Spanish authorities said Friday the deadly attacks in Barcelona and a seaside town are linked and long-planned by a terrorist cell. While several people have been arrested in connection with the attacks, the driver who plowed through pedestrians on Las Ramblas is still at large and police are searching for other suspects. ...

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 ...

Terrorists used a car to mow down pedestrians on Thursday in Barcelona’s Las Ramblas district, killing over a dozen people and leaving many more injured in a violent attack claimed by ISIS. The deadly incident in Spain marks the latest example of terrorists driving vehicles into a crowd to attack, ...

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 ...

With the liberation of Mosul from ISIS and the impending conquest of the “Caliphate” capital Raqqa, the U.S. is at a decision point in the Middle East. But it does not yet have a coherent strategy, as has been pointed out by Emile Simpson in a savvy piece in Foreign ...

On September 25, Iraqi Kurdistan is set to hold a referendum on independence. There are plenty of strong voices around the globe in support of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s (KRI) right to self-determination, but questions surround both the timing of the vote as well as the KRI’s preparedness for ...

The territorial battle against ISIS is nearing its final stages in Iraq and Syria. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has already declared that the ISIS caliphate has fallen and, in Syria, U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are pushing deep into the ISIS "capital" of Raqqa. However, as victory looms, new and ...

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 ...

The U.S.-led military campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria appears to be nearing its end. In Mosul, Iraqi military forces are now pushing into ISIS’s last pocket of resistance in the Old City as allied militias cut off ISIS forces near Tal Afar. In Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces ...

The territorial battle against ISIS is nearing its final stages in Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, U.S. coalition-backed Iraqi forces have trapped the remaining ISIS defenders in one tiny pocket of Mosul, and in Syria, U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are pushing deep into the ISIS "capital" of Raqqa. However, as ...

On June 18, a U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22 fighter bomber near the town of al-Tabqa in eastern Syria.  According to coalition sources, the Syrian aircraft had bombed anti-Assad militias fighting Islamic State forces in the region and was shot down as part ...

After a U.S. Navy F/A-18E shot down a Syrian SU-22 bomber on Sunday, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs quickly condemned the action, announced that a military hotline between U.S.-led coalition and Russian forces had been shut down, and declared that any U.S. jets flying west of the Euphrates river ...

Russia’s Defense Ministry released a statement Friday that it is investigating whether it had killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, along with several other senior ISIS officials, in a May 28 airstrike that targeted a senior ISIS leadership meeting in a suburb of the group’s de facto capital of Raqqa, ...

Last week, General Eduardo Ano, the Philippines Chief of Staff, said he hoped that the city of Marawi would be liberated from Islamist militants before June 12, the country’s Independence Day. The deadline has come and gone, but the fighting continues. Islamist militants still hold about a fifth of the ...

While Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte remains at odds with the United States, the armed forces of the two countries have maintained a close working relationship that dates to 1951 and the signing of a mutual defense treaty. In recent years the primary mission of U.S. forces in the Philippines has ...

As a Catholic-majority nation with a large Muslim minority in the southern islands, the Philippines has struggled with religious strife for decades. While extremist violence is not a new phenomenon, ISIS’ powerful message calling for global jihad has galvanized cooperation among extremist groups and attracted foreign militants to fight in ...

ISIS has become infamous for using the Internet to radicalize and recruit individuals worldwide. Lesser known, however, are the tech-savvy ISIS supporters who dedicate their time and resources not only to advancing the group’s goals but also to safeguarding its online operations. The cumulative efforts of these supporters represent arguably ...

The terrorist attacks on the Iranian Parliament building and the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, marked the first time ISIS has been behind a major attack waged inside Iran and appeared to catch authorities by surprise.  At least 12 people were killed and more ...

On Wednesday morning, assailants entered the Iranian Parliament building and the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini – founder of the Islamic Republic – armed with assault rifles and explosive vests. Iranian authorities report that both sites have now been retaken and the attackers killed, but the assault has left at least ...

Saturday night’s terrorist attack on London Bridge and Borough Market, the third such incident in the UK in the last three months, left seven dead and more than 30 others wounded, with 18 still in critical condition. London authorities have identified the three attackers as Khuram Shazad Butt, 27, from ...

In the wake of London’s recent terrorist attack, United States intelligence and security agencies are working around the clock to share information across the pond and at home, all the while looking for ways to learn from this incident and potentially reprioritize efforts related to domestic threats. “Right now, FBI ...

Attacks like Saturday’s one in London trigger information-sharing between allies, as well as domestic procedures to secure the homeland. Is there a concern about copycat attacks? What types of measures could U.S. authorities take? The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani asked Todd Rosenblum, former Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland ...

Tragedy in London after a series of terror attacks on Saturday left at least seven people dead and dozens injured, less than two weeks after a suicide bomber killed 22 people in Manchester. It follows a series of dizzying events around the world last week. It began with perhaps the ...

As the United Kingdom grapples with its third terrorist attack in three months, international counterterrorism cooperation and intelligence sharing will be vital to confront the “new normal” of the evolving global threat of terrorism, experts told The Cipher Brief. At least seven people were killed and dozens injured on Saturday ...

The investigation into London’s Saturday attack is moving quickly with police arresting at least a dozen people in connection to the incident. It came less than two weeks after a suicide bombing in Manchester left 22 people dead. The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani asked Michael Leiter, former Director of the ...

