Fri May 22 2015 19:31:11 +0200 CEST

Terrorism - United States Policy on Terrorism Issues: a Dossier

What is a Dossier?

Via the dossiers, we try to highlight the priorities of the US Government with regard to specific foreign policy policy issues. We provide statements by U.S. public officials, but also reports, hearings, and journal articles.
The twin towers of the World Trade Center (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff, File)

International terrorism threatens the United States, its allies and interests, and the world community. Defeating the terrorist enemy requires sound policies, concerted U.S. Government effort, and international cooperation.

US Government Information: 

-05/21/13 U.S.-EU Cooperation Against Terrorism Source: CRS Report for Congress

Country Reports on Terrorism (CRT) 2012: March 30, 2013.

-05/21/13   U.S.-EU Cooperation Against Terrorism  Source: CRS Report for Congress

-05/01/13   Terrorist Watch List Screening and Background Checks for Firearms  Source: CRS Report for Congress

-04/25/13   Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress   Source: CRS Report for Congress

-04/24/13   Terrorism, Miranda, and Related Matters   Source: CRS Report for Congress

-04/24/13   The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Terrorism Investigations   Source: CRS Report for Congress

-04/17/13   Ricin: Technical Background and Potential Role in Terrorism   Source: CRS Report for Congress

-01/23/13   American Jihadist Terrorism: Combating a Complex Threat   Source: CRS Report for Congress

-01/17/13   The Domestic Terrorist Threat: Background and Issues for Congress Source: CRS Report for Congress

Bureau of Counterterrorism: Budget, Programs, and Policies

House Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, April 18, 2012


Open Hearing: Current and Projected National Security Threats to the United States. Source: U.S. Senate Select Committe on Intelligence, Jan. 31, 2012.

Country Reports on Terrorism 2010: Source: U.S. Dept of State, August 18, 2011. Chapter on Europe/Belgium

Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States Source: White House, August 3, 2011.

Ten Years After the 2001 AUMF: Current Status of Legal Authorities, Detention, and Prosecution in the War on Terror. U.S. House, Armed Services Committee, July 26, 2011.

Implementing 9/11 Commission Recommendations. Source: U.S. Dept of Homeland Security, July 21, 2011.

Ten Years After 9/11: Preventing Terrorist Travel   Source: U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, July 13, 2011.
Ten Years On: The Evolution of the Terrorist Threat Since 9/11 Source: U.S. House Armed Services Committee, 6/22/11

Global Maritime Piracy: Fueling Terrorism, Harming Trade

Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade


Source: U.S. House, Foreign Affairs Committee, June 16, 2011

Al Qaeda, the Taliban & Other Extremist Groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan Source: U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, May 24, 2011.

-05/05/11   Osama bin Laden's Death: Implications and Considerations  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

- 03/08/11   Terrorist Use of the Internet: Information Operations in Cyberspace  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

Hearing, February 15, 2011:  “A Ticking Time Bomb: Counterterrorism Lessons from the U.S. Government's Failure to Prevent the Fort Hood Attack.” The hearing examined the findings and recommendations of the Senators’ bipartisan report on the failures of the U.S. government to prevent the November 5, 2009, massacre that killed 13 people and wounded 32 others.

A TICKING TIME BOMB: COUNTERTERRORISM LESSONS FROM THE U.S. GOVERNMENT’S FAILURE TO PREVENT THE FORT HOOD ATTACK. Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, February 2011.

-02/01/11   The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) - Responsibilities and Potential Congressional Concerns   Source: CRS Report for Congress.

-01/25/11   Al Qaeda and Affiliates: Historical Perspective, Global Presence, and Implications for U.S. Policy  CRS Report for Congress.

-01/14/11   Navy Irregular Warfare and Counterterrorism Operations: Background and Issues for Congress  Source: CRS Report for Congress.

2009 Country Reports on Terrorism. Source: U.S. Dept of State, Aug. 8, 2010. U.S. law requires the Secretary of State to provide Congress, by April 30 of each year, a full and complete report on terrorism with regard to those countries and groups meeting criteria set forth in the legislation. This annual report is entitled Country Reports on Terrorism. Beginning with the report for 2004, it replaced the previously published Patterns of Global Terrorism.

Non-US Government Information: 

Stopping Terrorism at the Source. Michael Hirsh, The National Journal, May 2013, var. pp. Two years ago, the Obama administration launched a plan to use American Muslims as an early-detection system to spot radicals. So why hasn’t it worked? READ MORE

Fighting Salafi-Jihadist Insurgencies: How Much Does Religion Really Matter? Daniel Byman, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, April 2013, pp. 353-371. "How do jihadist insurgencies differ from non-jihadist ones? Jihadist insurgents, like all insurgents, seek to control the government, need money and weapons, and thrive where government is weak. Yet their cause—jihad at local, regional, and global levels—gives them instant friends and resources, but also built-in enemies and burdens. Jihadist insurgents often organize, recruit, and fund-raise differently than traditional insurgent groups. The agendas of these militant groups often go against the local residents' sense of nationalism and anger these communities with their extreme interpretations of Islam. To take advantage of this, the United States can amplify local voices that are best able to discredit these insurgents and press allied regimes to disrupt the mosques, schools, and fund-raising networks that help support them. However, Washington should also recognize that weakening these groups at the local level may make them more likely to embrace international terrorism. Allied efforts to co-opt jihadists may make area societies and governments less favorable to other U.S. policies. Finally, failed democratization—a particularly salient issue given the Arab Spring—risks playing into the jihadist narrative." READ MORE

Know Your Enemy: On the Futility of Distinguishing Between Terrorists and Insurgents. James Khalil, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, April 2013, pp. 419-430. "Academics and military analysts regularly attempt to distinguish terrorists from insurgents through focusing on the extent to which these adversaries (a) adopt nonviolent methods, (b) apply uncompromising forms of violence, (c) generate local support, (d) recruit and maintain manpower, and (e) control territory. In contrast, this article argues that attempts to distinguish between these adversaries inevitably fail, firstly, as they arbitrarily impose binary distinctions upon continuous variables (e.g., in levels of support, manpower figures), and secondly as there is a lack of agreement across these supposedly identifying characteristics. Thus, contrary to common wisdom, it is concluded that there is no contradiction in simultaneously labeling groups such as the Taliban and Al Qaeda as both terrorists and insurgents. Indeed, a complete understanding of these groups requires an assessment of their activities at both the tactical (as terrorists) and strategic (as insurgents) levels." READ MORE

