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  • Author: Jamille Bigio, Rachel Vogelstein
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Extremist groups rely upon women to gain strategic advantage, recruiting them as facilitators and martyrs while also benefiting from their subjugation. Yet U.S. policymakers overlook the roles that women play in violent extremism—including as perpetrators, mitigators, and victims—and rarely enlist their participation in efforts to combat radicalization. This omission puts the United States at a disadvantage in its efforts to prevent terrorism globally and within its borders. Women fuel extremists’ continued influence by advancing their ideology online and by indoctrinating their families. New technology allows for more sophisticated outreach, directly targeting messages to radicalize and recruit women. It also provides a platform on which female extremists thrive by expanding their recruitment reach and taking on greater operational roles in the virtual sphere. The failure of counterterrorist efforts to understand the ways in which women radicalize, support, and perpetrate violence cedes the benefit of their involvement to extremist groups.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Women
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lasha Giorgidze, James K. Wither
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) materials attract the attention of terrorists motivated to inflict mass casualties and create mass panic. CBRN includes a wide array of materials, some of them very difficult to acquire, although others are of a dual-use nature. Dualuse materials can be used to construct CBRN weapons, but also have licit civilian applications. Though not all CBRN weapons are weapons of mass destruction, they can still cause massive disruption and fear in a targeted society. The goal of this paper is to evaluate the potential threat from terrorists’ use of CBRN weapons. It discusses the technical opportunities and constraints of each type of weapon and presents relevant historical and contemporary examples and case studies involving terrorist use of CBRN. The paper also assesses the contemporary threat. It examines how CBRN-related information is shared via terrorist propaganda on the internet and messaging applications, why terrorists might be motivated to use CBRN materials, and the constraints on their ambitions.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, Internet, Biological Weapons , Chemical Weapons, Radiological Weapons
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Elliot Serbin, Larry Brandt
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International Security and Cooperation
  • Abstract: A collaborative project engaging researchers from the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University and several Chinese nuclear organizations focused on the response to nuclear terrorism threats. A goal of the research was to identify prospective joint research initiatives that might reduce the global and regional dangers of such threats. Initiatives were identified in three technical areas: interdiction of smuggled nuclear and radiological materials; nuclear forensics; and countermeasures to radiological (“dirty bomb”) threats. Application of the methodologies of systems and risk analysis to the framing and initial assessment of these areas was emphasized in the project. The workshop summarized in this report brought together the analysis work from this project and related efforts by both Chinese and U.S. analysts.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, War on Terror
  • Political Geography: China, Global Focus
  • Author: Amanda Pearson
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: It’s an argument we’ve heard before: governments should not negotiate with terrorist organizations that engage in violent activity. This idea is pervasive throughout the academic and policy worlds, but what about public opinion? Do citizens think the government should shun social movements that adopt extreme tactics often associated with terrorist organizations? Social protest takes various forms, and organized social movements have various intentions—from benign disruption to purposeful violence. In their forthcoming paper for Comparative Political Studies, Connor Huff and Dominika Kruszewska look at how the tactical choices of social movements affect public opinion about whether or not—and to what degree—governments should negotiate with social movements.1 In research involving 2,000 Polish citizens, Huff and Kruszewska document what many already believe: people were approximately 30% less likely to support government negotiations with organizations that use bombs compared with occupations. “Our results show that public support decreases for both separatist organizations and social movements that adopt bombing as a tactic when compared against occupations and demonstrations,” they write. The researchers find mixed support for whether respondents think organizations that use bombings should receive fewer concessions once negotiations begin.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Terrorism, Social Movement, Protests, Violence, Demonstrations
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Brian Jenkins, John Lauder
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: After the Cold War and nearly 70 years of waging war against communism, the United States and its key allies have adopted the war against terror as their new organizing principal. The king of terrorist threats, however, is nuclear terrorism. As Vice President Dick Cheney once argued, “if there is a one percent chance” of a terrorist developing a nuclear weapon, “we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response.”1
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Brian Jenkins, John Lauder
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: NPEC Working Paper 1602, “The Nuclear Terrorism Threat: How Real Is It?” presents two opposed views on the threat of nuclear terrorism. Brian M. Jenkins, a Rand analyst and a leading expert on nuclear terrorism, argues that the threat is overblown. John Lauder, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Nonproliferation Center, argues the opposing case that the threat is growing and we need to be hedging against it now.
