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  • Author: James K. Wither
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
  • Abstract: The paper analyzes the terrorism threat against western states during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and, in particular, whether the crisis has created particular vulnerabilities that terrorists could exploit both to mount attacks and attract new recruits. The paper also explores the extent to which the pandemic might make western societies more vulnerable to terrorism in the longer term. Salafi-jihadist and far-right extremists have greeted the COVID-19 crisis with enthusiasm, viewing its impact on the West as both vindicating and advancing their ideologies and objectives. However, despite the calls for attacks on social media, the pandemic’s lockdowns, increased surveillance, travel restrictions, and the heavy police and military presence on the ground have created a challenging environment for terrorist operations. The security services have been drawn directly into the campaign against the corona virus. This has diverted resources and assets away from counterterrorism duties in the short term, which might create potential opportunities for terrorists. As a result of the pandemic, governments will need to review national security priorities in the longer term. This is likely to result in a much greater emphasis on domestic and international public health issues. Counterterrorism may not retain its post 9/11 position in the hierarchy of western national security priorities.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jamille Bigio, Rachel Vogelstein
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Extremist groups rely upon women to gain strategic advantage, recruiting them as facilitators and martyrs while also benefiting from their subjugation. Yet U.S. policymakers overlook the roles that women play in violent extremism—including as perpetrators, mitigators, and victims—and rarely enlist their participation in efforts to combat radicalization. This omission puts the United States at a disadvantage in its efforts to prevent terrorism globally and within its borders. Women fuel extremists’ continued influence by advancing their ideology online and by indoctrinating their families. New technology allows for more sophisticated outreach, directly targeting messages to radicalize and recruit women. It also provides a platform on which female extremists thrive by expanding their recruitment reach and taking on greater operational roles in the virtual sphere. The failure of counterterrorist efforts to understand the ways in which women radicalize, support, and perpetrate violence cedes the benefit of their involvement to extremist groups.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Women
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Pisa
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: As the organization responsible for setting international standards on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has encouraged countries to design measures that protect the integrity of the financial system and support financial inclusion. But it has also received criticism that poor implementation of its standards can undermine financial access. One of the FATF’s main tools for compelling effective use of its standards is the mutual evaluation process, which relies on peer reviews to assess countries’ level of compliance with the FATF Recommendations. We explore whether these reviews have been conducted in a way that helps or hinders national efforts to promote financial inclusion by reviewing the 33 developing country mutual evaluations that took place between 2015-2018. Overall, these findings suggest that assessment teams have conducted mutual evaluations in a way that supports efforts to promote financial inclusion and the flexible use of simplified measures. There is, however, inconsistency in how assessors treat risks emanating from financial exclusion, which suggests the need for a more systematic approach to evaluating these risks.
  • Topic: Development, Terrorism, Finance, Financial Integrity
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lasha Giorgidze, James K. Wither
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) materials attract the attention of terrorists motivated to inflict mass casualties and create mass panic. CBRN includes a wide array of materials, some of them very difficult to acquire, although others are of a dual-use nature. Dualuse materials can be used to construct CBRN weapons, but also have licit civilian applications. Though not all CBRN weapons are weapons of mass destruction, they can still cause massive disruption and fear in a targeted society. The goal of this paper is to evaluate the potential threat from terrorists’ use of CBRN weapons. It discusses the technical opportunities and constraints of each type of weapon and presents relevant historical and contemporary examples and case studies involving terrorist use of CBRN. The paper also assesses the contemporary threat. It examines how CBRN-related information is shared via terrorist propaganda on the internet and messaging applications, why terrorists might be motivated to use CBRN materials, and the constraints on their ambitions.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, Internet, Biological Weapons , Chemical Weapons, Radiological Weapons
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: D. Chen
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, St. Andrews University, Scotland
  • Abstract: Counter-terrorism (CT) has since 9/11 become a leading component of intelligence work, alongside mainstays like political analysis and counterintelligence. The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and new dimensions like extreme right wing (XRW) threats are placing heavy demands on intelligence. This paper addresses three questions. Firstly, whether and how intelligence agencies perform CT roles that go beyond disseminating information. Secondly, whether and how intelligence agencies are involved in CT policymaking. Thirdly, how countries have adapted their intelligence architectures for CT. The research comprised four interviews with senior practitioners and academics, alongside literature surveys. The research focused on the UK, US, Germany and France. Organisational theory was used to frame the analysis as existing intelligence theories were inadequate. The findings showed that intelligence agencies do play CT roles beyond providing information. They include investigating and neutralising terrorists, negotiating hostage releases, discreetly engaging foreign countries on CT, and collaborating with the private sector to build CT capability. However, intelligence agencies are reluctant to engage in CT policymaking out of concern that they might lose credibility if their reporting is politicised or a policy they back fails. The research on intelligence architecture showed that the US’s reforms, which were the most sweeping of the countries analysed, were in response to environmental pressures post-9/11 and increased the level of bureaucracy in the intelligence community (IC). The UK’s reforms were reactive but less extensive than the US’s, while Germany’s reforms were proactively initiated and aimed at bolstering CT coordination. The research highlighted that the key environmental influences on CT intelligence work going forward include technology, resource constraints and the legal environment. Day-to-day, intelligence agencies will continue to grapple with issues like how analytical practices can be bolstered to mitigate the risk of politicisation. More research is needed to develop new theoretical frameworks on CT intelligence, update perspectives on the intelligence-policy relationship, and explore applying organisational theory to intelligence work.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Politics, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Elena Sokova
