The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2016
U.S. MILITARY CLOSES 100 CELLS AT GUANTANAMO

The U.S. military has shut down the 100-cell maximum security facility known as Camp 5 at Guantanamo Bay. Navy Capt. John Filostrat told reporters that “we have consolidated our detainee population from Camp 5 into Camp 6,” and that the military plans to convert the facility into a clinic and psychiatric ward. Filostrat also announced a plan to cut “three Military Police companies and about a dozen medical personnel,” reducing the force at Guantanamo by about 400 personnel. There are 61 detainees remaining at Guantanamo, of which 20 have been cleared for release. Miami Herald, The Hill

In related news, Uruguay's government is reportedly searching for another country to host a former Guantanamo detainee who has pledged to carry out a hunger strike until death. Syrian national Abu Wa’el Dhiab has repeatedly said he is unhappy in Uruguay and has found it difficult to integrate into daily life. A government spokesperson said on Wednesday that “for several days now, the Uruguayan government has been making arrangements with different states, especially in the Arab world, so they can take in Dhiab and he can fulfill his wish and reunite with his family.” AP

FBI, HOMELAND WARN OF CIVILIAN TARGETS FOR HOMEGROWN TERROR PLOTS
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a joint nation-wide bulletin to law enforcement officials advising vigilance over civilian facilities as potential targets by ISIS-inspired terrorists. The bulletin, which was sent August 31, said analysis found that homegrown violent extremists and ISIS-linked terrorists were shifting their targets towards civilian venues, with less focus on police, military, and government facilities. CBS

Wikileaks: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said on Wednesday that his organization will begin to leak more information about Hillary Clinton as early as next week. Assange previously said his organization held thousands of additional documents that would have a “significant” impact on Clinton’s reputation. The Hill

Google vs. ISIS: Google is redirecting people who search for online ISIS propaganda to anti-ISIS videos, according to a report on WIRED. Jigsaw, a Google-owned think tank, is routing potential ISIS recruits away from the group’s propaganda to videos that refute its extremist ideology. The Week, WIRED

Cyber threats: Defense Secretary Ash Carter sharply criticized Russia on Wednesday, accusing its government of demonstrating a “clear ambition to erode” international order. Speaking at Oxford University in England, Carter warned the Russian government to stay out of American elections, saying the United States “will not ignore attempts to interfere with our democratic processes.” New York Times

Snowden: Supporters of American whistleblower Edward Snowden are attempting to raise money for refugees who assisted in hiding him when he fled to Hong Kong in 2013. Snowden reportedly stayed with refugees in crowded and impoverished apartments in some of the poorer parts of Hong Kong in the weeks following his release of classified U.S. documents. New York Times, Guardian

Muslim judge: On Wednesday, President Obama nominated Abid Riaz Qureshi to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. If confirmed by the Senate, Qureshi would be the first ever Muslim-American federal judge. NBC, New York Times


CLINTON AND TRUMP TALK NATIONAL SECURITY IN FIRST FORUM
Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump made back-to-back appearances at the first Presidential forum held in Manhattan on Wednesday night. Clinton vowed to not send American ground troops to Iraq, saying “we are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again, and we’re not putting them into Syria.” Donald Trump suggested that he had learned shocking new information from his first two confidential national security briefings, saying that President Obama “did not follow what our experts said to do.” New York Times

Related:
New York Times: Here’s What You Missed in the Presidential Forum
The Hill: Clinton vows not to commit US ground troops to Iraq or Syria
Washington Post: Clinton defends emails on CIA drone program


TURKEY SAYS IT WOULD JOIN U.S. TO FIGHT ISIS IN RAQQA, SYRIA
On Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested that his country was ready to join the United States in a joint military operation to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from ISIS control. Erdogan said “Obama wants to do some things jointly concerning Raqqa,” ISIS’s de-facto capital. He added that joint military action “would not be a problem from our perspective. Our soldiers should come together and discuss, then we will do what is necessary.” New York Times

Related:
New York Times: Turkish Official Says U.S. Was Not Complicit in Coup Plot

Syria: The United States and Russia have not reached a ceasefire agreement for Syria, the State Department said on Wednesday. A final proposal was reportedly given to Russia as President Obama met with Vladimir Putin on Monday in China. Washington Post, Reuters

Related:
Reuters: Iraq militia fighters join battle for Syria's Aleppo
CNN: CIA chief doubts Syria and Iraq 'can be put back together again'

South Sudan: South Sudan’s government has announced it will allow 4,000 more UN peacekeepers into the country to support the ongoing mission there. The government has faced increasing pressure from the international community, including U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and Secretary of State John Kerry, to bolster efforts to curb the ongoing violence in the country. New York Times

Somalia: The U.S. military carried out three airstrikes in Somalia against al-Shabaab after militants threatened Somali-led forces there, according to U.S. Africa Command. The strikes killed six al-Shabaab fighters. The Hill

Afghanistan: Taliban insurgents have advanced to within a few miles of the capital of the central province of Uruzgan. Afghan officials warned that the capital, Tarin Kot, could fall to the Taliban unless they receive further air support and ground reinforcements. Reuters

Related:
Washington Post: Kabul increasingly a target as Taliban launches shocking attacks


Kenya: Kenya’s government has announced new efforts to combat violent extremism as part of its National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism. The new efforts by Kenya’s National Counter Terrorism Centre, will add counter-radicalization and prevention measures to its existing approach and will involve all sections of government, civil society, private industry, and “international partners in the war against terror,” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Wednesday. Bloomberg

Abbas: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas may have once worked for the Russian intelligence service, the KGB, according to a newly discovered Soviet document. The document, from a British archive listing Soviet agents from 1983, referenced Abbas by the code name “Mole,” and at the end of the entry the words “KGB agent” were written. New York Times
TOP OP-EDS
Getting Bill Out of the House: “If Hillary Clinton takes office, her best adviser in mediating Israel and Palestine’s century-old conflict might be the man who came closest to doing it before,” writes Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic. “If elected, his wife will, like all other presidents of the past 40 years, at some point probably find it necessary, or advisable, or even desirable, to attempt to solve the unsolvable conflict. She would have her choice of negotiators, but the only living person the antagonists would find, to their chagrin, impossible to ignore is Bill Clinton, a figure of singular stature in the Middle East.”

A new crisis in the Muslim world: Is it too young?: “Citing data from a landmark 2015 Pew study showing that the number of Muslims worldwide is expected to grow by 73 percent from 2010 to 2050, the head of the world’s most-populous Muslim-majority nation told his counterparts that their countries must seek to leverage their ‘fundamental strength’: a huge and expanding youth population,” writes Jon Emont in the Washington Post. “When young people lack economic opportunities and the prospect of being able to support families of their own, experts say, they are especially susceptible to the lure of anti-establishment ideology.

Why Donald Trump’s Endorsement by 88 Generals Is So Dangerous: “Since, by definition, political endorsements are partisan in nature, associating the military with one party or the other alienates civilians of the other political persuasion, writes Kori Schake on Foreign Policy. “The American military has an institutional interest in retaining the support of all Americans, and political endorsements cut into that support.”

Fighting gravity: America's denial of the homegrown violent extremist threat: “The terrorist threat to the United States is not as neat and clearly defined as we would like,” writes Erroll Southers on The Hill. “If the terrorists of the world all looked the same, followed the same ideology and used the same tactics, America might be able to achieve total security. An infallible security system and a uniform threat do not exist.”
EDITOR'S PICK

SOUFAN GROUP
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Saudi-Iran Tensions Mount Over the Hajj




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