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

17 October 2018

Five lessons ignored in the Trump administration’s new counterterrorism strategy

Eric Rosand

Some aspects are noteworthy, such as the inclusion of domestic terrorism, the focus on strengthening counterterrorism partnerships with countries around the globe, the emphasis on intervention and rehabilitation and reintegration programs, and the pledge to work with civil society and other local actors. However, the strategy is light on details on the “how”—it offering no insight on, for example, the division of labor among the dozens of relevant U.S. government departments and agencies, and says little about the comparative advantages of possible foreign government and multilateral partners. As such, it falls short in a number of important ways. Although the strategy reflects one of the important lessons of the past 17 years of counterterrorism practice—that military and intelligence operations, in isolation, do not end terrorist movements and that complementary (and enhanced) civilian-led efforts are required—it gives short shrift to a number of equally important ones.

16 October 2018

Lessons From An Islamist Neighbourhood Of London In The 1990s: Why ‘Urban Naxals’ Are The Wrong Kind Of ‘Safety Valves

by Pritam Banerjee

Anyone who lived in north London in the late 1990s, and wasn’t biased to Islamism, would tell you that the propaganda that went unchecked there should have been nipped in the bud. Justice Chandrachud’s reference to dissent as a form of safety valve in democracies is undoubtedly well meant and pertinent. But as any engineer would tell you, safety valves need to be well designed. Otherwise they can lead to all kinds of lethal accidents. To allow dissent without discernment is dangerous to the very fabric of civilian engagement and compromise that modern democracies embody. I am speaking from personal lived experience from late 1990s United Kingdom. Living as a student in London in 1999-2000, I found cheap lodgings with a Bangladeshi immigrant family in Bounds Green area of north London. This stretch of the city from around Finsbury Park northwards had a large immigrant population, South Asian, Turkish, and West African, which was predominantly Muslim. These were pre 9/11 days, and mosques, ‘social clubs’, and shops brazenly displayed poster exhorting the faithful to jihad, and the destruction of the infidel in Kashmir and Chechnya.

15 October 2018


by Colin P. Clarke

Although the Islamic State has lost nearly 98 percent of the territory it once controlled, the group is ripe for a comeback in Sunni-majority areas of Iraq and Syria. The main reason is its existing war chest, coupled with its skill at developing new streams of revenue. The Islamic State used to mostly rely on the territory it controlled, including cities and urban strongholds, to amass billions of dollars through extortion, taxation, robbery, and the sale of pilfered oil. But the group has proven that it is capable of making money even without controlling large population centers.

During the apogee of its territorial control in 2015, the Islamic State accrued nearly $6 billion, making it by far the wealthiest terrorist group in history. How could a militant group compile the equivalent of a nation-state’s gross domestic product? When it did hold territory, the Islamic State primarily generated its wealth from three main sources: oil and gas, which totaled about $500 million in 2015, mostly through internal sales; taxation and extortion, which garnered approximately $360 million in 2015; and the 2014 looting of Mosul, during which the Islamic State stole about $500 million from bank vaults…

12 October 2018

Takeaways from the Trump administration’s new counterterrorism strategy

Daniel L. Byman

Like many of its predecessors, the strategy document is often short on specifics, so it’s hard to make too many judgments. However, it correctly warns about the continued danger of the Islamic State even as the group has suffered major losses in Syria and Iraq, the more limited threat posed by al-Qaida affiliates, and the risks that state sponsors of terror like Iran pose to U.S. interests. In addition to standard post-9/11 policies like trying to deny terrorist havens, it also calls for fighting the “hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism,” working with the technology sector and religious leaders, and otherwise taking a broad approach to the problem and to potential solutions.

26 September 2018

Stop Fighting a War Against a Tactic

Abigail Gage

The United States is engaged in an unusual global war, fighting a tactic rather than an enemy nation. Unlike traditional warfare, it is possible that this war between the US and terrorist networks will not produce a clear winner. The US and its allies have been involved in military engagements over the past decade and a half, costing the US taxpayer an estimated $1.5 to $5.6 trillion dollars. The longer the US remains embroiled in this armed conflict, the less likely it is that such a war ends favorably from an American perspective. While US defense strategy will need to include counter-terrorism efforts for decades to come, it is time to end the war by beginning to reframe the narrative behind the Global War on Terror (GWOT).