Who Gets Designated a Terrorist and Why? Colin J. Beck and Emily Miner, Emily, Social Forces, March 2013, pp. 837-872. "This study examines formal terrorism designations by governments through the lens of organization studies research on categorization processes. It is argued that designations hinge on markers from the organizational profile of a militant group. Using cross-sectional data on militant organizations and designations by the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, multivariate analyses find that listed organizations do not merely have a track record of violence against a government's citizens, but also tend to target aviation and have an Islamic ideological basis. Mixed support for geopolitical factors is found, but imageries of hegemonic interest are not confirmed. Secondary analyses suggest that newer images of terrorism may replace older ones in classification schemes but further research is needed to know whether this is because of policy adaptation or the effect of spectacular events like September 11th." READ MORE

Understanding Terror, Terrorism, and Their Representations in Media and Culture. Paul B. Rich, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, February 2013, pp. 255-277. "This review article examines four recent books published on terrorism and insurgent warfare. It argues that the narrative developed from the early 1970s within terrorism studies or 'terrorology' was considerably different from the discussion of terrorism in the post-1945 period and tended to marginalize the role of states in fomenting terror. The article looks at depictions of terrorism in both art and film as well the recent historiography of terrorism. The article argues that far more emphasis needs to be placed on the role of the French Revolution in the gestation of terrorism in the nineteenth century; by contrast the emphasis on late nineteenth century Russian terrorism has been rather exaggerated as many terrorist movement (such as that in 1880s Chicago) owed little to the Russian connection. Finally the article shows that the connection between terrorism and political nihilism has been overplayed and that few terrorist movements (as opposed to some terrorist theorists) were driven by a nihilist agenda." READ MORE

Grievance to Greed: The Global Convergence of the Crime-Terror Threat. Vanessa Neumann, Orbis, Spring 2013, var. pages. "The threat is real, deadly and serious—for everyone, not just the United States. The rapid collapse of distinctions between transnational criminal organizations and terrorist organizations has led to a threat convergence the likes of which we have not seen before and are only beginning to understand. Transnational organized criminals and foreign terrorist organizations have linked (both wittingly and not) in what we now call the crime-terror pipeline, or CTP. While the intellectual landscape of the problem is still under study, its scale and relevance have made it squarely a Tier-One national security threat, as codified in the White House Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime." READ MORE

U.S.-EU Cooperation Against Terrorism. Kristin Archick, Congressional Research Service, April 22, 2013, var. pages. "U.S.-EU cooperation against terrorism has led to a new dynamic in U.S.-EU relations by fostering dialogue on law enforcement and homeland security issues previously reserved for bilateral discussions. Nevertheless, some challenges persist in fostering closer U.S.-EU cooperation in these fields. Among the most prominent are data privacy and data protection concerns." READ MORE

Educating for National Security. Jakub GrygielA, Orbis, Spring 2013, pp. 201–216. "National security is not simply a matter of technical skills and university degrees. To maintain power, engineering skills and knowledge of math are undoubtedly indispensable, but so is a solid understanding of, and appreciation for, the state's civilizational underpinnings—the religious beliefs, political ideals, and moral virtues. An education for national security must start from the desire to learn and understand one's own national culture and tradition to be able to identify what one is supposed to defend. And herein lies our biggest challenge: we are becoming increasingly more skilled at how to defend ourselves, but we are losing the tools to understand what we are expected to protect. We can do a lot but we are uncertain why we should."


Evaluating CIA's Analytic Performance: Reflections of a Former Analyst. Stephen Marrin, Orbis, Spring 2013, pp. 325-339. "Many people point to high profile failures like 9/11 and Iraq as indicators that CIA's analytic performance is inadequate or flawed. Flawed by design. A legacy of ashes. A culture of failure. Or so goes the conventional wisdom. Fortunately this conventional wisdom is wrong. These so-called failures more accurately represent the perennial dilemmas and tradeoffs associated with the analytic function and, most importantly, the inappropriate expectation that these observers hold of CIA's ability to prevent surprises. As a matter of fact, there is much that people do not fully understand about the CIA." READ MORE

Packaging inspiration: Al Qaeda's digital magazine Inspire in the self-radicalization process. Susan Currie Sivek, International journal of communication, Jan. 30, 2013, var. pages. "Al Qaeda is today a fragmented organization, and its strategic communication efforts now focus largely on recruiting individuals in the West to carry out "individual jihad" in their home countries. One Al Qaeda-affiliated publication, Inspire, represents an unusual use of the digital magazine format and content for recruitment. This study examines the content and design of Inspire to determine how the magazine may advance the self-radicalization that it seeks to induce in its readers. This analysis finds that the magazine weaves together jihadist ideology, a narrow interpretation of Islam, and appropriations of Western popular culture to maximize the publication's potential for motivating readers toward violence." READ MORE

Obama's Drone War. Trevor McCrisken, Survival, April 2013, pp. 97-122. "At the beginning of his presidency, Barack Obama vowed to fight terrorism with greater effectiveness and moral rectitude than his predecessor. He insisted that ‘we must adhere to our values as diligently as we protect our safety – with no exceptions’, and issued executive orders to end the use of torture by US agencies and close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Achieving the latter has proved difficult politically and practically, but the administration has unequivocally renounced the interrogation practices under George W. Bush. Most notably, however, Obama has increasingly turned to a more deadly and permanent method of dealing with individuals suspected of terrorism in the use of unmanned drones for targeted killing." READ MORE

Al Qaeda in Africa: The Creeping Menace to Sub-Sahara's 500 Million Muslims. Herman J. Cohen, American Foreign Policy Interests, Spring 2013, pp. 63-69. "Since 2005, Al Qaeda has co-opted as franchises three armed and violent African Islamist movements that had established footholds in both East and West Africa. These movements have been able to exploit anarchy, instability, hopeless poverty, corruption, and ethnic exclusion to impose medieval Islamic governance that sub-Saharan Africans reject but cannot defeat without outside help. The countries currently directly affected are Somalia, Mali, and Nigeria. African governments understand the dangers to their sovereignty presented by Al Qaeda affiliates and have demonstrated determination to do whatever is necessary to stamp them out. All African governments welcome American assistance in their resistance to Islamist extremism, but the United States needs to be careful about keeping its military footprint in Africa as small as possible." READ MORE

A Surprising Little War: First Lessons of Mali. François Heisbourg, Survival, April 2013, pp. 7-18. "The war in Mali broke out on 11 January 2013 in the form of an out-of-theblue French offensive against two armed columns heading towards Bamako, the country's capital. During the following weeks, a brigade-sized French force, accompanied by a similar number of soldiers from West African countries, reclaimed an area the size of Texas from jihadist groups, which in spring 2012 proclaimed to have set up an independent territory called Azawad in the northern 60% of Mali. Although the war in Mali was not a blitzkrieg, as claimed by some, in some ways it can be considered a harbinger of postmodern conflict.The war may yet slide into a strategic dead end reminiscent of Iraq and Afghanistan, but such a fate is not preordained." READ MORE

