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Abstract: This Policy Brief examines the real and imagined influence of al-Qa‘ida in North Africa and the Sahel. Despite a perception of the transnationalization of terrorist movements in North Africa under al-Qa‘ida’s banner, robust evidence of an effective al-Qa‘ida’s expansion in the Maghreb and the Sahara/Sahel region remains elusive at best. Rather, doubts about al-Qa‘ida’s actual threat and the efficacy of international response in the context of pervasive state failure in the Sahel raise questions regarding the policy objectives of US-led counter-terrorism in the region.
Abstract: This publication draws attention to one of the most crucial yet overlooked humanitarian issues of today: violence against health care. Attacking health-care structures and personnel, and ambulances – as well as deliberately obstructing the efforts of the wounded to find help – are common features of conflicts throughout the world.
In Sri Lanka and Somalia, hospitals have been shelled; in Libya and Lebanon, ambulances have been shot at; in Bahrain, medical personnel who treated protesters are on trial; and in Afghanistan, the wounded languish for hours in vehicles held up in checkpoint queues. From Colombia to Gaza, and from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Nepal, there is a lack of respect for the neutrality of health-care facilities and personnel, and medical vehicles, among both those attacking them and those who misuse them for military gain.
The ICRC has been documenting violence against health-care facilities and personnel, and against patients, since 2008 in 16 countries where it is working. The number of incidents that have been recorded is striking. But statistics represent only the tip of the iceberg: they do not capture the compounded cost of violence – health-care staff leaving their posts, hospitals running out of supplies and vaccination campaigns coming to a halt. These knock-on effects dramatically limit access to health care for entire communities, many of whose members may be suffering from chronic or war-related health problems.
Abstract: This report is published by the Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq -UNAMI- in cooperation with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights -OHCHR- under their respective mandates. Information for this report has been gathered from direct monitoring by UNAMI as well as from a variety of other sources, including Government, UN Agencies, civil society, NGOs and media. It covers the period from 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2010. The draft of this Report was submitted to the Government of Iraq and the Government of the Kurdistan Region prior to publication and their views are referred to in the text or footnoted where appropriate.
Abstract: Three years after their August 2008 war over the South Ossetia region, tension is growing again between Russia and Georgia, and talks are needed to restore stability and create positive momentum in a situation that is fragile and potentially explosive. Diplomatic relations are suspended, and the two have only started limited negotiations, with Swiss mediation, on Russia’s World Trade Organisation membership. Yet, they share interests in improving regional security, trade and transport and should start discussions on these rather than continuing to exchange hostile rhetoric that only makes renewed dialogue more difficult.
Lack of contact has increased distrust since the fighting ended. For Georgia, Russia is an occupier who is undermining its sovereignty and security. While almost the entire international community regards South Ossetia and Abkhazia as parts of sovereign Georgia, Russia recognised both as independent shortly after the war. Moscow maintains an estimated 7,000 to 9,000 combat, security, and border forces in those two territories and is building and refurbishing permanent military bases there, in violation of the ceasefire brokered by the EU presidency in 2008. Some 20,000 persons displaced that year have been prevented from returning home, and casualties still occur along the administrative border lines.
Abstract: Scores were killed in Syria as security forces backed by tanks launched an assault on the restive central city of Hama and other towns and cities, at the end of a month which saw hundreds of thousands take to the streets as daily anti-regime protests continued to spread. Syrian rights groups reported that more than 1,600 people have been killed and at least 12,000 arrested since the unrest began in March.
In Yemen violence escalated in Arhab, a mountainous area northeast of the capital Sanaa, where at least 40 were killed at the end of the month in clashes between government forces and armed tribesmen loyal to the opposition.
The UN declared a state of famine in Somalia's Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions, both controlled by Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab, following the worst drought in half a century and protracted instability.
There were hopes for political reconciliation in Burundi, as opposition parties welcomed President Pierre Nkurunziza's 30 June Independence Day speech inviting opposition leaders to return from exile and resume talks with the government.
In Malawi security forces used live ammunition to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters from 20-21 July, leaving at least eighteen people dead.
At least one presidential guard was killed on 19 July during two separate attacks on the home of Guinea's President Alpha Condé. Security forces arrested 38 people in connection with the attacks, including 25 military personnel. Most of those arrested have links with former junta leader Sekouba Konaté.
Ethnic violence flared in Pakistan's second city and commercial hub Karachi, leaving more than 200 people dead. July was the deadliest month in decades for clashes between supporters of the mainly Pashtun Awami National Party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, representing the Urdu-speaking majority.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban stepped up their assassination campaign against government officials and key allies of President Hamid Karzai. Ahmed Wali Karzai, the president's half-brother and influential governor of volatile Kandahar province, was killed by his own bodyguard on 12 July, while the mayor of Kandahar city and a top adviser to the president died in separate suicide attacks later in the month.
