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  • Author: Martha Crenshaw
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The 2011 civil war in Syria attracted thousands of fighters from at least seventy countries to join the Islamic State. Al-Shabaab carried out large-scale attacks on civilian targets in Uganda and Kenya as retribution for the deployment of peacekeeping forces in Somalia. In this report, Martha Crenshaw considers the extent to which civil war and foreign military intervention function as a rationale for transnational terrorism, and how understanding the connections between terrorism, civil war, and weak governance can help the United States and its allies mount an appropriate response.
  • Topic: Terrorism, War, Non State Actors, Islamic State, Transnational Actors, Peace, Al-Shabaab
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Kenya, Africa, Middle East, Syria, Somalia, United States of America
  • Author: Maja Touzari Greenwood
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The broad definition of the term ‘foreign fighter’ causes operational problems for risk assessments. It is therefore important for security officials to identify significant variations by classifying actors into major categories. RECOMMENDATIONS ■When assessing the risk of continued security threats from foreign fighters, it is crucial to distinguish strategically between foreign fighters who join local rebel groups and those who join globalist groups. ■Ways should be provided for foreign fighters who have joined local rebel groups to ‘opt out’ and return home after the end of fighting in order to discourage them from becoming globalist foreign fighters and to stem potential flows of foreign fighters to new theatres of conflict.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Terrorism, Fragile States
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Franziska Praxl-Tabuchi
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Fourth Freedom Forum
  • Abstract: History offers plenty of examples of female involvement in political violence, but a certain fascination and disbelief continue to surround female violent extremists because women are often still viewed as homemakers and mothers, surprising society by the number of young girls and women joining the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. This policy brief explores the drivers of radicalization to and engagement in violent extremism and the factors of disengagement and desistance among women and girls by examining cases of individuals that went through the United Kingdom’s Channel program. Channel cases were chosen for this analysis because it is one of the longest running (since 2007) and most documented early intervention programs developed specifically to prevent engagement with terrorism and violent extremism. It aims to enhance understanding of gender-sensitive interventions that address the specific needs of women and girls. Recommendations include the focus on mechanisms for women and men to claim their rights and have their grievances heard while ensuring accountability mechanisms are in place and the need to more effectively combine online and offline preventing and countering violent extremism actions.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, Women, Radicalization, Internet, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Middle East
  • Author: Tracey Durner, Danielle Cotter
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Fourth Freedom Forum
  • Abstract: Within the realm of policy discussions, anti–money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) efforts are generally treated as a package deal. From a policymaking standpoint, the combination makes sense. There is a convergence between the types of information and stakeholders relevant to money laundering and terrorism financing, and after the September 11, 2001 attacks it was expedient to add CFT to existing AML frameworks. Yet in practice, critics have argued this “marriage” places undue burden on the private sector and resulted in ineffective and even harmful outcomes. This brief examines where and how AML frameworks are fit for purpose relative to CFT and considers where additional CFT-specific efforts are necessary. It begins with a brief summary of the evolution of money laundering and terrorism financing policies, discussing the unification of the two fields and the key differences between the motivations and typologies of money laundering and terrorism financing crimes. Against that backdrop, it explores the four objectives of CFT efforts (prevent, detect, freeze, and trace) to identify areas where existing unified AML/CFT frameworks are working and areas where more nuance is required to effectively combat threats specific to terrorism financing. Although particular attention is given to the United States and United Kingdom as international financial centers, similar approaches and convergences between AML and CFT policies and practices occur worldwide. The brief concludes with recommendations on how current CFT policy discourse and evolution can meaningfully support broader counterterrorism objectives.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Finance, Financial Crimes
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Asiedu
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: This paper attempts to capture the African Union’s attitude towards terrorism in a relatively lesser extent to the activities of Boko Haram. In so doing, a brief background is coined together with this introductory section. This is followed by sub-sections which shall explore the following, Boko Haram’s territorial capture, Boko Haram’s status as a terrorist group and what encompasses terrorism. Subsequently, AU’s evolving attitude towards terrorism will be traced in addition to how it has set its agenda against terrorism. The AU’s counter-terrorism activities in the context of Boko Haram will be assessed with its role in the prevention and combat of terrorism in Africa analyzed. The AU’s challenges as far as terrorism is concerned will also be highlighted with suggestions on possible alternatives as well as concluding thoughts.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Boko Haram, African Union
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Sarah Kenny
