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 ...

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. ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 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 ...

As China, the current economic superpower of the East, becomes increasingly unstable and its markets unpredictable, many are focusing newfound attention southward on India. With its economy growing at a rate of seven percent, India is poised for an economic surge similar to that of China, with the benefit of ...

Former Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Teresita Schaffer, discussed with The Cipher Brief the continued importance of a close U.S.-India relationship.  Schaffer explained India’s tenuous security dynamic with China and Pakistan, and emphasized the importance of continuing active U.S.-Indian consultation and cooperation on East Asian security issues as India shapes its ...

Recent efforts by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have resurrected the idea of rapprochement between India and Pakistan. So successful were these efforts that Pakistani militants felt compelled to stage an attack on an airbase in Indian Punjab early last month to derail them. ...

Labeled as the richest terrorist group in the world, the Islamic State (ISIS) continues to amass substantial funds to bankroll its military, economic, recruitment, and propaganda campaigns. The key sources of ISIS income are grounded in illicit networks, as ISIS utilizes the black market to generate significant revenue streams. ISIS ...

The Islamic State, popularly known as ISIS, is in many ways an innovative economic actor. But its method of bringing oil to market has been anything but cutting-edge. ISIS took advantage of a black market that had been sharpened long ago, when Saddam Hussein’s regime looked for ways to skirt ...

Retired Brigadier General Russell Howard discussed ISIS’s involvement in antiquities trafficking with The Cipher Brief, explaining that ISIS taxes artifacts that are smuggled in territory it controls and even directly sells artifacts to antiquities traders on the black market. According to Howard, as the U.S. continues to target ISIS’s oil ...

The Islamic State (ISIS) and the threat from terrorism has dominated the news for the past 18 months. ISIS emerged from the chaos in Iraq and the Syrian civil war to seize control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria, declare itself a “caliphate,” and become the richest terrorist group ...

The New York Police Department arguably has the most advanced intelligence and counterterrorism operations of any other U.S. municipality. As the Former Director of Intelligence Analysis at the NYPD, Mitch Silber played a key role in all terrorism related investigations.  Silber told The Cipher Brief that homegrown terrorists will continue ...

The shift in the radicalization landscape in 2015, especially the ever-changing profile of the “homegrown terrorist,” has become one of the greatest concerns of those who protect our homeland.    Notwithstanding the horrific attacks in other parts of the world during the past year, the devastating events in San Bernardino, California ...

Some have argued that since the jihadist attack in Paris on November 13th, killing 130, and the December 2nd attack in San Bernardino, California, which killed 14, the United States has stepped up its domestic counter-terrorism efforts.  But with only five interdictions of ISIS supporters in the six weeks since ...

As the calendar turns to 2016, homegrown terrorists seeking to carry out violent jihadi attacks continue to headline the most critical threats to U.S. security. To date, more than 150 American citizens have traveled abroad with U.S. passports in hand to join the ranks of terrorist groups, such as ISIS. ...

We humans are fond of organizing our lives around arbitrary constructs. Like calendars for example. Many businesses and government departments engage in strategic thinking only at the start of a new year, as if social and economic forces were governed by calendrical functions. And so we have the tradition of ...

As the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Matthew Olsen oversaw the integration and analysis of all intelligence related to terrorism.  As he looks ahead to 2016, Olsen told The Cipher Brief the West faces the difficult challenge of countering terrorist plots more in line with the attacks that recently ...

With 34 years of service in the CIA now behind me, I was recently asked how our ongoing war with ISIS will end.  My answer that ‘either we will defeat them or they will defeat us’ struck some in the room, I am sure, as overly stark.  I am, however, ...

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is the most successful terrorist organization in modern history.  ISIS has aggressively expanded into nine other countries and, through social media, has motivated and inspired its followers around the world to kill fellow citizens. What differentiates ISIS from other terror groups is ...

Victory against ISIS requires not simply more military muscle but diplomacy.  On the Iraq front that means complementing more effective military and political action in Sunni areas with diplomacy involving Iran, Turkey, the Arab states and Baghdad. The Obama Administration’s policy to defeat ISIS is the right mission, but defeating ...

Since December 2011, when the last American troops officially left Iraq, the members of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) were mostly wiped out or on the run. However, the remaining AQI soldiers found new opportunities to rise again and went through a metamorphosis steered by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The violent ...

