Terrorism risk at home and abroad

With the emergence of information about Islamic State of Khorasan or ISIS-K – the terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the suicide attack that killed 13 U.S. soldiers and more than 160 Afghans last week – there is increasing effort to predict the Taliban Afghanistan under rule may once again become a breeding ground for terrorist organizations.

A sort of UN report According to estimates released in June, thousands of fighters from the region have poured into Afghanistan. Many of them are believed to be connected to the Taliban (still considered a terrorist organization) or Al Qaeda or ISIS-K.

New York Times report ISIS-K was created by members of the Pakistani branch of the Taliban six years ago. Experts have many ideas about the significance of their ability to successfully carry out terrorist attacks in areas ruled by the Taliban for future terrorist threats.

Cipher Brief spoke with respected terrorism experts Bruce Hoffman, Mitch Silber, and Colin Clarke to understand their views on the current risks of terrorist attacks against Americans at home and abroad.

Bruce Hoffman, Georgetown University Terrorism Expert and Professor

Password Briefing Expert Bruce Hoffman He is a professor at Georgetown University and a member of the independent committee that examines the FBI’s response to terrorism and radicalization after 9/11. He is also a resident scholar of the CIA’s counter-terrorism.

Mitch Silber, Former Director of Analysis, New York Police Department

Password Briefing Expert Mitch Silber Served as the Director of Intelligence Analysis for the New York City Police Department and as the Chief Advisor to the Deputy Director of Intelligence for Counter-Terrorism Policy and Analysis. He is now the executive director of the Community Safety Initiative.

Colin Clark, Director of Policy Research, Soufan Group

Dr. Colin P. Clarke is the policy and research director of Sufan Group. Clark’s research focuses on domestic and transnational terrorism, international security, and geopolitics. He is also a senior researcher at the Soufan Center.

Password introduction: if UN report The report released in June is accurate. Thousands of fighters have poured into Afghanistan from the region-many of them are related to known terrorist organizations-what way can the government say that the “mission is completed” will belittle the existence of terrorism in Afghanistan In terms of?

Hoffman: will not. As highlighted in the report issued by the UN Support and Sanctions Monitoring Group, Afghanistan has once again become the magnet of jihad, and it is likely to continue to do so in the future. The suicide bombing outside the Kabul International Airport last Thursday highlighted the presence of multiple terrorist organizations in the country.

In addition to ISIS-K, there are also the Haqqani network, al-Qaeda, and of course the Taliban. Terrorism flourishes under chaotic and unstable conditions. Terrorists hope to spread to other countries and eventually spread across regions.

Just as the Salafis jihadist terrorists migrated back to the Middle East, North Africa, and the Caucasus from the existing battlefields in South Asia in the 1990s; spread to East Africa and West Africa in the early 2000s; in their early twenties, the Arab Spring flourished in Syria, Libya, and Saskatchewan. Civil war started in the Helle region; the same phenomenon is happening in Afghanistan.

silver: Frankly speaking, I don’t think any of the four administrations can claim that the policy goal of making Afghanistan uninhabitable and a safe haven for al-Qaeda or other similar jihadist groups has been achieved. Of course, in the past two decades, the jihadist organization, the most important al-Qaeda organization, has repeatedly weakened its threats in terms of its ability to project threats to the United States, and the degradation of the threats is only temporary.

Password introduction: How confident are you that Al Qaeda and the Islamic State will not be able to plan and execute attacks on the United States at home?

Hoffman: The reckless Doha negotiations with the Taliban led to the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, followed by the Taliban’s blitzkrieg in Afghanistan, and then our diplomats and citizens evacuated chaotically, portraying a huge goal on the back of the United States. Like a shark in the water, terrorists will smell blood.As my colleague Jacob Ware on the Foreign Relations Committee and I wrote War on the rockIn May, every terrorism forced the United States to withdraw from the conflict zone where it once deployed ground forces, whether it was in Lebanon in 1984; Somalia in 1993; and Iraq in 2011. It led to more terrorism worldwide. , Not less, thus making the United States less secure.

