Around this time last year, we rang in 2017 with a review of the year that was in the Middle East and a series of questions:
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Last week, a Bangladeshi man set off a pipe bomb in the New York subway in an attempted terrorist attack inspired by the Islamic State. C. Christine Fair, a professor in Georgetown University’s Peace and Security Studies Program, joined Benjamin Wittes to contextualize the incident. They discussed modern Bangladeshi terrorism, the country’s history and governance, and the significance (or lack thereof) of the attack.
Editor’s Note: As the Caliphate collapses, many of its foreign volunteers are fleeing Iraq and Syria. A lot of ink has been spilled (some by me, in fact) on the problem of foreign fighters returning home. However, some of these fighters end up in a third country—not in the Caliphate, but not home either—that is not prepared for the problem. Kim Cragin of the National Defense University examines this huge hole in our thinking. She finds a large problem that demands international action.
Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared on Markaz.
Now that ISIS’s rule in Raqqa is over, both locals and wary external observers are wondering what comes next. The United States government appears intent on avoiding another costly, lengthy, and possibly ineffective Middle East reconstruction mission. Yet it must also consider the consequences of underinvestment and too swift a disengagement.
[Update: Several people reached out after I posted last night, drawing attention to the fact that al-Mourabitoun (also spelled al Murabitun) apparently reunited with AQIM after its initial separation from the group. On the other hand, others reached out to point to indications that the particular leader at the center of the current storm—al Sahraoui—may still lead a splinter faction that resisted/resists the return to the AQIM fold.
Every unhappy terrorist movement is unhappy in its own way, and the global jihadist movement is no exception. Disagreements over targeting, tactics, organization and the fundamental question of what it means to be a good Muslim have plagued the movement since its inception and remain a source of weakness.
A pretty remarkable development in today's House Appropriations markup on the Defense Appopriations bill. For many years, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) has been putting forward amendments intended to repeal or sunset the 2001 AUMF. They normally do not go anywhere. This morning she moved one that would terminate the 2001 AUMF in 240 days, and lo-and-behold the majority went along with it. It passed with only Kay Granger (R-TX) opposing.
Perhaps Guantanamo Won't Get New Detainees After All? An Update on Efforts to Capture Islamic State Leaders
Yesterday, Eric Schmitt had a story in the New York Times providing a rare glimpse into the ongoing activities of the “Expeditionary Targeting Force” (“ETF”).
Early Sunday evening, a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22 that had just completed a bombing run targeting US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the Raqqa region. The episode raises important questions under the U.N. Charter (see Adil Ahmad Haque’s analysis here). But what about U.S. domestic law?
Editor's note: This post is adapted from testimony given by the author before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on June 8. Video of the hearing is available here.