Search

You searched for: Political Geography Afghanistan Remove constraint Political Geography: Afghanistan Journal CTC Sentinel Remove constraint Journal: CTC Sentinel
Number of results to display per page

Search Results

  • Author: Seth G. Jones, Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, Jason Warner, Ryan O'Farrell, Heni Nsaibia, Ryan Cummings
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: In this month’s feature article, Seth Jones examines the evolving threat posed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. “The Taliban is in many ways a different organization from the one that governed Afghanistan in the 1990s. Yet most of their leaders are nevertheless committed to an extreme interpretation of Islam that is not shared by many Afghans, an autocratic political system that eschews democracy, and the persistence of relations with terrorist groups like al-Qa`ida. These realities cast serious doubt about the possibility of a lasting peace agreement with the Afghan government in the near future,” he writes, adding that “without a peace deal, the further withdrawal of U.S. forces—as highlighted in the November 17, 2020, announcement to cut U.S. forces from 4,500 to 2,500 troops—will likely shift the balance of power in favor of the Taliban. With continuing support from Pakistan, Russia, Iran, and terrorist groups like al-Qa`ida, it is the view of the author that the Taliban would eventually overthrow the Afghan government in Kabul.” In a feature commentary, Hamish de Bretton-Gordon outlines the urgent action needed on biosecurity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. He writes: “For years, the United States and many other countries have neglected biosecurity because policymakers have underestimated both the potential impact and likelihood of biological threats. COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the planet and could be followed by outbreaks of even more dangerous viral diseases. Meanwhile, advances in synthetic biology are transforming the potential threat posed by engineered pathogens, creating growing concern over biological attacks and bioterror. Given the scale of the threat, biosecurity needs to be a top priority moving forward. Not only do efforts need to be stepped up to try to prevent the next pandemic (natural or engineered), but resilience needs to be built by developing early warning systems, the capacity to track outbreaks, and medical countermeasures, including ‘next generation’ vaccines.” He stresses that “winning public acceptance for public health measures will be imperative to tackling biological emergencies in the future.” Jason Warner, Ryan O’Farrell, Héni Nsaibia, and Ryan Cummings assess the evolution of the Islamic State threat across Africa. They write that “the annus horribilis Islamic State Central suffered in 2019, during which the group lost the last stretch of its ‘territorial caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed, does not appear to have had a discernible impact on the overall operational trajectory of the Islamic State threat in Africa” underscoring “that while connections were built up between Islamic State Central and its African affiliates—with the former providing, at times, some degree of strategic direction, coordination, and material assistance—the latter have historically evolved under their own steam and acted with a significant degree of autonomy.”
  • Topic: Terrorism, Biosecurity, Taliban, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, Middle East
  • Author: Fernando Reinares, Carola Garcia-Calvo, Paul Cruickshank, Michael Knights, Matther Levitt, Matthew Dupee, Anouar Boukhars
