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  • Author: Flavia Eichmann
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Public and International Affairs (JPIA)
  • Institution: School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
  • Abstract: This article explores what impact terrorist blacklists have on negotiated solutions to armed conflicts involving listed non-state armed groups. Even though conflicts that involve non-state armed groups do not usually end through these groups’ military defeat, governments around the globe tend to adopt hard-security approaches with regard to inner-state conflicts. Especially when groups resort to terrorist tactics, governments tend to be reluctant to engage peacefully with these actors and instead commonly rely on terrorist blacklists in order to delegitimize and restrict groups’ activities. While these blacklists are effective in criminalizing the operations of these groups, they can also severely impede peaceful dialogue and thus negatively impact the resolution of conflicts. Especially the work of NGOs and third-party peace practitioners is greatly constrained by criminalizing any form of interaction with listed groups. Additionally, in the absence of a universal definition of what constitutes a terrorist group, lists vary from country to country and the criteria for groups and individuals to get listed are often extremely vague. Furthermore, most lists fail to re-evaluate the proscribed groups on a regular basis and delisting procedures lack transparency. This article finds that blacklists severely disincentivize peaceful engagement with non-state armed groups and thus calls for a revision of contemporary proscription regimes in order to shift the focus of counterterrorism approaches towards viewing peaceful dialogue as a first option and not a last resort.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Terrorism, Non State Actors, Violent Extremism, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Blyth Crawford, Florence Keen, Raffaello Pantucci, Colin P. Clarke, Lorenzo Vidino, Jon Lewis, Andrew Mines, Christopher Anzalone
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Far-right terror is going global, propelled to a significant degree by an online ecosystem of extremists posting in English. Since 2018, attackers have targeted synagogues in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the towns of Poway, California, and Halle, Germany; mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand; and a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. In this month’s feature article, Blyth Crawford and Florence Keen examine the February 19, 2020, far-right terrorist attack that targeted shisha bar customers in the German town of Hanau and led to the death of nine victims. They write that the influences on the deceased Hanau attacker Tobias Rathjen were “a combination of traditional far-right, race-based, and anti-immigration narratives, alongside several more obscure conspiracy theories.” They argue that a common denominator between the Hanau attack and the aforementioned attacks in the United States, New Zealand, and Germany “is the perpetrators’ shared adherence to the ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy narrative … which perceives the cultural and biological integrity of the white race to be endangered by increased levels of (non-white) immigration and the stagnation of white birth rates.” In our ongoing “A View from the CT Foxhole” series, Raffaello Pantucci interviews Jonathan Evans, who served as the Director General of the U.K. Security Service MI5 between 2007 and 2013. Colin Clarke examines the issues raised by the December 6, 2019, terrorist attack by the Saudi Air Force Officer Mohammed Alshamrani, which killed three U.S. Navy sailors at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. He writes, “In early February 2020, al-Qa`ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the attack. It is not clear yet whether the group had a direct role in the attack, but if it did, it would make the shooting the first deadly terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11 directed by a foreign terrorist organization.” By analyzing “all related-court cases since 2013,” Lorenzo Vidino, Jon Lewis, and Andrew Mines find that “save for a few exceptions, the vast majority of U.S.-based Islamic State supporters left a remarkably small financial footprint. Most, in fact, simply relied on personal savings to pay the small costs required for their activities.” Christopher Anzalone examines al-Shabaab’s PSYOPS (psychological operations) messaging, which he argues “takes advantage of the lack of transparency in certain instances from its opponents, including some governments, and the demand by the international news media for details from on the ground, with the group framing itself as a reliable source of on-the-ground information.”
