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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Friday, July 31, 2015

INTELWIRE Weekly Brief, 7/31/2015, Mullah Omar Edition


The Taliban's confirmation of the death of Mullah Omar has huge implications for Afghanistan, but it also raises the stakes in the battle for global jihadist supremacy between al Qaeda and the upstart ISIS, a shift reflected in the overwhelming chatter among ISIS supporters online regarding the new development. | Read the full analysis on INTELWIRE

Jihadology Emergency Pod: The Death of Mullah Omar and Its Implications for ISIS
Aaron Zelin talks to J.M. Berger about the confirmed death of Mullah Omar, covering a variety of topics related to Omar's death and what it could mean for the broader Islamic State-Al Qaeda war.

Mullah Muhammad Omar’s Life Ends With Little Clarity
In the winter of 2014, an Afghan with links to topTaliban leaders approached Afghanistan’s intelligence service with a startling tip: Mullah Muhammad Omar, the secretive leader of the Taliban, had died in a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan. The tip left the intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, with a mystery that would take 18 months to begin unraveling. But even with the Taliban confirming on Thursday that the man they called Emir al-Momineen, or Commander of the Faithful, was dead, American and Afghan officials said they were just starting to piece together the story of Mullah Omar’s final years and of his demise.

The Mullah Omar Myth
Until this week, the myth of Mullah Omar exercised a powerful magic over men at all levels of the movement which he helped found in 1994. Omar was depicted as being simultaneously saintly, steadfast, wise and divinely guided. The revelation that he is long dead deprives the Taliban of their most powerful talisman.

Taliban leader Omar’s tale reflects clashing agendas
The belated disclosure this week of Omar’s death has added to the legend of the ghostlike Taliban chief, a figure so elusive that it appears to have taken U.S. spy agencies two years to determine that one of their top targets after 9/11 was no longer alive.

Afghan Taliban confirm Mullah Omar’s death, choose successor
The Afghan Taliban Shura, or Supreme Council, chose Mullah Omar’s deputy, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, as its new leader. A new round of peace talks was indefinitely postponed amid concerns over how committed the new leadership is to ending the militant group’s 14-year insurgency.

Amid uncertainty over Mullah Omar’s fate....Power struggle flares up in Afghan Taliban movement
An internal power struggle has flared up in the Afghan Taliban movement and its de facto head Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor is facing a rebellion by certain important military commanders amid the uncertainty about the fate of Taliban supreme leader Mulla Mohammad Omar.


Despite bombing, Islamic State is no weaker than a year ago
After billions of dollars spent and more than 10,000 extremist fighters killed, the Islamic State group is fundamentally no weaker than it was when the U.S.-led bombing campaign began a year ago, American intelligence agencies have concluded.

Jersey Jihad: Inside the ISIS case that ensnared 5 friends
A year-long FBI/Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation spanning two states is just the latest in a growing number of ISIS cases nationwide.

Australia Arrests Nurse Who Says He Worked With ISIS Under Duress
A 39-year-old nurse from Melbourne who said he was forced to work with the Islamic State militant group in Syria was arrested upon returning to Australia, the authorities said Saturday.

Turkey’s Fight Against ISIS Explained
Can Turkey fight ISIS at the same time it is fighting the Kurds?

FBI: Lackawanna man tried to recruit for terrorist organization
Authorities in western New York 44-year-old Arafat Nagi on a charge of attempting to support the Islamic State group.

Florida Man Planned to Blow up Key West Beach in ISIS-Inspired Attack
Harlem Suarez wanted to bring terror to the Conch Republic, according to the FBI. The 23-year-old, also known as Almlak Benitez, was arrested after the feds claimed they uncovered a plot in which he planned to build a bomb and plant it under the sands of a Key West beach.

Captured ISIS Fighter: Joining Extremists in Syria Ruined My Life
A college dropout who surrendered after just three days of fighting for ISIS told NBC News that joining the militant group was the worst decision he ever made.


Inside the Twisted Mind of John Russell Houser
The Lafayette theater shooter was a frequent online commenter, with numerous posts on immigration, free speech, and his fears about America’s future.

Crime and Punishment in Kenya
AS U.S. President Barack Obama concluded his trip to Kenya, at the top of his agenda was the country’s ongoing fight against the Somali-based jihadist militia, al Shabab.

Somalia blast: Mogadishu hotel rocked by bomb
At least 13 people were killed and more than 40 others injured in a huge bomb explosion at a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu.


Global Civilization and Counterterrorism
The problem of global security becomes not just one of fighting disruptors of order, but also of understanding what constitutes order. By Yaneer Bar-Yam.

The Truth Campaign and the War of Ideas
In order to explore new thoughts and frameworks for winning in this domain, the Combating Terrorism Center invited subject matter experts from outside the counterterrorism community to a special Senior Conference panel on the war of ideas. The most interesting solution that emerged from this panel was to take the model employed by the Truth campaign to stop teenage smoking and apply it to the countering violent extremism (CVE) realm. By Pete Favat and Bryan C. Price.

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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