National Security Brief: July 19, 2011

— U.S. officials say that new al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is shifting the group’s strategy to place a higher priority on attacking the U.S. and Western targets.

— A study from the Counter Terrorism Center finds that the role of the Afghan militant group the Haqqani Network in “the spread of global jihad” may be underestimated.

— A Pakistani lawyer filed charges yesterday against the CIA’s former legal counsel John Rizzo for authorizing drone missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal area that activists say killed mostly innocent civilians.

— NATO officials report Afghan forces have taken over security responsibilities in Afghanistan’s eastern Laghman province.

— U.S. government officials met with counterparts from the Libyan government of Col. Muammar Qaddafi to demand that the dictator step down.

— At a meeting in Brussels, European Union foreign ministers said they would push a new round of sanctions against Syria and urged progress on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

— In a new blow to the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Israel’s Housing and Construction Ministry approved the construction of 336 apartments in West Bank settlements.

— The Israeli navy intercepted a French boat carrying 16 pro-Palestinian passengers as the boat attempted to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza.