Bottom Line Up Front While much of the discussion around disinformation focuses on the role of nation-states, violent non-state actors have also developed fairly sophisticated disinformation capabilities. Disinformation can take many forms, including the use of manipulated images and videos, digital engineering attacks, ‘truthing,’ and ‘social proofing.’ In 2017, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front It is probable that Islamic State core transferred its technological know-how to its West African province (ISWAP) through direct exchanges between fighters in Libya or Nigeria, or through encrypted online communications. Although ISWAP has used drones for intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance, the group has so ...

  Bottom Line Up Front As outlined in a new report by The Soufan Center on the nature of transnational white supremacy extremism, the U.S. military has struggled to root out violent white supremacy extremists from its ranks. The F.B.I. recently arrested an American soldier based at Fort Riley in ...

  Bottom Line Up Front White supremacy extremism (WSE) is a transnational challenge, with tentacles stretching from Canada to Australia, and the United States to Ukraine; it has evolved at a different pace in different parts of the world. The rapid expanse of social media facilitates radicalization and recruitment within ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Over the past decade, there has been a proliferation of terrorist propaganda on the Internet aimed at attracting potential recruits while striking fear in terrorists’ adversaries. The aftermath of the Christchurch attack demonstrates how democracies have struggled with the implications—legal, moral, social—of removing and banning ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Empty Hearts By Juli Zeh Reviewed by Carol Rollie Flynn Carol Rollie Flynn is CEO/Managing Principal at Singa Consulting and a 30-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency where she served as Executive Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, and Chief of Station in major posts in Southeast ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The Trump administration is using all available tools to try to prevent Iran from exporting oil. The administration is leveraging terrorism-related laws and programs against Iran, even though such tools were not designed to apply to foreign governments and their economies. The basis of the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Pakistani authorities have arrested Hafiz Saeed, founder of the terrorist group LeT and mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Pakistan outlawed LeT in 2002, although the group continues to operate with the assistance of elements of the Pakistani security services.  New Prime Minister Imran Khan ...

  Many European nations are avoiding the responsibility of taking back their citizens who traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State; this will only fuel the cycle of radicalization and extremism. Ensuring fighters are afforded a fair trial at home and suspected terrorists who have not committed ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Just last week, the Islamic State's affiliate in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula launched a deadly attack, killing eight police officers at a checkpoint. Since forming in 2014, terrorists have killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and destabilized the region, damaging Egypt’s once-vibrant tourism industry. Beyond attacking the ...

Almost a year ago, I was approached by an award-winning documentary director and lauded journalist, Richard Kerbaj.  He was seeking insight and background on Al Qaida in Iraq and ISIS for a documentary film he was going to make for British Channel Four.  The film was about the hunt for ...

  Bottom Line Up Front: On May 19, 2019, a prison riot in Vakhdat, Tajikistan, left 29 people dead, including supporters of the so-called Islamic State. Allegedly orchestrated by militants, government information about the riot is limited and leaves many questions unanswered. Tajikistan has seen an uptick in jihadist-inspired violence ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Toward the end of May, John Walker Lindh was released from U.S. federal prison after serving 17 years of a sentence stemming from ten charges related to terrorism. At least 90 more terror-related offenders will be released in the United States over the next five ...

Cipher Brief Expert and former Director of the NSA, General Keith Alexander  (Ret.) and Jamil N. Jaffer, founder of the National Security Institute at George Mason University, weigh in on possible Iranian responses to recent U.S. actions in a column first published in The Hill. General Keith Alexander (Ret.), Former ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The global jihadist movement is alive and well, even after the so-called Islamic State’s territorial caliphate has collapsed. The Iranian Threat Network has grown in strength and now extends further than at any point in recent memory. The threat posed by right-wing extremism is undeniable—several ...

The Sri Lankan government responded to Sunday’s deadly terrorist attacks in part, by shutting down access to some social media sites, calling the ban a temporary way to stop the spread of unverified and speculative information. We spoke with Cipher Brief expert Farah Pandith, former chair of a Department of ...

