On September 7th, the Brookings Institution convened a discussion of a pilot program to disrupt online ISIS recruitment spearheaded by Jigsaw, a technology think tank run by Alphabet (aka Google). Yasmin Green, Jigsaw's Head of Research and Development, presented the organization's new "Redirect Method," which uses online advertisements to reach out to those who might be susceptible to ISIS propaganda.
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As I noted around this time last year, the 9/11 Commission Report is on the syllabus for my seminar at Georgetown Law, Intelligence Reform and the Modern Intelligence Community. One of the main themes of the report is that, pre-9/11, the Intelligence Community was structured for the Cold War. But, the report cautioned, the 21st Century is and will continue to be one dominated by asymmetric and non-traditional threats; the U.S.
Are you paying attention to Operation Odyssey Lightning, the U.S. air campaign underway for a full month now in Libya? Not many people are, which is interesting considering that we are approaching 100 airstrikes there in four weeks.
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Editor's Note: The U.S. struggle against the Islamic State is hamstrung by too many enemies and too few allies. Not only is the United States fighting the Islamic State, but it also opposes the Syrian regime, Lebanese Hizballah, and Iran, among other forces. Ariane Tabatabai of Georgetown and Dina Esfandiary of King's College argue that U.S. policy is at least partly misguided. They contend that Iran can and should be a major ally in the struggle against the Islamic State.
Twitter won a first round yesterday on the question of whether CDA § 230 immunizes the company against civil lawsuits over its provision of service to terrorist groups. Here's the decision from Judge William Orrick of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California:
Editor's Note: The Islamic State emerged as social media was taking off around the globe, and endless news stories and pundit commentary discusses its skill at mastering this new form of communication. While the ubiquity of Islamic State social media propaganda is clear, its effect is more contested. Seamus Hughes of George Washington's Program on Extremism argues the role of the Internet is real but overblown. If we want to stop terrorist recruitment, it still requires a focus on stopping in-person contact.
Last month, the Islamic State’s official media outlet, al-Furqān, released its first video in over a year, entitled, “The Structure of the Khilafah.” Al-Furqān is known for producing the group’s most horrific propaganda, including infamous footage showing the torture and execution of journalists, aid workers, and POWs, so it is noteworthy that the latest video features relatively little violence.
Politicians and analysts in Europe and the United States understandably focus on the threat the Islamic State poses to the West, and the debate is fierce over whether the group’s recent attacks are a desperate gasp of a declining organization or proof of its growing menace. Such a focus, however, obscures the far greater threat the Islamic State poses to the Middle East and U.S. interests in the region. This threat can be divided into three categories – conquest, expansion, and agitation – all of which have profound implications for U.S. policy and should shape the U.S.
Editor's Note: The Middle East and Iraq and Syria in particular have long enjoyed religious diversity, with a range of Muslim and non-Muslim groups, including some of the world’s oldest Christian communities. The Syrian and Iraqi civil wars have proven devastating to this diversity, raising the policy question of how to protect those religious minorities that have not fled. One possibility being floated is a safe haven within Iraq itself. Gregory Kruczek, a Ph.D.
Will McCants, a Senior Fellow at Brookings and the Director of the Project on US Relations with the Islamic World, comes on the podcast to discuss ISIS’s involvement in the recent spate of terrorist attacks across the globe. To what extent has ISIS really been involved in these attacks? How does its involvement reflect a change in strategy or a response to recent territorial losses? And how does a group that presents itself as a caliphate continue to exist when it loses control of its land?