Countering Violent Extremism, Pt. 2: Scope

In my previous post, I proposed a minimal definition of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) as reducing the number of terrorist group supporters through non-coercive means. I also suggested that the spectrum of support ranges from those who are vulnerable to becoming supporters to those who are engaged in criminal activity. There are pros and cons associated with intervening in each group. The three groups at the far right of the spectrum are the easiest to identify because they have either consistently voiced their support for a terrorist organization or taken action on its behalf. Although they are extremely difficult to dissuade, focusing on them risks less blow back from the broader communities of which they are a part. There is also less risk of straying into the policing of thought crimes. Conversely, the two other groups, “vulnerable” and “radicalizing,” are theoretically easier to dissuade than the others but they are

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Falluja Analytics

[Editor’s note: I am pleased to introduce another new contributor, Scott Sanford, who is a graduate student at George Washington University specialising in jihadism in the levant. Scott has guest blogged for Jihadica in the past, but now he is joining us on a more regular basis.]   “What is the Secret of the Falluja Forum’s Success?” This was the intriguing title of a recent post on Falluja presenting a detailed analysis of the web traffic to the forum itself. The contributor, named “Song of Terror”, broke the article into two parts: the first supplying the web analytic data and the second providing strategies and further analysis.  While he claimed that jihadi propaganda efforts on the Internet are successful, the data does in fact not support his analysis. Using data from Alexa.com, Song of Terror started by asserting that Fallujah is the most “successful” jihadi forum.  Fallujah’s “Daily Reach”, the percent

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Although I was away on vacation for the last week and a half, I read all of the excellent posts from everyone who guest blogged during my absence.  Chipotle Mystery, Scott Sanford, and Mike Honcho: I owe you one.  (By the way, make sure to check out Mike Honcho’s blog, The Tel’nik.  It’s a great resource for Caucasus-related analysis.)

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The Army of Islam Moves to Unify Palestinian Jihadi Organizations

[Scott Sanford]  On 28 August 2008, the Army of Islam (AI), a Gaza-based and al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist entity that gained notoriety for the kidnapping of BBC reporter Alan Johnston, issued a statement in response to what the AI claimed were many calls to unify Palestinian jihadi organizations under one banner. In the statement, the AI asserted that it is willing to accept any group into its fold as long as the group adheres to the AI’s Islamic standards. It stated that it is a Salafi organization and that anyone raising partisan, nationalist, patriotic, socialist, secular, or democratic flags are infidels. Additionally, it claimed that anyone wishing to unify with the AI must publicly disavow such ideologies and pledge its loyalty to the jihadi, Islamic banner. The AI claimed that its dogma and actions are based on several factors: 1. Global jihad, the AI does not differentiate between jihad in the Palestinian

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Assad al-Jihad2 Remarks on the State of al-Qaida

[Scott Sanford]  On 23 August 2008, Ekhlaas member Assad al-Jihad2 (أسد الجهاد2), or the Lion of Jihad 2, posted a statement concerning the state of al-Qaida in the world today. He started the statement with a 13 December 2001 news report about the battle in Tora Bora and how it seemed that al-Qaida was on the brink of total destruction. However, he argued, “In only seven years…they [al-Qaida] were able to…triumph over the world alliance against them.” He based this assertion on several events he attributed to al-Qaida: Many United States government officials were forced to leave their posts after their failure to defeat al-Qaida American historians have claimed that President Bush has been the worst president in American history Al-Qaida weakened the most powerful country on Earth in “the Badr of the [21st] century” (This is a reference to the 624CE Battle of Badr where approximately 300 Muslim soldiers

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Major Contributor to Ekhlaas Killed in Iraq

[Scott Sanford]  Abu Kandahar (أبو قندهار) reported on Ekhlaas that coalition forces, “crusaders,” killed Ekhlaas member Abu Hurayra 2 (أبو هريرة 2), a major contributor to Ekhlaas, in northern Iraq’s Ninawa province on 21 August 2008.  Abu Kandahar is a main contributor to Ekhlaas and Ekhlaas has given him the title of “distinguished pen (قلم متميز),” one of the highest distinctions to achieve, which adds credibility to his report. Abu Hurayra 2’s last post was on 14 August 2008 where he provided photos of militants supposedly engaging in combat and he reassured readers that operations were increasing by the day.  He also gave a cryptic message saying, “I give you these new photos.  They are the last for me before my departure from you because I will be absent for a long time.”  It is unclear exactly what this means, but it appears that he may have been preparing for

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Mosab Hassan Yousef Receives Death Sentence from the Global Islamic Media Front

[Scott Sanford] On 21 August 2008, the al-Qaida-affiliated Global Islamic Media Front released a statement written by Abu al-Harith al-Ansari concerning the conversion of Mosab Hassan Yousef from Islam to Christianity. This conversion is significant because Yousef’s father is a senior Hamas leader in an Israeli prison and Yousef himself allegedly was in a leadership position in Hamas’ youth movement. Ansari explains that he felt compelled to respond to Yousef’s conversion and he uses four points to frame the conversion. He then outlines a course of action Muslims should take in response. The following is a brief synopsis: 1. Further research must be done to ascertain the truth about whether or not Yousef converted and then pass judgment. 2. Yousef chose his own path and it is important to remember other noteworthy infidels, who also chose their own path, like Noah’s son and wife, Abraham’s father, and Muhammad’s paternal uncle.

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Three Additions

I’m temporarily adding three members to the Jihadica roster while I’m on vacation the next week and a half: Scott Sanford, Chipotle Mystery, and Mike Honcho. Scott is an Arabic speaker who covers the forums and specializes in Lebanon, Palestinian territories, and Syria, so expect a lot of good stuff on Jihadi activity in the Levant. Chipotle Mystery is an Urdu speaker who works on al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan.  He reads tons of fascinating stuff but never writes about it because he believes (wrongly) that it’s already common knowledge.  You’ll have to bait him. Mike Honcho knows Russian and other languages with funny alphabets.  He’ll be keeping us posted on what’s going on in the Caucasus.

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Jihadica is a website dedicated to analysis of the transnational Sunni Islamist movement known as jihadism. Much of the primary source material related to this movement is diffuse, known only to a few specialists, and inaccessible to the public and policymakers unless they pay a fee. Jihadica features expert commentary by people who have the requisite language training to understand this material and advanced degrees in relevant fields. The Team Cole Bunzel (@colebunzel), the editor of Jihadica, is a Hoover Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, where his research focuses on the history of Wahhabism and the Jihadi Salafi movement. He received his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University and previously was a postdoctoral research fellow in Islamic Law and Civilization at Yale Law School. Tore Hamming (@torerhamming) is a Ph.D. candidate at the European University Institute in Florence, specializing in the internal dynamics of the Sunni

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