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

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). 

15 November 2017

Why Niger Proves America's Counterterrorism Tactics Are Failing

by Amitai Etzioni 

The tragic loss of four American fighters in Niger reminds one that the United States has learned little from the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. It still believes that it can send its troops into a faraway country, in this case a particularly underdeveloped one, and that they will be able to stop ISIS from spreading. This is to be achieved not by the United States doing the fighting, but—the magic formula goes—by advising and training. The main problem with this idea is that all too often the locals would much rather have the Americans do the fighting. Thus, in Niger we learned from a Nigerien involved in the ambush that “the Americans had more sophisticated weapons and so we let them confront the enemy while we took cover.” The Guardian noted that “US special forces 'fought Niger ambush alone after local troops fled.’”

14 November 2017

Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses (CTTA) – Volume 9, Issue 11

The recent territorial losses and defeat of the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria signify a tactical win in the long-term battle against the group. IS will however continue to recruit and conduct attacks through its wilayats, affiliates and supporters in parts of the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe and North America. Part of this was seen in the recent truck attack in New York City which killed eight people and injured 11 others. IS has claimed responsibility for this attack and many others such as the vehicular attack in Barcelona, Spain (14 killed), and the suicide bombing in Quetta, Pakistan (15 killed) in August, and the bomb explosion in London (30 injured) in September. IS continues to pose not only a significant terrorist threat, but also a long-term ideological challenge, which is evident in the traction for its diverse online propaganda (magazines, newspapers, videos and statements) that continues to call for the establishment of the ‘caliphate’, and war against non-believers. It is therefore necessary to neutralise IS on both the terrorist and ideological fronts by preventing its armed attacks as well as negating key Islamic concepts that IS has manipulated to win supporters, sympathisers and legitimacy amongst its followers.

3 November 2017

'All Terrorism is Revolutionary’


The United States has been at war against terrorist groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS for over 15 years now, with every violent attack that takes place on the streets of the West prompting fears of a renewed terrorist threat. But not all heinous acts of violence are considered terrorism. The Cipher Brief’s Levi Maxey spoke with Bruce Hoffman, a professor at Georgetown University and director at the Center for Security Studies, about how to define terrorism and what distinguishes it from other forms of political violence.

2 November 2017

Religion and Ethnicity are Not Indicators of Extremism

By Denys Reva

Counter-terrorism fails when it alienates the very communities it is meant to help.

Counter-terrorism strategies aim to disrupt activities of violent extremist groups and limit the spread of violent ideologies. Recent ISS research, supported by several other studies, suggests that some state responses to terrorism – far from alleviating security concerns – instead exacerbate the problem.

30 October 2017

Terrorism and Just War

By Russell Worth Parker

The years since 2001 leave the United States in a strategic fog. What began as an effort to destroy Al Qaeda in Afghanistan spread to South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Levant in a war that seems long on how and short on why. Civil war in Syria and continued unrest in Iraq made the fertile crescent ready ground for the rise of the Islamic State. Subsequent population displacement in extant warzones and radicalization of native populations gave rise to attacks in Europe. Even the United States, long reliant on geography as a bulwark, has seen militant Islamic violence, revealing the shallow thought behind the bumper sticker notion that we have to fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here, and reinforcing the impetus for an ever widening, vaguely defined war reliant on aging authorizations disconnected from classic Just War Theory.

29 October 2017

At U.N., Leaders Tell Tech Industry to Do More to Fight Terrorism


NEW YORK — British Prime Minister Theresa May called on technology firms to radically increase the speed with which they remove terrorist content from the internet after a series of terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom carried out by individuals who were radicalized online.

At a side event on Wednesday at the United Nations General Assembly, the British leader said that recent terrorist attacks in Britain and beyond show how the Islamic State has used social media to spread its influence far beyond the borders of its self-described caliphate.

22 October 2017

Book Review of "Our Latest Longest War: Losing Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan"

by John Bolton

In Afghanistan Americans seemed determined to validate F. Scott Fitzgerald's aphorism that American lives have no second act. Fitzgerald didn't mean we don't get second chances (Afghanistan policy has had plenty) but that Americans are determined to avoid the hard choices, struggle, and dissonance that makes the second act of so many plays rewarding. Instead, we want to skip to act three's resolution. Consequently, we have tactically and strategically re-lived basic decisions about Afghanistan multiple times since 2001, each time re-learning obvious lessons and re-resolving to avoid the same mistakes while pledging to essentially do more of the same. We have failed to even ask the basic question of “If we weren’t there as we are, would be still be?”

