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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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. ...

Russia‘s military engagement in Syria reflects Vladimir Putin’s obsession with reasserting his nation’s influence in the Middle East and establishing superpower parity with the U.S. This policy, however, also has important domestic implications for dealing with instability in the nation’s most troublesome region, the North Caucasus. Russia’s history in the ...

ISIS has stood out among other terrorist organizations for, among other factors, its deftness at strategic communication. Using propaganda to increase followership is certainly not new among terrorist organizations, nor among state aggressors.  At al-Qaeda’s peak, they were exploiting satellite television, the Internet, DVD technology, and cellular communications to intimidate ...

The rise of the Islamic State has been accompanied by the increasing presence of the terror group on social media. ISIS’s message of a Muslim utopia is disseminated through various organizations and outlets, all coordinated through complex bureaucratic measures. Counterterrorism analyst for the Institute for the Study of War, Harleen ...

German U-Boat commanders called a period in 1940-41 when they were more or less unfettered and free to attack at will, “the happy time.”  For the Islamic State, the “happiest time” was certainly the period between the summer of 2013, beginning with the gradual fall of the Syrian city of ...

In a town filled with a seemingly endless number of acronyms, none are dreaded as much as ISIS and WMD—especially when put together.  Recent allegations that ISIS is seeking nuclear material for a dirty bomb has exacerbated fears that ISIS could inspire a WMD attack outside of the Middle East, ...

While debate continues over whether the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) poses an immediate threat to the United States and Europe, there is little doubt ISIL has developed a chemical weapons capability. In February, U.S. officials acknowledged that ISIL was likely responsible for mustard gas attacks in ...

The Paris attacks last year bought home that ISIL intends to terrorise all those who oppose the group, wherever they may be.  Outside the Syria and Iraq environs, ISIL strives for evermore spectacular attacks with ever more shocking outcomes.  The 130 dead in Paris came just after 228 (mainly Russians) ...

Europe has become a strategic target for terrorist infiltration.  Its proximity to war zones as well as several terrorist strongholds in the Middle East and North Africa has pushed the threat of terrorism to the forefront of the European security agenda. “Over the past 12 months, ISIL (the Islamic State, ...

According to Gilles De Kerchove, Counter-terrorism Coordinator for the European Union, effective cooperation and coordination between EU member states and the United States is critical for combatting terrorist threats. The terrorist attacks in Paris last November also demonstrated a need for increased information sharing amongst European countries through Europol systems, ...

Mitch Silber, the former Director of Intelligence Analysis for NYPD, attributes Europe’s homegrown terrorist threat to Europe’s repeated failure to integrate immigrant communities and provide them with economic opportunities, leaving them vulnerable to radical indoctrination. To combat this threat, Europe needs to implement a comprehensive information sharing mechanism immediately, says ...

The January 14 attack in Jakarta that left four civilians and four terrorists dead serves as a reminder that Indonesia remains vulnerable to groups that would resort to violence and terrorism to achieve their Islamist aspirations. The previous major terrorist attack in the country had been the twin bombings that ...

January’s ISIS inspired attack in Jakarta raises serious concerns that the ISIS brand might be spreading to the world’s largest Muslim country.  Indonesia is the home to more Muslims than the entire Arab Middle East combined and occupies a strategic location alongside the busiest trading routes in the world.  Any ...

A month after attacks by Islamic State (ISIS) inspired militants outside a Jakarta Starbucks, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has set into motion tougher anti-terrorism laws to help the country better protect itself from future attacks. Indonesia is the fourth most populated country in the world, with the highest population of ...

For seven years, President Barack’s efforts to close the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have been thwarted by Congress.  But the President has not given up. This week, he released his blueprint for closing the facility.   Of the 91 remaining detainees, 35 have already been approved for ...

As threats in the Middle East continue to loom large, Jordan’s successes in battling ISIS on the frontlines and promoting cooperation in the Middle East have proven critical. Jordan, which avoided much of the turmoil introduced by the Arab Spring, has served as an indispensible ally for the United States ...

Jordan’s past experience battling al-Qaeda in Iraq has prepared it for its ongoing offensive against ISIS, explained Dr. Musa Keilani to The Cipher Brief. A former Jordanian Ambassador to Bahrain, Dr. Keilani said that there is popular support in Jordan for airstrikes targeting ISIS and that Jordan has “played a ...