The Soufan group Morning Brief


MONDAY, JUNE 13, 2016

Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old U.S. citizen, killed 50 people and wounded at least 53 others at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning, in the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. Shortly before the massacre, Mateen called 911 and declared his allegiance to ISIS. The FBI previously investigated Mateen in 2013 after he made “inflammatory comments to co-workers alleging possible terrorist ties.” He was investigated for a second time in 2014 for possible connections to Moner Mohammad Abusalha, a U.S. citizen who became a suicide bomber in Syria. In each investigation, the FBI found no evidence that Mateen was connected to terrorist groups. He was believed to be on at least one watch list. New York Times, Washington Post, ABC

New York Times: Omar Mateen: From Early Promise to F.B.I. Surveillance
Washington Post: The Orlando Attack Could Transform the Picture of Post-9/11 Terrorism in America
Wall Street Journal: FBI Twice Probed Orlando Gunman
Slate: What We Know About Orlando Shooter Omar Mateen
TIME: What to Know About ISIS’ Role in the Orlando Shooting
CNN: Orlando Shooting Follows ISIS Call for U.S. Ramadan Attacks
New York Times: Was Orlando Shooter Really Acting for ISIS? For ISIS, It’s All the Same

CIA Director John Brennan has asserted that the 28 redacted pages of the 9/11 Commission report will prove that the Saudi government had no involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Speaking in an interview with Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV, Brennan said that the commission “looked very thoroughly at these allegations of Saudi involvement, Saudi government involvement and... their conclusion was that there was no evidence to indicate that the Saudi government as an institution -- or as senior Saudi officials individually.” CNN

Gitmo: The Periodic Review Board has rejected a Kenyan detainee’s bid to be released from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, citing a “significant threat” to U.S. security. Abdul Malik, who has been held at Guantanamo since 2007, is a suspected member of Al Qaeda and is suspected of involvement in two terrorist plots in Kenya. AP

San Bernardino: The National Security Agency would not have been able to unlock the phone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, according to a top NSA official. Speaking at the Defense One Technology Summit on Friday, NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett said that the agency was not able to break into every iPhone model, including the 5c model used by Farook. Ledgett also suggested that the NSA is looking to exploit information from biomedical devices. The Intercept, The Hill

Islamophobia: A decorated Army Reserve officer made death threats and brandished a handgun against members of a North Carolina mosque on Friday. Russell Thomas Langford, 36, was charged with ethnic intimidation and assault with a deadly weapon, among other charges, after “he told people at the mosque that he would kill them and bury them behind the mosque.” AP

An American citizen linked to Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra has carried out a suicide bombing in Syria. U.S. officials identified a man, known as Abu Hurayra, wearing a suicide vest on al-Nusra social media. On Monday, the group claimed Abu Hurayra was killed in a suicide attack in northern Syria. U.S. officials have not released his real name. CBS

Iraq: Iraqi forces have established a safe corridor for civilians from Fallujah to flee the ISIS-held city. The UN and aid agencies previously warned that more than 50,000 people remained trapped in the center of the city, as ISIS militants attempted to use the civilian population as human shields against U.S. coalition airstrikes. AFP

Libya: ISIS carried out three suicide car bombings against forces allied with Libya’s UN-backed unity government. Libyan forces are attempting to retake the city of Sirte from ISIS. AFP

Lebanon: A bomb exploded outside the Lebanese Blom Bank in central Beirut on Sunday, wounding two people and causing significant damage to the building. There were no fatalities in the explosion and no group claimed responsibility for the bombing. Reuters

Turkey: On Friday, a Kurdish militant group claimed responsibility for a car bombing last week that killed 11 people and wounded dozens of others in Istanbul. The Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, or T.A.K., said that the attack was in retaliation for Turkish Army operations in the Kurdish-dominated areas of southeastern Turkey. New York Times
The real terror threat in America is homegrown: “Every lethal terrorist attack in the United States in the past decade and a half has been carried out by American citizens or legal permanent residents, operating either as lone wolves or in pairs, who have no formal connections or training from terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda or ISIS,” writes Peter Bergen on “Because 9/11 was carried out by 19 Arab foreign-born terrorists, many Americans may think that terrorist attacks in the United States are carried out by foreigners, rather than by U.S. citizens.”

Let's not give in to fear after the Orlando shooting: “Terrorism works because it makes people afraid of our fellow human beings. Let us not let terrorism work this time,” writes Steven Thrasher in the Guardian. “Let us remember that individuals who commit horrendous crimes in this country with absurd regularity have one thing in common: they have easy access to weapons of mass killing.”

Dreams of my Muslim son: “Until last summer, there was an inherent dignity and grace associated with running for the highest office in the country,” writes Muhammad H. Zaman in The New York Times. “But over the last few months of this campaign, as they heard Republican candidates, especially the presumptive Republican nominee, and their supporters attack immigrants, and Muslims in particular, it has gotten hard to convince our children that these values matter.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Terror in Orlando

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