Counterterrorism

May 18, 2017
There are two schools of thought about the nature of the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Some experts say the group is nearly vanquished as it struggles to hold on to Mosul, Iraq, and prepares for the inevitable fight for its capital in Raqqa, Syria.
May 18, 2017
The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel sat down with Michael W.S. Ryan, Senior Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, to discuss ISIS’ recent battlefield losses, the group’s current level of influence, and what to expect from ISIS in coming months.
May 18, 2017
Nearly three years ago, the Islamic State (ISIS) catapulted to the top of the news worldwide after the group seized vast swaths of Syria and Iraq, used Mosul’s revered Great Mosque of al-Nuri to announce the creation of an Islamic caliphate, executed tens of thousands of civilians, and committed
March 17, 2017
Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying to Destroy America is a firsthand account of the CIA’s controversial interrogation program – which most famously included such techniques as waterboarding – by one of its architects, psychologist James
March 16, 2017
Hawala networks and terror finance are in the news again.
March 16, 2017
The Cipher Brief sat down with Celina Realuyo, Professor of Practice in the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies at National Defense University, to discuss how terrorist groups have used hawala networks to transfer funds undetected to help support their operations.
March 16, 2017
An integral component of U.S. counterterrorism strategy has centered on disrupting terrorist finances.
February 26, 2017
This week, Secretary of Defense James Mattis is expected to deliver the 30-day review President Donald Trump ordered regarding the United States’ strategy to fight ISIS.
January 3, 2017
As the calendar approaches January 21st and President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office, the Cipher Brief sat down with Patrick Skinner of the Soufan Group to discuss the successes and failures of the Obama Administration’s counterterrorism policy and how the next administ
January 3, 2017
The Cipher Brief spoke with network member and former Acting Director of the CIA, John McLaughlin, about the current U.S. counterterrorism strategy, as well as what to expect from the terrorist threat in the coming year. According to McLaughlin, under President Barack Obama, the U.S.
January 3, 2017
Though January will see a major transition in American power, the global threat of terrorism will remain.
December 30, 2016
As ISIS incurs the firepower of the international community, al Qaeda has quietly rebuilt its resources, rebranded itself, and “rehabilitated its image” explains terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman.
December 30, 2016
Drone strikes have proven effective at eliminating terrorist leaders, yet terrorists continue to threaten American security. In this article written for the 15th anniversary of 9/11, Cipher Brief expert Kevin Hulbert describes how U.S.
December 30, 2016
The Cipher Brief sat down with Matthew Olsen, former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, to discuss the terrorist threat in the coming year.
December 30, 2016
Editor’s Note: Over the coming days, The Cipher Brief presents some of our most incisive coverage on key issues of 2016 and a look ahead at what is yet to come in 2017.
December 18, 2016
As the United States prepares for a new administration, The Cipher Brief's Leone Lakhani sits down with Ambassador Dennis Ross, Counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former senior Middle East Adviser to three U.S. Presidents.
December 8, 2016
In what many expect to be the final national security speech of his presidency, U.S. President Barack Obama reflected on U.S.
December 8, 2016
The Cipher Brief sat down with Bruce Hoffman, Director for Security Studies at Georgetown University, to discuss President Obama’s counterterrorism legacy and the outlook for the terrorist threat in the coming year. According to Hoffman, although the U.S.
November 22, 2016
In the years since 9/11, drone strikes have emerged as a pillar of the United States’ counterterrorism strategy. The Cipher Brief spoke with Bobby Chesney, Professor of Law and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the University of Texas Law School about the legal basis for U.S.
November 22, 2016
Over the last eight years, President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism policy has in large part been defined by drone strikes against a number of terrorist targets around the world. Indeed, the U.S.
November 22, 2016
While lethal U.S. drone strikes have successfully removed many key terrorists from the battlefield, the legal justifications for such actions remains a heavily debated topic in the United States and globally.
November 22, 2016
Prepare yourselves for a stepped-up, worldwide war against Islamic radical terrorists directed from the White House by President-elect Donald Trump and his closest aides, who claim this to be a 21st Century crusade to save Judeo-Christian values from what they see as an apocalyptic can
November 15, 2016
Drones have traditionally been used by Western militaries as a tool in counterterrorism efforts, but insurgent and terrorist groups are increasingly turning to small hobby drones to bolster their own efforts.
November 15, 2016
There is growing evidence that non-state actors are incorporating drone technology into their unconventional tactics, prompting concerns from militaries on how they can effectively counter this emerging threat.
