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  • Author: Giuliano Bifolchi
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Rest: Journal of Politics and Development
  • Institution: Centre for Strategic Research and Analysis (CESRAN)
  • Abstract: Terrorism and jihadist propaganda are among the primary threats of the contemporary era. Because of the high number of foreign fighters from the post-Soviet republics among the rank of the Islamic State, there is a general concern about jihadist propaganda in the Russian language. Kavkazcenter has appeared as one of the main websites in the Russian language to support Imarat Kavkaz (Caucasus Emirate) and regional militant groups. Firstly, this paper examines scientific literature useful to classify Kavkazcenter as a jihadist portal or a media agency. Secondly, the research focuses on the website Kavkazcenter investigating its structure, ideologies and connection with the Arab-Muslim world and the international terrorist network. Finally, this investigation intends to describe if Kavkazcenter represents a serious threat not only for the Russian national security but also for the entire post- Soviet space and the European Union itself, where North Caucasian migrants and refugees live.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Propaganda, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Post-Soviet Europe
  • Author: Ian Anthony, Michael Herzog zu Mecklenburg
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: Public data suggests that there are reasons to be concerned about violent extremism in Germany. Membership in political groups that hold extremist views is growing, and crime statistics suggest an increase in extremist violence. The number of recorded terrorist incidents on German territory has been high by European standards. Changes in German politics and society may provide fertile ground for political extremism in future. To prevent violent extremism Germany has invested heavily in an expanding number of projects and initiatives at federal, state and municipal level, but the constitutional structure makes promoting coherence and coordination challenging. Moreover, non-governmental and civil society actors now play a prominent role in initiatives. Increasing the number and scale of initiatives was partly to pilot different approaches and see which were effective. However, assessing the multitude of projects and initiatives to decide which should be promoted or discontinued is itself a challenge.
  • Topic: Crime, Politics, Violent Extremism, Decentralization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Sofia Koller
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The transnational dimension of violent extremism calls for a comprehensive approach to prevention. International exchange of knowledge is crucial to enable an effective response. In addition, while more and more countries have increasingly focused on the prevention of violent extremism (PVE) (as opposed to purely repressive counter terrorism measures), actors need to be able to understand and demonstrate which measures work as well as how and why they do.
  • Topic: Security, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Mohanad Hage Ali
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Syrian conflict has magnified threats to minorities with long-term implications both within and beyond Syria’s borders. The deployment of excessive firepower by the Russian and Iranian-backed Assad regime, and the concurrent rise of Islamic extremism have had both direct and indirect impacts on minorities. Local, regional, and international actors have weaponized minority groups to bolster their influence, further intensifying schisms in the Syrian social fabric and in the international community as a whole. The flow of one million Syrian refugees to Europe between 2015 and 2016 strengthened an already powerful wave of anti-immigration, nationalist populism throughout the continent and across the Atlantic. As an openly Islamophobic and, more implicitly, anti-Semitic movement, the wave has contributed to widening the scope of the Syrian conflict’s schismatic effects beyond the country’s borders.