Tensions soared in Kosovo late month after Kosovo special police attempted to take control of two customs posts in the north to enforce a new ban on imports from Serbia, triggering a violent response from Kosovo Serbs.
Abstract: The war in Iraq remains a critical aspect of US national security, and involves more vital US strategic interests than the conflict in Afghanistan. Estimates by the Energy Information Agency of the Department of Energy indicate that the US and global economy will not reduces their strategic dependence on the Gulf petroleum exports through 2035, and Iraq’s future alignments with the US will be critical to determining our ability to contain Iran and ensure the security of our Arab allies and Israel.
It is also clear that Iraq still has an uncertain capability to deal with its extremist and terrorist threats, deter any foreign threats and pressure, and limit the risk of new outbreaks of ethnic and sectarian violence without US aid. The fact that Iraq’s leadership has agreed to ask some US forces to stay is only one indication of the issues involved, and the problems that have been highlighted by other research centers like RAND and the ICG. Iraq still has broad needs for US aid and assistance, and it will be years before rises in its petroleum revenues will allow it to fully fund its internal security and development, and create military forces strong enough to ensure its security against neighbors like Iran. The Burke Chair has developed a new series of summary briefings on on Iraq that highlight recent developments in the war, as well as trends in Iraq’s security, its politics and governance, its economy, and its security forces.
The three briefings in this series also provide an overview of developments in the Iraqi energy sector and the current capabilities and size of Iraqi security forces (ISF), and their dependence on aid. They summarize the cost of the war to date to the US, the patterns in the withdrawal of US forces, and current plans for the US military withdrawal from Iraq. They also provide a summary of plans for a US State Department-led effort to create a strategic partnership with Iraq under the Strategic Framework Agreement.
The briefs include the following documents:
Iraq in Transition: Security, Iraqi Forces, and US Security Aid Plans. This brief highlights the timelines and history that have shaped Iraq since the US invasion in 2003. It also highlights the fact that violence in Iraq remains a major problem, and that there are still serious limits to the capabilities of Iraq’s security forces and there is a need for continued US security assistance.
Iraq in Transition: Governance, Politics, Economics, and Petroleum. This brief warns that Iraq still lacks effective governance, its politics remain highly unstable and threaten the success of a truly democratic government, and that its economy will need years of development to rescue the bulk of its people from poverty and fund a stable path towards development.
Iraq in Transition: US Transition Plans and Aid. This brief summarizes current US transition plans, the history of international and US aid flows, and the problems and successes in the US aid effort. It warns of the future difficulties the US will face in making aid effective, particularly as it shifts to a much lower profile of aid in governance and economics with minimal funding.
Abstract: This White House report, "Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States", was released on August 3, 2011. The report is the "President’s plan for how the Federal Government will support and help empower American communities and their local partners to prevent violent extremism".
Abstract: The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) convened a meeting of a Task Force on Indicators of Radicalization. The meeting was held October 15-16, 2009, at the ACE Conference Center in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania. The primary goal of the Task Force was to offer collective judgment about the value and feasibility of using archival data, often available at the community level (county, city, town, precinct, or tract), to conduct research on radicalization in the United States. The Task Force considered possible community-level indicators of radicalization and explored existing data sources (excluding data from attitudinal surveys) to assess whether those data might be applicable and relevant to the study of radicalization and violent extremism. The Task Force discussed and examined the research investments that could be made (by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or by other funders) to facilitate work in this area. The Task Force explored potential research projects involving both analysis of readily available data and longer-term initiatives involving new data collection efforts. This report provides an overview of the discussions at the meeting and the research agenda discussed as well as future recommendations.
Abstract: The purpose of the study was to obtain state-police agencies estimates about possible cooperation between far-right extremists and Islamic Jihadists to commit crimes, and the threat posed by specified extremist groups. Towards this goal, a survey was mailed to the 50 state police agencies in the United States. The survey also asked about the types of crimes far-right extremists commit. Forty-two states (84%) responded, with 37 states (74%) submitting completed surveys.
Abstract: During the 43 years since 1968, the
year when Palestinian terror groups
began to attack Jewish and Israeli
targets outside the Middle East, some
427 recorded attacks and foiled or
aborted plots are known to have
These 427 actual and foiled terrorist
attacks have included plots by
Palestinian nationalists, neo-Nazis,
radical leftists and, most recently,
both Shiite and Sunni Islamists.
