Terrorism Trends Global Overview
Second Quarter 2017
Last month saw a new escalation in the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict, while in Libya deadly fighting in the south and in
Tripoli dimmed prospects for reconciliation and bodes ill
for June. In Egypt, the Islamic State (ISIS) orchestrated
another major attack on Christians. Insurgent violence took
a high toll on civilians in the Philippines and Afghanistan,
and a bombing in Thailand's deep south injured scores.
Attacks on Sri Lanka's Muslim community were a sign of
rising tensions. In Africa, violence involving armed groups
surged in the Central African Republic, jihadist attacks
rose in Kenya, and former rebels now soldiers mutinied for
the second time this year in Côte d'Ivoire. Further
fragmentation of criminal organizations in Mexico fuelled
violence. In a positive turn, Macedonia finally got a new
government, offering a way out of the longstanding political
crisis. There were two terrorist attacks in the UK, London
Trends and Outlook
The conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia overNagorno-Karabakh
escalated as both sides launched attacks, and there are
signs that hostilities could worsen further in June. A
deadlocked diplomatic process, deep mutual distrust between
the leaders and a renewed appetite for confrontation have
brought Armenia and Azerbaijan closer to war than at any
point since the 1994 ceasefire. Both have been increasing
their military capabilities, raising the temptation to
resort to force.
Last month in the meeting between the head of Libya's
internationally recognized government, Faiez al-Serraj, and
his major military opponent, General Khalifa Haftar, the
first in over a year, suggested new communication channels
were opening up, even if
talk of a deal was premature.
But another round of deadly attacks in the south and in the
capital Tripoli severely dimmed hopes for meaningful
dialogue on Libya's future and heightened the risk of worse
conflict in June. In neighboring Egypt, ISIS
continued to kill Christians and launched its first major
attack in Upper Egypt which left at least 29 dead.
In the Philippines, President Duterte declared
martial law in the southern island of Mindanao on 23 May
after some 100 militants took over large parts of Marawi
City. ISIS claimed responsibility for the assault, which
followed an attempted raid on the hideout of an Abu Sayyaf
group leader. Authorities reported over 100 killed,
including 89 militants, and over 170,000 residents were
forced to flee as the military fought to retake the city. In
Thailand's deep south, a bomb at a department store
in Pattani on 9 May injured some 80 civilians. The
indiscriminate attack against Malay-Muslims, claimed by the
main insurgent Barisan Revolusi Nasional, represents a
worrying departure from the group's normal tactics. In
Bangkok, three bombings during the weeks leading up to the
anniversary of the 2014 coup, including one in an army-run
hospital, undermined the government's claim to have restored
order and security. In Afghanistan, a truck bomb
exploded close to Kabul's heavily guarded diplomatic area
during the morning rush hour on 31 May, killing at least 90
In Kenya, as
elections loom in August, Al-Shabaab increased
attacks on security forces and civilians in the north east,
mostly in Mandera and Garissa counties. Jihadists carried
out nine attacks from 8 to 25 May killing eighteen people.
In the Central African Republic, violence involving
armed groups including factions of the former Seleka rebel
alliance and anti-balaka and Fulani militias rose in the
south, east and north west, leaving at least 300 dead and an
estimated 100,000 displaced. Unidentified assailants also
targeted UN peacekeepers. Former rebels integrated into
Côte d'Ivoire's army who mutinied in January again left
their barracks. They blocked roads and fired shots in the
air in Bouaké, the capital Abidjan and six other cities
until the government agreed to pay them more money.
