The Soufan Group Morning Brief



Newly leaked documents from Edward Snowden reveal details of the National Security Agency’s overseas surveillance operations in the United Kingdom. The Menwith Hill Station in North Yorkshire, which houses giant golf ball-shaped domes containing powerful antennae, conducts “rapid radio relay and conduct communications research” to eavesdrop on foreign satellites, according to files obtained by The Intercept. The NSA has also used the British base to assist in “a significant number of capture-kill operations” across the Middle East and North Africa. The Intercept, Engadget, The Verge

Lawyers, staff, and family members of those killed in the 2000 Al Qaeda attack on the USS Cole returned to Guantanamo Bay on Tuesday for the resumption of pretrial hearings in the case for the first time in 18 months. Saudi Arabian suspect Abd al Rahim al Nashiri is expected to appear in court on Wednesday for a three-day hearing. Miami Herald

Washington Post: The Guantanamo quagmire: Still no trial in sight for 9/11 suspects

Also at Gitmo: Last week, the Periodic Review Board held a hearing to review the case of Mohammed Ahmad Ghulam Rabbani, a 46-year-old Pakistani national who has been on a hunger strike for more than two years. Rabbani allegedly worked as a “sweets maker and professional driver” and served as a “financial and travel facilitator” for Al Qaeda leaders Khalid Sheik Mohammed and USS Cole suspect Abd al Rahim al Nashiri. He was reportedly tortured while detained at a CIA black site in 2002, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report. Rabbani has been held at Guantanamo without charge since September 2004. Human Rights First, Courthouse News Service

In another Gitmo-related story, the former Guantanamo detainee who was transferred to Uruguay was briefly hospitalized after becoming weak from a hunger strike on Tuesday. Syrian national Abu Wa’el Dhiab said he would continue his hunger strike to the death until he is allowed to leave Uruguay. Dhiab went missing from the country for several weeks before turning up in Venezuela. He was deported back to Uruguay last week. Dhiab is reportedly unhappy living in Uruguay, as he is finding it difficult to adjust to life after Guantanamo and seeks to reunite with his family in Turkey. AP

Hate crime: 26-year-old Matthew Gust of Grand Forks, North Dakota was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty to arson and hate-crime charges in May. Gust threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of a Somali restaurant in North Dakota in what federal prosecutors described  as an act of “hate intimidate and interfere with the Somali employees and patrons.” Reuters

Donald Trump’s campaign released a letter on Tuesday listing the endorsement of nearly 90 retired generals and former military officials. The letter in support of Trump said “as retired senior leaders of America’s military, we believe that such a change [in national security policy] can only be made by someone who has not been deeply involved with, and substantially responsible for, the hollowing out of our military and the burgeoning threats facing our country around the world.” Among the list of generals is retired Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, who was reprimanded by the Army in 2013 for disclosing classified information in his book, “Never Surrender: A Soldier’s Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom.” New York Times, Washington Post

New York Times: Hillary Clinton Says Donald Trump Doesn’t Measure Up on Foreign Policy

A suspected chlorine gas attack on an opposition-held neighborhood in Aleppo caused dozens of cases of suffocation and choking on Tuesday, according to rescue workers and monitoring groups. Syrian government helicopters reportedly dropped barrel bombs containing chlorine on the Sukari neighborhood in eastern Aleppo, affecting more than 70 people with the toxic gas. Reuters

Yemen: The U.S. military said on Tuesday that it had killed 13 Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen in three counterterrorism strikes from August 24 to September 4. All three strikes targeted Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the central Shabwah Governorate. Reuters

United Kingdom: Islamist activist Anjem Choudary was sentenced on Tuesday to five and a half years in prison after being convicted in July of encouraging support for ISIS. The 49-year-old Choudary was found guilty of promoting ISIS in online speeches and messages, which is illegal under Britain’s anti-terrorism laws. Choudary’s associate, 33-year-old Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, received the same sentence. New York Times, CBS

North Korea: On Tuesday, the UN Security Council strongly condemned North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launches, warning of “further significant measures” if the country refuses to halt its nuclear and missile tests. President Obama also condemned the missile launches saying he plans to “work diligently together with the most recent [United Nations] make sure that we’re closing loopholes and making them even more effective.” AP, The Hill

Iran: A U.S. Navy coastal patrol ship altered its course after a vessel from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps sailed within 100 yards of the U.S. ship in the Persian Gulf on Sunday, Defense Department officials said on Tuesday. This is the fourth such incident of “harassment” by Iran of U.S. ships in the last month, as U.S. officials grow increasingly concerned about the potential for mistakes or escalations. Reuters
A No-Fly Zone Doesn’t Mean a No-War Zone: “I do, however, want to make readers aware of some of the complexities and trade-offs inherent in no-fly zones by re-evaluating two events involving the northern Iraqi NFZ that was imposed above the 36th parallel between April 1991 and March 2003,” writes Micah Zenko on Foreign Policy. “What lessons should we take from the actual history of the Iraqi northern NFZ? First, presidents should not call for armed revolutions that the United States will abandon if things turn out badly.”

Iran Nuclear Deal Likely to Survive Next Administration: “Like a car that has lost its new car smell and has a few nicks on its bumpers, the nuclear agreement reached last year between Iran and six world powers is showing some wear just nine months after its full implementation,” writes Barbara Slavin on Real Clear World. “But the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the Iran nuclear deal is known, has survived efforts to wreck it by opponents in both Iran and the United States, and the deal is likely to endure into the next U.S. administration.”

The country that’s holding its own against Islamic State: “Iran actively fights Islamic State — and Tehran’s counterterrorism efforts have succeeded where others have not. Iran’s goal is twofold: Undermine Islamic State’s spread, ideology and vision, which promotes a sectarian agenda, while working to prevent attacks on Iranian soil. Iran’s efforts in neighboring Iraq and Syria are slowly paying off, as the territory held by the group continues to shrink,” write Dina Esfandiary and Ariane Tabatabai for Reuters. “Iran itself, however, remains a more vulnerable target than the European Union and the United States, not least because it shares a 900-mile border with Iraq. Islamic State’s attempts to target Iran should have been more successful, but Iran’s security apparatus has so far mitigated the threat.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Terror Threat from al-Adnani’s Death

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