• Vehicular terrorism

    Vehicular terrorist attacks are becoming “more commonplace around the globe.” Terrorists are increasingly relying on low-sophistication tactics like car-ramming and stabbing to kill or injure large groups of people without easy detection or intervention by law enforcement. These assailants often target locations where large numbers of people congregate, particularly on or around major national holidays, when civilians are likely to be outdoors shopping or celebrating.

  • Synthetic biology

    Given the possible security vulnerabilities related to developments in synthetic biology – a field that uses technologies to modify or create organisms or biological components – a new report by the National Academies of Sciences proposes a framework to identify and prioritize potential areas of concern associated with the field. “While biotechnology is being pursued primarily for beneficial and legitimate purposes, there are potential uses that are detrimental to humans, other species, and ecosystems,” says one of the report’s authors.

  • Black Ribbon Day

    Today, 23 August, is celebrated in Europe as the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism. It is also called Black Ribbon Day. It commemorates the signing the neutrality pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union – a pact which led, a week later, to the joint invasion and division of Poland by the two powers — the opening move of the Second World War. “Extremism, nationalism, xenophobia and hatred can still be heard in public speech in Europe,” the European Commission said earlier today. “Keeping these memories alive is not only a tribute to the victims but also a way to ensure that these ideologies can be forcefully rejected and such atrocities never happen again.”

  • Terrorism

    A court in Australia was told that volatile chemical explosives, nicknamed “mother of Satan,” were found in the possession of four men accused of plotting a Christmas Day terrorist attack in Melbourne. The Australian reports that federal police chemicals expert Dr. Vincent Otieno-Alego told Melbourne magistrates court on Tuesday that he analyzed substances that could produce up to 2g of triacetone triperoxide (TATP).

  • Terrorists & social media

    The use of social media by a diversity of violent extremists and terrorists and their supporters has been a matter of concern for law enforcement and politicians for some time. While it appears that Twitter is now severely disrupting pro-IS accounts on its platform, our research found that other jihadists were not subject to the same levels of take down. The migration of the pro-IS social media community from Twitter to the messaging service Telegram particularly bears watching. Telegram currently has a lower profile than Twitter with a smaller user base and higher barriers to entry, with users required to provide a mobile phone number to create an account. While this means that fewer people are being exposed to IS’s online content via Telegram, and are thereby in a position to be radicalized by it, it may mean that Telegram’s pro-IS community is more committed and therefore poses a greater security risk than its Twitter variant.

  • Iran

    Israel remains concerned about Iranian influence in southern Syria, despite high level discussions between U.S. and Israeli security officials in Washington last week. An Israeli media report noted that the delegation shared “sensitive, credible and deeply troubling intelligence,” showing the expanding deployment of Iranian forces in Syria, which estimates put at 500 Iranian army soldiers, 5,000 Hezbollah fighters, and several thousand guerrillas from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

  • Killer robots

    An open letter by 116 tech leaders from 26 countries urges the United Nations against opening the Pandora’s box of lethal robot weapons. The open letter is the first time that AI and robotics companies have taken a joint stance on the issue. “Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare,” the letter states. “Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways. We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.”

  • Terrorism

    Terrorists have murdered 3,342 people on U.S. soil from 1992 through 12 August 2017. Islamists committed 92 percent of all those murders; right-wing terrorists account for 219 murders (6.6 percent of all terrorist deaths), and left-wing terrorism killed 23 people since 1992. If we exclude the 9/11 attack (2,983 deaths) and the Oklahoma attack (168 deaths), then Islamist-inspired terrorists are responsible for 53 percent of terrorist murders in the United States; right-wing terrorists account for 5.7 percent of the total, and left-wing terrorists are responsible for 0.26 percent of the total.

  • Terrorism

    The recent terrorist attacks in Spain and Finland once again compel us to ask: Who joins the Islamic State, and why? Evidence suggests that the radicalization model – that is, a step-by-step process whereby individuals cut themselves off from social networks such as family and immerse themselves in a radical religious counterculture — is, at best, only part of the story. More likely, this model is wrong or not universally applicable. Experts say that the evidence suggests that rather than joining a radically different religious counterculture, individuals are attracted to IS because its actions reaffirm the cultural values of those who are marginalized, or those who exhibit what psychiatrists call “anti-social personality disorders.” Could it be that IS volunteers are drawn to a value system that asserts an aggressive machismo, disparages steady work, and sustains the impulse for immediate gratification? Are they attracted to a culture that promotes redemption through violence, loyalty, patriarchal values, self-sacrifice to the point of martyrdom and the diminution of women to objects of pleasure? In this reading, IS more closely resembles the sort of street gang with which many of its Western and Westernized enlistees are familiar than its more austere competitor, al-Qaeda.

  • Hate groups

    In late February, an anti-Semitic website known as the Daily Stormer — which receives more than 2.8 million monthly visitors — announced, “Jews Destroy Another One of Their Own Graveyards to Blame Trump.” The story was inspired by the recent desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. To whom, and how many, this example of conspiracy mongering may travel is, in part, the story of “fake news,” the phenomenon in which biased propaganda is disseminated as if it were objective journalism in an attempt to corrupt public opinion. Looking at the most-visited websites of what were once diminished movements – white supremacists, xenophobic militants, and Holocaust deniers, to name a few – reveals a much-revitalized online culture. When he was asked about the Philadelphia vandalism, President Trump told the Pennsylvania attorney general the incident was “reprehensible.” But he then went on to speculate that it might have been committed “to make others look bad.” That feeds the very doubt that extremist groups thrive on. And the cycle continues.