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Women In International Security (WIIS)
  • Abstract: The alt-right, an expression of far-right violent extremism, presents a security risk to citizens in the United States and around the world. As globalization, mass immigration, and multiculturalism flourish, various collectives of fearful individuals and populist politicians will continue to embrace ethnonationalist worldviews and employ violent means to enforce them. To combat this security risk, it is essential to acknowledge that women make significant contributions to the altright and violent extremism. Women can no longer be misrepresented and excluded from efforts to prevent and counter this form of violent extremism. Exclusion has proven both disingenuous and dangerous along the road to realizing a comprehensive threat analysis and strategy.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Terrorism, Women, Domestic politics, Gender Based Violence , Far Right
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Adel Bakawan
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Iraqi Kurdistan, previously known as a secure and stable region amidst the chaotic and shaken Middle East, was struck by a wave of attacks in 2016. Between September and December of that year, there were five recorded terrorist operations led by 249 Kurdish jihadists rallied by the Islamic State (ISIS) or Daesh, of which 47 were killed and 43 were arrested by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). In fact, Iraqi Kurdistan, with a population of five million inhabitants, has supplied ISIS with 2,000 jihadists. Since the launch of the Mosul offensive on 17th October 2016, Kurdistan has been preparing itself, like many other countries in the region and a number of European countries, to face its worst nightmare: the Kurdish jihadists’ return to the country. Although a series of threats weigh upon the leaders of the KRG, such as social and economic crises, political division between rival parties; Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the prospect of a new civil war, and the intervention of neighbouring countries – the return of the Kurds of Daesh is currently the most troublesome.
  • Topic: Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Hamoon Khelghat-Doost
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Women In International Security (WIIS)
  • Abstract: Many scholarly works on women in jihadi organizations emphasize women’s lack of agency. Authors of these works argue women have fallen victim to these male-dominated organizations and thus have lost control over their actions. However, certain groups of women in some jihadi organizations—for example, Islamic State (or IS), Jaish al-Fatah, and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham—enjoy a degree of agency within the scope of their duties. This policy brief examines the extent to which women in jihadi organizations have agency—that is, to which extent they are able to make independent decisions. Understanding the conditions under which women have agency, allows policymakers to recognize the diversity of roles and contributions of women within jihadi organizations and design appropriate policy responses.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Islam, Terrorism, Women, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, Jeannette Gaudry
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Women In International Security (WIIS)
  • Abstract: In recent years, policymakers and international actors have begun to recognize the important role of women and women’s organizations in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE). In October 2015, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2242, which linked the women, peace and security (WPS) and the P/CVE agendas and called for synergies between efforts aimed at countering violent extremism and those furthering the WPS agenda. In 2016, the US government incorporated P/CVE in its National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. The idea that women can be powerful allies in the fight against violent extremism is based primarily on two interrelated observations. First, women often function at the heart of their communities and are thus best placed to recognize early warning signs of radicalization. Effective P/CVE programs will capitalize on this. Second, a community that hopes to address extremism effectively must include the broadest possible range of perspectives in its programming. Because society, economies, and war affect them in gender-specific ways, women bring different perspectives to discussions and plans affecting security. That said, women-centric P/CVE programming is in its infancy. An initial review of these programs points to five main problems, which are explored in this policy brief.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Terrorism, United Nations, Counter-terrorism, Women
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, Jeannette Gaudry
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Women In International Security (WIIS)
  • Abstract: As the idea that women can and should play pivotal roles in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) gains greater traction, decision makers and scholars must keep striving toward a more nuanced understanding of the historical, cultural, and gendered contexts that enable extremist movements and organizations to grow.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Gender Issues, Terrorism, Culture, Women, Violence, Political Movements
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Margriet Drent, Anne Bakker, Dick Zandee
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: The why, what & how of permanent structured cooperation The deteriorating security situation around Europe and the burgeoning messages from Washington that Europe has to take more responsibility for its own security call for a step change in European defence cooperation. So far, progress has been too slow. This policy brief argues that permanent structured cooperation (Pesco) offers the option to take a more ambitious and more productive route by member states willing to move forward more quickly, set more demanding objectives and commit themselves more strongly. This would end the well-known ‘voluntary basis’ which has often been used as an excuse for doing little or nothing at all.
