Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State: Gaging Failure and Success in Online Jihad

Somers.jpg

We always hear about the overwhelming social media campaigns by the Islamic State (IS), and how they flood the internet with gruesome images of beheadings, threats, military achievements, and victories. But what about al-Qaeda (AQ) fighters and supporters? After all, geographically speaking, they include a much larger array of areas and groups, from AQ in Afghanistan, Shabaab al-Mujahideen in Somalia, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Algeria, and al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).

Continue reading
  15537 Hits
15537 Hits

Luke Somers and the Transformed Business of Hostage-Taking

Somers.jpg

On December 3, 2014, SITE Intelligence Group released a video from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), showing a hostage identifying as a British-American citizen named Luke Somers, calmly but sincerely pleading for his life. Before Somers’s plea, AQAP official Nasser bin Ali al-Ansi discusses American foreign policy in Muslim countries, including Yemen, and claims that Somers will suffer an “inevitable fate” if the U.S. does not meet the group’s demands (not specified in the video) in three days.

Continue reading
  10460 Hits
10460 Hits

What Makes Today’s Terrorists Tick?

parade.jpg

"The only way to achieve results," a Japanese leftwing terrorist explained in 1972, "is to shock the world right down to its socks." More than four decades later, with the beheading of three Americans in a matter of months, there can be little doubt that the Islamic State (IS) has indeed achieved that result.

Continue reading
  15106 Hits
15106 Hits

U.S. Strategy against the Islamic State and Nusra Front: A Reconsideration

 

IS-victory.jpg

The decision by the U.S. government to double the number of American forces in Iraq suggests that the current strategy against the extremists is not working.  The U.S. has carried out numerous airstrikes and is lending support to the Kurds, moderate Syrian rebels, the Iraqi government, and anti-Islamic State (IS) tribal forces, but this has not stopped IS or al-Qaeda’s (AQ) affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (JN or al-Nusra Front), helped the situation in Syria or Iraq, or ended the threat to the homeland. The persistence of these challenges in the face of U.S. action might require a reconsideration of the level of effort necessary to prevent further atrocities and stop the extremists.

Continue reading
  10351 Hits
10351 Hits

The Islamic State Surges

Islamic-State-Surges.jpg

The Islamic State (IS) has begun a new offensive on the Yazidis and Kurds in Northern Iraq. While reports are still tentative, it seems that IS has launched a three-pronged incursion into areas that they were previously expelled from by Peshmerga fighters and Iraqi security forces.

Continue reading
  11851 Hits
11851 Hits