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  • Author: Navin Bapat
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Political Violence @ A Glance
  • Abstract: The risk of terrorism is often overstated. Americans are more likely to die from everyday risks, such as driving, drowning, or being hit by lightning, than from terrorist attacks. I’ve often criticized the willingness of leaders to politicize terrorism, arguing that this results in ‘othering’ that harms racial and ethnic minorities, and, in some cases, in very large, costly, and brutal wars. I therefore do not say this lightly: In the case of the US, however, white supremacists like those who engaged in the mob attack on the US Capitol, are a clear and present danger to the human security of the American nonwhite population and to national security.
  • Topic: Violent Extremism, Far Right, White Supremacy, Racism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Flavia Eichmann
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Woodrow Wilson School Journal of Public and International Affairs
  • Institution: Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
  • Abstract: This article explores what impact terrorist blacklists have on negotiated solutions to armed conflicts involving listed non-state armed groups. Even though conflicts that involve non-state armed groups do not usually end through these groups’ military defeat, governments around the globe tend to adopt hard-security approaches with regard to inner-state conflicts. Especially when groups resort to terrorist tactics, governments tend to be reluctant to engage peacefully with these actors and instead commonly rely on terrorist blacklists in order to delegitimize and restrict groups’ activities. While these blacklists are effective in criminalizing the operations of these groups, they can also severely impede peaceful dialogue and thus negatively impact the resolution of conflicts. Especially the work of NGOs and third-party peace practitioners is greatly constrained by criminalizing any form of interaction with listed groups. Additionally, in the absence of a universal definition of what constitutes a terrorist group, lists vary from country to country and the criteria for groups and individuals to get listed are often extremely vague. Furthermore, most lists fail to re-evaluate the proscribed groups on a regular basis and delisting procedures lack transparency. This article finds that blacklists severely disincentivize peaceful engagement with non-state armed groups and thus calls for a revision of contemporary proscription regimes in order to shift the focus of counterterrorism approaches towards viewing peaceful dialogue as a first option and not a last resort.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Terrorism, Non State Actors, Violent Extremism, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Rahma Dualeh
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Five years have passed since the UN global mandate on preventing violent extremism (PVE) was launched and rapidly adopted by the Horn of Africa (HoA) countries. Since then, mostly small and medium international organizations funded by foreign, largely Western, donors have pioneered work in this space. Notably, the African Union (AU) Peace & Security Council has tried to lead the region’s path to PVE – it has championed the inclusion of youth and called for gender mainstreaming in programming. The AU has also attempted to connect East and West Africa’s lessons learned in combatting violent extremism. Yet, challenges remain with regard to implementing both regional and international PVE-related commitments.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, War, Violent Extremism, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, Horn of Africa
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: What’s new? Turkey has to deal with thousands of citizens who travelled to join ISIS and have now returned. Of the few convicted, many will soon be released from jail. Others are under surveillance. The fate of the rest is murky. Why does it matter? ISIS’s diminished stature and measures adopted by the Turkish authorities have spared Turkey from ISIS attacks for more than three years. But while the threat should not be overplayed, it has not necessarily disappeared. That Turkish returnees turn their back on militancy is important for national and regional security. What should be done? Ankara’s approach toward returnees or others suspected of ties to jihadism relies mostly on surveillance and detention. The government could consider also offering support for returnees’ families, alternatives for youngsters at risk of being drawn into militancy and support for returnees released after serving ISIS-related jail time.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Law Enforcement, Violent Extremism, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Emily Estelle
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Great-power competition and the terrorist threat intersect and interact with one another in Africa and the Middle East. US disengagement from these regions to prepare for great-power competition in other theaters will increase a growing vacuum that is drawing more regional and global actors—states and non-state extremist groups—into a series of vicious cycles that will pose grave threats to American national security in the coming decades. Breaking the vicious cycle will require the US and its allies to separate the Libyan and Syrian conflicts and disentangle and discourage proxy conflict by external players while supporting the development of responsive governance in the two countries. Preventing similar crises will require a proactive strategy to seal off localized conflicts and prevent them from becoming larger competitions between external players while taking action to improve governmental responsiveness in at-risk areas.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, National Security, Power Politics, Violent Extremism, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Aaron Y. Zelin
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: By the time IS came to the fore in Iraq and Syria, many of its themes and activities were already second nature to Tunisian jihadis who had heard similar messaging at home. There are a number of reasons why Tunisians joined the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. One underappreciated aspect of this is the way Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia’s (AST) messaging primed members of the group and others in society that were exposed to, attended, or followed online AST activities and events. In my new book, Your Sons Are at Your Service: Tunisia’s Missionaries of Jihad, I describe this process, which I will examine in brief here. In particular, I will explore AST’s motivational framing, which “functions as prods to action.” The major themes AST crafted in its narrative were related to brotherhood, the defense of Islam, the creation of an Islamic state, and “remaining” as an entity.
