Breaking news, primary source research, and critical analysis
concerning terrorism, homegrown extremism, and national security

BY J.M. BERGER

FOR FOREIGN POLICY:

Al Qaeda vs. IS: The battle to be the next jihadi superpower

Click here for analysis and charts tracking the battle for supremacy between al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
     

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ISIS: THE STATE OF TERROR

ISIS: The State of Terror, by Jessica Stern and J.M. BergerJessica Stern and J.M. Berger co-author the forthcoming book, "ISIS: The State of Terror," from Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins. The book, which will debut in early 2015, will examine the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, its potential fall, how it is transforming the nature of extremist movements, and how we should evaluate the threat it presents. Jessica Stern is a Harvard lecturer on terrorism and the author of the seminal text Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill. J.M. Berger is author of the definitive book on American jihadists, Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, a frequent contributor to Foreign Policy, and editor of Intelwire.com.

Pre-order the book now | Pre-order Kindle version

THREAT VERSUS IMPACT

Given the robust discussion of the relevance/irrelevance of al Qaeda Central, al Qaeda affiliates, the Islamic State, the Khorasan Group (if it is in fact anything but just plain old AQC), it's worth pointing out a fundamental tenet of terrorism, which one could be forgiven for having forgotten, given how much energy we spend fighting terrorism on the big stage.

Terrorism is asymmetrical. Recruit five guys and their last week's paychecks, and you can make headlines for months. Recruit 20 guys and their life's savings, and you can make headlines for years. All it takes is some creativity, psychology and street smarts about how you approach your attack. Fortunately for us, terrorist groups and individual terrorist actors don't usually tend to apply all three at the same time to accomplish a task effectively.

Read the full analysis

RECENT MEDIA APPEARANCES

  • BOSTON GLOBE: The Jihadi Hunters
  • ABC WORLD NEWS: ISIS Recruits Americans
  • MSNBC: Panel on U.S. options for the Islamic State
  • CNN: Are social media services doing enough about terrorism?
  • MSNBC: The rise of the Islamic State





    Read the full story at Foreign Policy

    J.M. Berger reports on Hammami:

  • Foreign Policy: Me against the World
  • Bum Rap: Omar Hammami Disavows Jihadist Raps
  • Best-Liked on the Most-Wanted
  • Former Jihadist Friend Rips Hammami in Online Post
  • Omar Hammami and the Trolls of Jihad

    JIHAD JOE BOOK EVENT AT NEW AMERICA


    J.M. Berger appeared at the New America Foundation to discuss his book, Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, with CNN terrorism analyst and bestselling author Peter Bergen.

    AQ VS. ISIS: STATE OF PLAY


    Read the full analysis at Foreign Policy

    RECENT POSTS

  • ISIS Twitter: Resistible Force Meets Movable Object
  • Jihadist Hostages and the Shape of Things to Come
  • 10 Things You Need to Know About Reporting on Terrorists on Social Media
  • H.P. Lovecraft Evil-O-Matic, ISIS Edition
  • IS/ISIS/ISIL: What's in a Name?
  • Islamic State Backlash Spills Onto Jabhat al Nusra
  • Updated al Qaeda vs. IS fractures chart
  • The State of the Caliphate is 'Meh'
  • ISIS Risks Everything on Caliphate Declaration
  • How Twitter Games ISIS, by J.M. Berger for The Atlantic
  • Analysis: How Online Fundraising Networks Are Reacting to ISIS
  • A New Day for ISIS: Considerations
  • War on Error: Understanding the evolution of al Qaeda

    THE FBI'S SECRET WAR WITH THE PATRIOTS


    An FBI undercover program known as PATCON spent more than two years collecting intelligence on the Patriot movement, without producing a single conviction. Timothy McVeigh was in contact with members of the targeted groups at the time of the investigation, but those links escaped notice, even after the Oklahoma City bombing.

  • Special report by J.M. Berger for Foreign Policy (shorter)
  • Special report by J.M. Berger for the New America Foundation (longer)

    PANEL DISCUSSION ON AL QAEDA FRACTURES



    EXCLUSIVE NEW DOCUMENTS ON AWLAKI

    INTELWIRE has obtained almost 2,000 pages of files related to Anwar Awlaki under the Freedom of Information Act, including minute entries from the FBI's surveillance of Awlaki after 9/11 and lavish details of his encounters with prostitutes.