November 15, 2016
Last month, Kurdish forces in northern Iraq shot down an Islamic State drone booby-trapped with explosives that later killed two Peshmerga soldiers as they inspected it.
November 13, 2016
The use of drone strikes to eliminate terrorists around the globe has become a defining pillar of the United States’ post-9/11 counterterrorism strategy.
November 13, 2016
In October 2016, New York magazine published an exit interview with President Barack Obama who “chose five moments that, he believes, will have outsized historical impact.” 
November 13, 2016
“Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training, and deploying against us?”
October 30, 2016
At least twice in the past year, the U.S. was Twappled.  That is, multibillion-dollar U.S. corporations used their significant position in their respective industry to obstruct the U.S.
October 13, 2016
The United States and its allies are consumed by their battle with ISIS, but to many terrorism experts, al Qaeda remains a serious force to be reckoned with, one that is actually increasing in strength.  The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel spoke to Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at th
October 12, 2016
The Cipher Brief sat down with Bruce Riedel, Director of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution to discuss the current threat posed by the Haqqani network.
October 12, 2016
The Haqqani network’s continued presence in Pakistan, as well as recent Taliban advances in Afghanistan, have resulted in a “steady deterioration in U.S.-Pakistan relations over the past year,” explains Daniel Markey, Senior research professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced
October 12, 2016
The Taliban is mounting an increasingly deadly insurgency across Afghanistan, including a breakthrough into Lashkar Gah, the capital of Afghanistan’s southern Helmand Province, earlier this week.  Regional experts and military officials assert that combatting the Haqqani network, one of the large
October 9, 2016
The increasing rate of international and domestic terror threats to and in the homeland highlights the importance to our security of the nation’s least understood community: the homeland intelligence enterprise.  Although the homeland intelligence enterprise contains a large and diverse collectio
October 7, 2016
When contemplating some of the challenges of Vietnam many years ago, then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger commented that in a guerrilla war, the guerrilla army wins if it does not lose, while the conventional army loses if it does not win.  This is the sort of situation we find ourselves in fi
October 7, 2016
Fifteen years to the date after the U.S. launched its invasion of Afghanistan, al Qaeda still remains a force to be reckoned with.
September 29, 2016
On 27 December 2015, China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) passed the country’s first counterterrorism legislation.
September 27, 2016
On August 14, Director of International Cooperation at China’s Central Military Commission, Rear Admiral Guan Youfei, reached a deal to provide humanitarian aid, military training, and intelligence sharing with the Syrian government.
September 14, 2016
How safe is America today? How safe is the world? As we mark the passage of 15 years since September 11, 2001, many surveys indicate that we humans feel pretty darn unsafe.
September 13, 2016
Fifteen years ago, 19 hijackers and four planes shattered American illusions of security. An outside attack seemed remote to most Americans, and there appeared to be no immediate threat to their daily lives.
September 13, 2016
As we mark another 9/11 anniversary, the Cipher Brief asked me to assess the impact of the past 15 years on the American intelligence community.
September 13, 2016
In the aftermath of 9/11, the American intelligence community (IC) went through one of the most transformative periods in its history.
September 11, 2016
The Cipher Brief sat down with Matthew Olsen, Former Head of the National Counterterrorism Center to discuss the progress that the U.S. has made over the last 15 years in the War on Terror. According to Olsen, “While we’ve been successful in preventing large-scale attacks,” the U.S.
September 9, 2016
Reflecting on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, Congressman Will Hurd of Texas said that there have been both successes and room for improvement as the U.S. campaign against terrorism continues. The efforts of the U.S.
September 9, 2016
In 2012, after returning from an overseas tour of duty, I was assigned as the senior National Clandestine Service representative to the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of Congressional Affairs (OCA).  As a career operations officer much more interested in clandestine collection and intellige
September 9, 2016
Sunday marks the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, the date that altered the trajectory of America’s national security apparatus.
August 4, 2016
In the middle of the night on May 17th, 2015, United States military forces entered Syria to capture Abu Sayyaf, a key Islamic State leader involved in the group's financial and hostage-taking operations. As noted by named and unnamed U.S.
July 15, 2016
The latest terrorist attack in Nice, France on Thursday, reminded us of the long struggle in the global war on terrorism since 9/11.  The West has been buffeted by one attack after another lately, and despite our aggressive efforts worldwide, the enemy is resilient and the fight has changed since
May 1, 2016
At 11:00 AM, five years ago Monday, sailors on the USS Carl Vinson watched the shrouded body of Osama bin Laden slide into the North Arabian Sea.
May 1, 2016
Five years ago, U.S. special operations forces killed Osama bin Laden in a raid on his hiding place in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

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