Narrative Landmines in Syria

by Steven R. Corman On Thursday, March 20, Small Wars Journal published Narrative Landmines: The Explosive Effects of Rumors in Syria and Around the World by Scott W. Ruston, Chris Lundry, Pauline Hope Cheong and Daniel Bernardi.  Ruston and Lundry are Assistant Research Professors at the CSC, and Cheong and Bernardi are former CSC affiliates. The essay addresses rumors in Syria, based on the narrative approach to rumors that the authors present in their book Narrative Landmines: Rumors, Islamist Extremism […] Read more »

New White Paper on Rhetoric of Domestic Extremist Groups

by Steven R. Corman The CSC has released a new white paper by Bennett Furlow entitled Extremism and Victimhood in the U.S. Context.  The Executive Summary appears below, and the full white paper can be downloaded here. Political extremism is not a new phenomenon. From the Know-Nothing Party of the 1850s to the Weather Underground of the 1960s, political extremism has been a present force on both the political right and left. This study looks […] 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 »

“We are All Afghans” in Iran

by Jeffry R. Halverson The Arab Spring showed the world how social media can help organize mass political dissent. In the cases of Tunisia and Egypt, single issues coalesced online into far broader and diverse campaigns that toppled ruling regimes. Recently, outside of the Arab world, discriminatory government policies  in Iran against Afghans have come to light. Decried by critics as overt state-backed racism, it is a scandalous hot-button issue that the rulers of the […] Read more »

Putting the Islamist “win” in Tunisia in Context

by Jeffry R. Halverson Put him in power and see how wise he is. – Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms I have spent an inordinate amount of time studying Islamist ideologues and their ideas during my relatively short lifetime. I’ve never read War and Peace, but I have read Milestones and The Neglected Duty. In recent months, the Tunisian Islamist and leader of Ennahda, Rachid Ghannouchi, has occupied a good deal of my attention. […] Read more »

Extremism and Contested Tunisian Identity in Kairouan

by Jeffry R. Halverson I recently traveled to Tunisia where I visited the ancient holy city of Kairouan. Elections for the constituent assembly to produce a new Tunisian constitution are less than two weeks away and there is a lot of discussion taking place about the nature of Tunisian identity and the role of Islam in Tunisian society. Islamists, both mainstream and radical, obviously envision a prominent role for Islam. However, my experiences in Kairouan, […] Read more »

Escalating Muslim Reaction to Terrorist Bombings in Indonesia

by Mark Woodward* Since March 15 Indonesia has experienced another wave of bombings, including a suicide attack on the Az Zikro mosque located in a police compound in Cirebon, Central Java. The bomber struck during Friday prayers. Other targets have included a book bomb mailed to Ulil Abshar Abdallah, the leader of Jaringan Islam Liberal (The Liberal Islamic Network), the offices of Densus 88, an elite anti-terrorism unit, a natural gas pipeline and Christian churches […] 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 »

A New Strategy for Somalia

by R. Bennett Furlow To say Somalia has problems would be the very definition of an understatement.  Piracy has certainly received its share of attention, primarily because it is sensational and somewhat easy to comprehend.  The chaos in the south also gets some attention due to the rise of Islamists groups and the potential for Somalia to become a terrorist safe haven.  Despite this increase in attention, there has been no real political or humanitarian […] Read more »

Theology and Creed in Sunni Islam

by Jeffry R. Halverson The following is a summary of some arguments  from my new book, Theology and Creed in Sunni Islam: The Muslim Brotherhood, Ash’arism, and Political Sunnism, published by Palgrave Macmillan.  It offers an explanation of why fundamentalist literal interpretations of the Qu’ran have so much influence in contemporary Islamist extremism, and why extremists’ views about what the Qu’ran says can be so difficult to challenge. Mohammed Arkoun has described the notion of […] Read more »