Should I stay or should I go? Explaining variation in Western jihadists' choice between domestic and foreign fighting. Thomas Hegghammer, American Political Science Review, Feb. 2013, pp. 1-15. "This article studies variation in conflict theater choice by Western jihadists in an effort to understand heir motivations. Some militants attack at home, whereas others join insurgencies abroad, but scholars have asked why they make these different choices. Using open-source data, I estimate recruit supply for each theater, foreign fighter return rates, and returnee impact on domestic terrorist activity. The tentative data indicate that jihadists prefer foreign fighting, but a minority attacks at home after being radicalized, most often through foreign fighting or contact with a veteran. Most foreign fighters do not return for domestic operations, but those who do return are more effective operatives than nonveterans. The findings have implications for our understanding of the motivations of jihadists, for assessments of the terrorist threat posed by foreign fighters, and for counterterrorism policy." READ MORE

The immigrant Muslim American at the boundary of insider and outsider: representations of Faisal Shahzad as "homegrown" terrorist. Angie Chuang and Robin Chin Roemer, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Spring 2013, pp. 89-107. "Studies of Orientalized portrayals of Muslims have generally been distinct from studies on the Othering of immigrant Americans. This study employs concepts of insider/outsider status, applying theories of Orientalism and representations of the Other to newspaper coverage of the Muslim and Pakistani American perpetrator of the 2010 attempted Times Square bombing. Newspapers constructed a seemingly contradictory representation of Faisal Shahzad, as the apparent insider/American who becomes the alienated outsider/Other. This portrayal of the Orientalized insider establishes an emerging discourse on the "homegrown" terrorist who exists at the boundary of self and Other." READ MORE

Unpacking the Connection Between Terror and Islam. Justin Conrad and Daniel Milton, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, April 2013, pp. 315-336. "Are countries with large Muslim populations more likely to experience or produce transnational terrorist attacks than countries with fewer Muslims? And if there is a difference, is it attributable to the influence of Islam, or to the economic, social, and political conditions that are common in predominantly Muslim countries? Analyzing all transnational terrorist attacks between 1973 and 2002, this study uses decomposition analysis to identify the relative contributions of the observable and behavioral characteristics of a state on the amount of terrorism that it experiences and produces. The results suggest that Muslim states do not systematically produce more terrorism than non-Muslim states once state repression, human rights abuses, and discrimination against minorities are taken into account." READ MORE

Evolution of the Global Jihad: Female Suicide Bombers in Iraq. Jessica Davisa, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, April 2013, pp. 279-291. "Female suicide bombers are increasingly seen in conflicts throughout the world; in recent years, they have become much more prevalent in religious-fundamentalist conflict. Specifically, global jihadist groups are increasingly incorporating female suicide bombers into their operations, a significant ideological and operational shift for most of these groups. Jihadist groups are using women to fill a recruiting void, to achieve tactical surprise, and for strategic purposes. Female suicide bombers are likely to emerge in jihadist conflicts throughout the world, from Nigeria to Pakistan and beyond." READ MORE

Promoting Exit from Violent Extremism: Themes and Approaches. Anja Dalgaard-Nielsen, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, February 2013, pp. 99-115. "A number of Western countries are currently adding exit programs targeting militant Islamists to their counterterrorism efforts. Drawing on research into voluntary exit from violent extremism, this article identifies themes and issues that seem to cause doubt, leading to exit. It then provides a perspective on how these natural sources of doubt might best be brought to bear in connection with an exit program by drawing on social psychology and research into persuasion and attitude change. It is argued that an external intervention should stay close to the potential exiter's own doubt, make the influence attempt as subtle as possible, use narratives and self-affirmatory strategies to reduce resistance to persuasion, and consider the possibility to promote attitudinal change via behavioral change as an alternative to seek to influence beliefs directly." READ MORE

Terrorist Decision Making and the Deterrence Problem. Gregory D.Miller, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, February 2013, pp. 132-151. "An ongoing debate among policymakers and terrorism scholars concerns the effectiveness of deterrence as a counterterrorism tool. Absent from the debate is a discussion of the complex nature of terrorist decision making. Decisions are made at varying levels in a terrorist organization, often by actors having different motives, resulting in behavior that is not always fully rational. This article identifies several circumstances when terrorist behavior is not the product of an entirely unitary, rational decision-making process, and therefore highlights when deterrence policies will be least effective. It concludes with some policy implications for understanding when deterrence policies are most likely to succeed and how to address terrorism in other situations." READ MORE

The Evolution of Irregular War. Max Boot, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2013, var. pages. "Pundits tend to treat terrorism and guerrilla tactics as something new, but nothing could be further from the truth. Although the agendas have changed over the years -- from tribalism, to liberalism and nationalism, to socialism, to jihadist extremism -- guerrilla and terrorist warfare has been ubiquitous throughout history and consistently deadly." READ MORE

American Jihadist Terrorism: Combating a Complex Threat, Jerome P. Bjelopera, CRS, January 23, 2013, var. pp. This 141-page US report describes homegrown violent jihadists and the plots and attacks that have occurred since 9/11. It also discusses the radicalization process and the forces driving violent extremist activity. READ MORE

Anatomy: African Terrorism. Carlo Davis, World Policy Journal, Winter 2012/2013, var. pages. “Nigeria is under relentless attack from Boko Haram, a homegrown extremist militia. World Policy Journal outlines the terrorist organization’s support networks, exposing what’s needed to end Boko Haram’s brutal campaign to impose sharia law on Africa’s most populous nation.” READ MORE

Jihadist Cells and "IED" Capabilities in Europe: Assessing the Present and Future Threat to the West. Dr. Jeffrey M. Bale, Strategic Studies Institute, November 2012, var. pp. The first of two interrelated security threats is multifaceted inasmuch as it stems from a complex combination of religious, political, historical, cultural, social, and economic motivational factors caused by the growing predilection for carrying out mass casualty terrorist attacks inside the territories of “infidel” Western countries by clandestine operational cells that are inspired by, and sometimes linked to, various jihadist networks with a global agenda. The second threat is more narrowly technical: the widespread fabrication of increasingly sophisticated and destructive improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by those very same jihadist groups. These devices, if properly constructed, are capable of causing extensive human casualties and significant amounts of physical destruction within the radius of their respective blasts. These dual intersecting threats within the recent European context are examined in an effort to assess what they might portend for the future, including within the U.S. homeland. READ MORE

