• 2019: Looking back: Terrorism

    Recent years saw the emergence of different foreign and now domestic extremist movements — whether motivated by Jihadi preaching or white nationalism — which have adopted and actively advocated via social media a strategy which encourages “lone wolves” to engage in individual acts of violence against a large number of designated enemies.

  • 2019: Looking back: Iran

    The year which ends today saw growing tensions between Iran and the United States. The United States withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, but the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign, while causing some economic difficulties inside Iran, has failed to dissuade Iran from pursuing its two related strategic goals: Achieve regional hegemony in the Middle East, and shorten the nuclear weapons break-out time, that is, the time it would take Iran to build a functioning nuclear weapon once a decision to do so has been made.

  • Perspective: Terror financing

    The Islamic State has discovered blockchain. The technology which powers cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum promises to revolutionize almost all facets of society, from payment processing to online voting. David Gilbert writes that now ISIS is actively testing a blockchain-based messaging app that could provide everything it needs to thrive: secure, anonymous communication, a tamper-proof repository for beheading videos and other ISIS propaganda, and perhaps most ominously, the ability to transfer cryptocurrency anywhere in the world.

  • Perspective: The Troubles

    The Troubles is the name given to the bloody war between Nationalists and Unionists in Northern Ireland, a war which began in the late 1960s and ended with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. In a tiny country of a million and a half people, over three and a half thousand were killed in the Troubles. Almost fifty thousand were seriously injured. Nick Laird, a Northern Irish novelist and poet who experienced the inter-communal violence as a teenager, writes that unless care is taken, one of the consequences of Brexit might be the resumption of violence.

  • Perspective

    The Washington Post last week released 611 documents as part of an investigative project called “The Afghanistan Papers.” Carrie Lee writes that the revelations “are in many cases shocking”: “The trove — a combination of interview notes, memos, and emails — strongly suggests that the U.S. government systematically misled the American people about military, diplomatic, and economic progress in Afghanistan.”

  • Extremism

    The number of far-right radicals referred to the U.K. government’s Prevent counterextremism program has almost doubled in three years, official statistics show: 1,389 people were directed to Prevent in the year to March 2019 because of concerns about their radical-right activities, an annual increase of 6 percent — and a new record. That number is nearly double the figure from 2015-16. The number of suspected Islamist extremists being referred to Prevent in the year to March 2019 was 1,404, a drop of 56 percent in a year and considerably below the peak of 5,000 in 2015-16.

  • Online hate

    Artificial intelligence is being developed which will allow advisory “quarantining” of hate speech in a manner akin to malware filters – offering users a way to control exposure to “hateful content” without resorting to censorship.

  • Terrorism

    The Turkish government is allowing Hamas operatives to plan attacks against Israel from Turkey. Israel has, on numerous occasions recently, given the Turkish authorities detailed intelligence information that Hamas operative exploit Turkish hospitality to planning, and train for, attacks on Israeli targets. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is reported to have responded: “We will keep on supporting our brothers in Palestine.”

  • Extremism

    German government statistics show that in 2018 there were more than 24,000 active right-wing extremists in Germany, with about 12,500 of them considered capable of carrying out violent acts. The total number of these extremists is expected to increase in 2019 by as much as a third, to 32,200, according to government documents obtained by the newspaperTagesspiegel. On Tuesday, The German government unveiled broad new measures to restructure domestic intelligence and law enforcement agencies in 2020 in order to make the German intelligence and law enforcement services more capable to fight the rising threat of right-wing extremism.

  • Perspective: War in Afghanistan

    To accuse U.S. officials of deceit and duplicity in their dealings with the American people is a serious charge. Michael O’Hanlon writes that this is arguably what happened in Vietnam, to a large. Now, the Washington Post has accused U.S. officials of both parties and several recent administrations of a similar pattern of untruthfulness and deceit with regard to the American-led mission in Afghanistan since 2001. “Does this charge hold up?” O’Hanlom asks. His answer: “The short answer is no.”

  • Radicalization

    The deadly shooting by a Saudi national last week at the Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida has raised questions about radicalization in Saudi Arabia’s military ranks. According to the U.S. State Department, more than 5,500 temporary visas were issued to Saudi military personnel in 2019 alone. As of last week, 852 Saudi nationals were in the U.S. for Pentagon-sponsored training on security cooperation.

