• The gathering storm

    U.S. intelligence chiefs are sounding alarms about an ever more perilous future for the United States, one in which the country is in danger of seeing its influence wane, its allies waiver, and key adversaries team up to erode norms that once kept the country safe and the world more stable. “It is increasingly a challenge to prioritize which threats are of greatest importance,” Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, said, sharing testimony that often and repeatedly contradicted past assertions by President Donald Trump. “During my tenure as DNI now two years and I have told our workforce over and over that our mission was to seek the truth and speak the truth,” Coats pointedly stated. Driving many of the concerns, according to intelligence officials, is a growing alliance between Russia and China competing against the U.S. not just for military and technological superiority, but for global influence.

  • Terrorism

    Part of what makes terrorists so frightening is their penchant for unpredictable, indiscriminate violence. One day they could attack a global financial center. And the next they could hit a neighborhood bike path. A team of social-behavioral scientists and computational modelers at Sandia National Lab recently completed a two-year effort, dubbed “Mustang,” to assess interactions and behaviors of two extremist groups. The purpose was to inform U.S. and U.K. decision-makers about the groups’ possible reactions to specific communications. The model suggested several communication options that are most likely to reduce the recruitment and violence of the extremist groups over time.

  • Terrorism

    Three members of a far-right militia, who were convicted of plotting to massacre Muslims in southwest Kansas immediately after the November 2016 election, were sentenced Friday to decades in prison. The terrorist plot was foiled after another militia member informed the police. Defense attorneys, in their sentencing memo, vigorously presented what came to be known as The Trump Defense: They argued that Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric during the 2016 election made attacks against Muslims appear legitimate. The defense attorneys also argued that the plot architect had been “immersed” in Russian disinformation and far-right propaganda, leading him to believe that if Donald Trump won the election, then-President Barack Obama would declare martial law and not recognize the validity of the election — forcing armed militias to step in to ensure that Trump became president.

  • Cyberterrorism

    Bombs exploding, hostages taken and masked gunmen firing machine guns are all types of terrorist attacks we’ve seen. According to a new study, it’s the attacks we don’t see – cyberattacks – that happen more often and can cause greater destruction. “Little work has been done around the use of the internet as an attack space,” said Thomas Holt, Michigan State University professor of criminal justice and lead author. “The bottom line is that these attacks are happening and they’re overlooked. If we don’t get a handle understanding them now, we won’t fully understand the scope of the threats today and how to prevent larger mobilization efforts in the future.”

  • Home-grown terrorism

    Right-wing extremists were linked to at least 50 extremist-related murders in the United States in 2018, making them responsible for more deaths than in any year since 1995, according to new data. The tally represents a 35 percent increase from the 37 extremist-related murders in 2017, making 2018 the fourth-deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings since 1970.

  • 2001 anthrax attacks

    Time may have dimmed the memory of the 2001 anthrax attacks and the sense of urgency surrounding the efforts to identify the attacker. The attacks, which involved mailings of five anthrax-laced letters to prominent senators and media outlets, killed five individuals and made seventeen others ill. The anthrax mailings played a crucial role in raising concerns over possible terrorist use of biological agents in attacks against the homeland. As a result of the anthrax scare, Americans’ perceptions of terrorism came to include an existential fear of biological terrorism.

  • Virtual terrorism

    “One of the characteristics of Virtual Terrorism is that it allows countries like North Korea (and Iran) to punch well above their weight in the cyber arena, and conduct their own form of ‘diplomacy’ on the cyber battlefield. These countries have already attacked the U.S. and other countries – all countries with the capability to do so, do so,” says Daniel Wagner. “The best way to fight it is to help ensure that as many people as possible understand what it is, what some of the challenges are in fighting it, and what can we do about it.”

  • Extremism

    German police on Wednesday conducted raids on several properties throughout Germany connected to an extremist group which associates itself with the American Ku Klux Klan. Germany’s domestic intellig agency said around forty people are either under surveillance or investigation for connections with the extreme-right group.

