Showing posts with label al-qaeda. Show all posts
Showing posts with label al-qaeda. Show all posts

Sunday, January 24, 2016

ISIS and Afghanistan

ISIS - "An Existential Threat". The Islamic State is attempting to establish footholds in a number of countries - in addition to that hold on territory that it currently enjoy in Syria and Iraq. ISIS is in competition with al-Qaeda in many of these areas. Afghanistan is one of those newly developed areas of endeavor for ISIS. Of course, Afghanistan and bordering areas of Pakistan has long been a sanctuary for al-Qaeda as well. Many foreign policy observers think we need to counter ISIS's growth anywhere they try to establish themselves (including Afghanistan). Read a report on ISIS and al Qaeda entitled Al Qaeda and ISIS: Existential Threats to the U.S. and Europe, Institute for the Study of War (ISW), January 2016.

Stepping up the Fight against ISIS (or is it ISIL?). Ash Carter, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, has penned an opinion piece on the fight against the Islamic State. Read "Ash Carter: It's Time to Accelerate the ISIL Fight", Politico, January 22, 2016. He says the fight should take place in three forms 1) eliminating the centers of ISIS power in Raqqa, Syria and Mosul, Iraq, 2) protecting the homeland, and 3) fighting ISIS where it is started to establish footholds - such as Afghanistan and Libya. Glad he is now on board!

ISIS Radio Station in Nangarhar. The Islamic State used the Internet and social media platforms to spread its message in Iraq, Syria, Libya and around the world. But in the impoverished country of Afghanistan most people have access to radio broadcasts but little access to the Internet. For that reason the Islamic State is using radio broadcasts to spread its message. Read "IS radio beams propaganda, threats across rural Afghanistan", Fox News, January 21, 2016.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Al Qaeda in Afghanistan

A large al-Qaeda training camp was recently destroyed in southern Afghanistan. The multi-day operation involved over 200 U.S. special operations forces and 63 airstrikes. The camp was used by AQIS - an acronym for al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. The group's existence was announced last year (2014) by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zahwahiri. The group is based in Pakistan and focused on India, Pakistan and other nations in southern Asia. The existence of the al-Qaeda camps in southern Afghanistan was a surprise to the Resolute Support intelligence organizations - as AQ is normally based in eastern Afghanistan. Read more in "Probably the largest al-Qaeda training camp ever destroyed in Afghanistan", The Washington Post, October 30, 2015.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Al-Qaeda and the Taliban

The death of Mullah Omar and the emergence of the Islamic State has changed the insurgent (terrorist) landscape in Afghanistan. The Taliban seems to be in competition with the Islamic State; as is al Qaeda. The relationship between the Taliban and al Qaeda would seem to be strengthened over the past few weeks based on some of the "press releases" sent out on behalf of the two groups. Read "Taliban Chief, Facing Struggle for Power, Welcomes Al-Qaeda Alliance", Radio Free Europe, August 15, 2015 and "Al-Qaeda Leader Declares Loyalty to New Afghan Taliban Leader", Radio Free Europe, August 13, 2015.

There are lots of conspiracy theories floating around in the news and on the Internet (some people think those two items are the same). One theory is that the Pakistan ISI is purposely fragmenting the Taliban while putting forth the facade of trying to unit the Taliban in an effort to advance peace talks. Another theory revolves around the al Qaida - Taliban endorsements. Read more in "Complex Conspiracy Theories Shadow al-Qaida-Taliban deal", Voice of America, August 14, 2015.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Counter-Terrorism & Intelligence News

Intel Reports on Bombing ISIS. New intelligence reports indicate that despite one full year of bombing the Islamic State fighters in Iraq and parts of Syria by the U.S. Air Force there has been no appreciable effect on the Islamic State's capability to conduct operations. While CENTCOM claims the number of ISIS fighters and amounts of equipment have been significant the effect on the ground has been less than expected. The Islamic State has changed up its tactics to mitigate the air attacks and their recruitment of foreign fighters is at an all time high. Reports of the Islamic State gaining a foothold in Afghanistan have made the press in the past several months. Observers are speculating on the effect of new peace talks and new Taliban leadership will have on ISIS in Afghanistan.

Destroying the ISIS Financial Network. One important aspect of counterterrorism is "Counter Threat Finance" operations or CTF. The use of CTF can significantly inhibit the operational capability of terrorist, criminal, and insurgent groups, networks, and movements. Read how to interdict the Islamic State by hitting their wallets (or pocketbooks?) in "The 21st Century Answer to "Burning their Crops and Salting their Fields": Interdicting and Destroying the ISIS Financial Network"Small Wars Journal, August 1, 2015. The article, by Greg Kleponis and Tom Creal, reflects the author's experiences while advising in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

ISIS vs Taliban. Eric Jones in SOFREP writes about how ISIS is fighting the Taliban and how the ANSF is taking the fight to both organizations., July 27, 2015.

Paper - "Global Civilization and Counterterrorism". The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has posted a paper that examines global terrorism, order and disorder, and how we should try to combat disorder and violent extremists.

Paper - "Understanding Terrorism Today and Tomorrow". The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has posted a paper that helps us understand what terrorism is. The article is adapted from a speech by General Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, given at the CTC 2015 Senior Conference.

Former ISAF DCSINT now Cdr Fort Huachuca. MG Scott Berrier, former the head Intel guy and leader of the Essential Function 7 crowd, is now the new commander at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence (why can't they just say Intel school?) and Fort Huachuca. (Sierra Vista Herald, Jul 31, 2015).