The early 1980s saw the highest
number of attacks, which coincided
with the largest number of terrorist
attacks against all other targets, in
Europe and Latin America.
Since 2000, the countries with the
highest number of attacks, both
successful and foiled, have been the
United States (eight attacks), Morocco
(five attacks), the United Kingdom (five
attacks) and Germany (four attacks).
Jewish communities were the target of
250 attacks or foiled attacks, whereas
Israel-linked institutions and individuals
were the target in 189 cases. Of the
250 attacks on Jewish communities,
Jewish community buildings,
organisations and events were the most
frequently attacked (96 incidents).
Synagogues were the targets of 88
actual and attempted terrorist attacks,
while Jewish schools were targets on
The organisations responsible for
the largest numbers of attacks, both
successful and foiled, during the period
covered by the report are the Palestine
Liberation Organisation (PLO) and its
various affiliates, with 35 attacks;
the Popular Front for the Liberation
of Palestine (PFLP), with 31 attacks;
Abu Nidal’s Fatah Revolutionary Council
(FRC, 24 attacks); Al-Qaeda and its
affiliates (19 attacks); and Hizbollah
A total of 208 incidents involved
bombings and employed improvised
explosive devices of all kinds;
76 incidents involved shootings;
while 27 incidents involved letter or
parcel bombs. These are the normal
modus operandi of sub-state actors.
Twelve attacks involved vehicle-borne
bombs and seven plots involved
suicide bombers. In 80 cases, attacks
were interdicted by the authorities,
aborted or otherwise foiled during
the planning stages.
Abstract: The Combating Terrorism Center is an
independent educational and research
institution based in the Department of social
sciences at the United states Military Academy,
West point. The CTC sentinel harnesses
the Center’s global network of scholars and
practitioners to understand and confront
contemporary threats posed by terrorism and
other forms of political violence.
Abstract: Successful counterinsurgency requires getting insurgents to switch sides. Former insurgents provide an invaluable source of information on their previous colleagues, and can ultimately cause momentum to shift toward counterinsurgent forces. This document examines reintegrating mid- and low-level insurgents into their local communities in Afghanistan and outlines steps to facilitate that reintegration process. The author discusses the factors that increase the likelihood of reintegrating fighters and the key options for fighters as they consider reintegration. Finally, he outlines operational and tactical steps that should be taken when insurgents consider reintegration.
Abstract: This report explores how the Haqqani network has historically functioned as a nexus organization and as a strategic enabler of local, regional and global forms of Islamist militancy. Specific attention is placed on examining the Haqqani network’s support for al-Qa`ida and its global jihad, and more recently the Pakistani Taliban. The report is based on a review of three jihadist magazines released in Pashto, Urdu and Arabic by the Haqqani network from 1989-1993; a series of digital videos produced by the group since 2001; and various memoirs written by al-Qa’ida linked fighters present in Afghanistan during the period under study (1973-2010). The authors also reviewed several thousand pages of letters written to and from Haqqani commanders during the 1980s and 1990s, which were captured in Afghanistan after the U.S. invasion and have since been stored in the Department of Defense’s Harmony database. The report’s key findings provide insight into the Haqqani network’s identity and role; the nature of its relationships and the history and development of al-Qa’ida.
Abstract: South and Central Somalia has been the scene of armed conflict since the collapse of Siad
Barre’s government twenty years ago. Children born in 1991 in this part of Somalia and who
are entering their 20th year have never known respect for human rights, peace, the rule of law
and an effective government. While armed conflict has devastated Somali society as a whole,
children, who represent more than half the estimated population of Somalia, have been
particularly vulnerable to its impact. As a 15 year-old Somali boy said to Amnesty
International in March 2010: “Most of my life I have lived in fear”. Somalia is one of only
two states in the world - with the United States of America (USA) - that have not ratified the
Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The last two decades, marked by conflict between warlords and clans competing for
resources, have seen the disintegration of public services and have taken a massive toll on
the provision of healthcare and education to the Somali population, their access to food,
water and other basic amenities. According to the available indicators from United Nations
(UN) agencies, the mortality rate for children under five in Somalia is estimated at
200/1,000 in 2011, an increase since 2010; there is one nurse or midwife and 0.5
medical doctor per 10,000 people.
According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), only 23
per cent of children of primary school age are enrolled in or attend primary school in Soma
the world primary school net enrolment/ attendance average ratio is 85 per cent.
prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Somalia is estimated at 98 per cent,
is primarily girls aged between four and 11 who undergo the procedure.
