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Post-9/11 Evolution of the United States’ Defining of the Terrorist Threat from Al Qaeda, CRS Insights (January 20, 2015)

February 24, 2015 Comments off

Post-9/11 Evolution of the United States’ Defining of the Terrorist Threat from Al Qaeda, CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda-related entities have increased in number and become more diffuse; with these changes there has been an evolution in how the United States defines the terrorist threat. How the threat has evolved could influence consideration of new authorities and policies in the 114th Congress.

SPLC Report: ‘Lone Wolf’ Domestic Terrorism on the Rise

February 19, 2015 Comments off

SPLC Report: ‘Lone Wolf’ Domestic Terrorism on the Rise
Source: Southern Poverty Law Center

As the White House prepares to host a major summit examining the threat of violent extremism next week, a Southern Poverty Law Center study of domestic terrorism released today finds that the vast majority of this violence is coming from “lone wolves” or “leaderless resistance” groups composed of no more than two people.

The report – Age of the Wolf: A Study of the Rise of Lone Wolf and Leaderless Resistance Terrorism (download a PDF of the report)– examines more than 60 domestic terror incidents. Almost three-quarters of the incidents were carried out, or planned, by a lone wolf, a single person acting without accomplices. Ninety percent of the incidents were the work of no more than two persons.

The study, which included violence from both the radical right and homegrown jihadists, also found that a domestic terrorist attack or foiled attack occurred, on average, every 34 days. It covered a period between April 1, 2009 and Feb. 1, 2015, and was based on records maintained by Indiana State University and the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database, along with the SPLC’s own roster of apparent domestic terror incidents.

Remarks by the President on Request to Congress for Authorization of Force Against ISIL

February 12, 2015 Comments off

Remarks by the President on Request to Congress for Authorization of Force Against ISIL
Source: White House

Today, my administration submitted a draft resolution to Congress to authorize the use of force against ISIL. I want to be very clear about what it does and what it does not do.

This resolution reflects our core objective to destroy ISIL. It supports the comprehensive strategy that we have been pursuing with our allies and partners: A systemic and sustained campaign of airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Support and training for local forces on the ground, including the moderate Syrian opposition. Preventing ISIL attacks, in the region and beyond, including by foreign terrorist fighters who try to threaten our countries. Regional and international support for an inclusive Iraqi government that unites the Iraqi people and strengthens Iraqi forces against ISIL. Humanitarian assistance for the innocent civilians of Iraq and Syria, who are suffering so terribly under ISIL’s reign of horror.

The resolution we’ve submitted today does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria. It is not the authorization of another ground war, like Afghanistan or Iraq. The 2,600 American troops in Iraq today largely serve on bases — and, yes, they face the risks that come with service in any dangerous environment. But they do not have a combat mission. They are focused on training Iraqi forces, including Kurdish forces.

As I’ve said before, I’m convinced that the United States should not get dragged back into another prolonged ground war in the Middle East. That’s not in our national security interest and it’s not necessary for us to defeat ISIL. Local forces on the ground who know their countries best are best positioned to take the ground fight to ISIL — and that’s what they’re doing.

CIA — Studies in Intelligence Volume 58, Number 4 (December 2014)

January 23, 2015 Comments off

Studies in Intelligence Volume 58, Number 4 (December 2014)
Source: Central Intelligence Agency

In Memoriam: Jack Downey [PDF 94.2KB**]
Ambassador Donald Gregg

Inside the Inferno
*Counterterrorism Professionals Reflect on Their Work [PDF 311.1KB**]
Dr. Ursula M. Wilder

By the Numbers
*The IC’s Struggle to Express Analytic Uncertainty in the 1970s [PDF 306.0KB**]
James Marchio

GIMIK and SKIFF
*A Tale of Two Semi-Submersible Submarines [PDF 469.9KB**]
Jim Anderson, LCDR USNR (ret), and Dirk A.D. Smith

INTELLIGENCE IN PUBLIC LITERATURE AND FILM
A Most Wanted Man: the Movie [PDF 75.2KB**]
Reviewed by James Burridge and John Kavanagh

A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination [PDF 77.7KB**]
Reviewed by Thomas G. Coffey

Russian Roulette: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin’s Plot for Global Revolution [PDF 118.6KB**]
Reviewed by J.R. Seeger

Mission R&AW [PDF 76.3KB**]
Reviewed by Ryan Shaffer, Ph.D.