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: During the course of nine hours in August 2017, a terrorist cell carried out two vehicle-ramming attacks in Catalonia, with the first striking pedestrians on the famous Las Ramblas promenade in the heart of Barcelona. In our cover article, Fernando Reinares and Carola García-Calvo draw on judicial documents and interviews with investigators to provide the inside story of the worst terrorist attack in Spain since the 2004 Madrid bombings. Their account reveals the 10-man cell of ‘homegrown’ radicals, led by an extremist Moroccan cleric in the town of Ripoll, had initially planned to carry out vehicle bomb attacks in Barcelona and possibly Paris, but changed and accelerated their plans after they accidentally blew up their bomb factory where they were manufacturing TATP. While it is still not clear whether the cell had any contact with the Islamic State, the authors reveal that the network behind the November 2015 Paris attacks was also plotting to launch a similar attack in Barcelona that year. This month’s interview feature is with Nicholas Rasmussen, who retired as the head of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) at the end of 2017. Michael Knights and Matthew Levitt draw on interviews with Bahraini security officials to outline how Shi`a militant cells in the country have evolved from easily detectible groups of amateurs to small cells of attackers with overseas training and combat experience and the ability to mount effective IED attacks. Matthew DuPée looks at the threat to the Taliban from other insurgent groups. Anouar Boukhars examines the potential jihadi windfall from the militarization of Tunisia’s border region with Libya. This issue is the first to be launched on the Combating Terrorism Center’s redesigned website, which is also being unveiled. The new, easy-to-search, interactive interface showcases the important scholarship contained in CTC Sentinel over the past decade, as well as all the research published by the Combating Terrorism Center since its founding almost 15 years ago.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Insurgency, Counter-terrorism, Violence, Shia, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Libya, Spain, North Africa, Bahrain, Tunisia, Barcelona
  • Author: Nicholas Tallant, Jesse Morton, Mitchell D. Silber, Scott Atran, Hoshang Waziri, Angel Gomez, Hammad Sheikh, Lucia Lopez-Rodriguez, Charles Rogan, Richard Davis, Amira Jadoon, Nakissa Jahanbani, Charmaine Willis, Nafees Hamid
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Between 2006 and 2012, two men working on opposite sides of the struggle between global jihadis and the United States faced off in New York City. Jesse Morton was the founder of Revolution Muslim, a group that proselytized—online and on New York City streets—on behalf of al-Qa`ida. Mitchell Silber led efforts to track the terrorist threat facing the city as the director of intelligence analysis for the NYPD. After serving a prison sentence for terrorist activity, Morton now works to counter violent extremism. In our feature article, they tell the inside story of the rise of Revolution Muslim and how the NYPD, by using undercover officers and other methods, put the most dangerous homegrown jihadi support group to emerge on U.S. soil since 9/11 out of business. As the Islamic State morphs into a ‘virtual caliphate,’ their case study provides lessons for current and future counterterrorism investigations. Five years ago this month, terror came to Boston, and Boston stood strong. Nicholas Tallant interviews William Weinreb and Harold Shaw on the lessons learned. Weinreb stepped down as Acting United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts in January 2018. He was the lead prosecutor of the 2015 investigation and trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Shaw has served as the Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Boston Division since 2015. Between July and October 2017, a team of researchers conducted field interviews with young Sunni Arab men coming out from under Islamic State rule in the Mosul area. The resulting study by Scott Atran, Hoshang Waziri, Ángel Gómez, Hammad Sheikh, Lucía López-Rodríguez, Charles Rogan, and Richard Davis found that “the Islamic State may have lost its ‘caliphate,’ but not necessarily the allegiance of supporters of both a Sunni Arab homeland and governance by sharia law.” Amira Jadoon, Nakissa Jahanbani, and Charmaine Willis examine the evolving rivalry between the Islamic State and other jihadi groups in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Nafees Hamid profiles Junaid Hussain, a hacker from the United Kingdom, who until his death in August 2015 was the Islamic State’s most prolific English-language social media propagandist and terror ‘cybercoach.’
