The Soufan Group Morning Brief


TUESDAY, JUNE 14, 2016

FBI Director James Comey said on Monday that Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was on a terror watchlist from 2013 to 2014. Comey defended the FBI’s two investigations into Mateen, saying there had not been enough evidence to arrest or prosecute him before Sunday’s massacre. The FBI reportedly put Mateen under close surveillance, recording his phone calls and using informants to gather information on what Comey called “strong indications of [his] radicalization.” New York Times, Washington Post

Associated Press: FBI: Orlando gunman had strong indications of radicalization
CFR: Foiling the next U.S. mass shooting
Washington Post: Islamic State shows it can still inspire violence as it emphasizes attacks abroad
New York Times: Violence and contradictions on the path to a Gay nightclub
CNN: Will beating ISIS abroad prevent another Orlando?
NPR Radio Times: The Orlando mass shooting
Reuters: Wolf dens, not lone wolves, the norm in U.S. Islamic State plots
The Week: The Orlando shooter's father is a Taliban supporter who made a video claiming God will 'punish' gays
NY Mag: Orlando gunman discussed ISIS with police, called Boston bombers his ‘homeboys’
Washington Post: Residents of Fort Pierce are wondering: How did one small Florida town produce two violent extremists?

The Obama administration has ruled out using an executive order to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, according to U.S. officials. Sources familiar with the deliberations said that White House lawyers did not develop a viable legal strategy to counter a potential override of the congressional ban on transferring remaining Guantanamo detainees to American soil. Reuters, The Independent

Surveillance: On Monday, a federal judge blocked Seattle from releasing information about FBI surveillance cameras used in the city, saying that the disclosure could jeopardize ongoing investigations. U.S. District Judge Richard Jones ruled in favor of a restraining order requested by the Justice Department to prevent city officials from disclosing the location of hidden cameras the FBI had installed on utility poles. AP

FOIA reform: The House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at improving the government’s responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law, which would establish a “presumption of openness” for government records and create a centralized portal for FOIA requests across the government. Politico

On Monday, Donald Trump suggested that all Muslim immigrants posed potential threats to U.S. national security and doubled down on his proposed ban of Muslims into the country. In his first public speech since the attack in Orlando, Trump called for a ban on migrants from any country with “a proven history of terrorism.” Trump also suggested American Muslims have failed to “turn in the people who they know are bad.” He later revoked the credentials of the Washington Post from covering his campaign, calling the paper’s coverage “phony and dishonest.” New York Times

Wall Street Journal: Trump suggests Obama sympathetic to Islamic terrorists
Yahoo News: In wake of attack, Trump renews calls for banning Muslims from U.S.

The Pentagon announced on Monday that U.S. forces have used Apache helicopters to attack ISIS forces in operations outside the Iraqi city of Mosul. This is the first time the helicopters have been used in combat against ISIS since President Obama approved their use in April. The Hill, Washington Post

Libya: UN Envoy to Libya Martin Kobler condemned the torture and killing of 12 people after their release from a militia-run prison. The 12 victims were released last week after being tried on charges of killing protesters during the 2011 uprising against the Qaddafi government. Their bodies were found a day later, with signs that they had been tortured. AP

Yemen: A suspected U.S. drone strike killed three alleged Al Qaeda fighters in Shabwa province on Monday, according to Yemeni security officials. The officials also said that Saudi-led coalition troops raided homes in search of Al Qaeda operatives hiding in the city of Mukalla, which was recently retaken from Al Qaeda. AP

France: A French police officer was stabbed to death in front of his Paris home on Monday night. His partner’s body was found inside the house. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, issuing the headline on its Amaq News Agency, “Islamic State fighter kills deputy chief of the police station in the city of Les Mureaux and his wife with blade weapons.” Reuters, New York Times

NATO: Leaders in the Baltic countries and Poland are growing increasingly concerned about the potential of Russian military aggression on their borders. Lithuania’s Defense Minister Juozas Olekas told reporters that Russia “might exercise on the borders and then switch to invasion in hours.” Reuters

Philippines: A Canadian man held hostage by the Al Qaeda-linked militant group Abu Sayyaf was killed on Monday. Robert Hall had been held captive by the group since last September when he was abducted from a seaside resort in the Philippines. CBC
Omar Mateen, lone-wolf terrorist: “The horrific nightclub attack shows what a loner with the right weaponry can do, but when ISIS directs an attack, as it did in Paris in 2015, the results are likely to be even bloodier,” writes Daniel Byman on Slate. “Orlando may be another variant, then, of what the French scholar of Islam Olivier Roy has called the ‘Islamicization of radicalism.’ Islam is used by an individual already on the edge of violence to justify his actions and give him status to at least one audience, as indeed has already happened to Mateen.”

Trump exploits Orlando’s tragedy to smear Muslims and Obama: “The Orlando tragedy has allowed Trump to shift the conversation from his racist attacks on a federal judge of Mexican descent. But the shocking carnage in Orlando doesn’t lend itself to simple politicization,” writes Dana Milbank in the Washington Post. “The killer appeared to have mental problems and, while claiming allegiance to Islamic State, he was obviously motivated by anti-gay hatred. And Trump couldn’t blame immigrants because the killer was American-born.”

What Donald Trump gets wrong about Orlando: “One can take the measure of a leader from his or her response to national trauma. So what did Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, do first? He congratulated himself, on Twitter, for having predicted such an assault and called for President Obama to resign,” writes the The New York Times in an editorial. “Aside from being offensive and un-American, this would do nothing to stop people like the shooter in this case, Omar Mateen, an American citizen born in New York and living in Florida. (To evade this inconvenient fact, Mr. Trump said in his speech on Monday that Mr. Mateen was born in Afghanistan).”

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

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