Showing posts with label Counter Insurgency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Counter Insurgency. Show all posts

16 January 2018

Are Jihadi Motives Really a Mystery?

by Raymond Ibrahim

The mainstream media would have us believe that Akayed Ullah's bombing of a New York City subway on December 11 was motivated by concern for Muslim refugees in Bangladesh. The so-called mainstream media's approach to and apologias for Islamic terrorism have become as predictable as they are farcical. In a recent piece titled, "A Mysterious Act of Mercy by the Subway Bombing Suspect," the New York Times' Jeffrey Gettleman portrays would-be suicide bomber Akayed Ullah—whose foiled attempt at Times Square subway last month could have massacred countless Americans—as just another Muslim youth angered at and responding to the mistreatment of Muslims, that is, a Muslim with legitimate "grievances." This is clear from the opening sentences:

11 January 2018

An Australian Perspective on Identity, Social Media, and Ideology as Drivers for Violent Extremism

By Kate McNair

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) is a leading initiative by many western sovereigns to reduce home-grown terrorism and extremism. Social media, ideology, and identity are just some of the issues that fuel violent extremism for various individuals and groups and are thus areas that CVE must be prepared to address. Text: On March 7, 2015, two brothers aged 16 and 17 were arrested after they were suspected of leaving Australia through Sydney Airport to fight for the Islamic State[1]. The young boys fouled their parents and forged school letters. Then they presented themselves to Australian Immigration and Border Protection shortly after purchasing tickets to an unknown middle eastern country with a small amount of funds and claimed to be on their way to visit family for three months. Later, they were arrested for admitting to intending to become foreign fighters for the Islamic State. October 2, 2015, Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar, 15 years old, approached Parramatta police station in Sydney’s West, and shot civilian police accountant Curtis Cheng in the back[2]. Later it was discovered that Jabar was inspired and influenced by two older men aged 18 and 22, who manipulated him into becoming a lone wolf attacker, and supplied him the gun he used to kill the civilian worker.

9 January 2018

Many Americans have never heard of the Haqqani network, one of the world’s most lethal terror groups

Ann M. Simmonds

When the Trump administration announced this week it was suspending military aid to Pakistan until the country takes more aggressive action against terrorist organizations that have targeted Americans, one of the groups it named was the Haqqani network. Compared to other extremist groups, it is unfamiliar to many people in the U.S. So who is Haqqani? What is the network? And what are its links to Pakistan? Jalaluddin Haqqani was an Afghan warlord and a leader of the insurgency against Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s, when he formed his Sunni Islamist militant organization, which the U.S. government did not designate as a foreign terrorist organization until 2012.

Mapping a World From Hell 76 Countries Are Now Involved in Washington’s War on Terror

By Tom Engelhardt

He left Air Force Two behind and, unannounced, “shrouded in secrecy,” flew on an unmarked C-17 transport plane into Bagram Air Base, the largest American garrison in Afghanistan. All news of his visit was embargoed until an hour before he was to depart the country. More than 16 years after an American invasion “liberated” Afghanistan, he was there to offer some good news to a U.S. troop contingent once again on the rise. Before a 40-foot American flag, addressing 500 American troops, Vice President Mike Pence praised them as “the world’s greatest force for good,” boasted that American air strikes had recently been “dramatically increased,” swore that their country was “here to stay,” and insisted that “victory is closer than ever before.” As an observer noted, however, the response of his audience was “subdued.” (“Several troops stood with their arms crossed or their hands folded behind their backs and listened, but did not applaud.”)


Lionel Beehner 

Abstract: The concept of controlling territorial space informs Western conventions of counterinsurgency and counterterrorism. The Islamic State surprised the West when it recently captured dozens of cities across Iraq and Syria. Eradicating failed states and ungoverned territories vis-à-vis more robust state-building also forms the backbone of U.S. efforts to reduce violence, provide order, and build stronger societies. I argue that clearing territory, while important, should be selectively employed. Greater stateness does not always correlate with reductions in violence, and conversely not all “ungoverned spaces” are terrorist safe havens. A number of these areas are natural, if non-integrated, parts of the international system. Second, I posit that state-building can have its own negative externalities, such as pushing nonstate actors across state borders and thereby externalizing internal conflicts. The policy implications of my theory are twofold: First, territory is often a poor metric to capture military progress in the fight against violent nonstate actors; second, fixing failed or fragile states does not always reduce the threat of violence but often just relocates it, as nonstate actors get squeezed out of areas of increasing stateness and move toward areas of weak stateness.