  • Hemispheric security

    CIA director Mike Pompeo warned that Iran and Hezbollah’s growing presence in Venezuela poses a serious threat to the United States. Pompeo said that the chaos in Venezuela has the potential to negatively impact the U.S.“The Cubans are there; the Russians are there, the Iranians, Hezbollah are there.” He continued, “This is something that has a risk of getting to a very, very bad place, so America needs to take this very seriously.”

  • Alt-right & the media

    In late February, an anti-Semitic website known as the Daily Stormer — which receives more than 2.8 million monthly visitors — announced, “Jews Destroy Another One of Their Own Graveyards to Blame Trump.” The story was inspired by the recent desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. To whom, and how many, this example of conspiracy mongering may travel is, in part, the story of “fake news,” the phenomenon in which biased propaganda is disseminated as if it were objective journalism in an attempt to corrupt public opinion. Looking at the most-visited websites of what were once diminished movements – white supremacists, xenophobic militants, and Holocaust deniers, to name a few – reveals a much-revitalized online culture. When he was asked about the Philadelphia vandalism, President Trump told the Pennsylvania attorney general the incident was “reprehensible.” But he then went on to speculate that it might have been committed “to make others look bad.” That feeds the very doubt that extremist groups thrive on. And the cycle continues.

  • Terrorism

    At least thirteen people were killed and scores injured when a terrorist drove a rented van into a crowded sidewalk in one of Barcelona’s busiest streets. The attack took place early evening Spain’s time (mid-day EST). In March 2004 Spain was hit by the deadliest jihadist attack in Europe, when bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people. Al Qaeda took responsibility for the attack, saying it was in retaliation for Spain joining the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

  • Alt-right

    Alongside the racism, nativism, and xenophobia on display at Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the event was also an expression of the animating power of anti-Semitism. Marchers threw Nazi salutes as they waved swastika flags, proudly wore swastika pins and shirts, and shouted “sieg heil!” A sign carried by rally-goers warned that the “Jewish media is going down;” another declared that “Jews are Satan’s children.” “Blood and soil,” which the white supremacists chanted several times, is the translation of the Nazi slogan, “Blut und Boden.” these were only the external trappings of anti-Semitism. The entire Unite the Right rally was built on racial and conspiratorial anti-Semitism.

  • Alt-right

    The weekend clashes between white nationalist demonstrators and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia., which killed a 32-year-old woman and injured others has reignited long-simmering fears that racist hate groups are resurgent nationally and now may feel emboldened to push their goals publicly. Bart Bonikowski, an associate professor in Harvard’s Sociology Department, has studied the discourse of populist movements in the United States and Europe, with an emphasis on the processes that animate nationalist political movements. He says that he doubts that he doubts that the widespread public backlash suggests these groups might dial back their incendiary efforts. “It’s hard to predict the future, but I doubt that this will be the case. As I mentioned, these movements thrive when they receive attention in the media, regardless of whether it’s good or bad. And in this case, they’re getting the media attention as well as support from the president. So, if anything, this is likely to give them an incentive to hold more rallies and become more extremist in their practices.”

  • Alt-right

    In the wake of the 12 August confrontations between protesters and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, some progressives are calling for legal restrictions on the display of the Nazi flag. These arguments are entirely understandable, but they often misapply existing First Amendment law, and they suppress free speech values that progressives — more than anyone else — should want to defend, says a Constitutional law expert.

  • Terrorism

    The number of terrorist attacks and resulting deaths worldwide decreased in 2016, but an increase in activity in Iraq and the ongoing violence of tISIS curbed the reduction, according to a new report from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism’s Global Terrorism Database (GTD). In 2016, more than 13,400 terrorist attacks took place around the world, resulting in more than 34,000 total deaths, including more than 11,600 perpetrator deaths. This represents a 9 percent decrease in the total number of terrorist attacks, and a 10 percent decrease in the total number of deaths, in comparison to 2015.

  • Domestic terrorism

    Leaving aside the moral issues raised by President Donald Trump’s unsettling insistence on equating neo-Nazis and anti-Nazis, experts say that the president’s assertion, in his Tuesday’s press conference, that left-inspired violence in the United States is as bad as violence generated by the extreme right, is patently false. The FBI, DHS, and state and local law enforcement consider right-wing extremists to be an order of magnitude more dangerous to public safety in the United States than left-leaning extremists. Domestic security experts estimate that there are 400,000-500,000 Americans who are affiliated, in one way or another, with various right-wing extremist groups, compared with a few thousand Antifa, Black Box, and other militant left-wing activists.

  • Alt-right

    Over the past year, far-right activists – which some have labeled the “alt-right” – have gone from being an obscure, largely online subculture to a player at the very center of American politics. Long relegated to the cultural and political fringe, alt-right activists were among the most enthusiastic supporters of Donald Trump. Former Breitbart.com executive Steve Bannon – who declared the website “the platform for the alt-right” – is the president’s chief political strategist. To its critics, the alt-right is just a code term for white nationalism, a much-maligned ideology associated with neo-Nazis and Klansmen. The movement, however, is more nuanced, encompassing a much broader spectrum of right-wing activists and intellectuals. Unlike old-school white nationalist movements, the alt-right has endeavored to create a self-sustaining counterculture, which includes a distinct vernacular, memes, symbols and a number of blogs and alternative media outlets. Now that it has been mobilized, the alt-right is gaining a firmer foothold in American politics.

  • Alt-right

    In response to recent events, including the deadly white nationalist violence in Charlottesville this weekend, the SPLC released a new edition of Ten Ways to Fight Hate, its guide for “effectively – and peacefully – taking a stand against bigotry,” as the organization describes it. The guide, which has been updated for 2017, sets out ten principles for taking action, including how to respond to a hate rally that has targeted your town.