• ARGUMENT: Designer pathogens

    Usually good for a conspiracy theory or two, President Donald Trump has suggested that the virus causing COVID-19 was either intentionally engineered or resulted from a lab accident at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. Scientists have now conclusively proved that the virus was not designed in a lab, but Vivek Wadhwa writes that if “genetic engineering wasn’t behind this pandemic, it could very well unleash the next one. With COVID-19 bringing Western economies to their knees, all the world’s dictators now know that pathogens can be as destructive as nuclear missiles.”

  • Arson terrorism

    The 2018 Camp Fire in California and the 2019 bushfires in Australia killed dozens of people, destroyed thousands of homes, and scorched millions of acres, inflicting widespread pain and steep economic costs. The most extreme terrorist groups aspire to achieve this level of death and destruction. It therefore comes as no surprise that the use of arson for terrorist purposes is not a new phenomenon. Jihadists; extremists on the far right and the far left; as well as special interest extremists, have used arson to send political messages for years.

  • Domestic terrorism

    Nineteen years after the 9/11 attacks, Americans’ ideas of what terrorism is remain tied to that morning. But focusing solely on Islamist extremism groups like al-Qaeda when investigating, researching and developing counterterrorism policies does not necessarily align with what the numbers tell us. Homegrown far-right extremism also poses a persistent and lethal threat to the lives and well-being of Americans. This risk is often underestimated because of the devastating impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It is imperative to support policies, programs and research aimed at countering all forms of violent extremism.

  • ARGUMENT: The “Forever War”

    For nearly two decades, the 11th of September has been a solemn one, dedicated to remembering those lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Luke Hartig, who served as Senior Director for Counterterrorism at the National Security Council (NSC), writes that“as the pain and trauma of that day has receded in recent years, the anniversary of 9/11 has also become a reminder of a fact we would have found inconceivable at the time: that we continue to wage war some two decades later.” It is, therefore, time to interrogate the assumptions which have undergirded the War on Terror.

  • PERSPECTIVE: Domestic terrorism

    White supremacists present the gravest terror threat to the United States, according to a draft report from the Department of Homeland Security. Betsy Woodruff Swan writes in Politico that two later draft versions of the same document — DHS’s State of the Homeland Threat Assessment 2020 — describe the threat from white supremacists in slightly different language. “But all three drafts describe the threat from white supremacists as the deadliest domestic terror threat facing the U.S., listed above the immediate danger from foreign terrorist groups.” Woodruff Swan notes that “None of the drafts Politico reviewed referred to a threat from Antifa, the loose cohort of militant left-leaning agitators who senior Trump administration officials have described as domestic terrorists.”

  • Agroterrorism

    The agriculture sector in the United States accounts for more than 5 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (about a trillion dollars) and provides jobs for more than 10 percent of U.S. workforce, and threats to the agricultural sectors. Agriculture impacts more than just the food provided for the family dinner. It’s a part of forestry, fishing, food and beverages for restaurants, textile, and leather products. In the past, biological weapons (BW) attacks were typically considered with the framework of anti-personnel attacks. Experts say that state-actors or terrorists could wreak havoc – and misery – on millions of Americans by launching attacks on the U.S. agricultural sector.

  • Domestic terrorism

    Federal prosecutors charged two self-proclaimed “Boogaloo Boys” with trying to sell weapons to someone they believed was a member of the Palestinian Islamist terrorist group Hamas for the purpose of attacking Israeli and U.S. soldiers. Prosecutors said that the two also considered becoming “mercenaries” for Hamas in order to raise funds for and boost the reputation of the Boogaloo movement.

  • PERSPECTIVE: Countering violent extremism (CVE)

    Over the past decade, with the FBI focused on surveilling and otherwise investigating suspected terrorists, the United States has relied on the Department of Homeland Security to work with local law enforcement, municipalities and communities to strengthen their capacity to prevent violent extremism. “Our research and experience shows that the department’s emphasis on security can be counterproductive and that the most promising strategies can be found in models and partnerships led by actors not involved in security,” Eric Rosand, and Stevan Weine write.

  • Je suis Charlie: Five years on

    Yesterday (Wednesday, 2 September 2020), the trial of fourteen people, accused of participating in the plot to attack the editorial offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on 7 January 2015, begins in a Paris court. As the trial begins, the magazine is reposting the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad who had made the satirical weekly a target of jihadists.

  • Je suis Charlie: Five years on

    The pencil against the Kalashnikov, the schoolboy humor against the holy war … At first glance, yes, the battle is lost. The more so as a constant cowardice dressed in silliness makes entire sections of society fall into the trap of the fight against “Islamophobia.” Saint Matthew said that “It is the violent who win.” Our enemies choose the targets, not the other way around. That’s why we must not give up. History bears witness to this: it is when it is sure of its strength, of its rights, that the free country prevails over the “violent.”