    Click here for more


    The concept of "privacy" is fluid, subjective, contextual, and self-referential -- shifting sands that have come to the forefront in our torturous public debate about NSA surveillance. But our inability to clearly define the concept leaves the door open for abuses.

    Full story at Foreign Policy

    J.M. BERGER ON TWITTER EXTREMISM:

  • Twitter's Week of Reckoning
  • Terrorists on Social Media: Arguments That Don't Impress Me
  • I've Got a Little List
  • Zero Degrees of Al Qaeda
  • Yellow and Black is the New Black Flag
  • #Unfollow: The Case for Kicking Terrorists Off Twitter
  • Who Matters Online: Metrics for Monitoring Extremism Online
  • Buzzfeed: How to Ruin Al Qaeda's Day on Twitter
  • Reflections of a Troll



    AN OPEN LETTER TO JIHADIS

    I've spent some years now reading what you write and say to each other, and talking to you directly from time to time. I've been thinking about those conversations a lot, and I have a few things I want to say.

    Read the full article

    RECALCULATING THE SPLC'S HATE LIST

    The Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual "Year in Hate and Extremism" report last week, and as usual, it was terrifying. In an article for the SPLC's Intelligence Report magazine, researchers said they had identified an "all-time high" of 1,360 antigovernment groups active during 2012 and about the same staggering number of hate groups as last year, a total of 1,007. But those numbers are not what they seem.

    Full Story at Foreign Policy

    BHUTTO ASSASSINATION: EXCLUSIVE DOCUMENTS

    Just weeks before Pakistan's former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, she told U.S. State Department officials that Pakistani police had pulled back their protection on her home after a suicide attack on one of her rallies, according to new documents obtained by INTELWIRE through the Freedom of Information Act.

    Read the story

    Additional documents:

  • Binder 1 (very large PDF)
  • Binder 2 (very large PDF)
  • 12/12/2001: The Kashmir Equation Post-September 11
  • 9/11/2002: Pakistan's Elections, A Primer
  • 11/01/2002: Bhutto meeting with Assistant Secretary of State
  • 9/20/2004: Urgent request on Bhutto eligibility for a US visa
  • 11/6/2004: Bhutto "depressed" over re-election of U.S. President Bush
  • 11/2004: Assistant Secretary of State Rocca responds to Bhutto's letter to President Bush congratulating him on his re-election
  • 2007: Musharraf Keeps Opposition Parties Off Balance
  • 11/27/2007: Bhutto Assassination Aftermath


  • THE ROOTS OF RADICALIZATION


    The Stream, on Al Jazeera English, hosted a discussion of radicalization with Haris Tarin, director of the Washington office of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); Mubin Shaikh, a former undercover operative with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS); and Intelwire's J.M. Berger.

    JIHAD JOE: THE DEFINITIVE RESOURCE ON AMERICAN JIHADISTS

    Jihad Joe by J.M. BergerJihad Joe: Americans Who Go To War In The Name Of Islam, the critically acclaimed book by INTELWIRE's J.M. Berger, is now available in both Kindle and hardcover editions. Order today! To understand the Americans now fighting in the ranks of the brutal Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, it is important to understand the long and surprising history of American participation in military jihad. Read Jihad Joe, the only comprehensive history of the American jihadist movement, from 1979 through the 21st Century.

    INTELWIRE DOCUMENTS: THE 9/11 ATTACKS

    FBI Documents on 9/11:

  • By 9/11 Report Chapter
  • 1995 to 2000
  • 1/1/2001 to 9/10/2001
  • 9/11/2001
  • 9/12/2001
  • 9/13/2001 to 9/30/2001
  • 10/01/2001 to 12/31/2001
  • 01/01/2002 to 04/30/2002
  • 5/2002 to 12/2002
  • 1/2003 to 12/2003
  • 1/2004 to FBI FOIA complete

    CIA Documents on 9/11:

  • Binder 1
  • Binder 2

    Spotlight documents:

  • Major Document: FBI Chronology of Hijackers' Activities
  • FBI Timeline of Investigation for September 12-13, 2001
  • State Department Documents Cited In 9/11 Commission Report
  • June 2001 Warning About Terrorist Attack From Afghanistan
  • State Department's Secret Post-9/11 Briefing to World Leaders
  • Al Qaeda's Internal Records of Its Founding in 1988
  • 1994 State Department Document Referencing Al Qaeda
  • Anwar Awlaki FBI Investigative Documents
  • Descriptions of U.S. Border Security Programs, TIP, PISCES
  • 9/11 Commission Memoranda, State Department Interviews
  • 9/11 Commission Memoranda, CIA Budget
  • 9/11 Commission Memoranda, Extremism In Pakistan
  • 9/11 Commission Memoranda, Various Interviews
  • 9/11 Commission Memoranda, FBI Interviews, Part I
  • 9/11 Commission Memoranda, 1990s CT Policy Interviews
  • State Department Analysis: Exporting Terrorist Tactics From Iraq

    JIHAD JOE

    Jihad Joe by J.M. BergerJihad Joe: Americans Who Go To War In The Name Of Islam, the new book by INTELWIRE's J.M. Berger, is now available in both Kindle and hardcover editions. Order today!

    Jihad Joe is the first comprehensive history of the American jihadist movement, from 1979 through the present. Click here to read more about the critical acclaim Jihad Joe has earned so far, including from the New York Times, Publisher's Weekly, Redstate.com and more.

    BIG DATA AND EXTREMISM

  • How Metadata Works: What the NSA Does with Phone Records
  • Who Matters Online: Metrics for Monitoring Extremism Online
  • #Unfollow: Why Kicking Terrorists Off Twitter Works
  • Understanding the NSA's Location Data
  • Visualizing CVE Audiences
  • Recalculating the SPLC's Hate List

    COUNTERING VIOLENT EXTREMISM (CVE)

  • A Way Forward for CVE: The Five Ds
  • Monsters and Children: Politics And How We Talk About Muslims
  • The Value of Exposing Collaborators
  • The 'You Name It!' Problem
  • White House CVE Strategy Full of Sound and Fury
  • Terrorist Acts, Terrorist Thoughts

    ONLINE EXTREMISM AND CVE

  • How the West made a laughable terrorist magazine into a success
  • Interview with Online Jihadist Abu Suleiman Al Nasser
  • Internet provides terrorists with tools -- just like everyone else
  • The Trolls of Jihad
  • Don't Be Evil: Why Terrorists Love Google Services

    FBI USE OF INFORMANTS

  • Sex as a Weapon: The Blurry Line Between Informants and Agents
  • Patriot Games: FBI Undercover Operations And Timothy McVeigh
  • White Paper: PATCON infiltration and Oklahoma City
  • Video: Panel on infiltration, New America Foundation
  • A Nation of Spies and Snitches

    ANWAR AWLAKI

  • The Enduring Appeal of Awlaqi's "Constants on the Path of Jihad"
  • The Myth of Anwar Awlaki
  • Gone But Not Forgotten
  • Anwar Al-Awlaki's Links to the September 11 Hijackers
  • Anwar Awlaki's Emails with Fort Hood Shooter
  • U.S. Gave Millions To Charity Linked To Al Qaeda, Anwar Awlaki

    DOMESTIC EXTREMISM

  • Newtown and the Doomsday Preppers
  • White Nationalists See Opportunity After Election
  • How the Recession Helps Extremists
  • New York Times: Has threat from hate groups been overlooked?
  • J.M. Berger: Temple shooting suspect linked to Florida terror probe
  • Did You Hear The One About U.S. Internment Camps?
  • Unplaying the Race Card in the Patriot Movement
  • The Evolution of Race in the Patriot Movement

    AMERICAN JIHADISTS

  • The History of Chechen Jihadists in Boston
  • Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam
  • Exclusive: Omar Hammami on why Al Shabab wants to kill him
  • Bun Rap: Omar Hammami Disavows Propaganda Beats
  • The Boy Who Cried Lone Wolf
  • Why U.S. Terrorists Reject the Al Qaeda Playbook
  • Baltimore's Jamaat al-Muslimeen: Radical But Disciplined
  • Al Qaeda's Gun Fixation