  • Topic: Terrorism, Law Enforcement, Counter-terrorism, Radicalization, Islamic State, Police, NYPD
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kirsten E. Schulze, Brian Dodwell, Dakota Foster, Daniel Milton, David Sterman, Robin Simcox
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: This summer marks the end of an era for us. Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Price, the Combating Terrorism Center’s longest-serving director, is retiring after 20 years of service in the Army, the last six at the helm of the CTC. During that time, he was a tireless champion for the CTC and its staff and cemented its status as one of the leading research institutions in the terrorism studies field. In a conversation with Brian Dodwell, who is taking over as director, LTC Price reflects on his service at the CTC and the essential need for rigorous research to understand the evolving threat landscape. There is concern that Islamic State-linked terror is on the rise in Southeast Asia. On Sunday, May 13, 2018, three churches in Surabaya, Indonesia, were targeted by suicide bombers comprising one single family of six. The following day, a family of five rode two motorbikes to the entrance of the city’s police headquarters where they blew themselves up. The attacks saw the confluence of several trends in jihadi terrorist plotting—an increased reliance on family networks and an increased embrace of women and children in combat roles. In our cover article, Kirsten Schulze outlines the evolving threat from pro-Islamic State militants in Southeast Asia’s most populous country. Dakota Foster and Daniel Milton build on the the CTC’s previous analysis on the personnel records of just over 4,100 Islamic State foreign fighters to focus on what the records reveal about the smaller subset of 267 children. David Sterman also analyzes the Islamic State’s personnel records to compare and contrast the profile of recruits with previous experience in Libya and Afghanistan. Robin Simcox documents an alleged terrorist conspiracy by an all-female cell guided by an Islamic State cybercoach to plot attacks in the Paris area in 2016.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Children, Counter-terrorism, Women, Islamic State, Jihad, Foreign Fighters, Child Soldiers
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Europe, South Asia, Indonesia, France, Libya, North Africa, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Ali Soufan, Paul Cruickshank, Nuno Tiago Pinto, Damon Mehl, Michael Munoz
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: In our cover article, Ali Soufan profiles Major General Qassem Soleimani, the long-serving head of Iran’s Quds Force who the U.S. government has accused, among other things, of support for terrorism and involvement in a 2011 plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Soufan outlines how Soleimani has masterminded Tehran’s efforts to project its power across the Middle East using a unique strategy of blending militant and state power, built in part on the model of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Soufan argues that with nationalist sentiment on the rise in Iran in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear agreement and the ongoing regional tussle with Saudi Arabia, Soleimani’s popularity would make him the natural front-runner if Iran chooses to adopt a military presidency. Our interview is with Patrick Skinner who during the decade after 9/11 worked in counterterrorism for the CIA in Afghanistan and Iraq. Last year, he began working as a police officer in his hometown of Savannah, Georgia, in an effort to make a difference closer to home. Skinner reflects on how lessons learned from his time as a CIA case officer and as a local police officer could apply to counterterrorism and counterinsurgency strategy and tactics overseas. Drawing on thousands of pages of judicial documents and investigative files, Nuno Pinto outlines the alleged key role played by two Portugal-based extremists in a transnational Islamic State network whose alleged attack plans were thwarted by arrests in Strasbourg and Marseille in November 2016. The case raises concerns that European countries in which security services are less geared up to confront terrorist activity are being used as logistical hubs by jihadi terrorists. In the wake of the Islamic State’s deadly attack on Western tourists in Tajikistan in July 2018, Damon Mehl examines the threat the group poses to the country. With the Islamic State having lost almost all of its territory in Syria and Iraq, Michael Munoz looks at how the group’s propaganda efforts may evolve in the future.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, Propaganda, Qassem Soleimani
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Tajikistan, France, Portugal
  • Author: Georg Heil, Brian Dodwell, Don Rassler, Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, Robin Simcox, Shashi Jayakumar, Andrew McGregor