  • African security

    An attack Tuesday on a military base in west Niger left 71 dead and a score missing, according to a statement from the Niger Ministry of Defense. Jihadists have increased the frequency, scope, and boldness of their deadly attacks in the Sahel, particularly in Mali, Niger, and Burkina, despite the increased presence of French troops, now numbered around 4,500, who take part in the Barkhane operation, and the presence of more than 14,000 UN peacekeepers in the area.

  • Perspective: Deradicalization

    The question of how best to rehabilitate terrorists is becoming more acute: As Islamic State’s “caliphate” collapsed, hundreds of fighters and fellow travelers returned to European countries, including Britain – and jails in England and Wales house a churning population of hundreds convicted of terrorist offenses. Keeping terrorists behind bars for too short a time is risky – but so is keeping them for much longer periods. Either way, inmates must be released eventually, writes The Economist. “If extra years behind bars are poorly funded and structured, they ‘risk making bad people worse,’ says Nick Hardwick, an ex-boss of the parole board.”

  • Perspective: Deradicalization

    The architect of the U.K. government program for moving convicted terrorists from prison into the community says the current system lacks the “legitimacy and credibility” required to rehabilitate extremists safely. His assessment follows the attack at London Bridge by convicted terrorist Usman Khan, who was out on license from prison when he killed Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, and injured three others during a meeting of the Cambridge University rehabilitation initiative Learning Together on 29 November.

  • Perspective: Extremism

    Telegram, the online social networking, may not be as popular in the U.S. as Twitter or Facebook, but with more than 200 million users, it has a significant audience. And it is gaining popularity. ADL reports that Telegram has become a popular online gathering place for the international white supremacist community and other extremist groups who have been displaced or banned from more popular sites.

  • Argument

    Last Friday, Usman Khan, a 28-year-old British national who was released from prison on parole in December 2018 after serving eight years for terrorism offenses, killed two people a machete near London Bridge. Earlier in the day, at the same site, he had attended an alumni celebration event hosted by the organizers of Cambridge University’s Learning Together program, having been invited to share his experiences as a former prisoner.Simon Cottee writes that the question raised by Khan, who was killed by police as he fled the scene of his attack, is about redemption and whether it’s either right or prudent to give convicted terrorists a second chance. “I have some degree of sympathy for this view [that everyone should be given second chance], but it needs to be massively tempered with a keen sense of not just what is right but also what is prudent” he writes.

  • Terrorism

    Can prison rehabilitation programs work, and is it sensible to try and rehabilitate seriously radicalized individuals convicted on terrorism charges? These are questions not just for the U.K., in the wake of the second London Bridge attack over the weekend, but for the entire world.

  • Argument: Terrorists

    Usman Khan, a 28-year old terrorist who on Friday killed two people on the London Bridge before being killed by the police, served time in jail for “terrorist offenses” and was monitored by the British police. Ian Acheson, who, in 2016, at the request of then-Justice Minister Michael Gove, led a team of investigators who wrote a detailed and highly critical report about the way radicalized Islamist terrorists are managed in jail and after their release, writes: “What we found was so shockingly bad that I had to agree to the language in the original report being toned down. With hindsight, I’m not sure that was the right decision.”

  • Argument

    The newly released U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Strategic Framework for Countering Terrorism and Targeted Violence specifically highlighted the problem of increasing terrorist attacks perpetrated by individual who are not affiliated with any organization and who are motivated by white nationalist propaganda readily available online. “Policymakers and practitioners need to find new and creative ways to undermine far-right ideology, breaking down its conspiracy theories and severing its ability to recruit new followers, including amongst returning servicemembers,” Bruce Hoffman and Jacob Ware write.

  • Extremism

    About one in four Europeans polled harbor pernicious and pervasive attitudes toward Jews, according to a new global survey on anti-Semitism commissioned by ADL (the Anti-Defamation League). While anti-Semitic attitudes held mostly steady in Western Europe, the poll found hateful notions about Jews are rising in Eastern and Central European countries polled.