The Soufan Group Morning Brief


TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2016

A U.S. coalition airstrike killed one of ISIS’s top leaders in Iraq’s Anbar province last week, the Pentagon confirmed on Monday. Abu Wahib, known as the “military emir” of Anbar, along with three other militants were killed on May 6 near the town of Rutba in western Iraq. Wahib had appeared in several ISIS execution videos and had been a member of the group since the mid 2000s when it was known as Al Qaeda in Iraq. Washington Post, Reuters, CNN

NBC: Pentagon: ISIS Fighter Known as 'Desert Lion' Dead
Guardian: Senior Islamic State leader in Iraq, Abu Wahib, 'killed' by US airstrike

The Periodic Review Board has approved the release of 40-year-old Salem bin Kanad on his fifth review. Kanad, a Yemeni national, has been held at Guantanamo since January 2002 after he was captured in Afghanistan while allegedly fighting alongside the Taliban. 27 of the 80 remaining detainees at Guantanamo have been approved for transfer. Miami Herald

Surveillance: Six Republicans and eight Democrats on the House Judiciary committee have asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to report the number of Americans’ emails and phone records collected as part of surveillance work targeting foreigners under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The committee members wrote that “the American public is entitled to some idea of how many of our communications are swept up by these programs.” Associated Press

Syrian Hacker: An alleged Syrian hacker who helped support the Syrian government has been extradited to the United States from Germany on charges of conspiracy connected to a hacking-related extortion scheme. According to U.S. officials, 36-year-old Peter Romar is a member of the Syrian Electronic Army, which has extorted money from online victims, including companies in the United States, in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Washington Post, Reuters

Donald Trump would consider making an exception in the case of Sadiq Khan, London’s recently elected Muslim mayor, to his proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States. In an interview Trump said “there will always be exceptions” when asked how his proposed ban would impact Khan. Khan had previously criticized Trump’s comments towards the Muslim community. New York Times, Reuters

On Monday, the Syrian government extended a fragile ceasefire over the embattled city of Aleppo that had reportedly begun to break down. The United States and Russia are continuing to work to revive efforts at peace talks, as Secretary of State John Kerry met with his counterparts from Europe and the Middle East in Paris. Washington Post

Daily Beast: ISIS’s War Kills Syrian Orphans
New Yorker: Iran’s Grim News from Syria

Somalia: A suicide car bombing on a police headquarters in Mogadishu killed at least five people and wounded over 13 others on Monday. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, which targeted the traffic police headquarters near the capital’s Shangani district. Voice of America, Reuters

Yemen: Saudi Arabia intercepted a ballistic missile fired by Houthi rebels on Monday. The Saudi-led military coalition said it would maintain a fragile ceasefire, despite what officials called a “serious escalation.” Meanwhile, eyewitnesses said that at least ten Houthi rebels were killed by coalition airstrikes on a military camp in Amran province. UN-sponsored peace talks between the Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government continue in Kuwait. Reuters, Associated Press

France: The French government plans to open about a dozen deradicalization centers around the country in an effort to identify would-be extremists and prevent them from joining militant groups. The move is part of a two-year $45 million plan to combat home-grown extremism, which was unveiled on Monday. Guardian, Voice of America

The Atlantic: France’s New De-Radicalization Centers

Germany: A stabbing attack at a train station near Munich Tuesday morning killed one person and wounded at least three others. Police arrested a 27-year-old German man who, according to witnesses, shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the attack. German police said that “the perpetrator made remarks during the attack which point to there being a political motive.” Reuters, Associated Press

United Kingdom: A joint parliamentary committee called for the British government to clarify its policies on targeted killing. A report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights warned that without “urgent clarification” of the government’s policies, those involved with decisions to carry out lethal strikes could be at risk of “criminal prosecution for murder or complicity in murder.” Guardian, BBC

Belgium: Seven people have gone on trial in Belgium in connection with an ISIS terror cell that was broken up in eastern Belgium in January 2015. Belgian police raided a house in the city of Verviers where 16 suspects were allegedly planning attacks. Prosecutors believe the cell was linked to Paris attacker Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Wall Street Journal, BBC
As the US meddles in another Middle East war, candidates must address it: “The Pentagon quietly announced on Friday that US military troops are on the ground in yet another Middle Eastern country – this time in Yemen – and have been there for the last two weeks,” writes Trevor Timm in the Guardian. “As far as I can tell, not a single question has been put to any of the presidential candidates about US policy in Yemen, despite an obsession with covering the ”war on terror” and its latest metamorphosis with Isis.”

A Soldier’s Challenge to the President: “The White House has enabled Congress to shirk its responsibility by arguing that a new war authorization would be ideal but not necessary. Administration officials could have forced Congress to act by declaring that it could not rely indefinitely on the Afghanistan war authorization and giving lawmakers a deadline to pass a new law,” writes The Editorial Board of the The New York Times. “By failing to pass a new one, Congress and the administration are setting a dangerous precedent that the next president may be tempted to abuse.”

Of pride, falls — and Obama’s foreign policy: “It could be that Obama’s foreign policy is a brilliant reassessment. It could be that the Washington foreign-policy establishment he so stuck in the amber of lessons learned from World War II and the Cold War,” writes Richard Cohen in The Washington Post. “I do not know that these lessons are irrelevant to our day. Hitler was evil. Stalin was evil. The reluctance and, in some cases, sheer inability of key aspects of U.S. leadership to appreciate these facts doomed millions of people.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Destabilizing Role of Iraq’s Shi’a Militias

Join the Center on National Security on Wednesday, June 1 for a discussion with Director Karen J. Greenberg, author of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State. To RSVP click here

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