Terrorism and counterterrorism

  • Border securityIsrael to build sophisticated fencing system along border with Jordan to keep ISIS out

    Israel’s cabinet has approved the construction of a new high-tech fencing along Israel’s border with Jordan, with the aim of making it more difficult for Islamist terrorists such as members of ISIS from entering the country. Israel has built sophisticated fencing – indeed, complex defensive systems — along its borders with Lebanon, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Sinai. A similar system has been built along parts of Israel’s border with Syria. The Israeli security services are worried that a route through Jordan, the border with which is not as tightly secured as Israel’s borders with its other neighbors, may be an entryway for its enemies.

  • Syria“Strong possibility” Assad may use chemical weapons on a large scale to protect regime: U.S. intelligence

    U.S. intelligence agencies say there is a strong possibility the Assad regime will use chemical weapons on a large scale as part of a last-ditch effort to protect important Syrian government strongholds, or if the regime felt it had no other way to defend the core territory of its most reliable supporters, the Alawites. Following a 21 August 2013 sarin gas attack by the Syrian military on Sunni suburbs of Damascus, in which more than 1,400 civilians were killed, President Bashar al-Assad allowed international inspectors to remove the Syrian regime’s most toxic chemical weapons, but after the most toxic chemicals were removed, the Assad regime has developed and deployed a new type of chemical bomb filled with chlorine. Western intelligence services suspect that the regime may have kept at least a small quantity of the chemical precursors needed to make nerve agents sarin or VX.

  • Counterterrorism grantsNew York state, city officials mismanaged millions in anti-terror grants: DHS IG

    A new report from DHS Inspector General found that New York City and the state of New York have mismanaged millions of dollars in federal grants meant to help improve homeland security. DHS IG found that New York officials spent nearly 10 percent – or $67 million of the $725 million granted during three years by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) — on questionable costs not in line with homeland security goals or strategies.

  • RadicalizationTeaching terror: what role for schools in countering violent extremism?

    By Anne Aly

    A new report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute calls for the inclusion of counter-radicalization messages in the school curriculum and for the teaching of the situation in the Middle East and Australia’s involvement. Those who propose that schools should help law-enforcement identify students who might be susceptible to radicalization should realize that any approach that attempts to identify people for law enforcement and other forms of intervention risks over-reporting on radicalization. It also fails to understand that young people may superficially engage with some of the symbols of violent extremist organizations without fully comprehending the implications of such actions or without ever actually agreeing with those ideologies that promote and justify violent extremism. Perhaps even more concerning is that certain behaviors considered indicative of radicalization could potentially “misdiagnose” other issues such as drug abuse, family violence or mental illness. Assessing whether or not an individual is radicalized to the point where they pose a risk of violent extremism is far beyond the core business of education.

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  • Terrorism & social mediaStudying terrorists' social-media recruiting power in order to negate it

    Last month a United Nations panel asked social-media companies such as Twitter and Facebook to respond to how terrorist groups use their networks to spread propaganda or recruit members with increasing success. As these terrorist groups, such as ISIS or al-Qaeda, evolve their social-media skills, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Minerva Project is funding a research project by a team of researchers who will be monitoring these groups’ advancements and trying to determine how their online actions can be negated.

  • EgyptIn attacks on Egyptian targets, Sinai Islamists emulate ISIS tactics in Syria, Iraq

    An ISIS-affiliated Islamist group says it is in control of several cities in northern Sinai, following heavy fighting Wednesday in which nearly seventy Egyptian soldiers and more than 100 Islamists were killed. It is not yet known how many civilians were killed in the fighting, which is continuing this morning. Analysts say that the escalation of the fighting in Sinai, and the Islamists’ changing tactics, mean that what we are witnessing is an all-out war between the Egyptian state and the militants, a war which is coming to resemble the war conducted by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The comparisons between the Sinai Islamists and ISIS should not be overdrawn, though. There are many important differences between the situation in Syria and Iraq, on the one hand, and the situation in Egypt.

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  • EgyptIslamist militants kill more than 60 Egyptian soldiers in Sinai attacks

    At least sixty Egyptian soldiers have been killed so far in several coordinated attacks this morning by ISIS militants on Egyptian military positions and political buildings in the Sinai Peninsula. The attacks, which according to Egyptian sources involved more than seventy Islamists, included the simultaneous explosion of car bombs and at several locations. Islamists militants in northern Sinai, which borders Israel and the Gaza Strip, have battled the Egyptian security forces for years. After the Muslim Brotherhood was removed from power in July 2013, and after thousands of the movement’s followers were killed and jailed and it was banned, the Islamists in Sinai expanded their activity inside Egypt, getting support from some of the followers of the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • Terrorism & crimeStudying the connections between organized crime, terrorism in Eurasia

    Eurasia is a major international drug trafficking hotspot that supports insurgent movements and terrorism, and it is an important site where terrorism and transnational organized crime intersect, according to the grant application. The breakup of the Soviet Union, which eliminated some terrorist organization funding, and the U.S. crackdown on money laundering and financial operations that supported terrorism after 9/11 have led terrorist groups to rely more heavily on organized crime. The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded researchers a $935,500 grant to study the connection of organized crime, terrorism and insurgency in Eurasia.

  • SyriaTurkish forces to enter Syria to create buffer zone along border

    Turkey, for the first time since the war in Syria began four years ago, is preparing to send troops into Syria. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has authorized a change in the rules of engagement which were agreed to by the Turkish parliament, and the changes would allow the Turkish army to strike ISIS and Assad regime targets. The goal of the new policy is not new: to create a buffer zone inside Syria for Syrian refugees fleeing the regime’s bombing, but Erdogan has also suggested that the main target of the intervention, if it takes place, will be to prevent the Syrian Kurds from creating a Kurdish state in the Kurdish regions of Syria.

  • War on terrorAfghans do not view U.S.-led war in their country as “their war”: Report

    Afghan security forces, like their fellow citizens more generally, do not view the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan as “their war.” This is a primary policy-relevant conclusion reached in one of two new reports issued last week by the Costs of War Project at Brown’s University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. Members of the Afghan National Police Force (ANP) do not see the war as their own; they participate as a means of employment to make a living and support family members, particularly given the lack of economic opportunities after thirty-five years of armed conflict and foreign occupation.

  • Domestic terrorismAnti-government extremism most prevalent terrorist threat inside U.S.: Law enforcement

    U.S. law enforcement agencies rank the threat of violence from anti-government extremists higher than the threat from radicalized Muslims, according to a report released last Thursday by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security (TCTHS). The data were collected in early 2014, before security agencies began noting increased activity and recruitment of Americans by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS). In follow-up telephone interviews with law enforcement personnel, the officers did not modify their initial responses in light of ISIS threats within the United States.

  • RadicalizationInternet facilitates radicalization of Westerners, even as reasons vary

    Since the early 2000s the Internet has become an important tool for the global jihadist movement. Nowhere has the Internet been more important in the movement’s development than in the West. A new study says that while dynamics differ from case to case, it is fair to state that almost all recent cases of radicalization in the West involve at least some digital footprint. Jihadism is a complex ideology that mixes religion and politics. The study confirms, however, the importance of its religious aspect for many of those who embrace violence — a fact some studies have dismissed.

  • TerrorismTwo terrorists attack U.S.-owned factory in France, decapitating one worker

    The French police is investigating what appears to be a terrorist attack on a factory owned by a U.S. gas company after a decapitated body and a flag with Islamist inscriptions were found in a factory in south-east France belonging to a U.S. gas company. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said one of the attackers was killed by a firefighter, and that other firefighters captured the second attacker, who was identified as Yessim Salim. Cazeneuve told reporters that Salim was under surveillance by the French security services since 2008. The severed head was found on top of the gate at the entrance to the factory.

  • Domestic terrorismCharleston shooting highlights threat posed by domestic terrorism

    As the nation reflects on the 17 June Charleston, South Carolina church shooting, which killed nine and led to the arrest of suspect Dylan Roof, law enforcement and security experts note that domestic terrorists pose a greater threat to Americans than foreign terrorists. “Since 9/11, our country has been fixated on the threat of jihadi terrorism,” said one expert. “But the horrific tragedy at the Emanuel AME reminds us that the threat of homegrown domestic terrorism is very real.”

  • African securityNiger attacks Boko Haram targets after militants intensify activity inside Niger

    Niger’s army has said it killed fifteen Boko Haram militants in land and air operations against the Islamist group. Earlier this year, frustrated by the Nigerian army’s ineffectiveness, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger told Nigeria that they would join the war against the Islamists – including conducting operations inside Nigeria. The military operations by the three countries have pushed Boko Haram out of many areas it used to control – but in retaliation, Boko Haram has intensified its attacks on Nigeria’s three neighbors.