The Soufan Group Morning Brief

Note: Beginning tomorrow we will be taking our annual summer break from the Morning Brief. We will be back on Monday, August 29.


Secretary of State John Kerry has called for the speedy deployment of a new protection force in South Sudan that was authorized by the United Nations this month. Speaking during a visit to Nairobi, Kenya, Kerry said the force must be deployed as soon as possible to safeguard vulnerable civilians, especially women and girls, caught up in the ongoing ethnic conflict in South Sudan. South Sudan’s government has recently opposed the deployment of the 4,000-soldier protection force, which the UN Security Council approved on August 12 to strengthen the existing United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country. New York Times

New polling data from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs finds that fear due to terrorism has increased markedly in recent years. The poll found that 42 percent of Americans feel that the United States is less safe than it was before September 11, 2001, compared to 27 percent in 2014. 89 percent of respondents said terrorism was at least somewhat likely to be a part of their lives in the future, up from 75 percent in a 2013 Pew Research Center poll. 75 percent of Republican respondents said Islamic terrorism was a “critical threat.” The new data highlights the widespread discussion of terrorism in the 2016 election campaign, as Donald Trump has repeatedly accused Hillary Clinton of making America more vulnerable to terrorist attacks, calling her the “co-founder” of ISIS. The Hill, Washington Post

Chicago terror suspect: U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman will issue her ruling this week on the mental fitness of terror suspect Adel Daoud to stand trial. Daoud sent a letter to reporters claiming the government “is composed of alien reptiles from another planet who worship the devil.” Daoud’s attorneys argue that these kind of statements show that he is unfit to stand trial. Daoud, 21, is facing terrorism charges for plotting to detonate a bomb outside a bar in Chicago in 2012. ABC

Virginia attack: The FBI has launched a terrorism investigation into a stabbing last weekend in Roanoke, Virginia. Investigators are looking into whether the suspect, 20-year-old Wasil Farooqui, may have attempted to behead his victim in an alleged ISIS-inspired assault. ABC

NSA source code: The FBI is reportedly not using digital bitcoin currency it seized from the Silk Road underground online market to bid on stolen NSA source code, contrary to a recent widely published story. The FBI seized the bitcoin used by Silk Road when it shut down the online illicit marketplace in 2013. The Hill

The FBI has uncovered nearly 15,000 previously undisclosed emails and materials sent to or from Hillary Clinton as part of its investigation into her use of private email while serving as Secretary of State. The number is much higher than the “several thousand” that FBI Director James Comey said had been found in July. The FBI is working to review the emails as quickly as possible, but under the current timetable they will likely not be released to the public until after November’s presidential election. ABC, The Hill, New York Times

On Monday, video emerged of the dramatic arrest of a child suspected of attempting to carry out an ISIS suicide attack. The footage shows Iraqi police stripping an explosive belt from a 15-year old boy before he reached his suspected target, a Shi’a mosque in the city of Kirkuk. CNN

Reuters: Iraq used torture to extract confessions from convicts, Amnesty says

Syria: On Monday, the top aid official at the United Nations announced that no convoy deliveries had reached besieged areas of Syria this month. In a briefing to the UN Security Council, Under Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien called the city of Aleppo the “apex of horror.” New York Times

Turkish forces fired artillery shells targeting ISIS and Kurdish forces in northern Syria on Monday. Turkey struck an ISIS position in the city of Jerablus and a Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) position in Manbij along the border with Syria. CNN

United Kingdom: On Monday, the British government announced that convicts in prisons who preach extreme ideology to fellow inmates will be held in high-security “specialist units,” in an effort to prevent radicalization of the prison population. Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss said “there are a small number of individuals, very subversive individuals, who do need to be held in separate units.” New York Times

Iran: On Monday, Iran revoked Russia’s permission to use its air bases to conduct strikes into Syria. Iran’s foreign and defense ministries said the Russian government had been unacceptably public and arrogant about the privilege. New York Times

Czech Republic: A group of Czech men carried out a fake ISIS occupation of the Old Town Square in Prague on Sunday, causing panic in the tourist district. The men, who are reportedly anti-immigration activists, drove a military-style Hummer into the square, wielded fake submachine-style BB guns, and waved an ISIS flag, shouting “Allahu akbar” and “we are bringing you the light of true faith.” The leader of the stunt, Martin Konvicka, founded a group called “we don’t want Islam in the Czech Republic,” which claims Islam is a threat to the Czech way of life. New York Times
Don't Censor Terrorists' Names: “Major media outlets in France have recently decided not to publish the names and faces of terrorists so as not to glorify them and encourage copycats. On the surface, this might seem like reasonable self-imposed discretion in the interests of national security. But it’s actually self-censorship -- and it’s dangerous,” writes Noah Feldman on Bloomberg View. “It reflects a subtly mistaken conception of why jihadis are prepared to die for their cause, and it risks dehumanizing an enemy that is dangerous precisely because its adherents are humans with identifiable motives.”

Keeping Europe Safe: Counterterrorism for the Continent: “These attacks have exposed deep flaws in continental Europe’s approach to counterterrorism. European intelligence agencies do not share information with one another fast enough. Europe’s porous borders allow terrorists to cross the continent with ease,” writes David Omand on Foreign Affairs. “In the aftermath of the attacks, continental Europe now has a unique opportunity to reform its intelligence infrastructure. Its leaders recognize the need for action.”

Evidence points to another Snowden at the NSA: A more logical explanation of the DNC hack “could also be insider theft. If that’s the case, it’s one more reason to question the usefulness of an agency that secretly collects private information on millions of Americans but can’t keep its most valuable data from being stolen, or as it appears in this case, being used against us,” writes James Bamford on Reuters. “Rather than the NSA hacking tools being snatched as a result of a sophisticated cyber operation by Russia or some other nation, it seems more likely that an employee stole them.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: A De Facto No-Fly Zone in Syria

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.

Join the Comedy Cellar for a live debate moderated by Karen J. Greenberg on Tuesday, August 23rd at 7:00 PM: Is Terrorism a Threat to the American Way of Life?: Debating National Security in the Age of Global Terror. For tickets click here.

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