  • Topic: International Relations, Terrorism, International Security, International Affairs, Political and institutional effectiveness
  • Political Geography: America, European Union
  • Author: Mathieu Duchâtel
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: International terrorism has emerged in recent years as a direct threat to Chinese nationals living overseas. As China's footprint becomes increasingly global its exposure to the risk of terror attacks has increased too. China’s approach to international terrorism is becoming militarised. This trend has the potential to accelerate if Chinese nationals are victims of new attacks overseas. Although China is an active and responsible player in the UN with clearly expressed priorities and an interest in protecting its citizens overseas, it is not taking a strong role in leading and shaping the UN’s counter-terrorism agenda. The EU should take stock of the ongoing transformation of China’s approach to explore a modest upgrade of its current policy of cautious engagement. When engaging with China the EU should make clear that an overly politicised approach will be an obstacle to cooperation, and be upfront in setting the conditions of cooperation. The EU should not underestimate what China has to offer but shouldn't make big compromises either.
  • Topic: Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Jeannette Gaudry
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Women In International Security (WIIS)
  • Abstract: The rise of groups like ISIS has galvanized the expansion of the global terrorism problem. While ISIS is hardly the first extremist organization to attract women and to use gendered tactics for recruitment, its formation and growth has paralleled the explosion of social media, bringing unprecedented attention to the problem. As scholars and policymakers attempt to develop coherent responses to the threats that groups like ISIS pose, three critical issues need to be addressed. (1) What drives individuals to join extremist groups, and are these drivers different for men or women? (2) What are common methods of recruitment, and do they differ by gender? (3) Have states and international institutions integrated gender perspectives in their responses to radicalization and extremist violence? Do these approaches empower women to resist recruitment? Without an integrated dialogue between the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and counterterrorism communities, the answers to these questions will remain incomplete and policy responses may fall short.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Women, Radicalization, Violence, Political Movements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, Michael E. Brown
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Women In International Security (WIIS)
  • Abstract: In March 2016, WIIS launched the Women, Terrorism, and Violent Extremism program. With the generous support of the Embassy of Liechtenstein in Washington, D.C., WIIS will facilitate a series of expert roundtables to explore the role of women in terrorist and violent extremist organizations, including the gendered dimensions of radicalization. These round tables will provide a forum for bringing together an international group of experts and policymakers from the counter-terrorism and Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) communities. Key takeaways and recommendations of expert roundtables will be captured and disseminated in the form of policy briefs. The first Policy Brief draws on the first roundtable discussion, held on March 20, 2016. This roundtable featured four noted experts: Ms. Sanam Anderlini, Co-founder and Executive Director of the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN); Dr. Kathleen Kuehnast, Senior Gender Advisor at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP); Dr. Paul Pillar, former official of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and now a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution; and Dr. Lorenzo Vidino, Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security.
