Extremists Rebrand the Conflict in Afghanistan

by Chris Lundry Indonesian extremist site Prisoner of Joy recently posted the announcement by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan that operations against the United States and its allies will now be named Al Farooq Operations. From the post: The invaders should be made aware that the names of these operations are not merely accidental rather they have a special meaning and interpretation. This new name, however, may carry broader connotations of conflict within the Muslim […] 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 »

NATO’s Narrative Vacuum

by Steven R. Corman Last month, James Appathurai, NATO’s Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy,  agreed to participate in an electronic Q&A sponsored by the Atlantic Community.  He answered 20 questions in four installments, on global partnerships and the Arab spring, partnerships in Asia, questions on Central Asia/Caucasus, and the NATO mission.  The latter includes an item on the NATO narrative that illustrates the large challenge the alliance faces in filling […] Read more »

Indonesian Extremists Approve of Anonymous Crusade

by Chris Lundry Indonesian Islamist extremist supporters ar Rahmah posted a story today (2-13) on their website and Facebook page about the hacker group Anonymous’ plans for a cyber-attack on Israel. The story (here) links to the Anonymous YouTube video announcing their plans. While ar Rahmah undoubtedly supports the effort, the article quotes the video as a declaration of a “Crusade” (perang salib) against Israel. The Crusade narrative is the second most frequently invoked among […] Read more »

NATO Q&A Highlights Strategic Comm Challenges

by Scott W. Ruston* In December, COMOPS was invited to participate in a question and answer forum with General Stéphane Abrial, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, hosted by Atlantic-Community.org. Atlantic-Community is a leading European online think tank focused on transatlantic relations. The Q&A reveals that General Abrial has an integrative, forward-looking conceptualization of the role of strategic communication in NATO.  A close read also suggests that NATO faces both internal, as well as external, strategic […] Read more »

Why Story is Not Narrative

By Jeffry R. Halverson I’ll admit that I slip sometimes in everyday conversation and use the word “story” as a synonym for “narrative.” A lot of people do it. But I should know better. There’s an important difference between the two. For the average conversation the difference doesn’t really matter much. However, when it comes to strategic communication and understanding the role of narrative in messaging strategies, it’s a distinction that has to be made. […] Read more »

Another Bombing in Indonesia, Another Struggle over Framing

by Chris Lundry On Sunday, September 25, a lone suicide bomber detonated a bomb at a Protestant Church in Surakarta (Solo), Central Java, as services were letting out. Along with the bomber, one congregant was killed and several wounded from the shrapnel composed of nails, bolts and buckshot. In the ensuing week there has been a struggle over how the event should be framed, with most Islamist groups denying responsibility. The bomber has been identified […] 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 »

Extremists Stoking Religious Violence in Indonesia

by Chris Lundry Violence between Muslims and Christians broke out in the city of Ambon, Maluku Province, Indonesia on Sunday, September 11. Official sources state that an ojek (motorcycle taxi) driver named Darmis Saiman was killed in an accident on September 10. But rumors sent via text message spread the following day when he was buried claimed that the Muslim driver had been tortured to death by Christians.At last count, seven people have been confirmed […] Read more »

Seeing the Syrian Conflict through Narrative

By Jeffry R. Halverson Unlike the protests of the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt, the campaigns underway against the Assad regime in Syria have a distinctly sectarian character. The Assad regime is dominated by the Alawites, a little-known esoteric Shi‘ite sect. However, the majority of Syria’s population is Sunni Muslim (approx. 75%). And caught in the middle of the conflict are Syria’s Christians (10% of the pop.), Druze, Twelver Shi‘ites, and others, including a […] Read more »