The Soufan Group Morning Brief



The Periodic Review Board at Guantanamo Bay announced on Thursday that it has cleared 39-year-old Yemeni national Hayl Aziz al Maythali for transfer to another country. The review board recommended Maythali be transferred to “only to an Arabic-speaking country,” preferably a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. He has been held at Guantanamo without charge since October 2002 after being profiled as a member of the so called “Karachi Six,” a group of six Yemenis captured by Pakistani forces who were suspected of plotting Al Qaeda-linked terror attacks. Of the remaining 76 detainees held at Guantanamo, 34 have been cleared for release. Miami Herald

On Thursday, President Obama held a two-hour National Security Council meeting at the Pentagon to discuss the U.S. military’s ongoing efforts to defeat ISIS. Speaking after the meeting, Obama said that “we’re going to keep going after ISIL aggressively across every front of this campaign,” and highlighted that ISIS “has not had a major successful offensive operation” in Iraq or Syria in the last year. He also urged Americans to reject campaign calls for banning Muslims from entering the United States or the indiscriminate killing of civilians in areas under ISIS control. ABC, NPR

The Atlantic: Obama’s View of ISIS, Two Years Into Air Strikes
Newsweek: Obama on ISIS: "We're Going to Keep Going After Them"
Guardian: Obama says Trump's policies would 'backfire' in fight against Isis
NY Mag: Obama Confirms That the Fight Against ISIS Will Go On for a While
TomDispatch: The Decay of American Politics

ISIS in North Carolina: The FBI arrested a North Carolina man on Thursday for allegedly attempting to recruit people to carry out ISIS-inspired attacks within the United States. Erick Jamal Hendricks, 35, was charged with conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. He allegedly contacted several people over social media, including an undercover FBI agent, one of the attackers who targeted the “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest in Texas last year, and an ISIS supporter in Ohio who tried to purchase an assault rifle from an undercover law enforcement officer, according to a Justice Department announcement. Washington Post, ABC

FBI: New details in the case of an ISIS sympathizer who attacked a “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest in Garland, Texas last year have raised questions about the use of FBI sting operations in terror cases. An undercover FBI agent told the suspect, Elton Simpson, to “tear up Texas” in a text message sent two days before he carried out his attack, according to newly released court documents. The Daily Beast

In an interview on MSNBC in March, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said if “somebody hits us within ISIS, you wouldn’t fight back with a nuke?” He added, “I would never take any of my cards off the table.” Trump has also reportedly asked his advisors several times why the United States has nuclear weapons if no one was willing to use them, signaling his lack of understanding or knowledge of the concept of nuclear deterrence. New York Times, The Hill

New York Times: Donald Trump, Perhaps Unwittingly, Exposes Paradox of Nuclear Arms
TIME: Here’s What Donald Trump Has Said About Nuclear Weapons
Washington Post: Donald Trump’s nuclear problem
Politico: Trump's nuclear nightmare
New York Times: I Ran the C.I.A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton.

Egypt’s military said on Thursday that it had killed the leader of the Sinai branch of ISIS, Abu Duaa al-Ansari. The military also announced that airstrikes near the town of Arish killed 45 ISIS fighters. Reuters

Nigeria: A new video released by Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has raised questions about a possible split within the militant group. Shekau, who has not made a statement in months, acknowledged the recent news that ISIS had referred to another top Boko Haram leader, Abu Musab al-Barnawi, as “governor” of the group. New York Times

Afghanistan: On Thursday, Taliban insurgents ambushed a bus of foreign tourists, including three Americans, on a highway in western Afghanistan. Six people were wounded in the attack. In the east of the country, seven Pakistanis were taken hostage by the Taliban when their helicopter crash-landed. Washington Post

Wall Street Journal: New Taliban Leader Moves to Repair Old Fractures
New York Times: Hamid Karzai Is Still Running, but Where’s the Finish Line?

Yemen: Houthi rebels used civilians as human shields, ISIS militants in Yemen received an influx of cash, and Al Qaeda has improved its roadside bombs, according to a confidential report by United Nations experts. The 105-page report delivered to the UN Security Council also alleges that Saudi Arabia violated international humanitarian law when it bombed a civilian home in the village of Al-Mahala in May. Reuters

United Kingdom: An American woman was killed and five others were wounded in an knife attack carried out by a 19-year-old Norwegian man of Somali ancestry on Wednesday night in London. British counterterrorism officials said the attacker showed “no evidence of radicalisation” and had been suffering from mental health issues. New York Times, Financial Times, Reuters

Turkey: The Turkish government issued an arrest warrant on Thursday for the exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. Gulen, who currently resides in the United States, was accused of orchestrating the failed coup attempt in Turkey last month. New York Times
Islam Is (Also) a Religion of Peace: “The selfless service of Capt. Khan, who was reportedly a devout Muslim, may also have been directly inspired by his faith. There’s good reason to believe that Islam was an essential, rather than incidental, aspect of his heroism,” writes Zachary Kaufman on Foreign Policy. “History demonstrates that Islamic teaching and practice offer their adherents laudable resources to encourage extraordinary selflessness, empathy, and courage. When odious crimes against humanity have taken place, Muslims have often drawn on their faith to rescue people of other religions, including Christians and Jews.”

No Game: The Olympics, Rio and Terror: “Brazil’s Olympics begin on Friday, and local leaders and Brazilian society are ill-prepared for the threat of a terrorist attack like those in Munich in 1972 and Atlanta in 1996,” writes Mauricio Santoro in The New York Times. “They lack experience with the issue and don’t have sufficient human and financial resources. In addition, the structure of public security in the country is weak. International cooperation is helping, but Brazil must face the challenge and improve its institutions for the future.”

Terror knows no profile: Lessons learned from arrest of DC transit cop: “Terror suspects have no set profile, no race and no static ideology or hard line prescribed set of beliefs. Those are some of the lessons learned in the immediate aftermath of the arrest of Nicholas Young, a Washington, D.C. Metro Transit police officer charged with conspiring to aid ISIS,” writes Erroll Southers on The Hill. “The path to radicalization is also often walked with like-minded people. We are seeing how powerful social networks are in facilitating and accelerating a ‘cognitive opening,’ a point at which one is most receptive to extremist ideologies and which stems from a personal grievance or failure that shakes one’s worldview and provides an opening for an ideology to take root.”

Slate: Diary of a Soon-to-Be-Freed Detainee: Guantánamo inmate Mohamedou Slahi has been cleared for release. Here’s The Gist’s never-aired 2015 interview with Larry Siems, who edited Slahi’s writings.

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

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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