  • Topic: Terrorism, International Affairs, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Hardin Lang, Muath Al Wari
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: Foreign fighters have long been a key element of transnational jihad. In the 1980s, foreigners flocked to South Asia to fight alongside the Afghan mujahedeen. The same thing occurred to a lesser extent in Bosnia and Chechnya in the 1990s and again following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But the Syrian civil war and the subsequent rise of the Islamic State—also known as IS, ISIS, or ISIL—have broken new ground. Never before have jihadi foreign fighters rallied at the speed and scale as they have in the territory that IS now controls. Today, between 31,000 and 27,000 fighters from more than 86 countries are estimated to have made the journey to join the ranks of IS and other extremist groups, doubling the 2014 numbers. These foreign fighters fill leadership roles within the organization’s hierarchy and seem to be disproportionately responsible for the atrocities and brutality for which IS has become infamous. IS uses this extreme violence to create a climate of impunity and to intimidate both civilian populations and potential enemies. In addition, the recent attacks in Paris vividly demonstrated the international terrorist threat that foreign fighters pose. Finally, these fighters present a long-term challenge to their source countries if and when they return. In response, the U.S.-led Global Coalition to Counter ISIL has prioritized the flow of foreign fighters as one of its five major lines of effort. In 2015, United Nations Security Council Resolution 2178, or UNSCR 2178, was adopted with the specific aim of addressing the foreign fighter threat. Similarly, the coalition has established a working group to coordinate multilateral efforts to impede the flow of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq and to implement the UNSCR. But much work remains to be done.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Islamic State, Multilateralism, Foreign Fighters
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Human Rights First
  • Abstract: On the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting, the United States is sponsoring briefings and meetings with allies to develop strategies to counter the spread of violent extremism. These activities will build on the February 2015 White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism (CVE). The CVE initiative is designed to advance a more preventive and proactive approach to countering violent extremism. It takes into account the lesson of the past decade that addressing the threat of violent extremism requires a truly comprehensive strategy that goes beyond military intelligence and law-enforcement tools. The United States government has played a leading role in moving forward a global conversation on countering violent extremism since convening the White House Summit. If this process is to yield results, the United States will have to continue to provide leadership in close coordination with the efforts of the United Nations and other multilateral organizations, notably the U.N. Secretary General’s Plan of Action on Preventing Violent Extremism to be presented to the U.N. General Assembly later this year. While sustained U.S. engagement with this multilateral process will be essential, just as important will be a clear demonstration from the United States that it is putting the principles of its CVE approach into practice. The United States must show its commitment to the principles it has been championing through its more comprehensive, preventive CVE strategy in each of its bilateral relationships, particularly those with states facing challenges from the threat of terrorism, which also engage in systematic violations of human rights. It is no accident that these two conditions often coincide. This blueprint brings together examples of existing bilateral relationships with some U.S. allies that fit this category. The material collected here illustrates the vital importance for the United States to encourage its allies to implement security policies rooted in the reality that good governance, the rule of law, and respect for human rights are essential tools in countering violent extremism. This blueprint compiles and summarizes previous Human Rights First blueprints. For more information on a specific topic or country, please refer to the following documents: How to Conduct Effective Counterterrorism that Reinforces Human Rights (December 2014); How to Bring Stability to Bahrain (December 2014); How to Prevent Egypt Slipping into a Deepening Crisis (December 2014); How to Build a More Sustainable and Mutually Beneficial Relationship with Saudi Arabia (March 2015); How to Counter Terrorism by Supporting Civil Society in the United Arab Emirates (May 2015); How the United States Can Help Counter Violent Extremism and Support Civil Society in Kenya (July 2015).
  • Topic: Human Rights, Terrorism, United Nations, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus