In January, the Indonesian financial transactions agency claimed Bitcoin had been used by Islamic militants to fund terrorist activity there; last year, Salafi-jihadist groups designated by the United States as foreign terrorists were able to raise some $600 in bitcoins. These incidents raise alarms about the potential for virtual currencies ...

The FBI is investigating why a gunman opened fire Wednesday on Republican lawmakers at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, wounding four people including a senior lawmaker. The shooter — identified by the FBI as James Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old Illinois man — was fatally shot by police who were ...

The terrorist attacks that have swept the United Kingdom mark yet another chapter in the long war by violent Islamist extremists against the free world. Terrorism in Europe is not a new phenomenon. The fact that three attacks have struck Britain in the last three months alone exposes that despite ...

Terrorists’ tactics evolve with the times. Just as we have seen an adaption of terrorist methods for sowing fear and distrust, so, too, we have seen their propaganda machines evolve to inspire audiences globally. Gone are the days of printed manifestos, pamphlets, or fuzzy VHS tapes. The internet now facilitates ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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. ...

Diplomatic tensions over leaks to the U.S. media about the Manchester terror attack, culminated Thursday with U.S. President Donald Trump calling for the Department of Justice “to launch a complete review of this matter.” In a statement, Trump called the leaks “deeply troubling,” adding that “if appropriate, the culprit should ...

On the heels of President Donald Trump’s Middle East tour and the terror attack in Manchester outside of an Ariana Grande concert this week, Trump and his fellow European heads of state are gathering in Brussels for a NATO summit. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder asked former NATO Supreme Allied ...

As the investigation into Monday night’s bombing in Manchester continues to unfold and details continue to emerge about the suspect, The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel spoke with Mitch Silber, former Director of Intelligence Analysis at the NYPD, about the terrorist threat facing the UK as well as how to more ...

With the UK threat level raised to the highest level of "critical" -- meaning more attacks may be imminent -- military personnel are being deployed to protect key sites. Police are investigating whether the bomber behind a Tuesday attack in Manchester, England acted alone. The attack -- which left at ...

The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel spoke with retired Ambassador Phil Carter, former Senior Advisor, Acting Assistant Secretary, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the State Department’s Africa Bureau, to discuss Sudan’s progress on counterterrorism and whether State should continue to list the country as a state sponsor of terror. The ...

As with comedy, timing is everything for the politics of being a state sponsor of terrorism. Political considerations, as much as supposed improvements in counterterrorism efforts, saw Cuba, North Korea, and Libya removed in recent years from the U.S. State Department list of state sponsors, while Sudan has remained. Sudan ...

Sudan, along with Iran and Syria, remains one of three countries listed as a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. State Department. However, after years of increased counterterrorism cooperation between the Sudanese and U.S. governments, it may be time to reconsider Sudan’s designation and the multitude of sanctions that ...

The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel spoke with Michael Leiter, former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, about U.S. government efforts to counter violent extremism. Leiter says that instead of debating the name of the program, officials should focus on creating a single department charged with leading initiatives to counter violent ...

U.S. counterterrorism efforts have achieved their fair share of successes – killing terrorist leaders with drone strikes and commando raids, keeping terrorist cells on the run so they can’t plot future attacks, and destroying militants’ underground bases and infrastructure. But one glaring weakness in the U.S. counterterrorism strategy is the ...

In February, reports emerged that the administration of President Donald Trump was considering rebranding the Obama-era Countering Violent Extremism program to “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism.” This idea quickly sparked a public backlash from rights groups and Democratic congressional representatives who argue that the re-designation would both discriminate against Muslim communities ...

There has been talk for decades of creating an overarching intelligence structure that works to keep the continent secure, but it has taken on new urgency with the recent increase in terror attacks in Europe.   However, doing so is easier said than done. In fact, there are legal impediments to ...

In March, the Trump Administration imposed a new set of restrictions targeting carry-on luggage arriving on planes from several Muslim-majority countries after intelligence reports indicated that terrorist organizations have been perfecting techniques to conceal explosive devices in laptop batteries and smuggle them on board aircrafts. The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel ...

Hezbollah is ramping up its grassroots fundraising efforts with an intensive online outreach campaign aimed at making its revenue streams more resistant to U.S. pressure. The campaign indicates that Hezbollah – likely on advice from Iran – is seeking more financial autonomy from its Iranian patrons as they struggle under ...

Thursday’s deadly attack on Paris police jolted the first round of France’s upcoming Presidential election, with several of the leading candidates canceling campaign events and issuing last-minute statements regarding terrorism and national security. The attack, which occurred on the Champs Elysees around 9pm local time, left one police officer dead ...

Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly warned against the “real” and increasingly sophisticated threat from the nexus between criminal and terrorist networks as he advocated for more aggressive immigration policy enforcement. Kelly laid out on Tuesday a vision of a world that is increasingly dangerous and fraught with security ...

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 ...

While al Qaeda’s affiliate in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) may be regionally focused, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says “that doesn’t mean AQIS can be divorced from al Qaeda’s aspirations to attack the West.” In an interview with The Cipher Brief, Gartenstein-Ross also said ...

