The Soufan Group Morning Brief


On of the defense attorneys who quit the USS Cole case at the Guantanamo war court over a secret ethical dilemma said Thursday that he and his colleagues will for a second time defy the military judge’s order to appear in court.

“Nobody’s going,” attorney Rick Kammen told the Miami Herald on the eve of a 9 a.m. hearing Friday in which judge Air Force Col. Vance Spath has ordered the Kammen and two civilian colleagues to appear by teleconference from the war court headquarters in Virginia.

In Washington, D.C., on Thursday, federal judge Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that hearings at Guantanamo must continue for Abd al-Rahim Hussein al-Nashiri, who is accused of bombing the USS Cole. The defense immediately responded with a motion alleging that Al-Nashiri is being unlawfully detained. Miami Herald

Brig. Gen. John Baker Marine general who heads al-Nashiri's defense, and leads all Guantanamo defense teams at the military commission in Cuba, is still confined to a trailer behind Camp Justice after the judge in the case found him in contempt.

Baker had excused the civilian attorneys from duty because of their concerns about surveillance at the prison camp. The judge found him in contempt Wednesday after he refused to rescind the excusal or testify about the absence of the civilian lawyers. He has been confined to his quarters for 21 days and fined $1,000.

Judge Lamberth will reconvene court at 2pm today to hear updates and rule on whether Baker has a viable process in the military system to seek review of his contempt conviction. Miami Herald, NBC News, Politico
The driver who plowed down pedestrians and cyclists on a New York City bike path is a "soldier of the caliphate," the ISIS terror group said on its weekly newspaper, without providing evidence to back up its claim. "One of the Islamic State soldiers in America attacked on Tuesday a number of crusaders on a street in New York City," the al-Naba newspaper reported Thursday.

The terror group provided no evidence that ISIS had knowledge of the attack before it happened or it was involved in planning it. The article did not name the attacker, Sayfullo Saipov. CNN, New York Times
WNYC: Fear and Tragedy in New York City - Interview with Karen Greenberg
New York Times: What New York Attack Suspect’s Words May Say About ISIS Ties
The Atlantic: Faking Toughness on Terrorism
Washington Post: The Trump Toughness Doctrine and Guantanamo

President Trump said Thursday he wishes he could get involved with the Justice Department and direct it toward Hillary Clinton. “The saddest thing is that because I’m the President of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department,” Trump said. “I am not supposed to be involved with the FBI.”

Trump’s comments on the radio program “The Larry O’Connor Show” came in response to a suggestion from the host that his listeners want the Justice Department to go after Clinton. Trump said  that he’d like those entities to focus on his 2016 opponent as well. “I look at what’s happening with the Justice Department. Well, why aren’t they going after Hillary Clinton with her emails and with her, the dossier?” Trump said.

“I’m very unhappy with it that the Justice Department isn’t going,” Trump added. “I am not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing. And I am very frustrated by it.” CNN

Poll shows public support for Mueller: The latest Post-ABC poll shows that special counsel Robert Mueller, for now, enjoys overwhelming support for his investigation. Mueller receives 58 percent approval and only 28 percent disapproval from Americans. Even among Republicans, nearly 4 in 10 (38 percent approve). A plurality of white men without a college degree (44 percent to 35 percent), a key Trump demographic, approve of Mueller’s performance. Washington Post

Syrian government forces, aided by Russian airstrikes and Iranian-backed militias, have ousted Islamic State militants from their last foothold in a major city, state-run television reported on Friday, taking another chunk from the group’s waning territory, which once spanned large parts of Syria and Iraq.

The pro-government alliance has driven the militants from the last few neighborhoods controlled by the group in Deir al-Zour, an eastern provincial capital.

In a statement, the military said it was now in full control of the city, after a weeks-long campaign carried out with allied forces. It said army units were now removing booby traps and mines left behind by ISIS. New York Times, BBC News, Associated Press

ISIS fighters executed at least 741 Iraqi civilians in Mosul, including women and children who had tried to flee, during the nine-month battle by government forces to retake the northern Iraq city from the militant group, the United Nations said Thursday.