When our country continues to work hard to deal with the COVID pandemic; when climate change destroys the Gulf countries due to the worsening of Hurricane Ida and California wildfires; when January 6day Uprising of the U.S. Capitol Continue to smolder Earlier this month, incidents such as bomb threats occurred in the vicinity of the U.S. Library of Congress and the Cannon House office building; coupled with continued cyber attacks and peer competition from China and Russia, as well as concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions; our terrorist opponents It is possible to conclude that the United States has been fully occupied or distracted by any or all of the above factors, and therefore conclude that the time to strike the mainland is just right.Very unlikely to lead to a catastrophic repeat of September 11day The 2001 attack. But a terrorist attack similar to the Pensacola Naval Air Station shooting in 2019; a suicide bombing in a concert venue in Manchester, England in 2017; a coordinated suicide attack on London traffic in 2005; a commuter train bombing in Madrid in 2004 Cases; or any type of major lone wolf incident committed in the name of certain existing terrorist movements may re-create widespread fear and anxiety, and these fears and anxiety are the inventory of terrorism. It should also be noted that in the past three years, members of Al-Shabaab—perhaps al-Qaeda’s most technically unskilled franchise—have been arrested twice in the Philippines and in an undisclosed African country. The flight training is the same as the four of them. The 9/11 hijackers attacked before their deadly, history-changing coordinated attack.

silver: At this moment, according to the statements issued to Congress by senior officials of the Intelligence Committee and the Department of Defense, Al Qaeda or ISIS-K are unlikely to have the infrastructure, resources, recruiting, and external planning capabilities to attack the United States. However, if the US military does not exert any or only limited external pressure due to its retreat from Afghanistan, these networks and capabilities can be rebuilt in the next few months. Of course, al Qaeda and other organizations have never given up their desire to attack the United States. home.

Clark: I think it is unlikely that AQ or ISIS will attack the continental United States. In the past two decades, we have supported homeland defense most of the time. We now have CT tools that we didn’t have 20 years ago. In other words, 6, 12, 18 months from now, the situation may be very different. Both organizations are able to regenerate external operational planning capabilities. There are also concerns about inspired attacks.


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Password introduction: Some analysts said that due to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, the morale of terrorist or Islamic extremist organizations is very high. Do you agree? If you agree, what does it mean?

Hoffman: Yes. certainly. Sunni and Shiite terrorist movements around the world have expressed their appreciation for the Taliban’s reconquering of the Afghan and U.S. military routes.For the Sunni Salafi-jihadist terrorists, the events of the past month confirmed the strategy set out by Usama bin Laden before 2004 U.S. Presidential Election, When he described how easy it was when Al Qaeda had “brought Russia to bleed for 10 years from Afghanistan in 1989, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw due to failure”, and predicted that the same fate would eventually fall on the United States. For example, Shiites Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of the terrorist organization Hezbollah, delivered a sermon last week in which he described the United States as a representative of “historic and humiliating failure in Afghanistan.”American moral decay. “

silver: Jihad chat rooms and online extremist networks feel like they have been blown down by the wind. It took two decades, but before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, an Islamic emirate was re-established in Afghanistan. Suddenly, the seemingly impossible became possible, and Islamic insurgents throughout the Middle East and South Asia could draw inspiration from the Taliban’s determination to overthrow the secular democratic government and replace it with an Islamist government.

Clark: Given the changes we have seen in Afghanistan, I do hope that the morale of terrorists, especially Islamic extremists, will increase. We are still a week and a half away from the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and Al Qaeda leaders are returning to Afghanistan (this is reflected in the AQ propaganda). We have seen Al Qaeda affiliates around the world congratulate the Taliban for their victory. I don’t want to exaggerate the facts here, but I do believe that as the United States and its allies shift from counter-terrorism to great power competition, what happens in Afghanistan will seriously promote the global jihadist movement. The resources and energy to deal with terrorists will be reduced. At this time, our main threat is shifting in Afghanistan. It may be the rebirth of Al-Qaida and the stubbornness of ISKP.

Also read Mike Leiter’s Why are we farther away from terrorism now than after 9/11 In the password briefing

Read also Why do we need a new national defense strategy (Against terrorism) only in The Cipher Brief


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