• Rules governing targeted killing by U.S. drones need clarifying

    Since the beginning of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has dramatically increased use of unmanned drones, developing technology to target and kill those identified as being terrorist leaders. Current U.S. policies on using drones for targeted killing are characterized by ambiguities in interpretations of international law and too many generalities, despite recent efforts by the Obama administration to clarify the policies, a new report finds.

  • ISIS new publication shows the terror group is struggling to regain its footing

    ISIS’s new publication, called Rumiyah (Arabic for Rome) appears to be yet another typical ISIS media product, combining glossy pictures with Islamist propaganda. A terrorism expert says, however, that the publication suggests that the organization may be struggling to cope with the mounting pressures of unrelenting airstrikes and increasingly more effective Turkish, Kurdish, and Iraqi military offensives on the ground.

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  • U.S. violating nonproliferation agreement: Nuclear experts

    More than two dozen nuclear experts, including former U.S. officials under the six preceding presidents of both parties, accused the Obama administration of violating a 2012 nonproliferation agreement to end exports to Europe of bomb-grade, highly enriched uranium (HEU) for production of medical isotopes. The administration proposes to export sixteen pounds of nuclear weapons-grade uranium metal to France to produce medical isotopes in Belgium and the Netherlands.

  • U.S. has killed 45,000 ISIS militants since September 2014; 3 U.S. soldiers killed by ISIS

    The U.S.-to-ISIS “kill ratio,” that is, the number of American soldiers killed relative to the number of killed ISIS militants, is a staggering, and unprecedented, 15,000-to-1. The U.S. military claims to have killed 45,000 militants, including a number of senior leaders, since the September 2014 launching of the U.S.-led coalition campaign against ISIS. Only three U.S. troops have been killed in the campaign. The U.S. killed 6,000 militants between September and December 2014, and 39,000 between January 2015 and July 2016.

  • White Nationalist groups growing much faster than ISIS on Twitter

    The number of White Nationalists and self-identified Nazi sympathizers on Twiter had multiplied more than 600 percent in the last four years — outpacing ISIS in all social media aspects, from the number of follower counts to the number of daily tweets, a new study found. The study’s author notes that ISIS has gained a reputation for effectively using Twitter for propaganda and recruitment, but that White Nationalist groups have excelled even more in exploiting the medium. The report says that unlike the campaign Twitter has been conducting against ISIS, White Nationalists are continuing to use the service with “relative impunity.”

  • Muslim women in the West wear a veil to signal they are integrating into a modern, secular world: Study

    Researchers have studied why young, highly educated Muslim women who live in modern urban environments may be choosing to wear the veil and have uncovered a paradox. Their study, which drew on data of thousands of women living in Belgium, Turkey, and twenty-five Muslim countries, suggests that women who cover their head this way are often doing so because they are engaging with a modern, secular world.

  • Solar-powered Ring Garden combines desalination, agriculture for drought-stricken California

    With roughly 80 percent of California’s already-scarce water supply going to agriculture, it is crucial for the state to embrace new technologies that shrink the amount of water required to grow food. Alexandru Predonu has designed an elegant solution which uses solar energy to power a rotating desalination plant and farm that not only produces clean drinking water for the city of Santa Monica, but also food crops — including algae.

  • Solar-powered Pipe desalinizes 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water for California

    The infrastructure California needs to generate energy for electricity and clean water, which will be significant, need not blight the landscape. Designs like The Pipe demonstrate how the provision of public services like these can be knitted into every day life in a healthy, aesthetically pleasing way.

  • Iran received secret exemptions from complying with some facets of nuclear deal

    The nuclear deal between the P5+1 powers and Iran – the official named is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — placed detailed limitations on facets of Iran’s nuclear program that needed to be met by Implementation Day, which took place on 16 January 2016. Most of the conditions were met by Iran, but some nuclear stocks and facilities were not in accordance with JCPOA limits on Implementation Day. In anticipation, the Joint Commission had earlier and secretly exempted them from the JCPOA limits. “Since the JCPOA is public, any rationale for keeping these exemptions secret appears unjustified,” say two experts. “Moreover, the Joint Commission’s secretive decision making process risks advantaging Iran by allowing it to try to systematically weaken the JCPOA. It appears to be succeeding in several key areas.”

  • Austin poised to become first "sanctuary city" in Texas

    Austin is set to become the first sanctuary city in Texas. And in a move that would defy not just Republican orthodoxy but also the Obama administration’s policy on deporting criminal immigrants, the county where Austin sits is on the verge of ending cooperation with the federal government on immigration matters.

  • A new generation of low-cost, networked, nuclear-radiation detectors

    A DARPA program aimed at preventing attacks involving radiological “dirty bombs” and other nuclear threats has successfully developed and demonstrated a network of smartphone-sized mobile devices that can detect the tiniest traces of radioactive materials. Combined with larger detectors along major roadways, bridges, other fixed infrastructure, and in vehicles, the new networked devices promise significantly enhanced awareness of radiation sources and greater advance warning of possible threats.

  • North Korea creates specials nuclear backpack units to infiltrate the South

    North Korea has established a special infantry unit whose soldiers are being trained for a one-way mission: in the event of war with South Korea, they will infiltrate the South carrying nuclear devices in backpacks and detonate their weapons in the middle of population centers. North Korean military issued calls to the nation’s soldiers to become human “nuclear arsenals” in the event of war in the region. Military analysts said the units are, in effect, suicide squads, resembling the Japanese kamikaze pilots sent to attack Allied warships toward the end of the Second World War.

  • Virginia man driven to join ISIS because it gave him a “sense of belonging”: Judge

    Seven young men arrested in Virginia for planning to join ISIS have been described in court as struggling to find work or finish school. “ISIS has done a good job projecting that they are not just about violence,” says one expert. “They know that they’re going to appeal to the young person who’s just pissed off and has had a bad deal. But they also want the dreamer, the North American converts who are virtually clueless about Islam but are beguiled by this fantasy that they’ve bought into.” Joseph Farrokh, 29, who in July was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison, wrote the Judge that ultimately he was attracted to the terror group because its propaganda gave him a “sense of belonging.”

  • Want to prevent lone wolf terrorism? Promote a “sense of belonging”

    Why are we seeing a rash of lone-wolf terrorist attacks in Europe and especially in France, and are measures such as the burkini ban in France effective in countering them? What have we learned from the horrors of the Charlie Hebdo shooting, the murder of 130 people in and around Paris last November, the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, and the killing of an 85-year-old priest inside of a church in Normandy? How can we hope to prevent future attacks? Security can be heightened, and intelligence efforts can be redoubled, but these measure may not be sufficient. We need to change our focus, to examining these perpetrators’ “sense of belonging” rather than looking for reasons to detain or expel them because they don’t belong.

  • GW Program on Extremism expands research, expertise

    Since its launch in June 2015, the George Washington University’s Program on Extremism has contributed research and analysis on violent and non-violent extremism. GW notes the program’s report ISIS in America: From Retweets to Raqqa has been used by policymakers and law enforcement as a trusted source. Now in its second year, program leadership says they will continue to grow as a leading resource of expertise and research on extremism by expanding with new initiatives and hires.