Showing posts with label Counter Insurgency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Counter Insurgency. Show all posts

9 October 2017

The Las Vegas Attack Will Inspire Copycats from STRATFOR

by Scott Stewart
"The Las Vegas Attack Will Inspire Copycats" is republished with permission of Stratfor.

As the closing act of the three-day, open-air Route 91 Harvest Music Festival took the stage the evening of Oct. 1 on the Las Vegas Strip, a 64-year-old man used a sledgehammer to smash out two windows in his suite at the adjacent Mandalay Bay hotel. His perch on the 32nd floor gave him a clear field of fire on the 22,000 or so concertgoers below. He took aim with one in the arsenal of guns in his room and opened fire. The shooter's intent was clear - he wanted to create as much carnage as possible. The crowd below remained oblivious to the threat 100 meters (328 feet) above and 400 meters away until bullets began raining down.

3 October 2017

Instability in the MENA Region, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Key Conflict states: A Comparative Score Card

By Anthony Cordesman

If the U.S. is to fight extremism and instability in the Middle East, North Africa, and other key conflict countries in the developing world, it must address the civil dimension of war as well as the military one. "Hearts and minds" may seem to be a cliché, but battle for security and stability does involve religion, politics, governance, and economics as well as counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. Half of the war and half of a successful strategy must focus on the ability of "failed" government to win the trust and support of their peoples.

For Caliph and Country: Exploring How British Jihadis Join a Global Movement

Rachel Bryson

For half of that time, the streets of the UK have been seen as a legitimate target, as witnessed most recently in both London and Manchester. Ideologues made their home in Britain, having been rejected from Muslim-majority countries because the ideas they expounded were considered dangerous. From the UK, they influenced many. In the last five years, the conflict in Syria alone has attracted over 800 British fighters.

Download the full report, For Caliph and Country, here.

29 September 2017

** How to Protect Yourself From Simple Terrorist Attacks

Scott Stewart
Source Link

Simple attacks by grassroots jihadists have become a fact of life in the West. Indeed, we saw three such incidents on Sept. 15: the bombing attempt against a subway train in London, a knife attack against a French soldier at a Paris subway station and a hammer attack against two women in Chalon-sur-Saone, France. These incidents are among the latest in a long string of incidents across the globe that featured attackers armed with simple weapons such as knives, vehicles and crude bombs.

28 September 2017

The General in charge of the surgical strikes

As the highest ranking officer in Jammu and Kashmir during the September 28-29, 2016 surgical strikes, the buck literally stopped with Lieutenant General Deependra Singh Hooda.

General Hooda was the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Northern Command, in charge of the planning and execution of the top secret operation across the Line of Control.

Most officers and soldiers in the Northern Command -- responsible for the security of J&K and Line of Control -- were not aware of the strikes being planned.

27 September 2017

Engaging Religion and Religious Actors in Countering Violent Extremism

Interest and space for including religious actors in policy on countering violent extremism (CVE) has grown over the past few years, but debates over the degree to which ideological, religious, or structural factors contribute to violent extremism have not yielded clear guidance for policymakers and practitioners. 

The role of religion as a potential driver of violent extremism is significant, but religion usually interacts with a wide range of other factors and causality is not linear. 

An alternative approach that focuses on the role or function of religion in violent extremism—facilitating mobilization, providing a counternarrative, providing a justification, and sanctifying violent acts—shows promise. 

Religious leaders are integral members of civil society and key contributors to public and political discourse. Engaging them in all spheres of government work, carefully and with sensitivity to power asymmetries and potential risks, is needed. 

Understanding how religious factors affect violent extremism can help inform the design and implementation of CVE solutions that engage the religious sector. 

The track record highlights ways in which religious actors can be partners, including when and how to engage them, how to design effective training, and how to ensure effective partnerships across sectors through inclusivity and addressing potential political obstacles. 
Recommendations for policymakers and practitioners include a focus on CVE roles for faith actors beyond the religious sector, practical approaches for avoiding undue governmental entanglement in religion, and suggestions for how to ensure appropriately sized and inclusive engagement with religion and religious actors in the CVE context. 


Ensure alignment between counterideology or counternarrative efforts and work focused on other drivers of violent extremism. 

Think beyond theology when assessing potential roles for religious actors in CVE. 

Think beyond old men in churches and mosques. 

Do not let CVE become a pretense for proscribing religion. 

Avoid endorsing particular interpretations of religion or using religious language and symbols in official government statements. 

Those interested in countering Violent Extremism by engaging Religion and Religious Actors in Countering may please read United States Institute of peace report .

16 September 2017

Sixteen Years After 9/11, How Does Terrorism End?