Abstract: This report presents substantial information warranting criminal investigations of Bush and senior administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and CIA Director George Tenet, for ordering practices such as “waterboarding,” the use of secret CIA prisons, and the transfer of detainees to countries where they were tortured.
Abstract: Blamed for the large-scale terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) has gained prominence as one of the world’s most fearsome terrorist groups. In a Q&A;, Stephen Tankel discusses the growing threat posed by LeT and the group’s relationship with Pakistan’s government and security forces.
Tankel, author of the new book Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba, explains what should be done to limit LeT’s reach and prevent a fresh attack in South Asia from bringing two nuclear powers to the brink of war.
Abstract: This report provides the first global study of how the U.S.
government’s (USG) counter-terrorism efforts profoundly implicate and impact women and sexual
minorities. Over the last decade of the United States’ “War on Terror,” the oft-unspoken assumption
that men suffer the most—both numerically and in terms of the nature of rights violations endured—
has obscured the way women and sexual minorities experience counter-terrorism, rendering their rights
violations invisible to policymakers and the human rights community alike. This failure to consider either
the differential impacts of counter-terrorism on women, men, and sexual minorities or the ways in which
such measures use and affect gender stereotypes and relations cannot continue. As the USG leads a
world-wide trend toward a more holistic approach to countering terrorism that mobilizes the 3Ds—defense,
diplomacy, and development—and increasingly emphasizes the role of women in national security, the
extent to which counter-terrorism efforts include and impact women and sexual minorities is set to rise. As
the ten-year anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001 approaches, now is the time for the USG and
governments the world-over to take stock of, redress, and deter the gender-based violations that occur in
a world characterized by the proliferation of terrorism and counter-terrorism and the squeezing of women
and sexual minorities between the two.
Abstract: President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s authoritarian and Sinhalese nationalist post-war policies are undermining prospects for reconciling Sri Lanka’s ethnic communities, weakening democracy for all Sri Lankans and increasing the risk of a return to violent conflict.
Reconciliation in Sri Lanka: Harder than Ever , the latest report from the International Crisis Group, analyses how the Rajapaksa government continues to use its war-time “with us or against us” paradigm to consolidate power and deny the Tamil minority’s legitimate grievances against the state.
“Two years since the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Sri Lanka is further from reconciliation than ever”, says Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “President Rajapaksa and his powerful brothers continue to repress the media and political opponents, while manipulating elections and silencing civil society”.
Decades of political violence and civil war have polarised Sri Lanka’s ethnic communities and politicised institutions, particularly those involved in law and order. Each of the major ethnic groups – Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims – has suffered immensely. Conflicts have left hundreds of thousands dead, injured or displaced and entrenched fears and misunderstandings in each community.
Instead of addressing these post-war challenges, the government has increasingly co-opted opponents, undermined institutions and cut minorities out of decisions on their economic and political futures, clinging to its claim that the war was about “terrorism” and not an ethnic conflict. It has controlled narratives both within and outside the country, reacting furiously to any challenge to the official version. Its hand is strengthened by the unwillingness of much of the million-strong Tamil diaspora to recognise the brutality of the LTTE and its share of responsibility for a largely broken Tamil society.
Abstract: The aim of this research was to see whether the groups/cells and their 38 core individuals who had taken part in the six most serious terrorist conspiracies and attacks in the UK between 2004 and 2007, all of which were driven by the ideology of violent Jihadism as espoused by Al Qaeda, exhibited any specific types of behaviour. In each case the terrorists successfully launched or unsuccessfully attempted an attack, or were arrested and convicted of conspiring to carry out a terrorist attack. The research provides a detailed examination of the behaviours exhibited by violent Jihadist groups/cells and the individuals within them.
The report outlines the history and background before examining the organisation, characteristics and behaviour of the groups/cells involved. It also examines individual behaviours carried out on behalf of the group/cell and individual behaviour more broadly. It demonstrates there are certain distinctive behavioural characteristics displayed with their planning, preparation and implementation of an act of terrorism. The six UK case studies show three categories of behaviours, from "radicalisation" into "transition to violent Jihad" and finally to "terrorist attack planning and preparation".
These findings open up the possibility of identifying through their behaviour individuals and groups engaged in the planning and preparation of a terrorist attack, thus allowing such attacks to be prevented or disrupted before they can be implemented. However, additional refinement and testing will be necessary to identify substantive "signal indicators" of potential use to police and security forces.
