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

23 June 2018

Why Moderates Support Extreme Groups It's Not About Ideology

By Barbara F. Walter

One of the big surprises since the end of the Cold War has been the growth of radical Islamist groups, especially those that adhere to Salafi jihadism, an ultraconservative reform movement that seeks to establish a transnational caliphate based on sharia law. These organizations reject democracy and believe violence and terrorism are justified in pursuit of their goals. Before 1990, there was only a handful of active Salafi jihadist groups. By 2013, there were 49.

21 June 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. 

12 June 2018

How Al-Qaeda Works: The Jihadist Group’s Evolving Organizational Design

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross 

The years following the 9/11 attacks and preceding the Arab Spring marked a period of tumult for al-Qaeda. The jihadist organization lost a number of key commanders after the United States invaded Afghanistan, including several involved in planning operations outside the region. Though al-Qaeda did prepare a credible large-scale plot against commercial aviation in August 2006 and nearly brought down an international flight over Detroit in December 2009,1 the organization went multiple years without a successfully executed terrorist attack in the West. For an organization that had to a certain extent staked its credibility on its ability to sustain an armed struggle against the “far enemy,” this hiatus damaged its reputation. Compounding these problems was al-Qaeda’s Iraq affiliate, which had stubbornly ignored the al-Qaeda leadership’s guidance to tone down what they deemed to be excessively violent methods. After overplaying its hand, which provoked an organized backlash from Iraqi Sunni communities, al-Qaeda in Iraq collapsed. In turn, its collapse was a blow to the al-Qaeda organization as a whole. 

6 June 2018

Are We Truly Witnessing The End Of Violent Islamism? – Analysis

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Islamists have grossly used Western freedom and they must understand that this is not allowed anymore. The integration of moderate Islam in the European social fabric is an urgent necessity today more than ever before and the same is true of the rest of the Western world, writes Dr. Mohamed Chtatou. The fearful Islamic State has been duly defeated by a Western-Islamic coalition through a combination of aerial pinpoint bombardment and a land offensive undertaken successfully by the Iraqi army beefed up by Kurdish, Iranian and Western forces. As a result, the cities controlled by this infamous State were re-conquered and its militias killed, imprisoned or have merely disappeared in the thin air. However, the question is: is this enough to crush Islamic fundamentalism that aims to adopt a time-old Caliphate system and engage in spreading Islamic religion through a combination of gentle persuasion , jihad in dar al-Kufr (Infidels’ homeland)i and terrorist actions both at home and abroad?

5 June 2018

How Do You Define Terrorism?

Antonia Ward

Terrorism remains a contested term, with no set definition for the concept or broad agreement among academic experts on its usage. Bruce Hoffman of Georgetown University has defined terrorism as “violence – or equally important, the threat of violence – used and directed in pursuit of, or in service of, a political aim”. Similarly, Louise Richardson of Oxford University believes terrorism is “deliberately and violently targeting civilians for political purposes.” Under these definitions, if there is no political aim, it is simply a crime and, if there is no violence, it is not terrorism.

25 May 2018

Cryptocurrencies: Potential for Terror Financing?

By Ahmad Helmi Bin Mohamad Hasbi and Remy Mahzam

Given their transaction anonymity and user-friendliness, cryptocurrencies appeal to extremist groups as they offer a viable alternative to the mainstream financial system and fiat money which are perceived as ‘kafir’ (infidel) currencies. The threat of cyber-driven terrorist financing is expected to grow.


Counterterrorism in an Era of More Limited Resources

With the National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy lowering the prioritization of terrorism, the U.S. government will need cost-effective options to continue to diminish the terrorist threat. Nonkinetic efforts can be a cost-effective way to reduce terrorist groups’ ability to radicalize, disseminate messages, use the internet, facilitate foreign fighters, fundraise, and exploit poor governance. Undercutting these intertwined terrorist enablers weakens the groups writ large. 

24 May 2018

Why Engage in Proxy War? A State’s Perspective

by Daniel Byman - Lawfare 

A proxy war occurs when a major power instigates or plays a major role in supporting and directing a party to a conflict but does only a small portion of the actual fighting itself. Proxy war stands in contrast not only to a traditional war—when a state shoulders the burden of its own defense (or offense)—but also an alliance, when major and minor powers work together with each making significant contributions according to their means. So the United States working with the Afghan government against what’s left of al-Qaeda and the Taliban is more of a traditional alliance because of the major U.S. role , with thousands of American troops and hundreds of airstrikes, while Iran working with Houthi rebels in Yemen is a proxy war because Iran primarily provides weapons and funding, not its own troops. How much direct military support is too much to count as a proxy war, of course, lies mostly in the eye of the beholder , but in general, think the lower end of the involvement-spectrum. Iran’s support for the Syrian regime , for example, involves relatively few Iranian forces but a lot of foreign Shiite fighters from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Lebanon as well as helping direct the Syrian regime—so more proxy than alliance.

