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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Monday, January 4, 2016

INTELWIRE Weekly Brief, 12/21/15 - 1/4/15


Contagion in Mass Killings and School Shootings
There is significant evidence that mass killings involving firearms are incented by similar events in the immediate past. On average, this temporary increase in probability lasts 13 days, and each incident incites at least 0.30 new incidents. There is also significant evidence of contagion in school shootings, for which an incident is contagious for an average of 13 days, and incites an average of at least 0.22 new incidents. By Sherry Towers, Andres Gomez-Lievano, Maryam Khan, Anuj Mubayi, and Carlos Castillo-Chavez.

Held Hostage: Analyses of Kidnapping Across Time and Among Jihadist Organizations
This report examines trends related to the kidnapping of Westerners by jihadist groups. The report relies on a newly gathered open-source dataset of the kidnapping of Westerners from 2001–2015. By Seth Loertscher and Daniel Milton.

Eyewitness Accounts from Recent Defectors from Islamic State: Why They Joined, What They Saw, Why They Quit
This Research Note reports on preliminary results of the Islamic State Interviews Project, based here on a sample of thirteen Syrian IS defectors who spoke on life inside the “Islamic State”(IS). By Anne Speckhard and Ahmet S. Yayla.

The Islamic State in Southern Syria
Despite the current focus on the north and east, the southern theater could be more important to the outcome of the Syrian civil war. By Aaron Y. Zelin and Oula A. Alrifai.

Making Jihad or Making Money? Understanding the Transformation of Dagestan’s Jamaats into Organised Crime Groups
Using unique ethnographic data from Russia’s Dagestan, this article explores the causes and contexts of the gradual transformation of some of Dagestan’s jihadist units – jamaats – into organised crime groups collaborating with local authorities. By Emil Aslan Souleimanov.


Iraqi Forces Find More IS 'Pockets of Resistance' in Ramadi
Iraqi forces trying to clear Ramadi after seizing the city from Islamic State militants are meeting with heavier resistance than first anticipated.

The Soft Power of Militant Jihad
For radical Islamists who view crying as a sign of devotion to God, communal sobbing is as common as car bombing. By Thomas Hegghammer

Behind the Black Flag: The Recruitment of an ISIS Killer
Since the Syrian rebel leader Hassan Aboud joined ISIS, taking with him fighters and weapons, he has been behind a sprawling mix of battlefield action and crime.

Suicide attacks kill dozens of troops in Iraq
ISIL bombers blamed for attacks on military base near Tikrit and in Haditha as battle for control of Ramadi continues.

Munich stations evacuated over 'IS attack threat'
Police in Munich evacuated two major railway stations after an intelligence agency warned Germany of an imminent attack, officials said.

The Beirut bombings and the Islamic State's threat to Lebanon
Although none of Lebanon’s divided communities has an interest in importing the Syrian civil war, the Islamic State is growing in strength by discarding al-Qa`ida’s rigid recruitment criteria and welcoming younger recruits attracted to its simple brand of conquest and brutality.

ISIL hits Afghan airwaves to drum up support
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has launched a radio station in Afghanistan to recruit fighters and stir up anti-government sentiment.

A Frontline Report: The ground war against the Islamic State
A recent journey through northeastern Syria and northern Iraq provided an opportunity to see the multi-faceted campaigns against the Islamic State on several fronts, the handicaps and challenges that its adversaries face, and a sense of the real progress being made in degrading the group.

San Bernardino and the Islamic State footprint in America
While still at a significantly lower level than seen in most Western European countries, the degree of recent Islamic State-related mobilization in the United States is unprecedented in this country, with more than 70 individuals arrested and 900 open investigations throughout the country.

Wilayat Sinai risks backlash after Metrojet bombing
The October 31 crash of Metrojet Flight 9268 in Egypt has focused global attention on the threat posed by the Islamic State’s branch in the Sinai Peninsula, which claimed responsibility.


Oregon militia standoff: Ranchers due at prison and what else to expect Monday
The two father and son ranchers who triggered a national cry for justice over their convictions for arson were expected today to surrender themselves to federal prison, ending efforts of militants and fellow ranchers to spare them.

Rhetoric and counterterrorism: What drives the jihadists
Anwar al-Awlaki was by far the most successful jihadi propagandist attempting to radicalize Muslims living in the West. He had many arguments to advance this mission, but central was the notion that a discriminatory crackdown against Western Muslims was coming. Awlaki hoped that fear of such a crackdown would encourage radicalization and violence. By Brian Fishman.

Violent sovereign citizen plots grow in U.S. — and now go worldwide
The sovereign citizen movement, which has emerged as a key combatant in the battle against domestic terrorism in the United States, continues to swell, with violent incidents erupting on a regular basis. But authorities and experts say the exponential growth of sovereign citizens — their numbers are now estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands — isn’t strictly a U.S. phenomenon any more. The movement’s tentacles, they say, are reaching worldwide.

