Beyond the Wire - 28 JUL 17
July 28, 2017
Beyond the Wire is going on hiatus as TNT wraps up our next chapters of the Foreign Fighter study. Thanks for reading, and we’ll be back soon!
Your daily briefing on the state of the world and the state of the art for all things Transnational Threats.
Is terrorism getting boring?
Criminologist Simon Cottee explains how recent, low-level Islamic State terror attacks do not create anger-inducing theatrical spectacles like 9/11 and are “distinctly half-assed affairs, featuring a cast of B-movie wannabe thespians.” Cottee believes that these attacks make terrorism “less terrifying” and the frequency of these attacks leads them to become largely normalized in society. (TNT Comment: Cottee rightly points out that unspectacular attacks are just that. However, growing security-driven nationalism across Europe may suggest the public is not as inured to terrorism as Cottee suggests.)
Al Qaeda announces presence in Kashmir.
For the first time, an al Qaeda-linked propaganda network announced that a former Hizbul Mujahideen commander will head the new Ansar Ghawzat-ul-Hind, which Stars and Stripes notes likely has fewer than a dozen members. (TNT Comment: Al Qaeda previously announced the formation of al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent in 2014, to little avail. It remains to be seen if the new group’s tactics, funding, or effectiveness will differ from that of its HM predecessor.)
The UN agrees with TNT.
The United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism released a report asserting that foreign fighters serving as foot soldiers in Iraq and Syria come from backgrounds where they “lack opportunity, are disadvantaged economically, lack education and have poor labor prospects.” The report states that religious belief also played a minimal role as a push factor for FTFs. Instead, most FTFs are attracted to unresolved conflicts where they feel the communities with which they identify abroad are being victimized. (TNT Comment: The report corroborates TNT conclusions that suggest volunteers mobilize via social and personal networks. The report also echoes TNT analysis that in many cases, individuals “did not go to Syria with the intention of becoming a terrorist" but were disillusioned by realities on the ground.)
Experts talk on U.S. CT policy. Brett McGurk, Jennifer Cafarella, Matthew Levitt, Joshua Geltzer and Charles Lister discuss U.S. counterterrorism policy in Syria and Iraq and the administration’s response to long-term instability and radicalization in a segment filmed yesterday. (MEI)
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif steps down on Supreme Court order. Pakistan’s high court ordered his removal following accusations of corruption relating to his children’s property in London owned through offshore companies. (NYT)
Iraqi officials: 7,000 Islamic State members still in Iraq. Speaking on condition of anonymity, two Iraqi security officials asserted that 4,000 ISIS militants and 3,000 supporters remain in Iraq, while 7,000 militants and 5,000 supporters remain in Syria. (DailyStar)
New Islamic State video threatens Iran. A teenage boy in military uniform asserts that “we will destroy your land your home, we will disrupt your security and we will shed your blood into rivers.” (VOA)
United States announces names of seven Islamic State propagandists killed. Rayaan Meshaal, the “head and founder” of the Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency, was among those killed. (FDD)
Indonesia struggling to halt drug problem. Head of Indonesia’s anti-narcotics agency, Commissioner General Budi Waseso, asserted that Indonesia is only stopping a fraction of the drugs pouring across its borders and that 72 international drug organizations currently operate within the country. (Reuters)
Attempted raid kills 30 in Nigeria. The Nigerian military and members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) attempted to rescue an oil exploration team kidnapped by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria in an effort that left 30 civilians and military dead. (Reuters)
Saudi Arabia shoots down Houthi missile headed for Mecca. According to the Houthi rebel group and its allies, the Burkan-1 missile was targeting the King Fah air base in Taif, yet the Saudis state it was “a desperate attempt to spoil the haj pilgrimage.” (Reuters)
Islamic State purports to kill 53 SDF fighters. Islamic State militants on motorcycles carried out an attack against the U.S.-backed SDF in Karama, yet a spokeswoman with the SDF announced that the Islamic State had exaggerated the death count. (DailyStar)
Palestinian killed in stabbing attempt. The Palestinian national was shot dead by Israeli security forces after attempting to stab the soldiers at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank. (DailyStar)
Pro regime forces reach outskirts of Sukhneh. Sukhneh is the last ISIS-held town on the road to a besieged Assad enclave in Deir Ezzor, where pro-regime forces have been surrounded by the Islamic State since 2015.
U.S.-backed opposition commander purportedly defects to Syrian Arab Army. Abu Al Hos, the military commander of the U.S.-backed group Jaysh Mughawir al Thoura, purportedly defected to the SAA with several fighters and vehicles. (AlMasdar)
In the Weeds
More on Syria
The Problem With Syria’s Demographics (ForeignAffairs)
Putin signs Syria base deal, cementing Russia's presence there for half a century (Reuters)
On the Syrian frontline, the battle against Isis is reaching its crescendo (Independent)
U.S.-Backed Syrian Fighters Have Taken Almost Half of Raqqa from ISIS (Time)