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

6 June 2021

Violent Extremism: The Ghost or the Machine?

By Lydia Khalil

The Australian parliament’s Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is currently holding an inquiry into extremist movements and radicalism in Australia. It is only the second issues-based inquiry that this particular committee has conducted; the first was into the politically charged question of foreign interference. The hearings indicate the importance that parliament has placed on addressing concerns around violent extremism, an issue that is challenging many democracies around the world.

The threat of terrorism and the nature of violent extremism has shifted substantially in the two decades since the 11 September 2001 attacks, which led to the establishment of most of the present crop of programs, departments and paradigms for counterterrorism and countering violent extremism. While the threat from international and homegrown jihadist actors remains, increasing polarisation and disinformation has contributed to the growth of a diverse array of extremist movements across the ideological spectrum, particularly among the extreme right. The inquiry’s terms of reference will allow the committee to examine whether government’s current policy settings and legislation are adequate to address a diverse, complex and decentralised violent extremist landscape.

28 May 2021

Failed States and Terrorism: Engaging the Conventional Wisdom

Luigi Paoli Puccetti

Failing states have potentially favorable conditions which can facilitate the settlement of terrorist groups. However, the failure and the weakness of a country do not automatically entail the existence of a causal link with terrorism, nor are the failures and the weaknesses of a country sufficient conditions for the settlement of a transnational terrorist organization. Terrorist organizations could not have interests in establishing a base in failed and weak states. Further strategic and socio-cultural elements are necessary to understand the settlement of such organizations in both failed and weak states. The objective is to assess and review the enduring and controversial conventional wisdom that all failed states constitute safe havens for terrorists. The first paragraph will expose such conventional wisdom. The second paragraph will engage this issue through the study of the main works that have approached the subject so as to offer a proper view on the debate. This essay will concentrate its attention on international terrorism, rather than both domestic and international terrorism. The reason for this focus is that today there are numerous organizations and factions that are labelled as terrorist because of political reasons. Consequently, indication of domestic terrorism could be based on arbitrary motivations rather than objectives terms (Newman, 2007). Besides, domestic terrorism has become a widespread tactic in civil conflicts by both the governmental and insurgent parties (Coggins, 2015; Arsenault, Bacon, 2015). Therefore, it would appear more significant to pay attention just to transnational terrorism, given also the fact that the interest on such matters has gained traction with the 9/11 attacks perpetuated by an international terrorist group. International terrorism is defined as the use of indiscriminate violence against civilians and militaries for political purposes perpetuated by individuals or groups within foreign territories during both peace and war time (Sperotto, 2011; George, 2018).

26 June 2019

The New War of Ideas

A new battlespace emerged in the post-9/11 counterterrorism era, encompassing the halls of U.S. technology companies and the alleys of Raqqa alike. Today, the United States is engaged in an expansive conflict that requires solutions from the same key players—the private tech industry and the U.S. government. They cannot afford to waste the digital, organizational, and strategic lessons learned from nearly two decades of countering terrorism.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) questions representatives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google during a U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing. The October 31, 2017, hearing “Extremist Content and Russian Disinformation Online: Working with Tech to Find Solutions” featured examples of Russian-purchased ads on Facebook. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Learning from specific successes in tech sector and U.S. government counterterrorism efforts will optimize the United States’ collective response to the digital disinformation challenges of the future. Private and public actors should consider five important lessons from countering terrorism: (1) improve technical methods for identifying foreign influence campaign content; (2) increase collaboration among companies; (3) build partnerships between government and the technology sector via public and private analyst exchanges; (4) maintain an offensive posture and devote the resources necessary to keep the adversary on the back foot; and (5) take advantage of U.S. allies’ knowledge.

13 May 2019

Perspectives on Terrorism, April 2019, v. 13, no. 2

o A “Lunatic Fringe”? The Persistence of Right Wing Extremism in Australia

o Mapping Transnational Extremist Networks: An Exploratory Study of the Soldiers of Odin’s Facebook Network, Using Integrated Social Network Analysis

o The Hand that Feeds the Salafist: an Exploration of the Financial Independence of 131 Dutch Jihadi Travellers

o The Terrorism Recidivism Study (TRS): Examining Recidivism Rates for Post 9/11 Offenders

o The mid-February 2019 Pulwama attack in Kashmir: an Indian Perspective

o The mid-February 2019 Pulwama attack in Kashmir: a Pakistani Perspective

o Seeing Political Violence through Different Lenses

o Bibliography: Terrorism and the Media (including the Internet) (Part 4)

o Counterterrorism Bookshelf: 40 Books on Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism-Related Subjects

o Recent Online Resources for the Analysis of Terrorism and Related Subject

10 May 2019

Israel Bombs Building as Retaliation for Hamas Cyber Attack

By Sergiu Gatlan

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced that a building used by Hamas cyber operatives was bombed on Saturday as part of a joint retaliation operation with the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and Unit 8200 of Military Intelligence, following a failed cyber attack against Israel.

