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  • Author: Stephanie Savell, Rachel McMahon, Emily Rockwell, Yueshan Li
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University
  • Abstract: The map illustrates countries in which the U.S. government conducted operations it explicitly described as counterterrorism, in an outgrowth of President George W. Bush's “Global War on Terror.” These operations include air and drone strikes, on-the-ground combat, so-called “Section 127e” programs in which U.S. special operations forces plan and control partner force missions, military exercises in preparation for or as part of counterterrorism missions, and operations to train and assist foreign forces. (The map does not comprehensively cover the full scope of U.S. post-9/11 warfare, as it does not document, for instance, U.S. military bases used for counterterror operations, arms sales to foreign governments, or all deployments of U.S. special operations forces.) Despite the Pentagon’s assertion that the U.S. is shifting its strategic emphasis away from counterterrorism and towards great power competition with Russia and China, examining U.S. military activity on a country-by-country basis shows that there is yet to be a corresponding drawdown of the counterterror apparatus. If anything, the map demonstrates that counterterrorism operations have become more widespread in recent years.
  • Topic: Military Affairs, Counter-terrorism, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Brian Katz
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Islamic State’s march across Syria and Iraq in 2014 and ensuing expansion via global affiliates posed a vexing challenge for the United States and key allies. The Islamic State sought not only to seize, govern, and defend territory as part of its so-called caliphate, but also to leverage these safe havens to build transnational terrorist networks. Countering the Islamic State would thus require large-scale ground operations to conquer the Islamic State proto-states and defeat its military forces, but the need to do so urgently and expeditiously to prevent external terrorist attacks. But who would conduct such a ground campaign? The Islamic State ’s expansion coincided with a shift in U.S. and allied military strategy: the adoption of the “by, with, and through” model for major counterterrorism (CT) operations. Rather than committing large numbers of ground forces, Western strategy would center on training, advising, and assisting host-nation militaries to serve as the main combat element. With small numbers of special operations forces (SOF) and key enablers such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and close air support, Western powers could bolster the battlefield effectiveness of local forces while limiting their own troop commitments. A national army like the Iraqi Security Forces was a natural host-nation partner. But what if there is no state with whom to partner? This paper will examine the recent history of partnering with non-state actors for CT operations where the United States and allies were unable or unwilling to work “by, with, and through” the host-nation.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Military Strategy, Non State Actors, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Erol Yayboke, Sundar R. Ramanujam
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Thanks to the generous support and cooperation from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the CSIS Project on Prosperity and Development releases this new essay anthology, Sharpening Our Efforts: The Role of International Development in Countering Violent Extremism. As policymakers confront the ongoing challenge of radicalization and violent extremism, it is important that stakeholders and counterterrorism strategists recognize the critical role for development and other non-kinetic approaches to counter violent extremism (CVE). To that end, this new anthology takes a multidimensional role mapping out the role of soft power institutions in enabling lasting peace, prosperity, and global security.
  • Topic: Development, Foreign Aid, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • 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: Mathias Bak, Kristoffer Nilaus Tarp, Christina Schori Liang
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: During the last few decades, the concept of violent extremism (VE) has played an increasingly prominent role in policies and development programming on a global level. Having gone through several incarnations, the current focus for most actors deals with preventing and countering violent extremism. This terminology was constructed in an effort to repackage the Global War on Terror (GWOT) in a manner that shifted the focus away from the over-militarised responses of the 90s and early 2000s, to methods linked to social support and prevention. Where counterterrorism focuses on countering terrorists through physical means, the Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) approach aims to prevent the rise of violent extremist organisations (VEOs) through less militarised methods. P/CVE programs therefore aim at developing resilience among communities that may be prone to violent extremism. According to the 2015 UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, such interventions aim to address the root causes and drivers of violent extremism, which often include: socio-economic issues; discrimination; marginalization; poor governance; human rights violations; remnants of violent conflict; collective grievances; and other psychological factors.1 The concept of violent extremism has also become increasingly mainstream in the international community, with both the UN Security Council (UNSC 2014)2 and the UN General Assembly3 (UNGA 2015) calling for member states to address VE.
  • Topic: Security, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, War on Terror
  • Political Geography: United Nations, Global Focus
  • Author: Seth G. Jones
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Despite nearly two decades of U.S.-led counterterrorism operations, there are nearly four times as many Sunni Islamic militants today as there were on September 11, 2001. Based on a CSIS data set of groups, fighters, and violence, the regions with the largest number of fighters are Syria (between 43,650 and 70,550 fighters), Afghanistan (between 27,000 and 64,060), Paki­stan (between 17,900 and 39,540), Iraq (between 10,000 and 15,000), Nigeria (between 3,450 and 6,900), and Somalia (between 3,095 and 7,240). Attack data indicates that there are still high lev­els of violence in Syria and Iraq from Salafi-jihad­ist groups, along with significant violence in such countries and regions as Yemen, the Sahel, Nigeria, Afghan­istan, and So­malia. These findings suggest that there is still a large pool of Salafi-jihadist and allied fighters willing and able to use violence to achieve their goals. Every U.S. president since 9/11 has tried to move away from counterterrorism in some capacity, and it is no different today. Balancing national secu­rity priorities in today’s world needs to happen grad­ually. For the United States, the challenge is not that U.S. officials are devoting attention and resources to dealing with state adversaries like Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. These countries present legitimate threats to the United States at home and abroad. Rath­er, the mistake would be declaring victory over ter­rorism too quickly and, as a result, shifting too many resources and too much attention away from terrorist groups when the threat remains significant.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Jihad, Militant Islam
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America