The Soufan Group Morning Brief



The Obama administration is threatening to veto a House bill that would temporarily prohibit all further transfers from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. A statement from the Office of Management and Budget said “this bill represents an effort not only to extend the facility’s operation — as have the other unwarranted legislative restrictions on transfers — but to bring to a standstill the substantial progress the administration has made in safely and securely reducing the facility's population.” The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), would halt all transfers from Guantanamo until the end of the calendar year or until the enactment of the 2017 defense authorization bill. AP, The Hill

The Hill: Republican pushes for resolution to allow Gitmo lawsuit

The United States has finalized a $38 billion military aid package for Israel over the next 10 years. The deal will be the largest pledge of U.S. military assistance ever made to another country. The agreement reportedly includes major concessions granted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as funding for missile defense systems that defend against rockets fired from across the Israeli border, according to officials familiar with the negotiations. The two allies plan to sign the agreement on Wednesday. New York Times, Reuters, Washington Post

Gitmo: Majid Khan will appear in the Guantanamo war court on Wednesday for the first time since 2012 for a hearing with a new judge and prosecutor and expanded defense team. Khan, 36, is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in 2012 to his involvement with Al Qaeda, serving as a courier for cash linked to the 2003 Marriott hotel bombing in Indonesia and for planning a suicide attack on former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. At the hearing, Khan is being allowed to withdraw a guilty plea on one of the charges, providing material support for terrorism, because two federal appeals courts ruled it illegitimate under the war court, as the charge is not considered a war crime. Khan was held for more than three years at CIA black sites after he was captured in Karachi, Pakistan in 2003. Miami Herald

Baltimore Sun: Family of Guantanamo detainee grapples with his terror plea and torture

The U.S. military said on Tuesday that three airstrikes over the last six days on ISIS targets in Syria may have caused civilian casualties. U.S. Central Command said in a statement that strikes near Deir Ez Zor and Ash Shaddadah struck several non-military vehicles that drove into the targeted areas. Reuters, The Hill

New York Times: Details of Syria Pact Widen Rift Between John Kerry and Pentagon

ISIS drug trade: Italy’s anti-drug unit has identified a new illicit trade route for hashish from Morocco to Libya, and then onto Egypt by land, passing through ISIS-held territory. Italian authorities have intercepted 20 different tanker ships over the last 32 months with a collective cargo of more than 280 tons of hashish valued at $3.2 billion. New York Times

Iraq: The U.S military bombed a suspected chemical weapons plant located in a converted Iraqi pharmaceutical factory near Mosul, according to a top Air Force commander. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian said that 12 different aircraft were used to strike the facility, which also served as an ISIS headquarters, at 50 different points. CNN

The Hill: General: Coalition 'shaping' the battlefield for Mosul offensive
CNN: Pentagon mulls sending more troops to fight ISIS in Iraq

Germany: On Tuesday, German police arrested three Syrians who entered the country as migrants on suspicion of belonging to ISIS and of having links to the terrorist cell that carried out last November’s Paris attacks. The German interior minister said that the suspects’ travel documents had been issued by the same authority as ones found on several of the Paris attackers. The suspects also reportedly used the same smugglers to enter Germany and apply for asylum as those used by the Paris cell. New York Times, The Telegraph

France: France’s first anti-radicalization center is set to open as part of an effort to prevent vulnerable youths from becoming extremists. The facility in Beaumont-en-Veron will hold a maximum of 25 people, ages 18 to 30, who will stay at the site for up to 10 months. The which is to serve as a model for future radicalization prevention efforts. AP

VOA: France Looks at Its Prisons as Ground Zero in Terror Battle

Iran: Iran reportedly threatened to shoot down two U.S. surveillance aircraft flying in international airspace last weekend. Iranian air defense stations warned the aircraft crews to alter their course or face fire as they flew over the Strait of Hormuz on routine patrols close to Iranian airspace, according to U.S. officials. Wall Street Journal, The Hill
Are we safer 15 years after 9/11?: “What needs to be examined now is the legacy of what has been invested over the last 15 years in time, manpower, tax dollars and most importantly the lives of our service members,” writes A. Benjamin Mannes on The Hill. “Yes, we are safer because our law enforcement community is looking for threats through fusion centers and other resources. However, we are in no means ‘safe’ from the threat of terrorism and have significant room for improvement in addressing this issue.”

Let Us Rid the World of Wahhabism: “Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, militant Wahhabism has undergone a series of face-lifts, but underneath, the ideology remains the same — whether it’s the Taliban, the various incarnations of Al Qaeda or the so-called Islamic State, which is neither Islamic nor a state,” writes Mohammad Javad Zarif in The New York Times. “Saudi Arabia’s effort to persuade its Western patrons to back its shortsighted tactics is based on the false premise that plunging the Arab world into further chaos will somehow damage Iran.”

Perpetuating Stalemate in Syria: “With no end in sight for the war in Syria, the Obama administration continues to approach the conflict in a way that is prolonging the fighting,” writes Edward Hunt on Foreign Policy in Focus. “As it pursues its stated goal of removing the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad from power, the Obama administration is implementing a policy that keeps the Syrian regime and the many different opposition forces in the country locked in a deadly stalemate.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Egyptian Military’s Expanding Economic Role

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