In the run-up to the 9/11 anniversary, I reached out to experts who identified the ways terrorism evolves, fades, or dies—and under what conditions it succeeds.Photograph by Kevin Trageser / Redux

The current spasm of international terrorism, an age-old tactic of warfare, is often traced to a bomb mailed from New York by the anti-Castro group El Poder Cubano, or Cuban Power, that exploded in a Havana post office, on January 9, 1968. Five people were seriously injured. Since then, almost four hundred thousand people have died in terrorist attacks worldwide, on airplanes and trains, in shopping malls, schools, embassies, cinemas, apartment blocks, government offices, and businesses, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. The deadliest remains the 9/11 attack, sixteen years ago this week, which killed almost three thousand people—and in turn triggered a war that has become America’s longest.

I’ve covered dozens of these terrorist attacks on four continents over that half century. After the Barcelona attack and the U.S. decision to send more troops to fight the Taliban, I began to wonder how terrorism ends—or how militant groups evolve. In her landmark study of more than four hundred and fifty terrorist groups, Audrey Kurth Cronin found that the average life span of an extremist movement is about eight years. Cuban Power carried out several other bombings, but, in the end, it didn’t last a whole year.

I’ve also witnessed some transitions that I never thought would happen. I interviewed Yasir Arafat several times when the United States considered him a notorious terrorist. He was a paunchy man of diminutive height, a bit over five feet, with a vain streak. He always wore plain fatigues, crisply pressed, and a checkered kaffiyeh headdress to conceal his bald pate. He was linked, directly or indirectly, with airplane hijackings, bombings, hostage-takings, and more. Israel thought that Arafat was defeated after its 1982 invasion of Lebanon. I watched from the Beirut port as the chief of the Palestine Liberation Organization and his fighters sailed off to new headquarters in Tunisia, a continent twenty-five hundred miles, by land, from the frontlines.

13 September 2017

** Militant groups have drones. Now what?


Militant groups have a new way to wage war: drone attacks from above. As recent news reports and online videos suggest, organizations like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have used commercially-available uninhabited aerial vehicles—better known as UAVs or drones—to drop explosives onto their adversaries in the battle for territory.

That ISIS would weaponize drones shouldn’t be surprising. Militant groups often use the latest consumer technology to make up for capability gaps and level the fight against regular military forces. ISIS broadcasts propaganda through social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and plans attacks using encrypted communication platforms like Telegram. This embrace of innovation extends to the way militant groups use military force. Over the last year or so, they have begun to use modified commercial drones for offensive strikes in Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine. These new tools of war provide a way to conduct terror attacks against civilians, and can also pose a threat to ground forces. Stopping drone proliferation is not an option because of the ubiquity of the technology. That means government forces will have to learn to counter drones operated by militant groups, just as they are now training to counter drones used by national militaries.

Already a “daunting” threat. The threat posed by militant groups flying drones is as much about where the threat is coming from—the sky—as it is about the munitions being launched. Militaries fighting militant groups have enjoyed air superiority for decades. US soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, for example, have rarely, if ever, feared attacks from the air. Civilians and humanitarian groups in Syria worry about air strikes from Assad’s regime, but not from militant groups like ISIS. The adoption of drones by militant groups is therefore generating a novel challenge. Speaking at a conference in May, Gen. Raymond Thomas, head of the US Special Operations Command, called commercial drones the “most daunting problem” his troops had faced over the previous year. At one point, he said, the anti-ISIS campaign “nearly came to a screeching halt, where literally over 24 hours there were 70 drones in the air.”

Sixteen years after 9/11, are we any better at fighting terrorism?

Stephen Tankel
September 11, 2017

In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks — 16 years ago on Monday — President George W. Bush declared a war on terrorism that he pledged would not end until every terrorist group of global reach was defeated. Bush drew a line in the sand, telling every nation, “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” The Bush administration was more flexible than this rhetoric suggested, but it still evinced a strong willingness to act unilaterally.

President Barack Obama sought to make U.S. counterterrorism efforts more sustainable, and thereby enable the United States to focus more on other challenges. To do this he not only pursued a more focused counterterrorism campaign than the Bush administration had, but also put an even greater emphasis on working with partners. This was intended to share the costs of counterterrorism and make gains more sustainable by giving partners ownership of the fight.

Where does the war on terrorism stand under President Trump? Although Trump has gone out of his way to reverse many of Obama’s policies, he has largely embraced the burden-sharing aspect of his predecessor’s “indirect” approach. Yet, instead of pursuing enduring partnerships, Trump has treated engagements with partners as transactional exchanges.