The number of reported homicides in Mexico, already
at levels unseen since the peak of 2011, continued to cause
alarm, as further fragmentation of organized criminal gangs
fuelled intra-cartel violence in Tamaulipas state in the
north east and the Pacific Coast states of Sinaloa, Guerrero
and Michoacán. Among the more than 100 average monthly
killings in Sinaloa state this year, the murder of three
teachers, a respected lawyer and a well-known journalist
generated widespread outrage and protests.
saw a sharp increase in militant Buddhist violence and
intimidation against Muslims. The spike comes amid a gradual
collapse of momentum for reform, which,
as Crisis Group argues in a new report, has
resulted in a noticeable rise in tensions - evident around
commemorations of the eighth anniversary of the end of the
civil war (1983-2009). To reduce the risks of social and
political conflict, the unity government must put aside
short-term political calculations and return to its original
good governance and reconciliation agenda.
Central African Republic,
Conflict Risk Alerts
Search current and previous CrisisWatch latest updates.
Continue Strikes to Defeat ISIS
U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack the
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria conducting 30 strikes
consisting of 51 engagements,
Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve
officials reported recently.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting
that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Strikes in Syria
In Syria, coalition military forces conducted 23 strikes
consisting of 36 engagements against ISIS targets:
Kamal, two strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit and
destroyed an ISIS wellhead and a vehicle.
Az Zawr, seven strikes destroyed four ISIS wellheads,
four ISIS oil tanks, an ISIS oil truck, an ISIS oil
storage tank and an ISIS oil storage trailer.
Raqqa, 14 strikes engaged nine ISIS tactical units and
destroyed eight fighting positions, two vehicles, two
anti-air artillery systems, a front-end loader and a
Strikes in Iraq
In Iraq, coalition military forces conducted seven strikes
consisting of 15 engagements against ISIS targets:
Huwayjah, a strike destroyed three ISIS-held buildings
and an improvised-explosive-device factory.
Mosul, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and
destroyed two fighting positions, a mortar system and a
rocket-propelled grenade system.
two strikes destroyed a vehicle-borne-IED factory and a
Rawah, a strike destroyed a vehicle-borne IED.
Afar, two strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit;
destroyed a mortar system, a fighting position, an
ISIS-held building and a heavy machine gun; and damaged
a tunnel and a fighting position.
Task force officials also reported details today about
strikes that occurred May 30 and for which details were not
available in time for yesterday's report:
in Syria, a strike destroyed an ISIS command-and-control
in Iraq, two strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units;
destroyed two fighting positions, a heavy machine gun, a
vehicle and a vehicle-borne IED; damaged a fighting
position; and suppressed an ISIS tactical unit.
Part of Operation Inherent Resolve
These strikes were conducted as part of
Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to destroy
ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The destruction of ISIS targets in
Iraq and Syria also further limits the group's ability to
project terror and conduct external operations throughout
the region and the rest of the world, task force officials
The list above contains all strikes conducted by fighter,
attack, bomber, rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft;
rocket-propelled artillery; and some ground-based tactical
artillery when fired on planned targets, officials noted.
Six Reasons Why
Stopping Terrorism Is So Challenging
A January 2017
Pew survey showed
that Americans rate terrorism as the top priority for the
Trump administration and Congress. They put the issue ahead
of the economy, education, jobs and health care costs.
For the past 12 years as Director of the National Consortium
Study of Terrorism and
Responses to Terrorism, I have worked with
colleagues to improve understanding of terrorism by studying
its causes and consequences. One of our largest and most
extensive projects has involved compiling all terrorist
attacks worldwide since 1970 into the
Global Terrorism Database
Based on this work, six issues stand out to me as major
challenges for developing effective policy on countering
#1: Terrorism is rare
For most places and times, terrorism is an incredibly rare
In many recent years, the United States has experienced
25 terrorist attacks.
At the same time, there are about 13,000 homicides and
360,000 robberies every year in the United States. In recent
years, worldwide traffic
accidents have claimed the
lives of roughly 100 times more people than those
killed by terrorists.
Even important groups like al-Qaida have committed
relatively few attacks. The GTD shows al-Qaida has been
responsible for only 59 attacks over its entire lifespan and
only five attacks since 2008. The fact that terrorism is so
rare means that we have limited ability to do statistical
analysis and reach general policy conclusions.