  • Terrorism

    A new guide, released by CREST, focuses on the insights criminology can provide into terrorist decision-making. It looks at what terrorists do and how they do it. The guide addresses the following questions: How do men and women decide to commit an act of terrorism? Do they plan wisely? How do they choose their targets? How do they evaluate the risk of a single operation? How is decision-making affected by the emotions felt during planning and operational phases? Can law enforcement be usefully informed by what we know about the behaviors of those who commit other kinds of crimes?

  • Terrorism

    Terrorist organizations appear to be tightening their grip on multiple regions of Africa, despite ongoing efforts by the United States and its allies to degrade their capabilities and limit their reach. The findings, part of a new report released Tuesday from the Defense Department inspector general, come as U.S.-led efforts have been forced to adjust, and in some cases, scale back activities because of the coronavirus making its way across the continent.

  • Extremism

    For the first time, a self-identified member of the militant movement known as antifa has been implicated in a fatal shooting and is reportedly under investigation in the killing of a supporter of President Donald Trump on Saturday in Portland, Oregon. If Reinoehl is implicated in the case, it would mark the first time in recent years that an antifa supporter has been charged with homicide, said Brian Levin, an expert on terrorism and extremist movements. Gary LaFree, a University of Maryland criminologist, says “We’re getting these situations where people with opposing perspectives are going in as volunteers” to enforce their views in violent ways, while the police “are not exactly sure what to do in this circumstance,” he said. “I think it’s going to be inevitable if you keep having situations like this, things are going to get out of hand.”

  • Extremism

    The movement called “antifa” gets its name from a short form of “anti-fascist,” which is about the only thing its members agree on. Antifa as a decentralized collection of individual activists who mostly use nonviolent methods to achieve their ends. There are more militant anti-fascists, too, who mostly engage in non-militant activism but are willing, at times, to use more confrontational tactics. These people are more open to counterprotesting, sabotage and the use of force, which includes acts of violence.

  • Quick Takes // By Ben Frankel

    On Saturday, a follower of antifa allegedly shot and killed Aaron Danielson, a member of the far-right group Patriot Prayer. Experts on terrorism and extremist movements note that if the charges against the alleged shooter are proven, then, as far as can be ascertained, this will be the first killing by an antifa follower. The important question is whether the killing is a one-off, or whether it signifies something deeper and more menacing. Gary LaFree, a University of Maryland criminologist, said: “We’re getting these situations where people with opposing perspectives are going in as volunteers” to enforce their views in violent ways. “I think it’s going to be inevitable if you keep having situations like this, things are going to get out of hand.”

  • Extremism

    Investigators had initially thought the attacker’s personal stress led to one of the deadliest attacks in Germany’s post-war history. But authorities now officially say he was deeply involved with far-right extremism.

  • Terrorism

    A court in Britain on Thursday sentenced Hashem Abedi, the younger brother of the suicide bomber who set off an explosion on 22 May 2017 at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, to a minimum of 55 years in jail. Among the 22 killed were seven children, the youngest aged eight. The blast injured 237 people while hundreds more were reported to have suffered from psychological trauma.

  • Terrorism

    Have we flattened the curve of global terrorism? In our COVID-19-obsessed news cycle, stories about terrorism and terrorist attacks have largely disappeared. But as is the case with epidemics, terrorism works as a phenomenon that depends on social contact and exchange, and expands rapidly in an opportunistic fashion when defenses are lowered. In fact, we have contributed, through military campaigns, to weakening the body politic of host countries in which groups like al-Qaeda, IS and other violent extremist groups have a parasitic presence. We now need to face the inconvenient truth that toxic identity politics and the tribal dynamics of hate have infected Western democracies. Limiting the scope for terrorist attacks is difficult. Eliminating the viral spread of hateful extremism is much harder, but ultimately even more important.

  • ARGUMENT: Extremism

    In the last four years, violence linked to white supremacy has eclipsed jihadi violence as the predominant form of terrorism in the United States, the Brookings Institution’s Dan Byman writes. “U.S. bureaucracies are slowly moving forward despite discouragement or indifference from on high,” he writes, noting that DHS has elevated the importance of white supremacist violence, and that the State Department has designated the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM), an ultranationalist white supremacist group, as a terrorist organization — the first time the State Department ever designated a white supremacist group as such. What might a new administration do to more effectively target white supremacist violence? Byman highlight seven areas in which the new administration may want to take action

  • Terrorism

    Hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars and hundreds of hours spent working with and training Philippine government forces appear to be doing little to dislodge Islamic State fighters entrenched in the country’s south. The assessment, part of a just-released Pentagon report, warns that at best, U.S.-supported efforts in the Philippines have fought IS and other terror groups to a stalemate, with Philippine forces unable to gain the upper hand.