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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Monday, October 19, 2015

INTELWIRE Weekly Brief, 10/19/15, ISIS in Afghanistan, Sanafi al Nasr, ISIS Hacker, More


GWU's Project on Extremism will soon launch its massive data-driven study of ISIS in America, an increasingly important topic. Follow them on Twitter, where you can get previews like this:


Afghan ISIS Branch Makes Inroads in Battle Against Taliban
Even as the Taliban are winning major victories against the government this year, including a 15-day takeover of Kunduz, they are not exerting monolithic control.

Malaysia Arrests a Kosovo Hacker Linked to ISIS
The Malaysian authorities have arrested a 20-year-old man who the Justice Department said Thursday ran an Internet hacking ring in Kosovo that provided stolen personal information of more than 1,300 American service members to the Islamic State.

Al-Adnani's paradox: Projecting strength while feeling fear
On October 13, 2015, Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani released a nearly 41-minute audio message. For those who had waited four months to hear the power of his words, al-Adnani’s message was most likely underwhelming. By Daniel Milton and Muhammad al-`Ubaydi.

Religious Scholars Use Social Media To Counter ISIS Interpretation Of Koran
As the military response to the Islamic State heats up, an ideological front is opening against the group. They're using social media to explain why ISIS' interpretation of the Koran is wrong.

More than just beheadings: How the Islamic State sells itself
The Islamic State’s brutality plays derails mainstream understanding of the group and promotes damaging misconceptions in the discourse on radicalization and recruitment. By Charlie Winter.

Iraqi Forces and Shiite Militias Retake Oil Refinery From ISIS
Iraqi forces and the Shiite militias fighting alongside them announced Friday that they had retaken the oil refinery at Baiji from Islamic State militants, in some of the first significant progress against the extremist group after months of stalled efforts.


Iran's Iraqi Shiite Proxies Increase Their Deployment to Syria
Recent online activities show that various Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militias have greatly expanded their recruitment efforts in support of the Assad regime, including numerous reports of significant battlefield action. By Phillip Smyth.

Endgames: Improving Our Understanding of Homegrown Terrorism
This article examines how the phenomenon of homegrown terrorism has evolved over the past decade. It argues that there have been significant developments that impact how we conceptualize and study it and offers two suggestions moving forward. By Michael Zekulin.

Each terrorist organization faces a critical tradeoff between effectively managing the organization's violent behavior while remaining secure from counterterrorism efforts. By Brecht Volders.


Leader of Qaeda Cell Killed in Airstrike in Syria, Pentagon Says
A military airstrike in northwest Syria has killed Sanafi al Nasr, the leader of a shadowy Qaeda cell that American officials say has been plotting attacks against the United States and Europe, the Pentagon announced on Sunday.

There’s Just One Problem with Those Bin Laden Conspiracy Theories
They have no factual basis, despite what you may have read in ​​The New York Times Magazine,​ argues the reporter who pieced together the story from dozens of on-the-record interviews. By Mark Bowden.

What the Ankara bombing means for Turkish politics and the West
These explosions arrive on the heels of the ones in Suruç, on the Syrian border across from Kobani in July, and in Diyarbakir just before the general elections in June. What is driving this violence? What are the implications for the West? And, will Turkey be able to come out of it? By Kemal Kirişci.

Care about refugees? Listen to them.
Syrian refugees don’t want to stay in Europe. But unless politicians start listening to why they’re fleeing and what needs to happen for them to go home, many more will come.

Jaish al-Sham: An Ahrar al-Sham Offshoot or Something More?

On October 9, Jaish al-Sham—which is Arabic for the Levant Army, but can also be understood to mean the Syrian Army or the Damascus Army—announced its existence. The name has been used by other groups before it, including one whose leaders eventually slid into the self-proclaimed Islamic State, but they are not related. By Aron Lund.

Anger Spreads With 5 Attacks on Israelis
After a turbulent two weeks, the roiling violence was showing no signs of abating. Seven Israelis have been killed this month by assailants using mostly kitchen knives, but also guns. At least 16 suspected assailants have been shot dead, and more than 20 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli security forces.


The Loopcast: Documenting the Virtual ‘Caliphate’
Charlie Winter continues his research on Islamic State (IS/ISIS) propaganda and discusses his newest paper Documenting the Virtual 'Caliphate'. With Charlie Winter.

Jihadology Podcast: Jihadi Governance 101
Will McCants comes on the show to talk about jihadi governance. The conversation is based on a chapter in his new book The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State.  By Aaron Zelin with Will McCants.

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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