IDF's attack on the Hamas cyber operations center came during intensive fire exchanges between Israel and the Palestinians, which led to the exchange of roughly 900 rockets and, eventually, with an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire that began Monday 4:30 A.M. [1, 2, 3, 4].

While there is no detailed information on what was the aim of the Hamas cyber attack which prompted the airstrike, the commander of the IDF Cyber Division Brigadier General "D" said that it was aimed at "harming the quality of life of Israeli citizens" according to a The Times of Israel report.

27 April 2019

The Attacks in Sri Lanka and the Threat of Foreign Fighters

By Daniel Byman

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the horrific terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday on churches in Sri Lanka, which killed over 300 people. It appears that the group may have worked with a local radical Islamist group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath, mixing the resources and capabilities of both. Initial reporting—still to be verified—indicates that many of those arrested in the follow-up sweep had fought in Syria. Early reports are often wrong or exaggerated, but if Sri Lankan foreign fighters played a significant role in the terrorist attacks, this would be the largest killing by foreign fighters linked to the Islamic State ever, and the largest foreign fighter-linked attack since 9/11. The attacks suggest both the danger posed by foreign fighters and the importance of government efforts in stopping them.

When individuals leave their homes and travel to a foreign war zone, they often change profoundly. The travelers usually train and fight, and they often emerge more skilled as a result. In some cases, as with those who went to Afghanistan in the 1990s, individuals may go through multiple training courses and learn highly specialized skills. In others, they often learn only the basics of combat, but that combat experience gives them greater skill and discipline—if they survive. Such experience may explain the jump in lethality for Sri Lankan jihadists, who before the Easter attacks had not carried out mass casualty terrorism. Coordinated attacks are more difficult than one-offs, and National Thowheeth Jama’ath’s track record had consisted of vandalism against Buddhist statues and low-level communal violence. In addition, the suicide vests used in the Sri Lankan attacks all worked—a rarity for many terrorist groups—and in general showed a high degree of sophistication according to Scott Stewart, a terrorism expert. This suggests that the individuals were well-trained and equipped.

Insurgency in 2030


Long before the military convoy arrived in the muggy town of Dara Lam, news of the meeting between the U.S. Army colonel and the unpopular governor of the Kirsham province had seeped into social media.1 Angry with the American presence and the governor’s corruption, local citizens organized for a demonstration. Their trending hashtag—#justice4all—soon drew the attention of international media and the online world, trending in popularity. It also drew the eyes of some less interested in justice: the notorious Fariq terror network. Using sockpuppet accounts and bots to steer the course of online and real world sentiment, the terrorists fanned the flames, calling for the protesters to confront the American occupiers.

But this wasn’t the full extent of Fariq’s plan. Knowing where a massive crowd of civilians would soon gather, the terrorists also set an ambush. Their plan was to fire on the U.S. soldiers as they exited the building, and, if the soldiers fired back, the demonstrators would be caught in the crossfire. Pre-positioned cameramen stood ready to record the bloody outcome: either dead Americans or dead civilians. A network of online proxies was then prepared to drive the event to virality and use it for future propaganda and recruiting. Whatever the physical outcome, the insurgents would win this battle.