  • Topic: Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Media, Islamic State, Violence, Far Right, Al Shabaab
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Daniel Milton, Muhammad Al-'Ubaydi, Michael Brian Jenkins, Mohammed Hafez
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: In the September issue, it is revealed for the first time that the Islamic State’s new leader, publicly identified by the U.S. government as Amir Muhammad Sa’id ‘Abd-al-Rahman al-Mawla, was detained by U.S. forces in Iraq in 2008 and interrogated. The Combating Terrorism Center has made available on its website three of his declassified interrogation reports, and these are analyzed in a feature article by Daniel Milton and Muhammad al-`Ubaydi, who caution that claims made by al-Mawla while in custody are very difficult to verify. Based on their assessment of the three documents and their research, they conclude that “key assumptions about al-Mawla, notably his Turkmen ethnicity and early involvement in the insurgency in Iraq, may not be accurate. Moreover, statements made by al-Mawla, while doubtless trying to minimize his own commitment to ISI [the Islamic State of Iraq], suggest that his commitment may have been borne less of zeal than of serendipity. If true, this would suggest that something certainly changed in al-Mawla, as his later reputation suggests someone who ruthlessly pursued his ideology, even to carrying out genocide against its enemies. The TIRs [tactical interrogation reports] also show that al-Mawla, who, according to the timeline that he himself provided, appears to have quickly risen in the organization’s ranks in part because of his religious training, knew much about ISI and was willing to divulge many of these details during his interrogation, potentially implicating and resulting in the death of at least one high-ranking ISI figure.” The Combating Terrorism Center convened a panel of leading scholars and analysts to further discuss the three documents. Cole Bunzel, Haroro Ingram, Gina Ligon, and Craig Whiteside provided their takeaways, including on whether the revelations may hurt al-Mawla’s standing within the group. In the other cover article, Brian Michael Jenkins considers the future role of the U.S. armed forces in counterterrorism, in a sweeping examination of the changing strategic, budgetary and threat environment. He writes: “Dividing the military into near-peer warfare and counterterrorism camps makes little sense. Future wars will require U.S. commanders to orchestrate capabilities to counter an array of conventional and unconventional modes of conflict, including terrorism.” Finally, as the global civil war between the Islamic State and al-Qa`ida intensifies, Mohammed Hafez outlines how a recent ‘documentary’ released by the Islamic State’s Yemeni branch has made clearer than ever before the areas of disagreement between the groups.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Armed Forces, Counter-terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Populism, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Raffaello Pantucci, Abdul Basit, Kyler Ong, Nur Aziemah Azman, V. Arianti, Muh Taufiqurrohman
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has redefined almost all spheres of modern life. While states around the world are redeploying their financial resources, energies and military capabilities to cope with the challenge of the coronavirus, terrorist groups across the ideological spectrum have positioned themselves to exploit the gaps created by these policy re-adjustments. Terrorist groups are milking people’s fears amid confusion and uncertainty to promote their extremist propagandas. The rearrangement of global imperatives will push counter-terrorism and extremism down the priority list of the international community. Anticipating these policy changes, existing counter-terrorism frameworks and alliances should be revisited to devise cost-effective and innovative strategies to ensure continuity of the fight against terrorist groups. With these considerations in mind, this special issue of the Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses (CTTA) features four articles that identify and assess important security risks around COVID-19, given its far-reaching social, economic and geopolitical impact. In the first article, Raffaello Pantucci reasons that COVID-19 will have a deep-seated and prolonged impact across government activity, both in terms of the categorisation of risks, as well as the resources available to tackle other issues. Perceptions of risk around terrorist threats may shift, with states grappling with stark economic, social and political challenges. At the same time, security threats continue to evolve, and may even worsen. According to the author, some of the tools developed to deal with the pandemic can potentially be useful in tracking terrorist threats. However, resource constraints will require states, on a global scale, to think far more dynamically about how to adequately buffer much-needed security blankets both within and beyond their borders. In the second article, Abdul Basit outlines the opportunities and potential implications that COVID-19 has created for terrorist groups across the ideological divide. According to the author, terrorist groups have exploited the virus outbreak to spread racial hatred, doomsday and end-of-times narratives. Among jihadist groups, IS has taken a more totalitarian view of the coronavirus pandemic, while Al-Qaeda (AQ) and the Taliban have used it as a PR exercise to gain political legitimacy. Far-right groups in the West have spun it to promote native nationalism, border restoration and anti-immigration policies. Terrorist groups have increased their social media propaganda to radicalise and recruit vulnerable individuals. At the same time, these groups have urged their supporters to carry out lone-wolf attacks and use the coronavirus as a bioweapon. In the post-COVID-19 world, revisiting existing counter-terrorism frameworks to devise more adaptable and cost-effective strategies would be needed to continue the fight against terrorism. In the next article, V. Arianti and Muh Taufiqurrohman observe that