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: In an extensive interview, General John W. Nicholson, commander of Resolute Support and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, stresses the importance of preventing the country from again becoming a platform for international terrorism, noting counterterrorism operations have almost halved the fighting strength of the Islamic State’s local affiliate. He also outlines the ongoing effort to empower Afghan efforts against the Taliban, saying: “They’re at a bit of a stalemate. The government holds about two-thirds of the population. The enemy holds a solid 8 to 10 percent. … We think [if] we get to about 80 percent or more, we start to reach a tipping point where the insurgency becomes more irrelevant.” Our cover story by Georg Heil focuses on the deadly truck attack this past December in Berlin by Anis Amri, a Tunisian extremist suspected of links to Islamic State operatives in Libya. Investigations have made clear the danger posed by the radical network he belonged to in northwestern Germany led by an Iraqi preacher named Abu Walaa. It is believed to have recruited dozens to travel to join the Islamic State, communicated extensively with Islamic State operatives in Syria and Iraq, and encouraged attacks on German soil. Heil argues the high level of interconnectedness between these radicals in Germany and the Islamic State has potentially grave implications for European security. Aymenn al-Tamimi looks at the implications of the recent realignment of rebel and jihadi groups in Syria, which created two potentially conflicting power centers revolving around an enlarged Ahrar al-Sham and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, a new al-Qa`ida-aligned umbrella grouping. Robin Simcox finds Islamic State plots by pre-teens and teens are increasing in the West, with plotters in contact with the group in a majority of such cases. Shashi Jayakumar examines the growing Islamic State threat to Southeast Asia, arguing the group may pose as big a threat in the future in the East as in the West. Andrew McGregor warns growing clashes between Fulani Muslim herders and settled Christian communities in Nigeria could be exploited by terrorist groups and potentially destabilize the entire Sahel-West Africa region.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, Youth, Syrian War, Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Europe, South Asia, Middle East, Germany, Syria, Southeast Asia, Sahel
  • Author: Mitchell D. Silber
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: A group of men spend their formative and early adult years in Western urban settings such as London, Hamburg, Copenhagen, New York or Sydney. They take the initiative to travel overseas and then return to the West to launch terrorist attacks in the name of al-Qa`ida. Can this be considered an al-Qa`ida plot? What criteria determine that designation? What is the nature of the relationship between radicalized men in the West and the core al-Qa`ida organization in the borderlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan? For it to be identified as an al-Qa`ida plot, does one of the plotters have to attend an al-Qa`ida training camp or meet with an al-Qa`ida trainer, or can they simply be inspired by al-Qa`ida's ideology? These are critical questions. To truly understand the nature of the threat posed by the transnational jihad, led in the vanguard by al-Qa`ida, it is essential to have a greater and more nuanced understanding of the genesis and attempted execution of plots directed against the West. Al-Qa`ida core's role should not be overestimated or underestimated, as important resource allocation questions for Western governments derive from the answers to these questions. It affects military, intelligence, and policing activities that are dedicated to preventing the next attack. In a sense, determining “where the action is for the conspiracy” before a plot is launched should drive Western counterterrorism efforts. In military terms, this would be akin to identifying what Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz called the “center of gravity,” or critical element of strength of al-Qa`ida plots, to provide insights on how to thwart them.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, New York, London
  • 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
  • Author: Bruce Riedel
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: The relationship between al-Qa`ida and Iran is shrouded in mystery. Before and after the September 11 attacks on the United States, al-Qa`ida operatives transited Iran, and some found sanctuary in the country after fleeing Afghanistan in late 2001. Yet the hints of occasional operational cooperation between al-Qa`ida and Iran are outweighed by the considerable and public evidence of the deep animosity between Sunni extremist al-Qa`ida and Shi`a extremist Iran. Antipathy for each other is at the root of their ideologies and narratives, and it has been most visible in their competition for influence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran
  • Author: Kara L. Bue, John A. Gastright
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: The challenges to peace and stability in Afghanistan spiked in 2008. The Taliban resurgence that began in 2006 continued to gain strength, with militants now capable of exerting influence over wide swaths of the countryside. Roadside bombs, assassinations, and carefully coordinated attacks on government and military targets have become common place. In the face of this rising violence, increased attention has been paid on how to resurrect positive momentum in a war and nation-building effort that has played second fiddle to Iraq for the last five years. Strategy reviews have been initiated, additional troops called for, and for the first time high level U.S. officials are talking openly about engaging in dialogue with the Taliban. While many believe that rethinking the existing strategy in Afghanistan is necessary, mere mention of talking to the Taliban has engendered heated debate. For some, it is a black and white issue, guided by principles of right and wrong. For others, the issue is grey, rooted in practicality. In the end, however, it is one that needs to be addressed in the context of a larger strategy. Overall, it is critical to view the concept of negotiating with the Taliban as one strategic element among others that has the potential to improve the chances for success in Afghanistan.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Taliban