The Soufan Group Morning Brief


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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2017
TRUMP READIES PLAN TO BUILD BORDER WALL; MAY BRING BACK BLACK SITES

President Trump will reportedly announce plans on Wednesday to expedite construction of a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and to ban migrants from countries deemed a terror risk from entering the U.S. He also reportedly plans to suspend the U.S. refugee resettlement program. The plans are aimed, the administration says, at cracking down on illegal or dangerous immigration and bolstering national security.

Other proposed orders that President Trump is reportedly issuing include: reviewing whether to resume the once-secret “black site” detention program; keeping open the prison at Guantanamo Bay and ordering a review of the Army Field Manual to determine whether to use certain enhanced interrogation techniques; and designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. According to the New York Times, the order on detention policies would start a review of “whether to reinstate the program of interrogation of high-value alien terrorists to be operated outside the United States, and whether such a program should include the use of detention facilities operated by the CIA.”

Trump is hoping to begin construction on the U.S.-Mexico border wall immediately by diverting tens of millions of dollars in unspent allocations. Congressional leaders pointed Trump and his team to the money that may be available to be spent on border security. The refugee policy under consideration would halt admissions from Syria and suspend it from other majority-Muslim nations until the administration can study how to properly vet them. This would pave the way for the administration to slash the number of displaced people who can be resettled on American soil, and would effectively bar the entry of people from Muslim countries — including Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Syria — at least for some time. Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Guardian
Related:
NPR: Trump Now Owns These 7 National Security Challenges
Daily Beast: McCain Pledges to Fight Trump on Torture
WAR COURT AT GUANTANAMO RESUMES UNDER TRUMP
Pre-trial hearings in the 9/11 capital case are due at Guantanamo today, the first under the Trump administration. But proceedings could be postponed because the lead attorney for bin Attash has been unable to make it to the U.S. base in Cuba after breaking her arm. The chief prosecutor, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, has proposed at least going ahead with a closed deposition with Lee Hanson, whose son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter were killed in the plane used by hijackers to crash into the south tower of the World Trade Center. Martins has also suggested that he wants to start jury selection in the 9/11 trial in March of 2018, which defense lawyers think is too soon. Associated Press, Miami Herald, AFP
Related:
Toronto Star: Trump Takes Over at Guantanamo, and No One Knows What Happens Next

Comey to stay at FBI: President Trump has asked James Comey to remain as director of the FBI and Comey has agreed, according to reports. Washington Post, New York Times


AFGHAN OFFICIALS: TRUMP MIGHT SEND MORE TROOPS
President Trump told Afghanistan’s president in a call in December that he would consider sending more American troops, Afghan officials said, in a step to halt the deterioration in the country’s stability. U.S. military officials in Afghanistan and the White House declined to comment on the assertion. Wall Street Journal

FRAGILE SYRIAN CEASE-FIRE EMERGES FROM PEACE TALKS
Russia, Turkey, and Iran agreed Tuesday at the end of two days of peace talks to jointly monitor the fragile cease-fire between the Syrian regime and rebels. But the three countries did not detail how the cease-fire might actually be monitored, and neither the Syrian government nor the rebel fighters — who briefly met face to face for the first time in nearly six years of war — signed the agreement. New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal

IRAQI PM: EASTERN MOSUL LIBERATED FROM ISIS
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Tuesday that the Iraqi military has seized control of eastern Mosul from ISIS militants. Military commanders said fighting in western Mosul, which remains under control of the terror group, will resume after a brief pause. Wall Street Journal, CNN

Al Shabab bombing: The al Shabab extremist group claimed responsibility for two explosions that rocked the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and injuring another 30. CNN


LAPTOP PROVIDES TROVE OF INFORMATION ON NETWORK BEHIND BRUSSELS, PARIS ATTACKS
CNN reports that a discarded laptop belonging to two ISIS suicide bombers and recovered by Belgian police in a militant safe house last year has provided a treasure trove of information on the ISIS network behind the Nov. 13, 2015, Paris and March 22, 2016, Brussels attacks. According to the report, “among the revelations is that following the Paris attacks, Najim Laachraoui -- who is believed to have built the bombs used in the Paris and Brussels attacks -- consulted with an ISIS bombmaker linked to the ISIS external operations division in Syria, to improve on the explosive recipe he had used to build the suicide vests worn by the Paris attackers. In addition, a number of audio recordings were recovered from the computer in which Laachraoui briefed a senior ISIS operative on every aspect of their attack-planning.” CNN
TOP OP-EDS
Trump’s theory of foreign relations: “President Donald Trump has so far confounded those looking for a theoretical underpinning to his worldview and approach to foreign policy,” writes Anthony Cowden in RealClearDefense. “A Trump administration grand strategy can be best understood as emanating from the process of deal-making.”

How media can be misled by tough talk on killing terrorists: “The Trump Administration certainly will — and should — review U.S. policy on ISIS and the use of force against terrorist groups,” writes Luke Hartig in JustSecurity.org. “But to frame this policy and legal space as an issue of Trump being unbound by Obama’s supposedly high-minded ideals and therefore more effective in removing top terrorist leaders is not a particularly precise approach to this analysis, nor will it likely prove very prescient.”

The shocking affront of Trump’s CIA stunt: “While many were stunned by President Trump’s remarks, it’s personal for me,” writes Yael Eisenstat in the New York Times. “My friend is represented by the 81st star on the Memorial Wall, which served as the background of Mr. Trump’s publicity stunt. He and the other 116 fallen colleagues did not put their lives on the line to serve as a sound bite for this president’s never-ending campaign stump speech.”
EDITOR'S PICK

UPCOMING EVENTS
Revisiting Guantanamo Bay
Where We've Come, Where We're Headed
February 14, 2017
6:00pm - 7:30pm
 
SOUFAN GROUP
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Trump’s Counterterrorism Challenge




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