Counterterrorism & Intelligence Commentary Series Archive

Counterterrorism in France: Key Questions after Charlie Hebdo

January 16, 2015

Recent terrorist attacks in Paris leave France in a difficult position - one that is at once both common to the West and yet particular to France itself. Although there must be international cooperation, each country must also chart its own course by formulating, implementing and refining a strategy that best tackles the problem as manifested locally. Our Commentary, written by CCHS Associate Director Sharon Cardash and CCHS Scholar in Residence Rhea Siers, raises a series of questions and issues that offer the beginnings of a framework for understanding the conundrum facing French officials.

AQAP Loses Its Chief of External Operations: Counterterrorism Implications (PDF)

July 29, 2013

Awlaki’s demise improves U.S. security for several reasons. Awlaki’s elimination marks another in a recent series of setbacks for al Qaeda globally. More specifically, it immediately degrades AQAP’s operational planning capacity — especially with respect to plots against the U.S. homeland. Yet, killing Awlaki by no means signals the death knell of al Qaeda generally or even of AQAP specifically.

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?

After bin Laden the Threat Remains: Drones, CIA and SOF Still the Only Game in Town (PDF)

May 02, 2011

Usama bin Laden is dead, a significant blow to al Qaeda. Yet on this first day after his death, much remains to be done — al Qaeda and legions of jihadists remain a threat. As President Obama announced the outcome of American actions in the Abbottabad Valley, he was correct in his assessment that, 'The cause of securing our country is not complete…

Tumult in the Middle East: When and Where Will the Next Shoe Drop? (PDF)

February 11, 2011

As change rings through the Arab world, one of the most critical unresolved questions is what will become of cooperative bilateral counterterrorism partnerships, not only with Egypt, but also with Yemen, Jordan, Tunisia, Bahrain and Algeria. The U.S. relationship with each has varied and has been far from perfect, more so in certain instances than others. Yet the United States has to some extent relied on each to maintain critical intelligence coverage of the region.

Baghdad Surprise? (PDF)

August 20, 2010

HSPI’s recent Commentary “Baghdad Surprise?” – coupled with the President’s upcoming address on the future of the US mission in Iraq – led us to pose three questions to key foreign policy and counterterrorism experts: What are the security implications of the transition, both short- and long-term? How can these implications be best managed? What's needed to achieve "success" in Iraq in the long run?

Stopping Terror In and On Its Tracks (PDF)

March 31, 2010

Defensive measures undertaken by public authorities can only take us so far, however. As a result, community engagement and citizen awareness remain important elements of the equation. Vigilance is a team sport. Solid intelligence underpins safety and security, and helps make sure that our last line of defense does not become our first.

No Longer On Auto-Pilot: Aviation Security and Intelligence Reform (PDF)

January 09, 2010

Yesterday afternoon, President Obama made the latest in a series of statements regarding the attempted Christmas Day bombing. Over time more details will undoubtedly become available as investigations continue and efforts to remedy the defects in this case unfold. What is clear, however, is that there was a multilevel systemic failure, in terms of both aviation security and our intelligence architecture.

Next Generation National Security (PDF)

September 11, 2009

On the eighth anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, it is worth taking stock of just how far we have come. Over and above changes in policies, procedures, and so on, our mindset and conceptual parameters have evolved and adapted.

Radicalization: Made in the USA? (PDF)

June 02, 2009

When officials announced the successful prevention of a plot in New York to bomb synagogues and down airplanes with rocket-propelled grenades, many reacted with shock at the prospect of locally radicalized violent extremists plotting attacks here at home. While short of the acute radicalization and recruitment crisis facing many European countries, recent events from Minneapolis to Atlanta suggest the United States is not immune from similar phenomena on our side of the Atlantic.

Micro-Diplomacy in Afghanistan: Disaggregating and Engaging the Taliban (PDF)

February 17, 2009

Success in Afghanistan requires additional forces and a greater emphasis on reconstruction. But simply adding troops and equipment will not bring victory. To protect the Afghan people and achieve long term success requires two fundamental changes in strategy.