26 April 2019

In The Wake Of The Terrorist Bombing In Sri Lanka; Saudi Arabia Foils ISIS Terror Attack, Kills 4 Terrorists, Arrest 13, Seize Suicide [Homicide] Vests, Bomb-Making ‘Factory’ — And What The West Must Do To ‘Kill’ Jihadist Philosophy

Various media outlets are reporting this evening that Saudi security authorities have foiled a planned terrorist attack by former ISIS members and/or sympathizers. The Saudi Arabian Press Agency this afternoon, stated that “13 people were arrested as a result of [authorities] finding plans to execute criminal acts [terrorism] targeting the Kingdom’s security. Four of the 13 al-Zulfi attackers are ISIS members,” the press agency added. Saudi investigators “revealed a place [safe house] rented by one of the attackers in the al-Rayan neighborhood of the al-Zulfi Province, where the attack was conceived and planned. Inside the location [safe house], investigators found “what looks to be a factory for explosives, and explosive belts. Five explosive belts were found, as well as 64 locally manufactured hand grenades, two Kalashnikov’s [Russian made, gas-operated, assault rifle], four bags of organic fertilizers, a [mobile] telecommunications device, and two laptops.”

Bhvishya Patel, posted an article on this afternoon’s/April 22, 2019 edition of the, noting that “these arrests come after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attempted attack on a Saudi state security building in Zulfi last Sunday, a small city about 155 miles northwest of the capital of Riyadh.

The Sri Lanka attacks: New front, old wounds

by Mario Arulthas
The attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday for many brought back memories of the long ethnic war, which came to a bloody conclusion 10 years ago in May. Although the Sri Lankan authorities are yet to identify the perpetrators, it appears the attacks are of a different nature, one fuelled by global dynamics, rather than a response to local communal grievances. Despite this, the violence is bound to exacerbate already-deep ethnic and religious fault lines, increasing existing tensions and possibly fuelling further violence.

After 1948, newly independent Sri Lanka embedded a virulent form of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism in the formation of the state. This ethos, in simple terms, holds that the entire island is home to Sinhala Theravada Buddhism and that minorities are invaders, who will be tolerated if they accept Sinhala hegemony. Any threats (perceived or real) to the Sinhala identity of the country are attacked resolutely.

1 April 2019

March 2019 Issue - Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point


In our cover article, Matthew Levitt examines Hezbollah’s procurement channels, documenting how the group has been leveraging an international network of companies and brokers, including Hezbollah operatives and criminal facilitators, to procure weapons, dual-use items, and other equipment for the group and sometimes Iran. Levitt details how in the context of the war in Syria, “some of Hezbollah’s most significant procurement agents—such as Muhammad Qasir—have teamed up with Iran’s Quds Force to develop integrated and efficient weapons procurement and logistics pipelines through Syria and into Lebanon that can be leveraged to greatly expand Hezbollah’s international weapons procurement capabilities.” Levitt reveals Qasir appeared in footage of meetings last month between Syria’s President Assad and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, underscoring the importance Damascus and Tehran attach to Qasir’s efforts.

24 March 2019

CTC Sentinel - March 2019 - Volume 12, Issue 3, Now Online

In our cover article, Matthew Levitt examines Hezbollah’s procurement channels, documenting how the group has been leveraging an international network of companies and brokers, including Hezbollah operatives and criminal facilitators, to procure weapons, dual-use items, and other equipment for the group and sometimes Iran. Levitt details how in the context of the war in Syria, “some of Hezbollah’s most significant procurement agents—such as Muhammad Qasir—have teamed up with Iran’s Quds Force to develop integrated and efficient weapons procurement and logistics pipelines through Syria and into Lebanon that can be leveraged to greatly expand Hezbollah’s international weapons procurement capabilities.” Levitt reveals Qasir appeared in footage of meetings last month between Syria’s President Assad and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, underscoring the importance Damascus and Tehran attach to Qasir’s efforts.

22 March 2019

Body Counts Are Terrible Way for the Public to Assess US Counter-Terrorism Operations

by Charles J. Dunlap

President Donald Trump’s new executive order rescinding a provision of an Obama-era executive order that required public reporting of civilian and combatant deaths in U.S. counterterrorism strikes “outside areas of active hostilities” has garnered concern from transparency advocates. They express fears that President Trump’s action will deprive the public of information it needs to judge the appropriateness of the United States’ use of force in an era of persistent conflict against global terror threats. I agree that it is vitally important in democracy to keep the public informed, but giving the public raw numbers of deaths – “body counts” in essence – in isolation from other key factors essential to determining the propriety of the use of force will likely cause more confusion that clarity.

