• 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.

  • Home-grown terrorism

    The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on President Donald Trump to follow up his words on Monday with a strong plan of action that will ensure the kind of white supremacist violence and anti-Semitic and racist incitement witnessed in Charlottesville will not happen again. Trump’s statement came two days after the events, and after a disappointing initial reaction from the president that seemed to equate the haters with counter protesters. “This is a moment when we desperately need leadership,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “But I think we should expect our leader in the highest office in the land to step above the lowest possible bar. Statements are not sufficient at this stage in the game. We need to move from words to action. The threat is not over.”

  • Home-grown terrorism

    Dealing effectively with far-right violence requires that we treat its manifestations as domestic terrorism. I consider domestic terrorism a more significant threat than the foreign-masterminded variety in part because it is more common in terms of the number of attacks on U.S. soil. The number of violent attacks on U.S. soil inspired by far-right ideology has spiked since the beginning of this century, rising from a yearly average of 70 attacks in the 1990s to a yearly average of more than 300 since 2001. This trend reflects a deeper social change in American society. The iceberg model of political extremism can illuminate these dynamics. Murders and other violent attacks perpetrated by U.S. far-right extremists compose the visible tip of an iceberg. The rest of this iceberg is under water and out of sight. It includes hundreds of attacks every year that damage property and intimidate communities. The significant growth in far-right violence in recent years is happening at the base of the iceberg. Changes in societal norms are usually reflected in behavioral changes. It is thus more than reasonable to suspect that extremist individuals engage in such activities because they sense that their views are enjoying growing social legitimacy and acceptance, which is emboldening them to act on their bigotry.

  • Assassinations

    Security around Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has been increased for the last three weeks after U.S. intelligence has uncovered a possible plot by a powerful Venezuelan politician to assassinate the senator. Rubio has been outspoken in his criticism of the authoritarian rule of Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro. A memo DHS has circulated to local police agencies says the threat comes from Diosdado Cabello, a top Venezuelan lawmaker who is a former top military official.

  • Encryption & terrorism

    A new report details how extremists and terrorists like ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Hamas are increasingly relying on encrypted applications like Telegram to recruit new members, fundraise, incite to violence, and even coordinate terrorist activity without detection from law enforcement. Telegram’s public-facing “channels” and private messaging “chats” make it a useful weapon for extremist groups.

  • Radicalization

    Young men who leave their home countries to fight in the ranks of ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria mainly come from disadvantaged backgrounds, have low levels of education and vocational skills, and “lack any basic understanding of the true meaning of jihad or even the Islamic faith,” according to a new report by the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism. The study found that most of these fighters were “novices” in their religion and some did not know how to pray properly. “Religious belief seems to have played a minimal role in the motivation of this FTF sample,” the report concludes. Rather than being motivated by religion, many of the those who left for Syria were motivated by a sense of identity with — and a desire to help — co-religionists who were perceived as victimized. Specifically, those who left Europe for Syria felt empathy with the Sunni communities in Syria which are seen as being under attack.

  • Radicalization

    Muslim immigrants who feel marginalized and discriminated against in countries that expect them to integrate into their culture and society are more likely to experience psychological threats to their own significance that could be related to increased support of radicalism, according to new research. Marginalization and discrimination were found to predict feelings of insignificance, which became stronger with the experience of more discrimination and, in turn, predicted an attraction to fundamentalist groups and its extreme behavior, the research found.