National Security Brief: July 18, 2011

— Gen. David Petraeus handed over his command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan on Monday, ending his tour as top commander there. Petraeus will return to Washington D.C. to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

— The L.A. Times reports that “Al Qaeda’s powerful branch in Yemen has provided weapons, fighters and training with explosives over the last year to a militant Islamic group battling for power in Somalia.”

— U.K. defense minister Liam Fox has asked Leon Panetta to step up the U.S. support for the NATO mission in Libya. Fox reportedly asked for more help with intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and aerial refuelling.

— Jan Mohammed Khan, a close adviser to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, was assassinated on Sunday night after gunmen stormed his Kabul home.

— The U.S.-led international forces started the transfer of security responsibilities to Afghan forces in the country’s peaceful and idyllic Bamiyan region.

— The Pentagon began using a “fast track” streamlined system to more quickly deliver vital equipment to troops station in the field.

— Up to 30 people were killed in the Syrian city of Homs, according to Syrian activists, after mutilated bodies of three government supporters set off a serious escalation of sectarian violence.

— According to a report from the Jamestown Foundation, Islamic militants from Al Qaeda can now study security techniques directly from Pakistan’s shadowy Inter-Services Intelligence via manuals posted to online militant forums.