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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Friday, July 3, 2015

INTELWIRE Weekly Brief, 7/3/2015


In the first year since ISIS declared its caliphate, the organization has consistently outperformed al Qaeda in Google searches, despite the fact that the latter group has enjoyed some significant success on the ground in Syria and Yemen. The fact that ISIS has successfully captured the imagination of the global jihadist movement (and its adversaries) is no secret, but a small data point I have previously noted in the Google Trends search classification points to its broader success in redefining what the movement is about and is worth remembering as we enter year two.

Al Qaeda is classified as a terrorist organization, and its emir, Ayman al Zawahiri, is classified as an "organization leader." ISIS is classified simply as an organization, and its purported caliph, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, is listed as a "political leader." ISIS is not just a different scale of problem from al Qaeda, it's a different type of problem, and it has more successfully navigated the transition I wrote about back in February 2014, for many of the reasons I outlined in that piece. The leverage and fast communications capability that Zawahiri lacks, Baghdadi appears to possess in spades. And the difference in the pace of activity between the two could not be more clear.


Indicators of terrorist intent and capability: Tools for threat assessment
This article explores the concept of terrorism indicators by applying it to seven case studies of home-grown jihadist groups and individuals that occurred in three Western countries between 2004 and 2007. By Bart Schuurman and Quirine Eijkman.

The Smoldering Thai Insurgency
Thailand’s southern insurgency continues to smolder in the three mostly Muslim provinces along the border with Malaysia. The violence may pale in comparison to the major sectarian conflicts dominating the global stage at the moment, but Thailand’s insurgency does not appear to be burning out and there is little hope of any resolution in the near term. By Zachary Abuza.

The Majority Illusion in Social Networks
In some cases, the structure of an underlying social network can dramatically skew an individual's local observations, making a behavior appear far more common locally than it is globally. By Kristina Lerman, Xiaoran Yan, and Xin-Zeng Wu.


ISIS and the Lonely Young American
Rukmini Callimachi tells the story of an American teenager's online conversations with a man linked to the Islamic State. By Rukmini Callimachi.

Where Does ISIS Stand A Year After It Declared Its Caliphate?
It's been one year since the Islamic State insurgent group declared its caliphate, changing its name and proclaiming leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the caliph of all Muslims.

Ignored and Unreported, Muslim Cartoonists Are Poking Fun at ISIS
Comic strips have been a staple of Arab culture since the early 20th century, and today a thriving community of Muslim cartoonists living across the world regularly comment on political and cultural events, often with daring intelligence and raw wit.

Islamic State Weaves Web of Support in Gulf Arab States
The killing of 27 people last week in Kuwait was the most lethal in any of the six hereditary-ruled Gulf Arab states since bombings in Riyadh killed 35 at the start of an al Qaeda campaign in Saudi Arabia in May 2003.The assault has raised concerns about the number of young Saudi men willing to travel to attack Shi'ites in smaller Gulf Arab states and so make good on a threat by Islamic State to step up violence in the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Gunman at Tunisian Beach Hotel Trained With Museum Attackers
The gunman who massacred 38 foreign tourists at a beachside hotel on June 26 trained with a militant group in Libya this year alongside two Tunisians who later killed 22 people at the national museum, security officials confirmed on Tuesday.

Jihadist Attacks on Egypt Grow Fiercer
Two years after President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi led a military takeover promising to restore order and security in Egypt, he faces a rising jihadist insurgency that has shaken the stability of this most populous Arab state, a key ally of the United States.

ISIS Allies Target Hamas and Energize Gaza Extremists
One bomb hit a Hamas security checkpoint in northern Gaza. A few days later, another exploded in a trash can. Another blew up next to a Gaza City high-rise, and a small one targeted a chicken store owned by a Hamas intelligence official, Saber Siyam.

In turf war with Afghan Taliban, Islamic State loyalists gain ground
Fighters loyal to Islamic State have seized substantial territory in Afghanistan for the first time, witnesses and officials said, wresting areas in the east from rival Taliban insurgents in a new threat to stability.

Who Are the Americans Accused of Joining ISIL?
The militant group that calls itself the Islamic State recruits foreign fighters—more than 20,000 to date, according to some estimates—from all over the world, France to Indonesia. And some of those, of course, are from the United States.

U.S. Citizen Arrested in New Jersey on Terror-Related Charges
The FBI arrested a U.S. citizen in New Jersey early Monday on terror-related charges amid heightened security concerns heading into the July 4 holiday.


How I was de-radicalised
A reporter explores the Aarhus Model, a programme designed in Denmark's second city to dissuade young people from going to fight for al-Qaeda or Islamic State.

Who commits mass shootings?
Are young, white men more likely than anyone else to become mass murderers? Well, it's complicated.

Five predominantly black Southern churches burn within a week; arson suspected in at least three
In the week after nine people were shot dead at Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina, five churches with predominantly black congregations in five Southern states burned. Three of the fires were being investigated as arson.

Dylann Roof, 4chan, and the New Online Racism
4chan’s trolling culture didn’t just birth Guy Fawkes hacktivism—it also inspired the racist and neo-fascist sites where the Charleston terrorist lurked.

Council Of Conservative Citizens Suspended From PayPal
In the wake of revelations that Dylann Roof, the alleged Charleston, South Carolina, shooter, was “awakened” to the epidemic of “black-on-white crime” by the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), PayPal – one of the world’s largest online money transfer services – has suspended the white nationalist hate group’s account.

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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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

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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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