Abstract: Al Shabaab is an al Qaeda-affiliated organization that has risen rapidly to prominence in the midst of Somalia’s decades-long anarchy. The group has experienced two dramatic transformations in its short history. Originally the small, youth militia arm of a relatively moderate Islamist organization that rose to power in Somalia in early 2006, al Shabaab was radicalized and brought to prominence as a popular Islamist guerilla movement by Ethiopia’s invasion in December of that year. However, since early 2008 al Shabaab has undergone yet another transformation, this time from a largely nationalist organization focused on driving out Ethiopia through conventional military means to a hybrid movement that has increasingly embraced transnational terrorism and attempted to portray itself as part of the al Qaeda-led global war against the West.
Abstract: Searching for the roots of terrorism after the attacks
of 9/11, the world’s attention turned to Pakistan and
to Pakistan’s religious schools, the “madrasas”. This
put pressure on the Pakistani government to reform
the madrasas and ignited a long standing debate on
the role of religious education in Pakistan and its links
to radicalisation and militancy. This policy brief argues
that the madrasa debate is not premised on a fair
description of reality. The madrasa sector is diverse.
The majority of Pakistan’s madrasas are moderate
institutions, concerned with promoting Islamic beliefs
and knowledge. This makes it important to distinguish
between moderate and militant madrasas. Madrasas
must be seen as part of an Islamic tradition of
learning, not primarily as political groups, but rather
as socio-cultural institutions that are revered by many
in Pakistan today.
The madrasa community has resisted state
interference and rejected government control over
curricula in favor of the authority of religious experts.
Likewise, madrasas are wary of financial dependence
on the government, which is associated with state
control. The government’s ambiguous relationship
to militant groups is also condemned by madrasas
who argue that the government is clamping down
on moderate schools, while madrasas known to have
links to militant groups are protected and therefore
Abstract: As the President affirmed in his 2010 National Security Strategy, he bears no greater responsibility than
ensuring the safety and security of the American people. This National Strategy for Counterterrorism
sets out our approach to one of the President’s top national security priorities: disrupting, dismantling,
and eventually defeating al-Qa‘ida and its affiliates and adherents to ensure the security of our citizens
In response to the attacks of September 2001, the United States embarked on a national effort against
al-Qa‘ida, the transnational terrorist organization responsible for planning and conducting the attacks.
As we approach the 10th anniversary of that day, we can look forward with confidence in our accomplishments
and pride in the resiliency of our nation. Yet the paramount terrorist threat we have faced—al-Qa‘ida and its affiliates and adherents—has also
continued to evolve, often in response to the successes of the United States and its partners around the
This National Strategy for Counterterrorism maintains our focus on pressuring al-Qa‘ida’s core
while emphasizing the need to build foreign partnerships and capacity and to strengthen our resilience.
At the same time, our strategy augments our focus on confronting the al-Qa‘ida-linked threats that
continue to emerge from beyond its core safehaven in South Asia.
Abstract: The National Strategy for Counterterrorism, formalizes the approach that President Obama and his Administration have been pursuing and adapting for the past two and half years to prevent terrorist attacks and to deliver devastating blows against al-Qa’ida, including the successful mission to kill Usama bin Laden.
Rather than defining our entire national security policy, this counterterrorism strategy is one part of President Obama’s larger National Security Strategy, which seeks to advance our enduring national security interests, including our security, prosperity, respect for universal values and global cooperation to meet global challenges.
This Strategy builds upon the progress we have made in the decade since 9/11, in partnership with Congress, to build our counterterrorism and homeland security capacity as a nation. It neither represents a wholesale overhaul—nor a wholesale retention—of previous policies and strategies.
Abstract: Opium poppy cultivation has re-emerged in Balkh and Badakhshan in 2011. In Badakhshan,
it has spread across several districts in rainfed areas and, according to informal estimates,
the cultivated area has doubled from official figures of 1,100 hectares (ha) in 2010 to
around 2,200 ha. In Balkh—which was declared “poppy-free” in 2006—opium’s return
has been more location-specific; it is currently being planted openly on a small scale in
Chimtal District. While a rise in opium prices has played an important part, a range of
contextual factors including power, insecurity, social identity, agro-ecology and location
are also important in explaining the crop’s re-emergence, as well as the patterns of
difference within and between the two provinces.
Driven by a fall in production in the South in 2010, the rising price of opium is a
contributing factor to the expansion of cultivation. However, this has also taken place
in the context of a failing rural economy; many households are food insecure, rural
employment is scarce and there is rising insecurity. In the eyes of many rural informants,
promises made in 2006 to support the rural economy as a return for giving up opium
poppy cultivation have not been met. There is also a sense, especially in Badakhshan,
that southern provinces are being rewarded with greater levels of development funding
despite their failure to give up the crop.