The Soufan Group Morning Brief



Jesse Morton, a former Al Qaeda recruiter, has been hired as a fellow at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. Morton, who recruited several Americans to join the group’s radical ideology, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, communicating threats, and using the internet to place another in fear in 2012. He served less than four years of an 11-and-a-half year sentence after assisting FBI as an informant in counterterrorism investigations. At the Program on Extremism, Morton will research methods of intervention and explore case studies of countering extremism. New York Times

GW Today: Program on Extremism Expands Research, Expertise
PBS: An extremist’s path to academia — and fighting terrorism
CNN: Former al Qaeda recruiter hired by US university
Boston Globe: Former Al Qaeda recruiter now a voice against jihad

The Obama administration is set to meet its goal of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees over the 2016 fiscal year. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the “10,000th Syrian refugee will arrive [Monday] afternoon,” more than a month before the target deadline at the end of September. White House spokesman Josh Earnest announced that the administration plans to increase the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States by a few thousand in fiscal year 2017. The Hill, Reuters

The Hill: White House defends vetting process for Syrian refugees

LAX Airport Scare: False reports of gunfire at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday caused panic and led to several evacuations of terminals. An hour after the first reports, an LAPD spokesperson said the scare had been caused by “loud noises only.” New York Times

Indianapolis: A man who was arrested last month after suspiciously driving through a mall parking lot reportedly had a rifle, 100 rounds of ammunition, bleach, and ammonia in is car, leading some to believe he may have been plotting a domestic terror attack. 31-year-old Christopher Byrne pleaded guilty to pending charges of possessing a handgun without a license as a felon and of operating a vehicle as a “habitual traffic offender.” He has not been charged with any terrorism offenses. Indy Star, NY Daily News

Senate minority leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) asked the FBI on Monday to investigate the possibility that Russia may try to manipulate election results in the upcoming November election. In a letter to FBI Director James Comey, Reid cited evidence that Russia had targeted the Arizona state election system earlier this year. It is not clear whether the hackers were criminals or if they were working for the Russian government.

Washington Post: Russian hackers targeted Arizona election system

On Monday, ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing that killed at least 71 people and wounded over 30 others in the southern port city of Aden. The attack occurred inside a training camp for forces loyal to Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, targeting military recruits waiting in line to be enrolled. CNN, New York Times

VOA: IS Gaining Foothold in Yemen

Syria: The Pentagon is calling on the Turkish military and Kurdish rebel forces to stand down after clashes in northern Syria over the weekend. Last week, Turkey launched a major offensive against ISIS in Syria and has recently pushed into U.S.-backed Kurdish-held territory. Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said that Syria “is an already crowded battle space,” and called “on all armed actors to stand down immediately and take appropriate measures to de-conflict.” Reuters

Libya: On Monday, Libyan forces said they captured a residential neighborhood in central Sirte, leaving only one district remaining under ISIS control. Libyan forces have made significant progress against ISIS in the coastal city since the U.S. military began supporting the campaign to retake the city with airstrikes on August 1. Reuters

Bangladesh: On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry during a visit to the capital, Dhaka, called on Bangladesh to step up its efforts to combat terrorism and fight extremism. Kerry condemned the July 1 ISIS attack on a restaurant that left 20 people dead, calling it “an outrage clearly designed to divide Bangladesh, designed to try to cut off this welcoming society from the outside world.” AP

Iran: Iran has deployed a Russian-made air defense system around its underground nuclear facility at Fordo, according to state media. U.S. and Iranian officials say the complex is no longer being used to enrich uranium, but rather to conduct research and produce medical isotopes as part of last year’s nuclear agreement. New York Times
What Brexit and ISIL Have in Common: “Both cases arise at a time marked by widespread and severe social, economic, and political malaise that has been expressed in both peaceful and violent ways,” writes Juan Gabriel Tokatlian on Foreign Policy in Focus. “We are not witnessing an episodic or country-specific malfunctioning. Societal dissatisfaction, fear, and fragility are present and exacerbated worldwide. This negative matrix derives sooner than later into resentment, pugnacity, and even fantasy.”

Bringing an End to the Forever War: “In the post-9/11 era, the United States has drifted towards a radically different regime. Two successive presidents have treated the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) as a wholesale, potentially permanent delegation of congressional war powers — a writ for war without temporal or geographic limits,” writes Gene Healy on War on the Rocks. “Even as the Obama administration relentlessly expanded its interpretation of the 2001 AUMF, the specific terrorist threat it was passed to combat dramatically receded.”

Is Europe overreacting to terror?: “Europe’s recent political polarization is about much more than terrorism. It’s about wider popular discontent with the unprecedented levels of migration of the last two decades, of moves to multiculturalism and fear of more change to come,” writes Peter Apps on Reuters. “But it is the visceral fear of attacks – arguably out of all proportion to the risk, even with recent events – that seems to now be really driving the wider backlash.”

In Case You Missed It:
Financial Times: Jihadi group rebranding is an opportunity for Syria by Ahmed Rashid

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Limits of U.S. Influence in Syria

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