dissatisfaction” among CENTCOM analysts who claimed their superiors were altering their assessments of ISIS and that “intelligence products approved by senior CENTCOM leaders typically provided a more positive depiction of U.S. antiterrorism efforts than was warranted by facts on the ground and were consistently more positive than analysis produced by other elements of the intelligence community.” New York Times, Washington Post

The Hill: Dems: 'Overly insular' process led to optimistic ISIS intel
Daily Beast: Republicans and Democrats Agree: CENTCOM Cooked ISIS War Intel

The Periodic Review Board at Guantanamo Bay has cleared for release 43-year-old Afghan national Sufiyan Barhoumi. In 2005, Barhoumi was accused of being part of a Pakistan-based bomb-making cell known as the “Faisalabad Three,” which also included Guantanamo detainee Abu Zubaydah. Barhoumi has been held at Guantanamo since June 2002. Of the 76 remaining detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, 35 have been cleared for release. Miami Herald

ISIS in New York: A New York man accused of plotting an ISIS-inspired New Year’s Eve machete attack in Rochester pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS. Emanuel Lutchman, 26, faces up to 20 years in prison for discussing plans for an attack on a local restaurant with FBI informants last December. NBC, Reuters

ISIS in Mississippi: A federal judge sentenced a Mississippi woman who attempted to leave the United States to join ISIS in Syria to 12 years in prison. Jaelyn Young, 20, was charged with conspiracy to provide material support ISIS after she attempted to disguise a trip to Syria as a honeymoon with her fiance, 23-year-old Muhammad Dakhlalla. Young claimed that she finds her actions “surreal,” and said that “I wasn't myself. I said and did things that were so contrary to me….When things really began to snap back into place, then I began to feel shame.” AP

On Thursday, Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump said that he would try Americans convicted of terrorism in military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay. In an interview with the Miami Herald, Trump said that “well, I know that they want to try them in our regular court systems, and I don’t like that at all. I don’t like that at all. I would say they could be tried there, that would be fine.” Trump added that “I want to make sure that if we have radical Islamic terrorists, we have a very safe place to keep them,” in response to a question about transferring terrorism suspects captured abroad to Guantanamo. Miami Herald, The Hill, NBC

Sami Jassim Mohammed Al-Jabouri, also known as Haji Hamad, was killed in a military operation along the Syria-Iraq border on Thursday, according to the Kurdistan Region Security Council. Jabouri was responsible for overseeing ISIS’s oil operations in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. military has not yet verified Jabouri’s death. CNN

Syria: A British teenager who left London last year to fight alongside ISIS in Syria is believed to have been killed by a Russian airstrike on Thursday in the city of Raqqa. Kadiza Sultana, 17, was one of three schoolgirls who abandoned their lives in London to fight with ISIS. Sultana had reportedly become “disillusioned with life in the medieval terror state” and was considering returning to Britain. New York Times

Reuters: Intensifying fight for Aleppo chokes civilian population
The Hill: Pentagon won't reveal how many troops are fighting ISIS

Afghanistan: Thousands of civilians have fled intense fighting in Helmand Province between Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents. Over 3,000 families have left their homes and sought refuge in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, which is also under siege from Taliban attacks. BBC

Thailand: A series of bombings killed four people and wounded dozens of others at popular tourist sites in five provinces in Thailand on Thursday and Friday morning. Police said the bombings appeared to be coordinated and “conducted by the same network.” Another senior official described the attack as “local sabotage,” rather than terrorism. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the bombings. New York Times

Germany: The German government proposed a series of measures on Thursday to strengthen security and combat terrorism in response to recent attacks in the country. The measures include closer monitoring of refugees, enhanced surveillance, greater sharing of intelligence data across Europe, and the stripping of dual citizens of their German citizenship if they fight for extremist groups. New York Times, BBC

The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency says it has placed an anti-Islam group known as the Identitarian Movement under observation. The group is known for opposing “mass immigration” and calls for “an end to the Islamization of Europe.” AP

Canada: A suspect killed during a police raid on a home in Ontario on Wednesday was allegedly in the final stages of planning an ISIS-inspired terror attack on a Canadian city, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Aaron Driver, 24, who was killed after setting off an explosion in the back of a taxi while fleeing the police, reportedly threatened to carry out an attack on an unspecified location in Canada within 72 hours, according to a “martyrdom video” obtained by the FBI. New York Times, Reuters
No, Obama was not the 'founder' of ISIS: “At a rally in Florida on Wednesday, Donald Trump described President Obama as the ‘founder’ of ISIS, going on to say the terrorist organization ‘is honoring President Obama,’” writes Peter Bergen on CNN. “Like so much else that Trump has said, these claims are false. The founder of ISIS is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a shadowy Iraqi cleric who President Obama is doing everything in his power to kill….Clearly this is also total nonsense; he doesn't seem to have done the slightest thing to educate himself about ISIS.”

Why Trump's Crazy Talk About Obama and ISIS Matters: “At this stage, some will argue that it isn’t worth the effort to interpret Trump’s misstatements, or to point out the truth of the matter—in this case, that a Jordanian named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi founded isis, in 2004. At the very least, it should be obvious to everyone by now that Trump doesn’t deal in reality; he deals in mythmaking, demagoguery, and carnival barking,” writes John Cassidy in the New Yorker. “When he’s not tied to a teleprompter, Trump often seems to say the most provocative thing that comes into his head, with little thought for the consequences for his campaign, or for the campaigns of other Republicans. He’s like a small child, trying to be the center of attention, even if that means he has turned himself into an object of outrage and ridicule.”

The Salvation of Sinners and the Suicide Bomb: “Terrorist deeds are often monstrous and defy all human comprehension. But, as over three decades of research on terrorism shows, terrorists, by and large, are psychologically normal: not crazy-eyed, furious fanatics,” writes Simon Cottee on Foreign Policy. “The gulf between ‘homegrown’ Western jihadis and their atrocities is seemingly wider still: Their profiles reveal not only lives of breathtaking banality but also lifestyles of fulsome secularity, often allied to a criminal past or present.”

Global Dispatches: Why the Battle for Aleppo is So Consequential

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: A New Chapter for Turkey and Russia

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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