The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2016
GUANTANAMO REVIEW BOARD FINDS LIBYAN DETAINEE TOO DANGEROUS TO RELEASE

The Periodic Review Board at Guantanamo Bay has approved the indefinite detention of 48-year-old  Libyan national Ismael Ali Faraj Ali Bakush, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday. The Review Board said Bakush “played a significant role in al-Qaida operations” and was an explosives expert and trainer. A U.S. military intelligence estimate issued in May labeled him a former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. Bakush arrived at Guantanamo in August 2002 and has never been charged with a crime. Miami Herald

Related:
Lawfare: A Big Guantanamo Transfer: Progress Towards the Site's Obsolescence
NBC: Why Obama Likely Won’t Be Able to Close Guantanamo

SNOWDEN CLAIMS RUSSIA BEHIND NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK
On Tuesday, Edward Snowden declared that “circumstantial evidence and conventional wisdom indicates Russian responsibility” for the suspected hack of source code used by the National Security Agency. Wikileaks announced on Tuesday that it would be releasing a free copy of the source code, which a group known as the “Shadow Brokers” claimed to be auctioning off online. New York Times, The Hill

Related:
CNN: Latest NSA hack might reveal ugly side of US spying, Snowden says
Lawfare: NSA and the No Good, Very Bad Monday

Attacks on Muslims: The FBI has joined an investigation into an attack on a group of five Somali-American men on their way to Ramadan prayers in June. Two of the men were wounded when alleged gunman Anthony Sawina opened fire on their vehicle. The FBI and Minneapolis police are looking into anti-Islam motives in the shooting. Minn. Star Tribune

CIA: A man who drove his car into a fence at the CIA headquarters in Virginia in June was sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years of supervised probation. The driver, Thomas Luu, has reportedly been suffering from bipolar disorder for the past 15 years and was experiencing a manic episode at the time of the incident. Washington Post


TRUMP TO RECEIVE FIRST CLASSIFIED BRIEFING
Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump will receive his first classified briefing on Wednesday at the FBI field office in Manhattan. Officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will lead the briefing, which will cover major threats and emerging concerns around the world. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, head of Trump’s transition team, and former Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn will also attend the briefing. New York Times, ABC


REPORT FINDS RUSSIA, SYRIA VIOLATED INTERNATIONAL LAW BY USING INCENDIARY MUNITIONS
The Syrian and Russian militaries violated international law by dropping incendiary munitions on civilian areas, according to a new report published by Human Rights Watch. The report accuses the countries of using incendiary munitions at least 18 times in the past nine weeks, most recently on August 7 around the cities of Idlib and Aleppo. Washington Post

On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon warned of an unprecedented “humanitarian catastrophe” in the Syrian city of Aleppo. He urged Russia and the United States to quickly reach an agreement on a ceasefire, as fighting for control of the city has intensified in recent weeks. Reuters

Related:
The Hill: US held fire on ISIS convoy in Syria over civilian casualty concerns
Washington Post: Why the Pentagon sees recapture of Syrian city as template for battling the Islamic State

Yemen: The economic cost from Yemen’s ongoing civil war has grown to more than $14 billion, according to a confidential report seen by Reuters. The joint report, by the World Bank, United Nations, Islamic Development Bank, and European Union, highlights the enormous effort that will be needed to rebuild the country. Reuters

Libya: Forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed government said on Tuesday that they had seized control of one of the last remaining districts held by ISIS in central Sirte. Their advance has been aided by U.S. airstrikes, which began on August 1. Reuters

Afghanistan: A breakaway faction of the Taliban in Afghanistan has appointed a new leader. Mullah Emdadullah Mansoor, the nephew of Mullah Mansoor Dadullah who was killed fighting a rival Taliban faction last year, was named leader of the group known as Mahaaz-e-Dadullah. AP


United Kingdom: Longtime Islamist activist Anjem Choudary was found guilty of inviting support for ISIS on Tuesday. Choudary, 49, and an associate, Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, 33, were convicted of using online lectures and messages to encourage support for ISIS. The two men also pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Choudary is the former head of the now banned Islamist organizations Al-Muhajiroun and Islam4UK and was best known for his vocal praise of the 9/11 attacks. New York Times, CNN
TOP OP-EDS
How Do Trump’s Conspiracy Theories Go Over in the Middle East? Dangerously.: “Public opinion has a profound impact on American interests in the Middle East and around the world. The United States’ military strategy against the Islamic State depends on mobilizing local actors to lead the fight on the ground,” write Michael Wahid Hanna and Daniel Benaim in The New York Times. “Imagine how much harder that is when people have been led to believe that President Obama created the group. Or think of the added danger to American troops in Iraq, where Shiite militant groups who are fighting the Islamic State remain deeply wary of the United States military.”

Checking the Math on the Pentagon’s ISIS Body Counts: “If the Obama administration’s latest estimates are accurate, that would mean there was a zero percent increase in the number of Islamic State fighters killed during the first four months of the year, followed by a remarkable 80 percent increase during the past four months,” writes Micah Zenko on Foreign Policy. “This seems highly unlikely, given that there has been little change in the number of bombs dropped over the past eight months.”

Capital Punishment Is Not Israel’s Answer to Terrorism: “Capital punishment for Palestinian assailants will not help fight terrorism, nor will it solve any aspect of the conflict. It will not deter future attacks, as the promoters of the legislation had claimed. It is a thoughtless, vengeful reaction to a problem many Israelis increasingly believe is unsolvable,” writes Nathan Hersh in The New York Times.
EDITOR'S PICK

SOUFAN GROUP
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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