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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Friday, March 6, 2015

INTELWIRE Weekly Brief 03/06/2015


The ISIS Twitter census: Defining and describing the population of ISIS supporters on Twitter

Although much ink has been spilled on ISIS’s activity on Twitter, very basic questions about the group’s social media strategy remain unanswered. In a new analysis paper, J.M. Berger and Jonathon Morgan answer fundamental questions about how many Twitter users support ISIS, who and where they are, and how they participate in its highly organized online activities. This unprecedented study provides data derived from tens of thousands of ISIS supporting accounts on Twitter, as well as a look at the impact of suspensions on the network.


ISIS: The State of Terror, the new book from Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger, will go on sale Thursday on and at bookstores everywhere!

"By far the most important contribution yet to our understanding of an organization that remains cloaked in mystery and misunderstanding..." -- Reza Aslan 

"Stern and Berger write clearly and persuasively and marshal impressive primary research from ISIS's prodigious propaganda to explain how ISIS became the dominant jihadi group today. It's a terrific and important read." -- Peter Bergen

For more advance comment on the book, click here, or order today in hardcover, Kindle or Audible or audiobook format.


Same Anger, Different Ideologies: Radical Muslim and Neo-Nazi
Religious ideology plays a central role in the radicalization of young Muslim Europeans currently being lured to join the Islamic State or kill in the group’s name at home. But the psychological process underlying radicalization is remarkably universal, terrorism experts say.


Live-tweeting terror: a rhetorical analysis of @HSMPress_ Twitter updates during the 2013 Nairobi hostage crisis
Terrorist organisations have seized an unprecedented opportunity to engage wider audiences with their ideologies and actions. This study aims to develop an understanding of this tactic by analysing its use in the 2013 Westgate Mall hostage crisis.  by Rachel Sullivan

Say Terrorist, Think Insurgent: Labeling and Analyzing Contemporary Terrorist Actors
Recent events are a reminder that the activities of even the most violent terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda or the Islamic State extend beyond the use of terrorist tactics. These actors usually employ classic guerrilla tactics as well, and their overall strategy combines both violent and political means. by Assaf Moghadam, Ronit Berger, Polina Beliakova

ISIS Sanctuary: March 4, 2015
ISIS core control zones inside Iraq and Syria have not shifted significantly since anti-ISIS operations began in June 2014, though anti-ISIS forces have cleared ISIS from several of its major frontier positions in Iraq and Syria.  by Jessica Lewis McFate


Iraqi forces try to seal off Islamic State around Tikrit
Thousands of Iraqi soldiers and Shi'ite militiamen sought to seal off Islamic State fighters in Tikrit and nearby towns on Tuesday, the second day of Iraq's biggest offensive yet against a stronghold of the Sunni militants.

Iraqi Campaign to Drive ISIS From Tikrit Reveals Tensions With U.S.
Tensions between Iraq and the United States over how to battle the Islamic State broke into the open on Tuesday, as Iraqi officials declared that they would fight on their own timetable with or without American help, and as United States warplanes conspicuously sat out the biggest Iraqi counteroffensive yet amid concerns over Iran’s prominent role.

Californian tried to join Islamic State in Syria: prosecutors
A Southern California man whom prosecutors say sought to travel to Syria last year in a bid to join Islamic State fighters was indicted on federal charges, the Justice Department said on Wednesday.

Manufacturing jihad – Nicolas Hénin explains what he learned about ISIL
For most people, the attraction of Islamic State is difficult to understand but clearly their violent message is getting across to their followers. Nicolas Hénin is a French journalist who was taken hostage by the group for almost one year.

Against ISIS, Try Patience
If the United States were to take the lead in the ground war in Iraq and perhaps eventually in Syria by introducing conventional combat forces, we would feed into a radical Islamist narrative that pits the invading armies of the crusader against the committed defenders of Islam. In the process we would only strengthen the appeal and the morale of our enemies, while weakening and demoralizing our friends.

Three days before October terror attacks, alarm bells were sounding, intelligence documents show
Intelligence reports distributed three days before the killing of a uniformed soldier in Quebec last October show that security officials were bracing for just such an attack due to Canada’s “enhanced profile” and the experiences of allies.

Syria's Nusra Front may leave Qaeda to form new entity
Leaders of Syria's Nusra Front are considering cutting their links with al Qaeda to form a new entity backed by some Gulf states trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad, sources said.

Boko Haram Takes A Page From ISIS Propaganda Playbook
In its latest video, Islamist extremists from the Nigerian group Boko Haram display the bodies of two men accused of spying. They have been beheaded. Gone are Boko Haram's occasional grainy videos, replaced by slick productions apparently inspired by the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

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.



Tweets referencing this post:



", 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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