Threats new and old, at home and from abroad.
Nearly a decade ago, five young men from the Washington, D.C., suburbs disappeared. Confusion about their whereabouts caused a panic within the national security community, which was only made worse by their reappearance a few days later when they were arrested in Pakistan for allegedly attempting to join Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the charity wing of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terrorist organization.
Editor’s Note: Programs to counter violent extremism seemed under siege in the early days of the Trump administration, with officials questioning their focus and very purpose. Seamus Hughes and Haroro J. Ingram, of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, argue that far less has changed than most people recognize. Despite a lot of rhetoric, U.S. government CVE programs have a similar orientation as they did under Obama but remain underfunded and inadequate.
On Jan. 9, the People’s Defense Units (YPG) announced the capture of eight individuals, ostensibly foreign fighters for the Islamic State, in a series of operations conducted by the group near the town of Deir-ez-Zor in eastern Syria. Reportedly among the captured are fighters from seven different countries.
On the morning of Jan. 6, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced that it had captured five Islamic State foreign fighters in Syria, including two reported U.S. citizens. The SDF identified the American captives as Zaid Abed al-Hamid, a 35-year-old from an undisclosed location in the U.S, and Warren Christopher Clark, a 34-year-old from Houston, Tex. If Clark’s capture is verified, it adds another chapter to years-long efforts to investigate into American Islamic State members.
Editor’s Note: Israel, France, the United Kingdom, and other countries that have faced a persistent terrorism threat have found that putting terrorists in jail does not solve the problem. In jail, terrorists network and proselytize, making the problem worse. Lorenzo Vidino and Seamus Hughes of George Washington University's Program on Extremism warn that released jihadists in the United States may pose a similar problem and call for a more comprehensive approach that recognizes and counters the risks of prison.
This week, Facebook and YouTube announced new data on removal of terrorist content on their platforms. Facebook also released its internal document clarifying what content stays online and what is deleted.