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Saturday, May 30, 2015

INTELWIRE Weekly Brief, 5/30/2015


Khorasan: Are Syria's mysterious 'strangers with horses' a threat to the west?
In Idlib province, they are known as “the strangers with the horses”. Among the senior ranks of Jabhat al-Nusra, they are referred to as “our friends”. In Europe and the US, the small band of jihadis is known by the contentious name “Khorasan” and blamed for hatching plots to attack the west. All seem to agree on one thing: just what the highly secretive group is up to in northern Syria remains one of the civil war’s enduring mysteries.
Iraqi Shiite Foreign Fighters on the Rise Again in Syria
Over the past few months, Iraqi Shiite fighters have once again expanded their role in defending the Assad regime in Syria. Beginning in late 2012, these fighters -- some of them experienced, others newly recruited -- formed some of the most dynamic foreign units in the war. By spring 2014, many of them had been pulled from the Syrian front to handle increasing pressure from the so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq. Today, however, despite continued fighting in Iraqi hotspots such as Tikrit and Ramadi, these Shiite militias are increasingly adopting new responsibilities and reassuming older ones on many fronts in Syria.

Extremists are made, not born
Former extremist Mubin Shaikh discusses his experiences with (de-)radicalization.


Journey to Jihad
About four thousand European jihadis have gone to Syria since the outbreak of war, in 2011, more than four hundred from Belgium. (It is estimated that at least a hundred Americans have joined the fight.) The migration of youths from seemingly stable and prosperous communities to fight with radical Islamists has bewildered not only their families but governments and security forces throughout Europe. The radicalization of Jejoen Bontinck, a Belgian teenager who was convicted of joining a terrorist group and traveling to Syria, offers insight into the pipeline of jihadis flowing out of Europe.

FBI struggling with surge in homegrown terror cases
The New York Police Department and other law enforcement agencies around the nation are increasing their surveillance of ISIS supporters in the U.S., in part to aid the FBI.

Second Saudi Arabia suicide bombing fuels ISIS campaign fears
In the second attack of its kind in a week, four people have died after a suicide bomber targeted a Shia mosque in Saudi Arabia’s eastern province, fueling fears of an organised campaign by Islamic State inside the conservative Sunni kingdom.

ISIS Alternates Stick and Carrot to Control Palmyra
Hours after they swept into the Syrian city of Palmyra last week, Islamic State militants carried out scores of executions. Then, residents say, they set about acting like municipal functionaries.

How the ‘catastrophic’ American decision to disband Saddam’s military helped fuel the rise of ISIL
Twelve years later, there is increasing evidence former members of Saddam’s military have helped fuel the rise of the Islamic State.

No Islamic State Connection In Lindt Cafe Siege, Investigation Reveals
After studying Man Haron Monis’ online communication, no evidence has been found that link the gunman with the militant group.


J.M. Berger spoke at a recent conference at Boston University on the ways that ISIS uses social media to accentuate its apocalyptic appeal, previewing a forthcoming paper on the topic.


Cyberhate on social media in the aftermath of Woolwich
A criminological analysis of the social media reaction, in particular the detection and propagation of cyberhate, following the 2013 Woolwich, London terrorist attack. BMatthew L. Williams and Pete Burnap

Buy the new book ISIS: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger.

Buy J.M. Berger's seminal book on American jihadists, 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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