"Dead Drop". In tradecraft terms, a dead drop is a location to secretly pass information without a face-to-face meeting. Recall the scene in the Godfather where Al Pacino retrieves a pistol in the restaurant men's room? That is a dead drop. "The Dead Drop" is also the name of a weekly blog that provides intelligence tidbits and Washington rumors.

Birth of Contemporary Terrorism. Brian Michael Jenkins, a renowned terrorism expert at RAND, has provided us with an informative article entitled The 1970s and the Birth of Contemporary Terrorism (July 30, 2015).

How Technology Changes Espionage. The use of computers has made the use of human intelligence (HUMINT) much more difficult (electronic passports, databases, etc.). However, the use of technology has made spying easier in some ways. Read more in "A new age of espionage", The Economist, August 1, 2015.

CIA - Gays and Lesbians Allowed. Read how the Central Intelligence Agency changed its policy in "How the CIA Came Out of the Closet", The Daily Beast, July 31, 2015.

A Resurging al-Qaeda in South Asia. The emergence of ISIS in Iraq and Syria combined with the withdrawal of the bulk of the international forces in Afghanistan have seen conditions become favorable for al-Qaeda. Read a paper on the topic entitled Resurgence of Al-Qaeda in South Asia Post-US Drawdown, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), July 2015.

Counter-terrorism in Pakistan. A recently published paper analyzes the new counter-terrorism strategy recently adopted by Pakistan - finds fault with it and provides recommendations. Read Revisiting Counter-terrorism strategies in Pakistan: Opportunities and Pitfalls, International Crisis Group, July 22, 2015.

Use of Drones to Continue Into Future. To no ones surprise the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones will continue far into the future - both for intelligence gathering, military applications, and commercial use. Read more in "Operating in an Era of Persistent Unmanned Aerial Surveillance", by William Selby posted on Small Wars Journal, July 31, 2015.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Al Qaeda, China, and Afghanistan

Al Qaeda is a wide-ranging entity with the aim to establish the Islamic Caliphate. It operates in South Asia, North Africa, the Middle East and in many other areas. It has recently singled out the area of "East Turkestan". This region is Xinjiang province located in the western hinterlands of China. Xinjiang province shares a border with Afghanistan and China is fearing that an "East Turkestan" resistance group affiliated with al Qaeda will operate out of sanctuaries located in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Read more in "Al Qaeda Has Set its Sights on Xinjiang - and China Isn't Happy About It", Lawfare Blog, October 23, 2014.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

AQSL in AfPak a "Dormant" CT Fight

One of the objectives of the invasion of Afghanistan, toppling of the Taliban regime, and occupation of Afghanistan for over a decade was the elimination of a terrorist threat from Afghanistan. It isn't clear that objective has been achieved despite thousands of lost lives, more thousands of wounded and injured personnel and billions of dollars spent. Certainly al-Qaeda has been degraded. Over the past several years we continually "decapitated" the senior leadership and thinned out the"middle management". However, truth be told  al-Qaeda still exists in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. A senior Obama administration official recently said that the war in Afghanistan is now a " . . . dormant counterterrorism fight . . .". However, the U.S. ability to continue that counterterrorism fight will also be degraded. The CIA has closed all but two of eight forward operating based that were located along the Pakistan border. This affects the ability of CIA case officers to manage their spy network extending into Pakistan, to command and control their paramilitary formations (many of the very experienced Afghan fighters are now unemployed or doing other work), gather intelligence with drones (armed and unarmed), and to gather signal intelligence (SIGINT). This closure of CIA bases can be tied to the closure of U.S. Army FOBs throughout the region.  Two questions remain - 1) Does the remaining core al-Qaeda presence pose a significant threat to the United States, and 2) Can al-Qaeda rebound to its former self? Greg Miller and Kevin Sieff have wrote a comprehensive news article on this topic in "Qaeda remains degraded but not defeated", The Washington Post, September 26, 2014.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Dealing with the Islamic Jihad

Gary Anderson, a retired Marine Corps Colonel and currently an Adjunct Professor at George Washington University, has written an essay on how to deal with al Qaeda. Read "A Strategy for Dealing with the Islamic Jihad" posted on Small Wars Journal on February 26, 2014.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Al-Qaeda Alive and Well in Afghanistan and Pakistan

An interesting and informative piece on al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Michael Kugelman. While the White House continues its story-line, developed during Obama's re-election campaign, that al-Qaeda poses a vastly diminished threat in Afghanistan - reality is providing us with a different perspective.  Although various leaders of al-Qaeda have been killed over the years (many by drone attacks based out of Afghanistan) the group is still very operational. Read more in "Al-Qaeda is alive and well in Afghanistan and Pakistan", War on the Rocks, February 14, 2014.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

An Al Qaeda Comeback in Afghanistan?

An article published in The Daily Beast by Bruce Riedel on January 13, 2014 is entitled "Al Qaeda's Next Comeback Could Be Afghanistan and Pakistan". He cites the example of the U.S. withdrawing completely from Iraq and the current situation there (Al Qaeda resurgence). A worry is that without a signed Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) the U.S. will lack the bases from which to launch a raid into Pakistan (similar to the Abbottabad raid). In addition, we won't have any bases from which to fly our drones. Sure, long distance drone operations and direct active missions can be launched from neighboring countries (hard to coordinate and get approval) and from aircraft carriers but distance makes it problematic. Without a residual counter-terrorist force based in Afghanistan Al Qaeda may very well make a comeback in the Afghanistan and Pakistan area of operations. A lot is riding on the approval of the Bilateral Security Agreement.