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 ...

International sanctions and poor relations with neighbors have left Eritrea largely isolated in East Africa. Relations between the U.S. and Eritrea are tense, partially due to alleged human rights abuses by the Eritrean government. Indeed, a number of Eritreans flee the country – many cite the country’s mandatory and essentially ...

The U.S. and Eritrea do not have strong bilateral relations. Ever since UN sanctions were imposed in 2009 and again in 2013, doing business in Eritrea, let alone having strong diplomatic ties, has become more difficult. Yet this country in the heart of the Horn of Africa could be key ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck, non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center, to discuss the growing threat of al Qaeda and other jihadist groups in northwest Africa (Sahel region). According to Ghanem-Yazbeck, as evidenced by a spate of recent attacks, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb ...

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM) propensity for kidnapping was back on display earlier this week, as al Qaeda’s North African branch released a video of Swiss Christian missionary Beatrice Stockly, who has been held captive by the terrorist group for more than a year. The recording of Stockly ...

Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th president, subscribed to the philosophy, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” a line attributed to Sun Tzu, the famous sixth-century Chinese military strategist. Mr. Lincoln was also noted for saying, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” Donald Trump, ...

Their reactions to a terror attack on a public Christmas market in Berlin show stark differences between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. On Monday, a truck plowed through a crowd in a busy area of central Berlin, killing at least 12 people and injuring 48. Merkel ...

Police in Turkey have detained six people following the killing of Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov. State media reports that the attacker’s mother, father, sister and two other relatives had been detained in the west of the country as well as his flat mate in Ankara. Ambassador Karlov was shot dead ...

President-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly said that fighting Islamic extremism is one of his administration's top priorities. Determining the path forward in Afghanistan, where the ongoing battle against al Qaeda and the Taliban was launched 15 years ago, is a challenge Trump’s national security team will face as soon as ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald Neumann to discuss some of the challenges that the incoming Trump Administration will face in Afghanistan and the steps the U.S. government can take to reaffirm its commitment to stability in Afghanistan. The Cipher Brief: What are some ...

With the Trump Administration set to take office next month, The Cipher Brief spoke with Robert Grenier, former CIA Chief of Station in Pakistan and Afghanistan and author of the book, “88 Days to Kandahar,” to discuss ways for the U.S. to move forward in its efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. ...

There has been a downward trend in large-scale warfare on the African continent since the number of wars peaked in the mid 1990s. However, new forms of violence are now replacing mass warfare in many of America’s key African allies. “In a lot of African countries [you find] situations that ...

On September 10th in the restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in northwest China, as many as 10 people were killed or injured when police investigated the house of suspected terrorists. While details are scant, it appears a police officer accidentally set off explosives stored at the house. Chinese authorities ...

Over the last several years, China has learned that its borders and people are not immune to the threat of terrorism. This is particularly true as the low-level separatist insurgency led by Uighurs linked to the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP, formerly known as East Turkestan Independence Movement) against Beijing has ...

In the aftermath of 9/11, every major security, law enforcement, and intelligence organization initiated changes to address the looming terrorist threat. None made more profound changes to its intelligence structure, operations, and culture than the New York City Police Department (NYPD). An effective counterterrorism intelligence program at the national or ...

In August, U.S. President Barack Obama reassured the Pentagon that the Islamic State will “inevitably be defeated.” U.S. government officials, generals, and pundits have been debating what could happen when the group is defeated in Iraq and Syria and have been hard at work penning ISIS obituaries.  Based on my ...

On September 2, a suicide bomber struck a court in Pakistan’s northern city of Mardan, killing twelve. On August 8, a suicide bomber dressed in a lawyer’s uniform attacked a hospital in Quetta, Balochistan, killing 74, mostly lawyers who had gathered at the hospital to protest the targeted-killing of a ...

The Russians hack the United States’ systems “all the time,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a conference of intelligence professionals on Wednesday. He also tackled concerns about the upcoming presidential transition and major threats facing the United States such as terrorism, climate change, and widespread global instability. During ...

With coalition forces concentrating efforts against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the militant group continues to fester in Libya with the government struggling to battle its continued presence. This week, Western powers aimed to shift that balance. At the request of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), the United States ...

When Father Jacques Hamel was brutally killed at his church in northern France this week, the religious community came together, demanding greater protection. The French government responded by saying it would put more police on the streets and bring in extra security reservists, with French President Francois Hollande announcing a National ...

The threat of terrorism in West Africa appears to be growing, creating concerns about whether it is safe to do business there. The Risk Advisory Group – a global risk management consultancy – is aware of companies and individual travellers who are reviewing the security measures they have in place ...

The recent attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka, Bangladesh where 20 people were brutally murdered finally brought international attention to a disturbing trend in one of the world’s largest Muslim countries. For decades, Bangladesh has suffered from an increasing trend in violent extremism from several groups, both domestic ...

The terrorist attack at Holey Bakery in Dhaka earlier this month deviated in important ways from the previous trend of assassination-style attacks against specific individuals in Bangladesh. The perpetrators targeted a group of random individuals, prolonged the attack to maximize media exposure, and engaged in an attack that provided little ...

Earlier this month, after ISIS claimed responsibility for a brazen and bloody assault on a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh, analysts pointed to the attack as more proof of the group’s geographically expanding reign of terror. ISIS’s increasing profile in Bangladesh is certainly cause for concern. The group has minced no ...

