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Saturday, June 13, 2015

INTELWIRE Weekly Brief 6/12/15: NYT on Kremlin Trolls, Guardian on AQ-ISIS Split

Charles Lister and Clint Watts speaking on ISIS in Oslo. Photo by Thomas Hegghammer.

It's been a long couple weeks of travel (and it's not quite over yet), but it's been full of interesting meetings and interesting people; I was particularly glad to finally meet the truly impressive Charles Lister, Brynjar Lia and Joas Wagemakers, as well as many other new friends, and to catch up with even more old friends in both Doha and Oslo. I especially appreciate everyone humoring my incessant travel complaints, even though I am well aware most of you have far more demanding schedules yourselves. I don't know how you all do it, but I am glad you do.

In the meantime, it was a good week for news and long reads, so let's get to it.

-- J.M. Berger


The Agency
From a nondescript office building in St. Petersburg, Russia, an army of well-paid “trolls” has tried to wreak havoc all around the Internet — and in real-life American communities.

White House Weighs Sanctions After Second Breach of a Computer System
The White House on Friday revealed that hackers had breached a second computer system at the Office of Personnel Management, and said that President Obama was considering financial sanctions against the attackers who gained access to the files of millions of federal workers.


How ISIS Crippled al Qaeda
ISIS has not simply eclipsed al-Qaida on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq, and in the competition for funding and new recruits. According to a series of exclusive interviews with senior jihadi ideologues, Isis has successfully launched “a coup” against al-Qaida to destroy it from within. As a consequence, they now admit, al-Qaida – as an idea and an organisation – is now on the verge of collapse.

'Between the hammer and the anvil' - how ISIL has spelt doom for Iraq's Sunnis
One year on since ISIL first swept across Iraq and Syria: Stuck between ISIL on one side and Shia militias on the other, Iraq's Sunni minority has nowhere to go.

Va. teen admits he was secret voice behind a pro-ISIS Twitter account
Ali Shukri Amin—a suburban high school student who secretly ran a popular pro-Islamic State Twitter account—pleaded guilty in federal court as an adult to conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.

Another man connected to Boston terror plot arrested, police say
Authorities said they have identified a third man linked to a supposed terror plot to kill Boston police officers hatched by Usaama Rahim, officials said Thursday.

How Boko Haram Courted and Joined the Islamic State
Boko Haram, the radical Islamic sect that controls parts of Nigeria, became the largest affiliate of the Islamic State in March, after months of strengthening its media presence and courting the jihadist group.

The Worst of All Horrors
Psychologists in Iraq, a country long afflicted by violence, say they’ve never seen more terrible trauma than that caused by the Islamic State.

The Islamic State's Growth in Libya
The Islamic State (ISIS) has made gains throughout Libya since fall 2014, when local Islamist forces pledged allegiance to the “caliphate.” This map tracks those gains as well as major attacks by the group.

Can Libya Save Itself From ISIS?
Chaos and boat people make headlines, but on the ground in Libya there’s a weird kind of stability. If only the so-called Islamic State were not moving in so fast.

Obama’s Evolution on ISIS
President Obama said Monday that “we don’t have, yet, a complete strategy” to confront the threat posed by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. Here are some of Mr. Obama’s statements about the American strategy to confront the Islamic State and its effectiveness.


Police: Suspect dead after attack on Dallas police building
A man suspected of spraying Dallas Police Headquarters with gunfire early on Saturday has been found dead in a van after a police sniper shot him and pipe bombs found in the vehicle were exploded, a police spokesman said.

The CIA Just Released Declassified Documents Related to the 9/11 Attacks
The CIA has released declassified versions of five internal documents dealing with the 9/11 terror attacks, according to a press release sent to reporters on Friday afternoon. The documents are described as being "related to the Agency's performance in the lead-up to the attacks."

Quebec introduces action plan to combat violent radicalization
The Quebec government announced a series of broad measures to fight violent extremism in the province Wednesday that includes a police squad to monitor social media platforms and an anti-radicalization centre based in Montreal.

'Twitter terrorist' who posted messages glorifying jihad has been jailed
Iraqi Alaa Esayed, 22, uploaded 45,600 Tweets in just under a year and used photo-sharing site Instragram to post pictures of soldier's corpses and prisoners being beheaded.

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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