The Bolivian Insurgency of 1966-1967: Che Guevara’s Final Failure

Christopher Rodriguez

On October 9th, 1967 at 1:45 PM, Colonel Joaquin Zetenento announced to the world that Che Guevara was dead.[i]Many were surprised to hear the news – and it was even more surprising that he died in Bolivia of all places. Questions began to swirl around his death while world leaders began to take sides concerning his legacy. Some, such as Cuba’s Fidel Castro, publicly mourned his death and vowed to continue Guevara’s vision of global revolution. Others, such as U.S. President Lyndon Johnson, made no such public statements but quietly celebrated the demise of what they saw as a global pest. But the public question remained, what happened to Che Guevara in Bolivia?

15 September 2018

On the Anniversary of 9/11, We Reflect on the War Against Jihadism

By Scott Stewart

Seventeen years after the 9/11 attacks — and 30 years after the founding of al Qaeda — there is no end in sight to the wars against jihadists. Like communist groups in the 20th century, jihadist groups are likely to split further in the 21st century due to differences in personality, theology and vision. Because military might can only go so far in defeating an ideology, governments such as the United States will use military force to limit the power and reach of the jihadists in an effort to defeat them ideologically.

Policy Roundtable: 17 Years After September 11

Source Link


To understand what has gone both right and wrong since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we have convened a roundtable of some of this country’s foremost experts on terrorism, insurgency, and strategy. 

7 September 2018

RESOLVE Network 2018 Global Forum Innovative Approaches to Understanding Violent Extremism

The threat of violent extremism is evolving. However, significant knowledge gaps continue to pose obstacles to those seeking to prevent and address it. Join the U.S. Institute of Peace and the RESOLVE Network for the Third Annual RESOLVE Network Global Forum on September 20 to explore new research angles and approaches for prevention and intervention of violent extremism in policy and practice.Members of a peace march walking to Wardak, Afghanistan, from Ghazni. (Jim Huylebroek/The New York Times) As the territorial hold by violent extremist organizations diminishes, new problems are emerging as these groups evolve and others seek to manipulate governance and security vacuums to spread their warped mission to new populations and locations. To effectively address dynamic global trends, policymakers and practitioners require a holistic understanding of the nature of violent extremism at both the global and local level.

2 September 2018


James Howcroft

The 9/11 Commission identified “lack of imagination” within the counter-terrorism community as a key reason for the failure to stop the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001. The failure to realize that airplanes themselves could be used as weapons contributed to the fact that the plot was not detected, and appropriate counter-measures were not taken. It is therefore important for counter-terrorism professionals to try to think from the terrorists’ perspective and to consider possible ways they might adapt and innovate in the future. The Program on Terrorism and Security Studies (PTSS) at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, brings together counter-terrorism professionals and practitioners from around the world for a month twice a year to study contemporary terrorism and the tools and strategies needed to combat it. The 68 participants from 48 countries who attended the PTSS in July 2018 were tasked to use their informed imagination and to think ofplausible ways that terrorism might evolve within the next ten years. Participants were asked to provide their assessments in three main areas: motivations, tactics / weapons / technology and likely targets.

28 August 2018

Online Propaganda Builds Islamic State Brand in the Face of Military Losses

by Sune Engel Rasmussen 

Islamic State has lost most of the territory it once held in Syria and Iraq. It is vying for survival with other, sometimes stronger, extremist groups. But one sphere where Islamic State still reigns supreme among terrorists is in cyberspace. The group’s vast online presence is a critical recruitment and marketing tool that has helped it build a brutish brand using propaganda and sometimes false claims. Maintaining the perception that Islamic State can shape the actions of loyalists has become all the more important as its territorial control, or self-declared caliphate, has almost completely collapsed. Last October, the group claimed to have inspired the Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, who killed 59 people attending a country-music concert. A month earlier, Islamic State said it had planted a bomb on a U.K.-bound flight that was held in Paris for what officials called a “direct security threat.” Authorities in both cases rebuffed the group’s assertions…

It's Time to Stop Talking About Terrorists As If They're Diabolical Geniuses

by Gregory D. Johnsen 

… He has been called al-Qaeda’s “master bombmaker” and an “evil genius.” He is the reason we pass through body scanners at the airport, and why laptops were banned on several international flights last year. In 2013, Time magazine labeled him “the most dangerous terrorist in the world,” and this week the United States said it is confident that he is now dead. But Asiri has been declared dead before. In 2011, the United States said that he was killed in the same drone strike that took out Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American radical imam; in 2013 he was said to be seriously wounded, and in 2014 he was dead again