As Larry Lewis noted, much (albeit not all) of the information required by the rescinded section of the Obama order must now be furnished to Congress in any case, as a result of recent National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requirements. Those requirements go a long way in providing the necessary transparency to Congress about the actions formerly covered by the Obama order. As Professor Bobby Chesney explained on his National Security Law podcast:

20 March 2019

The New Zealand Attack and the Global Challenge of Far-Right Extremism

The March 15 terrorist attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, is symptomatic of a rising trend in right-wing extremism. Far-right attacks across the globe have increased because of immigration fears, far-right utilization of social media, and the inter-connectedness of extremist networks around the globe.

The March 2019 terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, was appalling. The perpetrator, believed to be a 28-year-old Australian named Brenton Tarrant, gunned down at least 49 people at two mosques in central Christchurch. In a manifesto released prior to the attack, the gunman raged about the low birthrates of whites, the mass immigration of foreigners, and the higher fertility rates of immigrants. The rambling 74-page manifesto concluded that “this crisis of mass immigration and sub-replacement fertility is an assault on the European people that, if not combated, will ultimately result in the complete racial and cultural replacement of the European people.”i

Sadly, Christchurch is not an isolated attack. Terrorist attacks by far-right adherents have risen significantly over the past decade. Between 2007 and 2011, the number of far-right attacks in the United States was five or fewer per year. The number of attacks then rose to 14 in 2012, and eventually jumped to 31 in 2017.ii

Data and assessments from SECOND SIGHT can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

Ajit Kumar Singh

The Colour Terror

At a time when the international community was focusing on the issue of a series of deadly ‘lone wolf’ attacks across the globe by the Islamic State, ignoring the rise of ‘White Nationalism’ against ‘Islamist invaders’, a white man, identified as Brenton Tarrant, in his late 20s carried out the deadliest attack ever witnessed in New Zealand. Tarrant killed 49 Muslim worshippers at two separate mosques - Al-Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque – in Christchurch. New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed that 41 people were killed at Al-Noor Mosque while another seven were killed at Linwood Mosque. One person died at a hospital. 42 people, including a four-year-old child, were reported injured. Several others, including nine Indian citizens, are missing.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admitted that “this can now only be described as a terrorist attack". She also noted “it is clear, this is one of New Zealand's darkest days”. New Zealand never before in its history had witnessed a terror attack of this scale. Indeed, as per reports, New Zealand's terror threat level has been lifted to high for the first time in its history, following the attack.

18 March 2019

Shitposting, Inspirational Terrorism, and the Christchurch Mosque Massacre

By Robert Evans

On Friday, March 15th, one or more gunmen opened fire in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. As I write this, three men and one woman have been taken into custody by local law enforcement. It is unclear to what extent they were all involved. The only thing we know is that one of the shooters went by the name Brenton Tarrant on Twitter. He posted pictures of the murder weapons there two days before the rampage. Said weapons are clearly visible in the video of the spree he livestreamed to Facebook. 

17 March 2019

Five initial thoughts on the New Zealand terrorist attack

Daniel L. Byman, Friday, March 15, 2019 

The terrorist attacks on the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in New Zealand, which so far have killed 49 people and led to dozens more injuries, are only the latest in anti-Muslim right-wing violence that is plaguing many democracies around the world. The terrorist was apparently an Australian who traveled to New Zealand to send a message to Muslim migrants that no place is safe.

We should be careful about rushing to judgment on any of the particulars as some of our initial information is undoubtedly wrong, and so much is incomplete. However, here are some of my initial thoughts as we learn more about this horrific violence.

1 First, words have consequences. The demonization of Muslim communities, often by politicians who later act shocked and angry when violence occurs, contributes to societal polarization and inspires violence. Britain’s Boris Johnson offered the traditional “thoughts and prayers” after the attack, but had previously written that women dressed in a burqa look like “bank robbers.” Incredibly, after the shooting, right-wing Australia Senator Fraser Anning claimed,“The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.” Terrorists feed on this polarization and seek to worsen it.

2 Second, security services and government institutions must prioritize white nationalist and other forms of right-wing terrorism. In the United States, right-wing violence has grown, with Jews and Muslims in particular being targets. The Trump administration has cut programs focusing on right-wing groups even amid a growing threat. Given the recent decline in jihadi violence in the United States, transferring some resources is appropriate. Similarly, ensuring immigrant integration is vital. In contrast to Europe, the American Muslim community regularly cooperates with law enforcement. Ideally, the president would press state and local officials to continue and expand their work with Muslim communities, not just to stop radicalism in their ranks but also to protect them from right-wing extremists.