Germany has been hit by four attacks in the past week, three involving refugees. Last Monday, a 17-year-old refugee thought to be from Afghanistan injured a handful of people with an axe and knife on a train near Würzburg. On Friday, 18-year-old Ali Sonboly – born in Germany to Iranian ...

Tweeters, journalists, politicians, even the security forces in Germany responded on Friday to an “extremist terror” attack in Munich, fearing it was inspired by the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), only to discover later that the attacker – 18-year-old Ali David Sonboly, born in Germany to Iranian ...

On Thursday evening, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove for more than a mile through a crowd of people celebrating France’s independence day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, killing at least 84 and injuring more than 200. The Cipher Brief spoke with National Defense University’s Steven Kramer about France’s vulnerabilities ...

Whether ISIS had any connection with the terrorist attack in Nice, it really “doesn’t matter,” former CIA case officer and Soufan Group Director of Special Projects Patrick Skinner told The Cipher Brief in an interview.    We talked to Skinner about ISIS’ messaging and the difficulty the West has in responding ...

While details continue to emerge about Thursday’s terrorist attack in Nice, France, one thing remains clear: regardless of whether ISIS orchestrated the attack, inspired it, or had no connection to it whatsoever, the organization’s “prestige” among its supporters continues to rise after each terrorist incident. “In the early hours after ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Former Director of Analysis at the NYPD, Mitch Silber, to discuss the implications of Thursday’s terrorist attack in Nice, France. The Cipher Brief: What about France makes it a prime target for terrorist attacks, such as what we saw Thursday night in Nice? Mitch ...

A truck plowed through a crowd gathered in Nice, France for Bastille Day celebrations on Thursday, killing at least 84 people and injuring dozens more. In a statement in the early hours after the attack, French President François Hollande said that “there’s no denying the terrorist nature of this attack ...

A slightly different version of this article appeared recently in the Washington Times.  General Hayden has requested that we reprint it in The Cipher Brief following Thursday’s horrific attack in Nice, France.  He believes that it has special relevance for the intelligence community today. I recently joined other former security officials to ...

A slightly different version of this article appeared recently in the Washington Times.  General Hayden has requested that we reprint it in The Cipher Brief following Thursday’s horrific attack in Nice, France.  He believes that it has special relevance for the intelligence community today. I recently joined other former security ...

Designated by the United States as a terrorist group in 1997, Hezbollah is a Shia extremist organization and political party based in Lebanon that wears many faces. Today, with its outspoken ambitions of destroying Israel, staunch military support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad throughout the Syrian civil war, and status ...

Tehran likes to style the alliance between itself, Hezbollah, and the Assad regime in Syria as the core of an “Axis of Resistance.” The name tries to evoke the strength of will to confront, if not overthrow, foreign occupiers and oppressors—that is Israel and the United States—by Iran and its ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Matt Levitt, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the Treasury Department, to discuss Hezbollah’s roles in Lebanon, Syria and as a proxy for Iran. According to Levitt, despite losses in Syria, Hezbollah remains a threat to Israeli security and U.S. interests ...

Moving ahead with what President Barack Obama calls the “most significant reinforcement of our collective defense [at] any time since the Cold War,’’ NATO allies approved over the weekend upgrading and expanding their air, land, sea, and cyber capabilities to face unprecedented challenges coming from all directions — including from ...

Whoever the American people elect to be our next president in November, she or he will inherit numerous problems, including terrorism, the hollowing out of nation states by narcotics traffickers, and instability in the Middle East.  All of these problems have at least one thing in common.  They arise and/or ...

The deadly spate of terrorist attacks that have been connected to ISIS over the last week and throughout the holy month of Ramadan demonstrate the group’s deadly global reach even as it loses territory in Iraq and Syria. As Ramadan draws to a close, attacks seemingly directed or inspired by ...

In the years since 9/11, the FBI has refocused its efforts beyond law enforcement to include, and even prioritize, intelligence gathering and counterterrorism operations.  As the United States’ official domestic security agency, the FBI’s responsibilities have become quite expansive. “Today’s FBI is a threat-focused, intelligence-driven organization,” stated FBI Director James ...

After the San Bernardino terrorist attack there were the usual cries “to do something” to better protect the nation. We will surely again hear similar concerns in the face of the brutal massacre in Orlando.  To this point, however, not much, if anything, has happened.  However, another domestic terrorist attack—especially ...

When the Cipher Brief asked me to write an article assessing how well the FBI has done since 9/11 in protecting our country from terrorism threats and whether there was a need for a separate domestic intelligence agency, I agreed without hesitation.  On 9/11, I had been in the FBI ...

After Orlando (and now Istanbul on top of San Bernardino and Paris and Brussels), will we ever feel safe again?  Why can't our governments protect us from these senseless atrocities?  These are the kinds of questions many Americans are asking.  Despite the campaign based claims of some, the answers aren't ...

Turkey’s tourism industry had been in trouble before Tuesday’s deadly terrorist attack — and with the targeting of Istanbul’s international airport, analysts say the impact on the industry will resonate far beyond this week. Tourism experts and Cipher Brief network contributors Dr. Yeganeh Morakabati and Dr. John Fletcher of Bournemouth ...