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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

INTELWIRE Weekly Brief, 12/7/15. ISIS in America, San Bernardino, Copycats, Sovereign Cop, and More


The report consists of two parts. The first examines all cases of U.S. persons arrested, indicted, or convicted in the United States for ISIS-related activities. This section also looks at the cases of other Americans who, while not in the legal system, are known to have engaged in ISIS-inspired behavior. The second part of the report examines various aspects of the ISIS-related mobilization in America. It concludes with recommendations to combat ISIS recruitment. By Lorenzo Vidino and Seamus Hughes.


Islamic State Says ‘Soldiers of Caliphate’ Attacked in San Bernardino
The Islamic State’s radio station released a statement on Saturday claiming that two of the group’s followers had carried out the shootings that left 14 people dead in San Bernardino, Calif., on Wednesday.

Woman in deadly Calif. rampage had become more devout
FBI officials, family lawyers and others said they know little about the 29-year-old housewife and mother, apart from what came to light on Friday: that Tafsheen Malik had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group on Facebook as she and her American-born husband, Syed Farook, 28, went on the rampage.

California Attack Has U.S. Rethinking Strategy on Homegrown Terror
Swift, ruthless and deadly, the attack appeared to reflect an evolution of the terrorist threat that Mr. Obama and federal officials have long dreaded: homegrown, self-radicalized individuals operating undetected before striking one of many soft targets that can never be fully protected in a country as sprawling as the United States.

Sisters of San Bernardino Shooting Suspect Say They Saw No Warning Signs
For nearly an hour, Saira Khan and Eba Farook, the two sisters of Syed Rizwan Farook, the man suspected of the mass shooting in nearby San Bernardino, expressed anguish at the tragedy that has engulfed this community. But they said they had seen no warning that Mr. Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, were preparing for an assault that would leave 14 people dead and 21 injured.


Yes, mass shootings tend to produce copycats. So do terror attacks.
Research by Arizona State University mathematics research professor Sherry Towers and colleagues suggests that like suicides and homicides, media coverage of mass shootings and school shootings tend to increase similar incidents in the surrounding community.

Link to sovereign citizen movement costly for police officer
Last spring a respected detective for the Sarasota, Fla. police department went to the local courthouse and did something stupid. What he thought he was doing, he has insisted ever since, was making a simple political statement. What he actually was doing was affiliating with an estimated 300,000 disgruntled Americans who believe the government is illegitimate.

For Robert Dear, Religion and Rage Before Planned Parenthood Attack
Court documents and interviews with people who knew Mr. Dear well, a picture emerges of an angry and occasionally violent man who seemed deeply disturbed and deeply contradictory: He was a man of religious conviction who sinned openly, a man who craved both extreme solitude and near-constant female company, a man who successfully wooed women but, some of them say, also abused them

Taliban releases audio message to show leader alive
The Taliban released an audio message on Saturday it said was from its leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour to counter widespread reports that he had been wounded or killed in a shootout in Pakistan this week.

Qaeda fighters in 'show of force' in south Yemen
Al-Qaeda fighters drove pro-government forces out of a town in southern Yemen Wednesday in a new show of strength by the jihadists, who have exploited the country's turmoil to expand their territory.

Has the U.S. had 4 mass shootings this year or 353? Estimates vary that much
Be careful when you hear reports that say how often such shootings happen. They are not well-tracked by federal agencies, and the definition of a “mass shooting” varies so widely among public researchers that the numbers can be confusing.


The Decline in Islamic State Media Output
There was a steady rise in photos from January-March period to the June-August period, with a drop off for every three-month category since. By Aaron Zelin

Warplanes in Libyan skies may signal next major battle in fight to contain Islamic State
Jihadis in Libya are seizing control of greater chunks of the fractured nation’s territory and imposing a rule of terror. As another strategic city, Ajdabiya, comes under Isis attack, military planners across Europe are preparing the way for NATO forces to intervene

Inside The War Against Isis
In the wake of the Paris terror attacks, Western leaders ramped up airstrikes against ISIS. But the real fight is happening on the ground.

Leader of Taliban Splinter Group Allied With ISIS Is Killed
After months of Taliban infighting that has left hundreds dead, the prominent head of a splinter faction allied with the Islamic State has been killed, government officials and Taliban commanders said on Tuesday.

The Real Value of the ISIS Antiquities Trade
New findings are shedding light on the ISIS antiquities trade, but they’ve often raised more questions than they’ve answered.

Islamic State’s moneymaking streams take a hit as it loses territory
By most estimates, the Islamic State is the world’s richest terrorist organization. But it appears to be wrestling with money problems that could affect its ability to wage war while trying to govern millions of people in its self-declared caliphate.

The U.K. Launches Air Strikes Against ISIS in Syria
British warplanes carried out airstrikes in Syria early Thursday, hours after Parliament voted to authorize air attacks against Islamic State group targets there.

ISIS chief's ex-wife released in Lebanon-al Nusra prisoner swap
The Lebanese government on Tuesday released the former wife of ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as part of a prisoner swap with an al Qaeda affiliate, a Lebanese security official said.

Chad Suspects Boko Haram in Island Attacks
A triple suicide bombing at a market on an island in Lake Chad killed at least 15 people and wounded 130 on Saturday, Chad’s government said. A top police official claimed that the Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram was responsible.


Jihadology Podcast: The History, Legacy, and Relevance of Algerian Jihadism Today
Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck comes on the show to talk about jihadism in Algeria. Topics covered include the background and history of jihadism in Algeria and why there haven’t been many Algerian foreign fighters in Syria. By Aaron Zelin with Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck.

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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