The Soufan Group Morning Brief


MONDAY, JUNE 20, 2016

Intelligence officials and investigators into the Orlando nightclub shooting say that they are “becoming increasingly convinced that the motive for this attack had very little -- or maybe nothing -- to do with ISIS.” According to a report on NPR, investigators are saying that Omar Mateen’s profile is more like a “typical mass shooter” than a radicalized ISIS-supporter. NPR

Today, the FBI plans to release a partial transcript of Orlando shooter Omar Mateen’s phone calls with police negotiators during the standoff in last Sunday’s attacks. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Sunday that the three phone calls “will talk about what [Matten] told law enforcement on the ground as the events were unfolding.” Authorities previously said that Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS during phone calls with a 9-1-1 dispatcher. CNN, NBC

New York Times: ‘Always Agitated. Always Mad’: Omar Mateen, According to Those Who Knew Him
The Hill: Officials vexed by homegrown terror threat

In response to last week’s “dissent channel” on U.S. policy in Syria, signed by 51 State department diplomats, Secretary of State John Kerry said “it’s an important statement,” and that “I respect the process very, very much.” The diplomats’ statement was sharply critical of U.S. policy in Syria, and called for the U.S. to carry out military strikes against the government of Bashar Al-Assad. According to a report in The New York Times, administration officials said Kerry has previously taken a similar position to the dissent memo in Situation Room debates about enforcing a ceasefire in Syria. New York Times

Florida terror cases: Two men facing separate trials on terrorism charges in Florida have asked to postpone their court proceedings over concern about their fair treatment after the attack in Orlando. The defense teams of Harlem Suarez and James Medina, who are both accused of plotting terror attacks, each filed motions to delay their trials over concerns about public perception of terrorism cases and the ability to select an impartial jury. CNN

Donald Trump has renewed his call for the use of profiling as a preventative tool against terrorism after the attacks in Orlando last week. During an interview on NBC’s “Face The Nation,” the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said “I hate the concept of profiling, but we have to start using common sense.” New York Times

Iraqi forces entered central Fallujah on Friday after more than two weeks of fighting ISIS. Government counterterrorism forces raised the Iraqi flag over the main government building in the center of the city. In a potential sign of weakness, ISIS forces reportedly fled their entrenched positions and regrouped in western parts of the city. New York Times

Reuters: Iraqi camps overwhelmed as residents flee Fallujah fighting

Yemen: The U.S. military plans to keep a small team of Special Operations advisers in Yemen to assist troops from the UAE in their fight against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The Pentagon recently deployed another Special Operations team in Yemen to identify potential local partners in the country. The decision will extend U.S. troop presence around the city of Mukalla, which Emirati and Yemeni forces recently recaptured from Al Qaeda. Washington Post

Syria: On Sunday, Turkish border guards reportedly killed at least 11 Syrian refugees who were attempting to cross into Turkey illegally. The group of refugees, which included as many as three children, were shot as they tried to cross the border near the Syrian town of Jisr al-Shoughour. New York Times

Washington Post: Images suggest that Russia cluster-bombed U.S.-backed Syrian fighters

Japan: Tens of thousands of protesters gathered on Sunday in Okinawa to demand the removal of American military bases on the island. The demonstration, which included 65,000 people, was the largest against the U.S. military presence in Okinawa in two decades. New York Times

Belgium: Belgian authorities charged three men with terrorism offenses on Sunday after they were arrested in overnight raids before the Belgian national soccer team’s match against Ireland in the European Championship tournament. Belgian law enforcement reportedly arrested 12 people in dozens of searches across the country amid heightened security in Belgium and France during the tournament. Reuters
The Broken Promise of Closing Guantanamo: As President Obama's administration draws to a close, there is less and less hope that the president will find a way to fulfill his promise.

A Nuclear Weapon That America Doesn’t Need: “The president should reconsider the Defense Department’s effort to develop a new nuclear weapon called the Long-Range Standoff Weapon,” write Dianne Feinstein and Ellen O. Tauscher in The New York Times. “We agree that a safe, reliable nuclear stockpile is needed...However, building new nuclear weapons like this one could be unnecessary, costly and dangerous.”

What Are the Common Factors That Drive Radicalization?: “We can define a three-stage process through which individuals join terrorist organizations and commit violence. At the first stage, individuals join an organization because of alienation from society and in an explicit search for group solidarity,” writes Saliha Metinsoy on Newsweek. “Once in the group, they undergo an indoctrination and norm creation process in service of the goals of the organization, such as being part of a bigger cause and martyrdom. At the final stage, they commit violence after a split of morality for in-group and out-group members (when violence against out-group members is legitimized).”

Trump and the Powers of the American Presidency: “The possibility of Trump's election warrants a serious conversation about the nature of the American presidency and what it would mean for someone of Trump's dubious mental health to occupy the office,” writes Benjamin Wittes on Lawfare

How to Minimize Future Terror Attacks: “Attackers in Orlando, Brussels, San Bernardino, Paris, and Boston share a stark commonality with each other and with other terrorists: They already had come to the attention of law enforcement or intelligence agencies before they killed,” write Jamsheed Choksy and Carol Choksy on Real Clear World. “In each instance, authorities decided that despite radical leanings and prior offenses the suspects would not commit acts of mass violence, and so discontinued investigations or did not share information across jurisdictions.”

Out Now: Karen Greenberg's newest book, Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State, is the definitive account of how America's War on Terror sparked a decade-long assault on the rule of law, weakening our courts and our Constitution in the name of national security. 

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Title with Link italicized and bold

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