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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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. ...

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) ...

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 ...

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, ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

According to Dr. Jamal Al Shalabi, Professor of Political Science at the Hashemite University, turmoil in the Middle East has prompted Jordan to strengthen cooperation with its neighbors. Egypt-Jordan relations are at an all time high, Al Shalabi told The Cipher Brief, and it is “logical” for Jordan to deepen ...

On March 7, 2015, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS.  Nearly a year later, has either of these terrorist groups gained from this partnership? For ISIS, the answer is undoubtedly yes.  Expanding its reach helps ISIS demonstrate in real terms that it is achieving its goal of creating a caliphate ...

Nearly one year since Boko Haram pledged its allegiance to ISIS, its threat to Nigeria has changed, though still remains.  “Clearly, the snake has been injured and weakened, but not killed or defanged,”  Ona Ekhomu, President of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), told The ...

The Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) was established on May 22,1964 through the Fort Lamy (now N’Djamena) Convention to ensure equitable and sustainable management of Lake Chad, while preserving the ecosystem and promoting sub-regional integration, peace, and security in the basin.  In the last decade, the LCBC’s member states—Cameroon, Chad, ...

From Russia’s reemergence as a top U.S. adversary to Iran’s reentry into the global market place, the 2016 national security landscape is fraught with challenges and opportunities guaranteed to impact industry, government, and their intersection. Looming questions—Will China cooperate on cyber security? What wider impact will Venezuela’s economic collapse have ...

In the wake of the Boston Marathon Bombing, terrorism expert Peter Bergen had a pressing question on his mind:  Who are these homegrown Islamist terrorists, and what has driven them to a life of jihad?  This week, he released his fifth book, The United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown ...

The alarming spread of ISIS, coupled with competition amongst Iraq’s sectarian groups, has accelerated the Iraqi government’s disintegration. This downfall began during the tenure of former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki, whose policies triggered significant tensions between Iraq’s three main sectarian groups - the majority Shiites, the Sunnis and the ...

Victory in Ramadi City against ISIS by the Iraqi Army, despite ISIS holdouts, has given a shot in the arm to the Iraqi government and to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.  Strengthening Iraq’s political institution is not only essential to the fight against ISIS but also for larger regional objectives. ...

In Iraq, the fight to rid the country of the Islamic State (referred to colloquially in Arabic as Daesh) is taking longer than officials and analysts expected. For instance, U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, recently stated that the campaign to eject ...

The Caucuses region is simmering with tension, and, due to its strategic geographic location and Caspian energy markets, the international community cannot afford to let the situation boil over. Lying in between Russia, Turkey, and Iran, the Caucasus is a politically and ethnically diverse region.  In the North are the ...

For two decades, hundreds of Russian citizens have become victims of terrorism rooted in the turbulent North Caucasus region of Russia. This area has also been a major source of fighters for different radical Islamic groups in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and beyond.    Several developments contributed to the radicalization of ...

The situation in the Russian North Caucasus has been complex for over 25 years now. A host of economic and social reasons, as well as the relations between this region and the federal authorities, and the mistakes made by both federal and regional politicians, have all contributed to the problem. ...

With the Middle East ablaze, new opportunities have emerged for regional cooperation. In fact, partnerships have formed in the most unlikely of places, as Israel and some of its Arab neighbors have joined together to combat common enemies, such as ISIS and Iran. Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has ...

Former head of Israel’s Shin Bet and current Knesset member Yaakov Perry discussed Israel’s cooperation with its neighbors to combat regional threats.  Perry explained that Egypt and Jordan are important partners for Israel in the fight against ISIS, and that Israel and many of the Gulf countries share mutual concerns ...

The collapse or weakening of state authority in different parts of the Middle East and Africa, together with growing inner challenges and chronic instability in large parts of the region and the widening and escalating Iranian-Arab power struggle, creates a chaotic environment militant Islamic groups exploit to expand their activities ...

The lack of good governance and the spread of terrorism seem to go hand in hand.   That is quite apparent in East Africa.  Just last month, al Qaeda’s affiliate, al Shabaab, attacked an African Union base in Southwest Somalia, the third forward operating base that al Shabaab has overrun in ...