31 December 2017

Seeing through a glass darkly

M.K. Narayanan

To deal with the terror threat, there must be far greater sharing of intelligence among agencies worldwide

Yet another anniversary of the November 26, 2008 terror attacks on multiple targets in Mumbai has come and gone. Much has changed since then and terror has evolved into an even more dangerous phenomenon. Recent variants represent a paradigmatic change in the practice of violence.

29 December 2017

Jihad: The Misfortune of Misinterpretation

By Angie Gad

Islam has been plagued with faulty interpretations, misrepresentations in the media, and extremists hijacking the religion. Over the years, I’ve encountered many who are ill-informed about Islam but express genuine curiosity and an eagerness to understand. The topic of greatest confusion to them is typically reconciling the violent acts of extremists with all other peaceful Muslims. To address this, I begin with the concept of jihad.

28 December 2017

Project Maven brings AI to the fight against ISIS

Gregory C. Allen

For years, the Defense Department’s most senior leadership has lamented the fact that US military and spy agencies, where artificial intelligence (AI) technology is concerned, lag far behind state-of-the-art commercial technology. Though US companies and universities lead the world in advanced AI research and commercialization, the US military still performs many activities in a style that would be familiar to the military of World War II.

27 December 2017

Democracy Is Not the Cure for Terrorism


Analysts have blamed Egypt’s autocracy for a recent attack that killed hundreds. But that’s not what’s motivating the violence.

A few weeks ago, terrorists laid siege to a mosque in the small town of Bir al-Abd that lies just off the east-west road spanning the northern Sinai Peninsula. They killed 305 people and wounded many others. The photos from the scene were macabre—the stuff of Baghdad or Karachi, not Egypt. Until the attack on the al-Rawdah Mosque on November 24, the deadliest terror incident in Egypt occurred in 1997, when a group called al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya killed 57 people—most of them Japanese and British tourists—at the Temple of Hatshepsut near Luxor. The recent bloodletting in the Sinai is believed to be the work of Wilayat Sina, the Sinai branch of the self-styled Islamic State, though no one has claimed responsibility.

26 December 2017

Document Offers New Details About Those OV-10 Broncos That Went to Fight ISIS

Thanks to a newly released briefing, we can now reveal even more information about the pair of OV-10 Broncos that the U.S. Special Operations Command sent to Iraq to hunt ISIS. This includes information about the unique configurations of these Vietnam-era planes, such as their ability to track targets by homing in on cellphone signals and to share data across multiple networks. We also found out about the extensive testing that preceded their trip to the Middle East, and the lessons learned from employing a updated light attack aircraft on a modern battlefield. 

22 December 2017

Drones in Counterterrorism: The Primacy of Politics Over Technology

Asfandyar Mir

This essay is part of the #WarBots series, which asked a group of academics and national security professionals to provide their thoughts on the confluence of automation and unmanned technologies and their impact in the conduct of war. We hope this launches a debate that may one day shape policy. Policymakers, analysts, and scholars have long worried that drones make counterterrorismdangerously easy. With no American lives on the line, drone-centric counterterrorism is considered unconstrained by domestic political costs. As criticism of drone use on ethical grounds has not become a major electoral issue, some analysts worry that political leaders have limited reason to be cautious when considering counterterrorism options. Even President Barack Obama –– whose Presidency was marked by a prolific use of drones for counterterrorism –– recognized drone use as “what looks like a pretty antiseptic way of disposing of [our] enemies” while also expressing concerns that, without sufficient Congressional oversight, “you [could] end up with a president who can carry on perpetual wars all over the world.”

21 December 2017

Flight MH370 didn’t just "disappear": Historian suggests mystery was first case of remote skyjacking and 'was diverted to prevent delivery of secret cargo to China

Claire Carter

Missing Malaysia airlines plane MH370 has still not be found after searches close to Australia - but theorists suggest the plane may be buried under sheets of ice in the Antarctic
All that has been found so far of the ill-fated flight MH370 is a handful of parts, such as part of a wing, washed up on remote islands across the world.Data shows the strange path taken by the Malaysia Airlines plane as it suddenly jerked from east to west, away from its destination of China on March 8, 2014 - but no one has been able to explain why it took this strange path, or where it lay now.

17 December 2017

What Will ‘Actually Solve’ Terrorism Problem?


At the height of its powers several years ago, ISIS was attracting an estimated one thousand new foreign fighters each month. While U.S. officials always believed that the U.S.-led coalition would take back ISIS-held territory, they worried that as the caliphate collapsed, the tens of thousands of foreign fighters would spread across the world to wreak havoc on a mass scale.