ISIS has claimed responsibility for a series of Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka that killed more than 300 people and injured 500 more.  A government official said an early investigation indicated the attacks could have been carried out in retaliation for a terrorist attack at two mosques last month ...

ISIS has claimed responsibility for a series of Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka that killed more than 300 people and injured 500 more.  Sri Lanka’s government is blaming the attacks on a local Islamist group, National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ).  A government official said an early investigation indicated the attacks ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On Easter Sunday, coordinated suicide attacks shook Sri Lanka, leaving more than 200 people dead and injuring several hundred more. Eight separate attacks targeted Christians celebrating Easter Sunday, the culmination of the holiest week in the Christian calendar, as well as tourists staying in Western ...

The Cipher Brief was recently invited to take part in the University of New Mexico’s Intelligence Symposium, covering a number of national (and international) security issues.    We took the opportunity to speak with UNM’s Director of the Global and National Security Policy Institute (and Cipher Brief expert) Emile Nakhleh, ...

On 23 March, the Syrian Democratic Forces announced the capture of Baghouz, the last remaining ISIS stronghold in Syria. This may arguably mark the end of the physical caliphate, but the question of whether ISIS is defeated in Iraq and Syria remains a point of heated debate. Too much of ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On March 19, the coalition fighting the so-called Islamic State announced it was finally in control of Baghouz, IS’ last openly held territory in Syria. With tens of thousands of IS fighters and their families now captured, pressure is rapidly escalating as detention centers grow ...

At least 50 people were killed and another 50 wounded in Friday’s Christchurch attacks.  New Zealand authorities worked through the weekend to identify the victims as quickly as possible in order to allow for them to be buried in accordance with Muslim tradition. The suspect in the shootings, 28-year-old Brenton ...

  Bottom Line Up Front A right-wing extremist is accused of committing a devastating act of terrorism in New Zealand last week, attacking two mosques and killing at least 50 worshipers. The U.S. has spent the past 20 years building a counter-terrorism infrastructure to share information with allies, though this ...

  Bottom Line Up Front A new U.K. law criminalizes accessing terrorist propaganda online, punishable by a prison sentence of up to 15 years. Responding to the ubiquity of this propaganda, the new law updates existing legislation that criminalized collecting or archiving terrorist materials. Proponents claim that these laws will ...

  Bottom Line Up Front While Pakistan relies on terrorists as proxies, it remains unclear exactly how much control the military and intelligence services have over certain of those terrorist groups. Iran has suffered from a recent increase in terrorist attacks, which could lead Tehran to adopt an aggressive counter-terrorism ...

Bottom Line: The dark web has long been a place where stolen personal data is bought and sold in staggering numbers, criminals run lucrative drug and pornographic businesses and terrorists have found relatively safe territory from which to organize and communicate.  But the future of the dark web may look ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Between 2009 and 2018, 73.3% of all domestic extremist-related killings have been perpetrated by right-wing extremists. On February 15, authorities arrested an active duty Coast Guard lieutenant who had plotted to kill Democratic politicians and members of the media. By every metric, right-wing extremism is ...

This week’s release of the Intelligence Community’s unclassified Worldwide Threat Assessment made clear which groups the IC believes pose the greatest terrorist threats to the U.S. in 2019. The list of terrorist organizations includes: ISIS, Al Qaeda, Homegrown Violent Extremists (‘likely to present the most acute Sunni terrorist threat to ...

As part of the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment this week, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that “Global jihadists in dozens of groups and countries threaten local and regional U.S. interests, despite having experienced some significant setbacks in recent years, and ...

In a statement for the record presented to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence this week about worldwide threats facing the U.S., Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said that "During the next year, Hezbollah most likely will continue to develop its terrorist capabilities, which the group views as a ...

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats released the Worldwide Threat Assessment on Tuesday, with Intelligence Community leaders briefing Senators on the biggest threats facing the U.S. While The Cipher Brief will cover all aspects of the broader threat matrix that includes China, Russia and North Korea, this week we are ...

