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Friday, February 27, 2015

INTELWIRE Weekly Brief 2/27/2015


After some months rocked back on its heels in the face of Twitter crackdown and the suspension of thousands of accounts, ISIS social media workers tried to launch a hashtag campaign to promote ISIS media on Thursday. It didn't work out so well, however, as the group's many enemies decided to crash the party.

In a sample of 3,000 tweets taken in the middle of the campaign the most retweeted tweet in Arabic (excluding hashtag aggregators) was a Kurdish tweet attacking ISIS, and the negative tweets soared as the day went on. Similarly, when examining a similar sample on the English hashtag, an American political conservative activist claimed the most retweeted tweet, and a host of other players swamped the tag with rhetorical attacks, memes and photoshops, to the point that actual ISIS content was a very small portion of the activity.

All of this came as Twitter launched its latest and largest-yet crackdown on ISIS, obliterating most of its official media distribution team, a large number of the most important accounts, and a substantial number of general supporters. It may be time to retire the "ISIS as unstoppable social media behemoth" trope.

-- J.M. Berger


ISIS: The State of Terror is printed, and slowly working its way through warehouses and various systems and into bookstores and onto your front porches. The release date is March 24. Pre-order the book now. If you need something to fill the hours until then, try Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, available now.


What Is Domestic Terrorism? A Method for Classifying Events From the Global Terrorism Database
Domestic terrorism accounts for a vast majority of all attacks, yet it is far less studied than its transnational counterpart. This article seeks to address the problem by proposing a method for refining original Global Terrorism Database (GTD) data into a constructively valid, crossnational domestic terrorism dataset.  By Richard E. Berkebile.


‘Jihadi John’: Islamic State killer is identified as Londoner Mohammed Emwazi
The world knows him as “Jihadi John,” the masked man with a British accent who has beheaded several hostages held by the Islamic State and who taunts audiences in videos circulated widely online. But his real name, according to friends and others familiar with his case, is Mohammed Emwazi, a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming.

Islamic State: 'Jihadi John''s background typical yet distinct
The identity of Syria's best-known jihadist is finally out: Mohammed Emwazi, better known as "Jihadi John", has been revealed as a former West London resident. He is middle class and well educated, which chimes with a lot of our research. Radicalisation is not principally driven by poverty or social deprivation.

ISIS Onslaught Engulfs Assyrian Christians as Militants Destroy Ancient Art
The latest to face the militants’ onslaught are the Assyrian Christians of northeastern Syria, one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, some speaking a modern version of Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

Three men from Brooklyn arrested, charged with supporting ISIS
Three Brooklyn residents were formally charged Wednesday with providing material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS.)

Fear of the Islamic State spawns a renegade Afghan militia
Former mujahideen commanders have created Afghanistan’s newest militia — Margh, or “Death,” in the local Dari language. It’s so named because they vow to fight to the end to prevent Syria- and Iraq-based extremists from establishing a foothold in their country.

Islamic State experts worry U.S. is underestimating fight for Mosul
U.S. commanders pressing for an attack on Mosul perhaps as early as this spring may be underestimating the importance of the city to its Islamic State occupiers, who are likely to put up a huge fight to retain their control, experts who’ve studied the extremist organization say.

Minnesota teen pleads guilty to conspiring to support Islamic State
A Minnesota teenager who had been stopped at the airport as he was trying to travel to Syria pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.


Documents from Osama bin Laden raid used in US terror trial
Al-Qaeda documents recovered from the home of Osama bin Laden tie a Pakistani student to an international plot against Western targets, according to American prosecutors.

Suicide bomb strikes top NATO envoy team in Afghanistan
A suicide bomber rammed a car laden with explosives into a vehicle belonging to NATO's top envoy in Afghanistan, killing one Turkish soldier and wounding at least one person, Turkish officials said.

Nigeria Boko Haram: Many killed in bus station bombings
Bomb attacks have killed at least 32 people in northern Nigeria, amid a wave of violence from Boko Haram militants.


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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