As a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, Egypt has played an integral role in helping to combat the region’s terrorist threat, particularly since Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi came to power in June 2014. However, Egypt is facing a daunting terrorist challenge of its own, primarily in the ...

President Donald Trump laid out his new strategy for war torn Afghanistan Monday night, promising a winning formula that will include all instruments of U.S. military, diplomatic, and economic power, as well as pressuring our allies for more assistance in the fight.  But there were few specifics for how he ...

Speaking to the nation in his first prime time speech, President Donald Trump laid out his administration’s new strategy for the United States’ war in Afghanistan. “From now on, victory will have a clear definition,” he said, “attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking ...

President Donald Trump vowed in his first prime time speech that “we will fight to win” in Afghanistan, saying “from now on, victory will have a clear definition.” What that means, he said, is “attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and ...

In the wake of the deadly terrorist attack in Barcelona, Spain, Spanish authorities and partner nations’ intelligence services will be working to uncover as many details as possible about the plot and the perpetrators. How do intelligence agencies and police forces cooperate in a fast developing situation such as Thursday’s ...

Another deadly terrorist attack hit the streets of Europe Thursday, leaving at least 13 people dead and dozens injured. A van drove through a pedestrian mall in the Las Ramblas district of Barcelona, Spain, a popular area frequented by tourists. Though ISIS has claimed this attack publicly, questions remain: why ...

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department issued a memorandum stating that foreign countries are required to provide increased information and data about their citizens who are seeking to travel to the U.S. The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel sat down with Rob Richer, former Associate Deputy Director for Operations at ...

When a suicide bomber in Manchester, England detonated a backpack full of explosives in May, killing 22 people at a concert venue, the National Counterterrorism Center took more than a passing interest. Officials from NCTC, as it’s more often referred to, immediately began reaching out to their British counterparts via ...

Nearly three years ago, the Islamic State (ISIS) catapulted to the top of the news worldwide after the group seized vast swaths of Syria and Iraq, used Mosul’s revered Great Mosque of al-Nuri to announce the creation of an Islamic caliphate, executed tens of thousands of civilians, and committed genocide ...

There are two schools of thought about the nature of the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Some experts say the group is nearly vanquished as it struggles to hold on to Mosul, Iraq, and prepares for the inevitable fight for its capital in Raqqa, ...

The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel sat down with Michael W.S. Ryan, Senior Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, to discuss ISIS’ recent battlefield losses, the group’s current level of influence, and what to expect from ISIS in coming months. The Cipher Brief: Today, ISIS controls significantly less territory than it did ...

Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News recently reported that the Trump Administration sought to lift economic sanctions on Russia immediately after entering office, leading to an under-the-radar battle within the government. Needless to say, the Trump Administration has never been shy about their desire to build better relations with Russia. To ...

As the United Kingdom faces its fourth terrorist attack in the last three months, the country is grappling with its counterterrorism strategy as authorities face questions over how they can try to stop the violence and protect citizens. A 47-year old man suspected of driving the van that struck a ...

As the investigation into Monday night’s bombing in Manchester continues to unfold and details continue to emerge about the suspect, The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel spoke with Mitch Silber, former Director of Intelligence Analysis at the NYPD, about the terrorist threat facing the UK as well as how to more ...

As details emerge about an explosion in Manchester, England that left at least 22 people dead and dozens injured, British Prime Minister Theresa May said the incident was being treated as a terrorist attack. The Associated Press reported the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, put out a statement ...

U.S. President Donald Trump arrives in Saudi Arabia Saturday with a packed agenda. He will conclude a $109.7 billion arms agreement with Riyadh, discuss opportunities for enhanced U.S.-Saudi economic cooperation, and address the leaders of over 50 Muslim-majority countries at the Arab-American-Islamic summit, which Riyadh hosts Sunday. While many leaders ...

The metro bombing in St. Petersburg Monday and White House comments that the U.S. will do what it can to help Russia get to the bottom of the incident raise the question of future Russia-U.S. counterterrorism cooperation. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a senior fellow at ...