  • Topic: Security, Gender Issues, Terrorism, Women, Radicalization, Violence, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Global Focus
  • Author: Dave Murray
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for the Study of Security and Development, Dalhousie University
  • Abstract: Despite the carnage wrought by ISIL around the world, the days appear numbered for its caliphate in Syria and Iraq. We are likely talking the shorter to medium term at most. ISIL faces intense military pressure on all fronts. It continues to lose territory and its leadership figures are being targeted and killed. Increasingly ISIL faces significant challenges in replenishing its losses due to efforts by Turkey and most nations internationally to block the flow of foreign fighters into the caliphate. As leadership figures are eliminated, internal factionalism will create serious stresses and vulnerabilities. The forces aligned against ISIL are powerful, despite conflicting agendas. Add to this reports of financial problems, including a strained ability to pay its militants, and the result is a picture of an entity on a downward trajectory. This in no way means that the caliphate or its extremist message will die easily or that we are nearing an end to the scourge of ISIL inspired terrorism – only that its ability to sustain itself territorially has limits. If one accepts the above assessment, now is the time to consider what this will mean. Now is the time for thinking and planning directed at dealing with the eventual collapse of a self-proclaimed state in which countless thousands have been radicalized, traumatized, received military and terrorists training, let alone the reality of child soldiers and intense psychological scarring caused by ISIL.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Radicalization, Islamic State, Conflict, Foreign Fighters
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Canada, Syria, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Growing numbers of Central Asian citizens, male and female, are travelling to the Middle East to fight or otherwise support the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL or ISIS). Prompted in part by political marginalisation and bleak economic prospects that characterise their post-Soviet region, 2,000-4,000 have in the past three years turned their back on their secular states to seek a radical alternative. IS beckons not only to those who seek combat experience, but also to those who envision a more devout, purposeful, fundamentalist religious life. This presents a complex problem to the governments of Central Asia. They are tempted to exploit the phenomenon to crack down on dissent. The more promising solution, however, requires addressing multiple political and administrative failures, revising discriminatory laws and policies, implementing outreach programs for both men and women and creating jobs at home for disadvantaged youths, as well as ensuring better coordination between security services.
  • Topic: Islam, Religion, Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Belquis Ahmadi
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Four decades of political instability, violent conflict, and socioeconomic crisis has had a devastating impact on Afghanistan and its citizens. As this Peace Brief explains, understanding the process of radicalization and the drivers of violent extremism is vital to designing effective counterstrategies.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Terrorism, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Selina Adam Khan
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The December 2014 terrorist attack in Peshawar that killed 132 schoolchildren forced Pakistan to acknowledge the extent of its ongoing problem with radical Islamist militancy. Islamabad, however, has yet to implement a comprehensive deradicalization strategy. In January 2015, it took a formal step in this direction with its twenty-point National Action Plan in response to the Peshawar attack—a step, but only a first step. If deradicalization is to meet with any success in Pakistan, the national narrative itself needs to change.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • Author: Querine Hanlon, Joyce Kasee
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Throughout the Maghreb and the Sahel, governments are struggling to manage a security environment fundamentally transformed by the Arab Spring. Within this region, the efforts of governments to secure their territories and civil society organizations to create accountable and transparent security institutions have proceeded almost wholly divorced from each other. This Peace Brief shares key insights from the engagement between official and civil society actors both within and across borders to address these gaps, makes the case for working regionally to address the twin challenges of security and reform, and highlights how community-security partnerships offer one approach to advancing the region’s security and reform agenda.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Islam, Terrorism, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Author: Faysal Itani
