The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016
CONGRESS OVERRIDES OBAMA VETO ON 9/11 VICTIMS BILL

Both the House and the Senate voted overwhelmingly to override a veto by President Obama on a bill that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for any role in the attacks. The 97-to-1 vote in the Senate and the 348-to-77 vote in the House was the first time Congress has voted to override a veto by President Obama during his presidency. Administration officials, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter, CIA Director John Brennan, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, all spoke out against the bill, warning of possible legal retaliation against Americans and U.S. service members overseas. New York Times, Wall Street Journal

Related:
The Hill: Senators already eyeing changes to 9/11 bill after veto override
The Atlantic: CIA Director Calls 9/11 Legislation 'Badly Misguided'

U.S. TO SEND 600 MORE TROOPS TO IRAQ AHEAD OF MOSUL CAMPAIGN
The U.S. military plans to send more than 600 additional troops to Iraq to assist Iraqi forces in their upcoming campaign to retake the city of Mosul from ISIS control. President Obama authorized the deployment, which will raise the number of U.S. troops in Iraq to over 5,000. Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week that the Iraqi military could be ready to begin the Mosul operation by early October. New York Times, Reuters, Washington Post

NYC bombing: On Wednesday, investigators identified the two men who found the second, unexploded bomb on 27th Street in Manhattan shortly after a device exploded in the Chelsea neighborhood this month. The two men, aged approximately 35 and 42, were visiting the United States from Egypt as tourists, and have since returned there, according to officials. New York Times


FBI DIRECTOR SAYS HACKERS HAVE TARGETED ADDITIONAL VOTER DATABASES
FBI Director James Comey said on Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee that hackers have attempted further incursions into voter registration databases, in addition to those reported earlier this summer in Arizona and Illinois. Comey added that the FBI is urging state authorities to guard their voter systems against possible attacks. Washington Post


U.S. THREATENS TO END TALKS WITH RUSSIA OVER ALEPPO STRIKES
The United States threatened to suspend bilateral engagement with Russia on Wednesday unless Russian and Syrian government attacks on Aleppo end. Secretary of State John Kerry issued the ultimatum during a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Washington Post, New York Times, CBS

Related:
Washington Post: After an apparently errant strike in Syria, confusion and competing claims
Reuters: Warplanes knock out Aleppo hospitals as Russian-backed assault intensifies

Afghanistan: On Wednesday, a suspected U.S. drone strike killed at least 18 people, including 15 militants and three civilians, according to Afghan officials. The strike, which reportedly targeted ISIS militants, occurred in Nangarhar province on the eastern border with Pakistan. New York Times, Guardian


Spain: A Spanish court sentenced a former Guantanamo detainee to 11 and a half years in prison after convicting him of leading a recruitment cell for ISIS and the Nusra Front. Lahcen Ikassrien, a 48-year-old Moroccan national, was also convicted of falsifying an official document. Ikassrien was extradited to Spain from Guantanamo in 2005 to stand trial, but had avoided conviction. The court also sentenced eight other members of the terrorist cell, including six Moroccans, an Algerian, and a Belgian, to eight years in prison. AFP

Italy: On Wednesday, the Obama administration imposed sanctions on an Italian rapper who moved to Syria to join ISIS. Anas el-Abboubi was placed on the State Department’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists because he “poses a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism,” according to an official statement. CBS

United Kingdom: More than 140 academics and experts have signed an open letter protesting against the lack of transparency and absence of credible scientific research that underpins key aspects of the British government’s anti-radicalisation strategy. The letter specifically calls out the government’s Extremism Risk Guidance 22+, which lays out 22 “risk factors” for determining an individual’s vulnerability to radicalization. Guardian
TOP OP-EDS
The Risks of Suing the Saudis for 9/11: “The current debate is complicated by the fact that Saudi Arabia is a difficult ally, at odds with the United States over the Iran nuclear deal, a Saudi-led war in Yemen and the war in Syria,” writes The New York Times in an editorial. “It is home of the fundamentalist strand of Islam known as Wahhabism, which has inspired many of the extremists the United States is trying to defeat. But it is also a partner in combating terrorism.”

Global Inaction Is Enabling the Brutal Destruction of Aleppo: “The appalling catalog of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Syrian government in Aleppo has caused bloodshed and human suffering on a mass scale for years, and its repercussions are felt well beyond Syria and the Middle East. But the world has failed to take action,” writes Diana Semaan on Newsweek. “Targeted sanctions and an arms embargo could still give these resolutions some teeth. And a referral of the situation to the International Criminal Court could at least send the signal that those ordering mass atrocity crimes will face justice.”

Donald Trump proves he is unfit, unserious and unprepared on national security: “Donald Trump showed again during Monday’s presidential debate the many ways in which he is unfit to be president. But nowhere did he reveal himself to be as temperamentally unfit, unserious, unprepared and incoherent as he did on the topic of national security,” writes Michael Vickers and Michael Morell in the Washington Post. “Trump continued to question the global alliance system that has served U.S. national security interests so well since World War II. He continues to see our relationships with our closest allies and partners solely in terms of cost — who is paying how much of the bill.”

The Taxi Driver’s Last Ride: “Drone strikes, especially in official noncombat zones like Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, are carried out in clear violation of international law and well-established human rights standards,” writes Erman Feroz in The New York Times. “But even if [taxi driver] Mohammad Azam knew Mullah Mansour [when he picked him up in May], we should still ask ourselves if it was legitimate to kill him.”
EDITOR'S PICK

SOUFAN GROUP
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: OPEC Reaches an Unexpected Agreement




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