the COVID-19 outbreak has had a varied impact on Indonesia’s security landscape. On the one hand, it has emboldened IS-affiliated Indonesian militant groups to step up calls for attacks, with the government seen as weakened amidst a worsening domestic health crisis. On the other, ongoing indoctrination and recruitment activities of militant groups have also faced disruptions. According to the authors, counter-terrorism strategies will need to be reoriented as circumstances evolve, particularly in dealing with the arrest of militants and the subsequent processes of their prosecution and incarceration. Finally, Kyler Ong and Nur Aziemah Azman examine the calls to action by far-right extremists and the Islamic State (IS), which reveals varying degrees of organisational coherence in the respective movements. According to the authors, such variations influence these two groups’ preferred techniques, tactics and procedures adopted in seeking to exploit the health crisis. For its part, IS has a more organised hierarchical structure, even if it has increasingly granted autonomy to its affiliates to plan and execute attacks. In comparison, the absence of a central authority, or command structure in the far-right, can lead to a fragmentation of interests. These factors invariably create uncertainties in how, when and where extremists of both ilk may seek to operationalise an attack.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Health, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Andrew Hankins
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Conflict Trends
  • Institution: The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD)
  • Abstract: Whilst the number of insurgencies has steadily increased since the end of the 1990s, today they constitute the majority of all globally monitored conflicts.1 Insurgencies, defined as “organized subversion and violence to seize, nullify, or challenge political control of a region”2 have consequently become a key focus for conflict analysts, with counter-insurgency (COIN) operations now a central tenant within the education of modern professional armed forces.3 COIN itself consists of a “combination of measures undertaken by a government, sometimes with […] multinational partner support, to defeat an insurgency”.4 These missions have been primarily conducted by Western forces, which this article defines as those belonging to the European Union, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom or the United States of America – as not only are these states in line with what is traditionally considered Western society, but are well documented as leaders of Western COIN operations.5 However, non-Western COIN operations now constitute the majority of global COIN operations. One such example is the ongoing operation against the Islamist group known as Boko Haram, in the Lake Chad Basin.6 Despite the fact that Boko Haram continues to operate today, between 2011 and 2019 the Nigerian Joint Task Force (NJTF), as part of the Lake Chad Basin Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), successfully reduced both the ability and reach of Boko Haram. This was achieved by adopting the widely accepted best practices of COIN: a regional focus, a political strategy and a population-centric security focus.7 This article explores each of these strategies, analysing them through a theoretical lens, before outlining the mission’s shortcomings and finally considering the lessons that can be learnt and contrasting them with Western COIN missions in Afghanistan, Vietnam and Kenya.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Military Strategy, Insurgency, Counterinsurgency, Boko Haram
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Halil Peçe
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Novus Orbis: Journal of Politics & International Relations
  • Institution: Department of International Relations, Karadeniz Technical University
  • Abstract: In recent years, with the globalising world, countries are trying to obtain too many military equipment such as nuclear weapons, continental rockets, and high-tech armours. On the other hand, every service is becoming more private which used to belong to the government in history. After the cold war era, security details such as border security, presidential protection, abroad activities, intelligence, and security strategy are provided by private organisations. This study tries to explain what is ‘cold war? , what is a private military company? What is the change for the private military industry after cold war?’ | Küreselleşme nedeniyle artık bir yerel sorundan bahsetmek zor olmaktadır. Bunun yanında, teknolojik gelişmeler erişim kolaylığı ve sosyal medya gibi yeni imkânlar sunmaktadır. Bütün bunlar göz önüne alındığında, terörist gruplar daha önce görülmemiş bir kolaylıkla propaganda yapıp, takipçilerini yönlendirebilmektedirler. 11 Eylül saldırılarından bu yana, terörizm tartışmaları ve çalışmaları üzerine yoğunlaşma devam etmektedir. Terörizme karşı tek taraflı çabalar meşruiyet eksikliği ve meselelere çözüm bağlamında uzlaşma olmaması dolayısıyla küresel yönetişimi daha karmaşık hale getirmektedir. Güncel küresel meselelerin daha iyi anlaşılabilmesi adına terör ve sınır aşırı organize suçların etraflıca analiz edilmesi gerekmektedir. Oluşabilecek otorite boşluklarına çözüm üretme adına uluslararası örgütler harekete geçmek zorundadır. Aksi halde, yeni terörist örgütlerin tartışmalı bölgelerden ortaya çıkacak ve sınır aşırı organize suçlar dolayısıyla elde edilen gelirlerin bu örgütlerin eylemlerini finanse edecektir. Her ne kadar Birleşmiş Milletlerin küresel problemlere çözüm üretmesi gereken kurum olduğu düşünülse de, BM organlarının terörizm ve sınır aşan suçlar özelinde etkili olduğunu söylemek zor olacaktır. Bunun ötesinde, terörizm tanımının ne olduğu noktasında netliğin olmaması, egemen devletlere çıkarlarına göre bir terörizm tanımı yapmalarına imkân sağlamaktadır. Genellikle devletler çözümün parçası olmak yerine problemin bir parçası olma eğilimindedirler. Böylece, küresel yönetişim çatışmaların çözüme kavuşması noktasında ciddi zorluklarla karşılaşmaktadır. Bu çalışma bu zorluklar üzerine odaklanmaktadır.