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies
  • Abstract: CNS Deputy Director Elena K. Sokova discusses risks of nuclear weapons and materials falling into wrong hands and provides an assessment of international efforts to deny terrorists and non-state actors access to these weapons and materials in her chapter in the new UNIDIR study Understanding Nuclear Risks.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, Non State Actors, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Elliot Serbin, Larry Brandt
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International Security and Cooperation
  • Abstract: A collaborative project engaging researchers from the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University and several Chinese nuclear organizations focused on the response to nuclear terrorism threats. A goal of the research was to identify prospective joint research initiatives that might reduce the global and regional dangers of such threats. Initiatives were identified in three technical areas: interdiction of smuggled nuclear and radiological materials; nuclear forensics; and countermeasures to radiological (“dirty bomb”) threats. Application of the methodologies of systems and risk analysis to the framing and initial assessment of these areas was emphasized in the project. The workshop summarized in this report brought together the analysis work from this project and related efforts by both Chinese and U.S. analysts.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, War on Terror
  • Political Geography: China, Global Focus
  • Author: Amanda Pearson
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: It’s an argument we’ve heard before: governments should not negotiate with terrorist organizations that engage in violent activity. This idea is pervasive throughout the academic and policy worlds, but what about public opinion? Do citizens think the government should shun social movements that adopt extreme tactics often associated with terrorist organizations? Social protest takes various forms, and organized social movements have various intentions—from benign disruption to purposeful violence. In their forthcoming paper for Comparative Political Studies, Connor Huff and Dominika Kruszewska look at how the tactical choices of social movements affect public opinion about whether or not—and to what degree—governments should negotiate with social movements.1 In research involving 2,000 Polish citizens, Huff and Kruszewska document what many already believe: people were approximately 30% less likely to support government negotiations with organizations that use bombs compared with occupations. “Our results show that public support decreases for both separatist organizations and social movements that adopt bombing as a tactic when compared against occupations and demonstrations,” they write. The researchers find mixed support for whether respondents think organizations that use bombings should receive fewer concessions once negotiations begin.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Terrorism, Social Movement, Protests, Violence, Demonstrations
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Brian Jenkins, John Lauder
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: After the Cold War and nearly 70 years of waging war against communism, the United States and its key allies have adopted the war against terror as their new organizing principal. The king of terrorist threats, however, is nuclear terrorism. As Vice President Dick Cheney once argued, “if there is a one percent chance” of a terrorist developing a nuclear weapon, “we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response.”1
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Brian Jenkins, John Lauder
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: NPEC Working Paper 1602, “The Nuclear Terrorism Threat: How Real Is It?” presents two opposed views on the threat of nuclear terrorism. Brian M. Jenkins, a Rand analyst and a leading expert on nuclear terrorism, argues that the threat is overblown. John Lauder, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Nonproliferation Center, argues the opposing case that the threat is growing and we need to be hedging against it now.
  • Topic: Terrorism, International Affairs, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Hardin Lang, Muath Al Wari
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: Foreign fighters have long been a key element of transnational jihad. In the 1980s, foreigners flocked to South Asia to fight alongside the Afghan mujahedeen. The same thing occurred to a lesser extent in Bosnia and Chechnya in the 1990s and again following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But the Syrian civil war and the subsequent rise of the Islamic State—also known as IS, ISIS, or ISIL—have broken new ground. Never before have jihadi foreign fighters rallied at the speed and scale as they have in the territory that IS now controls. Today, between 31,000 and 27,000 fighters from more than 86 countries are estimated to have made the journey to join the ranks of IS and other extremist groups, doubling the 2014 numbers. These foreign fighters fill leadership roles within the organization’s hierarchy and seem to be disproportionately responsible for the atrocities and brutality for which IS has become infamous. IS uses this extreme violence to create a climate of impunity and to intimidate both civilian populations and potential enemies. In addition, the recent attacks in Paris vividly demonstrated the international terrorist threat that foreign fighters pose. Finally, these fighters present a long-term challenge to their source countries if and when they return. In response, the U.S.-led Global Coalition to Counter ISIL has prioritized the flow of foreign fighters as one of its five major lines of effort. In 2015, United Nations Security Council Resolution 2178, or UNSCR 2178, was adopted with the specific aim of addressing the foreign fighter threat. Similarly, the coalition has established a working group to coordinate multilateral efforts to impede the flow of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq and to implement the UNSCR. But much work remains to be done.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Islamic State, Multilateralism, Foreign Fighters
  • Political Geography: Global Focus