21 May 2018

The View From Olympus: Israel, Gaza, and 4GW

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Hamas, which rules the Gaza strip, has traditionally been less competent than Hezbollah at Fourth Generation war. Its rocket attacks on Israel, although they have frightened Israelis, have done little physical damage while they have created a moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel that hurts the former. Now, however, it is beginning to look as if Hamas has gotten smarter in a way that poses a real 4GW strategic threat to Israel. On successive Fridays, Hamas has sponsored demonstrations at the border fence between Gaza and Israel. On April 27, the demonstrators broke through the fence. Israel responded, as it has before, with live fire that killed several Gazans. Anytime that happens, Israel suffers a defeat at the moral level, which in 4GW is the decisive level. Hamas’s challenge is to push that defeat up from the tactical to the strategic. Conditions may be ripe for it to do so. Israel, Egypt, and Fatah have combined their efforts to degrade the quality of life in Gaza to the point where people there feel they have nothing to lose. When everyday life is hell, risking that life is a modest risk. Hamas may be able to mobilize, not hundreds of demonstrators, but hundreds of thousands.

12 May 2018

Policing Urban Conflict: Urban Siege, Terrorism and Insecurity

By Dr. John P. Sullivan

Cities have been the foci of culture, trade, and political life throughout history. When the social contract breaks or politics fail, they have been the focus of conflict and violence as well. In the vacuum of power, terrorists, rebels, and criminals time and again seek to reset the political, social, and economic equilibrium through violence. This violence has always occurred in cities but as the world becomes more urban, cities become inseparable from global conflict. This central role was recognized by Algerian separatists during the Battle of Algiers and its future importance forecast in Carlos Marighella’s Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla. From the Casbah to urban Brazil, to the streets of Europe and alleys and hotels of Beirut, Aleppo, Jerusalem, Nairobi, and Mumbai, urban terrorism continues to evolve.

27 April 2018

Like Vietnam, it is Time to Cut Our Loses in Afghanistan

Chad M. Pillai

Afghanistan, as another Vietnam, conjures images of defeat as U.S. helicopters take the last American off the embassy roof. While the Vietnam War was a near-term strategic defeat, in retrospect, it may yet prove to have been a geo-strategic win. The same may prove true for Afghanistan after a U.S. withdrawal. Like a bad business investment, there are times when you must accept one’s loses and move on. Vietnam, after the U.S. withdrawal and fall of Saigon, was a poor yet united country after centuries of domination by the Chinese, Japanese, and French. Like its more powerful northern neighbor, China, it too is a communist dictatorship embracing capitalism. Despite its similarities with China, China’s rapidly aggressive political-economic-military influence in the Asia-Pacific region is pushing Vietnam closer to the U.S. to counter-balance China. For the U.S., this potential alignment, as seen by the recent U.S. carrier visit to Vietnam , could provide invaluable access for the U.S. and its regional Partners and Allies to hedge against China’s regional hegemonic aspirations.

24 April 2018

Drones Level the Battlefield for Extremists

By Alexander Harper

In early 2016, I contributed to an Armament Research Services (ARES) report on the use of commercially available drones by non-state actors in contemporary conflicts, including in Syria, Iraq, and Ukraine. We predicted that the use of commercial drones, which up until that point had been used for reconnaissance purposes predominantly, would soon be regularly weaponised. As recent events in Syria have shown, weaponised commercial drones are now a regular feature in a range of conflicts, notably involving non-state actors. Drone use by non-state actors in the Middle East is not a new phenomenon. Libyan rebels spent more than US$100,000 buying a drone in 2011 to aid their fight against forces loyal to Gaddafi. Hezbollah has been operating Iranian-built drones against Israel for years, but these have been predominantly military-grade models and thus fairly sophisticated.

23 April 2018

ISIS and the Continuing Threat of Islamist Jihad: The Need for the Centrality of PSYOP

By Kimbra L. Fishel

The National Security Strategy of the United States (NSS) calls for direct military action against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the disruption of terror plots, the destruction of terrorist safe havens and sources of finance, a shared responsibility with allies in confronting the threat and combating radicalization to counter ISIS ideology. The Trump Administration’s NSS accurately identifies the ISIS end goal as creation of the global Islamic caliphate and notes its totalitarian vision. This strategy further acknowledges the threat posed by ISIS will remain after its territorial defeat in Iraq and Syria. 

