The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2016
HOUSE TO VOTE ON BILL BLOCKING FURTHER GITMO TRANSFERS

The House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on legislation that would prohibit the transfer of any further detainees from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. The bill, authored by Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), would block any transfers from Guantanamo until either the end of this year or the enactment of the 2017 defense authorization bill. Of the remaining 61 prisoners held at Guantanamo, 20 have been cleared for release. The Hill

Gitmo: The health of former Guantanamo detainee Abu Wa'el Dhiab is deteriorating as he continues his hunger strike, demanding that he be allowed to leave Uruguay, according to activists and officials. Dhiab is reportedly unhappy living in Uruguay, as he is finding it difficult to adjust to life after Guantanamo and seeks to reunite with his family in Turkey. AP

More Gitmo: Last week, a federal appeals court expressed concerns about potentially ordering the Obama administration to release graphic videos of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee being force-fed during a hunger strike. In a long-running legal dispute, 16 news organizations are arguing that the public has a constitutional right to see the videos. Judges hearing the arguments are considering whether any First Amendment interest is outweighed by possible harm to national security in releasing the videos, as the government claims they could be used as propaganda material by extremist groups. The videos allegedly show former Guantánamo Bay prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab being forcibly removed from his prison cell, restrained onto a chair, and force-fed through a tube. AP

HOUSE PASSES 9/11 VICTIMS BILL TO ALLOW LAWSUITS AGAINST SAUDI ARABIA
On Friday, the House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation allowing the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts. The White House has suggested that it will veto the bill, arguing that it could strain relations with Saudi Arabia and lead to retaliatory legislation against U.S. citizens living overseas. The Hill

Related:
Washington Post: Fifteen years after 9/11, the jihadist threat looms larger than ever across the globe
The Atlantic: How Much Really Changed About Terrorism on 9/11?
The Hill: 15 years later, Americans feel more vulnerable to terrorism
Washington Post: It’s been 15 years since 9/11. How has al-Qaeda changed?

San Bernardino: A new report about last December’s San Bernardino shooting provides vivid details of the attack which killed 14 people and wounded 24 others. The report is the first official account of how authorities tracked down and identified the suspects, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik. It also provides many specifics that had not been made public before, such as the number of gunshots fired, and first-hand accounts from officers who had arrived on the scene of the massacre.  New York Times

Marines: The U.S. Marine Corps has concluded an investigation into the death of a Muslim recruit, Raheel Siddiqui, saying that he committed suicide after he was hazed and abused at a Marine training camp. The investigation identified 20 trainers at the Paris Island, SC training camp for potential legal or administrative action. New York Times

Cyber Command: Top defense and intelligence officials are proposing a plan to separate U.S. Cyber Command from the National Security Agency. After the Snowden revelations, a five-member presidential panel issued the idea in a series of recommendations to reform the NSA in order to guard against the kinds of secret data-gathering that the revelations exposed. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper reportedly support a proposal to separate U.S. Cyber Command, which develops and deploys cyber weapons under separate legal authorities from the spy agency. NBC
 

POLL SHOWS VOTERS DIVIDED ON TERRORISM
Voters across battleground states are divided about the issue of terrorism, according to recent polling. Clinton supporters are much more likely to say the United States is winning the war on terror today (27 percent) than Trump supporters, 51 percent of whom feel the U.S. is losing it. Sixty-nine percent of Trump supporters believe looking at the “big picture” is the best way to judge a president’s foreign policy, versus 62 percent of Clinton supporters who want a president who focuses on specifics and details of foreign policy and national security decisions. CBS

Related:
Politico: Clinton goes after Trump on terrorism


ATTACKS ACCELERATE BEFORE SYRIAN CEASEFIRE
Syrian government troops fought with opposition forces in several parts of the country on Sunday on the eve of the newly agreed-upon ceasefire brokered by the United States and Russia. At least 91 people were killed and dozens of others wounded in attacks on rebel-controlled areas of the country over the weekend, as the two sides attempt to strengthen their positions before the ceasefire begins on Monday. New York Times, Reuters, The Hill

Libya: A powerful militia reportedly attacked and captured as many as three major oil terminals in eastern Libya on Sunday. Forces loyal to Gen. Khalifa Hifter, commander of the most powerful militia in eastern Libya, attacked the oil ports of Ras Lanuf, Es Sider, and Zueitina, taking them from a smaller militia known as the Petroleum Facilities Guard, which had been cooperating with the unity Libyan government. New York Times

Afghanistan: A roadside bomb killed a provincial police chief in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the death of General Zorawar Zahid, who had been leading a counterinsurgency operation in Nangarhar province. New York Times, VOA


North Korea: North Korea will have the skills to build a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile armed with a nuclear warhead by 2020, according to military experts. The estimate comes as North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear weapons test on Friday morning, in the face of international sanctions. New York Times

Australia: Australian authorities arrested a 22-year-old man near Sydney for allegedly stabbing one man and attempting to attack a police officer. Police described the suspect's actions as a terrorist act. The suspect was charged with committing a terrorist act and attempted murder. CNN, Reuters

France: French authorities arrested a 15-year-old boy on Saturday who was allegedly preparing an imminent ISIS-linked “violent action.” One anonymous source said the boy had been in contact with suspected French Islamist militant Rashid Kassim and was connected to one of the women arrested last week after a car loaded with gas cylinders was found near the Notre Dame cathedral. AP
TOP OP-EDS
Bob Graham: Release More 9/11 Records: “Questions about whether the Saudi government assisted the terrorists remain unanswered. Now, as we approach the 15th anniversary of the most heinous attack on the United States since Pearl Harbor, it is time for our government to release more documents from other investigations into Sept. 11 that have remained secret all these years,” writes Bob Graham in The New York Times. “The government also knows more today about the 16 hijackers who lived outside California than when the 28 pages were classified in 2003. Much of that information remains secret but should be made public.”

What the West got wrong after 9/11: “Did the reflexive response – perhaps even overreaction – make matters worse? That’s not to minimize the human tragedy – or, perhaps as important, the psychological impact of the assault. Nor is it to say the West should have ignored the threat from Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and Islamist militancy in general,” writes Peter Apps for Reuters. “But with the distance of time, there seems a rather jarring mismatch between what actually happened and how we responded.”

Build on Obama's Counterterrorism Successes: Counterterrorism “investments have made spectacular attacks more difficult to plot and execute, and include new legal authorities, vastly expanded budgets and sizable increases in personnel for the key operational agencies,” writes Hardin Lang for the U.S. News & World Report. “In using these capabilities to confront a rapidly evolving threat, the next president will want to draw upon the experiences of the Obama administration.”
EDITOR'S PICK

SOUFAN GROUP
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Fifteen Years Since America’s Darkest Day




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