New York State has convicted a white supremacist as a ‘terrorist’ for the first time in its history.  James Harris Jackson was convicted for the murder of Timothy Caughman, a 66-year-old African American man, in what has been classified as a hate crime.  Jackson pled guilty Tuesday to the charge ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Since 2016, there have been more than 230 terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso, which threatens to destabilize the landlocked West African nation. In the north of the country, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Islamic State in Greater Sahara both pose growing security threats. ...

U.S. and Taliban officials have agreed to a framework for a possible deal that could see a Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan will not be used by terrorist organizations or individuals in the future in exchange for, among other things, a full U.S. troop withdrawal.  In an announcement on Monday, U.S. ...

ISIS has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack at a cathedral in the Philippines that left at least 21 people dead and scores injured. Earlier this month, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack in Syria that targeted and killed four Americans, one of them a Green Beret.  Al-Shabab, the terrorist group ...

As this month’s terror attacks in Syria and Nairobi make clear, organizations like ISIS and al-Shabab remain focused on launching attacks as a show of strength and resolve.  ISIS claimed responsibility for the Syria attack that killed four Americans and al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the Nairobi attack that killed at ...

  Bottom Line Up Front • In 2017, Europe suffered from the highest number of terrorist attacks linked to jihadist ideology in modern history. • In the United States, 2018 saw just one death as a result of jihadi-linked terrorism, although right-wing terrorists killed 15 Americans the same year. • ...

The Trump Administration is defunding the nation’s primary anti-domestic terror program at the Department of Homeland Security and DHS’ Office of Terrorism Prevention has removed any reference to future funding from its website.  This decision does not reduce the threat but does give opportunity to re-examine the fundamentals of strategies ...

2018 was a year dominated by a new range of worries for national security experts in Britain.  Brexit and a series of untraditional statements from U.S. President Donald Trump, kept things interesting, to say the least.  This, in addition to the traditional security issues that keep the British up at ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On December 11th, there was a terrorist attack on a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France.  While the suspect was known to the authorities, he was merely one name on a list of approximately 20,000 in France who are suspected of ‘radicalization.’ With the collapse of ...

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) released a 23-page report in October outlining proposed major changes for how it wants to screen passengers at airports to help keep them safe from terrorism.  The changes include far greater reliance on biometric technology and intelligence analysis to move people through screening points more ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.K. Parliament has issued a report detailing shortcomings with how its security services handled five terrorism cases in 2017. The challenges came not in the responses to these attacks, but rather the inability to ‘connect dots’ or deter people already identified as potential threats. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Despite being well-known for producing high numbers of foreign fighters, Central Asian countries, especially Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, have been mostly spared from domestic terrorist attacks. Global terrorism trends signal a shift in focus and re-location to Central Asia, however, increasing the terrorism threat in the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front By October 2019, the U.S. will have spent approximately $6 trillion in efforts related to support of the so-called ‘global war on terror.’ This figure factors in the true costs of a series of seemingly endless military campaigns, to include debt payments and spending across ...

Bottom line: Terrorists are turning to the dark web’s crypto-bazaars, social media channels and e-commerce sites to buy more coveted military equipment than the usual rocket launchers and AK-47s in the traditional black market. These digital black markets are also allowing terrorist organizations from Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, as ...

Bottom Line Up Front On October 19, al-Muhajiroun co-founder Anjem Choudary was released from prison in the U.K. after serving over two years for inspiring others to join the Islamic State. Choudary is infamous for his support of terrorist groups and radical ideology, and is facing two years of strict ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On October 18, the Taliban assassinated General Abdul Raziq, the extremely powerful and controversial police chief of Kandahar Province. The Governor of Kandahar, Zalmai Wesa, was injured in the attack, while the province’s intelligence chief, Gen. Abdul Momin, was killed. The head of U.S. military ...

Bottom Line Up Front Last week, it was revealed that several individuals in Denmark were arrested trying to purchase drones they intended to send to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The use of drones and other emerging technologies by terrorists and violent non-state actors is not science fiction, ...

Bottom Line Up Front: On October 01, Iran fired several ballistic missiles at Islamic State targets in Syria. Tehran claimed that the missiles were launched in response to the September 22 terrorist attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, Iran, that killed at least 24 people. The U.S. remains concerned ...