The Soufan Group Morning Brief



Candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump debated topics such as the decision to invade Iraq, plans to defeat ISIS, and cybersecurity during the first presidential debate on Monday night. Trump strongly denied his previous support of the Iraq War and blamed Clinton for the growth of ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Clinton suggested Trump was uninformed about national security issues and laid out her plan to defeat ISIS, making the targeting of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi her top priority. The candidates also addressed the issue of cybersecurity, with Trump raising doubts about Russia’s suspected role in the recent DNC hacks. New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal

Washington Post: Terrorism-focused voters are flocking to Trump — but there’s more to the story
The Hill: Trump fights with Clinton, Holt over Iraq war record
Politico: Trump presses Clinton on growth of ISIS

Orlando gunman Omar Mateen was motivated to carry out his attack on the Pulse nightclub because of an airstrike that killed a top ISIS leader, based on statements Mateen made to a hostage negotiator before being shot and killed by police. Mateen said the attack was in retribution for the U.S.-led coalition airstrike that killed Abu Waheeb, an ISIS propagandist and executioner, according to a newly released transcript of one of the calls police made during their siege of the nightclub. The Hill

Murder rate: The murder rate in the United States increased by 10.8 percent in 2015, according to data from an FBI annual report released on Monday. However, the number of homicides remained far below levels in the 1980s and 1990s. The rise in murders was fueled by street violence in a handful of major cities including Baltimore, Chicago, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., and Milwaukee. Most victims were young African-American males and nearly three-quarters of the 15,696 murders in 2015 involved guns. New York Times, The Hill

Washington shooter: Arcan Cetin, the main suspect in last weekend’s shooting at a Washington state mall, was charged with five counts of first-degree premeditated murder on Monday. Prosecutors said Cetin confessed to the crime in an interview saying “it was him in the video and he did bring the rifle into Macy’s and shot all 5 victims,” according to court documents. Cetin faces up to life in prison. Wall Street Journal

Houston shooting: A gunman wearing a military uniform with a Nazi emblem opened fire on random passers-by along a street in Houston on Monday injuring nine people before being shot and killed by police. FBI officials said they do not believe the incident had any connection to a terrorist organization. The gunman was allegedly a disgruntled lawyer with “issues concerning his law firm,” according to police. New York Times

Nuclear sanctions: The Treasury and Justice Departments took actions against four Chinese individuals and one Chinese company in violation of U.S. sanctions on Monday for conspiring to aid North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The Justice Department charged the individuals and trading company, located in China, with money laundering and evading sanctions. Washington Post, The Hill

The Hill: Pentagon chief: Russia, N. Korea most likely to use 'smaller' scale nuke attacks

Leading Pakistani Taliban commander Azam Tariq was killed by Afghan special forces in eastern Afghanistan. Azam Tariq served as chief spokesman for the Pakistan Taliban between 2009 and 2013. BBC

Syria: The failure of the latest Syrian ceasefire has raised the possibility that Gulf states might arm Syrian rebels with heavier military equipment, such as shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, according to U.S. officials. U.S. diplomats said such a move would only further destabilize and prolong the conflict in Syria. Reuters

New York Times: Unrelenting Assault on Aleppo Is Called Worst Yet in Syria’s Civil War

Turkey: On Monday, the U.S. Consulate in Adana, Turkey warned Americans that it had received specific and credible threats of potential terrorist attacks on U.S.-branded hotels in the city. The consulate said in a statement on its website that “U.S. citizens in Adana are advised to exercise caution when patronizing these establishments.” Reuters

Kosovo: During meetings at the UN General Assembly on Monday, Kosovo’s foreign minister said that “radicalization of young people in the Balkans has been exported from different NGOs and clerics” from the Middle East. AP

Iran: On Monday, Iran released a Canadian-Iranian who had been detained on undisclosed charges since June. The release of Homa Hoodfar may signal improving relations between the two countries as Iran announced talks with Canada about reopening embassies in each other’s countries on Monday as well. New York Times

Mali: The International Criminal Court at the Hague sentenced Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, an alleged member of a jihadist group linked to Al Qaeda, to nine years in prison for his role in demolishing historic Muslim shrines at a world heritage site in Timbuktu, Mali. This is the first time the ICC has prosecuted an individual for the destruction of a cultural heritage site as a war crime. New York Times
Yemen: The Graveyard of the Obama Doctrine: “But a year and a half into the kingdom’s relentless war in Yemen, opponents of the new sale see it as an outright affirmation of Washington’s involvement in a deadly, strategically incoherent war that the White House has kept largely quiet about,” write Samuel Oakford and Peter Salisbury in The Atlantic. “What’s more, it is at odds with Obama’s apparent distaste for regional proxy wars.”

To Save Mosul, Arm the Sunnis: “The marginalization of the Sunni community has been a common theme since 2003. Former Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s political exclusion of Sunnis helped contribute to the rise of the Islamic State. Today, there is a new prime minister, but the same disastrous policies. As the speaker of Parliament, a Sunni Arab, acknowledged, the door is closed for Sunni Arabs to join the fight,” writes Jamal al-Dhari in The New York Times. “This is a mistake, and one that Washington should work urgently to correct. Preventing Sunnis from liberating Mosul will destabilize Iraq into the foreseeable future.”

Thinking Beyond the Defeat of the Islamic State: “Islamic State forces are on the run, but the United States is not poised to exploit any victory,” writes Daniel Byman on Lawfare. “Rather, the United States must prepare to combat the Islamic State’s likely reversion to insurgent and terrorist tactics, manage the dispersal of foreign fighters, weather an increase in international terrorism, stop allies and partners from turning their guns on each other, and prevent Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups from exploiting the Islamic State’s demise.”

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

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