The Soufan Group Morning Brief



Prosecutors in the case against the five 9/11 suspects have denied recent accusations that they colluded with the military judge in the case to destroy evidence related to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s defense. Brigadier General Mark Martins’ prosecution team said that the allegations were “defense-manufactured nonsense” and a “willfully blind narrative.” However, the prosecution did not explicitly dispute the alleged destruction of evidence, but rather disputed that the destruction occurred in secret. Karen J. Greenberg, Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law, said that the prosecution’s rhetoric resembled more a “schoolyard brawl than a courtroom debate.” Guardian

A former CIA agent said she will be extradited to Italy for her involvement in the kidnapping of Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, in Milan in 2003 as part of the agency’s “extraordinary rendition” program. On Wednesday, Sabrina De Sousa, a dual U.S.-Portuguese citizen, said that her appeal to Portuguese authorities against the extradition failed. Reuters, BBC, NPR

Gitmo: The Obama administration estimates that about 12 former Guantanamo detainees released from the prison have launched attacks against U.S. or allied forces in Afghanistan, which have killed about six Americans, according to current and former U.S. officials. The Washington Post learned that one of the victims was an American female aid worker who was killed in Afghanistan in 2008. Washington Post

Special Operations Command: The Pentagon plans to restructure how it fights global terror threats, putting greater emphasis on the role of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), whose forces have been used in many counterterrorism operations in recent years. The Pentagon’s Campaign Plan for Countering Trans-Regional Terrorist Organizations will have SOCOM coordinate the global fight against terror. A Pentagon official said the plan “doesn’t really give SOCOM any additional power...It’s getting additional work.” Wall Street Journal

California terror trial: Nader Elhuzayel and Muhanad Badawi, both 25, went on trial on Wednesday in California on charges of conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. The two men were arrested in May 2015 for allegedly attempting to leave the country to join ISIS. ABC, AFP

Florida terror case: Raees Alam Qazi who pleaded guilty, along with his brother, to terrorism-related charges last year for planning a terrorist attack on New York City targets in 2012 is appealing his conviction. Qazi claims that he did not support Al Qaeda, as he was charged, because he took no direction from the group. He is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence. AP

House Speaker Paul Ryan will announce his national security agenda today in an effort to shape the Republican Party platform before the presumed nomination of Donald Trump in July. House Republicans plan to release a document that argues the United States is far less safe than when President Obama took office in 2008 and that the nation’s global stature has diminished. New York Times

Iraqi counterterrorism forces entered the city limits of Fallujah on Wednesday for the first time since their offensive against the ISIS-held city began more than two weeks ago. Officials said that Iraqi forces overran an ISIS-controlled area on the southern outskirts of the city. Wall Street Journal

The Hill: US military spokesman: There is 'great concern' for civilians in Fallujah
CNN: Iraq troops free first neighborhood in ISIS-held Falluja, military says
Washington Post: Shiite Iraq’s gains against Islamic State spur fundraising in Saudi Arabia

Syria: U.S.-backed local forces in Syria said on Wednesday that they were poised to enter the ISIS-held city of Manbij, a week after an operation began to retake the city. Arab and Kurdish forces are attempting to cut off the last stretch of the Turkish-Syrian border from ISIS control. Reuters

Afghanistan: The Taliban abducted at least 40 people on a highway in Kunduz province on Wednesday. The attackers stopped a car and 50-seat bus on the road from Kunduz city to Takhar. Al Jazeera

France: French authorities are preparing for potential terrorist attacks as the 2016 European Soccer Championship kicks off on Friday. French officials recognized that even as they take all possible steps to prevent attacks, there is no way to entirely eliminate risk. Police in Paris have asked the government to close off crowded public “fan zones” where fans congregate to watch matches. New York Times

Israel: Two Palestinian gunmen killed four people in a popular Tel Aviv cafe on Wednesday. The two attackers posed as patrons at the restaurant before opening fire on civilians. New York Times, Reuters

EU Parliament: The EU parliament passed a nonbinding resolution on Wednesday urging member states to “investigate, insuring full transparency, the allegations that there were secret prisons on their territory in which people were held under the CIA programme.” The resolution listed Lithuania, Poland, Italy, and the United Kingdom as countries that were complicit in the CIA operations. The Intercept
Modi and the Budding U.S.-India Alliance: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech in front of Congress “offered the clearest Indian promise to date of a 21st-century alliance with the U.S,” writes Tunku Varadarajan in the Wall Street Journal. “India offers a strategic partnership that could invigorate America, an alliance of fortifying possibilities for an otherwise ugly 21st century.”

FBI Guidelines Weaken Separation of Community Outreach and Intelligence Gathering Efforts: “Community outreach programs are a staple of modern law enforcement, designed to build trust, address local concerns, and communicate effectively with the public — at least in theory,” writes Michael Price on Just Security. “But in recent years, some outreach programs have revealed an ulterior motive at work: intelligence gathering. Revised FBI guidelines obtained by the Brennan Center show that these programs — which claim to be aimed at building public trust — appear indifferent to the toll on community relationships caused by treating potential partners as intelligence subjects.”

Why David Gilkey Was In The Roughest Part Of Afghanistan: NPR photographer David Gilkey’s death is “a critical story that has largely been ignored. After 15 years of U.S. involvement in the Afghan war, the conflict has disappeared from the front pages in the U.S., and American interest has waned,” writes Greg Myre on NPR. Gilkey’s team traveled “to the most volatile part of the country, the southern province of Helmand, the heartland of the Taliban and one of the places where the radical group has been resurgent.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: The Western Recruitment Networks of the Islamic State

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