9 October 2017

The Las Vegas Attack Will Inspire Copycats from STRATFOR

by Scott Stewart
"The Las Vegas Attack Will Inspire Copycats" is republished with permission of Stratfor.

As the closing act of the three-day, open-air Route 91 Harvest Music Festival took the stage the evening of Oct. 1 on the Las Vegas Strip, a 64-year-old man used a sledgehammer to smash out two windows in his suite at the adjacent Mandalay Bay hotel. His perch on the 32nd floor gave him a clear field of fire on the 22,000 or so concertgoers below. He took aim with one in the arsenal of guns in his room and opened fire. The shooter's intent was clear - he wanted to create as much carnage as possible. The crowd below remained oblivious to the threat 100 meters (328 feet) above and 400 meters away until bullets began raining down.

3 October 2017

Instability in the MENA Region, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Key Conflict states: A Comparative Score Card

By Anthony Cordesman

If the U.S. is to fight extremism and instability in the Middle East, North Africa, and other key conflict countries in the developing world, it must address the civil dimension of war as well as the military one. "Hearts and minds" may seem to be a cliché, but battle for security and stability does involve religion, politics, governance, and economics as well as counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. Half of the war and half of a successful strategy must focus on the ability of "failed" government to win the trust and support of their peoples.

For Caliph and Country: Exploring How British Jihadis Join a Global Movement

Rachel Bryson

For half of that time, the streets of the UK have been seen as a legitimate target, as witnessed most recently in both London and Manchester. Ideologues made their home in Britain, having been rejected from Muslim-majority countries because the ideas they expounded were considered dangerous. From the UK, they influenced many. In the last five years, the conflict in Syria alone has attracted over 800 British fighters.

Download the full report, For Caliph and Country, here.

29 September 2017

** How to Protect Yourself From Simple Terrorist Attacks

Scott Stewart
Source Link

Simple attacks by grassroots jihadists have become a fact of life in the West. Indeed, we saw three such incidents on Sept. 15: the bombing attempt against a subway train in London, a knife attack against a French soldier at a Paris subway station and a hammer attack against two women in Chalon-sur-Saone, France. These incidents are among the latest in a long string of incidents across the globe that featured attackers armed with simple weapons such as knives, vehicles and crude bombs.

28 September 2017

The General in charge of the surgical strikes

As the highest ranking officer in Jammu and Kashmir during the September 28-29, 2016 surgical strikes, the buck literally stopped with Lieutenant General Deependra Singh Hooda.

General Hooda was the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Northern Command, in charge of the planning and execution of the top secret operation across the Line of Control.

Most officers and soldiers in the Northern Command -- responsible for the security of J&K and Line of Control -- were not aware of the strikes being planned.

27 September 2017

Engaging Religion and Religious Actors in Countering Violent Extremism

Interest and space for including religious actors in policy on countering violent extremism (CVE) has grown over the past few years, but debates over the degree to which ideological, religious, or structural factors contribute to violent extremism have not yielded clear guidance for policymakers and practitioners. 

The role of religion as a potential driver of violent extremism is significant, but religion usually interacts with a wide range of other factors and causality is not linear. 

An alternative approach that focuses on the role or function of religion in violent extremism—facilitating mobilization, providing a counternarrative, providing a justification, and sanctifying violent acts—shows promise. 

Religious leaders are integral members of civil society and key contributors to public and political discourse. Engaging them in all spheres of government work, carefully and with sensitivity to power asymmetries and potential risks, is needed. 

Understanding how religious factors affect violent extremism can help inform the design and implementation of CVE solutions that engage the religious sector. 

The track record highlights ways in which religious actors can be partners, including when and how to engage them, how to design effective training, and how to ensure effective partnerships across sectors through inclusivity and addressing potential political obstacles. 
Recommendations for policymakers and practitioners include a focus on CVE roles for faith actors beyond the religious sector, practical approaches for avoiding undue governmental entanglement in religion, and suggestions for how to ensure appropriately sized and inclusive engagement with religion and religious actors in the CVE context. 


Ensure alignment between counterideology or counternarrative efforts and work focused on other drivers of violent extremism. 

Think beyond theology when assessing potential roles for religious actors in CVE. 

Think beyond old men in churches and mosques. 

Do not let CVE become a pretense for proscribing religion. 