#2: Mass attacks are rarer still
While terrorism is rare, mass casualty attacks are even
Over half of all terrorist attacks in the GTD since 1970
included no fatalities. The GTD identifies only 17 attacks
from around the world that claimed more than 300 lives. Of
the more than 156,000 terrorist attacks in the GTD, the
coordinated attack of 9/11, which took the lives of nearly
3,000 people, is still the deadliest attack in modern
Apart from 9/11 no attack on the U.S. homeland in half a
century has claimed the lives of more than 200 people. The
closest was the 168 victims of the Oklahoma City bombing in
1995, orchestrated by Timothy McVeigh.
Because a few deadly but highly unusual attacks attract so
much concern, terrorism policies tend to be based on
extremely rare and unusual events rather than the thousands
of more common but less spectacular ones. In my opinion,
policies based on extreme outliers can have serious and
perhaps unforeseen implications.
#3. Prevention is improving
A growing number of terrorist attacks - especially in the
United States and Western Europe - are
being foiled as plots.
This is obviously good news in terms of protecting citizens
and saving lives. Another consequence is that policymakers
have diminishing information on the actual seriousness of
threats because the attackers are being stopped before their
plans are actualized.
#4. Terrorist groups are not all alike
Terrorist organizations are extremely diverse which makes
generalizations even more difficult.
When most people think of terrorist groups an image comes to
mind of some well-organized and highly-publicized entity
like the Islamic State or al Shabaab. In reality, it's hard
to generalize about terrorist groups. On one extreme are
individuals who have no recognized links to a terrorist
organization - so-called lone wolves. On the other end of
the spectrum are highly organized groups that persist over
time, have a well-defined chain of command and a stable
leadership. In between are loosely connected small groups as
well as shadowy networks - for example, Neo Nazis or radical
Islamists. All of these disparate entities are typically in
a state of flux. Change is constant; stability rare.
Of the more than
2,300 unique terrorist
organizations identified in the GTD since 1970,
nearly 70 percent had a life span of less than a year.
Terrorist organizations are a bit like business startups:
Most are gone within the first year of operation. It is one
thing to respond to a well-organized group, with clear
leadership, a chain of command and an identifiable
membership. But responses are much more complicated when
there is no central organization, no identifiable leader or
only an ill-defined group of individuals with varying
connections and commitments undergoing constant change.
#5. Assigning responsibility is tough
Attributing responsibility for a terrorist attack is often
ambiguous or impossible.
Data from the GTD shows that no terrorist group can be
assigned responsibility in nearly 60 percent of the
thousands of attacks that occurred worldwide since 1970.
Attacks may be launched by loners who are working more or
less independently of any specific group. In other cases,
more than one group may claim the attack. Or a group may
claim responsibility when in reality it had no connection to
the attack, or a group may claim incorrectly that another
group was accountable.
Analysts may simply never have enough information to reach a
conclusion or to distinguish between competing accounts.
Following a terrorist attack, governments are under enormous
pressure to identify the guilty party and offer a swift
response. But how can officials punish wrongdoers and deter
others from engaging in terrorist attacks when they never
know for sure who the culprit is?
#6: We're still developing strategy
Finally, while researchers are making great progress in
developing a framework for the scientific study of
terrorism, the study of counter terrorism is still in its
infancy. While it is difficult to get an accurate grasp of
terrorist threats, it is even harder to evaluate the
strategies used by governments to counter terrorism.
Governments are extremely secretive about their counter
terrorism policies and strategies. And certainly there is
nothing close to a worldwide database on counter terrorism
strategies and their effectiveness.
Making better policy
The terrorist threat in the United States is episodic,
sporadic and inconsistent. Too often policies react to fear
rather than real threat estimates. For example, there is no
empirical evidence to support President Trump's recent
decision to ban citizens of six majority-Muslim countries
from travel to the U.S. in the name of preventing terrorist
infiltration. Trump's executive order of March 2017 would
halt travel from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. But
no one from these
countries has been involved in a
fatal terrorist attack in
the United States since 9/11.
