How To Think Like A Terrorist And Take Preventive Measures

We live in the worst of times. We  know that ISIS is capable of another major attack which means more victims and violence. And that's exactly what happened in Manchester, London and Tehran earlier this month.   The bad news is that there will be more attacks. This is why gaining access to the 'the operational nugget' is critical.  I remember using that word way back when I was in the U.S. … [Read more...]

The Ongoing Debate: Should Muslims Do More To Stop Terrorist Attacks?

After the horrific attack in Manchester, local residents were asked to discuss their views on whether Muslims should do more to stop future terrorist attacks. This is an uncomfortable question for most Muslims because there is great disagreement on the answer. The two opinions are as follows: Some Muslims believe that they had nothing to do with the attacks in Manchester or anywhere else. Why … [Read more...]

3 Reasons Why ISIS Conducted Dual Terrorist Attacks in Iran

This morning, two terrorist attacks hit the capital city of Iran and ISIS claimed responsibility. The attacks, which took place at the Parliament building and at the mausoleum of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, proves that ISIS is reaching beyond traditional targets to strike fear everywhere. Why Iran? First, a few quick observations: Iran is the largest … [Read more...]

Undocumented Children Are Prime Terrorist Recruits

Earlier this year, I spent some time with experts working in Lebanon who track ISIS recruitment of children. Given the sensitivity of their work, their names are not mentioned in this brief report, but their insights are worth sharing. Given a variety of factors, multiple sources believe that ISIS recruiting has steadily increased in Beirut. ISIS’s recruiting strategy in Lebanon leverages a … [Read more...]

A Spike In Terrorist Attacks Worldwide

The world we live in is forever changed by terrorist attacks. No longer one-time-events, terrorists have learned that violence captures immediate media attention. Violence makes for sensationalist news and more than often, attackers force authorities, government agencies, and the wider public to react, which is what terrorists want. I am reminded of the last days of Ramadan--considered by Muslims … [Read more...]

A Special Keynote Address: The Path to Ijtihad or Critical Thinking

Last week, I was honored to present at The Homeland Security and Emergency Management Conference in New Mexico. Set in historic Albuquerque, the conference venue and the audience could not have been more perfect--hundreds of law enforcement officers, emergency managers, and government officials, all working together to keep our country safe. As a keynote speaker, I was invited to talk about … [Read more...]

Can We Engage Muslims To Counter Violent Extremism (CVE)?

Years ago, winning the 'hearts and minds' of Muslims worldwide was Washington's solution to disrupting and defeating terrorism. The 'hearts and minds' campaign was intended to do many things, which included motivating Muslims to 'take back Islam.' Some Muslims viewed the campaign with skepticism; others distrusted and denounced it. Today, the new terminology in the world community is CVE or … [Read more...]

Why Do Extremists Kill During Ramadan?

It astonishes me that religious extremists choose to kill during one of Islam's holy months, Ramadan. As a young counter-terrorism analyst, I have been asked every Ramadan to explain why religious-based violence occurs and increases during the sacred month of fasting. According to devout Muslims, there is no justification for fighting during any one of the four sacred months ordained for worship. … [Read more...]

Reclaiming the Right to Islam

Who represents Muslims in America? In 2010, I published an op-ed in The Washington Post to look at the question of faith. The truth is that no one represents American Muslims.We are too diverse, different, and determined to practice faith from our own unique personal and cultural lens.The fact is that Muslims in America are too decentralized. And that is a blessing, not a curse. After all, as I … [Read more...]

First Annual Narrative Strategies Conference

A team of scholars will share their experience and expertise this Friday, May 6th on a subject of great importance. Countering violent extremism (CVE) with sound solutions and strategies that actually work. Presently, there is a renewed focus on CVE and a robust discussion is taking place worldwide on what constitutes the right CVE policy and practice. I've been in several meetings in Washington, … [Read more...]

The Final Analysis: Why Extremist Women Write

Writing from behind-the-screens, female propagandists are viewed by their followers as credible messengers, speaking out in volumes about life, death, marriage, martyrdom, and more. For the girls and women of ISIS, emerging literature addresses these how-to topics:how to fit in when you come to Raqqa, the ISIS-controlled city in Syria;how to behave with other women;how to act with your new … [Read more...]

Tracing The Literature of Extremist Women: Part I

Terrorism has always been a battle of ideas, reflecting a desire for immediate attention and change in the international world order. Like men, women leave their homes, families and communities to join terrorist organizations, such as The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), to support violent extremism. Because of their gender, women assume an auxiliary role within most male-oriented … [Read more...]

What We Can Learn From The Sister of ISIS Bomber “Jihadi John”?

  In an interview, the sister of the new "Jihadi John" ISIS member said her brother was once compassionate, loving and a family guy. If that's true, how did an ordinary-looking boy named Sid become a fugitive and feared terrorist? Days ago, Konika Dhar told CNN that she didn't want to believe her brother could join ISIS. Because he belonged to a normal Muslim family. He was colorful … [Read more...]

Tashfeen Malik, The Female Terrorist We Should Have Known

Every time a woman participates in a terrorist attack, analysts and authorities (and curious journalists) look back. We search for clues, trying to find the 'tipping point' to explain how and when a seemingly normal-looking (girl or) woman turns rogue. In San Bernardino, when Tashfeen Malik gunned down 14 people, the media began to look for new ways to understand female terrorists. Some … [Read more...]

What We Know From Terrorists Who Write

For decades, some terrorists have tapped into their creative charm to spin verse onto paper and the Internet. In the early days, they published their works in traditional paper-or-hardcover books. Today, most terrorists with writing abilities use the Internet to pontificate on the meaning of life and martyrdom as well as proliferate their messages (including the wider narrative of why they must … [Read more...]

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