Avoid endorsing particular interpretations of religion or using religious language and symbols in official government statements. 

Those interested in countering Violent Extremism by engaging Religion and Religious Actors in Countering may please read United States Institute of peace report .

16 September 2017

Sixteen Years After 9/11, How Does Terrorism End?

In the run-up to the 9/11 anniversary, I reached out to experts who identified the ways terrorism evolves, fades, or dies—and under what conditions it succeeds.Photograph by Kevin Trageser / Redux

The current spasm of international terrorism, an age-old tactic of warfare, is often traced to a bomb mailed from New York by the anti-Castro group El Poder Cubano, or Cuban Power, that exploded in a Havana post office, on January 9, 1968. Five people were seriously injured. Since then, almost four hundred thousand people have died in terrorist attacks worldwide, on airplanes and trains, in shopping malls, schools, embassies, cinemas, apartment blocks, government offices, and businesses, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. The deadliest remains the 9/11 attack, sixteen years ago this week, which killed almost three thousand people—and in turn triggered a war that has become America’s longest.

I’ve covered dozens of these terrorist attacks on four continents over that half century. After the Barcelona attack and the U.S. decision to send more troops to fight the Taliban, I began to wonder how terrorism ends—or how militant groups evolve. In her landmark study of more than four hundred and fifty terrorist groups, Audrey Kurth Cronin found that the average life span of an extremist movement is about eight years. Cuban Power carried out several other bombings, but, in the end, it didn’t last a whole year.

I’ve also witnessed some transitions that I never thought would happen. I interviewed Yasir Arafat several times when the United States considered him a notorious terrorist. He was a paunchy man of diminutive height, a bit over five feet, with a vain streak. He always wore plain fatigues, crisply pressed, and a checkered kaffiyeh headdress to conceal his bald pate. He was linked, directly or indirectly, with airplane hijackings, bombings, hostage-takings, and more. Israel thought that Arafat was defeated after its 1982 invasion of Lebanon. I watched from the Beirut port as the chief of the Palestine Liberation Organization and his fighters sailed off to new headquarters in Tunisia, a continent twenty-five hundred miles, by land, from the frontlines.

13 September 2017

** Militant groups have drones. Now what?


Militant groups have a new way to wage war: drone attacks from above. As recent news reports and online videos suggest, organizations like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have used commercially-available uninhabited aerial vehicles—better known as UAVs or drones—to drop explosives onto their adversaries in the battle for territory.

That ISIS would weaponize drones shouldn’t be surprising. Militant groups often use the latest consumer technology to make up for capability gaps and level the fight against regular military forces. ISIS broadcasts propaganda through social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and plans attacks using encrypted communication platforms like Telegram. This embrace of innovation extends to the way militant groups use military force. Over the last year or so, they have begun to use modified commercial drones for offensive strikes in Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine. These new tools of war provide a way to conduct terror attacks against civilians, and can also pose a threat to ground forces. Stopping drone proliferation is not an option because of the ubiquity of the technology. That means government forces will have to learn to counter drones operated by militant groups, just as they are now training to counter drones used by national militaries.

Already a “daunting” threat. The threat posed by militant groups flying drones is as much about where the threat is coming from—the sky—as it is about the munitions being launched. Militaries fighting militant groups have enjoyed air superiority for decades. US soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, for example, have rarely, if ever, feared attacks from the air. Civilians and humanitarian groups in Syria worry about air strikes from Assad’s regime, but not from militant groups like ISIS. The adoption of drones by militant groups is therefore generating a novel challenge. Speaking at a conference in May, Gen. Raymond Thomas, head of the US Special Operations Command, called commercial drones the “most daunting problem” his troops had faced over the previous year. At one point, he said, the anti-ISIS campaign “nearly came to a screeching halt, where literally over 24 hours there were 70 drones in the air.”

Sixteen years after 9/11, are we any better at fighting terrorism?

Stephen Tankel
September 11, 2017

In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks — 16 years ago on Monday — President George W. Bush declared a war on terrorism that he pledged would not end until every terrorist group of global reach was defeated. Bush drew a line in the sand, telling every nation, “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” The Bush administration was more flexible than this rhetoric suggested, but it still evinced a strong willingness to act unilaterally.

President Barack Obama sought to make U.S. counterterrorism efforts more sustainable, and thereby enable the United States to focus more on other challenges. To do this he not only pursued a more focused counterterrorism campaign than the Bush administration had, but also put an even greater emphasis on working with partners. This was intended to share the costs of counterterrorism and make gains more sustainable by giving partners ownership of the fight.

