• The ISIS Files: How the caliphate was run

    Through five trips to Iraq, a team of journalists from the New York Times uncovered a trove of Islamic State documents that explain how the group took control of Iraq and Syria. Taken together, the documents show how ISIS, for a short period of time, established its own government, or caliphate.

  • Israeli strike unrelated to Syria’s chemical attack

    Israeli warplanes flying over Lebanon launched missiles at a Syrian regime airbase in the desert east of the city of Homs. Israel has attacked an Iranian command-and-control center at the airbase back in February. The attack on T-4, or Tiyas, was not related to the Saturday Syrian army chemical weapons attack against civilian neighborhood in the town of Douma. Rather, it is part of an on-going, intensifying Israeli campaign against the growing Iranian military presence in Syria.

  • Stealth: Terrorists use encryption, the Darknet, and cryptocurrencies

    Terrorists and extremists are increasingly moving their activities online – and areas of the web have become a safe haven for Islamic State to plot its next attacks, according to a report. The report shows how those planning to commit terrorist atrocities are using extremist networks on the Darknet to indoctrinate sympathizers, create a reservoir of propaganda, evade detection and fundraise. It calls for urgent action by government and the policing and security services to step up intelligence gathering and action to counter online extremist activity.

  • New approaches are needed to protect consumer data

    Facebook’s current privacy crisis and questions about how Google gathers, uses and stores our personal information demonstrate an urgent need to review and replace inadequate and outdated ways to regulate data and information, according to a business law expert.

  • Paper trails and random audits could secure all elections – don’t save them just for recounts in close races

    As states begin to receive millions of federal dollars to secure the 2018 primary and general elections, officials around the country will have to decide how to spend it to best protect the integrity of the democratic process. If voters don’t trust the results, it doesn’t matter whether an election was actually fair or not. Right now, the most visible election integrity effort in the U.S. involves conducting recounts in especially close races. A similar approach could be applied much more broadly.

  • The ruse of “fake news”

    As Americans increasingly turn to social media as their primary source for news and information, the dangers posed by the phenomenon of “fake news” are growing. Researchers want to use science to combat techniques that can make the true seem false, and the reverse.

  • Comprehensive strategy required to tackle Houston flooding problems

    A new report by leading Texas researchers analyzes in detail a variety of shortcomings with the Houston area’s current — and proposed — approach to flood control. The report calls on civil leaders to pursue a multifaceted and regional strategy which ensures that all communities receive better protection regardless of socioeconomic status.

  • How the U.S. can better counter political warfare

    Political warfare is a term often used to describe measures that fall short of conventional warfare. These can include political, informational, military and economic measures to influence, coerce, intimidate or undermine U.S. interests or those of friends and allies. These efforts can include cyber warfare, propaganda and disinformation campaigns, economic sanctions and even a Russian state-sponsored biker gang. The United States needs to improve the ways it combats adversaries adept at using political warfare tactics to achieve their goals and undermine U.S. interests and allies, according to a new RAND study.

  • Outgoing U.S. national security adviser: West has “failed to impose sufficient costs” on Russia

    Outgoing White House national security adviser H. R. McMaster has called for stronger measures against Russian “threats” and “provocations,” arguing that Russian President Vladimir Putin is mistaken in thinking the West will not push back against the Kremlin’s “hybrid warfare.” The comments were some of the strongest to date on Russia by McMaster, whose last day at the White House will be next week.

  • Gen. H. R. McMaster: "The Kremlin’s confidence is growing

    In a speech at the Atlantic Council on Tuesday, 3 April, the outgoing national security adviser Gen. H. R. McMaster said that “Russia has used old and new forms of aggression to undermine our open societies and the foundations of international peace and stability.” He said that Western countries have been “targeted by Russia’s so-called hybrid warfare, a pernicious form of aggression that combines political, economic, informational, and cyber assaults against sovereign nations.  Russia employs sophisticated strategies deliberately designed to achieve objectives while falling below the target state’s threshold for a military response.  Tactics include infiltrating social media, spreading propaganda, weaponizing information, and using other forms of subversion and espionage.” McMsster added: “The Kremlin’s confidence is growing.”

  • Russia's influence is much more than propaganda and fake news

    This liberal bias of Western political culture has led the majority of Russia-commentators to miss something which is in plain sight: that Russia’s conservative values are increasingly attractive among populist groups in the West, and that this attraction is doing what soft power is supposed to do: generating support for Russia’s foreign policy. The ideological attraction of the values put forward by the Russian regime cross several categories, including moral conservatism, illiberal governance, and strong leadership. This means that Russian propaganda is not simply being delivered to a uniform audience that needs to be convinced or confused: it is being delivered to a differentiated audience, some of whom – on the populist, far-right side of the spectrum — will buy into the messages put out by the Russian regime because it conforms with their ideological values. Countering Russian influence in the West is thus not simply a matter of fact-checking to counter the propaganda efforts: with populist, far-right movements the problem is fundamentally ideological.

  • EU said to reject ballistic missile penalties on Iran

    Members of the European Union are balking at imposing sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program. EU members Spain, Italy and Austria rejected proposed penalties by the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, which would penalize Iran for its continued ballistic missile program and support for the Assad regime in Syria’s civil war. These penalties would include freezing assets as travel bans on 15 individuals, companies, and groups involved in these endeavors.

  • The Baader-Meinhof gang dissolved in 1998 – but some members are still on the run

    Future members of the Red Army Faction – aka the Baader-Meinhof gang — committed their first known attack on 2 April 1968, when two Frankfurt department stores were hit with arson. The RAF dissolved in 1998, but many questions are still unanswered. Three former members of the Red Army Faction are still on the run. A series of robberies in the late 1990s put the authorities back on their trail. These thefts served no apparent political goal: Their only purpose was to finance the fugitives’ lives on the run.

  • Propagating online conspiracies

    Due to the Internet, conspiracy theories are on the rise and playing an increasingly significant role in global politics. Now new research has analyzed digital data to reveal exactly who is propagating them and why. The researchers said that conspiracies such as Pizzagate (which falsely claimed high-ranking Democratic Party officials were running a child-sex ring out of a pizza shop) and the anti-vaccination movement are becoming a bigger issue.

  • U.S. adds Pakistan's Milli Muslim League to terror list

    The United States has placed Pakistan’s Milli Muslim League (MML) political party on its list of foreign terrorist organizations for its alleged links to a militant group blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The State Department said in a statement on 2 April that it had designated Milli Muslim League (MML) as a foreign terrorist group because it was operating as fronts for Lashkar-e Taiba (LeT) which is also on the U.S. terrorist list.