  • Extremism

    The KKK’s sway on the racist, far-right end of the spectrum has declined as other, more contemporary hate groups have emrged as part of the alt-right. In Germany, however, some violent groups on the right fringe have associated themselves with the KKK. An author of a recent book on the KKK in Germany discusses the danger of the KKK and why it has emetrged on the German right fringe.

  • Terrorism

    A Polish man accused of involvement in the firebombing of a Hungarian cultural center in western Ukraine last year says he received instructions on the attack from a German journalist who has worked as a consultant for a German parliament deputy with the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

  • Radicalization in prison

    New research shows people imprisoned on terrorism offenses stand a better chance of being rehabilitated when placed in general prison populations, than when kept in isolation or in a separate location with other terrorists. The study challenges the traditional view that violent extremist offenders will spread their radical ideology amongst other prisoners.

  • Airport security

    Airports could be equipped with technology capable of detecting and bringing down drones that stray into their air space, according to Dan Hermansen, chief technology officer of Danish anti-drone firm MyDefence. The company has developed a drone alarm and protection system that is being installed at a number of prominent sites around Europe, including an airport. It has the potential to prevent the kind of costly disruption that hit London’s Gatwick and Heathrow airports recently.

  • Border security

    U.S. counterterrorism officials are sticking by their assessment that terror groups like Islamic State and al-Qaeda are not actively trying to sneak operatives into the country from Mexico, despite claims by the White House and Homeland Security officials that “the threat is real.” “We do not see any evidence that ISIS or other Sunni terrorist groups are trying to infiltrate the southern U.S. border,” a senior counterterrorism official first told VOA in November, while acknowledging the existence of “vulnerabilities at both our northern and southern borders.”

  • Terrorism

    The European Union (EU) announced that it would place a unit of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and two of its agents under sanctions for attempted terror plots on European soil, Reuters reported Tuesday. The EU’s decision follows two well-publicized attempted terror attacks against dissidents in Paris and Denmark last year.

  • Terrorism

    Acts of terrorism are harrowing and can cause extensive damage and tragic deaths, and they have been occurring with alarming frequency over the last decade. Scholars, governments and analysts have spent a lot of time exploring individual motivations of terrorists. However, terrorist activities are typically performed by groups, not isolated individuals. Examining the role of team dynamics in terrorist activities can elucidate how terrorist teams radicalize, organize and make decisions. There is a common misconception in the West that leaders of terrorist groups are recruiting and brainwashing people into giving up their lives to establish a new political order. This is an incorrect model that has been vastly exaggerated in the media, based on a Western understanding of leadership.

  • Hemispheric security

    The Colombian government said that the country’s security services had foiled a plot to kill President Ivan Duque. The security services said that the plot involved three Venezuelans who were recently arrested with assault weapons. The conservative Ivan Duque has been a vocal critic of his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro.

  • Extremism

    More than seventy years after the defeat of Nazi Germany, ethno-nationalist and white supremacist movements in Europe continue to thrive. They include far-right political parties, neo-Nazi movements, and apolitical protest groups. These groups’ outward rejection of violence expands the reach of their message, and  can increase the potential for radicalization.

  • Hate speech

    In a landmark move, a group of MPs recently published a working definition of the term Islamophobia. They defined it as “rooted in racism,” and as “a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” In our latest working paper, we wanted to better understand the prevalence and severity of such Islamophobic hate speech on social media. Such speech harms targeted victims, creates a sense of fear among Muslim communities, and contravenes fundamental principles of fairness. But we faced a key challenge: while extremely harmful, Islamophobic hate speech is actually quite rare.

  • Terrorism

    Manchester, U.K. police said Tuesday they are treating the New Year’s Eve stabbing of three people as a terrorist incident. Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said two people suffered “very serious” injuries in the attack and remain in the hospital receiving treatment. A police sergeant who was stabbed in the shoulder has been released.

  • Syria

    About 20,000 people were killed this year in Syria’s civil war — a record low in a conflict that has already claimed half a million lives. The largest death toll was 76,000 in 2014. The recent announcement of U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria has raised fears that violence could flare up again in 2019.