3 Third, leadership can matter in a crisis, particularly when backed with action. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s immediate declarationabout the Muslim victims—“they are us”—is an excellent beginning and shows how a leader can use a tragedy to bring a reeling country together. To go beyond rhetoric, Ardern should ask New Zealanders to accept more Muslim migrants to show that violence not only fails but will backfire.

16 March 2019

Comment: Christchurch mosque shootings - it was a matter of when, not if

15 Mar, 2019 8
By: Darren Morton

Prior to 1.40pm today, New Zealand had seemed immune from the threats and events affecting the rest of the world, however we have now tragically joined the sad reality of the world's future security environment.

For many years New Zealand has held a coveted spot as one of the safest countries in the world. To a great degree, even despite the events of today, this status will remain when compared to the larger security threats facing many other countries.

However what many Kiwis forget is that those values of safety, lifestyle and isolation are looked upon favourably by those wishing to do us harm as weakness or vulnerabilities to be exploited.

As a nation many have the mindset that it will never happen here. For me the perfect example of that very mindset are reflected in comments made today by a regional mayor when he stated "It is unthinkable in NZ".

These comments will, of course, not be limited to him but will have been muttered in stunned disbelief by many. But why should we be at all shocked that this has happened here?

For a select few of us constantly monitoring and assessing the global security situation it was never going to be a shock. Despite our hope that we would remain untouched, it was always going to be a matter of when not if.

New Zealand has now come to the hard realisation that our beliefs in our geographic location, way of life, global friend to all image and belief that what is happening in the rest of the world does not affect us, were our greatest threats all along.

So where does that leave us now? We must of course take time to grieve for those lost and fully comprehend what has happened, but our vigilance and understanding of what our new life looks like moving forward, must start now.

While this is hopefully a one-off incident, we cannot assume so. Reality has proven that in our laissez faire environment, it has been easy for individuals to plan a devastating attack that has rocked our society to its core and provided those responsible with global coverage of their crimes.

13 March 2019

A South Asian Threat in America

by Sam Westrop

Few Americans have heard of Jamaat-e-Islami. But in South Asia, it is notorious. In 1971, Jamaati paramilitary groups slaughtered tens of thousands of Bangladeshis during its War of Liberation from Pakistan. Its terrorist ties today extend from Asia to America.

A new resolution introduced in the House by Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) demands an end to U.S. government funding for Jamaat's U.S. proxies and calls for a criminal investigation into links between a prominent American Jamaati charity and one of Pakistan's most prominent terrorist movements.

Founded in British India in 1941 by the prominent Islamist theorist Abul Ala Maududi, Jamaat is active across the Indian subcontinent and has been closely involved with terror.

In 2014, Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre from IHS Markit named Jamaat's student wing in Bangladesh, Islami Chhatra Shibir, the third-most violent non-state armed group in the world. In 2017, the U.S. government designated the head of a Jamaat affiliate in Pakistan and Kashmir a "global terrorist." And over the past few months, Jamaat gained international attention after its supporters rallied for the killing of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman accused of blasphemy.

11 March 2019

Six futuristic concepts on the Pentagon’s counterterrorism “wish list”

by Justin Rohrlich

A Department of Defense (DoD) branch that “identifies and develops capabilities to combat terrorism and irregular adversaries” is looking for big ideas.

According to a solicitation issued earlier this year, DoD’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) wants scientists and researchers to deliver, among other things, adhesive skin patches that double as alarms; color night vision; armed underwater drones; long-range facial recognition; and a device that can locate and identify human targets through solid walls.

CTTSO’s request represents a “wish list” of sorts, says Paul Rosenzweig, a former deputy assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security who has written extensively about counterterrorism.

Now a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, a conservative-leaning Washington, DC think tank, Rosenzweig thinks some of what CTTSO hopes to achieve is likely doable, and reasonably quickly. Certain concepts, however, will probably remain just slightly out of reach, at least in the near-term, Rosenzweig tells Quartz.

22 February 2019

Practical Terrorism Prevention

by Brian A. Jackson

Researchers examined past U.S. countering violent extremism and terrorism prevention efforts and explored policy options to strengthen terrorism prevention in the future. This document summarizes findings from the main report, including that current terrorism prevention capabilities are relatively limited and that there is a need for federal efforts to help strengthen local capacity. However, any federal efforts will need to build community trust to be successful.