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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Soner Cagaptay, Director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, to discuss the dramatic implications of Tuesday’s terrorist attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. The Cipher Brief: How could Tuesday’s attack on Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul impact Turkey’s security ...

The coordinated terrorist attack at the international airport in Istanbul on Tuesday is the latest in a rash of deadly attacks that have struck Turkey in the past 18 months. The Cipher Brief spoke with Aykan Erdemir, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former member ...

Tuesday evening’s terrorist attack at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul may have severe implications for Turkey moving forward. Although there have yet to be claims of responsibility and questions still remain unanswered, many, including Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, have pointed their fingers towards ISIS as the culprit for Tuesday’s ...

Terrorists killed at least 41 people and wounded hundreds more in a deadly attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport Tuesday evening. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the coordinated terrorist attack at the third-largest airport in Europe. Three attackers arrived at the airport by taxi and began shooting, officials ...

Terrorists killed at least 41 people and wounded hundreds more in a deadly attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport Tuesday evening. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the coordinated terrorist attack at the third-largest airport in Europe. Three attackers arrived at the airport by taxi and began shooting, officials ...

Bosnia and Kosovo are two of the biggest exporters of jihadists joining the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria) from the Balkans. As The Cipher Brief reported last month, legacies of the Communist era and the wars of the 1990s – presence of foreign fighters, economic and ...

Those who use radical and extremist methods to achieve their political goals employ the most horrifying and inhumane ways to kill, terrorize, and punish people, and do so with a high level of resilience and transformative abilities. The skills and intimidation they utilize allow them to successfully recruit among communities ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...