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  • Author: Matthew Levitt, Gilles de Kerchove, Jacob Bundsgaard, Maj. Gen. Doug Stone
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On the margins of the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), global leaders in efforts to rehabilitate radicalized fighters gathered at the Institute to share their insights into what works -- and what doesn't. On February 20, Gilles de Kerchove, Jacob Bundsgaard, Doug Stone, and Matthew Levitt addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Kerchove is the European Union Counterterrorism Coordinator. Bundsgaard is Lord Mayor of Aarhus, Denmark, and a prominent player in the city's widely known jihadist rehabilitation program. Stone, a retired Marine major general, oversaw all theatre interrogation and detention in Iraq during the post- 2006 surge; he now works for the UN and helped develop the Rome Memorandum, the seminal best-practices compendium for rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist offenders. Levitt is the Fromer-Wexler Fellow and director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Institute. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Denmark, Rome
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The group's legal challenge will likely succeed for now, but the EU can reinstate the ban by relying on the plethora of evidence from European terrorism cases involving Hamas. In the latest sign of the legal troubles facing the European Union's designation regime -- the authority under which governments can freeze funds and economic resources of illicit actors -- the EU General Court is expected to annul the terrorist designation of Hamas on December 17. The judgment comes on the heels of a similar action in October that annulled the Council of the European Union's designation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on similarly procedural grounds. Although the new judgment is not expected to acquit Hamas of charges related to violence, it comes at a time when the group's terrorist and militant activities are on the rise. And like the LTTE, Hamas will surely point to the judgment as "evidence" that it is not a terrorist entity.
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Rob Bertholee
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: An intensive discussion covering the role of the Syria campaign, advances by the new generation of European jihadists, and steps the Dutch government is taking to understand and reduce the problem.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Syria
  • Author: Stephen Tankel
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In his February 2 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair highlighted the growing danger posed by Pakistani militant organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Calling the group a "special case," he asserted that it is "becoming more of a direct threat and is placing Western targets in Europe in its sights." He also expressed concern that it could "actively embrace" a more anti-Western agenda. Given its global capabilities with regard to fundraising, logistics, support, and operations, LeT could pose a serious threat to U.S. interests. Consequently, weakening it should be a high priority for Washington.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Europe, Washington, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Stefanie Peterson
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: At a ceremony near the southern Iranian coastal city of Bushehr this Saturday, Russia will begin the process of loading fuel rods into Iran's first civilian nuclear reactor. Theoretically distinct from the rest of the regime's disturbing nuclear program, the Bushehr plant nevertheless remains a major international concern. The low-enriched uranium in the fuel rods would, if diverted, substantially increase Iran's existing stock of the material, which many suspect is already being used to develop nuclear weapons. Even if they were used solely for electricity generation, the rods would eventually produce plutonium-rich residue that could also be reprocessed for use in a weapon. For Iran, the Bushehr event will be a gesture of defiance against U.S.-led international pressure; for Russia, a sign of Moscow's different diplomatic approach to the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran; and for the United States, an exception to the tightening sanctions regime, which officials claim is forcing Tehran to reconsider the wisdom of its policies.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Asia, Moscow
  • Author: Myriam Benraad
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last month, Kamal Hassan, a Somali-American living in Minnesota, pled guilty to training and fighting with al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group in Somalia. In July, two other Somali-Americans in Minnesota pled guilty to similar charges, with the FBI continuing to investigate more than a dozen others who may have traveled from the United States to Somalia. The FBI also recently arrested seven individuals in North Carolina on terrorism-related charges, including one who had spent time in Afghan training camps. These and other recent events have raised new concerns in the United States about the threat of homegrown radicalization.
  • Topic: Security, Crime, Terrorism, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, Europe, Washington, North Carolina
  • Author: Erdal Tatli
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In June 2007, Turkey decided to turn its back on European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) after a long series of negotiations with the EU. Although the Cyprus issue has always complicated Turkey's involvement in ESDP, Turkey has been an important actor in Western security architecture for decades, and its withdrawal from the force has profound implications for the United States, Europe, and Western security institutions, including NATO.
  • Topic: NATO
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Antonia Ruiz Jimenez
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In February 2008, Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) passed two constitutional amendments that intend to lift the ban on Islamic headscarves on college campuses. Although it is still unclear how the legislation will be implemented, the new laws are likely to have a negative impact on how the European Union sees Turkey. Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan states that the amendments protect individual and religious freedom -- two rights that are guaranteed under the EU's common legislative body. However, as the controversy surrounding the issue continues, the legal ambiguity created by the case could alienate Europe, making Turkey's EU accession bid even more difficult.
  • Topic: Civil Society
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Emanuele Ottolenghi
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: When the UN Security Council approved the third round of sanctions against Iran by adopting Resolution 1803 in March 2008, U.S. policymakers anticipated that the European Union would follow past practice and enact additional punitive measures. Almost two months later, however, Europeans are still at loggerheads on how best to implement the resolution, with several countries -- mostly the ones with strong commercial interests in Iran -- still adamant that the EU should not go beyond the text of the resolution. The EU could resolve this internal dispute by refocusing its sanctions debate on Iran's human rights record, an issue on which it is often easier to build consensus in Europe.