In a 53-page report detailing atrocities in Mosul that amount to “international crimes,” the United Nations said the executed civilians were among at least 2,521 who were killed during the battle for the city, mostly from Islamic State attacks, including indiscriminate shelling and the use of improvised bombs and — increasingly — explosive-laden drones.

The report said the militants also carried out mass abductions of civilians, used thousands of civilians as shields in combat with Iraqi soldiers, and forcibly recruited boys as young as nine from families and then deployed them as “Cubs of the Caliphate” wearing explosive belts. New York Times

Just hours after President Trump finished calling Iran a “murderous regime” in his Sept. 19 speech at the United Nations, the administration asked French President Emmanuel Macron for a favor. Would Macron inquire whether Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was interested in speaking directly with Trump?

All three leaders were in New York for the U.N. General Assembly, as was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who conveyed the request to Macron, according to several administration and foreign officials.
Iran’s response, later that afternoon, was an unequivocal no. The Iranians, the French reported, “don’t believe you’re serious” and thought it was some kind of trick, a senior administration official said. Washington Post

In the midst of the Russia investigation indictments and a tax cut push on Capitol Hill, President Trump leaves Friday for a 10-day trip to Asia devoted to trade and the threat of North Korean nuclear weapons.

In visits to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines, Trump plans to advocate changes to trade deals and to pressure allies into confronting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In a high-profile speech to the South Korea National Assembly in Seoul, Trump plans to stress his ongoing efforts to pressure China and other countries into ending economic assistance to North Korea unless it gives up its nuclear weapons.

Allies, meanwhile, will be looking to see how bellicose Trump is toward toward Kim.
At other events throughout the week, including a speech to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, Trump is expected to demand new trade policies throughout the region. USA Today, NPR
Guantanamo and the ethical dilemma of Gen. John Baker: “General Baker likely had no authority to ‘release’ the civilian attorneys,” writes Michael Krauss in “Judge Spath has inherent authority to find Baker and any other attorneys appearing before him in contempt of court, and only he can release attorneys from their representation of clients at trial. But the attorneys may not continue to represent al-Nashiri under the conditions they reasonably believe to prevail, and Judge Spath should not find them in contempt for refusing to behave unethically. It looks like Convening authority Rishikoff needs to come to the rescue here, both to restore order to the Court and to ensure that attorney-client confidentiality has and will be respected.”

What the NY attack says about ISIS now: “ISIS’s constantly evolving and mischievous propaganda is one of the few tools left for the group to spread its toxic message and inspire lethal attacks,” writes Robin Wright in “As John Miller, the New York Police deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, told CBS This Morning on Thursday, the United States has not yet figured out how to deal with the arc of radicalization. ‘This is something that has vexed us since 9/11,’ he said. ‘We have no effective counter-message today.’”

Yes, radical Islamic terrorism is different: “In some ways, atrocities by radical Islamists are like conventional hate crimes: They target groups of strangers, spreading fear of similar attacks far beyond their immediate targets,” writes Dan McLaughlin in the Los Angeles Times. “But comparing the raw number of casualties within the United States — and then excluding Sept. 11, as comparisons often do — significantly understates the threat in four important ways.”

Terrorism fatigue: “By continually staking claim to big and small terrorist attacks, regardless of target selection or casualty count, ISIS has attempted to instill a sense of omnipresent and unpredictable danger,” write Amarnath Amarasingam and Colin Clarke in “And in the process, terrorism fatigue may be setting in around the world.”

Prepare yourself for jihad 3.0: “Just as the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan soon after 9/11 did not mark the end of al Qaeda, extremist forces in the Muslim world will continue to resuscitate themselves in other forms, in other theaters,” writes Hussain Haqqani in the Wall Street Journal. “If al Qaeda was Jihad 1.0 in our era, and ISIS was Jihad 2.0, we should now prepare for Jihad 3.0. Islamism will continue to be a U.S. national-security concern for years to come.”
For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSC IntelBrief.

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