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  • Author: Aisha Ahmad
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In recent years, jihadists across the world have transformed their gendered violence, shocking the world by breaking from prior taboos and even celebrating abuses that they had previously prohibited. This behavior is surprising because jihadists represent a class of insurgents that are deeply bound by rules and norms. For jihadists, deviating from established Islamist doctrines is no easy feat. What then explains these sudden transformations in the rules and norms governing jihadist violence? An inductive investigation of contemporary jihadist violence in Pakistan and Nigeria reveals a new theory of jihadist normative evolution. Data from these cases show that dramatic changes in jihadist violence occur when an external trigger creates an expanded political space for jihadist entrepreneurs to do away with normative constraints on socially prohibited types of violence. As these jihadist leaders capitalize on the triggers, they are able to encourage a re-socialization process within their ranks, resulting in the erosion of previously held taboos, the adoption of proscribed behaviors, and the emergence of toxic new norms.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Gender Issues, Islam, Terrorism, Women, Gender Based Violence
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Middle East, West Asia
  • Author: Seth G. Jones
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In 2001 approximately 100 Central Intelligence Agency officers, 350 U.S. Special Forces soldiers, and 15,000 Afghans overthrew the Taliban regime in less than three months while suffering only a dozen U.S. fatalities. They were supported by as many as 100 U.S. combat sorties per day. Some individuals involved in the operation argued that it revitalized the American way of war. This initial success, however, transitioned into an insurgency, as the Taliban and other insurgent groups began a sustained effort to overthrow the Afghan government. The fighting, which began in 2002, had developed into a full-blown insurgency by 2006. During this period, the number of insurgent-initiated attacks rose by 400 percent, and the number of deaths from these attacks by more than 800 percent. The increase in violence was particularly acute between 2005 and 2006, when the number of suicide attacks quintupled from 27 to 139; remotely detonated bombings more than doubled from 783 to 1,677; and armed attacks nearly tripled from 1,558 to 4,542. Insurgent-initiated attacks rose another 27 percent between 2006 and 2007. The result was a lack of security for Afghans and foreigners.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Asia, Taliban
  • Author: Thomas H. Johnson, M. Chris Mason
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: By 1932, British troops had been waging war of varying intensity with a group of intractable tribes along and beyond the northwestern frontier of India for nearly a century. That year, in summarizing a typical skirmish, one British veteran noted laconically, “Probably no sign till the burst of fire, and then the swift rush with knives, the stripping of the dead, and the unhurried mutilation of the infidels.” It was a savage, cruel, and peculiar kind of mountain warfare, frequently driven by religious zealotry on the tribal side, and it was singularly unforgiving of tactical error, momentary inattention, or cultural ignorance. It still is. The Pakistan- Afghanistan border region has experienced turbulence for centuries. Today a portion of it constitutes a significant threat to U.S. national security interests. The unique underlying factors that create this threat are little understood by most policymakers in Washington.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Washington, Asia