The Soufan Group Morning Brief



A group of 50 former national security officials who served under Republican presidents from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush have signed an open letter saying Donald Trump is unqualified to be president and warning that “he would be the most reckless President in American history.” The signatories, including former Homeland Security Secretaries Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge, former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden, and former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, said Trump “lacks the character, values and experience” to be president and that he would “put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.” Washington Post

New York Times: A Letter From G.O.P. National Security Officials Opposing Donald Trump
Vox: Republican foreign policy experts are condemning Trump. It matters more than you think.

A new report from the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue estimates that over 100 Americans have joined to fight alongside militia groups opposing ISIS in Iraq and Syria, accounting for more than one-third of all Western anti-ISIS volunteer fighters. Almost all of the volunteers are male and many are military veterans. ABC

Benghazi: On Monday, the parents of two Americans killed in the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, filed a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, saying that her “extreme carelessness in handling confidential and classified information” led to their sons’ deaths. The parents of Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods, alleged that the Benghazi attack “was directly and proximately caused, at a minimum” by Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State. New York Times

Delta outage: Delta Airlines cancelled and delayed hundreds of flights on Monday after a power outage caused its computer system to crash. The over six hour delay raised questions about the stability and security of airline computer networks and their backup plans. Washington Post, Reuters, New York Times

Student clock bomb: The family of Ahmed Mohamed, the Dallas-area Muslim teenager who was arrested after bringing a homemade digital clock into school last year, is suing school officials, saying they violated their son’s civil rights. The lawsuit filed in federal court in Texas on Monday cited violations of equal protection and protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. New York Times, Wall Street Journal

Evan McMullin, a former CIA counterintelligence official and Mormon missionary, announced he will run for president as an independent conservative alternative to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. McMullin, who is backed by several anti-Trump Republican strategists and former Mitt Romney supporters, said that “millions of Americans are not being represented by either of these candidates.” ABC, BuzzFeed News

The Intercept: A former CIA operative is running for president to stop Donald Trump
CNN: Anti-Trump conservatives recruit candidate for WH bid

A suicide bomber killed at least 74 people and wounded more than 100 others on Monday in an attack outside of a hospital in the city of Quetta. At the time of the attack, a crowd of lawyers and journalists were mourning the death of their colleague, prominent lawyer Bilal Anwar Kasi, who had been shot and killed earlier in the day. Both ISIS and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack. New York Times, Reuters

Syria: Syrian government bombings of a hospital in the town of Meles in Idlib province killed 13 people including five children, according to the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF). The airstrikes over the weekend destroyed most of the hospital which specialized in children’s medicine. Reuters

Reuters: U.S. urges Russia to halt Syria sieges; Russia slams aid politicization
ABC: Two Years of U.S.-led Airstrikes on ISIS in Syria and Iraq in Numbers

Afghanistan: In recent weeks, Afghan security forces have struggled to hold off a Taliban offensive in Helmand Province, according to residents and local officials. Afghan forces have relied heavily on American airstrikes as Taliban insurgents intensify their attacks and gain ground on the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah. New York Times

Wall Street Journal: Taliban, Islamic State Forge Alliance of Convenience in Eastern Afghanistan

Australia: Australia has set up a cyber-intelligence unit to detect terrorism financing, money laundering, and online financial fraud as part of an effort to combat “unprecedented” threats to national security, according to government officials. The new unit, called the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), will focus primarily on illicit and underground financial transactions. Reuters

Argentina: On Monday, the Obama administration declassified hundreds of pages of documents about U.S. policy toward Argentina’s “Dirty War” in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The documents, most from the Carter administration, reveal internal tensions over policy decisions about whether to punish the then-ruling military junta for human rights abuses or to prevent a stronger Soviet relationship with the country. Washington Post, The Hill
When terror isn't terrorism: “Today, individuals or small groups trying to validate their attacks by claiming allegiance to ISIS seem like the next terror phase, with ISIS advocating attacks but neither directing nor even contacting attackers: In France and other European countries, and the United States, from a national day of celebration in Nice to a gay club in Orlando to an office party in San Bernardino,” writes Philip Mudd on CNN. “Slow down. What appears to be an evolution in terror, from centralized operations directed by a core group of terrorists to a far-flung, loosely knit ideological movement inspired by ISIS from afar, masks a bigger question: Is what we are seeing even terrorism at all?”

What's in a name? The rebranding of the Nusra Front: “The Nusra Front also might want to at least superficially distance itself from al Qaeda to facilitate receiving foreign fighters fleeing ISIS as it is gradually being ground down,” writes Brian Michael Jenkins on The Hill. “There is true hostility between the leadership of the Nusra Front and ISIS, although the two organizations have in the past cooperated in some areas, but loyalties among the lower-level commanders and rank and file have been more fluid. A name change could lessen the humiliation involved in a loyalty switch.”

These Days of Rage: “Whatever one thinks of the activities of groups like the I.R.A. or the P.L.O., those activities were governed by certain norms and contained a rational kernel. It is the arbitrariness of jihadist violence and its disregard for moral bounds that make it terrifying,” writes Kenan Malik in The New York Times. “What defines jihadist violence today is not righteous anger or political fury but a sense of inchoate, often personal, rage. Such rage is not uniquely Islamist.”

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

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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