The Soufan Group Morning Brief



The terrorist cell that carried out last November’s attacks in Paris planned to strike additional targets with further operatives in the city, according to a report by CNN. Thousands of pages of documents and photos from internal European investigations into the attacks provide details about ISIS’s global network to plot attacks in Europe, including the way the group handles social media and carries out logistics in moving its members through European countries. The documents also name another suspect linked to the attacks, Abid Tabaouni, who had been on the run for several months before he was arrested in July. CNN

The U.S. military’s extensive use of drones against ISIS and other terrorist groups has led to a shortage of Air Force pilots to operate the aircraft. As a result, the Pentagon is increasingly relying on private contractors to pilot reconnaissance missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. The contractor pilots are legally prohibited from firing weapons from the drones, but there is no limit on the type of reconnaissance they can perform. Over the next six years, the Pentagon plans to increase the number of drones operated by contractors, according to officials. New York Times

Nuclear Policy: President Obama will likely abandon a proposal to rule out the first use of a nuclear weapon in a conflict, according to several senior administration officials. Top national security advisors reportedly argued that the potential non-first use policy could undermine U.S. allies’ security and embolden Russia and China. New York Times

U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies are investigating a potential covert Russian operation to generate public distrust in November’s presidential election, according to several intelligence and congressional officials. The effort to better understand Russian cyber threats and their scope is being coordinated by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. One anonymous senior intelligence official said that a Russian operation to influence the election “is something we’re looking very closely at.” Washington Post

The Obama administration failed to broker a ceasefire agreement with Russia on Monday after a 90-minute meeting between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Obama said “given the gaps of trust that exist, that’s a tough negotiation, and we haven’t yet closed the gaps in a way where we think it would actually work.” He made the remarks during a news conference following a meeting between the two leaders which occurred on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit meeting in China. New York Times

New York Times: Syrian Forces Make Gains Near Aleppo With Russian Help
Reuters: U.S., Russia work on Syria truce, as Islamic State blasts kill dozens

Afghanistan: Two coordinated suicide bombings killed at least 24 people and wounded 50 others in Kabul on Monday. Among the victims were several senior security officials, including the deputy director of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s elite protection force. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack which targeted a busy neighborhood near the defense ministry. New York Times, Reuters, CBS

Yemen: A suspected U.S. drone strike killed at least six Al Qaeda fighters in central Yemen on Sunday, according to local reports. The strike targeted a house in the Wadi Obeida tribal area in Marib province, east of the capital, Sana’a. VOA

Iraq: ISIS claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack that killed at least 14 people in Baghdad on Monday. The attack targeted a predominantly Shiite neighborhood in central Baghdad. CNN

Australia: A teenager who plotted an attack against a police officer during a holiday parade in Melbourne last year was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Monday. 19-year-old Sevdet Ramadan Besim pleaded guilty in June to planning or preparing for a terrorist act during the Anzac Day holiday. New York Times, Wall Street Journal

Pakistan: A suicide bomber killed at least 11 people in an attack on a district court in northwestern Pakistan on Friday. Jamaat-e-Ahrar, an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack in the city of Mardan. New York Times

Brazil: The Brazilian company Forjas Taurus SA, the largest weapons manufacturer in Latin America, allegedly sold weapons to a Yemeni arms trafficker, helping fuel the country’s ongoing civil war and violating international sanctions. Federal prosecutors in Brazil accused two former executives of the company of shipping 8,000 handguns to Fares Mohammed Hassan Mana'a, a known arms smuggler, Brazilian officials confirmed on Monday. Reuters

Philippines: On Friday, the militant group Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on a crowded market in the southern city of Davao. At least 14 people were killed and more than 70 were injured in the attack. BBC, CNN

Laos: President Obama publically acknowledged the U.S. role in combat operations in Laos during the Vietnam war on Tuesday. Obama said during a visit to the country that “countless civilians were killed. That conflict was another reminder that, whatever the cause, whatever our intentions, war inflicts a wrenching toll, especially on innocent men, women and children.” This is the first time a sitting U.S. president has visited Laos. New York Times
Why Is Turkey Accusing Me of Plotting a Coup?: “On the night of July 15, elements of the Turkish military attempted a coup. It was a poorly organized effort that was defeated by a combination of people power, loyal units and serendipity. What made this failed effort remarkable was the putschists’ extreme brutality against civilians who resisted or happened to be in their way,” writes Henri Barkey in The New York Times. “Some people in Turkey, however, saw something far more nefarious. They thought I was behind the mutiny. Soon after the coup was defeated, my colleagues and I became the targets of sensationalist conspiracy theories promulgated by Turkey’s pro-government press.”

The Folly of Fighting Terrorism by Lawsuit: “When Congress returns from summer break this week, it will face enormous pressure to pass the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. Although enticingly named, Jasta is far more likely to harm the United States than bring justice against any sponsor of terrorism. Counterterrorism policy in the past eight years has been a failure, but this bill won’t fix it,” write John Bolton and Michael Mukasey in the Wall Street Journal. “Jasta would create an exception to sovereign immunity, the legal doctrine protecting foreign countries and their diplomatic personnel from suit in U.S. courts, if a plaintiff claims to have suffered injury in the United States from state-sponsored terrorism.”

Where the War on Terror Lives Forever: “Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s first and only president, is dead...perhaps Karimov’s greatest legacy is his outsized role in the global fight against terrorism and the abuses that the Uzbek president carried out in its name,” writes Reid Standish on Foreign Policy. “In his wake, Karimov left a bloody trail of torture, extrajudicial killings, and the mass incarceration of thousands of Uzbeks — many of whose only crime was being a practicing Muslim.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Syria Sinks Further into the Abyss

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