Counterterrorism requires international cooperation

Despite their differences, all three presidents confronted two fundamental facts about counterterrorism. First, even a superpower cannot combat every terrorist threat alone. As the 9/11 Commission observed, “Practically every aspect of U.S. counterterrorism strategy relies on international cooperation.” Second, many partner nations help and hinder U.S. counterterrorism efforts. To understand why, it is critical to recognize that counterterrorism is much broader than commonly recognized.

More Top Intel Officials Call to Keep Surveillance Power


Top intelligence officials called this week for Congress to reauthorize a provision that allows the Intelligence Community to target communications of non-U.S. persons overseas that can also incidentally — and controversially — sweep up information related to U.S. citizens.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which sunsets this December, removed the requirement that a judge find probable cause to believe a target is a terrorist or spy. It permits the government to widely collect what is described as foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States. The collection itself takes place within the United States – either on American communication platforms or as foreign communications that are routed through American servers.

It would not be in the “nation’s best interest” to “withdraw the legal authority currently granted to us under Section 702,” National Security Agency (NSA) Director Adm. Michael Rogers said Thursday during a panel discussion at the Intelligence & National Security Summit.

Congress must decide this year whether to renew the program as is or implement changes and determine if there will be a new sunset to the legislation. The program has been criticized for sweeping up the electronic data of Americans and what that means for privacy and constitutional rights. Advocates contend it is one of the most important legal authorities on the books to combat terrorism and is a valuable foreign intelligence collection tool.

10 September 2017

ISIS is Using Low-Tech Means to Inflict Large-Scale Terror

Daniel R. DePetris

Simple firearms, knives, and automobiles can result in a horrific number of casualties.

On Thursday, August 17, Spain became the latest country in the West to live through a crude but deadly terrorist attack perpetrated by a group of jihadist-inspired individuals.

The modus operandi of using a large van to strike Las Ramblas, a central tourist spot packed with people in the heart of Barcelona, is nearly identical to acts of terrorism that have occurred in France, Germany, the United States, the UK, and Sweden over the past year-and-a-half. In each case, a radicalized or psychologically distressed individual hijacks or rents a vehicle, waits for an opportune moment for a vulnerable soft target, and turns that vehicle into a deadly weapon by deliberately running people over on the sidewalk. For a terrorist, killing people with a car in an isolated attack is a lot less dramatic than a series of coordinated and synchronized suicide bombings on mass transit systems planned over a period of months. But ramming attacks have the benefit of being very easy to carry out; indeed, running pedestrians over with a car does not require any particular knowledge, skill or intelligence.

Terrorism in our current age is no longer defined by the terrorist cell meeting halfway around the world in a safe-haven, plotting a spectacular attack months and years in advance. Instead, the Islamic State has made terrorism easy for anybody to conduct. As ISIS’s former chief operational planner and spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, implored to ISIS’s pack of recruits in Western Europe in 2014 and again in 2016, you don’t need to travel to Syria and gain battlefield skills to become a valuable member of the Islamic State’s community. All you need to do is pick up a knife and slash a police officer or hijack a car and run over pedestrians on the sidewalk. No expertise on Islam is required, just a willingness to kill innocent people in the name of the caliphate.

Engaging Religion and Religious Actors in Countering Violent Extremism

Interest and space for including religious actors in policy on countering violent extremism (CVE) has grown over the past few years, but debates over the degree to which ideological, religious, or structural factors contribute to violent extremism have not yielded clear guidance for policymakers and practitioners.

The role of religion as a potential driver of violent extremism is significant, but religion usually interacts with a wide range of other factors and causality is not linear.

An alternative approach that focuses on the role or function of religion in violent extremism—facilitating mobilization, providing a counternarrative, providing a justification, and sanctifying violent acts—shows promise.

Religious leaders are integral members of civil society and key contributors to public and political discourse. Engaging them in all spheres of government work, carefully and with sensitivity to power asymmetries and potential risks, is needed.

Understanding how religious factors affect violent extremism can help inform the design and implementation of CVE solutions that engage the religious sector.

9 September 2017

The Ugly Rhymes of History? #Reviewing Insurgencies and Counterinsurgencies

Thomas McDermott

Insurgency is an old concept. If you were to travel back to Iraq between 2334 and 2279 BC, you would find a man called Sargan. Sargan ruled a vast empire spanning from Southern Iraq to Southern Turkey, enforced by overwhelming military power. His Akkadian hordes, armed with high-tech composite bows and sophisticated logistics, laid waste to all before them. Their strategy was a simple one; ‘mass slaughter, enslavement, the deportation of defeated enemies, and the total destruction of their cities.’ For years their technological edge and brutal strategy allowed the Akkadians to dominate. When they inevitably fell, however, they did not fall to a superior empire. They were victim to a new phenomenon: a tireless, guerrilla-style attack from the unsophisticated barbarian hordes all around them. In 2190 BC the city of Akkad, near modern Baghdad, finally fell.

