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 ...

From wildfires to terrorist plots, to the arrest of individuals with IEDs, the State of California is constantly under threat.  With more than 38 million residents (equaling roughly 12 percent of the nation’s population), it is the most populous state in the U.S.  California manages the threat preparedness and response ...

The Cipher Brief is taking a look at different expert perspectives on cyber threats this week.  As one of those perspectives, we spoke with Nick Rasmussen, the former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) about the current cyber threat environment ranging from terrorism to nation state threats, to deterring attacks ...

Bottom Line Up Front: Newly released data on terrorism suggests some surprising new trends, as well as a continuation of long-standing issues, including the clustering of terrorist groups and attacks in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. In 2017, there was a 23% decrease in terror attacks worldwide and ...

As the anniversary of 9/11approaches, it brings a time of deep reflection, not only on what was lost on that day in 2001, but also on what has been lost by the U.S. since (Benghazi, 2012) and how to assess, and stop the global threat of terrorism. Cipher Brief Expert ...

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri recently released a video calling on Muslims to unite against what he calls an “international infidel alliance”.  The video was released as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley reminded the world that we “cannot forget the enduring threat posed by al-Qaeda.  ISIS may have ...

A United Nations report delivered to the Security Council last month offered a stark reminder that al Qaeda remains a serious threat around the world.  The report suggested that the de-centralized terrorist network is stronger than ISIS in countries like Yemen and Somalia.      The report was issued just before ...

Cipher Brief Expert and former senior national security officer for the Australian Government, Alasdair Gordon, weighs on on the risks of the U.S. not placing more focus on the growing terrorist threat in Indonesia. Recent terrorist incidents in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, with a population of ...

A recent European Union report  offers an EU specific look at terrorism faced by member states in 2017.   A part of that report focused on terrorist financing, particularly on how money-laundering operations for organized crime groups are partly financing Lebanese Hezbollah's military wing.   Just before Lebanon's Parliamentary elections in May, The ...

There is one truth in terrorism that intelligence officials and national security experts have seen proven over the past few years: terrorist tactics are continuously evolving.  The Washington Post reported last month that the TSA is now adjusting its own tactics as terrorists turn toward more lone wolf attacks. On ...

Over the weekend, ISIS claimed responsibility for two deadly attacks: in Paris, France, a Chechnyan-born man stabbed five people and released a video pledging allegiance to the group; in Indonesia, suicide bombers detonated explosives at three churches in Surabaya, the second largest city in the country. Though the terror group continues ...

With increasingly confusing statements and actions from the White House and the Pentagon on U.S. policy toward Syria, The Cipher Brief presented a live briefing from Amman, Jordan with Cipher Brief Expert and former CIA Chief of Middle East operations, Robert Richer during the 2018 Threat Conference.  Richer talked about ...

Maligned as a bastion of extremism and a top terrorist safe haven, Pakistan’s Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA), along the country’s northwestern border with Afghanistan, have endured a significant transformation in the last few years. Between June 2014 and May 2016, the Pakistani army launched operation Zarb-e-Azb, literally translated as ...

On the final day of the Cipher Brief Threat Conference in Sea Island, Ga., three CIA veterans of the post-9/11 terrorism fight discussed the current ebb in the fortunes of ISIS and al-Qaida with Cipher Brief Executive Editor Kimberly Dozier — and warned they’d likely come back. Alex Bolling, Former ...

“The world has been more dangerous, but it has never been more complicated.” These were the words Michael Hayden, former director of both CIA and NSA, used to launch the 2018 Threat Report at The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat Conference in Sea Island, Ga., on Sunday. Hayden first prefaced the ...

The annual accounting to Congress of global threats to the United States made it sound like al-Qaida’s separate branches were managing to thrive independently of one another, said Bruce Hoffman, Cipher Brief expert and Council on Foreign Relations visiting senior fellow, in comments to The Cipher Brief. But Hoffman believes ...

Bottom Line: For terrorists, moving money covertly through hawala networks to circumvent institutionalized banking systems remains one of their leading methods of avoiding detection. The U.S. has managed to unearth and even sanction certain illicit hawala networks, but terrorists continue to exploit this centuries old, nearly untraceable practice to finance ...

Bottom Line: While ISIS’s territory has dwindled, al Qaida has managed to build a strong following in Syria, and may use the civil-war-torn country as a base from which to target the West. The group has evolved into the network’s largest global affiliate by strategically positioning itself as a key ...

Bottom Line: Terrorist group Boko Haram has lost most of the territory it claimed as a “caliphate” within Nigeria back in 2015. But the group still strikes government officials, troops and civilians from its few remaining safe havens in the northeast of the country, and could be positioning itself to take ...

Cipher Brief expert and former DHS official Todd Rosenblum says the Trump administration used incomplete and cherry-picked statistics in a new report that says three out of four individuals convicted of international terrorism-related charges since the 9/11 attacks were “foreign-born,” as opposed to born U.S. citizens. The report from the ...

Bottom Line: Cyber vigilantes and “hacktivists” increasingly fill the void left by governments in combating terrorist activity online. While such politically motivated non-state hackers are relatively effective at removing the presence of terrorist content, their continued operations could damage overall counterterrorism efforts by undermining intelligence operations –  say by taking ...

Bottom Line: With the original ISIS core nearly expelled from its so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq, other ISIS branches are growing in influence and lethality. Skilled fighters and funding are flowing to ISIS Khorasan Province in Afghanistan where the group has taken advantage of the country’s weak central government ...

Autonomous vehicles such as those being tested by Google or Tesla will be one of the most important and disruptive technologies for the future of how people move, work and live. But terrorist groups are tracking these developments closely too. Finnish security firm F-Secure reports “concrete evidence” that ISIS is considering ...

For this last week of 2017, we asked our experts to look ahead at key national security issues. CIA veteran and Africa hand Frank Archibald offers some thoughts on where the continent is headed. Changes in 2017: It really is a year of big men moving on. In Angola, President ...

The role of wildlife trafficking in funding militancy and terrorism has received intense attention from conservationists globally as well as from members of the U.S. Congress. Yet the fact that some terrorist and militant groups have been involved in poaching of iconic species such as elephants for the illegal global ...

Terrorist groups are expanding their use of the internet beyond mere messaging and disseminating operational know-how, slowly adding a cyber-hacking toolset that could one day rival that of criminal or state-sponsored hacking. To date attacks have included website defacement, doxing of personally identifiable information, and distributed denial of service (DDoS) ...

Niger gained the attention of the American public when four U.S. troops were killed there in an ambush on Oct.4, highlighting the expansion of U.S. counterterrorism operations in North Africa. The Cipher Brief’s Levi Maxey reached out to Frank Archibald, the former director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, who ...

Friday’s deadly terrorist attack at the Al-Rawda mosque in the north of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula demonstrates that the so-called Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate remains a potent force and raises questions about the effectiveness of Egypt’s harsh four-year anti-ISIS campaign. Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi has pledged to stay the course ...

The car ramming attack that occurred in New York City on Oct. 31 killed eight people and reignited debate over what constitutes domestic and international terrorism. Terrorism has remained at the forefront of American national security concerns ever since the September 11 attacks. And as globalization continues to extend its ...