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  • Author: Amira Jadoon
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: In the years following its official formation in January 2015, the Islamic State Khorasan (ISK) has conducted some of the most devastating attacks in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, persisting in the face of U.S. airstrikes, Pakistani military operations, and clashes with the Afghan Taliban. But what exactly is ISK? What are the broader contours of ISK’s lethality, targets, and tactics in Afghanistan and Pakistan? More broadly, what explains ISK’s demonstrated ability to survive and thrive in the AfPak region, and what do its operational trends and alliances collectively tell us about its future trajectory?
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Daniel Milton
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Over the past five years, there has been a significant amount of discussion on the propaganda created and disseminated by the Islamic State. This discourse, which mainly relies on what the group creates for external publication, has been unable to answer questions regarding the structure, policies, and management of the group’s media arm. This Combating Terrorism Center report draws on 13 internal documents that discuss the Islamic State’s media organization in great detail. These documents, obtained by the Department of Defense from Afghanistan, provide an insightful look at how the Islamic State managed its media network. More specifically, this report utilizes these documents to (1) demonstrate that Amaq News Agency is an official node of the Islamic State’s media organization, (2) show the level of detail and direction given to the creation of a wide range of products, (3) illustrate the way the Islamic State’s Diwan of Central Media used policies and programs to centralize control over the propaganda production process, and (4) outline the importance the media organization placed on information security.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Daniel Milton
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Since the summer of 2014, the Islamic State has experienced successes and setbacks on the battlefield. That pattern has also been evident in its production of propaganda. In October 2016, the Combating Terrorism Center published a major report that examined the Islamic State’s production of official visual propaganda, such as still-images photo reports as well as the more familiar videos showing both the group’s brutality as well as its efforts to govern. This update to that major report, which relies on a dataset of over 13,000 propaganda releases, seeks to highlight the setbacks the group has faced as its production of propaganda has continued to rise and fall. As shown through the data in this report, in July 2018, the group’s production of official visual propaganda fell to its lowest level since January 2015. Focusing only on the decline of the group’s production of propaganda, however, obscures other developments that portend the possibility of the group’s resurgence in Iraq and Syria, as well as the expansion of its efforts around the world. In examining these trends, this report finds a group that is struggling to produce propaganda as it used to do only a short time ago, but one that retains the capacity to resurge in an effort to recapture the headlines.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jacob Zenn
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: In a conflict that has no easy answers and no solutions in sight, Boko Haram is already and will remain one of Africa’s enduring insurgencies. In order to better understand Boko Haram now and in the future, this report, edited by Jacob Zenn, challenges some key misconceptions about the insurgency and provides new analyses and insights based on many exclusive primary source materials and datasets. To provide these unique insights, several authors with on-the-ground experience contribute to six areas that are increasingly important but under-researched about Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jason Warner, Ellen Chapin
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Al-Shabaab, an Islamist terrorist group that has been plaguing Somalia since 2006, was named the most deadly terror group in Africa in 2017 by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED). One tactic that al-Shabaab uses in its reign of terror is suicide bombing. Despite recognition of the seriousness of the threat that al-Shabaab’s suicide bombers pose, very little is known about how, when, and why al-Shabaab elects to employ the tactic of suicide bombings. This report answers these questions.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus