Bottom Line Up Front In an unprecedented move, the U.S. State Department may formally designate a violent white supremacist group as a foreign terrorist organization according to press sources. The move, if carried out, is another indication of the growing severity of the threat posed by violent white supremacist ...

Cipher Brief Expert Emile Nakhleh is a retired CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer and founding director of the CIA’s Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program Office. He is currently a Research Professor and Director of the Global and National Security Policy Institute at the University of New Mexico. Recent headlines from ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The terrorist attack in Hanau, Germany last week underscores a broader trend of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other extremists operating with increasing impunity both in the United States and in Europe. The far-right continues to mobilize in Europe, with organized marches planned in Budapest, Hungary ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Late Wednesday in Hanau, Germany a lone individual went on a terrorist rampage, shooting patrons at two hookah bars and murdering nine people. The terrorist has been described as motivated by a mix of anti-immigrant beliefs, eugenics, conspiracy theories, and extreme misogyny. German authorities have ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On October 26, 2019, U.S. Special Forces launched a major operation that resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Less than one week later, ISIS confirmed the death of al-Baghdadi and announced its new leader, the so-called Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. As ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Sudesh Amman committed a terrorist attack in Streatham, London over the weekend after having served half of a prison sentence of three years and four months. This is the third case of terrorist recidivism in the United Kingdom in recent months, which included an attack ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Early this week, U.S. Attorney General William Barr labeled the December 6 shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola as an act of terrorism. The attack, which killed three and injured eight, was conducted by Saudi citizen Mohammed Alshamrani, who was in Pensacola for military training. ...

Since his death at the hands of a US drone strike in Baghdad last week, much has been said about Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and his ties to terrorism. Iraq’s Prime Minister claimed that at the time of his death, Soleimani was in the country to take part in indirect ...

The U.S. targeting and killing of Iranian Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani by a drone strike in Baghdad on Friday has prompted a series of swift statements and actions throughout the Middle East as experts work to anticipate what will follow. The Cipher Brief has spoken with a number of ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On Friday December 6th, Saudi Air Force Second Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani murdered three U.S. Navy sailors and injured 8 others at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Pensacola, Florida. This incident raises questions about vetting procedures when it comes to identifying individuals who may be ...

  Bottom Line Up Front According to the U.S. State Department, global terrorism clustered in three regions in 2018, with South Asia, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for nearly 85 percent of global attacks. The Islamic State is seeking to plot a resurgence, attempting to revive its logistics ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Following the recent death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the so-called Islamic State announced its new leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi. The selection of al-Qurayshi is intended to ensure continuity, signaling that the new leader will carry on the legacy of the caliphate. One of the ...

The killings of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his possible deputy by U.S. special operations forces are major losses for the extremists, ones that are likely to usher in a period of chaos and improvisation among ISIS fighters. But it would be a fatal mistake to assume that the deaths have destroyed ...

The nation and the world welcomed President Donald Trump’s Oct. 27 announcement that ISIS leader Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed by the U.S. military at his hideout in Northwest Syria. Our gratitude goes out to the military, the intelligence community, State Department and law enforcement for its coordinated effort to kill ...

Cipher Brief Expert Norman T. Roule served for 34-years in the Central Intelligence Agency, managing numerous programs relating to Iran and the Middle East.   He served as the National Intelligence Manager for Iran (NIM-I) at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence from November 2008 until September 2017.  As ...

Bruce Hoffman is a professor at Georgetown University and Visiting Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security at the Council on Foreign Relations.  He has served as a commissioner on the Independent Commission to Review the FBI’s Post-9/11 Response to Terrorism and Radicalization, a Scholar-in-Residence for Counterterrorism at the CIA, and ...

  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. ...