Islamic State

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Congress

Congress on U.S. Policy Toward Syria and Turkey: An Overview of Recent Hearings

It has been almost three weeks since the president ordered the precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from northeast Syria. The move allowed the Turkish military and its proxies to swiftly invade the area, setting off a cascade of events that has forced America’s Syrian-Kurdish partners to strike a deal with the Assad regime, exposed Kurdish soldiers and civilians to a barrage of attacks, enabled more than 100 ISIS fighters to escape Kurdish detention facilities, and facilitated the growth of Russian and Iranian influence in the region.

Counterterrorism

Targeting al-Baghdadi and Selective Notification to Congress: Assessing the Issues

In the aftermath of the successful operation against Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the fact that the Trump administration gave advance notice to the Russian government and possibly also to some Republican lawmakers—but not to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff or other Democratic lawmakers—is attracting criticism. Is the criticism warranted? Not from a legal perspective. But it’s complicated from there.

Syria

On the Ground in Northern Syria

President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from observation posts in northeastern Syria has paved the way for Turkey’s military offensive into areas inhabited by Syrian Kurds and other minority communities. In a little over two weeks, this region has gone from relative stability to a state of conflict, uncertainty and fragility. Since 2016 we have conducted hundreds of interviews with Syrians from all backgrounds, including current and former members of the Islamic State. We filmed and catalogued the rise of the Islamic State across the region and the caliphate’s subsequent demise.

Afghanistan

Islamic State Affiliate Seeks to Expand in Afghanistan

Afghan intelligence officials reportedly captured a deputy leader of the Islamic State-Khorasan (the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan, also referred to as ISK) near the city of Herat in September. Herat is more than 1,000 kilometers west of ISK’s stronghold in Nangarhar province, and much of Herat province and the surrounding region is contested by the Taliban.

Foreign Policy Essay

Losing Control Over Returnees?

Editor’s Note: Perhaps the biggest counterterrorism challenge facing European states is how to handle their citizens who went to fight in Iraq and Syria and now seek to return. Europe's response has been muddled, with many states reluctant to take responsibility for their nationals yet not advancing an alternative policy. Thomas Renard and Rik Coolsaet of the Egmont Institute assess the problems European states face and outline ways to make the return of foreign fighters less risky and more sustainable.

Daniel Byman

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