21 April 2018


John C. Hale

Operationalizing the Decisive Point: Operation OQAB “Eagle” – Combined and Unified Action “The fight against the guerrilla must be organized methodically and conducted with unremitting patience and resolution. Except for the rare exception, it will never achieve spectacular results, so dear to laurel seeking military leaders.” -- Roger Trinquier. Modern Warfare—a French View of Counterinsurgency. 1964.[i]  Trinquier accurately assessed that a deliberate and methodical process must be conducted, to defeat an insurgency that does not present a single decisive battle that turns the tide of war. The development of a methodical campaign plan for Counter-insurgency (COIN) requires planners to use a new method of thinking in the way they approach their mission. Campaign Design for COIN incorporates many non-traditional aspects to planning that many have practiced in the field yet have not be codified into doctrine until recently.

9 April 2018

China’s Campaign Against Uighur Diaspora Ramps Up


People hold placards and flags during a demonstration of France's exiled Uyghur community on July 4, 2010 in Paris. Mahmut, a Uighur living in a Scandinavian country, describes 2017 as the “saddest” year for his family. Born to secular Muslim parents, Mahmut, who asked to be identified by a pseudonym, says his family’s troubles began in late 2016 when the Chinese government pressured a cousin and his wife to return to China’s far western region of Xinjiang from Egypt.

ISIS 2.0 Is Really Just the Original ISIS

Nearly four months after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that the Islamic State had been militarily defeated, the group has rapidly transformed back into a terrorist network and shows no sign of ending its campaign of attacks across northern Iraq. “ISIS’s proto-state no longer exists. Their flag doesn’t fly over Iraqi territory,” says Fareed Yasseen, the Iraqi ambassador to the United States. “But that doesn’t mean they’ve disappeared. They are reverting to old tactics used by al Qaeda before 2014.”

8 April 2018

Taking All the Wrong Steps in Syria, Iraq, and the Fight Against Terrorism

By Anthony Cordesman

There is a case for limiting the U.S. role in Syria. The U.S. has no reason to provide aid to Assad in rebuilding his power in Syria, and no reason not to place the full burden on funding the Assad regime on Iran and Russia. That kind of pressure could be a key part of actually forming some kind of U.S. strategy for dealing with the large portions of Syria that now are back under the control of a failed dictator. A unilateral sudden U.S. military withdrawal from the other parts of Syria, however, is a very different story – as General Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. forces in the Central Region has made clear. A sudden withdrawal deprives us of diplomatic leverage, abandons the last vestiges of moderate Arab forces in Syria, and exposes the Kurdish forces that did much to defeat ISIS to defeat by Assad and Turkey. It will fundamentally undermine the already fading trust of our other Arab strategic partners, be seen as a major defeat of the U.S. by Russia and Iran, and as a further opening to intervention by an increasingly authoritarian Turkey in the Arab world.

Al Qaeda’s Struggling Campaign in Syria Past, Present, and Future

With President Donald Trump threatening to pull out of Syria, the Bashar al-Assad regime ramping up its military campaign against rebels, and the Islamic State in decline, al Qaeda has attempted to resurge and reposition itself at the center of global Salafi-jihadist activity. Syria has been perhaps its most important prize. For some, al Qaeda’s cunning and concerted efforts in Syria and other countries highlight the group’s resilience and indicate its potential to resurge and rejuvenate.

An Old Marine’s First Ten Thoughts on Combat

By Lieutenant General Paul K. Van Riper, USMC (ret) 

Pray before every battle, pray during the battle, and pray after the battle. I never prayed harder or more earnestly than I did in combat nor did I find anything more comforting. Fear is the same every time you come under enemy fire. You may become accustomed to the responses you make, but not the gut-wrenching feeling. You can conquer fear in the sense that you are able to function effectively, however, it will always be with you. There are two extremes in a unit’s first fight—“trigger happiness” and over caution. If the first fight is at night the problem is even greater. This is something you simply need to be aware of and to educate your Marines about to reduce the negative impact. Generally, the problem is self-correcting in subsequent engagements. 

6 April 2018

Countering Illicit Funding of Terrorism: A Congressional Approach

Criminal and terrorist networks are exploiting today’s innovative technologies for their own gain, posing a direct threat to U.S. security and global stability. Illicit terrorist financing, including through bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, are now being used to fund terrorist groups and circumvent U.S. sanctions. ISIS and rogue nation-states like North Korea, and regional powers like Iran and Russia, sanctioned for their role in conflicts, may also look to illicit financing in order to exploit the international financial system.