  • Topic: United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Antonia Ruiz Jimenez
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In February 2007, the Austrian government became the latest member of the European Union to propose a referendum on Turkish accession, citing "differences in values and standards" between Turkey and the EU. Recent data, however, reveals that these cultural differences are not so pronounced. And at a time when Turkey's EU accession faces challenges, highlighting shared Turkish and European values could greatly enhance the prospect for Turkey's membership.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Austria
  • Author: Abdulkadir Onay
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Earlier this month, Europol -- the European Union law enforcement agency that handles criminal intelligence -- released its annual Terrorism Situation and Trend Report, part of which addresses the European criminal activities of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The release comes on the heels of a March 29 German report outlining considerable details about PKK activities in Germany. Although these reports help illustrate the extent of the group's European infrastructure, many European governments have still not taken serious steps to counter the threat, despite the PKK's presence on the EU's terrorism list.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Abdulkadir Onay
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 13, Frank Urbancic, deputy counterterrorism coordinator at the State Department, told CNN-Turk, "The PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party] is like the mafia all over Europe." He added that in addition to its terrorist presence in Europe, the PKK has an "octopus-like structure carrying out criminal activity, including drug and people smuggling" to raise funds, as well as "fronts that provide cover to the organization's criminal and terror activities."
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 9, Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) passed two constitutional amendments legalizing a specific women's headscarf on college campuses. The Turkish turban -- not to be confused with the South Asian male turban -- first emerged in the country in the 1980s and has long represented an extremely divisive political issue. Turkey's European-style secularism, which keeps religion and its symbols out of government and education, considers the headwear a political symbol -- a sentiment with which AKP prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan seemed to agree in public remarks he made on January 15. For nearly two decades, the secular view had led Turkish courts to ban the turban in certain public contexts. Now that the headwear is permitted on campuses, what will happen next in Turkey? And what implications might this legislation hold for the United States?
  • Topic: Civil Society
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, South Asia, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Richard Barrett
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In early September, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) -- the highest court in the European Union -- ruled that the EU's application of UN sanctions against Yasin Qadi and the al-Barakaat International Foundation infringed their basic rights, and declared the action illegal under EU law. Although the judgment applies only to these two parties, the ruling has far-reaching consequences, for not only the EU but also the entire UN system of targeted sanctions.
  • Topic: Terrorism, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Taliban
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The two main topics in Turkey today are the booming economy and worries about the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The political stability provided by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which came to power in 2002, has resulted in a notably strong economic growth. As a result, Turkey now benefits from an improved European-style infrastructure, a dynamic private sector, and a vibrant middle class. The country's major businesses, most of which are secular, have benefited significantly from the economic growth and are generally supportive of the AKP, although some seem to disagree with the party's social and cultural agenda.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Public remarks by top U.S., Israeli, and Palestinian officials this week indicate that the character of the upcoming Middle East peace conference in Annapolis has changed. First, instead of the expected pre-conference declaration of final status -- principles and conceptual tradeoffs on core issues such as Jerusalem, borders, security, and refugees -- Annapolis will only mark the beginning of negotiations on these issues. Second, the November conference will attempt to revive the moribund Quartet Roadmap laid out by the United States, UN, European Union, and Russia in 2003, with particular focus on the plan's first phase: cooperative on-the-ground action by both sides to improve Palestinian security performance and curb Israeli settlement activity, among other issues. Finally, the United States will seek to use Annapolis as a means of galvanizing international support for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas.
  • Topic: Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The October 20 announcement of Ali Larijani's resignation as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) has intensified pressure on President Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad. Faced with criticism over the resignation, Tehran ensured that Larijani attended the Iran-European Union (EU) nuclear talks in Rome on October 23. His continued presence in the negotiations raises serious questions about who is in charge of Iran's nuclear policy and other key issues, making the regime's intentions even more of an enigma to the Europeans. As EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana stated after the Rome meeting, "I found the same Larijani I had met before, and he had the role of chief negotiator."
  • Topic: Government, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, Tehran, Rome
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 3, 550 British troops evacuated one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces in Basra via the Shatt al-Arab waterway, retreating to Basra airport, the last British base in Iraq. Britain remains responsible for security in the city and for the major supply route from Kuwait, fifty miles to the south. But there is an increasing presumption that British forces will soon withdraw completely, and that U.S. forces will have to replace them.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, United Kingdom, Europe, Middle East, Kuwait
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 29-30, just over a month after taking over from Tony Blair, new British prime minister Gordon Brown will meet with President Bush at Camp David. It will be the first opportunity for direct, substantive discussions between the two leaders and is widely expected to be a difficult summit. Brown is seen as wanting to establish a very different -- and cooler -- relationship with Bush. Although the effect of this public distancing on longstanding U.S.-British cooperation is uncertain at the moment, the change in substance and style will no doubt have implications for current policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the way the two leaders relate in the event of future crises.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Britain, Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 17, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell released declassified key judgments from a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on "The Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland." According to the NIE -- which represents the intelligence community's collective view on a given issue -- al-Qaeda still has both the capability and intent to conduct an attack inside the United States and will increase its efforts to place operatives in the country. Terrorists coming from Europe pose a particularly serious risk. Yet, in addition to remaining a major threat to the United States, al-Qaeda has made clear through recent statements and actions that it poses a serious threat to many U.S. allies as well -- and that its definition of success is no longer limited to an attack on U.S. soil.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe