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 »

Yes, Extremists are Paying Attention

by Chris Lundry Last year, my colleagues Steven Corman, Jeffrey Halverson and I wrote a series of blog posts exploring Islamist reactions to anti-Islam and anti-Muslim events in the US, including the debate over the Park51 Islamic Center and an American pastor’s proposal to burn a Qur’an on 9/11, among others. One of the points we made in our final post was that these events fuel the extremist narrative that the US and its allies […] Read more »

New Third Way Narrative Poses Challenge to U.S. Strategic Communication

by Bud Goodall There is a new narrative responsible for the success of the uprisings that spread from Tunisia through Egypt and now are heard in the streets of Syria, Yemen, Libya, and elsewhere.  It is a secular narrative generated by young Muslims who recognize that older jihadist forms of “telling their resistance story” by linking them to Islamic Master Narratives were largely responsible for the binary oppositions that divide them, and Islam, from the […] Read more »

Wiki-leaked Docs a Threat, but Maybe Not How Pentagon Thinks

by Cameron Bean and Bennett Furlow On Friday, October 22, Wikileaks released almost 400,000 documents on the Iraq War.  At first Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell seemed to downplay the release, claiming the documents were “essentially snapshots of events” and do not “tell the whole story.” But chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen condemned the release, tweeting: “Another irresponsible posting of stolen classified documents by Wikileaks puts lives at risk and gives adversaries […] Read more »

Predator Video Hack Has SC Consequences

by Scott W. Ruston Recent headlines revealed that video feeds from the Predator, the US unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used for surveillance and targeting in both Iraq and Afghanistan, have been intercepted by insurgents in Iraq.  Early follow up analysis focuses on whether the intercept of Predator video feeds qualifies as a “hack” or whether that term has over-sensationalized the situation.  This attention to semantics strikes me as a repeat of the “how are men […] Read more »

Terror Database a Giant Mess

by Steven R. Corman Ars Technica reported yesterday on a letter sent by Congressman Brad Miller to the Inspector General of the Director of National Intelligence.  Miller, who is Chairman of a House subcommittee on technology oversight, sounded the alarm over a current initiative called “Railhead,” which is designed to upgrade the central database that contains information on suspected terrorists. Miller claims that the upgrade process is flawed, and if allowed to continue will actually […] Read more »

ESISC Worries About Ramadan Attacks in West

by Steven R. Corman In the past couple of days I have received email alerts from ESISC, an independent European group based in Brussels that describes itself as doing observation and analysis of international terrorism and related strategic issues. The emails indicate concern that the Bad Guys are planning attacks during the upcoming Ramadan (which this year exactly occupies the month of September). The first alert from two days ago says that a forum (unnamed), […] Read more »

Hatfield/McCoy Update

by Steven R. Corman As predicted in an earlier post,  Hoffman’s counter-tat to Sageman’s response to Hoffman’s panning of Sageman’s book has appeared at Foreign Affairs (below Sageman’s reply).  It contains little in the way of new information. I’m a little surprised that Foreign Affairs published this.  Normally in the academic world the custom is that when a critique of an author’s work is published, s/he gets a rejoinder and that’s it.  It’s sort of […] Read more »

The Hatfields and McCoys of Counterterrorism

by Steven R. Corman Yesterday’s New York Times reported on a feud between Bruce Hoffman and Marc Sageman about whether al Qaeda represents a continuing threat as an organized force, or whether it has degenerated into a disorganized social movement. At the root of it is Hoffman’s scathing review of Sageman’s latest book entitled Leaderless Jihad: Terror Networks in the Twenty-first Century. Sageman’s thesis is that al Qaeda’s days as an organized threat are largely […] Read more »