Issue Brief Series

Issue Briefs are intended to promote better policy by providing context and evidence to help assess current, past, and potential future approaches to issues of ongoing strategic and tactical significance.  Designed to be timely and relevant, Issue Briefs aim to help leading policymakers, academics, and observers better understand important debates, frame key questions, and challenge underpinning assumptions. Comments should be directed to cchs@gwu.edu.

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Detainee Release and Global Public Safety: Terrorist Disengagement and Deradicalization Programs—The Way Ahead

June 05, 2014

In exchange for the release of U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl earlier this month, the Obama Administration agreed to the release of 5 "senior Taliban figures" being held at Guantanamo Bay. Reactions to this news have varied widely and as noted in a Washington Post article in the immediate aftermath, the exchange begs the question: "How many of the detainees transferred out of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have returned to the fight?" Speaking about the Bergdahl/Taliban exchange in particular, one Senator has suggested that, after the 5 Taliban figures are released into Qatari custody, they will be going into a program for "re-acclimating" them.

Economic Espionage and Trade Secret Theft: An Overview of the Legal Landscape and Policy Responses (PDF)

September 26, 2013

Concern about cyberespionage and intellectual property (IP) theft, particularly trade secrets, has intensified—and with good reason. While these threats are not new, rapid technological advances resulting in greater connectivity and data storage and more globalized supply chains have increased the opportunity—and potentially the payoff—to breach corporate networks and acquire sensitive corporate data.

Northern Mali: Armed Groups, State Failure, and Terrorism (PDF)

May 30, 2013

One year ago an uneasy alliance of armed groups, including jihadists with ties to al-Qaeda, seized control of northern Mali, a landlocked region slightly larger than the state of Texas.

Transportation and Supply Chain Security: Systemic Changes and Policy Opportunities (PDF)

May 24, 2013

In the past several decades these global networks of transportation and trade have become increasingly integrated and interdependent, decreasing the costs and accelerating the speed of the movement of people and goods. However, this integration and complex interdependency has led to new risks to the system, making it more vulnerable to disruption.

Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria: No Easy Fix (PDF)

April 03, 2013

In July 2009, Muhammad Yusuf, the founder of Jama’atu Ahlissunnah Lidda’awaG wal Jihad, or “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad,” was killed while in police custody.

Pardon the Pivot, What About Africa? (PDF)

March 06, 2013

Africa presents a unique set of security challenges — it is the second largest continent on Earth, home to more than one billion people, and is defined by vast terrain, un- and under-governed spaces, interwoven adversaries, and a range of hybrid threats: including jihadi terrorists, drug traffickers, and insurgents.

Drones in Yemen: Is the U.S. on Target? (PDF)

June 21, 2012

At a time when the al Qaeda organization globally has met a low point al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has reached its zenith despite successful U.S. airstrikes on the American al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and senior AQAP figure Fahd al-Quso - indicted in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen.

The Next Decade of Countering Threat Finance: Risks, Opportunities, and Limitations (PDF)

June 12, 2012

Almost ten years after the September 11 attacks, domestic terrorist plots linked to Islamic extremism continue rising. The evolving nature of sub-state threats makes it critically important to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the counterterrorism toolkit in the hope of maintaining an efficient and effective security posture.

Smart, Savvy, Insightful: Analytic Tradecraft to Enable Homeland Security (PDF)

January 13, 2012

This issue brief highlights the value of applying analytic tradecraft techniques more widely throughout the homeland security community. Author and HSPI Senior Fellow Jon Nowick maintains that, especially when used to promote collaboration, these techniques can help members of the homeland security community enhance performance and mitigate risk.

Mexico and the Triple Threat (PDF)

October 20, 2011

Reviewing the extent of the triple threat and efforts to respond to it, both individually and jointly on the part of the Government of Mexico and the United States Government, Cardash, Cilluffo, and Tussing write: “The question remains…whether strategy and doctrine in Mexico, in the United States, and in the region can and will keep pace with the triple threat…that is at once adaptive, lethal, and determined.”

Running a Three-Legged Race; the San Diego Police Department, the Intelligence Community, and Counterterrorism (PDF)

August 01, 2011

Mills and Clark find that the CIU's decision to learn from the intelligence community and the local fusion center represents a step forward in local law enforcement counterterrorism practices. However, lessons learned by the San Diego Police Department will be of little use unless local law enforcement agencies work with their local fusion centers and the broader intelligence community.

Yemen & Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: Exploiting a Window of Counterterrorism Opportunity (PDF)

June 24, 2011

AQAP’s ascension in the wake of the Yemeni government collapse again illustrates the dangers of un- and under-governed states as terrorist sanctuaries. Al Qaeda exploits underlying conditions in these safe havens to plan, train and execute global terrorist attacks. Thus the question becomes: how does the U.S. counter AQAP amidst pending state failure in Yemen?

Egyptian Crosscurrents: The Muslim Brotherhood and Democracy on the Nile (PDF)

March 02, 2011

The Muslim Brotherhood is the world's oldest and most influential Islamist movement. Founded in 1928, the Brotherhood, like most of the movements that sprang up in Egypt at the time, was opposed to colonial rule and advocated Egyptian independence. But while most took inspiration from Western-imported ideologies, the Brotherhood based its discourse on Islam.

The Global Muslim Brotherhood: Myth or Reality? (PDF)

March 02, 2011

Is there a super-organization, a global Muslim Brotherhood central entity directing or coordinating the activities of varied groups across the Arab and Muslim world?

What's the Big Idea? Confronting the Ideology of Islamist Extremism (PDF)

February 04, 2011

Attempting to address the symptoms of the violent Islamist ideology without confronting the cause is tantamount to relying on tactics rather than strategy—which is not a recipe for long term success.

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