Every second year is an election year in Bosnia and Herzegovina. For this “heart shaped land” in the center of the forever-stigmatized Western Balkans, local and general elections have become the ideal stage for nationalist leaders to not only remind citizens of the dangers that permeate their country, but also ...

Despite a recent wave of terrorist attacks in northern Jordan, the country’s government remains strong. In fact, according to Sultan Barakat, Director of Research at Brookings Doha Center, “it is quite remarkable, despite the recent attacks, that things are reasonably good.” However, Barakat cautions that stability “can’t just be maintained ...

Often hailed as an island of stability amidst a region of chaos, Jordan’s security remains an issue of paramount importance for the United States. Jordan’s close cooperation with Washington has proven vital to U.S. endeavors in the Middle East, with Amman playing a critical role in the U.S.-led coalition to ...

On June 6, five Jordanians were killed during an assault on a General Intelligence complex twelve miles north of Amman. The incident was Jordan’s largest terrorist attack in more than a decade. With its unabashedly pro-west, pro-peace orientation, King Abdullah’s Jordan has long been a target of Islamist militants, but ...

There are heightened security concerns in France, as the Euro 2016 football tournament begins today at multiple sites throughout the country.  France is particularly on edge in light of the devastating coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris last November that left 130 dead and hundreds injured.  In an interview with The ...

Islamic militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) in November 2014, after a deadly attack on Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula. The group, based in Sinai and now known as ISIS-Sinai Province, has escalated attacks over the past ...

The U.S. government has continued providing military support to Egypt despite the 2013 military coup that overthrew then-president Mohamed Morsi. Moreover, the U.S. State Department and Department of Defense have failed to conduct proper vetting of human rights violations by Egyptian forces that receive U.S. aid, according to a recently ...

The U.S. and Egypt remain allies  although relations have been strained since the 2011 Egyptian revolution, which resulted in the ousting of then-President Hosni Mubarak. Since then there was  a brief period of military rule, the election and subsequent ousting of former President Mohamed Morsi, a transitional government led by ...

Three interlinked conflict dynamics are discernible from last week’s developments on the ground: 1) increased lawlessness and militia rivalry in Tripoli and the western region; 2) increasing momentum of the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Misratan-led assault on ISIS; and 3) rising tension between the Libyan National Army (LNA) and ...

World leaders met in Qatar over the weekend for the 16th annual Doha Forum on security. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attended, as well as UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft. Heads of State from Afghanistan, and other Middle Eastern countries. Africa also participated, along with NATO representatives, European security ...

On Thursday, May 19, EgyptAir flight 804 crashed over the Mediterranean Sea, killing all 66 people aboard.  Although terrorism is on the list of possible culprits, the cause of the crash is still under investigation. But the flight joins a list of similar tragedies that have struck since 2014. These ...

Today, commercial aviation is growing at a rapid rate.  Unfortunately, commercial aviation is also the primary target of several terrorist groups and other malicious actors around the world.  Since the late 20th century, commercial aviation has been attacked from a variety of threat vectors—the methods used to hit a target ...

Commercial aviation is an industry in which safety and security are paramount. However, as with other critical infrastructure, consumer demand has brought the systems that run the aviation industry into greater contact with the Internet – and created more opportunities for cyber attack. The Cipher Brief asked Chad Gray of ...

At 11:00 AM, five years ago Monday, sailors on the USS Carl Vinson watched the shrouded body of Osama bin Laden slide into the North Arabian Sea. Thus concluded a ten-year manhunt which, from the fall of the Twin Towers to the secret drama of a midnight raid in the ...

Five years ago, U.S. special operations forces killed Osama bin Laden in a raid on his hiding place in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Although al Qaeda had been dispersed from its bases in Afghanistan and its support networks had been largely dismantled, nearly 10 years after the 9/11 attacks al Qaeda was ...

The Pentagon announced Friday that U.S. forces have killed Abu Sayed, the leader of ISIS-Khorasan – ISIS’ affiliate in Afghanistan – in a drone strike conducted in Afghanistan’s northeastern Kunar Province. In a statement released after the announcement of Sayed’s death, General John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in ...

An emerging nexus between terror and crime in Europe needs to be addressed with an even stronger nexus between law enforcement, the intelligence community, and the financial industry. The crime-terror nexus is not a new phenomenon. Forgery, weapons procurement, and cross-border smuggling are but a few examples of criminal activities ...