Abdullah Azzam, Ideologue of Jihad: Freedom Fighter or Terrorist? Sebastian Schnelle,  
Journal of Church and State, Autumn 2012, pp. 625-647. "Bereft of such legitimization, terrorism is cast in Western democracy as an indefensible moral act. [...]while there are acts of violence that can sometimes be considered legitimate, such as guerrilla action in defense of one's country, terrorism fails at justifying these acts because it contains acts, namely the deliberate targeting of noncombatants, that are never considered legitimate in the Western world. [...]there are indirect hints in Azzam's writings that being involved in harm should not be extended beyond the actual battlefield. [...]giving the benefit of doubt, it should be concluded that Azzam did not support attacks on civilians in their home countries and, therefore, that the turn to consider attacks on the far enemy is a development that occurred in a later generation of jihadist ideologues." READ MORE

Peer reviews in the fight against terrorism: A hidden dimension of European security governance. Raphael Bossong, Cooperation and Conflict, December 2012, pp. 519-538. "This article analyses EU peer reviews in the fight against terrorism, which constitute a significant and previously unstudied instrument of European security governance. The first part reviews some general features of security governance and outlines two analytical perspectives to assess the effect of peer reviews in this context, namely compliance and learning. The second part surveys the historical development and substantive impact of the EU’s peer reviews on the fight against terrorism. Although the first peer review after the attacks of 9/11 was slow to unfold, it eventually came to be regarded as a highly successful exercise that improved mutual trust and the coherence of the European fight against terrorism. It was therefore followed by a second peer review on consequence management in response to terrorist attacks. From a critical perspective, the article argues that the impact of these peer reviews could be doubted from both compliance and learning perspectives, as monitoring and flanking measures have remained too weak. The conclusions raise further avenues for research on peer reviews that are a regular feature of EU security governance." READ MORE

‘Between a rock and a hard place?’: The European Union’s financial sanctions against suspected terrorists, multilateralism and human rights. Sarah Léonard and Christian Kaunert, Cooperation and Conflict, December 2012, pp. 473-494. "This article focuses on the financial sanctions adopted by the European Union (EU) against individuals suspected of involvement in terrorist activities. This sanctions regime has been sharply criticised for its negative impact on human rights and has seen several judicial challenges before the European Courts. In contrast with most of the existing literature, which focuses on legal issues or examines the consequences of the EU financial sanctions, this article takes a step back to examine the reasons for which the EU decided to adopt these controversial financial sanctions in the first place. This article argues that it is mainly its commitment to ‘UN-centred effective multilateralism’ that has led the EU to adopt these financial sanctions measures in order to align itself with the UN financial sanctions regime. However, the Kadi landmark ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has challenged the pre-eminence of multilateralism over other considerations, such as the respect for human rights. As the Court of Justice prepares to hand down its second judgment in this case, the EU is left torn between its commitment to multilateralism and its commitment to human rights, which can be fully reconciled only if the UN sanctions regime meets the EU’s human rights standards."

The external dimension of the European Union's counter-terrorism: an introduction to empirical and theoretical developments. Laura C. Ferreira-Pereiraa and Bruno Oliveira Martins, European Security, October 2012, var. pp. Having recently completed its first decade of existence, the EU's counter-terrorism policy has been receiving increasing scholarly attention as reflected in the specialized literature devoted to this emerging policy area. Its external dimension, nevertheless, has not been the subject of thorough and systematic analyses which scrutinize its characteristic features and principal actors, policies and interests. Against this backdrop, the introductory article of this Special Issue aims at providing a contextualised assessment of the external dimension of EU counter-terrorism while discussing the impact of the Lisbon Treaty upon this policy field. It proceeds with an examination of the policies, interests and actorness dynamics associated with the EU's counter-terrorism policy in highlighting the major findings and conclusions conveyed by the five contributions to this Special Issue. Its conclusion points to possible avenues for future research on the basis of identified underdeveloped topics, under-theorised aspects and neglected issues in the existing literature. READ MORE

Al Qaeda’s Post–9/11 Organizational Structure and Strategy: The Role of Islamist Regional Affiliates. Anthony N. Celso, Mediterranean Quarterly, Spring 2012, pp. 30-41. "The political transformations under way in the Arab world and the killing of Osama bin Laden raise serious questions about al Qaeda’s long-term viability. The secular-liberal Arab Spring protest movement appears to be winning the war of ideas over al Qaeda’s violent religious fundamentalism. Civil disobedience campaigns in Tunisia and Egypt succeeded in forcing regime change in ways that a decade of al Qaeda terror attacks failed to accomplish. While it is too soon to write al Qaeda’s obituary, its erosion came well before the death of its historic leader. This essay examines al Qaeda’s post–9/11 evolution, its strategy, and its steady fragmentation. Since the destruction of its Taliban Afghan sanctuary, al Qaeda has been through many mutations, none of which, over time, has been successful. This essay argues that al Qaeda’s failures in Iraq contributed substantially to the organization’s decline." READ MORE

Fear and Outrage as Terrorists’ Goals, John A. Lynn II, Parameters, Spring 2012, pp. 51-62. "On the morning of 9/11, Americans across the country witnessed al Qaeda’s terrorist attacks as appalling images that provoked shock at the slaughter, grief for the victims, and furor toward the perpetrators. Islamist radicals had succeeded in striking an intensely visceral blow. Even though the destruction was great, it once again became brutally clear that the power of terrorist violence derives not primarily from the physical damages it inflicts, but from the states of mind it provokes. This realization dominates our definitions of terrorism, which usually stress its intention to achieve victory by engendering fear. American reactions to 9/11, however, illustrate that we need to recognize the centrality of another emotion—outrage. While accepting the importance of fear in terrorist schemes, this article insists that to understand the dynamics of terrorism we should also grant that many of its most important gains come not by instilling fear but by inciting outrage." READ MORE

The Terrorism Delusion: America's Overwrought Response to September 11. John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, International Security, Summer 2012, pp. 81-110. "The reaction of Americans to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, has been massively disproportionate to the actual threat posed by al-Qaida either as an international menace or as an inspiration or model for homegrown amateurs. An examination of the activities of international and domestic terrorist “adversaries” reveals that exaggerations and distortions of the threat have inspired a determined and expensive quest to ferret out, and even to create, the nearly nonexistent. The result has been an ill-conceived and remarkably unreflective effort to react to an event that, however tragic and dramatic in the first instance, should have been seen to be of only limited significance at least after a few years. Not only has the terrorism delusion had significant costs, but the initial alarmed perspective has been so internalized that anxieties about terrorism have persisted for more than a decade despite exceedingly limited evidence that much fear is justified." READ MORE