What's more, these policies are hard to undo. For example,
the USA Patriot Act, passed in the chaotic aftermath of
9/11, was designed to "deter
and punish terrorist acts," but was quickly
expanded by law enforcement officials to
prosecute drug offenses and
other non-terrorist crimes. Such an expansion
raises concerns about privacy and
the power of the federal
Successful policy requires collecting the best information
possible, honestly accessing it and avoiding over reaction.
Gary LaFree, Professor of Criminology and Criminal
University of Maryland
This article was originally published on
The Conversation. Read the
5 Lessons for Us
From the Manchester Bombing
Here are 5 lessons from the bombing and follow-up
investigation, in no particular order:
Manchester is a hub in the Islamist insurgency network.
Items left in memorial for the victims of the Manchester
It was a single bomb set off by a single jihadist, but he
belonged to a hub in the Islamist insurgency. Apparently,
independent Islamists often exist in geographic clusters
that are linked together through a multilayered
infrastructure. South Manchester is one such cluster.
Earlier this year,The Guardian
found that 16
convicted or killed terrorists lived within a 2.5-mile space
in southern Manchester. That was before the bombing
and the subsequent arrests in the area.
Manchester became a hub for the global Islamist insurgency
because Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) members fled
there to escape the wrath of then Libyan dictator Qaddafi.
The LIFG developed an
infrastructure in Manchester and other parts of
the UK to continue the
jihad away from
Islamists who condemn ISIS are
part of the problem-and that includes the Didsbury Mosque in
imam of the
Didsbury Mosque, also known as the Manchester Islamic
Center, is said to have condemned ISIS and Ansar al-Sharia
(the al-Qaeda affiliate linked to the Benghazi attacks),
which enraged Salman Abedi. The mosque
after he confronted the
him of talking "bullocks" [sic] and says it reported him to
the proper authorities.
It's still not good enough.
Salman Abedi's father, a known member of the al-Qaeda-linked
LIFG, was a long-time mosque official who led the call to
prayer. Salman's brother, who has since been arrested, is a
for Arabic classes at the mosque's school.
The Quilliam Foundation, a moderate Muslim organization,
says those who
originally formed the Libyan community in Manchester
attended the Didsbury Mosque because it was Arab and run by
The mosque also has a history of choosing guest lecturers
who spout radicalism of the vilest nature.
With this type of preaching, it isn't hard to see how Abedi
could be motivated to take that extra step to join ISIS or
al-Qaeda or why at least two other ISIS recruits
worshipped at the
We must dismantle the Islamist ideological
infrastructure that produces violent
jihad and its
Notice the overlaps in membership and brands of
Islamism in the
above lesson. Because jihadist groups are just a
manifestation of the Islamist ideology, group membership is
fluid. A recent study
found that half
of the most prominent violent jihadists came from tamer
Islamist movements not directly engaged in violence.
operated by the
was a centerpiece in setting up the LIFG's network in
Manchester, even though LIFG was aligned with al-Qaeda,
supposedly a rival of the Brotherhood and Hamas. This same
network produces ISIS recruits, even though the mosque
ISIS, as does the Brotherhood and other parts of the LIFG
That is why the common thread-the Islamist ideology and the
factories producing it-must be the focus of our efforts. As
wrote about, a
Muslim woman called into BBC's
program and warned that Saudi-trained clerics were coming
into her community and promoting Wahhabism to children as
young as seven.
The anti-Islamists are your allies, not the "moderate"
The investigation into the Manchester bombing is resulting
in scrutiny of the LIFG network in the U.K. that spawned so
many al-Qaeda and ISIS recruits. It's worth pointing out
that our Egyptian and Libyan allies are fighting that
network and have been asking for U.S. help in defeating them
since the civil war began in 2011.
