The Soufan Group Morning Breif



FBI agents arrested a D.C. Metro Transit Police officer for attempting to provide financial assistance to ISIS. Nicholas Young, 36, was charged with a single count of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization after he allegedly bought $245 worth of gift cards and sent their code numbers to someone he thought was working with ISIS. This is the first time an American law enforcement officer has been charged with supporting ISIS. According to court documents, the FBI had been following Young for almost six years. Young had travelled to Libya twice in 2011 to assist a rebel group fighting Muammar el-Qaddafi and had associated with two people convicted of terror charges in 2012. New York Times, AP, Washington Post

The Obama administration said on Wednesday that the $400 million in frozen assets sent to Iran in January was not ransom for the release of five detained Americans. The five detainees, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, were released on January 16 in exchange for seven Iranians held by the United States for sanctions violations. White House spokesman Josh Earnest rejected accusations from Donald Trump and other Republicans that the frozen assets were released to Iran as ransom. Wall Street Journal, Reuters, New York Times

The Hill: GOP senator wants details on Iran 'ransom'

Foreign aid: The Pentagon has withheld $300 million in military assistance to Pakistan, defense officials said on Wednesday. A Pentagon spokesman said that Pakistan is not taking sufficient action against the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, which has carried out numerous attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan. Washington Post

Syrian refugees: The Obama administration is on track to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees before October, according to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. Johnson said on Wednesday that “over 7,000” refugees have already been resettled and that “there are several thousand who have been approved and are just awaiting the physical resettlement.” The Hill

Maine: Police in Portland, Maine arrested a 28-year-old Norwegian tourist at a local hotel on Wednesday after he allegedly threatened to kill police officers. Espen Brungodt is suspected of sending threats to local police in emails and text messages saying “time for more police to die,” and to “shoot and kill as many police officers as they can.” Wall Street Journal

The Syrian government carried out airstrikes against six hospitals in the Aleppo area over the last week, according to a U.S.-based rights group. The group, Physicians for Human Rights, said it was the worst week of attacks on medical facilities in Aleppo since the beginning of the Syrian civil war. Reuters

The Pentagon announced on Wednesday that a prominent German-born ISIS recruiter was not killed in an airstrike in Syria as originally thought. Denis Cuspert, a former rapper known as Deso Dogg, was believed to be killed in an airstrike last October near Raqqa. New York Times

New York Times: No Easy Target: U.S. and Russia Take On Nusra Front Fighters in Syria

Libya: U.S. airstrikes are proving effective in providing cover for Libyan forces as they continue their fight to retake the coastal city of Sirte from ISIS, according to a senior field commander. The strikes began on Monday and have helped Libyan troops secure several residential neighborhoods in the city. Reuters

Nigeria: A newly released ISIS publication mentions a new title for a key member of Boko Haram, leading many to believe the group may have a new leader. ISIS’s Al-Naba magazine called Abu Musab al-Barnawi Boko Haram’s “governor” for West Africa. New York Times, AP

United Kingdom: One person was killed and at least five others were wounded in a knife attack in London on Wednesday. London Metropolitan Police said the incident was a possible terrorist attack. New York Times, NBC

Germany: The German military may take a greater role in the country’s domestic counterterrorism operations. Training for the army to assist police in responding to a terror attack is included as part of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new nine-point counterterrorism plan. Wall Street Journal

Canada: Last week, a judge in British Columbia stayed the convictions of two alleged terror suspects, ruling they they had been entrapped and “skillfully manipulated” in an elaborate sting operation conducted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Judge Catherine J. Bruce wrote that “the world has enough terrorists. We do not need the police to create more out of marginalized people who have neither the capacity nor sufficient motivation to do it themselves.” The Intercept
The Scourge of Extremism: Move Beyond the Symptoms and Treat the Disease: “Addressing extremism’s root causes is a complex undertaking that will require years to show results.  It is complex because the causes are numerous and interrelated and because the solutions rely on many different actors.  This is not something the United States can do on its own,” write Michael Morell, Sandy Winnefeld, and Samantha Vinograd on War on the Rocks. “Our allies in the Middle East will have to carry the heaviest burden because the region is the geographic center of the root causes.  They face a heavy responsibility in this regard.”

Obama's CIA Director Wants to Stick Around for Clinton: “If Hillary Clinton wins the U.S. presidential election in November, John Brennan would like to continue his post as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Current and former U.S. intelligence officials tell me Brennan has signaled in private conversations that he loves the job and would like to keep it if she's elected. Plus, Brennan does not want to be perceived as a lame-duck director, particularly as he leads an ambitious plan to restructure the agency,” writes Eli Lake on Bloomberg View. “At the same time, Brennan has all but taken himself out of consideration to serve in a Trump administration.”

The Case for (Finally) Bombing Assad: “Wiping out terrorist groups in Syria is an important goal and, after years of death and destruction, any agreement among the country’s warring parties or their patrons may seem welcome. But the Obama administration’s plan, opposed by many within the C.I.A., the State Department and the Pentagon, is flawed,” write Dennis Ross and Andrew Tabler in The New York Times. “Not only would it cement the Assad government’s siege of the opposition-held city Aleppo, it would push terrorist groups and refugees into neighboring Turkey. Instead, the United States must use this opportunity to take a harder line against Mr. Assad and his allies.”

Russia Is Probably Meddling in the U.S. Election—And That's No Surprise: “Both Clinton and Trump should strongly condemn further Russian involvement. For their part, U.S. voters should support—indeed, should demand—a forceful law enforcement investigation of these hacking incidents, even if it may help one side over the other,” writes Herbert Lin on Newsweek. “And state and local officials should anticipate that electronic voting results may be questioned and therefore ensure the availability of paper backup. For both Trump and Clinton supporters, nothing less than the integrity of U.S. democracy is at stake.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Terrorism and the Rio Olympics

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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