Stepping inside? CSDP missions and EU counter-terrorism. Bruno Oliveira Martins & Laura C. Ferreira-Pereira, European Security, June 2012, var. pp. Launched in 1999, the European security and defence policy (ESDP)/common security and defence policy (CSDP) was not conceived as a tool to fight terrorism. This threat was traditionally considered as being of an internal nature and, thus, deemed to be addressed under the European Union's (EU) third pillar. However, the events of 11 September 2011 contributed to a shift in this approach, with several documents acknowledging the importance of the contribution of CFSP, including ESDP, in the fight against terrorism. At the rhetorical level, this idea has been consistently conveyed in the EU's framework documents and policy papers since then. Yet, both civilian and military missions undertaken in the CSDP's realm have not been systematically used to fight terrorism. Against this background, this article aims to examine the lack of impact of such missions in the framework of the Union's counter-terrorism and to discuss developments arising from the Lisbon Treaty's CSDP-related provisions. Based on an analysis of both EU missions’ mandates and EU official documents, this article demonstrates that CSDP has not been used to fight terrorism nor has been transformed by the emergence of an EU counter-terrorism policy. It further puts forward three tentative causal explanations for this paradox while arguing for the existence of room for a change in this regard.  READ MORE
The EU as a global counter-terrorism actor in the making. Erik Brattberg & Mark Rhinard, European Security, June 2012, var. pp. After the terror attacks of 11 September 2001, the European Union (EU) staked its claim as an important international player in the fight against global terrorism. The EU encouraged new initiatives at the United Nations and devoted newfound attention to aid and assistance programs to third states. The EU's ambitions and heightened activity prompts a number of questions about rhetoric versus action and offers a useful test case for assessing the quality of the EU's ‘actorness’. This article applies the actorness concept to shed light on the EU's behaviour in global counter-terrorism activities. It draws together existing insights on actorness into an analytical framework containing four sets of variables – context, coherence, capability and consistency – and applies the framework to evidence gathered on the EU's international and third country role in countering terrorism. Our results show that the actorness approach sheds considerable light on the EU's international behaviour in global counter-terrorism and suggests the EU has some way to go before becoming a full actor in this area. READ MORE

Counterterrorism cooperation in the transatlantic security community. Andrew L. Porter and Annegret Bendiek, May 2012, European Security, pp. 1-21. While the notion of a European security community encounters little resistance in the security community literature, the transatlantic security community, comprised of the European Union (EU) and United States of America (USA), has suffered routine criticism in the aftermath of 9/11. This article seeks to lend empirical support to the claim that the transatlantic security community is alive and well, though not without its political arrhythmias. Drawing on the idea that community membership enhances norm convergence, this article examines the process of norm convergence in EU–US counterterrorism cooperation. We argue that the recent EU–US agreements on Passenger Name Records and the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme represent a form of cooperation, that is, the convergence of values, which is essential for late-stage security community integration. Detainee practices, however, represent a harder case for the transatlantic security community. Despite these difficulties, we argue that this controversy does not preclude a priori the possibility of agreement. Although these transatlantic differences might shake the foundations of the EU security community, we argue that the current controversies provide an opportunity for the EU to reaffirm its commitment to its values, thus reinforcing its foundations as an independent security community. This account of cooperation, political disagreement notwithstanding, upsets the Kaganian account of transatlantic relations. READ MORE

The social construction of an EU interest in counter-terrorism: US influence and internal struggles in the cases of PNR and SWIFT. Christian Kaunert, Sarah Léonard and Alex MacKenzieb, European Security, May 2012, pp. 1-23. The construction of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice has seen the pooling of a significant amount of national sovereignty at the European Union (EU) level through the establishment of internal EU competences. This process has also had the important side-effect of an increasing development of an EU interest in various areas of security, including in counter-terrorism. This article examines the processes through which the EU interest in counter-terrorism is constructed. It argues that, in line with social constructivist literature, it is important to conceptualise interests as being mutually constituted through interactions amongst political actors. It further develops two arguments in this respect. First, the United States (US) has exercised significant influence on the shaping of the EU interest in counter-terrorism. This point is particularly well-illustrated by the Passenger Name Record case. The second argument put forward by this article is that the process through which the EU interest is shaped has become increasingly complex, in particular following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, which reinforced the powers of the European Parliament. A particularly apt illustration of this argument is the case of the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) Agreement. READ MORE

Targeting Top Terrorists: How Leadership Decapitation Contributes to Counterterrorism. Bryan C. Price, International Security, Spring 2012, pp. 9–46. “Several states, including Israel and the United States, have put decapitation tactics, which seek to kill or capture leaders of terrorist organizations, at the forefront of their counterterrorism efforts. The vast majority of scholarly work on decapitation suggests, however, that leadership decapitation is ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst. Contrary to this conventional wisdom, leadership decapitation significantly increases the mortality rate of terrorist groups, although the results indicate that the effect of decapitation decreases with the age of the group, even to a point where it may have no effect at all. This finding helps to explain the previously perplexing mixed record of decapitation effectiveness. Terrorist groups are especially susceptible to leadership decapitation because their organizational characteristics (they are violent, clandestine, and values based) amplify the difficulties of leadership succession. Additionally, in contrast to the conventional wisdom regarding the durability of terrorist groups, politically relevant terrorist groups (defined as those with at least four attacks including one attack resulting in a fatality) endure significantly longer than previously believed.” READ MORE

Does Decapitation Work? Assessing the Effectiveness of Leadership Targeting in Counterinsurgency Campaigns. Patrick B. Johnston, International Security, Spring 2012, pp. 47–79. “Is killing or capturing insurgent leaders an effective tactic? Previous research on interstate war and counterterrorism has suggested that targeting enemy leaders does not work. Most studies of the efficacy of leadership decapitation, however, have relied on unsystematic evidence and poor research design. An analysis based on fresh evidence and a new research design indicates the opposite relationship and yields four key findings. First, campaigns are more likely to end quickly when counterinsurgents successfully target enemy leaders. Second, counterinsurgents who capture or kill insurgent leaders are significantly more likely to defeat insurgencies than those who fail to capture or kill such leaders. Third, the intensity of a conflict is likelier to decrease following the successful removal of an enemy leader than it is after a failed attempt. Fourth, insurgent attacks are more likely to decrease after successful leadership decapitations than after failed attempts. Additional analysis suggests that these findings are attributable to successful leadership decapitation, and that the relationship between decapitation and campaign success holds across different types of insurgencies.” READ MORE

Counter-terrorism – a comprehensive approach. Social mobilisation and ‘civilianisation’ of security: the case of the United Kingdom. Krzysztof Feliks Sliwinski, European Security, April 2012, var. pages. "The global war on terror and 9/11 have brought to our attention the perpetual problem of freedom versus security. The more governments strive to provide security, the more they tend to curb the freedoms of their citizens. ‘Stop and search’ procedures, 28-day detentions of terrorist suspects without charge or new
 body scanners at the airports are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in a long list of the
 state’s encroachments into our private lives. This paper departs from such a seemingly inescapable predicament. It analyses the role of the public in preventing, protecting and preparing for terrorist attacks under the British government’s counter-terrorism strategy known as CONTEST. It explores two social phenomena that are being increasingly promoted by official authorities in the United Kingdom, namely, mobilisation of society and what the author terms ‘civilianisation’ of security. The latter is defined as a notion relating to nonmilitary, voluntary organisations and the business/private sector, engaged by government but acting in its own right against terrorism threats. ‘Civilianisation’ of security is also conceived of as a potential tool to bridge the gap between two
 incompatible worlds of state security and personal freedoms." 