The weekend’s London attacks is the third in the UK this year and came as the UK was still reeling from a suicide bombing in Manchester on May 22nd that left 22 people dead. In March, four people were killed in London after a man rammed his car into pedestrians on ...

After a multi-faceted attack in London on Saturday evening that saw a van with three assailants drive into pedestrians on London Bridge and then attack victims in the popular Borough Market shopping area nearby, the United Kingdom has now been the victim of terror three times in as many months. ...

After almost eight months of fighting, the battle to liberate Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, from ISIS is nearing its end. The Iraqi army has taken over 90 percent of the city and, although resistance will be fierce in the last remaining pocket of ISIS resistance in the Old City, the ...

After eight months of grinding conflict, Iraqi commanders are now confident that the battle to retake Mosul from ISIS is in its final phase. Pushing across the Tigris River, Iraqi Security Forces have liberated nearly all of western Mosul and, although defeating ISIS’ last stand in the densely packed urban ...

The battle for the strategic Iraqi city of Mosul has reached its final stage as Iraqi forces close in on the Islamic State’s last stronghold in Mosul’s Old City. The liberation of Mosul, the second-largest Iraqi city and the capital of oil-rich Nineveh province, would mark a watershed moment in ...

The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel sat down with Daniel Byman, Senior Fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution to discuss ISIS’ recent battlefield losses and what to expect from the ISIS threat moving forward. The Cipher Brief: What is your assessment of ISIS’ overall strength ...

It is likely that Iraqi security forces and international partners will soon liberate Mosul from ISIS’ three-year hold. However, without proper governance over the city, security gains will be fleeting. In 2014, before ISIS’ takeover of Mosul, security in the city was divided amongst several competing political loyalties: Shiite-led Baghdad ...

President Donald Trump has to make a decision soon: what will he do in Afghanistan? The U.S. is now in its 16th year in the country, and top military and foreign policy advisors are advocating for an expanded military role. Experts told The Cipher Brief that the President must consider ...

On March 17, an airstrike allegedly carried out by coalition troops in Mosul, Iraq, killed a large number of civilians, with some reports putting the number of civilian deaths around 200. Officials at U.S. Central Command acknowledged it had opened a formal Civilian Casualty Credibility Assessment into the matter. The ...

Iraqi Kurdistan has been relatively stable in an otherwise troubled region. Unhappy with Iraq as their home, Kurds have fought successive Iraqi regimes since being annexed to the new state in 1926. The war against ISIS has produced a new crop of young military commanders, emboldened both by their bravery ...

On Thursday, the United States carried out an airstrike targeting ISIS in Afghanistan, dropping a Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB) on a tunnel and cave complex. The strike marked the first time the MOAB, nicknamed “Mother of All Bombs” has been used in combat operations. Afghan defense officials announced ...

Afghan defense officials announced Friday that 36 ISIS fighters were killed by a U.S. air strike on a tunnel and cave complex, with the possibility of a larger death toll. The strike was carried out on Thursday with a GBU-43 bomb, nicknamed the “Mother of All Bombs,” marking the first ...

Before the civil war, few outside the Middle East had ever heard of Syria’s Kurds. Syria has by far the smallest Kurdish population of the four countries with Kurdish minorities. However, the Syrian Kurds have risen to international prominence as their most powerful political group, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), ...

Syria has by far the smallest Kurdish population of any country with major Kurdish minorities. However, in the last two years, the Kurds of Syria have risen to local, regional, and international prominence. As the civil war grinds on, Syria's main Kurdish political group, the PYD, has become America's principal ...

Though the battle to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Mosul is slowly reaching its denouement, the campaign to take the jihadists’ Syrian stronghold of Raqqa has not experienced similar success. Insufficient combat-ready troops, a shortage of heavy artillery and ominous tensions between Kurds and Turks ...

The man who carried out a deadly terrorist attack in London was British-born and had been previously known to authorities, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on Thursday. Police named Khalid Masood, 52, as the Westminster attacker, who mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before stabbing a police officer inside ...

Despite its fearsome codename, Operation Wrath of Euphrates, the campaign by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to capture Raqqa from ISIS has progressed in fits and starts since its announcement on November 6th of last year. However, that changed this month, with the operation appearing to have accelerated and SDF ...

As Iraqi forces close in on ISIS fighters stranded in eastern Mosul - the group's last urban bastion in Iraq - U.S.-backed Syrian rebels are simultaneously closing in on Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State. Supported by coalition weapons, airstrikes, military advisers, and now several hundred U.S. Marines, the ...

Supported by coalition weapons, airstrikes, military advisers, and now several hundred U.S. Marines, the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have advanced to within 50 kilometers of ISIS’capital in Raqqa. However, challenges, both tactical and political, remain ahead. The Cipher Brief’s Fritz Lodge spoke with Brian Michael Jenkins, Senior Adviser ...

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 ...

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: ...

Tunisia is on the front lines of an evolving war against Jihadi-Salafism. The ideology espoused by al Qaeda and ISIS, has already drawn thousands of young Tunisians to the battlefields of Syria and Libya. Other adherents have committed numerous terrorist attacks in Tunisia since 2013, killing dozens of people and ...

The Trump Administration last week announced it deployed hundreds of U.S. Marines and Army Rangers to Syria to support the campaign to take Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria, from the extremist terror group. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with former U.S. Ambassador to Syria (2011-2014) ...

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 ...