  • Topic: Terrorism, United Nations, Governance, Transnational Actors, 9/11
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Bryant Neal Viñas, Mitchell D. Silber, Brian Dodwell, Paul Cruickshank, Michael Knights, Audrey Alexander, Rebecca Turkington, Derek Henry Flood
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Seventeen years after 9/11, the threat posed by jihadi terrorist groups is in a state of flux. The demise of the Islamic State’s territorial ‘caliphate’ has demoralized some of its supporters and eroded some of the group’s ability to direct attacks in the West. But the Islamic State still has a large sympathizer base, a significant presence in Syria and Iraq, and dangerous nodes in other parts of the world. Meanwhile, al-Qa`ida and its network of affiliates and allies have grown in strength in some regions and could pivot back to international terror. Worryingly, both groups in the years to come may be able to draw on an ‘officer class’ of surviving foreign fighters who forged personal bonds in Syria and Iraq. In our cover article, Bryant Neal Viñas, the first American to be recruited into al-Qa`ida after 9/11, writes about his experiences for the first time in the hope that his case study sheds light on the foreign fighter issue. Viñas was convicted for his actions and recently completed his prison sentence. His article is co-authored by Mitchell Silber, who supervised analysis and investigation of his case at the NYPD Intelligence Division. During his time in the Afghan-Pakistan border region between 2007 and 2008, Viñas came into contact with a variety of jihadi groups, was trained by al-Qa`ida, and spent time with several of the group’s most senior figures. After his arrest, Viñas immediately started cooperating with U.S. authorities and contributed significantly to the near destruction of al-Qa`ida in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Our interview this month is with Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Drawing on extensive field reporting, Michael Knights documents how Houthi forces in Yemen metamorphosed in just five years from guerrilla war fighters into a powerful military entity capable of deploying medium-range ballistic missiles. His article provides a case study of how an ambitious militant group can capture and use a state’s arsenals and benefit from Iran’s support. Audrey Alexander and Rebecca Turkington find mounting evidence that women engaged in terrorism-related activity receive more lenient treatment by the criminal justice system than their male counterparts. Derek Flood reports on how the Islamic State’s cave and tunnel complexes in the Hamrin Mountains are helping it sustain insurgent attacks in northern Iraq.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Terrorism, War, Counter-terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Borders, 9/11, Houthis, Foreign Fighters
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Yemen, Global Focus
  • Author: Amichai Magen
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Democracy
  • Institution: National Endowment for Democracy
  • Abstract: Global rates of terrorism have skyrocketed since 9/11, yet the aggregate increase tells us very little about the distribution of attacks across different regime types. Contrary to the traditional scholarly view and popular perceptions in the West, reasonably high-quality democracies enjoy a robust and growing “triple democracy advantage” in facing the scourge of post-9/11 terrorism. Not only are liberal democracies and polyarchies less prone to terrorist attacks than all other regime types, but the rate of increase in the number of attacks among these democracies is substantially lower in comparison to other regime types, and they are significantly better at minimizing casualties.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, War on Terror
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Rodrigo Szuecs Oliveira, Carlos Canedo Augusto de Silva
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: AUSTRAL: Brazilian Journal of Strategy International Relations
  • Institution: Postgraduate Program in International Strategic Studies, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul
  • Abstract: The White House legal approach to the War on Terror has been one of the most discussed and least understood topics of international law according to legal counselors of the American government themselves. Despite several speeches and official notes on the subject, the issue remains complex because it involves constitutional rights, human rights and national security. This paper analyzes the War on Terror focusing specifically on the self-defense institute in the world risk society. This means that in order to understand how terrorism is threatening the international order, it is necessary to verify the conceptual changes that determine the self-defense institute and the results of this mutation.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, National Security, Terrorism, War on Terror
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Hana Jalloul Muro
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on International Security Studies (RESI)
  • Institution: International Security Studies Group (GESI) at the University of Granada
  • Abstract: Avoiding violent radicalization is one of the great debates and challenges that we find today in Western societies. Although not all radicalization must be linked directly to violence or terrorism, we must prevent a priori radicalization so that it does not lead to the aforementioned processes. In the same way, the implementation of adequate and effective measures to deal with de-radicalization processes is something very necessary. The knowledge of the terminology is of vital importance to understand the meaning, development and reality of the terms presented in this publication, in order to prevent its political manipulation by state and non-state actors.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Terrorism, Radicalization, Ideology, Violence, Islamism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus