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  • Author: Brian Dodwell, Marielle Ness
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Captain Robert A. Newson, U.S. Navy, is a Naval Special Warfare (SEAL) officer who most recently led strategy and concept development for the Naval Special Warfare Command. Previously, he commanded Special Operations Command (Forward) in Yemen and Naval Special Warfare Support Activity, a cross-functional intelligence operations command, and served as director of the Joint Interagency Task Force – Counter Terrorism. Captain Newson is a graduate of the University of Kansas and the Naval Postgraduate School with distinction. He is a PhD candidate at the University of San Diego.
  • Political Geography: United States, Yemen
  • Author: Michael A. Sheehan, Geoff D. Porter
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: IN HIS STATE OF THE UNION on January 28, 2014, President Barack Obama's speech focused on domestic issues, but singled out Africa, specifically mentioning Somalia and Mali, in reference to the evolution of the al-Qa`ida threat, the emergence of al-Qa`ida affiliates and the need for the United States to continue to work with partners to disrupt and disable these networks.
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States
  • Author: Aaron Brantly
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Terrorism is highly dependent on cash flows for the purchase of everything from munitions and supplies to domains and pamphlets. Traditionally, one of the more challenging aspects of organizing international terrorist activities is rooted in financial transactions. The transfer of money around the world has, in the last decade, fundamentally changed the way terrorist organizations raise money to support their activities. Digital currencies like e-gold, Bitcoin, Peercoin, and Dodgecoin provide complex yet efficient mechanisms for the transfer of funds, as well as the decentralized collection of donations in a more anonymous manner than conventional banking transactions. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that terrorists are considering and, in limited instances, using digital currencies such as Bitcoin to finance activities. While these tools have gained in popularity, in recent years their expansion into various terrorist organizations has been slow and deliberate and has not matched pace with transnational criminal uses of these same technologies.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: In the past six months, a series of major incidents between the United States and Pakistan has brought their relationship to a new low. Even Pakistan's longstanding allies and European aid donors are increasingly at odds with Islamabad's current foreign policy. These tensions have Pakistani civilians feeling as if their country is at war with the world.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Islamabad
  • Author: Liam Collins
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Within a mere week of his death, Usama bin Ladin asserted that “reality has proven that American technology and its sophisticated systems cannot arrest a mujahid if he does not commit a security error.” Although Bin Ladin witnessed numerous senior al- Qa`ida members killed or captured by the United States and its coalition partners over the years, his words suggest that he attributed these losses not to superior U.S. technology, but to error or carelessness on the part of individuals. He was of the view that adhering to “the required security precautions [for people] in our situation” is feasible and human error is avoidable if the mujahid is “conscious of the importance of the mission he is fulfilling and is capable of staying in hiding until the situation opens up.”
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Shadi Hamid, Steven Brooke
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: On february 11, 2011, Egypt had its revolution when President Hosni Mubarak finally stepped down after 18 days of massive protests. With the military taking control and promising a transition to democracy, the question of what comes next has acquired a particular urgency. Specifically, Western fears of the Muslim Brotherhood stepping into the political vacuum have re-energized a longstanding debate about the role of Islamists in Middle Eastern politics, and the dilemma that poses for the United States.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Egypt
  • Author: Philip Mudd
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: With the death of Usama bin Ladin in May 2011, Americans will be safer in the long-term. Without Bin Ladin's magnetic appeal, al-Qa`ida's revolutionary movement will likely wither and its message, combined with the peaceful revolutions in the Arab world, will lose credibility. In the short-term, however, the U.S. homeland remains at risk. In many ways, U.S. security services today face more challenges than ever before because the threat profile has become so diverse, with multiple terrorist groups and individuals—many with no connection to established terrorist organizations—intent on striking the United States.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Arabia
  • Author: Paul R. Pillar
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: The tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has become an occasion for reevaluating the terrorism threat to the United States. Three key questions have been raised. What is the status and current strength of al-Qa`ida, the group that perpetrated 9/11? Have measures taken since 9/11 made Americans any safer today? Why has the United States not been attacked again—at least in the sense of being attacked on a scale approaching 9/11? These are worthwhile questions, although they each involve a restricted perspective toward terrorism and counterterrorism. The first is inherently limited by being focused on only a single variety of terrorism or even just a single group. The second usually omits reference to any standard of success and failure in securing Americans from terrorism or to the costs and trade-offs entailed in obtaining a given degree of safety. The third question is usually a yearning for an explanation that would be too simple to be an accurate analysis of what has determined the amount of terrorism directed against the United States during the past decade.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Flagg Miller
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: As the world waits for the declassification of documents from Usama bin Ladin's Abbottabad residence in Pakistan, an earlier archive shedding valuable light on al-Qa`ida's formation under Bin Ladin is slowly being released. Acquired by the Cable News Network in early 2002 from Bin Ladin's Kandahar compound, more than 1,500 audiocassettes are being made available to public researchers by Yale University.Dating from the late 1960s through 2000, the vast majority of tapes in this collection are in Arabic and feature lectures, sermons and conversations among more than 200 speakers from across the Islamic world. At least 22 recordings feature Bin Ladin himself, only one of which has been published to date.After the tapes were reviewed by U.S. intelligence agencies shortly after their acquisition, the collection was sold to the Williams College Afghan Media Project run by American anthropologist David Edwards. This author began cataloguing and archiving the collection in 2003, as soon as the tapes arrived at the college, and is currently writing a book about the figuration of Bin Ladin's leadership and al-Qa`ida through the archive. The initial results of the findings are presented in this article.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Arabia
  • Author: Vahid Brown
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: The relationship between al-Qa`ida and the Afghan Taliban is of critical concern to the U.S. foreign policy community. It has repeatedly been cited by the current administration as the central justification for U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan. Yet the precise nature of this relationship remains a matter of debate among specialists. While some argue that al-Qa`ida and the Afghan Taliban have effectively merged, others point to signs that their respective global and nationalist goals have increasingly put them at odds. Behind this debate is the fear that if the Taliban were to regain control of Afghanistan, it would renew the close relationship that it had with al-Qa`ida prior to 9/11 and thus increase al-Qa`ida's capacity to threaten the United States.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Taliban