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Since August 2014, the US-led air campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has successfully inflicted casualties on ISIS and weakened its oil revenues. However, the same efforts have also accelerated the rise of the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate, and the near-collapse of nationalist rebel forces. In "Defeating the Jihadists in Syria: Competition before Confrontation," Faysal Itani of the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East details the unintended consequences of the coalition air campaign and proposes a revised US strategy. He argues that the United States can effectively assist nationalist insurgents to defeat ISIS and the Nusra Front by enabling them to compete with and contain these groups before ultimately confronting them. Itani writes that the US-led campaign thus far and the train-and-equip initiative set to begin next month undermine and weaken nationalist rebel forces. He criticizes these efforts for failing to provide sufficient support to the rebel forces, while directing them to target ISIS instead of the regime. Meanwhile, the Nusra Front and other jihadist organizations have greater resources and have been effective in targeting the Assad regime. As such, nationalist rebel forces and local populations have increasingly aligned with the Nusra Front and even tolerate ISIS in order to protect themselves against regime violence, criminality, and chaos. Itani's proposed US strategy offers a practical and workable response to the rise of jihadists groups in Syria; this revised strategy seeks to support rebel forces to compete with the Nusra Front for popular support and to take control of the insurgency, contain ISIS, and build capacity for an eventual offensive against the jihadists. This approach will build on positive results in southern Syria by significantly increasing direct financial and material support and training for vetted nationalist groups that have already shown significant success. Simultaneously, in the north the campaign can provide sufficient material support to nationalist forces while expanding coalition air strikes to target ISIS's frontlines, allowing the nationalist insurgency to defend and govern territory. Only once nationalist insurgent forces have successfully competed with the Nusra Front and contained ISIS can they confront and ultimately defeat the jihadist groups in Syria.
  • Topic: Politics, Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Syria
  • Author: Bilal Y. Saab
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: September 2015 marked the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama's speech outlining the administration's strategy to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Yet, ISIS celebrated in June its own first-year anniversary of setting up a state by conducting three nearly simultaneous terrorist operations in three different countries—France, Tunisia, and Kuwait. Just this past month, ISIS also shocked the world with its attacks in Paris and Beirut and its downing of a Russian airliner in Egypt, killing more than 400 people combined and injuring hundreds more. While nobody expected the destruction of a resilient and agile foe such as ISIS within a couple of years, it is deeply troubling that the coalition is having such a hard time even disrupting its activities.
  • Topic: Islam, Terrorism, War, Counterinsurgency, Fragile/Failed State, ISIS
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The Islamic State has been moving aggressively to exploit the chaos of Libya since last summer, with profound risks for the Mediterranean region and beyond Libya is a perfect breeding ground for an expanded Islamic State, with large amounts of heavy weaponry, systemic lawlessness, a divided population, and sustained armed conflict The group has formed three active and capable groups in Libya-in Tripoli, Fezzan, and Barqa-all of which have conducted deadly attacks in recent months The phenomenon of Islamic State affiliates-beginning in the summer of 2014, before which the group was entirely focused on Iraq and Syria-is actually in the tradition of its arch-rival al-Qaeda the presence and power of the Islamic State in Libya will likely increase as conditions in Syria and Iraq deteriorate for the group, and conditions in Libya continue to worsen.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Libya, Syria
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The Islamic State's murder of Jordanian hostage Lt Moaz al-Kasasbeh was both a message to the group's fighters that it can counter the coalition's relentless airstrikes as well as an offensive move designed to provoke a high-profile overreaction The air campaign against the Islamic State has been relentless while at the same time has receded from the headlines-a double blow to the group in that it suffers the losses but doesn't benefit from the attendant spectacle The drawn-out 'negotiations' over this past month-while the hostage was already dead-were likely intended to sow division and tension in Jordan, and draw attention to the issue as long as possible before the gruesome finale While Jordan is understandably enraged and will have to strike back, the most effective response might be an escalation that continues to kill the group's fighters away from the headlines.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Like a page out of the 2004 extremist manifesto "Management of Savagery," the Islamic State has tried to goad the international community into near-sighted reactions without long-term approaches by highlighting the barbarity of its executions of hostages This tactic has thus far failed to ignite the overreaction (outside of press reporting) of Western powers, leaving the group without an important recruitment and incitement tool The Islamic State needs consistent replenishment of fear to overcome its inherently terrible local governance, and so it depends on shocking savagery to serve as both its recruitment magnet and opposition suppression As the group encounters less and less Westerners, given the danger of their presence in the region, it will find increasingly fewer ways to incite the 'us-versus-them' battle it needs to survive.