Intelligence Officer’s Bookshelf [PDF 152.6KB**]
Compiled and reviewed by Hayden Peake

*Books Reviewed in Studies in Intelligence in 2014 [PDF 86.5KB**]

Fighting terrorism at EU level, an overview of Commission’s actions, measures and initiatives

January 14, 2015 Comments off

Fighting terrorism at EU level, an overview of Commission’s actions, measures and initiatives
Source: European Commission

In 2010 the European Commission adopted an Internal Security Strategy for the period from 2010 to 2014. In the coming months, a European Agenda on Security will be adopted, as foreseen in the Commission working programme for 2015.
The fight against terrorism is principally a national competence. However, the European Union supports Member States’ efforts in the following ways:

  • Creating a legal environment and framework for cooperation;
  • Developing common capabilities and systems such as the Schengen Information System (SIS) or the Civil Protection Mechanism;
  • Supporting, notably financially, the establishment of concrete and operational cooperation between practitioners and front line actors via, for example, the Radicalisation Awareness Network, ATLAS (network of the rapid intervention forces), Airpol (network of airports’ police) in the fight against terrorism and working together with Member States and stakeholders e.g. in Chemical Biological, Radiological and Nuclear and explosives expert groups or the standing committee on precursors;
  • Ensuring that security and fundamental rights are built by design into all relevant EU level policies such as transport, energy, etc.
  • The Internal Security fund also provides financing to Member States in the field of internal security, including fight against terrorism.

Be Afraid. Be A Little Afraid: The Threat of Terrorism from Western Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq

January 13, 2015 Comments off

Be Afraid. Be A Little Afraid: The Threat of Terrorism from Western Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq
Source: Brookings Institution

Many U.S. and European intelligence officials fear that a wave of terrorism will sweep over Europe, driven by the civil war in Syria and continuing instability in Iraq. Many of the concerns stem from the large number of foreign fighters involved.

Despite these fears and the real danger that motivates them, the Syrian and Iraqi foreign fighter threat can easily be exaggerated. Previous cases and information emerging from Syria suggest several mitigating effects that may reduce—but hardly eliminate—the potential terrorist threat from foreign fighters who have gone to Syria. Those mitigating factors include:

• Many die, blowing themselves up in suicide attacks or perishing quickly in firefights with opposing forces.
• Many never return home, but continue fighting in the conflict zone or at the next battle for jihad.
• Many of the foreign fighters quickly become disillusioned, and a number even return to their home country without engaging in further violence.
• Others are arrested or disrupted by intelligence services. Indeed, becoming a foreign fighter—particularly with today’s heavy use of social media—makes a terrorist far more likely to come to the attention of security services.

The danger posed by returning foreign fighters is real, but American and European security services have tools that they can successfully deploy to mitigate the threat. These tools will have to be adapted to the new context in Syria and Iraq, but they will remain useful and effective.

CBO — Federal Reinsurance for Terrorism Risk: An Update

January 8, 2015 Comments off

Federal Reinsurance for Terrorism Risk: An Update
Source: Congressional Budget Office

The federal program that provides insurance against the risk of terrorism expired at the end of 2014. Without such a program, taxpayers will face less financial risk, but some businesses will lose or drop their terrorism coverage and economic activity might slow if a large terrorist attack occurs. Last year, the Congress considered legislation to reauthorize the program but shift more risk to the private sector. Other options include limiting federal coverage to attacks using nonconventional weapons, and charging risk-based prices for federal coverage. CBO has examined the likely effects of different approaches on the private sector and on the federal government.

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