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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Friday, January 23, 2015

INTELWIRE Weekly Brief, 1/23/2015


The diagram above (click to enlarge) shows an ISIS "sleeper" agent's network on Twitter. While there are large and identifiable clusters of ISIS supporters online, the sleeper agent (based in Europe) maintained several secretive accounts with only peripheral connections to obvious ISIS supporters.

The fate of two Japanese hostages threatened with death by the self-styled Islamic State is unclear after the expiration of a 72-hour deadline imposed by the militants for Japan to pay $200 million to secure its citizens' release.

Japanese Mock ISIS with Internet Meme
Japanese Twitter users are defying their country's hostage crisis by mocking ISIS with a nationwide Photoshop battle of satirical images.

Peer pressure not propaganda crucial to IS recruitment: experts
Peer pressure from radicalised fighters in Syria and Iraq is more influential in attracting new recruits from Europe than Islamic State (IS) propaganda, according to British experts. The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), in a study to be released next month, found that peer groups and kinships were crucial in luring young fighters, rather than IS videos and Internet messages.

Iraq and its allies have made significant gains in battling militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), killing thousands of fighters and 50 percent of the group's top commanders, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday as an international coalition promised stronger efforts to stop the group and squash the spread of its extremist ideology.

About 10 former French soldiers have joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) among the hundreds of French radicals believed to be fighting for the extremist group, France’s defense sources said Wednesday.

"They were looking for paradise, but only found hell." Such is the condition of foreign fighters in Syria, according to a Moroccan analyst. "The Islamic State won't allow them to leave, so they won't be able to tell the world what's really happening." At Agadir Street in Casablanca, people are talking about one local youth who went to Syria to fight for ISIS, only to be killed by the group because he wanted to come home.


Chicago Muslims fight back against militants' recruiting of youths
This month's French tragedy — 17 people killed in attacks sparked by a satirical newspaper's caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad — underscores the importance of how American Muslim parents navigate their children's online curiosity about religion, say local parents, teachers and Islamic leaders.

A British jihadist who spent six months in Syria and faked his death in an attempt to return to the UK undetected has admitted four terrorism offences.

French and European officials will unveil new counter-terrorism measures Wednesday in Brussels, including possible changes to the bloc's Schengen visa-free travel zone, in the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris.

Senior US intelligence official Michael Vickers said Jan. 21 that the United States is continuing attacks on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) despite ongoing violence in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and has an intelligence relationship with the Houthi insurgent group that has seized much of the capital since September.

Greek police have arrested several people over alleged links to a suspected terror plot in Belgium. One of the men is alleged to have been in contact with the cell in Verviers, Belgium, where a shootout with police left two suspects dead on Thursday.


Religious versus sacred in extremism
"The popular media and many in academia often overstate the role that religion, and its supposedly unique qualities, has played in recent acts of terror. In this article, the author argues that the notion of religious violence is unhelpful and that there is a more useful concept that we can utilize to draw out the values and ideas that play a role in the move to violence in both religious and secular groups. ... This framework uses the concept of non-negotiable (or “sacred”) beliefs. It is as applicable to secular as it is to religious groups, and can show us much more about how such beliefs can contribute to violence."

Why We Radicalize
University of Maryland researchers aren’t content with the what of terrorism — they want to tackle the why. It’s the same question that has prompted journalists’ detailed explorations of the Paris attackers' paths to radicalization. A team of three full-time staff members at the terrorism center are trying to move beyond anecdote. They've amassed a data set of more than 1,500 people radicalized to violent and non-violent extremism in the United States since World War II and put them into three categories: Islamist, Far Right, and Far Left. The database — which hasn’t been released publicly — has detailed information about the terrorists' lives and backgrounds, including criminal records, social networks and histories of abuse. The researchers believe it's among the first of its kind.

Ambivalent Warriors: What Americans Think About the Fight Against ISIS
On January 8, the Brookings Project for U.S. Relations with the Islamic World (IWR) convened a panel of Middle East scholars and political experts to discuss American views on the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The analysis centered on the findings of a two-part poll uncovering American perspectives on Middle East conflicts. Also from Brookings this week, a report on CVE in Pakistan.


Pre-order ISIS: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger. Buy J.M. Berger's book, Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam


Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



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", granular analysis..."

ISIS: The State of Terror
"Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger's new book, "ISIS," should be required reading for every politician and policymaker... Their smart, granular analysis is a bracing antidote to both facile dismissals and wild exaggerations... a nuanced and readable account of the ideological and organizational origins of the group." -- Washington Post

More on ISIS: The State of Terror

"...a timely warning..."

Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam:
"At a time when some politicians and pundits blur the line between Islam and terrorism, Berger, who knows this subject far better than the demagogues, sharply cautions against vilifying Muslim Americans. ... It is a timely warning from an expert who has not lost his perspective." -- New York Times

More on Jihad Joe


INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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