26 August 2018

Violence in Context: Mapping the Strategies and Operational Art of Irregular Warfare

by David H. Ucko and Thomas A. Marks - Taylor & Francis Online

Abstract - The malaise that the United States, and the West, have experienced in recent campaigns stems in large part from unclear thinking about war, its political essence, and the strategies needed to join the two. Instead, analysis and response are predicated on entrenched theoretical concepts with limited practical utility. The inadequacy of understanding has spawned new, and not so new, terms to capture unanticipated trends, starting with the re-discovery of “insurgency” and “counterinsurgency” and leading to discussion of “hybrid threats” and “gray-zone” operations. New terminology can help, but the change must go deeper. Challenging analytical orthodoxy, this article sets out a unifying approach for the study of political violence, or more accurately: violent politics. It provides a conceptual foundation that helps to make sense of recent shifts in warfare. In effect, it offers sorely needed theoretical insights into the nature of strategy and guides the process of responding to nontraditional threats.

25 August 2018

Using Social Media and Social Network Analysis in Law Enforcement

by John S. Hollywood, Michael J. D. Vermeer, Dulani Woods, Sean E. Goodison, Brian A. Jackson

0.9 MB 

Technical Details » 

Research Questions 
How should social media data and social network analysis be used in law enforcement? 
What security, privacy, and civil rights protections should be in place to ensure the appropriate and sustainable application of these technologies in law enforcement? 
What needs does law enforcement have with respect to social media and social network analysis? 

24 August 2018

Counterterrorism Conversations

With the shift in national security priorities to near-peer competitors like China and Russia, and with the Islamic State’s (IS) loss of most of its territory in Iraq and Syria, policymakers do not discuss terrorism as frequently as they once did. While there has been a change of emphasis, there are a few conversations on terrorism that policymakers still should have with the public. This commentary suggests four topics for those necessary conversations. 

1) Terrorists almost certainly will strike the United States again. 

19 August 2018

Terrorism: U.S. Strategy and the Trends in Its “Wars” on Terrorism

By Anthony H. Cordesman 

The United States has now been at war in Afghanistan for some seventeen years and been fighting another major war in Iraq for fifteen years. It has been active in Somalia far longer and has spread its operations to deal with terrorist or extremist threats in a wide range of conflicts in North and Sub-Saharan in Africa, South Asia, and South East Asia. In case after case, the U.S. has moved far beyond counterterrorism to counterinsurgency, and from the temporary deployment of small anti-terrorism forces to a near "permanent" military presence. The line between counterterrorism and counterinsurgency has become so blurred that there is no significant difference. 

17 August 2018

Trump’s Secret War on Terror


President Donald Trump has dramatically expanded the war on terror. But you—and perhaps he—would never know it. Since he came into office, Trump has reportedly abandoned Obama-era rules governing the use of drones in non-combat theaters such as Somalia and Libya. Whereas Obama operationally expanded but bureaucratically constrained drones’ use, from what we can tell, Trump’s new rules instead vest strike decisions with military commanders, without requiring approval from the White House.

15 August 2018

The Long Shadow of 9/11

By Robert Malley and Jon Finer

When it comes to political orientation, worldview, life experience, and temperament, the past three presidents of the United States could hardly be more different. Yet each ended up devoting much of his tenure to the same goal: countering terrorismUpon entering office, President George W. Bush initially downplayed the terrorist threat, casting aside warnings from the outgoing administration about al Qaeda plots. But in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, his presidency came to be defined by what his administration termed “the global war on terrorism,” an undertaking that involved the torture of detainees, the incarceration of suspects in “black sites” and at a prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, the warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens, and prolonged and costly military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

13 August 2018

Terrorism: U.S. Strategy and the Trends in Its “Wars” on Terrorism

By Anthony H. Cordesman

The United States has now been at war in Afghanistan for some seventeen years and been fighting another major war in Iraq for fifteen years. It has been active in Somalia far longer and has spread its operations to deal with terrorist or extremist threats in a wide range of conflicts in North and Sub-Saharan in Africa, South Asia, and South East Asia. In case after case, the U.S. has moved far beyond counterterrorism to counterinsurgency, and from the temporary deployment of small anti-terrorism forces to a near "permanent" military presence. The line between counterterrorism and counterinsurgency has become so blurred that there is no significant difference.

11 August 2018

Why an Attack by Grassroots Jihadists in Tajikistan Matters By Scott Stewart

By Scott Stewart

The July 29 attack on a group of cyclists was clearly conducted by grassroots jihadists and not by a professional terrorist cadre.  Despite its proximity to Afghanistan, Tajikistan has managed — with Russian assistance — to keep the jihadist threat in check. Beneath its relative stability, Tajikistan is significantly divided, and it will be important to watch for signs of increasing radicalization, specifically among younger members of the population.