New Study of Jihadi WMD Chatter

Posted: 30th June 2009 by Thomas Hegghammer in Western Analysts, WMD

The Jihadi Websites Monitoring Group at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzlia, Israel, has produced a very interesting report about WMD discussions on jihadi internet forums (hat tip: Nawaf).

I am not surprised that this original work is coming out of Herzlia, for it was Reuven Paz – the pioneer of online jihadism studies – who wrote some of the earliest serious analyses of jihadi intentions regarding WMD.

Since then many have made valuable contributions this literature, including Jonathan Spyer , Jerry LongAndrea Plebani, Sammy Salama and Lydia Hansell, Anne Speckhard, and others.

At my own FFI, Anne Stenersen and others have also conducted in-depth studies on this. (In the most fascinating of these, Anne collaborated with FFI scientists to objectively assess the quality and effectiveness of the many WMD recipes and instruction manuals circulating on the forums, but this report is unfortunately exempt from public disclosure, for obvious reasons.)

I have yet to read Gary Ackerman and Jeremy Tamsett’s recent book, but it looks promising.  Finally I should mention that Rolf Mowatt Larsen (ex-CIA, now Harvard Kennedy school) is currently preparing at least one academic study on AQ and WMD, and I am sure it will set a new standard in the field.

PS  If I left our any other major studies in this brief review, please let me know in the comments.

  1. manolo says:

    The ICT piece is interesting but no real analysis. The author has also left out some more significant ‘postings’ and overemphasized the level and sophistication of ‘conversation’ on the issue. The author should mention for example that material within the ‘encyclopedia’ referenced would take someone without any knowledge about an hour to compile (thus alone it is crap), but that it has significance for other reasons.

  2. I would humbly add William Brown’s master’s thesis on constituency constraints to Al-Qaeda’s potential use of WMDs (http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/research/theses/browne06.pdf)