  • Topic: Minorities, Violent Extremism, Refugees, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Graham Macklin, Don Rassler, Daniel Koehler, Tore Hamming
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: The final two years of this decade witnessed a wave of far-right terror attacks around the world, including the October 2018 synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the March 2019 gun attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand; the April 2019 Poway, California, synagogue shooting; the August 2019 attack targeting the Hispanic community at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas; and the October 2019 Halle, Germany, shootings, in which a synagogue was targeted. In our feature article, Graham Macklin examines the El Paso attack, which he assesses was “part of a chain reaction fomented within the violent sub-cultural online milieus of right-wing extremism.” He writes: “This digital ecosystem is fueling a cumulative momentum, which serves to lower ‘thresholds’ to violence for those engaged in this space, both in the United States and elsewhere, as one attack encourages and inspires another.” The Halle shootings appear to have also been part of this chain reaction. In a case study, Daniel Koehler writes that the far-right extremist who carried out the shootings in the eastern German town “appears to be mainly a copycat attacker inspired by previous incidents” such as the shootings in Christchurch, Poway, and El Paso. Koehler writes: “The Halle attack reflects and evidences several trends, including the internationalization of right-wing terrorism and lone-actor terrorists fashioning their own weapons. The attack stood out because it was the first time a terrorist appears to have used homemade firearms.” Our interview is with Lieutenant General John “Jack” Shanahan, the director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center at the U.S. Department of Defense. In that role, he is responsible for accelerating the delivery of artificial intelligence-enabled capabilities, scaling the department-wide impact of AI and synchronizing AI activities to expand joint force advantages. Tore Hamming draws on court documents from a recently completed trial to examine the 2016 Copenhagen ‘Matchstick’ terror plot. The failed conspiracy saw an Islamic State ‘virtual planner’ based in Syria connect and direct two Syrian refugees living in Sweden and Germany. The case provides insights on the evolving jihadi terror threat in the West and its transnational dimension. Hamming writes: “The plot presented obvious challenges for Western security institutions. Central to its planning and execution were the virtual planner and the availability of instructions on how to construct explosives.”
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, Far Right, Artificial Intelligence
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ahmad Saiful Rijal Bin Hassan, Kenneth Yeo Yaoren, Amresh Lavan Gunasingham
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • 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 discourse on religious extremism in the past few decades has largely been dominated by Islamist-oriented trends and actors. However, there are emerging alternate discourses of religious extremism that are becoming relevant in South and Southeast Asia – Buddhist and Hindu extremism. The March Issue thus focuses on Sri Lanka and Myanmar as case studies depicting the rise of Buddhist extremism and related intolerance towards the minority Muslim communities. The Issue also delves into two different responses to counter-terrorism by the state and community stakeholders in their bid to tackle religious-motivated terrorist groups. It takes a look at two divergent ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ counter-terrorism responses: (i) leadership decapitation; and (ii) the Danish de-radicalisation programme. First, Amresh Gunasingham narrows in on radical Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Myanmar focusing on the rise of the Bodu Bolu Sena (BBS) and Ma Ba Tha groups respectively. The author argues that these groups, rooted in Theravada Buddhism, have justified intolerance and violence towards minority Muslim populations that could escalate further, if neglected or exploited by the state. In Sri Lanka, periodic attacks against Muslims since 2014 and the legitimacy of groups such as BBS have emboldened a segment of the Sinhalese Buddhists. In Myanmar, the violent clashes between the Buddhist majority and the Rohingya, minority Muslim community since 2012, coupled with Ma Ba Tha’s rhetoric bordering on Islamophobia, have exacerbated intolerant ethno-nationalist sentiments within the country. The author proposes the need for a national identity that is inclusive and peaceful in both countries with political leaders taking a stand against intolerant narratives to mitigate long-term unrest. Kenneth Yeo Yaoren discusses leadership decapitation as a counter-terrorism strategy, which includes killing or arresting the senior leadership of a terrorist group. The author outlines the varying outcomes of the strategy in the context of religiously-motivated terrorist groups in the Israel-Palestine and Malay Archipelago regions. The impact of leadership decapitation on four key groups: Hamas, Hezbollah, Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah Islamiyah in terms of the frequency and lethality of attacks after the arrests or killings of their leaders are observed. It is argued that, “leadership decapitation is not a silver bullet against terrorism”, necessitating broader responses to counter the ideology and operational strength of religiously-motivated terrorist groups. Lastly, Ahmad Saiful Rijal Bin Hassan focuses on Denmark’s de-radicalisation programme in light of the returning foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) phenomenon. The author delineates the components and key features of the ‘De-radicalisation – Targeted Intervention’ and the ‘De-radicalisation Back on Track’ projects which constitute a ‘soft’ approach towards dealing with homegrown terrorists and FTFs in the country. Overall, three guiding principles dictate Denmark’s de-radicalisation programme – (i) inclusion over exclusion; (ii) collaboration between public, private and people sector bodies; and (iii) assumption that every individual aspires to live a ‘good life’. The article then focuses on the perceived efficacy of the programme in the Danish context vis-a-vis contending views made by other interested observers.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, Political stability, Conflict, Buddhism, Hinduism
  • Political Geography: Europe, South Asia, Israel, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Denmark, Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The dynamism of clandestine African migration flows continues to present criminal and violent extremist groups opportunities for exploitation.