In 2012, the European Parliament commissioned and published a study entitled: “Europe’s Crime-Terror Nexus: Links between terrorist and organised crime groups in the European Union.” The report comprehensively argued that variations of the crime-terror nexus are evident in Europe, with trends strongly suggesting the presence of a “marriage of convenience” ...

Terrorism and crime have always been closely linked and the dividing line between them blurred.     For terrorist groups, criminality can be an end in itself. If the aim is the overthrow of the capitalist system, robbing banks and extorting money from the business community serves the purpose of inflicting damage ...

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit on Thursday comes at a pivotal time as conflicts roil the region, and the United States faces an increasingly fractious relationship with its Gulf allies. In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, President Barack Obama will meet with leaders from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and ...

As the Taliban causes havoc on the battlefield and with terrorist attacks, The Cipher Brief asked Daniel Markey, a former State Department official and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations to weigh in on the outlook for Afghanistan.   Markey says the Taliban’s car bombing in Kabul on Tuesday ...

When Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook killed 14 people at a holiday office party in San Bernardino, California, the detail that stood out the most is that the perpetrators were a man and a woman, and that Tashfeen was not just a woman but a mother.  Indeed, that the couple ...

The year was 1980, and the 21-year-old son of Norwegian Defense Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg accompanied his dad on a trip to the United States. The talk of the town, according to the son, centered on concern over the U.S. distancing itself from Europe. Decades later, the same fear permeates political ...

With fifty percent of U.S. imports travelling by sea, ensuring that ships have a secure place to dock poses a challenge to American law enforcement. With such a heavy economic importance placed on U.S. ports, they have become a target for those wishing to inflict harm on the United States. ...

In 2006, Congress passed the Safe Port Act to help ensure that maritime transportation infrastructure was effectively secured from the threat of terrorism. Today, 10 years since the enactment of the law, are U.S. ports safe? This is a complex issue with an equally complex answer. The established security measures ...

In the nineteenth century, American strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan helped define a new understanding of maritime security and the role of the U.S. Navy in ensuring American global influence. Mahan believed that a strong Navy and robust maritime trade were both integral to national and economic security. He also recognized ...

One year after the April 2015 attack that left 148 people dead at a university in Garissa, Kenya, a combination of forces is strengthening the militant Islamist organization that carried out the attack, al-Shabaab. The al-Qaeda-affiliated group came to prominence in neighboring Somalia in 2006 after the collapse of the ...

Terrorism has emerged as a global threat to security. We might not be able to fully grasp the complexity of the matter until we look at it on a global scale. Belgium is the latest country in Europe to be hit by cowardly acts of terror. The private security industry ...

April 2 marked one year since the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab attacked the Garissa University in Kenya and killed 148 people, galvanizing Kenya to intensify its counterterrorism efforts. Yet al-Shabaab’s operational capacities and intimidation power have grown in the past year. Many of Kenya’s counterterrorism policies have been counterproductive, and ...

Washington DC is currently hosting the fourth and perhaps final Nuclear Security Summit, President Obama's signature initiative to secure the supply of nuclear material. Terrorism has always been a sub-theme of the NSS given its objective of keeping fissile materials away from terrorist groups. But in the wake of the ...

Michael Morell, the former Deputy Director and twice Acting Director of CIA, spoke with The Cipher Brief about battling ISIS and how the terrorist attacks in Brussels last week could impact U.S. and European strategies moving forward.  The Cipher Brief:  A week has passed since the attacks in Brussels.  Can ...

If you attend a Congressional hearing on the state of U.S.-Pakistan relations, you’ll probably hear one of the lawmakers refer to Pakistan as a “frenemy,” sometimes friend, sometimes enemy.   It is one of the more contentious relationships the United States has with a nation that is ultimately so critical to ...

For over six decades, the United States and Pakistan have suffered through a tormented and often tumultuous relationship, one defined at its apex by wartime alliance and at its nadir by stiff U.S. sanctions. In many ways, the period since 9/11 has mirrored that longer history, with expectations inflated and ...

One word sums up U.S.-Pakistan relationship: necessity.  The United States and the world have seen the instability that resulted from non-engagement in the 1990’s: Afghanistan became a safe haven for terrorist groups from which to plan the attacks on 9/11 and Pakistan became a nuclear power in the region. Pakistan ...