The Israeli aviation security program is different from all other Aviation Security (AVSEC) programs used today due to the fact that it was created as a real risk-based program that focuses on results and places the passenger at the center of its risk assessment. It takes a comprehensive approach that ...

As the former head of research and development for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the individual charged with the design and installation of security systems at the Pentagon, I have spent a lot of time thinking about how technology can improve security. One of the biggest challenges ...

On October 31, 2015, an international charter flight departing from Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport disintegrated mid-flight en route to St. Petersburg, Russia, killing all 224 passengers onboard. Two weeks later, a series of coordinated attacks led by a Brussels-based terrorist cell struck Paris, resulting in the death of over 130 ...

The loss of the Russian Metrojet aircraft in Egypt last October raised inevitable questions about the security measures in place at Sharm el-Sheikh, and what should be done to prevent future attacks. At first, both the Egyptian and Russian governments refused to acknowledge that the crash was most likely caused ...

The plan to sign a peace agreement early next year to end the more than 50-year civil war in Colombia appears to be in jeopardy. Earlier this week, a senior Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) negotiator, Jesus Santrick, said the negotiations between the government and the FARC will not ...

Twenty-eight years ago, I began my career as a hotel night security guard at the SAS Scandinavia Hotel in Oslo, Norway.  The hotel was part of the SAS International Hotel chain of nearly 25 hotels, all located in Nordic countries, except for one in Kuwait. Today, I work for the ...

The recent terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have left the global community shaken. What made these attacks particularly terrifying is that the terrorists struck people when they were going about their daily lives—and having fun. These types of locations, where people gather with little security, are considered “soft ...

Chief Security Officer for Hyatt Hotels, Inc., Mark Sanna, discussed with The Cipher Brief how Hyatt secures their hotels around the world, how they respond in an event of an attack, and how the hotel industry works together to promote the safety of their guests. Sanna believes this sharing of ...

Recent security incidents around the world have business and recreational travelers paying more attention to personal security risks.  The concept of greater situational awareness continues to come up as a way to mitigate risks.  Unfortunately, few people understand what “situational awareness” means and how to improve this skill.   Situational ...

Most national security and intelligence professionals believe the recent terror attacks in Paris were a game changing and defining moment in the world’s war on terror.  Madrid, London, and Mumbai, as well as the recent Metrojet and Beirut bombings were all horrific, but Paris was different.  The attack on a ...

Now in its eighth month, the conflict that Amnesty International has called Yemen's "forgotten war" grinds on, overshadowed by a metastasizing terrorist threat emanating from Syria, and a seemingly endless wave of Middle East and African refugees sweeping into Europe. But the international community ignores Yemen's war at its own ...

Nasser Arrabyee, a journalist based in Sanaa, Yemen, told The Cipher Brief that “al-Qaeda and ISIS are the biggest winners” from the ongoing war in Yemen. Furthermore, Arrabyee explained that Yemeni citizens have begun to view the Houthis as heroes defending against Saudi aggression. The Cipher Brief: How do Yemeni ...

Shi’a Houthi forces recently killed al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) commander Mohammed Jamal in the Yemeni governorate of Taiz. Jamal died while fighting the Houthis alongside forces supported by the Yemeni government and Saudi Arabia, two long-time opponents of AQAP. His death was not unique in the conflict’s shifting ...

The conflict in Yemen has enabled ISIS to make its presence felt for the first time in Yemen and al-Qaeda to carve out a strategic territory on the coast of eastern Yemen.  Shortly after the Houthi movement took over the government in Sana’a, ISIS carried out its first significant attack in ...

The recent ISIS attacks in Beirut, Sinai, Paris, and now San Bernardino, and subsequent discussion about Syrian refugees highlight the seriousness of the potential threats to the U.S. homeland.                                           ...

Anyone expecting new or bold from President Obama's Sunday night Oval Office speech was surely disappointed.  That was probably inevitable since the speech's timing seemed more dictated by politics and tanking poll numbers than any new policy initiatives.  The President had been trailing the public mood and he had some ...

Having spent some years living in Muslim countries and fighting terrorism, I always cock an eyebrow when I hear someone like Secretary of State John Kerry speak in the wake of the Paris attacks and say, "This is not about a clash of civilizations..."  Secretary Kerry’s statements tracked closely with ...

The Cipher Brief reached out to Jayson Ahern, a principal at the Chertoff Group, to get his thoughts on what it will take to prevent another attack like the one we saw this week in San Bernardino, CA. Ahern, who previously served in senior positions at the Department of Homeland ...