  • Topic: Migration, United Nations, Diaspora, Violent Extremism, European Union
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Southern Europe
  • Author: Robin Simcox
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: Determining precisely what factors lead to radicalization is a pressing challenge. In fact, beyond the violent Islamist threat, the influence of political Islam and varying shades of Salafism are also growing across Muslim communities in Europe. This, too, has harmful social consequences. The scale of the problem facing Europe was exacerbated by the decision made by Germany in 2015 to open its borders to refugees fleeing conflicts in Muslim-majority countries. While security threats undoubtedly entered with the refugee flow (or individuals were radicalized and became threats once in Europe), the refugee issue has also introduced social and cultural questions relevant to overall cohesion and integration in Europe. This essay looks at these issues from the perspective of four European countries: the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden and France. Islamist terrorists have attacked each country in the last two years, and each has taken differing approaches to preventing extremism and facilitating integration. Dozens of conversations with government officials from across Europe have informed my conclusions.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Government, National Security, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, Ideology, Islamism
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, France, Germany, Sweden
  • Author: Francesco Marone, Marco Olimpio
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: Radicalization in prison has long been a critical issue in the West (and beyond), where prisons have sometimes been turned in recruitment and proselytization hubs by different kinds of extremists, including jihadists. As is well known, one of the main concerns is that radicalized subjects may indoctrinate other common detainees. Italy has also been affected by this phenomenon and jihadist radicalization in prison represents a concrete threat. This analysis presents an overview of the problem, based on the latest available data. As of late 2018, there were 66 detainees who were either awaiting trial or already sentenced for crimes related to “international Islamic terrorism”. These individuals were placed in a special section (the “High Security 2” - AS2 circuit) and were rigorously separated from other detainees. In addition, as of October 19, 2018, there were a total of 478 individuals flagged for radicalization in Italian prisons: 233 in the 1st level – High; 103 in the 2nd – Medium; 142 in the 3rd level – Low. Furthermore, in an attempt to counter violent extremism and radicalization, Italian authorities have been increasingly deporting foreign individuals for national security reasons. In 2018, no fewer than 79 individuals had been expelled upon release from prison. In the face of these new challenges, Italian authorities are strengthening their commitment to identify and counter the threat posed by jihadist radicalization in prison. These efforts include identification and monitoring activities also thorough indicators of violent radicalization, management of extremists after release from prison, training of staff, and rehabilitation initiatives.
  • Topic: Prisons/Penal Systems, Violent Extremism, Radicalization, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy
  • Author: Amanda Paul, Ian Acheson
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: European Policy Centre
  • Abstract: Throughout Europe and beyond, terrorist groups, in particular the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), are increasingly recruiting individuals with backgrounds in crime and using their skills, connections in the criminal world, and experience with law enforcement bodies to finance, plan, prepare and execute their attacks. This recruitment takes place both outside and inside prisons. At the same time, jihadism has provided a specious morality for certain delinquents to rationalise and even justify their criminal activities. In this context, from October 2018 until the summer of 2019, the European Policy Centre (EPC) and the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) have partnered up for a research project on the link between criminality (including organised crime groups, local petty crime gangs or individuals) and jihadist terrorism. This project has culminated in the following publication, in which experts from both organisations carry out an independent assessment of these urgent challenges as they occur in ten European countries (Albania, Belgium, France, Germany, Republic of Ireland, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom). Drawing on this, they have proposed a number of bold recommendations to European governments and EU institutions to counter the ongoing threat of the crime-terror nexus.
  • Topic: Crime, Prisons/Penal Systems, Violent Extremism, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Europe