The Soufan Group Morning Brief


THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2016

A group of Republican Senators introduced legislation on Wednesday that would send captured ISIS fighters from Iraq and Syria to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. The group, led by Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), introduced the legislation as an amendment to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. Gardner said that “the Obama administration lacks a coherent strategy to defeat ISIS, and that’s why it’s more important now than ever that we capitalize on our intelligence-gathering tools, such as the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay.” The Hill

U.S. military officials said they have corrected poor targeting and intelligence collection in their fight against ISIS. Air commander Lt. Gen. Charles Brown said that with better targeting procedures and intelligence, U.S. airstrikes are now hitting more significant ISIS targets and that “every bomb now has a greater impact.” The U.S. campaign against ISIS has seriously damaged the group’s ability to pay its fighters, govern its territory, and attract new recruits in recent months, according to military officials. New York Times

Airport Security: TSA Administrator Peter. Neffenger told members of the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday that passengers will likely continue to experience long security lines and wait times this summer because of an increase in passenger volume. Neffenger added that the agency is “at a lower staffing level than we need to be to address peak demand.” New York Times

Gitmo: An Army captain who runs the prisoners’ library at Guantanamo Bay rejected a donation of a paperback copy of the Senate “Torture Report.” The Army captain said that “there are things [in the report] that would be of interest to a potential adversary of the United States. In order to maintain good order and discipline in the camps, I said ‘We’re not going to take that in.’” Miami Herald

Russian Spy: A Russian spy who once posed as a Manhattan banker pleaded guilty to espionage-related charges on Wednesday. Evgeny Buryakov, 41, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. Associated Press

On Wednesday, Russia announced that it will halt airstrikes against Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate the Nusra Front. Russia claimed the move was to allow other moderate rebel factions a chance to distance themselves from the extremist group. Washington Post

Syria: ISIS has let some residents flee from its self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa, as a U.S.-backed group of Kurdish and Arab forces began an offensive against ISIS on Tuesday. Residents of the city were reportedly allowed to flee to the surrounding areas or to the nearby city of Deir ez-Zor. CNN

Afghanistan: A Taliban suicide bomber killed at least 11 people in Kabul on Wednesday. The attack targeted a minibus carrying court employees during morning rush hour. Associated Press

France: On Wednesday, the French Parliament approved a law that gives government authorities broader powers to fight terrorism. The measure allows police to hold a suspect, without access to a lawyer, for up to four hours and gives officers more leeway to use deadly force. It also allows law enforcement officers to purchase weapons in sting operations to combat weapons trafficking. New York Times

Belgium: Belgian police detained four ISIS recruiters on Wednesday who were allegedly planning new attacks in the country. The four suspects were charged with participating in the activities of a terrorist group. Associated Press

Sweden: A Swedish court upheld the arrest warrant of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Wednesday. A Swedish prosecutor said that there is still probable cause to prosecute Assange on a sexual assault allegation and that he is “evading justice” while living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Assange plans to appeal the decision to a higher court. CNN
New Taliban leader: Least bad option?: In naming a new leader, “the Taliban clearly wanted to convey a sense of unity and purpose that has long been lacking within the organization,” writes Michael Kugelman on CNN. “There’s no such thing as a desirable Taliban leader, but Akhundzada may just be the least bad option. Significantly, he’s not a member of the Haqqani network -- the fierce, battle-hardened Taliban faction responsible for many of the major attacks in Afghanistan in recent years.”

What Happens After the Drone Strike?: “The fact that Mr. Obama has now ordered an attack in Baluchistan, rather than the border region where Pakistan has tolerated previous American operations, raises a big question: Does he intend to expand the American mission in Afghanistan, now focused on training and advising Afghan forces and ensuring that Al Qaeda cannot rebuild?,” writes The New York Times in an editorial.

Signs Of A Nascent Islamic State Province In The Philippines: “The difference between being an Islamic State ‘fan’ and an Islamic State ‘affiliate’ is profound. Claiming that operations are being carried out in the organization’s name is not the same as carrying out operations at the organization’s behest,” writes Charlie Winter on War on the Rocks. “Thus, decoding the extent of these ties is crucial. To this end, it serves to examine the situation longitudinally through the lens of propaganda. Such an approach yields plenty of reasons to suggest that these suspicions are correct, that a fully ratified ‘Philippines Province’ of the caliphate could well be on the horizon.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Taliban After Mullah Mansour

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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