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: While the threat of an immediate escalation between Israel and Hizballah appears to have subsided after deadly tit-for-tat attacks, the trend lines suggest greater conflict ahead In an important and ominous speech on January 30, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah created, in effect, one long front against Israel that now includes Syria and the Golan Heights as well as Lebanon, increasing the potential for conflict with Israel Iran is no longer moving in the shadows but rather is openly coordinating strategy with its proxy Hizballah as the two seek to strengthen and expand 'the resistance' against Israel All parties involved have specific reasons to avoid a near-term conflict-the upcoming Israeli elections, ongoing Iranian nuclear negotiations, Hizballah's commitments in Syria-but shifting regional power dynamics will only increase the likelihood of serious fighting between them.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Armed Struggle, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The still-unresolved hostage situation involving Jordan, Japan, and the Islamic State is unlike any of the group's previous kidnappings Jordan is in a precarious position, as it seeks the release of one of its citizens-a national hero who comes from a prominent tribe-while not wanting to free one of the perpetrators of the worst terrorist attack in the country's history By demanding the release of failed suicide-bomber Sajida al-Rishawi from Jordanian custody, the Islamic State is trying to elevate itself to the status of negotiating nation-state, and weaken and embarrass a vital member of the coalition seeking its destruction In a striking difference with previous Islamic State hostage situations, current circumstances provide a chance for the group to bolster its standing in the vital Iraqi province of al-Anbar-where al-Rishawi is from-and perhaps slightly lessen tribal pressure on the group The issue is causing tensions between the Iraqi-born leadership of the Islamic State, who want to make the exchange, and a small faction of primarily Saudi fighters, who want to execute the Jordanian pilot for bombing the group.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Islam, Terrorism, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Japan, Middle East, Arab Countries, Jordan
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: • A multinational joint task force consisting of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger has driven Boko Haram from key territorial strongholds in northeastern Nigeria; on June 18, the Chadian military conducted airstrikes against six Boko Haram bases in Nigeria • But the terror group continues to launch deadly, near-daily attacks throughout the region—including on June 15 with twin suicide bombings in Chad—using guerrilla tactics rather than conventional warfare • Nigeria’s newly-inaugurated president, Muhammadu Buhari, has moved quickly to support regional counter-Boko Haram efforts, insisting on Nigerian leadership in the task force and pledging $100 million in financial support • Despite the nascent successes of the joint task force, Islamic State gains in North Africa and, in particular, Libya, could impact the flow of weapons and fighters into Nigeria; Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in March of this year.
  • Topic: Development, Islam, Terrorism, Insurgency, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Michele Flournoy, Richard Fontaine
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: In the 11 months since President Barack Obama committed the United States to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS), the group has expanded its international reach, metastasized to form offshoots across multiple regions, and increased its perceived momentum. Although U.S. government officials cite a reduction in the overall size of the group’s sanctuary in Iraq and Syria and the killing of thousands of ISIS fighters, the fall of Ramadi and much of Anbar province to the Islamic State served as a wakeup call that current efforts to counter ISIS are not adequate to the task.2 Meanwhile, the threat posed by the terrorist group to Americans at home and abroad appears to be growing as ISIS-inspired individuals conduct attacks targeting Westerners around the globe, including here in the United States.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Civil War, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: Nidaa Tounes, a party born post-Tunisian revolution, is currently experiencing internal rifts, which in turn is having an impact on the country’s secular-Islamist ruling government’s ability to move forward. This rift became especially obvious after the party’s founder and leader, Beji Caid Essebsi, won the presidency and consequently resigned as party leader according to Tunisia’s constitutional law. This position paper examines key actors and roots of the party’s rift, how this rift has impacted state institutions and future scenarios for the governing coalition.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Terrorism, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Tunisia