Three former national security officials have raised concerns about President Donald Trump’s reported plans to loosen restrictions on drone strikes. The former officials were responding to recent reports that the Trump Administration was working to lessen Obama-era restrictions on drone strikes, including easing rules to avoid civilian casualties. It is ...

Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying to Destroy America is a firsthand account of the CIA’s controversial interrogation program – which most famously included such techniques as waterboarding – by one of its architects, psychologist James Mitchell, who also served as an interrogator, and ...

Hawala networks and terror finance are in the news again.  These networks have been used by ISIS in war-torn Syria and Iraq, and were reportedly used to help finance the 2015 ISIS attacks in Paris.  Hawala networks are still considered to be the national banking system of Afghanistan and are ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Celina Realuyo, Professor of Practice in the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies at National Defense University, to discuss how terrorist groups have used hawala networks to transfer funds undetected to help support their operations. TCB: What are hawala networks? Celina Realuyo: ...

An integral component of U.S. counterterrorism strategy has centered on disrupting terrorist finances. Terrorist groups have exploited resources and industries in various countries – poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, charcoal mining in Somalia, and oil extraction in Iraq to name a few – to sell on the black market and subsequently ...

A number of trends now seem to be accepted truths after nearly 16 years of fighting against jihadi terrorism. We have achieved concrete victories in the last two decades – killing Osama bin Laden, downgrading core al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and beating back the Islamic State (ISIS) in ...

After a 30 day review, the Department of Defense has delivered to the White House a preliminary plan to defeat ISIS.  While this is an admirable goal, defeating ISIS will only be a short-term fix to the problem of Islamic terrorism, just as defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) only ...

This week, Secretary of Defense James Mattis is expected to deliver the 30-day review President Donald Trump ordered regarding the United States’ strategy to fight ISIS. The formal presidential memorandum, which was released on January 28, stated that “it is the policy of the United States that ISIS be defeated” ...

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan wants several thousand more troops from the U.S. and its allies to help break the “stalemate” in the 15 year-old war, which he told members of Congress has lately seen increased Russian involvement to bolster the Taliban and undermine the U.S. and NATO. “In ...

As the Obama Administration enters its final week, the President’s foreign policy and security legacy is closely tied to two major themes: counterterrorism and cybersecurity.  The Cipher Brief’s Fionnuala Sweeney asked Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism about these two critical elements and what she ...

A number of national security veterans have challenged the Trump transition team’s claim that it is significantly raising the profile of a key White House counterterrorism position. President-elect Donald Trump last month decided to name Thomas Bossert, a former Deputy Homeland Security Advisor to President George W. Bush, to be ...

Though January will see a major transition in American power, the global threat of terrorism will remain. As the Obama Administration enters its final weeks in office and Washington prepares for a changing of the guard, there is much uncertainty about how the incoming administration will approach counterterrorism. How can ...

As the calendar approaches January 21st and President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office, the Cipher Brief sat down with Patrick Skinner of the Soufan Group to discuss the successes and failures of the Obama Administration’s counterterrorism policy and how the next administration might approach the same issues. According to ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with network member and former Acting Director of the CIA, John McLaughlin, about the current U.S. counterterrorism strategy, as well as what to expect from the terrorist threat in the coming year. According to McLaughlin, under President Barack Obama, the U.S. has been “highly successful” at ...

Editor’s Note: Over the coming days, The Cipher Brief presents some of our most incisive coverage on key issues of 2016 and a look ahead at what is yet to come in 2017. This past year brought no relief to those fighting the scourge of terrorism. Terrorists carried out horrific ...

Drone strikes have proven effective at eliminating terrorist leaders, yet terrorists continue to threaten American security. In this article written for the 15th anniversary of 9/11, Cipher Brief expert Kevin Hulbert describes how U.S. policymakers appear to be confusing a tactic such as drone strikes with an overall counterterrorism strategy.  ...