Hard Lessons from America’s Longest Wars


This is one of two pieces by our contributor James Kitfield, who’s won more Gerald Ford Defense Reporting awards than anyone else (3), on the challenges and mistakes America has made in grappling with the complex threat of global terrorism. As James puts it in his summary sentence: U.S. counterterrorism forces continue to learn and adapt after fifteen plus years of fighting a global jihadist insurgency, as have our determined and adaptive enemies. Read on! The Editor.

10 December 2017

The Origins of America's Jihadists

by Brian Michael Jenkins
PDF file 1 MB 

The U.S. homeland faces a multilayered threat from terrorist organizations. Homegrown jihadists account for most of the terrorist activity in the United States since 9/11. Efforts by jihadist terrorist organizations to inspire terrorist attacks in the United States have thus far yielded meager results. No American jihadist group has emerged to sustain a terrorist campaign, and there is no evidence of an active jihadist underground to support a continuing terrorist holy war. The United States has invested significant resources in preventing terrorist attacks, and authorities have been able to uncover and thwart most of the terrorist plots. This Perspective identifies 86 plots to carry out terrorist attacks and 22 actual attacks since 9/11 involving 178 planners and perpetrators. Eighty-seven percent of those planners and perpetrators had long residencies in the United States. Only four of them had come to the United States illegally, all as minors. Nationality is a poor predictor of later terrorist activity, and vetting people coming to the United States, no matter how rigorous, cannot identify those who radicalize here. Determining whether a young teenager might, more than 12 years later, turn out to be a jihadist terrorist would require the bureaucratic equivalent of divine foresight.

How to win the Long War

Summary: Yesterday’s post explained why our Long War has produced so few gains at such a high cost in money and blood. It did not explain why our military — led by the best-educated officers in history — repeats the tactics that have failed in so many similar wars? This leads to a second question: after that problem is fixed, how do we win the Long War? Winning the Long War requires answers to both questions.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

The most plausible reason for our failure to learn, as so many have explained since 9/11, is that the leaders of our national security apparatus run it for the money. They run wars to keep the funds flowing and build the power of the Deep State. Victory is nice but optional. “War is the health of the state.“ That is as true today as when Randolph Bourne wrote those words in 1918.

9 December 2017

Don’t listen to the calls for more killing in the WOT

Larry Kummer,

As Trump and his general-dominated foreign policy team expand and intensify our wars, the calls for more killing rise again. As in an article in the respected journal of the Navy Institute. We should just say no. “Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.”

No said by Einstein but by Alcoholics Anonymous, people who know everything about dysfunctionality.

In Proceedings of the US Naval Institute, December 2017.

By Lieutenant Colonel David G. Bolgiano — a former paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division who served in Operation Desert Storm and as Command Judge Advocate for Special Operations Command Central in Iraq and Afghanistan, and

2 December 2017

Deradicalizing, Rehabilitating, and Reintegrating Violent Extremists

By Feriha Peracha and Raafia Raees Khan for United States Institute of Peace (USIP)

According to Raafia Raees Khan and Feriha Peracha, recidivism remains common among former terrorist group members who have undergone deradicalization and reintegration programs. So what can such programs do to improve their effectiveness? To help find out, our authors here look at lessons learned from the Sabaoon Center’s rehabilitation and reintegration programs in Pakistan. Their findings include that such programs should 1) focus on providing psychosocial support; 2) promote skill building prior to reintegration; and 3) guarantee monitoring after reintegration.

27 November 2017

The Countries Worst Affected By Terrorism

The fifth edition of the 2017 Global Terrorism Index has recorded a total of 25,673 deaths due to terrorism around the world last year.

As grim as that figure is, it represents a 13 percent decrease in deaths between 2015 and 2016. Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria and Pakistan accounted for three quarters of the death toll, even though five of those countries (Iraq is the exception) recorded a reduction in deaths since 2015.

20 November 2017

The View From Olympus: The Hezbollah Model Wins

When we think of ISIS’s enemies, we usually list religions other than Islam, Islamics who reject Sunni puritanism, local states, Western states and so on. But from the perspective of Fourth Generation war theory, ISIS’s most important competition may be with Hezbollah. These two Islamic Fourth Generation entities represent two different models of 4GW. Hezbollah’s model hollows out the state where it is based but leaves it standing. The ISIS model does away with the state and creates a replacement in the form of a caliphate, which is a pre-state type of government. (Ironically, the ultra-puritan ISIS proclaimed a caliphate that, under Islamic law, is illegitimate, because the legitimate caliph is still the head of the house of Osman; the Ottoman sultan was also a caliph).