Where does the war on terrorism stand under President Trump? Although Trump has gone out of his way to reverse many of Obama’s policies, he has largely embraced the burden-sharing aspect of his predecessor’s “indirect” approach. Yet, instead of pursuing enduring partnerships, Trump has treated engagements with partners as transactional exchanges.

Counterterrorism requires international cooperation

Despite their differences, all three presidents confronted two fundamental facts about counterterrorism. First, even a superpower cannot combat every terrorist threat alone. As the 9/11 Commission observed, “Practically every aspect of U.S. counterterrorism strategy relies on international cooperation.” Second, many partner nations help and hinder U.S. counterterrorism efforts. To understand why, it is critical to recognize that counterterrorism is much broader than commonly recognized.

More Top Intel Officials Call to Keep Surveillance Power


Top intelligence officials called this week for Congress to reauthorize a provision that allows the Intelligence Community to target communications of non-U.S. persons overseas that can also incidentally — and controversially — sweep up information related to U.S. citizens.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which sunsets this December, removed the requirement that a judge find probable cause to believe a target is a terrorist or spy. It permits the government to widely collect what is described as foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States. The collection itself takes place within the United States – either on American communication platforms or as foreign communications that are routed through American servers.

It would not be in the “nation’s best interest” to “withdraw the legal authority currently granted to us under Section 702,” National Security Agency (NSA) Director Adm. Michael Rogers said Thursday during a panel discussion at the Intelligence & National Security Summit.

Congress must decide this year whether to renew the program as is or implement changes and determine if there will be a new sunset to the legislation. The program has been criticized for sweeping up the electronic data of Americans and what that means for privacy and constitutional rights. Advocates contend it is one of the most important legal authorities on the books to combat terrorism and is a valuable foreign intelligence collection tool.

10 September 2017

ISIS is Using Low-Tech Means to Inflict Large-Scale Terror

Daniel R. DePetris

Simple firearms, knives, and automobiles can result in a horrific number of casualties.

On Thursday, August 17, Spain became the latest country in the West to live through a crude but deadly terrorist attack perpetrated by a group of jihadist-inspired individuals.

The modus operandi of using a large van to strike Las Ramblas, a central tourist spot packed with people in the heart of Barcelona, is nearly identical to acts of terrorism that have occurred in France, Germany, the United States, the UK, and Sweden over the past year-and-a-half. In each case, a radicalized or psychologically distressed individual hijacks or rents a vehicle, waits for an opportune moment for a vulnerable soft target, and turns that vehicle into a deadly weapon by deliberately running people over on the sidewalk. For a terrorist, killing people with a car in an isolated attack is a lot less dramatic than a series of coordinated and synchronized suicide bombings on mass transit systems planned over a period of months. But ramming attacks have the benefit of being very easy to carry out; indeed, running pedestrians over with a car does not require any particular knowledge, skill or intelligence.

Terrorism in our current age is no longer defined by the terrorist cell meeting halfway around the world in a safe-haven, plotting a spectacular attack months and years in advance. Instead, the Islamic State has made terrorism easy for anybody to conduct. As ISIS’s former chief operational planner and spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, implored to ISIS’s pack of recruits in Western Europe in 2014 and again in 2016, you don’t need to travel to Syria and gain battlefield skills to become a valuable member of the Islamic State’s community. All you need to do is pick up a knife and slash a police officer or hijack a car and run over pedestrians on the sidewalk. No expertise on Islam is required, just a willingness to kill innocent people in the name of the caliphate.

Engaging Religion and Religious Actors in Countering Violent Extremism

Interest and space for including religious actors in policy on countering violent extremism (CVE) has grown over the past few years, but debates over the degree to which ideological, religious, or structural factors contribute to violent extremism have not yielded clear guidance for policymakers and practitioners.

The role of religion as a potential driver of violent extremism is significant, but religion usually interacts with a wide range of other factors and causality is not linear.

An alternative approach that focuses on the role or function of religion in violent extremism—facilitating mobilization, providing a counternarrative, providing a justification, and sanctifying violent acts—shows promise.

Religious leaders are integral members of civil society and key contributors to public and political discourse. Engaging them in all spheres of government work, carefully and with sensitivity to power asymmetries and potential risks, is needed.

Understanding how religious factors affect violent extremism can help inform the design and implementation of CVE solutions that engage the religious sector.