For decades, belligerent groups have financed their operations by tapping into a variety of locally available economies, including illegal ones. The Shining Path in Peru was among the first groups to tax drug cultivation and smuggling. The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia prolonged its life by being heavily involved in logging. ...

In mid-October, the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea published its latest report confirming that despite years of effort and the recent territorial gains that AMISOM (the African Union’s mission in Somalia) and the Somali government have made against al-Shabaab, the group continues to garner the finances it needs ...

The Somalia based terror group al-Shabaab has “diversified its economy” to ensure a constant income, from kidnapping for ransom and confiscating food and aid sent to rural populations, to forcing households to have expatriate family members send remittances from abroad to al-Shabaab’s coffers.  Some of the group’s most notable financial ...

Long before ISIS, transnational terrorist groups had discovered the use of the Internet and social networks. Terrorists went online for recruiting, fund-raising, mission-planning, intelligence gathering, and propagandizing about their cause.  Yet, the efforts of ISIS have garnered unusual attention. In part, that is because their activities are both vigorous and ...

On Sept. 28 in New York City, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) co-hosted with the U.S. State Department the first Global Youth Summit Against Violent Extremism, an initiative that grew from February’s White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism.  The Global Youth Summit highlighted the fantastic ongoing work of 75 ...

Since before 9/11, Al-Qaeda and other jihadi groups have been quietly investing in cyber jihad, which is now disseminated and promoted by a new, Internet-savvy generation. Jihadis have advanced from primitive password-protected websites to freely available social media platforms. Al-Qaeda, and now the Islamic State (ISIS), have infested YouTube, Twitter, ...

CIPHER SNAPSHOT: At a time when the Middle East is ablaze, the arrival of the Hajj presents a complex security challenge. September 22 marks the start of the Hajj, an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Participation in the Hajj is a religious obligation for both Sunni and Shiite ...

The security of U.S. borders has become one of the key issues in the U.S. Presidential race.  Some of the Republican candidates support building a fence along the border with Mexico to stop illegal immigrants, drug smugglers and possibly even terrorists from entering the country. General John Kelly worries that ...

In 1915, the British poet Thomas Hardy wrote a short masterpiece about the sinking of Titanic, which had occurred several years earlier. He describes the long string of separate events by which both the ship and the iceberg are formed – one in a shipyard and the other in the ...

The convergence of ruthless terrorist networks and greedy criminal underworld operatives can pose unique and dangerous challenges. It offers terrorists access to human resources and skillsets that can enhance their operational capabilities, while it offers criminals new sources of profit and political rationalization. But convergence also entails risks for both terrorist ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with the DEA's former Chief of International Operations, Mike Vigil to discuss the threat of convergence. The Cipher Brief: Convergence is the idea that unrelated adversaries —for example, drug dealers and terrorists — could find common cause and cooperate and share resources. Do you think convergence ...