Practising homeland security across the Atlantic: practical learning and policy convergence in Europe and North America. Ruben Zaiotti, European Security, April 2012, var. pages. "Despite different traditions, interests and perceptions characterizing North American and European approaches to homeland security, since 9/11 policymakers across the Atlantic have formulated increasingly similar policies to deal with terrorism and other international security threats. Challenging mainstream accounts elaborated in the policy convergence literature, and drawing from sociological works in performance studies, this essay argues that the recent evolution of homeland security policies in Europe and North America can be understood as an instance of ‘practical learning’. From this perspective, this outcome is the result of the acquisition on the part of European and North American policy-makers of the practical knowledge necessary to carry out the new policies, policies learned by mimicking the practices of their counterparts across the Atlantic. This argument is then applied to examine two cases of policy convergence in Europe and North America the proposal for a ‘European Passenger Name Record’ system and the project of a regional ‘Security Perimeter’. READ MORE

How to Deter Terrorism. Matthew Kroenig and Barry Pavel, The Washington Quarterly, Spring 2012, pp. 21-36.  “For more than 50 years during the Cold War, deterrence was a cornerstone of U.S. strategy. The United States aimed to prevent the Soviet Union from attacking the West by threatening to retaliate with a devastating nuclear response. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, however, many observers argued that deterrence was irrelevant to the U.S.-led war on terror. Analysts claimed that unlike the Soviet Union’s leadership, terrorists were irrational, willing to incur any cost (including death) to achieve their goals, and would be difficult to locate following an attack. For these reasons and others, it was thought that threats to retaliate against terrorists would be inherently incredible and insufficient to deter terrorist action.” READ MORE


Muslim “Homegrown” Terrorism in the United States: How Serious Is the Threat? Risa A. Brooks, International Security, Fall 2011, pp. 7-47 "Since the September 11 attacks, analysts and public officials have expressed growing concern about the potential of Muslim citizens and residents of the United States to plot attacks within the country's borders—a phenomenon sometimes referred to as “homegrown” terrorism. To assess this apparent threat, it is necessary to examine what is known about the willingness and capacity of Muslim Americans to execute deadly attacks in the United States. Three conditions, either alone or together, could contribute to an increasing threat of homegrown terrorism. The first concerns what is known about the radicalization of Muslim Americans and whether a surge in arrests in 2009 indicates a growing trend in Muslim American terrorism. The second relates to the capacity of aspiring militants to avoid detection as they prepare attacks. The third depends on the skills of aspiring terrorists and therefore their capacities to execute increasingly sophisticated attacks. The analysis should be generally reassuring to those concerned about Muslim homegrown terrorism. On both analytical and empirical grounds, there is not a significant basis for anticipating that Muslim Americans are increasingly motivated or capable of successfully engaging in lethal terrorist attacks in the United States." READ MORE

The European Union's counter-terrorism policy towards the Maghreb: trapped between democratisation, economic interests and the fear of destabilisation. Franz Edera, European Security, Volume 20, Issue 3, 2011, pp.  431-451. This article sheds light on the European Union's counter-terrorism policy in the Maghreb taking into account the diverse influences and interests shaping its strategic thinking. To explain the complex web of opportunities and constraints, the article refers to Terry Deibel's framework for the analysis of foreign and security affairs. The author concludes that the Union's counter-terrorism policy in the Maghreb has been shaped more by the desire for regional stability and greater trade relations and energy security than by the goal of promoting democratic values and human rights. Moreover, the promotion of democracy is perceived by EU policy-makers as a destabilising factor that could endanger counter-terrorism efforts.  READ MORE


9/11 in Retrospect. Melvyn P. Leffler, Foreign Affairs, Sep/Oct 2011, var. pages. "It’s tempting to see the 9/11 attacks as having fundamentally changed U.S. foreign policy. It’s also wrong. The Bush administration may have gone over the top in responding, but its course was less novel than generally believed. A quest for primacy and military supremacy, a readiness to act proactively and unilaterally, and a focus on democracy and free markets -- all are long-standing features of U.S. policy." READ MORE

The Decade Since Sept. 11. Governing, September 2011, var. pages. "Governing, Government Technology and Emergency Management have joined together to provide complementary articles on 9/11's impact on states and localities. Policing in the Post-9/11 Era. In America’s largest Arab community, police are pioneering a new way to fight terrorism by strengthening neighborhood ties. National Need for a New Network: Ten years after 9/11, plans to build a national communications network for public safety agencies -- a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission -- remain on the drawing board. Homeland Spending Uncertainty: The United States spent an estimated $635.9 billion spent on homeland security in the decade since 9/11, but what is the return on that investment? 

9/11: The Tapping Point. David Rose, Vanity Fair, September 2011, var. pages. "What if, two years before the 9/11 attacks—with the installation of a cell-phone-and-Internet system in Afghanistan—the U.S. had been handed complete access to al-Qaeda and Taliban calls and e-mails? A secret deal was in place in 1999, the author reveals, but Washington dropped the ball." READ MORE 

The Black Hole of 9/11. David J. Rothkopf, Foreign Policy, August 29, 2011, var. pages. "As we assess the legacy of the 10th anniversary of America's seminal terrorist attack, it's worth looking at 10 events from the past decade that have actually been more important." READ MORE

10 years later: 9/11 and its aftermath. The Atlantic, September 2011, var. pages. To say the world changed on September 11, 2001, is both a tired cliché and an absolute truth. On this momentous anniversary, we revisit stories from the pages of our magazine and talk with five of our most distinguished writers: Mark Bowden, James Fallows, Robert D. Kaplan, William Langewiesche, and Amy Waldman. National correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg frames the discussion with his essay “What Is 9/11?” and a range of writers offer perspectives on events since then. READ MORE

