Terrorism and counterterrorism

  • Governments more likely to negotiate with terrorists as violence increases: study

    For decades, the hard line approach to national terrorism cases has called for governments not to negotiate with terrorists. This approach also asserted that terrorism is ineffective. A new study is proposing, however, that in certain cases the opposite may be true.“Instead of asking whether terrorism is effective, we should be concentrating on when and for what purpose is terrorism effective, especially since the empirical record shows that terrorism has both hurt and helped the causes of violent organizations that have employed the tactic,” the author writes.

  • Sinn Féin’s president Gerry Adams arrested over 1972 murder

    Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was arrested on Wednesday for questioning about one of the most notorious IRA murders during the Troubles. Detectives in Antrim questioned Adams about the execution of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of 10 who was dragged from her west Belfast home in 1972, tortured, and shot in the back of the head. McConville was one of the “Disappeared” – IRA victims whose bodies were buried so they would never be found — and her body was not discovered until 2003. Adams’s arrest and questioning follows a ruling by a court in the United States which compelled Boston College to hand over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland recorded interviews with veteran IRA members about McConville’s murder.

  • Western intelligence: Assad plans to retain residual chemical weapons capability

    Israeli intelligence officials say the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria may be concealing a small amount of the chemical weapons in its possession, while pretending that it is fully cooperating with the process to remove all chemical weapons from Syria. This assessment is similar to conclusions reached by the U.S. and U.K. intelligence communities in the past two weeks. The Israeli view is that the retention of chemicals by the Assad regime has to do with the ongoing fight against the rebels, and is not an indication that the regime is contemplating their use against Israel. A senior intelligence source also said that unlike the consensus in the intelligence community a year or two ago, the Israeli defense establishment no longer considers bringing down the regime in Damascus as necessarily positive for Israel.

  • Terrorism can be a successful strategy, but only when governments allow it to work

    Terrorism can be a successful strategy for rebel groups during civil war, but only when governments allow it to work, finds a new study. Responding to acts of terrorism with violence is more likely to prolong the conflict. If governments negotiate or use sound counterterrorism efforts, however, they stand a better chance of bringing about a peaceful resolution. The study analyzed civil conflict from 1989 to 2010 in Africa, which has seen a drastic rise in terrorism. Some forty-five of the 106 African rebel groups in the study carried out terrorist attacks.

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  • Al-Qaeda tried to turn an Oregon ranch into a training camp

    U.S.-born Muslim convert Eva Hatley testified in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, claiming that after opening her family’s Oregon ranch to local Muslims to teach them how to grow and can vegetables, the men turned her home into an al-Qaeda training camp. She said “carloads” of fellow Muslims she met through her mosque arrived at her 160-acre ranch in Bly in 1999.Hatley was testifying at the trial of Abu Hamza al-Masri.

  • Al Qaeda's chief bomb maker killed in U.S.-backed attack in Yemen

    Ibrahim al-Asiri, 32, al-Qaeda’s chief bomb-maker, is said to have been killed in a U.S.-supported, 2-day attack on al-Qaeda operation base in south Yemen on Sunday and Monday. The attack on the base included ground attacks by Yemeni special forces ferried to the theater in Russian-made helicopters piloted by U.S. Special Forces pilots, and drone strikes. Yemeni special forces, using intelligence provided by the United States, set up an ambush for al-Asiri and opened fire on a 4x4 vehicle believed to be carrying him. Samples were taken from the body believed to be that of al-Asiri, and DNA tests are now being conducted.

  • Public safety officials implement Boston bombing's lessons

    The use of improvised tourniquets to stop bleeding was considered not only old-fashioned, but potentially damaging. Yet, in the minutes following the Boston marathon bombing, people near the finish line used improvised tourniquets to stop the bleeding of dozens of those injured around them while waiting for medical crews to arrive. Security and public safety officials have used lessons learned from the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing to prepare for this year’s event, including providing police officers with tourniquets. Organizers of large public events are implementing other lessons from the 2013 attack.

