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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Friday, May 8, 2015

INTELWIRE Weekly Brief, 5/7/2015: Senate Hearing on ISIS Recruitment, Garland Attacks, Book Reviews and More


The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a hearing on the terrorist use of social media as a recruiting tool, a timely subject in the wake of the ISIS-inspired Garland, Texas, terrorist attack on Sunday (see below).

Witnesses included J.M. Berger of Intelwire, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror; Peter Bergen, director of the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation; Mubin Shaikh, author of Undercover Jihadi; and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

J.M. Berger's written testimony


Texas Attacker Left Trail of Extremist Ideas on Twitter
Counterterrorism officials on Tuesday were studying the electronic trails left by two men killed by a police officer as they shot at a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas, looking for any direct ties to the Islamic State extremist group in Syria.

F.B.I. Says It Sent Warning on One Gunman in Attack at Texas Gathering
Three hours before two gunmen opened fire outside a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland, Tex., the F.B.I. sent a bulletin to the Garland police warning them that one of the men might show up at the event, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said Thursday.

Texas Shooting Suspect Elton Simpson's Private Messages: 'The Noose Is Tightening'
Private Twitter messages written by one of the suspects in the weeks before the Garland, Texas shooting Sunday reveal a man who had turned against his country. "Soon you won't be able to live in America as a Muslim. The noose is tightening," Elton Simpson wrote in a March 14 message seen by the FBI and obtained by ABC News.


The Future of Violence,  Benjamin Wittes and Gabriella Blum
We’re entering an era in which smaller and smaller groups can project violence in unprecedented ways, even rivaling the destructive capacity of states. This shift in power dynamics is the topic of The Future of Violence, a new book by Benjamin Wittes at the Brookings Institution and Gabriella Blum at Harvard Law School. The book addresses one of the most fundamental challenges of our century—how can we structure our society so that these newfound technological powers don’t end in catastrophe?

Anonymous Soldiers by Bruce Hoffman
Between 1917 and 1947 in Mandate Palestine, the Irgun and its splinter group, the Lehi, were determined to oust the British and establish Jewish independence by whatever means necessary. Bruce Hoffman’s “Anonymous Soldiers” is a gripping narrative history of that struggle.

ISIS: The State of Terror reviewed in Pragati
Jessica Stern’s earlier book, Terror in the Name of God, was notable for her in person research with terrorists from around the globe, and JM Berger, whose book Jihad Joe is the definitive account of American recruits to Al-Qaeda. Together, they have a formidable insight into the motivations and means of the Islamic State – motives and means which we will still need to face, even if IS itself goes into decline.


In a propaganda war, U.S. tried to play by the enemy’s rules
The Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, or CSCC, had direct backing from President Obama, help from the CIA, and teams of Arabic, Urdu and Somali speakers who were thrust into the fray on Twitter and other social-media platforms. In seeking to change minds overseas, however, the CSCC also turned heads in Washington. Experts denounced the group’s efforts as “embarrassing” and even helpful to the enemy.
Hamas arrests dozens of Islamic State supporters
Palestinian Islamist group makes arrests of dozens of Salafi-jihadists linked to ISIS after bombings, Gaza sources say.

Terror plotters linked to IS released after minimum sentences, despite fears
Convicted terror plotters who are now linked to Islamic State were released from prison after serving their minimum sentences, despite authorities fearing they remained at risk of extremism, because of a federal law that granted automatic parole.

Aussie jihadist Neil Prakash spreading Boston bomb blueprint
The top Australian fighter and ­recruiter within Islamic State — former Melbourne rapper Neil Prakash — is providing the group’s supporters in the West with detailed bomb-making ­instructions that were used by the Boston Marathon bombers before their 2013 attack.


Canadian Foreign Fighters in Iraq and Syria
This article examines the flow of Canadian foreign fighters to the Syrian and Iraqi theaters, placing it in the context of earlier Canadian involvement in jihadi groups, and in particular other recent cases, such as Somalia.   by Christopher Anzalone

Islam and resistance: Hamas, ideology and Islamic values in Palestine
An analysis of the historical evolution, values and Islamic reference points of Hamas. Interviews and surveys, as well as Hamas’ ongoing use of Islamic terminology and the Islamisation of the Gaza Strip, reveal that religion remains intertwined with the movement’s political and social activities.   by Tristan Dunning

Foreign Fighter Mobilization and Persistence in a Global Context
Since 2005, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of transnational insurgents fighting in the Middle East, and they appear to have become the face of the jihad movement. However, of the dozens of foreign fighter contingents around the world in recent decades, only about half have been Islamists. The difference between the other contemporary and historical foreign fighter groups and the jihadis is not one of mobilization or effectiveness, but of persistence.   by David Malet


Four arrested in German raids on anti-Muslim 'terror' group
German police arrested four people Wednesday accused of belonging to a far-right "terror" organization that acquired explosives for attacks on Muslims and refugee homes, federal prosecutors said.

Why Assad Is Losing
Syria's rebels are making sweeping gains, as foreign powers up support and work with Islamist fighters. But the regime isn't about to go down without a fight.

Syria Is Using Chemical Weapons Again, Rescue Workers Say Two years after President Bashar al-Assad agreed to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, there is mounting evidence that his government is flouting international law to drop jerry-built chlorine bombs on insurgent-held areas.

Al Qaeda Branch Claims Responsibility for Bangladeshi Blogger’s Killing
The leader of Al Qaeda’s branch in the Indian subcontinent has published a video claiming responsibility for the death of Avijit Roy, an atheist Bangladeshi-American blogger who was killed by a group of men with machetes

White supremacists stole my identity to spew hatred on the Times of Israel

The Times of Israel published an article on its website containing a graphically violent and racist diatribe against the Palestinian people and calling for their “extermination”. The despicable article was attributed to me and was accompanied by my photograph.    by Josh Bornstein

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.



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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