The 9/11 President. Steve Erickson, The American Prospect, August 30, 2011, var. pages. "If the attacks hadn’t occurred, it’s impossible to imagine Barack Obama would have been elected—but the legacy of those attacks continues to burden his presidency." READ MORE

Introduction “9/11: Ten Years Later”. Roxane Cohen Silver, American Psychologist, September 2011, pp. 427–428. "Short-term and long-term psychological effects of the 9/11 attacks spread far beyond New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa., according to research published by the American Psychological Association. A team of psychologists examine the social, political and psychological impacts of the nation’s worst terrorist attack in “9/11: Ten Years Later,” a special issue of APA’s flagship journal, American Psychologist®. With a dozen peer-reviewed articles, the issue illustrates how psychology is helping people understand and cope with 9/11’s enduring impacts. It also explores how psychological science has helped us understand the roots of terrorism and how to prevent further attacks." READ MORE

Wahhabi Self-Examination Post-9/11: Rethinking the 'Other', 'Otherness' and Tolerance, Muhammad Al-Atawneh, Middle Eastern Studies, March 2011, pp. 255-271. "Saudi Arabia found itself under an unflattering spotlight in the wake of the events of 9/11, perhaps more than any other country in the Middle East. The fact that 15 of the 19 suicide skyjackers were Saudi citizens provoked an avalanche of criticism in the West as well as in some parts of the Islamic and Arab world against Saudi religious beliefs, rulers, social customs, and school curricula. This article traces the Wahhabi Post-9/11 ideological self-examination of relationships with non-Wahhabis. Emphasis will be placed on the current Wahhabi perceptions of the fundamental terms of other and otherness that are most likely to affect relationships between the Wahhabis and other cultures and religious groups. I argue that post-9/11 Wahhabi Islam acknowledges the problematic nature of its traditional perception of the 'other' and, therefore, is making significant and unprecedented efforts to reformulate and redefine religious doctrines, such as jihad, tolerance, interfaith dialogue and so forth." READ MORE

The Racialization of Islam in American Law. Neil Gotanda, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, September 2011, pp. 184-195. "After 9/11, the 'Muslim terrorist' trope altered the American understanding of Islam. This article argues that the Muslim terrorist in our popular culture should not be seen as new but within an established tradition of racializing Asian Americans. The article employs three dimensions of racialization: raced body, racial category, and ascribed subordination. The raced body is the 'brown' body of immigrants and descendants of immigrants from North Africa, the Middle East, and Central and Southern Asia. 'Muslim' as a racial category has acquired meaning beyond religion and now also describes a racial category: those whose ancestry traces to countries where Islam is significant. Linked to that category are the stereotypes of 'terrorist,' 'spy,' or 'saboteur'—understandings within the tradition of characterizing Asian Americans as permanent, unassimilable foreigners. Inscribing the linked racial category and ascribed subordination of permanent foreignness upon the 'brown' raced body is the racialization of Muslims into Muslim terrorists." READ MORE

Arab Americans' Opinion on Counterterrorism Measures: The Impact of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion. Ivan Sun, Yuning Wu, Margarita Poteyeva, Margarita, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, July 2011, pp. 540-555. "While domestic and international terrorism have become the focal concern of the U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies, little is known about Arab Americans' attitudes toward counterterrorism policies that center on aggressive law enforcement practices. Using survey data collected from 810 Arab Americans, this study reported the general pattern of support for antiterrorism measures, including surveillance, stop and search, and detention, and examined the effects of race, ethnicity, and religion on measures targeting the U.S. citizens generally and Arab Americans specifically. The results revealed that the majority of Arab Americans showed weak to modest support for aggressive law enforcement practice, especially those targeting Arab Americans. Arab Americans' attitudes toward antiterrorism measures were significantly related to their ethnic identities and religion with those who identified themselves as Arab Americans and Muslim showing less favorable attitudes toward counterterrorism measures. Arab Americans' confidence in the federal government was also found to be positively associated with support for antiterrorism practices. Implications for research and policy are discussed." READ MORE

Authoritarianism, Threat, and Americans’ Support for the War on Terror. Marc Hetherington, Elizabeth Suhay, American Journal of Political Science, July 2011, pp. 5465-560. "In the years following 9/11, surveys have revealed high levels of public support for policies related to the war on terror that, many argue, contravene long standing American ideals. Extant research would suggest that such preferences result from the activation of authoritarianism. That is, the terrorist attacks caused those predisposed toward intolerance and aggression to become even more intolerant and aggressive. However, using data from two national surveys, we find that those who score high in authoritarianism do not become more hawkish or less supportive of civil liberties in response to perceived threat from terrorism; they tend to have such preferences even in the absence of threat. Instead, those who are less authoritarian adopt more restrictive and aggressive policy stands when they perceive threat from terrorism. In other words, many average Americans become susceptible to 'authoritarian thinking' when they perceive a grave threat to their safety." READ MORE

Homegrown terrorism in the West. Manni Crone and Martin Harrow, Terrorism and and Political Violence, Issue 4, 2011, pp. 521-536. The London bombings in 2005 led to the perception that the terrorist threat had changed from external to internal. This became conceptualized shortly after as “homegrown terrorism.” This article deals with the meaning and scope of this phenomenon. We begin by tracing an ambiguity in the term “homegrown,” which is both about belonging in the West and autonomy from terrorist groups abroad. A quantitative study of Islamist terrorism in the West since 1989 reveals an increase in both internal and autonomous terrorism since 2003 and that most plots are now internal—but not autonomous. Finally we suggest that an increase in autonomous terrorism is a transitory phenomenon.  READ MORE

Echoes of Gunfire: bin Laden, the US and the Greater Middle East.  Jonathan Stevenson, Survival, June-July 2011, pp. 11-18.  "The death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of US Navy SEALs on 1 May 2011 was so long in coming – almost ten years after the 11 September attacks – that it was felt more as a relief than as a triumph. Despite the cheers and celebrations that erupted across the United States, the essential reaction was 'it’s about time'. Because bin Laden had for years been viewed as a besieged and operationally hobbled figurehead, his demise seemed little more that welcome retribution for the blood he had shed, and a pleasant surprise to those who had just about stopped begrudging him his proverbial (and fictitious) cave. His death appeared to merely confirm, rather than precipitate, al-Qaeda’s political and strategic marginalisation. Consequently, its larger transformative potential may have seemed dubious. In fact, that potential is substantial, not because bin Laden had remained a vital operational cog in the jihadist machinery, but because most Americans and many others regard his death as President Barack Obama’s finest strategic moment. As Dominique Moisi wrote in Le Figaro, 'it is as though there were a little more Obama in the United States, and a little more United States in the world'." READ MORE