  • Boston bombing spurred small, midsize businesses to buy terrorism insurance

    After the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, terrorism insurance, designed for large businesses, became a necessary business expense for many midsize and small firms. Some 160 companies near the Boston explosion submitted insurance claims for property damage or business losses and only 14 percent had coverage for terrorism. “The Marathon attack changed the calculus,” an insurance industry insider says. “It taught us terrorism is a risk to businesses of every scale and size.”

  • The Nigerian bus terminal attack: Public transport is a lucrative terror target

    During the morning rush hour on 14 April, a car bomb containing an estimated 500-800 pounds of explosives blew up at the Nyanya District bus station on the outskirts of Abuja, Nigeria. Terrorism experts from the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) say we should note the significance of the attack for the rest of the world and put the facts into a larger perspective. Looking at all attacks on public surface transportation systems worldwide since 1970, the Abuja bombing was the twelfth most lethal attack. When comparing similar attack methods, it was the ninth most lethal attack.

  • U.S. drone attacks kill at least 55 al-Qaeda militants in Yemen

    A series of U.S. drone strikes Sunday and Monday killed at least fifty-five al-Qaeda militants in Yemen. The operation focused on al-Qaeda operation basecamps in the rugged mountain of the central and southern provinces of Yemen. Yemeni government sources to say that the first series of attacks, carried out on Sunday, killed three prominent al-Qaeda operatives. Al-Qaeda made gains in Yemen during the chaos which accompanied the 2011 popular uprising against then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was driven from power a year later. In the last two years, the United States and the new Yemeni government have escalated the fight against the Islamist militants.

  • Four former teaching assistants from Birmingham's “Trojan Horse”-plot school arrested

    The alleged Trojan Horse school take-over plot in Birmingham, U.K., has taken another twist last Thursday when four women connected to a school mentioned as part of the alleged Islamist plot were arrested in connection with an ongoing fraud investigation at the school. Adderley primary school was discussed in detail in the original document outlining the supposed Trojan Horse conspiracy. The document is a how-to guide for hardline Islamists wanting to advance the cause of jihad by overthrowing headmasters and senior teachers at state schools in Birmingham.

  • France says Syrian regime forces used chemical weapons in recent attacks

    French president François Hollande said on Sunday that France had “information” of toxic gases being used by the Bashar a-Assad regime against opposition targets in Syria. The French claim follows accusations by the exiled Syrian opposition and rebel groups in the west and south of the country that gas has been used nine times in the past two months, killing more than ten people and affecting hundreds more.

  • NYPD shuts down controversial Muslim surveillance program

    The New York Police Department has shut down its “Demographics Unit,” known for secretly infiltrating Muslim communities in New York and New Jersey with informers. The Muslim surveillance program, initiated under former NYPD commissioner, Raymond Kelly, is the subject of two federal lawsuits and has faced growing criticism from civil rights groups. NYPD acknowledged that in its 10-year existence, the surveillance program has not generated even a single lead.

  • Report details first-response lessons from Boston Marathon bombing

    Last Thursday, DHS released a 19-page report titled “Boston One Year Later: DHS’s Lessons Learned,” detailing three topics which were a focus of attention in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. The report discussed the “importance of partnerships,” the “need for effective and reliable communications,” and the need to further boost anti-radicalization efforts.

  • Allegations about Muslim plot to take over U.K. schools rock Britain

    Stories have emerged in Britain about what has been described as a “Trojan Horse” plot by Jihadists to take control of schools in the Birmingham area. The plot was outlined in a purported letter from one Muslim extremist in the city of Birmingham to another. The letter outlines tactics such as spreading false allegations about senior managers that they were promoting sex education or Christian prayers to Muslim children. Law enforcement and counterterrorism officials now admit the document is very likely a hoax, but the city of Birmingham has launched an investigation. The other day, Secretary of Education Michael Gove announced his office was launching its own investigation, to be headed by Peter Clarke, former head of Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command. Leaders of the West Midland Police and the Birmingham city council harshly criticized Gove for his decision – which the Chief Constable of the West Midland Police described as “desperately unfortunate” – saying it would add nothing to the ongoing investigations, but would unnecessarily inflame the already tense inter-communal relations in the city. Leaders of the city council said Gove’s move would “inevitably” lead people to “draw unwarranted conclusions” about the allegations.