After Libyan dictator Qaddafi fell, a very predictable
civil war between "moderate"
Islamist militias and secular-democratic forces
began. ISIS gained a foothold and fought both. The civil war
proxy war between
the anti-Islamist secularists backed by Egypt and the United
Arab Emirates and a coalition of Islamists backed by Qatar,
Turkey and Sudan that includes al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia,
and the successors to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group-the
group whose network bred the Manchester terror hub.
The Western security agencies are not on the ball.
500 active investigations
and 3,000 subjects of interest. There are reports that
considered to pose a "residual risk" because they were
previously investigated. It appears that Abedi was
considered a "residual risk."
reported to the
government 5 times over 5 years by people who felt he posed
a serious terrorist threat. This count presumably includes
two friends who separately
reported him in
2012 and 2016 after he justified suicide bombings and
expressed support for terrorism. Members of his own family
warned he was
He was still able to travel to Libya and Turkey (where he
may have entered Syria) without questioning upon his return.
He also visited Germany, and the Germans say he did
not appear on any watch
Now it's being reported the U.S. government
told MI5 in early
January that Abedi was part of a North African cell of ISIS
members plotting an attack on a political target, which was
thought to be an assassination. According to the unconfirmed
report, the U.S. put Abedi on a watch list in mid-2016 after
intercepting some of his communications.
Terrorists are often recruited by family members or close
friends. The Abedi family's ties to LIFG, involvement with a
radical mosque, location near so many other terrorists in
Manchester, the father's move to Libya and involvement in
the fighting, and various tips should have put him
higher up on the priority list.
Source: Ryan Mauro is
ClarionProject.org 's Shillman Fellow and
national security analyst and an adjunct professor of
counter-terrorism. He is frequently interviewed on top-tier
television and radio.
Terror Threat To Singapore
At Highest Level In Recent Years
The rising tide of extremism worldwide has not left
Singapore untouched, and it faces its highest terror threat
level in recent years, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA)
"Singapore was specifically targeted in the past year, and
the regional threat has heightened," the MHA said in its
first Singapore Terrorism Threat Assessment Report.
In October last year, an Arabic online publication titled
The Fall Of The Idol: External Action And Individual Jihad
singled out two entities here as potential targets - part of
a wider bid to bring down United States and Western
The Straits Times understands that the targets were the
Singapore Exchange and a port.
MHA said security measures have been ramped up in the areas.
Saying that security agencies remain on high vigilance, it
added: "The public should continue to stay alert and be
The report said that the worsening threat in the region
arose mainly from terror group Islamic State in Iraq and
Syria (ISIS) and its affiliates.
In the Philippines, a group calling itself "IS East Asia"
overran Marawi City in Mindanao late last month.
At home, the threat remains very serious, the ministry
"Singapore is a key target. We have taken part in
international coalitions against terrorism, and we represent
many things that are anathema to ISIS," said the report.
Singapore is a secular democracy and host to economic and
commercial interests from Western nations that ISIS
considers "infidels", it added.
There have already been two ISIS plots to attack the country
that the authorities have been aware of.
In the first half of last year, there was "reliable
information" that foreign ISIS militants were considering
carrying out an attack, and the authorities moved to
mitigate the threat, said the MHA.
And last August, the Indonesian authorities foiled a plot by
terrorists in Batam who planned to launch a rocket attack on
Singapore also faces the risk of an attack by those
influenced by ISIS propaganda.
Between 2007 and 2014, 11 radicalized Singaporeans were
dealt with under the Internal Security Act. But the numbers
have been growing, and since 2015, the Act has been used
against 14 radicalized Singaporeans.
A strong community response is critical in detecting and
reporting radicalized individuals, MHA said.
