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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Sunday, September 20, 2015

INTELWIRE Weekly Brief, 9/18/15


Jihadology Podcast: Saddam's Regime, From Ba'athism to Salafism
Kyle Orton joins the show to discuss Islam in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, including Salafism in Iraq in the 1990’s and its impact on security, the rise of sectarianism, and more. By Aaron Zelin with Kyle Orton.


Why ISIS fights
Jihadi fighters in Iraq and Syria reveal the apocalyptic motivations of the militant movement that has hijacked the Syrian uprising – and transformed the Middle East. By Martin Chulov.

Don’t (Completely) Blame America for Baghdadi
The Western press usually portrays the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as a religious scholar who was radicalized by the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and his later detention in an American prison camp in 2004. That portrayal is wrong. By Will McCants.

Why Putin Wants To Tar IS And All Assad's Enemies With The Same Brush
Russia's conflation of all armed opposition groups with extremist Islamist militants is an integral part of a narrative that has evolved during the Syrian conflict. Its goals are to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, counter the United States, and maintain influence in the Middle East. By Joanna Paraszczuk.

What a British jihadist's anti-Arab rant tells us about life in the so-called Islamic State
A British fighter for so-called Islamic State has penned what seems to be a racially charged rant against Arabs - providing a surprising glimpse into tensions inside IS-held areas of Syria.

Analysts Detail Claims That Reports on ISIS Were Distorted
A group of intelligence analysts have provided investigators with documents they say show that senior military officers manipulated the conclusions of reports on the war against the Islamic State, according to several government officials, as lawmakers from both parties voiced growing anger that they may have received a distorted picture about the military campaign’s progress.


Al-Qa`ida plays a long game in Syria
Jabhat al-Nusra is currently one of the most powerful and influential armed actors in Syria. Ultimately, however, the group is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It aims to establish durable roots in an unstable environment from which al-Qa`ida’s transnational ambitions may one day be launched. By Charles Lister.

Drone Strike That Killed Awlaki 'Did Not Silence Him,' Journalist Says
After his death, Awlaki's Internet publications were said to have inspired the perpetrators of the Fort Hood shooting, the Boston Marathon bombings and the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris. Featuring Scott Shane. 

Iran Released Top Members of Al Qaeda in a Trade
The government of Iran released five senior members of Al Qaeda earlier this year, including the man who stepped in to serve as the terrorist group’s interim leader immediately after Osama bin Laden’s death, and who is the subject of a $5 million bounty, according to an American official who had been briefed on the matter.

Feds name Dylann Roof's friend as target in Charleston investigation
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Columbia has notified an associate of Dylann Roof that he is a “potential target” of a federal criminal investigation concerning the June killings of nine African-Americans in a Charleston church.

MI5 chief calls for more up-to-date surveillance powers
The head of MI5, Andrew Parker, has called for more up-to-date surveillance powers and said tech companies had an ethical responsibility to provide more help in monitoring the communications of suspected terrorists and paedophiles.


Assessing Al-Qa`ida Central's resilience
Al-Qa`ida “Central” in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region is not yet dead, although its reclusiveness in the face of losses since late 2014 complicates assessment of its remaining strength and capabilities, particularly the leadership structure under Ayman al-Zawahiri. By Barbara Sude.

Online terrorism and online laws
Terrorist and extremist movements have long exploited mass communications technology in pursuit of their political ends. This paper will analyse the responses to extremist uses of the internet, with an emphasis upon legal responses – “online laws”. By Clive Walker & Maura Conway.

AQAP: A Resurgent Threat
Al-Qa`ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is one of the few beneficiaries of Yemen’s collapse into civil war. It now governs one of the country’s three major ports and has expanded its operations in Yemen, benefiting from a larger recruiting pool. The affiliate remains al-Qa`ida’s greatest direct threat to the United States and it is growing stronger. By Katherine Zimmerman.

Political radicalization on the Internet: Extremist content, government control, and the power of victim and jihad videos
The role of the internet in radicalizing individuals to extremist action is much discussed but remains conceptually and empirically unclear.  By Tom Holt, Joshua D. Freilich, Steven Chermak & Clark McCauley.

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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