• The Cost of the Global War on terror: $6.4 trillion, 801,000 Lives

    The estimated cost to the United States of America’s counterterrorism efforts, launched nearly two decades ago in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, stands at $6.4 trillion. An estimated $5.4 trillion of that total has funded, and will continue to fund, counterterrorism wars and smaller operations in more than 80 countries; an additional minimum of $1 trillion will provide care for veterans of those wars through the next several decades.

  • Do People Regard Terrorism More Important after Major Attacks?

    Paris, Brussels, Nice, Manchester and Barcelona: over the past years, the European Union has regularly been shaken by terrorist attacks. But what is the true impact of terrorism? Researchers looked at ten jihadi attacks and concluded that there are major differences between European countries.

  • New Report on Russia’s Online Operations: Pseudo-Think Tanks, Personas

    The Kremlin used many different techniques in its effective campaigns of interference in the politics of Western democracies, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election. One such technique is “narrative laundering” – the technique of moving a certain narrative from its state-run origins to the wider media ecosystem through the use of aligned publications, “useful idiots,” and, perhaps, witting participants. “Given that many of these tactics are analogs of those used in Cold-War influence operations, it seems certain that they will continue to be refined and updated for the internet era, and are likely to be used to greater effect,” a new report says.

  • Accelerationism: The Obscure Idea Inspiring White Supremacist Killers around the World

    In late July, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that a majority of the domestic terrorism cases in the United States “are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence.” Recent white supremacist terrorists were often linked to the alt-right, but Zack Beauchamp writes that these killers “are more tightly connected to a newer and more radical white supremacist ideology”: It’s called “accelerationism.”

  • Florida’s Building Code Doesn’t Take Sea Rise into Account. That Could Change This Year.

    The last time the Florida building code changed, in 2016, it required any new construction along the coast to elevate buildings by one foot. Three years later, this does not look to be enough. Experts call for going up yet another foot. Alex Harris notes that elevating the base of homes is a clear sign that political debates over climate change notwithstanding, “the people who plan and build in coastal Florida consider the threat of sea rise very real.”

  • Here’s How Russia Will Attack the 2020 Election. We’re Still Not Ready.

    In 2016, the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence branch, launched a massive, and successful disinformation campaign to change the way Americans were talking about the two candidates – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Among the GRU’s most effective disinformation techniques was one known as “narrative laundering,” which aims to inject the Kremlin’s preferred stories – real, fake, or doctored — into mainstream American media. “It is quite possible that these exact techniques will be used again,” Renee DiResta, Michael McFaul, and Alex Stamos write. “And why shouldn’t they? We’ve done almost nothing to counter the threat.”

  • Fighting Deepfakes When Detection Fails

    Deepfakes intended to spread misinformation are already a threat to online discourse, and there is every reason to believe this problem will become more significant in the future. Automated deepfake detection is likely to become impossible in the relatively near future, as the approaches that generate fake digital content improve considerably.

  • Five Faces of Russia’s Soft Power: Far Left, Far Right, Orthodox Christian, Russophone, and Ethnoreligious Networks

    Does Russia exercise true “soft power”—the power of attraction—in any significant measure? Şener Aktürk writes that while some argue that the power Russia exerts is not really soft power, “I suggest Russia’s soft power may be at least as great as its hard power in international politics.” There are at least five different categories of foreign audiences that espouse a pro-Russian geopolitical identity – “In addition to pro-Russian far right parties and networks, which have attracted most of the attention of scholars and journalists, there are also far left, Orthodox Christian, Russophone, and various ethnoreligious and separatist groups that favor a pro-Russian geopolitical identity.”

  • Worried about an Islamic State Comeback? Here's Why That's Unlikely

    When President Trump hastily decided to withdrew U.S. forces from northern Syria, giving a green light for Turkey to invade, many, including those not typically critical of the president, worried that a U.S. withdrawal would give the Islamic State a chance to rise again. “The Islamic State may make modest gains with the United States gone — but as the Baghdadi raid reveals, the U.S.-led counterterrorism campaign will not end and a full comeback is unlikely,” Daniel Byman writes.

  • Trinidad’s Islamic State Problem

    One of the most alarming aspects of the Islamic State has been its ability to draw recruits and sympathizers from around the world, but not only from countries known as hotbeds of radicalism. It may come as a surprise to many that, on a per-capita basis, Trinidad was one of the largest providers of volunteers for the caliphate. How did Trinidad get to this point in the first place?

  • FBI Releases Lone Offender Terrorism Report

    The FBI’s Behavioral Threat Assessment Center (BTAC) on Wednesday released its Lone Offender Terrorism Report. The study, reflecting BTAC’s focus on past terrorism and targeted violence events, reviewed 52 lone offender terrorist attacks within the United States between 1972 and 2015. The BTAC study compared numerous offender motivational factors encompassing their backgrounds, family and social networks, behavioral characteristics, radicalization, attack planning, and bystander observations.

  • Germany: Far-Right Lawmaker Punished over Anti-Semitism

    German lawmakers on Wednesday, in a move which is unprecedented in modern German history, removed a far-right politician from his position as the chairman of the powerful Legal Affairs Committee of the Bundestag. The move came after the politician, Stephan Brandner, has repeatedly made anti-Semitic comments. All the parties in the Bundestag, except his own AfD party, voted to strip him of the committee’s chairmanship.

  • Private Vendors Critical to Election Security Inadequately Supervised

    Private vendors build and maintain much of the election infrastructure in the United States with minimal oversight by the federal government. A new report presents the risks this poses to the security of our elections and offers a solution.

  • Iran’s Nuclear Weapons “Breakout” Time Getting Shorter: Experts

    The Trump administration’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, and the administration’s “maximum pressure” policy, are failing to yield the desired results, as Iran, pursuing a methodical “creep-out” strategy, is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. In 2015, Iran’s “breakout” time, that is, the amount of time Iran would need to produce enough weapon-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon, was three months. The 2015 agreement, by imposing serve technical restrictions and intrusive monitoring, increased Iran’s breakout time to about twelve months. Experts now say that since the U.S. withdrawal from the treaty, Iran’s breakout time has been reduced to 6-10 months. “The breakout time will decrease further as Iran increases its stock of enriched uranium and installs more centrifuges,” the experts say.

  • How Fake News Spreads Like a Real Virus

    When it comes to real fake news, the kind of disinformation that Russia deployed during the 2016 elections, “going viral” isn’t just a metaphor. Using the tools for modelling the spread of infectious disease, cyber-risk researchers at Stanford Engineering are analyzing the spread of fake news much as if it were a strain of Ebola.