As U.S. Focuses on ISIS and the Taliban, Al Qaeda Re-emerges
Even as the Obama administration scrambles to confront the Islamic State and a resurgent Taliban, an old enemy seems to be reappearing in Afghanistan: Qaeda training camps are sprouting up there, forcing the Pentagon and American intelligence agencies to assess whether they could again become a breeding ground for attacks on the United States.

The Big Business of Online Abuse
For a select few, Internet harassment isn’t just a way to bully others. It’s a way to rake in the bucks.

The Imperiled Bloggers of Bangladesh
In support of gender equality, human rights and civil liberties, a group of bloggers is doing battle with Islamists online — and paying dearly for it.

How Sunni-Shia Sectarianism Is Poisoning Yemen
A growing sectarian polarization in Yemen is relying on language borrowed from the Sunni-Shia conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Iran, rather than drawing on Yemeni religious culture.

Terror Recruitment Video Highlights ‘Minnesota Martyrs’
A new video, aimed at recruiting jihad fighters, highlights Minnesotans who have left to fight with terrorists. Al-Shabaab released the 50-minute video Friday which was similar to past propaganda videos, featuring high-quality graphics and video editing to glorify fighting overseas.

Saudi Arabia breaks off ties with Iran after al-Nimr execution
Saudi Arabia says it has broken off diplomatic ties with Iran, amid a row over the Saudi execution of a prominent Shia Muslim cleric.

FBI: 70 active terrorism investigations in Oregon
The Federal Bureau of Investigation in Portland has roughly 70 active terrorism investigations in Oregon. The investigations include a broad range of cases, including Islamic State-inspired terrorism, eco-terrorism and anti-government extremists.

Jihadists Deepen Collaboration in North Africa
Analysts and military officials say there is deepening collaboration among groups using modern communications and a sophisticated system of roving trainers to share military tactics, media strategies and ways of transferring money.

Taliban Chief Rebuked by Religious Leaders in Sign of Turmoil
In a sign of deep political tension within the Taliban, a collection of religious leaders in the group’s headquarters in Pakistan issued a letter of rebuke last month to the new insurgent leader over his bloody crackdown on dissenting commanders.

Internet Firms Urged to Limit Work of Anwar al-Awlaki
In case after terrorism case, from the Fort Hood, Tex., shootings to the Boston Marathon bombing and now to the slaughter in San Bernardino, Calif., the inflammatory videos and bomb-making instructions of Anwar al-Awlaki, easily accessible on the Internet, have turned up as a powerful influence.

Crimes Against Muslim Americans and Mosques Rise Sharply
Hate crimes against Muslim Americans and mosques across the United States have tripled in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., with dozens occurring within just a month, according to new data.

Program Created in Minnesota to Help At-Risk Somali Youth
The non-profit organization "Youthprise" is in charge of distributing $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice and private groups. The goal is to stop young Somalis from going overseas to fight for terror groups.

How America’s dying white supremacist movement is seizing on Donald Trump’s appeal
Rachel Pendergraft — the national organizer for the Knights Party, a standard-bearer for the Ku Klux Klan — told The Washington Post that the KKK, for one, has a new conversation starter at its disposal. You might call it a “Trump card.”

Virginia Man With Ties to White Supremacist Group Sentenced in Murder for Hire Plot
The murder-for-hire case against Brumback came to light in late January after local and federal agents raided his Sterling home. They discovered many weapons and evidence that Dallas Brumback was a leader with a white supremacist group known as the Christian Identity movement.

NSU defendant denies providing weapons to neo-Nazis
In a statement read to a court in Munich on Wednesday, Ralf Wohlleben denied providing weapons to the National Socialist Underground (NSU) that were then used to carry out nine murders targeting people with immigrant backgrounds. A tenth murder claimed the life of a German police officer.


UK's Role in Syria & Recent Diplomatic Efforts
Michael Stephens comes back on the show to discuss the United Kingdom's efforts to fight the Islamic State in Syria, as well as the latest developments in the diplomatic process seeking to bring an end to the conflict. By Karl Morand with Michael Stephens.

Jihadology Podcast: A History of Lebanese Sunni Jihadism
Bernard Rougier comes on the show to discuss Lebanese Sunni jihadism. Some of the topics covered include how Lebanese first got involved in jihadism in Afghanistan in the 1980s and the role the Iraq war played in the mobilization and recruitment of a new generation. By Aaron Zelin with Bernard Rougier.

Jihadology Podcast: Reality of The Islamic State’s Finances and Economy
Aymenn al-Tamimi comes on the show for an in-depth discussion of the Islamic State’s finances and economic situation. Some of the topics covered include IS funding prior to 2013, how IS funding compares to AQ, and the evolution of IS’ economy in the past year and a half. By Aaron Zelin with Aymenn al-Tamimi.

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

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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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