While al Qaeda’s affiliates in North Africa, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen continue to grab headlines, the terrorist network has surreptitiously expanded eastward, entrenching itself throughout the Indian subcontinent. “Al Qaeda’s reach in South Asia is deeper than what not only the news headlines, but also the U.S. government, may suggest,” explains ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director and Senior Associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center, to discuss the threat posed by al Qaeda’s affiliate in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). According to Kugelman, al Qaeda has managed to “spread its tentacles across the Indian Subcontinent ...

Vladimir Putin is portrayed in the West as the master manipulator in foreign policy, creating turmoil in U.S. and European elections and outfoxing his rivals in the Ukraine and Syria. In domestic politics, he is portrayed as a brutal but cunning tyrant, crushing dissent and murdering his harshest critics, yet ...

On Sunday, March 26, widespread protests broke out in more than 80 cities in the Russian Federation, apparently in response to the government's inability or unwillingness to deal with the problem of endemic corruption. Estimates of the numbers of protesters vary, with the opposition claiming that more than 30,000 participated ...

The Kyrgyz state security service identified Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, a 22-year-old Russian citizen born in Kyrgyzstan, as the assailant behind Monday’s explosion in the St. Petersburg metro. Russian investigators later confirmed the identification and said Dzhalilov planted a second bomb at the Ploshchad Vosstaniya station that did not explode. Authorities said ...

Monday’s explosion in a St. Petersburg metro car, which killed at least 14 people and left dozens injured, was described by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as an act of terror. However, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and Russian President Vladimir Putin himself said it is “too ...

New rules go into effect this weekend that restrict electronic items in passenger cabins on U.S.-bound flights. The measures are being taken as a security precaution to thwart potential threats. The ban includes flights on nine international airlines operating out of 10 airports in the Middle East, North Africa and ...

While the U.S. remains focused on defeating ISIS in Syria and Iraq, al Qaeda in Syria is accumulating strength at an alarming pace and may eventually pose the most daunting counterterrorism challenge that the U.S. has ever faced. “Al Qaeda has methodically enhanced its standing in Syria and finds itself ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Charles Lister, Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute, to discuss al Qaeda in Syria’s latest rebranding, how the group is expanding its influence across the country, and the implications for U.S. security. The Cipher Brief: How influential is al Qaeda in Syria? What ...

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 last couple of weeks have seen almost daily terrorist attacks across Pakistan from a variety of bad actors:  February 13:  A suicide bombing during a protest rally in Lahore. February 14:  Two police officers were killed trying to defuse a terrorist bomb near a bus stop in Quetta.  February ...

President Donald Trump and his cabinet are pondering an executive order to add the Muslim Brotherhood to the United States’ Foreign Terrorist Organization list. Yet such a designation would appear to have one critical flaw: it is hard to explain what the term “Muslim Brotherhood” precisely means. In Egypt, for ...

With the recent U.S. military raid in Yemen and the ongoing campaign in Mosul, the Trump Administration is so far continuing the United States’ longstanding counterterrorism strategy: conducting drone strikes to eliminate terrorist leaders; launching Special Forces operations to capture or kill high-value targets; and working with allies on the ...

As part of the State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) during the Obama administration, Michael Ortiz helped develop and launch a new CVE strategy and also worked to build the case internationally for those efforts. The Cipher Brief’s Mackenzie Weinger spoke with Ortiz, the first U.S. ...

The Cipher Brief's Executive Producer and Reporter Leone Lakhani, spoke with Haras Rafiq, CEO of Quilliam, to discuss how the organization works to counter the narratives propagated by extremist groups. According to Rafiq, to effectively combat extremist narratives, we have to “use all the tools available to us, especially social ...

Southeast Asia is emerging as an ISIS battlefield, and security threats in the region will accelerate and grow with the group’s global expansion – with an ISIS-centric threat landscape supplanting an al Qaeda-centric one. ISIS and al Qaeda groups, networks, and cells will threaten governments and societies in 2017, but ...

The Trump Administration is considering whether to designate the Muslim Brotherhood – a movement that espouses a doctrine of political Islam and has millions of supporters across the Middle East – as a terrorist organization. But experts caution about the potential for unintended consequences, backlash, and legal challenges to such ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Michele Dunne, Director and Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Middle East Center, to discuss the potential implications of the U.S. State Department designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. According to Dunne, such a move may actually backfire and ...

The Muslim Brotherhood preaches a violent, exclusivist ideology.  Its websites and social media accounts are chock-full of anti-Christian and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.  Its affiliated networks in Istanbul have threatened foreign nationals in Egypt.  Its leading figures and platforms have embraced violence and martyrdom explicitly. And its motto – which concludes with “jihad is our way, death for the sake of Allah ...

On January 25, 2017, during his first post-election press interview, President Donald Trump was asked, “do you want waterboarding?” In his response, the President said, “I will say this, I will rely on [Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Mike] Pompeo and [Secretary of Defense James] Mattis and my group. ...

The array of complex threats facing the United States requires the country to prioritize managing alliances and building coalitions, former Acting Director of the CIA John McLaughlin and retired General David Petraeus told members of Congress on Wednesday. The two testified before the House Armed Services Committee at a hearing ...