  • Topic: Islam, Non State Actors, Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Aaron Y. Zelin
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Fewer attacks and more prosecutions suggest the country’s integrated approach could eventually become a model for the region. For the first time since its 2011 revolution, Tunisia is not on the defensive in its battle with the Islamic State and al- Qaeda. Data from 2019, paired with a more holistic approach to combating jihadists, bears out this claim. Specifically, Tunis is expanding its toolkit beyond a purely military or law enforcement approach. Because of these advances, which have developed over the past few years, Tunis and Washington will have widened opportunities to engage on more complex aspects of reform that could make Tunisia a regional and global model. Both internal and external challenges remain, such as from foreign fighters dwelling abroad, an overcrowded prison system, and the threat of resurgent jihadism next door in Libya, but these need not diminish the accomplishments. Moreover, Tunisia can now build on its achievements, continuing the process of reform after decades of authoritarian rule.
  • Topic: Law Enforcement, Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Haseeb Humayoon, Mustafa Basij-Rasikh
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Recent efforts at settling the decades-long conflict in Afghanistan have featured an increasingly vibrant and visible display of women’s activism. Even with the support of the government and its international partners, Afghan women still face tremendous challenges to realizing their aspirations for a role in peacemaking. Based on extensive interviews throughout Afghanistan, this report attempts to better understand the changing public role of Afghan women today and their contributions to peacebuilding and ending violence.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Violent Extremism, Women, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East
  • Author: Sadaf Lakhani, Rahmatullah Amiri
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Forced displacement affects over 70 million people worldwide and is among the most pressing humanitarian and development challenges today. This report attempts to ascertain whether a relationship exists between displacement in Afghanistan and vulnerability to recruitment to violence by militant organizations. The report leverages an understanding of this relationship to provide recommendations to government, international donors, and others working with Afghanistan’s displaced populations to formulate more effective policies and programs.
  • Topic: Development, Taliban, Violent Extremism, Radicalization, Displacement, Violence, Mobility
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia, Central Asia
  • Author: Amira Jadoon, Andrew Mines
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Since its official formation in January 2015, the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan has risen to prominence as one of its most dangerous affiliates, making it one of the world’s top four deadliest militant organizations in 2018. Islamic State Khorasan’s (ISK) ascendency, however, has not come without heavy costs. Since 2015, a variety of state-led operations against ISK have inflicted substantial manpower and leadership losses upon the group across Afghanistan and Pakistan. This report is the first to conduct a systematic review of operations against ISK between 2015 and 2018 to answer the following questions: what is the nature and level of manpower losses incurred by ISK in various campaigns against the group? How have these operations altered the level of the ISK threat, and what do they reveal about ISK’s militant base? Finally, how have these operations affected ISK’s operational capacity? This report draws on open-source materials to assess the above questions, and provides detailed information on the various state-led operations against ISK in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the group’s associated costs in terms of losses of both leadership and other ISK-linked individuals. As this report demonstrates, intense targeting of ISK in both countries has resulted in substantial losses for the group; between 2015 and 2018, ISK’s losses amounted to the killing, capture, or surrender of well over 10,000 ISK-linked individuals and over 500 militants in leadership roles, predominantly in Afghanistan. A parallel examination of the group’s losses and its operational activity indicates that while state-led operations have curtailed ISK’s overall number of attacks and its geographical expansion, the group has retained its ability to conduct highly lethal attacks, as evidenced by recently claimed attacks in Kabul in late February and early March 2020. The report’s findings also imply that one of ISK’s key strengths, which has allowed it to survive the onslaught of state-led operations, is its access to a steady supply of experienced militants on both sides of the border that allows it to replace its top leaders and replenish its human capital.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, South Asia