Al-Qaeda's Franchising Strategy. Barak Mendelsohn, Survival, June-July 2011, pp. 29-50. "The killing of Osama bin Laden by US special-forces troops on the night of 1 May 2011 has raised questions about the future of al-Qaeda. While US officials declare that Washington will seek to exploit the situation to destroy al-Qaeda’s network in Afghanistan and Pakistan, bin Laden’s death does not mark the end of terrorism or of the jihadi movement. The future of al-Qaeda depends not only on how its central leadership in South Asia responds to bin Laden’s death, but also to the reaction of al-Qaeda’s franchises: jihadi groups in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Algeria and Yemen that have adopted al-Qaeda’s name and sworn allegiance to its leader. The failed Christmas 2009 bombing of a Delta Air Lines passenger jet over Detroit brought al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), to the attention of the American public. Beyond the revelation that groups previously thought to focus on the local level had expanded their theatre of operations globally, with both the motivation and the capability to target the US homeland, the attempt highlights an ongoing shift in al-Qaeda’s organisational strategy." READ MORE

Cyberwar: The United States and China Prepare For the Next Generation of Conflict. George Patterson Manson, Comparative Strategy, Apr/June 2011, pp. 121-133. "In recent years the People's Republic of China has garnered international attention for its aggressive and often sophisticated employment of cyber capabilities against domestic and international targets alike. With increasing frequency, the targets of Chinese cyber operations are American companies or government networks. If the United States and China find themselves in conflict in the coming decades, this newest arena of operations, cyberwarfare, will play a decisive role in determining the outcome. This article examines the relative cyber strengths and weaknesses each country commands today, and offers policy recommendations for the improvement of the United States' own cyberwar capabilities." READ MORE

Echoes of Gunfire: bin Laden, the US and the Greater Middle East.  Jonathan Stevenson, Survival, June-July 2011, pp. 11-18.  "The death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of US Navy SEALs on 1 May 2011 was so long in coming – almost ten years after the 11 September attacks – that it was felt more as a relief than as a triumph. Despite the cheers and celebrations that erupted across the United States, the essential reaction was 'it’s about time'. Because bin Laden had for years been viewed as a besieged and operationally hobbled figurehead, his demise seemed little more that welcome retribution for the blood he had shed, and a pleasant surprise to those who had just about stopped begrudging him his proverbial (and fictitious) cave. His death appeared to merely confirm, rather than precipitate, al-Qaeda’s political and strategic marginalisation. Consequently, its larger transformative potential may have seemed dubious. In fact, that potential is substantial, not because bin Laden had remained a vital operational cog in the jihadist machinery, but because most Americans and many others regard his death as President Barack Obama’s finest strategic moment. As Dominique Moisi wrote in Le Figaro, 'it is as though there were a little more Obama in the United States, and a little more United States in the world'." READ MORE

Al-Qaeda's Franchising Strategy. Barak Mendelsohn, Survival, June-July 2011, pp. 29-50. "The killing of Osama bin Laden by US special-forces troops on the night of 1 May 2011 has raised questions about the future of al-Qaeda. While US officials declare that Washington will seek to exploit the situation to destroy al-Qaeda’s network in Afghanistan and Pakistan, bin Laden’s death does not mark the end of terrorism or of the jihadi movement. The future of al-Qaeda depends not only on how its central leadership in South Asia responds to bin Laden’s death, but also to the reaction of al-Qaeda’s franchises: jihadi groups in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Algeria and Yemen that have adopted al-Qaeda’s name and sworn allegiance to its leader. The failed Christmas 2009 bombing of a Delta Air Lines passenger jet over Detroit brought al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), to the attention of the American public. Beyond the revelation that groups previously thought to focus on the local level had expanded their theatre of operations globally, with both the motivation and the capability to target the US homeland, the attempt highlights an ongoing shift in al-Qaeda’s organisational strategy." READ MORE

Foreign Fighters—Recent Trends. Barak Mendelsohn, Orbis, Spring, 2011, pp. 189-202. "Beginning with a historical perspective on foreign fighters, this article then seeks to clarify ambiguities and biases that shape how we often analyze the foreign fighter phenomenon. The central focus is then on the evolving trends and activities of the movement. A new generation of fighters has emerged who are comfortable as terrorists, recruiters, trainers and media propagandist, among other specialties. The author concludes by assessing the significance of the problem today." READ MORE

Managing Fear: The Politics of Homeland Security. Benjamin H. Friedman, Political Science Quarterly, Spring 2011, pp. 77-106. The author "argues that the United States has spent excessively on homeland security since September 11. He outlines psychological and political explanations for this overreaction and concludes that these factors make some overreaction to terrorism unavoidable but offers four strategies to mitigate it." READ MORE

Terrorism After the Revolutions. Daniel Bymam, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2011, var. pages. "Although last winter's peaceful popular uprisings damaged the jihadist brand, they also gave terrorist groups greater operational freedom. To prevent those groups from seizing the opportunities now open to them, Washington should keep the pressure on al Qaeda and work closely with any newly installed regimes." READ MORE

Recalibrating Homeland Security. Stephen Flynn, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2011, var. pages.  "As the recent fiasco with body scanners at airports demonstrated, the United States' homeland security strategy is off track. It has failed to harness two vital assets: civil society and the private sector. Washington should promote a sensible preparadness among individuals, communities, and corporations." READ MORE

Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, Communications Director of the Islamic Society of North America; Dr. Sayyid Syeed, Islamic Society of North America's National Director for Interfaith and Community Alliances; and Haris Tarin, Director, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), Source: Foreign Press Center Briefing, Washington, DC, May 2, 2011.
Terrorism, Democracy, and Credible Commitments. Michael G. Findley, Joseph K. International Studies Quarterly, March 2011, var. pp. What explains the variation in terrorism within and across political regimes? We contend that terrorism is most likely to occur in contexts in which governments cannot credibly restrain themselves from abusing their power in the future. We consider a specific institutional arrangement, whether a state has an independent judiciary, and hypothesize that independent judiciaries make government commitments more credible, thereby providing less incentive for the use of terrorism. Using a recently released database that includes transnational and domestic terrorist events from 1970 to 1997, we estimate a set of statistical analyses appropriate for the challenges of terrorism data and then examine the robustness of the results. The results provide support for the credible commitment logic and offer insights into the different ways that political institutions increase or decrease terrorism.  READ MORE

Managing Fear: The Politics of Homeland Security. Benjamin H. Friedman, Political Science Quarterly, Spring 2011, pp. 77-106. The author "argues that the United States has spent excessively on homeland security since September 11. He outlines psychological and political explanations for this overreaction and concludes that these factors make some overreaction to terrorism unavoidable but offers four strategies to mitigate it." READ MORE

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