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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Friday, February 13, 2015

INTELWIRE Weekly Brief, 2/13/2015


Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

House CVE/Foreign Fighter Hearing Testimony
On Wednesday, the House Committee on Homeland Security held a hearing on countering violent extremism, foreign fighters, and homegrown terrorism. Francis Taylor from the Department of Homeland Security, Nicholas Rasmussen from the National Counterterrorism Center, and Michael Steinbach from the FBI gave statements on foreign fighters, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the CVE efforts of their agencies.

Highlights of the testimony included increases to the official estimate of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria from a high of about 19,000 to a low of about 19,000. The current estimate of Americans who have traveled or attempted to travel to Iraq and Syria was upgraded to 150, one of a large number of highly inconsistent and likely unreliable estimates that have emanated from the administration over the last several months.


ISIS magazine claims Hayat Boumeddiene is in Syria
The widow of Paris kosher supermarket gunman Amedy Coulibaly has linked up with ISIS, the terror group claims. The second issue of an ISIS French language magazine, which began circulating on pro-ISIS Twitter accounts Wednesday, contains a purported two-page question-and-answer story with Hayat Boumeddiene, who is believed to have disappeared into Syria before the January 9 attack.

Spreading Tentacles: The Islamic State in Bangladesh
Growing evidence suggests that the influence of the Islamic State organization has reached the South Asian, Muslim-majority country of Bangladesh. The Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate and the promise of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to return to all Muslims their “dignity, might, rights and leadership” seem to have infused a renewed Islamist fervor within a section of Bangladeshi youths and among existing radical elements.

Kayla Mueller, American hostage of the Islamic State, is confirmed dead
The U.S. government has confirmed that Kayla Mueller, a 26-year-old American woman held hostage by the Islamic State in Syria, was killed, reaching that conclusion after the group sent pictures of her body to her family.

Exposing ISIS: Activists Risk Death to Track Extremists
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, one of the founders of an activist group that secretly operates inside ISIS's home base talks about how they risk their lives to get the story out.

How the Islamic State makes sure you pay attention to it
Very deliberately, IS goes about formulating its propaganda in a manner that maximizes the international community’s abhorrence for its actions. Disgust is no by-product.

‘Pride and jihad’ IS issues latest recruitment call to children
Local sources in the provinces of Anbar and Ninevah in western and northern Iraq confirmed on Friday that the Islamic State has launched its biggest recruitment operation since 2012, focusing on children aged as young as 13.

Islamic State commander killed in drone strike, Afghanistan says
The top recruiter for the Islamic State group's affiliate in Afghanistan was killed by a drone strike Monday along with at least four other militants, local officials said, marking the first such attack on the extremist group in a volatile country where it has a small but growing following.


U.N. Warns That Yemen May Collapse as Qaeda Fighters Make Big Gains
Fighters from Al Qaeda captured the headquarters of a Yemeni Army brigade on Thursday, as the United Nations issued a dire new warning that Yemen was headed toward disintegration.

France detains six from suspected jihadi network
French authorities in southwest France on Sunday detained six people suspected of involvement in a jihadi network. The Sunday morning sweep around the cities of Toulouse and Albi was the latest of several targeting suspected radicals since last month's terror attacks.

Bosnian immigrants plead not guilty in terror financing case
An immigrant couple from Bosnia pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal charges of funneling money and military supplies to extremist groups in Iraq and Syria. Ramiz Hodzic, 40, and his wife, 35, are among six Bosnian immigrants living in the U.S. who were charged last week with conspiring to provide material support to groups the U.S. deems terrorist organizations, including Islamic State and Nusra Front, an al-Qaida-affiliated rebel group.

Niger Adds Its Troops to the War on Boko Haram
With the regional war against the Boko Haram militant group widening, Niger’s Parliament has agreed to send troops across the border to join the fight.

British jihadist Imran Khawaja jailed for 12 years
A British jihadist who travelled to Syria then faked his own death to try to return to the UK undetected has been given a 12-year custodial sentence.

Is China Making Its Own Terrorism Problem Worse?
It’s likely that the rise of the Islamic State has given a­ few disenfranchised young Uighurs a cause to fight and potentially die for. Still, experts say any increase in Uighur extremism is largely due to the fact that the very policies China says are meant to combat terrorism have actually made the threat worse.

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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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

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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

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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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