The Soufan Group Morning Brief



The Pentagon announced Monday that it had transferred 15 prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay to the United Arab Emirates. The transfer is the single largest release of detainees during the Obama administration. Twelve Yemeni and three Afghan nationals, ranging in age from 36 to 66, were released. Most arrived at the prison more than 12 years ago and none had been convicted of a crime. The transfer lowers the number of remaining detainees at Guantanamo to 61, with 20 cleared for release. Lee Wolosky, the State Department's special envoy for Guantanamo’s closure, predicted that the 20 cleared detainees would likely be transferred “in the coming weeks.” Miami Herald, New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, Wall Street Journal

The Atlantic: Guantanamo's Shrinking Population
Guardian: US transfers 15 Guantánamo detainees in largest single release under Obama
CNN: Largest transfer of Gitmo detainees under Obama announced
BBC: Guantanamo Bay: US in largest detainee transfer under Obama
VICE News: 15 Guantanamo detainees were just released — the most ever during Obama's presidency
Foreign Policy: Obama Makes Biggest Move Yet to Empty Guantanamo

An anonymous group called “The Shadow Brokers” is auctioning off what they claim is the source code to hacking tools believed to be used by the National Security Agency. The tools were reportedly developed by “the Equation Group,” a spying entity believed to be linked to the NSA and close U.S. allies. The Hill, CNN

Gitmo: The CIA allegedly censored records from the trial of five men accused of planning the 9/11 attacks, according to documents obtained by The Intercept. During a January 2013 hearing at Guantanamo, the audio feed was reportedly cut off when a defense attorney was discussing the black-site program. Documents reportedly confirm that the CIA initiated the audio feed cut, claiming the information discussed, relating to interrogation techniques, was classified. After the episode, the judge in the hearing, Col. James Pohl, later said no outside body would be allowed to unilaterally censor events in his courtroom. The Intercept, Newsmax

Imam killing: The suspect in the killing of an imam and his assistant at a mosque in Queens over the weekend was charged on Monday. Oscar Morel, 35, of Brooklyn was charged with two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon. New York Times

On Monday, Donald Trump repeated his calls for strict immigration controls, including a new ideological test for Muslim visitors and immigrants. Speaking at Youngstown State University in Ohio, Trump said he would temporarily suspend immigration from “the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world,” and called for a policy of “extreme vetting” for immigrants or visitors to the United States with “any hostile attitude towards our country or its principles, or who believed sharia law should supplant American law.” Trump added that “just as we won the Cold War, in part by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of radical Islam,” New York Times, Washington Post, The Hill

New York Times: Biden Warns Trump Is Risk to U.S. Security

At least 15 people were killed in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike at a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in northern Yemen on Monday. UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon condemned the attack in a statement, highlighting the high toll of damage on health facilities in the Yemen conflict. New York Times, Reuters

Syria: Russian warplanes based in Iran struck targets in Syria on Tuesday. The strikes, launched from Hamadan air base in Iran, targeted ISIS and militants previously known as the the Nusra Front in the Aleppo, Idlib, and Deir Ez Zour provinces. This is the first time Russia has used its access to Iranian air bases to carry out airstrikes in Syria. Reuters

Iran: Iranian security forces killed three ISIS-linked militants in a city close to the Iraqi border on Monday. Police shot and killed the three men in a raid on a house in the city of Kermanshah, which reportedly contained a weapons cache and belts armed with explosives. In a separate incident, a senior ISIS member was killed on Monday night in an operation in another city in the province, according to officials. Reuters

Canada: On Monday, the Canadian government pledged $35 million over five years to fund programs that reach out to vulnerable people at risk of radicalization. The Canadian government reportedly plans to establish a national centre for de-radicalization that will coordinate efforts across the country to fight extremism. Public Security Minister Ralph Goodale said that most of the money will go to groups and organizations at the community level that are best equipped “to intervene in the right way, with the right tools and at the right time.” Montreal Gazette 
Who Will Watch the Watch List?: “Although less known than watch lists like the no-fly list, the Known or Suspected Terrorist File contributes to the secret blacklisting and surveillance of hundreds of thousands of individuals. Without due process protections, the file has the potential to ruin innocent people’s lives, while its size dilutes its effectiveness in tracking actual terrorist threats,” write Alice Wang and Zachary Blau in The New York Times. “Moreover, in light of the continuing debate about whether a no-buy list ought to prevent watchlisted people from purchasing guns, it is vital that we re-examine the accuracy and effectiveness of these lists.”

Trump's half-baked plans to combat ISIS: “The reality is that Trump’s focus on immigrants is to misconceive of the terrorist problem that exists in the United States,” writes Peter Bergen on CNN. “Every lethal terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11 has been carried out by an American citizen or a legal permanent resident, not by recent immigrants or by refugees. So tamping down immigration won’t fix the real issue, which is ‘homegrown’ terrorism.”

Washington's Sunni Myth and the Civil Wars in Syria and Iraq: “If you read Western media might think that most of the problems in the Middle East can be traced to Sunni disenfranchisement, especially in Syria and Iraq. The broader Western debate about the ongoing civil wars in the Middle East is plagued by a false understanding of sectarian identities,” writes Cyrus Mahboubian on War on the Rocks. “Washington elites imagine a broader Sunni sense of identity that does not exist outside the confines of Saudi Arabia and territories held by jihadist groups. This has the malign effect of encouraging policies that add fuel to the fires consuming Syria and parts of Iraq.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Islamic State Loses Manbij

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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