The Soufan Group Morning Brief



The FBI has significantly increased the number of sting operations it uses in terrorism cases, using undercover agents and paid informants to pose as jihadists, bomb makers, gun dealers, or other roles related to potential terror crimes. Undercover operations are now being used in about two thirds of the prosecutions involving people suspected of supporting ISIS, according to a report in The New York Times. Karen J. Greenberg, Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law, said that undercover operations have become the norm for the FBI in recent ISIS cases, without much understanding about how the government conducts its investigations, in particular its online sting operations. New York Times

For a second time, the White House threatened to veto the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act on Tuesday, citing several provisions, including restrictions on closing Guantanamo Bay and limiting the size of the National Security Council. An Office of Management and Budget assessment said that “the bill attempts to micromanage [the Defense Department] by impeding the Department’s ability to respond to changing circumstances, directing overly prescriptive organizational changes, preventing the closure of Guantanamo, and limiting U.S. engagement with Cuba, and includes provisions that set an arbitrary limit on the size of the President’s National Security Council staff.” Washington Post

War authorization: Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) introduced an amendment to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act on Tuesday that would authorize military action against ISIS for three years. It would also limit the President’s ability to send “significant U.S. ground troops” to fight ISIS unless U.S. citizens face an “imminent threat.” The amendment would also repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force against Iraq. The Hill

Gitmo: The Periodic Review Board at Guantanamo Bay held a hearing for Abdul Latif Nasir on Tuesday. The 56-year old Moroccan national has been held at Guantanamo since May 2002 for allegedly holding a leadership role and fighting against U.S. forces in Tora Bora, Afghanistan in 2001. 30 of the 80 remaining detainees held at Guantanamo have been cleared for release by the PRB. Human Rights First

ISIS in California: On Tuesday, 22-year old Nicholas Teausant was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison and 25 years of supervised release following his term for attempting to travel to Syria to fight alongside ISIS. Teausant pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS in December. LA Times, CBS

Counterterrorism drill: Members of the Boston Police, Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center will conduct drills that include a “realistic terrorist scenario” at Fenway Park in Boston on Sunday. The “full scale” training exercise will include simulated explosions and gunshots., CBS

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad promised to retake “every inch” of the country from opposition forces and ISIS militants on Tuesday. In his first major address since April, Assad signaled that he intends to intensify military efforts to retake rebel and ISIS-held territory, rejecting calls for a humanitarian relief effort and peaceful transition from power. New York Times, Washington Post

Yemen: Saudi Arabia transfered 54 child prisoners who were captured during fighting to Yemen’s government on Tuesday. The move comes after Human Rights Watch recently reported that both sides of the conflict had deployed child soldiers, and after Unicef reported in March that 900 children were killed and 1,300 others were wounded in the conflict in 2015. Reuters

ISIS: The U.S. commander of the air campaign against ISIS believes there is a shortage of intelligence assets on the ground in Syria and Iraq, which is limiting the effectiveness of airstrikes. Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Q. Brown said that “if there's one piece that I know that the Combined Joint Task Force and the ground component ask for is more ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance].” He added that “as the enemy wraps itself around the populace, over-watch and ISR becomes increasingly important.” The Hill

China: A Chinese fighter jet intercepted a U.S. reconnaissance plane on patrol in international airspace over the East China Sea on Tuesday. U.S. Pacific Command called the intercept “unsafe.” Reuters

NATO: More than 30,000 NATO troops from 24 different countries began a large-scale training exercise on Tuesday in Poland. The operation, called Anakonda 2016, is the largest military exercise in eastern Europe since the Cold War. Washington Post

North Korea: North Korea has restarted production of plutonium fuel, according to a senior U.S. State Department official. The IAEA said on Monday that there have been indications that North Korea has resumed plutonium reprocessing activities at its Yongbyon reactor. Reuters

Hungary: On Tuesday, Hungarian lawmakers approved a constitutional amendment granting the government additional powers in the case of terror acts or threats. The amendment allows the government to introduce extraordinary measures for up to 15 days before obtaining authorization from the Parliament in order to face and prevent the “new type of security challenges” facing Europe. AP
Crimes of the War on Terror: “Whom should justice truly serve? The first answer is: the victims of the ‘war on terror,’ including those who were tortured, those detained without trial, the civilian ‘collateral damage’ of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the ‘unintended’ victims of drone assassinations, writes Rebecca Gordon on TomDispatch. “Then there are all those in the rest of the world who have to live with the threat of a nuclear-armed superpower that has in these years regularly refused to recognize the most basic aspects of the rule of law.”

Breaking the Pakistan-Taliban Alliance: “In foreign policy, there are key moments—’golden hours’—when events create a finite window in which to achieve important things,” writes Zalmay Khalilzad in the Wall Street Journal. “Based on my discussions with President Ashraf Ghani and other senior Afghan officials in Kabul in recent days, I believe that the killing over the May 21 weekend of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a U.S. drone strike has created a golden hour in which to finally secure Pakistan’s cooperation in stopping support for the Haqqani network terrorists and for the extremist Taliban.”

The Liberation of Iraq Began 25 Years Ago: “Many Americans today wish the U.S. had never taken ownership of Iraq. But many also make the mistake of thinking that the U.S. signed that deed of purchase with the 2003 war,” writes Eli Lake on Bloomberg View. “In fact the down payment was made with a haphazard operation to rescue half a million Kurds, and it began 25 years ago.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Terror Threats to Euro 2016

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