Source: Excerpts from an article written by Danson Cheong
from The Straits Times, Singapore
DHS Secretary Kelly Releases
Hurricane Preparedness Video
Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly released a
video to kick off the official start of hurricane season,
which begins today, June 1st. Secretary Kelly urged
Americans in the potential path of a hurricane to know their
risk, prepare, and stay informed. Secretary Kelly also
reiterated that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continue to
work closely with their private sector, state, and local
partners to detect, prepare, and respond to the threat of
Recently, Secretary Kelly visited the National Hurricane
Center in Miami, Florida for an operational briefing
regarding the 2017 hurricane season. Secretary Kelly was
joined by Florida Governor Rick Scott and officials from the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the
National Hurricane Center, as well as FEMA's Hurricane
To watch Secretary Kelly's video message go to:
IACSP Reader's Lounge
ANATOMY OF TERROR
From the death of Bin Laden
to the rise of the Islamic State
Ali Soufan (Author)
A compelling, definitive account of how and why bin Laden's
ideology keeps rising from the dead.
In early 2011, the heart of the Muslim world roiled in
protest, consumed with the upheaval of the Arab Spring. The
governments of Tunisia and Egypt had already fallen; those
of Libya and Yemen would soon follow. Watching the chaos
from his hideout in Pakistan, Osama bin Laden saw a historic
opportunity: "The next stage," he declared, "will be the
reinstating of the rule of the caliphate."
In Anatomy of Terror, former FBI special agent and New York
Times best-selling author Ali Soufan dissects bin Laden's
brand of jihadi terrorism and its major offshoots, revealing
how these organizations were formed, how they operate, their
strengths, and - crucially - their weaknesses. This riveting
account examines the new Islamic radicalism through the eyes
of its flag-bearers, including a Jordanian former drug
dealer whose cruelties shocked even his fellow militants, an
Air Force colonel who once served Saddam Hussein, and a
provincial bookworm who declared himself caliph of all
Muslims. We meet Ayman al-Zawahiri, titular head of
al-Qaeda; Saif al-Adel, an Egyptian ex-soldier who faked his
own death to become the group's security chief; and bin
Laden's own beloved son Hamza, a prime candidate to lead the
organization his late father founded.
To eliminate the scourge of terrorism, we must first know
who the enemy actually is, and what his motivations are.
Anatomy of Terror lays bare the psychology and inner
workings of al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and their spawn,
and shows how the spread of terror can be stopped.
Available at: www.amazon.com
IACSP Reader's Lounge
The Exile: The Stunning Inside Story
of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Flight
May 23, 2017
by Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark
From September 11, 2001 to May 2, 2011, Osama Bin Laden
evaded intelligence services and special forces units,
drones and hunter killer squads.
The Exile tells the extraordinary inside story of that
decade through the eyes of those who witnessed it: bin
Laden's four wives and many children, his deputies and
military strategists, his spiritual advisor, the CIA,
Pakistan's ISI, and many others who have never before told
Investigative journalists Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy
gained unique access to Osama bin Laden's inner circle, and
they recount the flight of Al Qaeda's forces and bin Laden's
innocent family members, the gradual formation of ISIS by
bin Laden's lieutenants, and bin Laden's rising paranoia and
eroding control over his organization. They also reveal that
the Bush White House knew the whereabouts of bin Laden's
family and Al Qaeda's military and religious leaders, but
rejected opportunities to capture them, pursuing war in the
Persian Gulf instead, and offer insights into how Al Qaeda
will attempt to regenerate itself in the coming years.
While we think we know what happened in Abbottabad on May 2,
2011, we know little about the wilderness years that led to
that shocking event. As authoritative in its scope and
detail as it is propuslively readable, The Exile is a
landmark work of investigation and reporting.
Available at: www.amazon.com
Want to Renew Your IACSP Membership?
If your membership has expired or if you are a visitor and
you would like to join the IACSP, you may use this link to
renew or join our membership at a special discount rate (currently
only available for the IACSP Linked In group).
Please go to:
Are You Moving?
If you have moved or are going to move in the near future,
please let us know at the IACSP as soon as possible as to
not affect your membership and mail status. Have you missed
an issue of our Journal? Please let us know.
Send us your old and new address to: