Commentary Series

The Commentary Series is intended to promote better policy by fostering constructive debate among leading policymakers, academics, and observers.  Designed to be timely and relevant, these commentaries seek to illuminate the issues of the day by raising important questions and challenging underpinning assumptions.  Opinions expressed in Commentaries are those of the author(s) alone. Comments should be directed to [email protected].

Beyond Benghazi: A Powerful New Counterterrorism Strategy? (PDF)

October 19, 2012

As the Arab spring gives way to another winter, and hope continues to recede into uncertainty and challenge, many observers are asking how do we best move ahead? Bringing to justice the perpetrators of the attacks in Benghazi would certainly be a good start, but it is not enough. The United States has important interests at stake and thus requires a strategy that will mitigate the possibility, or at least the effects, of the next Benghazi.

The Tragedy in Toulouse: When Kinetic Counterterrorism Tactics Aren't Enough (PDF)

March 29, 2012

To prevent the next jihadist-inspired shooting spree, authorities – whether in France, the United States, or elsewhere – must make a conscious decision to expand their focus from only the expressly violent to even non-violent extremism. Contesting the ideologies that drive extremism is a critical, but still overlooked, element in the overall effort to prevent and defeat the violence that emerges from it.

Hammami’s Plight Amidst al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda’s Game of Thrones (PDF)

March 19, 2012

American al-Shabaab commander Omar Hammami, known as Abu Mansur al-Amriki, on Friday sat alone in front of a flag commonly associated with al-Qaeda and said that the organization for which he’d fought for much of the last five years, al-Shabaab, might be trying to kill him. The video, the first public message from Hammami since last October, caught many counterterrorism analysts off guard.

Whatever Happened to the A-Team of Terrorism?: A Brief Assessment of Hizballah and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (PDF)

February 22, 2012

Since at least May 2011, the Islamic Republic of Iran seems to have been engaged in a high-risk, high-profile, and not entirely successful campaign to murder perceived enemies of the regime of Ayatollah Khamenei. These plots and their frequently lackluster outcomes have caused many to ask, whatever happened to the A-Team of Terrorism?