• The Drone Beats of War: The U.S. Vulnerability to Targeted Killings

    The explosions from the recent U.S. drone attack that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani have sent shock waves reverberating across the Middle East. David Baron and Nora Bensahel write that those same shocks should now be rippling through the American national security establishment too. “Regardless of what happens next, one thing is certain: The United States has now made it even more likely that American military and civilian leaders will be targeted by future U.S. foes,” they write.

  • "Redirect Method": Countering Online Extremism

    In recent years, deadly white supremacist violence at houses of worship in Pittsburgh, Christchurch, and Poway demonstrated the clear line from violent hate speech and radicalization online to in-person violence. With perpetrators of violence taking inspiration from online forums, leveraging the anonymity and connectivity of the internet, and developing sophisticated strategies to spread their messages, the stakes couldn’t be higher in tackling online extremism. Researchers have developed the Redirect Method to counter white supremacist and jihadist activity online.

  • YouTube’s Algorithms Might Radicalize People – but the Real Problem Is We’ve No Idea How They Work

    Does YouTube create extremists? It’s hard to argue that YouTube doesn’t play a role in radicalization, Chico Camargo writes. “In fact, maximizing watchtime is the whole point of YouTube’s algorithms, and this encourages video creators to fight for attention in any way possible.” Society must insist on using algorithm auditing, even though it is a difficult and costly process. “But it’s important, because the alternative is worse. If algorithms go unchecked and unregulated, we could see a gradual creep of conspiracy theorists and extremists into our media, and our attention controlled by whoever can produce the most profitable content.”

  • Norway Government Collapses over Repatriation of IS Terrorist’s Spouse, Kids

    The governing coalition in Norway has lost its parliamentary majority after the far-right, populist Progress Party announced today (Monday) that it was leaving the government after the cabinet’s Friday decision to allow a Norwegian woman to return from Syria with her two young kids. One of the children requires medical treatment. The woman left for Syria in 2013 to marry an ISIS terrorists, and the children were born in Syria. The dilemma with which Norway has been grappling is reflected in other countries across Europe, which must decide whether or not to allow their citizens who left to join the fight in Syria or marry IS terrorists to return home.

  • Senators to Secretary Esper: Reconsider AFRICOM Drawdown

    U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware) last week sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper concerning the possible troop reduction or complete withdrawal from the AFRICOM area of responsibility. “Africa is a continent full of potential, and this is the wrong time to withdraw U.S. troops serving to stabilize fragile regions of the continent, the senators write.

  • The Age of Open Assassination

    In killing Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force, with an MQ-9 Reaper drone, the United States openly targeted a senior official of a sovereign nation-state, carrying out a satisfying act of short-term revenge but undermining its long-term strategic interests. We are in a dangerous period: “Revenge is an ungovernable impulse that easily spirals out of control,” Audrey Kurth Cronin writes. “U.S. policymakers must resist the temptation to use their technological and military prowess to target senior government officials, remembering who is watching and learning from what they do.”

  • In Niger, 89 Killed in Islamic State Attack

    Islamic State claimed responsibility for the 9 January attack on a military base in Niger, in which 89 soldiers were killed. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in the Sahel region since Islamist groups began to escalate their activities in the region in 2015, and it came one month after a similar attack on another military base in Niger killed 71 soldiers. In 2019, Islamist terrorists killed more than 4,000 people in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

  • France, Five African States Launch New Anti-Terrorist Coalition for the Sahel Region

    The presidents of France, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Chad on Monday formulated a new framework for expanding military operations against Islamist terrorism in the Sahel region. The new framework – with greater contributions from France, the five African states, and several European countries – has become necessary because of the dramatic increase in terrorist activity in the region, and because of the Pentagon’s plans to reduce the U.S. military and intelligence presence in West Africa, and a corresponding reduction in the overall U.S. involvement in fighting Islamist terrorism in Africa.

  • DHS Listed Climate Activist Group as “Extremists” Alongside Mass Killers

    A group of environmental activists engaged in civil disobedience targeting the oil industry have been listed in internal Department of Homeland Security documents as “extremists” and some of its members listed alongside white nationalists and mass killers. Those listed are five members of Climate Direct Action who formed what has been dubbed the Valve Turners, after closing the valves on pipelines in four states carrying crude oil from Canada’s tar sands on 11 October 2016. It was described as the largest coordinated action of its kind and for a few hours the oil stopped flowing.

  • Here’s Why Young People Are Attracted to Terrorism

    So why do young people continue to be attracted to the ideas of both Islamist and far-right groups? Nikita Malik writes that the decisions by young people to join the ranks of an Islamist or far-right terrorist organization are similar to the decision young people make when deciding to join a crime gang. “Due to similar motivating factors regarding recruitment and retention of members, gangs offer an appropriate framework to youth in terrorist groups. Therefore, there is no need to re-invent the wheel, so to speak,” she writes.

  • On the Current Confrontation with Iran

    Robert Jervis, the eminent scholar of international relations, writes that in trying to predict the next move in the U.S.-Iran confrontation, “Most obviously, humility is in order”: “Most of our generalizations are probabilistic,” Jervis notes. He writes that Trump may have calculated that the bold move of killing Soleimani would deter Iran from continuing to pursue the kind of malign activities Soleimani had orchestrated, and coerce Iran to be more accommodating on other issues, for example, the nuclear issue. But for the target country, being deterred or coerced is a matter of choice – a costly choice, but still a choice. And we should not discount the unexpected: “World politics rarely follows straight paths,” he writes.

  • Abandoning West Africa Carries Risks for U.S.

    News that the U.S. Department of Defense is contemplating a major drawdown in West Africa—potentially cutting support to France’s 4,500-strong combat mission in the Sahel as well—comes as the region is in crisis. France has been leading the fight against Islamist terrorism in the Sahel region since early 2013. “Not caring about Ghana’s fate is deplorable but understandable; not caring about France is at best reckless,” Michael Shurkin writes. “Leaving France in the lurch in the middle of the war could significantly damage that relationship. It would also signal to the world that the United States is not committed to helping even one of its closest and most important allies.”

  • Iran and Hezbollah’s Presence Around the World

    In the days since the U.S. strike that killed Quds Force commander Qassim Soleimani, Americans have heard dire warnings about potential retaliation by Iran. Eric Halliday writes that in addition to Quds Force, Iran’s ability to retaliate is enhanced by Iran’s extensive network of proxy forces, most notably Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran and Hezbollah have spent the last three decades creating international bases of operation, which means they already have resources in place which would allow them to strike U.S. interests far outside of the Middle East.

  • 2020 Conflicts: The Most Likely, and Most Damaging to U.S.

    The Council on Foreign Relations has asked policy experts to rank thirty ongoing or potential conflicts based on how likely they are to occur or escalate in the next year, and their possible impact on U.S. interests. For the second year in a row, a highly disruptive cyberattack on critical infrastructure, including electoral systems, was the top-ranked homeland security–related concern. A mass-casualty terrorist attack was a close second. A confrontation between the United States and Iran, North Korea, or with China in the South China Sea remain the biggest concerns overseas.

  • Iran's Attacks on U.S. Assets Could Encourage N. Korea's Nuclear Ambitions: Experts

    Iran’s attacks on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops as Tehran announced it will no longer comply with restrictions on uranium enrichment may encourage North Korea to perfect its nuclear and missile technologies, experts said.