The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2016
PENTAGON CONFIRMS DEATH OF TOP ISIS COMMANDER

On Monday, the Pentagon confirmed the death of senior ISIS strategist and spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, nearly two weeks after Russia claimed to have killed him. Pentagon officials had initially said that the U.S. military targeted Adnani in an airstrike on August 30, but could not confirm that he had been killed. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said “the strike near Al Bab, Syria, removes from the battlefield ISIL’s chief propagandist, recruiter, and architect of external terrorist operations. It is one in a series of successful strikes against ISIL leaders, including those responsible for finances and military planning, that make it harder for the group to operate.” Washington Post, Reuters

Related:
The Hill: Gulf Arab states issue warning on 9/11 lawsuit bill

WHITE HOUSE TO VETO 9/11 VICTIMS BILL
The White House said on Monday that President Obama plans to veto the bill passed by Congress that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S. courts for any role the country had in the attacks. Obama believes the bill would harm U.S. interests overseas and damage the relationship with Saudi Arabia. White House spokesman Josh Earnest warned of possible retaliatory measures by other countries saying, “the concept of sovereign immunity is one that protects the United States as much as any other country in the world….It’s not hard to imagine other countries using this law as an excuse to haul U.S. diplomats or U.S. service members, or even U.S. companies, into courts around the world.” New York Times

Related:
The Hill: Top GOP senator 'confident' of 9/11 bill veto override

Hostages: The Obama administration has created a new team to handle overseas hostage situations, in an effort to handle them with greater sensitivity, provide better coordination, and bring them toward swifter resolution. The new group, known as the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, which includes officials from Defense, State, and Treasury Departments, as well as the CIA, reportedly convenes at FBI headquarters to discuss each American hostage case on an ad hoc basis. New York Times

Snowden: The American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International are set to launch their “Pardon Snowden” campaign to urge President Obama to act before he leaves office in January 2017. The ACLU, which serves as Snowden’s legal adviser, has previously called him “a great American who deserves clemency for his patriotic acts.” BBC

Related:
The Nation: What Should Happen to Edward Snowden? A Q&A With His Lawyer

Orlando: Authorities are investigating a possible arson case after a fire broke out late Sunday night at the Florida mosque where Orlando nightclub gunman Omar Mateen had worshiped. Authorities, including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, are looking into the fire at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce as a potential hate crime. This is the third suspected arson at a Florida mosque this summer. New York Times


FORMER CIA DIRECTOR UNDER BILL CLINTON TO JOIN TRUMP CAMPAIGN
James Woolsey, former CIA Director under President Bill Clinton, joined Donald Trump’s presidential campaign on Monday as a senior adviser. Woolsey, who has been a sharp critic of President Obama, said he plans to advise Trump “on the urgent need to reinvest in and modernize our military in order to confront the challenges of the 21st century.” CNN


BOMB ATTACK TARGETS GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS IN EASTERN TURKEY
On Monday, suspected Kurdish militants detonated a car bomb targeting government offices in the southeastern city of Van, wounding at least 50 people. The attack comes a day after the Turkish government removed two dozen mayors from Kurdish-run municipalities from their posts. The blast occurred near the provincial governor’s office. Reuters

Syria: The country-wide ceasefire brokered by the United States and Russia last weekend began in Syria on Monday night. Secretary of State John Kerry said there were early reports of a reduction in violence, but that it “is far too early to draw any definitive conclusions.” Reuters

Related:
New York Times: The View From Syria as a Cease-Fire Takes Effect


Philippines: On Monday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called for the withdrawal of U.S. Special Forces troops from a group of islands in the southern Philippines, arguing their presence could complicate military operations against the ISIS-linked militant group Abu Sayyaf. Duterte claimed that the American troops were high-value targets for the militants, saying “they will really kill them, they will try to kidnap them to get ransom.” Reuters

North Korea: Two U.S. strategic bombers flew over South Korea on Tuesday morning in a show of force following North Korea’s fifth nuclear test last week. Two U.S. B-1 Lancer bombers conducted a low altitude flight over Osan Air Base in South Korea, 77 miles from the Demilitarised Zone border with North Korea. Reuters

France: French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Monday that nearly 15,000 people are being monitored for suspected radicalization as the country deals with the threat from jihadist militants. Valls said that “today the threat is at a maximum, and we are a target….Every day intelligence services, police, foil attacks, dismantle networks, track terrorists.” BBC, The Independent
TOP OP-EDS
How Does Jihadism End? Choosing Between Forever War and Nation Building: “The United States spent trillions of dollars on counterterrorism, homeland security, security partnerships, and counterinsurgency campaigns over the past decade and a half. Yet jihadists still control large swaths of Iraq and Syria, regained the initiative in Afghanistan, opened new franchises in Libya and India, and launched successful attacks in Paris, Brussels, Orlando and Nice,” writes Paul Miller on War on the Rocks. “Relatively successful homeland security measures in the United States have made it easy for Americans to overlook that there are more jihadist groups launching more attacks over a larger portion of the world than ever before. Fifteen years after the attacks on New York and Washington in 2001, we do not have an answer to the question: How will jihadism end?”

The timing of North Korea’s latest nuclear test is smarter than it looks: “What made North Korea decide to conduct its fifth nuclear test last Friday? No doubt because Pyongyang believed that China would allow Kim Jong Un to get away with it. Again.,” writes Andray Abrahamian for Reuters. “However, China’s fundamental position regarding the Korean peninsula remained the same: no war, no instability, no nukes. The sequence of that oft-repeated maxim is no accident. Those are the conditions Beijing seeks to avoid, in that order. Nuclear weapons are a distant third place in that range of apprehensions.”

Wherefore Art Thou, Baghdadi?: “Lea Baroudi is not your typical peacemaker. A business graduate and former Deloitte consultant, it’s hard to imagine her sitting with hardened militiamen who fight on opposite sides of a war, trying to persuade them to star in a play about their own lives in the poorest neighborhoods of the northern Lebanon city of Tripoli,” writes Kim Ghattas on Foreign Policy. “But that’s exactly what she did, putting on a show with 16 current or former fighters and working with the community to help them find jobs. She then opened a cultural cafe on the front line between the warring factions, and is now working to revamp the main street dividing their neighbourhoods.”
EDITOR'S PICK

SOUFAN GROUP
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: North Korea Moves From Rhetoric Towards Reality




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