“We have contained them.”  Those words from U.S. President Barack Obama about the status of ISIS came the day before the Paris terrorist attacks and continues to reverberate around the world.  The President has since said he was referring to stopping ISIS’ march across Iraq and Syria when he made ...

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, U.S. defense officials announced a rare military strike on a senior Islamic State group (ISG) leader in Libya. Wall-to-wall press coverage of events in Europe made the strike on the Iraqi commander Wissam al-Zubaydi (aka Abu Nabil al Anbari) seem relatively trivial, but ...

Osama bin Laden would be a happy man were he still alive. His hopes and dreams have seemingly come to fruition. And, the master plan that one of his closest disciples devised for him a decade ago to reverse al Qaeda’s then waning fortunes and launch it on a trajectory ...

Intelligence failure: those are two words we often hear following a devastating terrorist attack such as what we saw this weekend in Paris.  Almost by definition, if the intelligence community didn’t know about it, then it failed in its core mission: keeping citizens safe.  But when a small group of ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Rob Richer, CIA's former Associate Deputy Director for Operations, about the terrorist attacks in Paris. Richer spoke about the importance of cooperation between US intelligence agencies and their foreign counterparts. He also discussed how legal restrictions have hurt the Intelligence Community’s ability to collect. The ...

The Paris attacks last Friday demonstrated ISIS ability to strike in the heart of Western Europe. Kevin Hulbert, a former senior intelligence officer in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, tells The Cipher Brief that these attacks signify a paradigm shift in ISIS’ tactics. The Cipher Brief: Do you think the ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with General Keith Alexander, former Director of the National Security Agency. Alexander discussed the Paris attacks, the impact of the Snowden leaks on intelligence collection, and the trade off between privacy and security. TCB: You were the longest-serving NSA director.  During your tenure, you saw ...

Over the course of the last 18 months, since ISIS burst on to the scene with its dramatic regional tactical advances, capturing Mosul in Iraq and significant territory in Syria, it has maintained that its primary focus was on expanding its Islamic State, or Caliphate, in the Middle East and ...

ISIS is part of the multi-generational struggle against radical Islam which will likely dominate the first half of the 21st century similar to the fight against communism which dominated the second half of the 20th century. ISIS is the most successful terrorist organization in modern history. It is driven by ...

Former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was preparing for his new post-NYPD role as Vice Chair at K2 Intelligence in New York when news of the Paris attacks started rolling in last week.  He knew from initial reports that the news would be bad, but he wasn’t at ...

Conventional wisdom among Western officials indicated ISIS was primarily interested in gaining territory for its caliphate or Islamic state.   Big bold attacks against Western targets were the hallmark of al Qaeda.  But the coordinated, multiple attacks by at least eight terrorists in Paris this weekend, as well as the suicide ...

Do you want an opinion from someone who doesn’t have any relevant information?  Probably not.  However, many journalists and self described experts don’t seem deterred by their ignorance when they write about the U.S. intelligence community.   Normally, a failure to understand a subject would deter someone from writing about ...

Few things are more hotly debated in Washington and other capitals than the question of how to defeat the Islamic State. Ideas are all over the map, but a starting point for strategy has to be acceptance of the realities we face. Here are six: First, the context is totally ...

Over fifteen years ago, I spoke with someone in Gaza about a Hamas bomb maker who had been killed in an Israeli anti-terrorism operation. I told him, mockingly, “That’s the end of that terrorist.” The man said, “No, his words will live forever.” The Hamas bomb maker had recorded some ...

A great deal of attention in the U.S. has understandably been paid to how ISIS promotes its ideology, with a focus on ISIS’ social media prowess and its ability to reach a potentially limitless supply of lone wolf actors. Yet the medium is less important than the message, and specifically, ...

Last October, in an interview with “60 Minutes,” FBI director James Comey revealed that there were “a dozen or so” Americans fighting in Syria on the side of terrorists. Only nine months later, Comey revised those numbers when he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that “upwards of 200 Americans have ...