Max Boot believes that the defeat of the Akkadians was the ‘birth of insurgency’.[1] If he is right, it was the start of an inauspicious history for a style of conflict that continues to thrive today. The places are even the same. Four thousand years after the fall of Akkad, not two hours drive away in the town of Fallujah, a combined force of 10,000 US Marines, British Highlanders, and Iraqi soldiers engaged in a brutal fight against a violent group of insurgents. Since then the counterinsurgency (COIN) campaign in Iraq has expanded into a clash that seems to pit the developed world against an extremist ideology. From ancient beginnings, insurgency now has a global face.

8 September 2017

*** Al Qaeda-linked jihadist in Kashmir criticizes Pakistani Army


In an audio message released on Aug. 31, Zakir Musa criticized the Pakistani government and vowed to fight for the implementation of sharia law in Kashmir.

Zakir Musa, the leader of the newly-formed Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, has released an audio message in which he accuses the Pakistani government of betraying the jihad in Kashmir. Musa, a former commander in Hizbul Mujahideen, became a vocal critic of the established jihadist groups fighting in Kashmir earlier this year. He has accused his one-time comrades of being puppets of the Pakistani Army and criticized them for failing to seek the implementation of sharia law. Musa expounds upon these same themes in his latest message, which was released online on Aug. 31.

Musa says his group’s jihad is not merely for land or to serve the interests of supposedly corrupt rulers. Instead, according to a translation prepared by his online supporters, Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind’s jihad aims to free the “ummah” (worldwide community of Muslims) from the nonbelievers and “establish the law of Allah.”

“Our war is against the Indian army, the murtadd (apostate) police of Kashmir, the Government of India, their officers and their political structure and every such individual who would collaborate with the Kuffar (nonbelievers) and tried to harm this jihad,” Musa says.

British Counter-insurgency Campaigns Since the End of the Second World War

With centuries of experience garnered from waging wars of colonial conquest, combating revolutionary movements and imperial policing, the British Army has been seen as an expert institution in the area of counter-insurgency operations. The high regard held for the theoretical constructions of British military officers such as Orde Wingate, Robert Thompson and Frank Kitson seemingly bear this out. But defining a counter-insurgency campaign as a ‘success’ or a ‘victory’ poses problems. This is because most of the counter-insurgency operations conducted after the ending of the Second World War occurred against the backdrop of decolonisation. This meant that regardless of whether such operations were deemed to be successful or not, the countries within which the operation was conducted were embarked upon a path of political independence. And even where they were adjudged successful, the legacy of these campaigns, replete with disregard for the rule of law and violations of the human rights of civilian populations, have left a pall of moral darkness…

The Plague of Terrorism: More Than a Metaphor

By Robert Zaretsky

In his 2017 New Year address, Pope Francis urged world leaders to fight against “the plague of terrorism.” The Pope was not the first to make use of this metaphor, of course. Equally serious sources speak in similar terms. While The Economistmagazine has measured with charts the “plague of global terrorism,” The National Interest has identified terrorism as the “plague of the 21st century.”

The use of plague as a metaphor for terrorism is not limited to religious leaders and magazine writers. Just ask readers of The Plague, Albert Camus’s postwar novel about German-occupied France that celebrates its 70thanniversary this year. The story is as simple as it is sobering. In the near past, a plague settles upon Oran, a city in then-French Algeria. Quarantined from the rest of the world, the city must first accept its new normal before it finds an effective form of resistance. As the city’s body count climbs during the torrid summer months, the efforts at stopping it seem derisory.

Even the novel’s narrator, Dr. Rieux, minimizes the impact of the sanitation teams in halting the plague’s advance. Tellingly, Rieux believes that resistance begins with language. In his world, words matter as much as acts. He and his fellow resisters believe that finding the right words to express their thoughts is an ethical duty. The man responsible for organizing the sanitation teams, Jean Tarrou, insists that all of humankind’s troubles “spring from our failure to use plain, clear-cut language.” Similarly, Rieux tells his readers that “so as not to play false to the facts, and not to play false with himself,” he will strive for objectivity. He is someone who “recognizes what has to be recognized.”

6 September 2017

At the Leading Edge of Counterinsurgency


Even before French soldiers left Vietnam in 1956 as France’s colonial rule came to an end, U.S. Army advisers were already working in the country. Small numbers of American advisers had been there since 1950. Then in 1962 the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, was activated and put in charge of all U.S. troops in South Vietnam. Soon thousands of MACV Army advisers were assisting the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. They were in every major ARVN unit, down to the battalion level.

