De-Romanticizing the Islamic State’s Vision of the Caliphate

CSC has released a new white paper entitled De-Romanticizing the Islamic State’s Vision of the Caliphate.  The Executive Summary is below, and you can download the full PDF here. Executive Summary Calls for restoration of the Caliphate are a regular feature of Islamist extremist communication, most recently and notably that of the Islamic State (IS) who in mid-2014 declared a new Caliphate and named their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as Caliph. This paper analyzes the extremist vision […] Read more »

New White Paper: The Narrative Landscape of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

CSC has released a new white paper: The Narrative Landscape of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Executive Summary This report presents the results of an analysis of the narrative landscape produced in texts by and about al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) from 2007 to 2013. We analyzed invocation of cultural master narrative use by the group, and then performed a detailed thematic study of the texts using Critical Discourse Analysis. This report is timely, […] Read more »

Noordin Top: Martyr or Murderer?

by Chris Lundry Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist Noordin M. Top, who was responsible for multiple bombings in Indonesia and who is thought to have played a role in the 2002 Bali Bombings, is back in the news. He was killed almost three years ago in Central Java by Densus 88, the Indonesian anti-terrorism police force. He had risen to the top of Jemaah Islamiyah, and had announced the formation of a new branch, Tandzim al Qo’idah […] Read more »

A Different Take on the ICG Indonesia Report

by Mark Woodward This ICG report recently reviewed by Chris Lundry is another example of that organization doing what it does best, providing detailed information about the activities of extremist groups linked to Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in some way. But in my view the degree to which JI poses a threat to Indonesia has always been overestimated and there are more important developments in the country related to extremism and terrorism. The Indonesian security forces […] Read more »

ICG Report on Regrouping of Indonesian Extremists

by Chris Lundry The International Crisis Group has released another outstanding report on Indonesian extremism (available here) that reflects their in-depth approach, extensive connections, and long reaching background into the topic. This report focuses on extremist strategies for regrouping in the context of Indonesian law enforcement successes at breaking up cells and killing or arresting members. The successes are balanced, however, by the extremists’ ability to shift tactics and recruit new members. The report also […] Read more »

Qur’an Verses Study: A Response to Our Critics

By Jeffry Halverson, Bennett Furlow & Steven R. Corman Our study, entitled How Islamist Extremists Quote the Qur’an, released last week, seems to have touched a nerve in some and has generated some negative commentary. To date, we have received no criticism from other scholars or experts on these matters. Much of it seems to come from people who may have read a headline about the study in the press and reacted to it without […] Read more »

Review: “De-Legitimizing al-Qaeda”

by Jeffry R. Halverson The Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) has released a short monograph, De-Legitimizing al-Qaeda: A Jihad-Realist Approach, by sociologist Paul Kamolnick, a professor at Eastern Tennessee State University. Kamolnick criticizes current US efforts to counter al-Qaeda’s messaging and recruitment strategies as ineffective, and proposes an alternative two-fold solution to marginalize and defeat al-Qaeda. However, Kamolnick’s proposed strategy is problematic for several reasons. In the first component of his proposed strategy, Kamolnick suggests that […] Read more »

Should Captured AQ Documents Have Been Released?

By Steven R. Corman & Jarret Brachman The release last week of documents captured from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbotabad has generated a flurry of interest in the press and blogosphere.  Yet a question has arisen as to whether the release was wise, since the documents are intelligence assets that could give the enemy valuable information regarding what we know about them.  We argue that the release makes sense from a strategic communication perspective, […] Read more »

Germans Find AQ Treasure-Trove Encrypted in Porno Videos

by Steven R. Corman CNN is re-reporting a story from Die Zeit about a treasure-trove of al-Qaeda documents and manuals found encrypted in pornographic videos.  The encryption was done using a technique call steganography. The videos were found in the possession of Maqsood Lodin, a 22 year old Austrian and suspected al-Qaeda member.  He was detained by authorities in Berlin as be returned from a trip to Pakistan.  The documents discussed plans to attack cruise […] Read more »

Bin Laden Worried about Impact of Muslim Killings on AQ Brand

by Steven R. Corman In previous posts I have advocated amplifying al-Qaeda’s record of killing Muslims, and argued this practice was doing serious damage toAQ’s brand.  Captured documents from bin Laden’s compound indicate that he was worried about the same thing. Last week David Ignatius of the Washington Post wrote a story based on his “exclusive look” at those documents.  The headline was about bin Laden’s supposed plot to kill President Obama.  But later in […] Read more »