As ISIS incurs the firepower of the international community, al Qaeda has quietly rebuilt its resources, rebranded itself, and “rehabilitated its image” explains terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman. In an October interview with The Cipher Brief, Hoffman said al Qaeda has been “maneuvering to affect some kind of a forced merger ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Matthew Olsen, former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, to discuss the terrorist threat in the coming year. According to Olsen, the most pressing concern is the “potential uptick in the number of small-scale attacks” carried out by radicalized individuals, and that as ISIS ...

As the United States prepares for a new administration, The Cipher Brief's Leone Lakhani sits down with Ambassador Dennis Ross, Counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former senior Middle East Adviser to three U.S. Presidents. Ross gave The Cipher Brief his thoughts about the next ...

In what many expect to be the final national security speech of his presidency, U.S. President Barack Obama reflected on U.S. counterterrorism achievements during his two terms as Commander-in-Chief, saying “We should take great pride in the progress that we’ve made over the last eight years.” “No foreign terrorist organization ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Bruce Hoffman, Director for Security Studies at Georgetown University, to discuss President Obama’s counterterrorism legacy and the outlook for the terrorist threat in the coming year. According to Hoffman, although the U.S. has achieved “tactical gains” against al Qaeda and ISIS during Obama’s tenure, ...

Prepare yourselves for a stepped-up, worldwide war against Islamic radical terrorists directed from the White House by President-elect Donald Trump and his closest aides, who claim this to be a 21st Century crusade to save Judeo-Christian values from what they see as an apocalyptic cancer growing within the Islamic religion. ...

While lethal U.S. drone strikes have successfully removed many key terrorists from the battlefield, the legal justifications for such actions remains a heavily debated topic in the United States and globally. “Current U.S. drone policy is devoid of public understanding of the processes through which targeting decisions are made and ...

In the years since 9/11, drone strikes have emerged as a pillar of the United States’ counterterrorism strategy. The Cipher Brief spoke with Bobby Chesney, Professor of Law and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the University of Texas Law School about the legal basis for U.S. drone strikes abroad. ...

Over the last eight years, President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism policy has in large part been defined by drone strikes against a number of terrorist targets around the world. Indeed, the U.S. drone program is a global enterprise, with bases in at least 10 countries, lethal operations in at least seven ...

Last month, Kurdish forces in northern Iraq shot down an Islamic State drone booby-trapped with explosives that later killed two Peshmerga soldiers as they inspected it. The drone was not like the Reaper or Predator drones the U.S. uses to rain Hellfire missiles down in its global war on terror ...

Drones have traditionally been used by Western militaries as a tool in counterterrorism efforts, but insurgent and terrorist groups are increasingly turning to small hobby drones to bolster their own efforts. The Cipher Brief spoke with Robert Bunker of the Strategic Studies Institute on how insurgents can incorporate this new ...

There is growing evidence that non-state actors are incorporating drone technology into their unconventional tactics, prompting concerns from militaries on how they can effectively counter this emerging threat. The Cipher Brief spoke with Michael Balazs and Jonathan Rotner, who conducted MITRE’s counter-UAS challenge with the goal of finding non-kinetic interdiction ...

The use of drone strikes to eliminate terrorists around the globe has become a defining pillar of the United States’ post-9/11 counterterrorism strategy. And although the subject of targeted killing remains controversial from both a legal and human rights standpoint, the deployment of drones in counterterrorism operations abroad has undoubtedly ...

In October 2016, New York magazine published an exit interview with President Barack Obama who “chose five moments that, he believes, will have outsized historical impact.”  One of those five “moments” was a drone strike carried out on September 30, 2011, which killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an al Qaeda terrorist who ...

“Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training, and deploying against us?” That was the question posed by then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to his staff in 2003. If answering this question has proven difficult ...

Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak’s visit to China this week comes as the embattled leader’s relationship with the United States has been tested by the Department of Justice’s investigation into the scandal swirling around the 1MDB state investment fund he founded. But despite the tension and Najib’s move to align ...

At least twice in the past year, the U.S. was Twappled.  That is, multibillion-dollar U.S. corporations used their significant position in their respective industry to obstruct the U.S. from conducting activities intrinsic to the purpose of government, but which these corporations saw as inconsistent with their own interests and ideals.  ...