U.S. advisers from the Navy, Air Force and Marines were also posted to relevant South Vietnamese units, but Army troops assigned to ARVN units were the most heavily involved in advisory activities. Beginning in late 1967, other Army advisers were formed into five-man teams with a special mission. Rather than being sent to units of the ARVN—the conventional, national military force responsible for the overall defense of the country—these Mobile Advisory Teams, or MATs, were dispatched to “territorial forces,” essentially local militias fighting in villages and hamlets against the Viet Cong guerrillas engaged in an insurgency to overthrow the South Vietnamese government. More than 300 MATs operated in South Vietnam and were the American agents of counterinsurgency in the Vietnamese countryside.

5 September 2017

The Barcelona Terrorist Attack

On 17 August, the worst terrorist attack in Spain since the 2004 Madrid train bombings, which killed 191 people, occurred in Barcelona on Las Ramblas, the famously upbeat Catalan city’s central pedestrian promenade. The attack itself killed 14 people and injured at least 100 others; the attacker stabbed another man to death while hijacking his car and escaping in it; and another person was killed in a linked incident in Cambrils a day later. As in the attack in Nice in July 2016 and subsequent ones elsewhere in Europe, men drove large vehicles into crowded areas frequented by foreigners. People from more than 24 countries were killed or hurt. Of the 16 fatalities, six were Spanish, three Italian, two Portuguese, one Belgian, one Australian-British, one German, one American and one Canadian; two were children. The targeting thus appeared to reflect the terrorists’ ruthless indiscriminateness, as well as their desire to degrade Spain’s appeal as a tourist destination and thereby damage its economy.

Shortly after the attack, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, took credit for it, proclaiming that its ‘soldiers’ had again responded to its exhortations. This characterisation suggested that ISIS central command in the Middle East had merely inspired or endorsed the Barcelona attack, and had not planned or directed it. The Spanish people and government have been especially earnest and effective in rejecting Islamophobia, both in general and in the wake of the Barcelona attack; the alienation of Muslim communities does not appear to be as severe in Spain as in some other European countries. Nevertheless, the attack highlights Spain’s standing vulnerability to jihadist terrorism and illuminates other troubling factors.

27 August 2017

Assessing the “Extent” of State Sponsored Terrorism: Impotent International Law?

By Anant Mishra

Nations in the history of international relations have been engaged in conflicts, using “conventional” tactics, or through “non-traditional” means. Although, the global community is prepared to counter such “acts” of war with strong and appropriate legal means in an effort to resolve the disputes between countries, the actors of terrorism continue to pose a grave threat to the states involved in disputes, fearing a much “uglier” twist. Nations have been evading the “dire repercussions” of a war using “varied tactics”. Most common and frequently used device is the nation’s apprehension in using its national armed forces but continue to retain aggressive tactics without directly involving the state in the conflict–a proxy war.

This gives the state, an opportunity to openly deny its involvement in the conflict, preventing in angering members in the international community and rescuing itself from harsh measures such as embargo or international sanction. Hence it is imperative for policy makers, legal experts of international community, to deliberate on the acts of the state, covert or not, qualify for an aggression of war against a sovereign country, inviting international sanctions. Through this article, policy makers and academicians, must examine the international legal norms suitability to identify the state as an instigator of “state-backed” violence towards a sovereign country under the United Nations General Assembly adopted 1974definition of Aggression.

24 August 2017

Al-Qaeda’s Quiet Resurgence in India

By: Animesh Roul
Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), the official South Asian branch of the transnational al-Qaeda network, has spread its tentacles in the region beyond its strongholds. Beyond Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, its influence has reached neighboring India and Myanmar. The emergence of the so-called Base Movement AQIS has not only found support and garnered much ground over the past few years with the existing militant formations and disgruntled militants in India, but it has also taken advantage of existing community conflicts, mostly in southern India, and troubled Kashmir in the north.

AQIS and India

Al-Qaeda’s South Asian branch is headquartered in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but it has been attempting to infiltrate India since September 2014, when Ayman al-Zawahiri announced the formation of this dedicated South Asia branch (in Arabic, Jamaat Qaidat al-jihad fishibhi al-Qarrat al-Hindiya). However, with a relatively strong presence in neighboring Bangladesh and Pakistan, AQIS has struggled to make headway in India, despite the efforts of its chief, Sheikh Asim Umar — his legal name is Sana ul Haq— an Indian national from Sambhal, Uttar Pradesh, who is now based in Pakistan.