Following this week’s devastating terror attacks against an airport and metro station in Belgium, the U.S. Embassy in Brussels issued a security message for U.S. citizens informing them of the terrorism activity and increased police presence. Their message was clear and concise. They urged citizens to be aware of local ...

In the aftermath of a terrorist attack like the one in Brussels this week, we naturally focus on the loss of life and the people seriously injured. But the damage is far more pervasive. Everyone in those communities—and beyond—are affected.  Fear and uncertainty become the norm, at least in the ...

The Cipher Brief: First Paris, then San Bernardino, now Brussels. How widespread are ISIS networks in Europe and North America and can we expect these kinds of attacks on a regular basis?  What is the threat to the U.S.? Matt Olsen: The threat in Europe from ISIS is greater than ...

The Cipher Brief: First Paris, then San Bernardino, now Brussels. How widespread are ISIS networks in Europe and North America and can we expect these kinds of attacks on a regular basis? Mitch Silber: We need to make a distinction when we talk about ISIS networks. There are ISIS wannabe ...

The terrorist attacks in Brussels this week highlight two things:  First, the Islamic State is ramping up its efforts to attack the West, and second, Europe is fundamentally unprepared to confront the growing specter of violent radical Muslim extremism.  Tuesday’s attacks in the heart of Europe were tragic but certainly ...

The tragic events in Brussels on Tuesday once again brought to the forefront the seemingly never ending battle to fight the scourge of terrorism.   As has been the case, time and time again, suicide attackers set their sights on so-called soft targets, detonating their bombs at an airport and in ...

The Cipher Brief: First Paris, then San Bernardino, now Brussels. How widespread are ISIS networks in Europe and North America, and can we expect these kinds of attacks on a regular basis?   Michael Hayden:  This attack was not surprising.  It was somewhere between expected and inevitable.  It’s right in ...

The Cipher Brief: First Paris, then San Bernardino, then Brussels.  How widespread are Islamic State networks in Europe, and can we expect these kind of attacks to continue? Quite clearly the recent history of attacks, certainly those in Paris and Brussels, shows a very substantial increase in threats linked more ...

As if we needed another reminder, the Brussels attacks bring into even sharper focus the specter of growing radical Muslim extremism and the threat it poses to the west.   Yesterday’s attacks in the heart of Europe were tragic, but sadly predictable.  Not predictable by exact time and place, but if ...

It is an horrific attack and the death toll is still mounting.  As always with terrorist attacks, the damage is not just the terrible loss of human life and people seriously injured but also the disruption of air and train transport, of business and diplomacy—the EU in Brussels had to ...

As goes its motto, The Islamic State is remaining and expanding. Even as the group faces growing military pressure in its core territories in Iraq and Syria, an increasing number of countries are facing the threat of Islamic State-affiliated groups within their own borders. Ultimately, this expansion is necessary to fulfilling ...

Despite territorial losses to its self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, ISIS remains committed to spreading its ideological message, harsh rule, and terrorist tactics to new outposts. “This phenomenon is probably because committing terrorist operations abroad is embedded in the organization’s DNA,” wrote counterterrorist analyst Aki Peritz in The Cipher ...

The rise of the Islamic State and its spread across Africa and the Middle East may seem like a novel phenomenon, but it is hardly a first. In 1881, when an Islamic cleric in what was then called “the Sudan,” declared himself to be the Mahdi—the successor to the Prophet Muhammad ...

From its base in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) has morphed into a worldwide jihadi network. Casting a vast net is part of ISIS’ grand strategy, which focuses on using terrorist tactics to establish an Islamic Caliphate across Muslim lands and attacking Western targets as part ...

It’s been a rough several months for the Islamic State in its quixotic effort to build a viable functioning nation-state. The Kurds and the Iraqi military keep slicing meaty territorial chunks from its flanks; the group is slashing its fighters’ salaries to make up for financial shortfalls; the U.S. continues ...

ISIS is a terrorist group attempting to become a state. It inherited al Qaeda's strengths, including international networks, battle tested military doctrine and strategy, and a radical religious ideology, Jihadi Salafism. The ISIS ideology has a proven record in recruiting foreign fighters worldwide to support jihadist insurgencies and terror cells. ...