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In August 2021, all US soldiers left Afghanistan, enabling the Taliban to take over the country. Since then, the Taliban have installed a theocracy that bans women from most jobs and bars girls over the age of 12 from attending school, while maintaining close relationships with terrorist groups, such as al Qaeda.

The Taliban today control more of Afghanistan than they did the last time they were in power before the 9/11 attacks. And they are better armed since they now possess American armored vehicles and M16 rifles left behind as the US military headed for the exits.

For the past year, a group known as the National Resistance Front has waged a guerrilla war against the Taliban.…  Seguir leyendo »

Soldiers of the French military mission in Mali fold a French flag at an undisclosed military installation on Aug. 11. (Etat Major des Armées/AFP/Getty Images)

The withdrawal of the last remaining French troops from Mali this month has inflicted a serious blow to Western military efforts to curtail a growing Islamist threat spreading across the Sahel region of Africa.

The failure of the French military mission, which included up to 5,000 soldiers in what became known as Operation Barkane, demonstrates the perplexing difficulties of waging a counterinsurgency campaign against regional remnants of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. It also raises concerns that Russia and China might step into the geopolitical void left by frustrated and impatient Western governments.

As the United States ponders the lessons of its 20-year struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, which ended in a chaotic exit one year ago, France is reconsidering its own strategy in coping with the proliferation of Islamist militants in many of its former African colonies.…  Seguir leyendo »

El regreso de los monjes soldado

Entre la enorme lista de cosas estigmatizadas por nuestra sociedad está el uso de la violencia. Lo que voy a decir puede resultar inaceptable, políticamente incorrecto, casi delictivo, en una sociedad que hace del pacifismo idiota uno de sus mantras más poderosos. La violencia es a la historia de la Humanidad lo mismo que el sol y la lluvia, constante y permanente. La violencia es buena o mala en relación al fin que la motive, no en sí misma. Que los cuerpos de seguridad o nuestro Ejército hagan uso legítimo y equilibrado de ella para defender la libertad, el territorio nacional o terminar con una amenaza terrorista no solo es bueno, sino deseable.…  Seguir leyendo »

Taliban security in the neighborhood where a U.S. drone strike killed Ayman al-Zawahri in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 31. EPA, via Shutterstock

When President Biden announced the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan last year, one of his main justifications was that Al Qaeda had been so “degraded” that the United States no longer needed to maintain a military presence in a country once used as a Qaeda sanctuary. Mr. Biden also vowed to hold the Taliban to its pledge not to allow terrorists to threaten the United States from Afghan soil.

Yet less than a year after the Taliban completed their recapture of Afghanistan, the head of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, was hiding out in a house in downtown Kabul, where he was killed in an American drone strike on Sunday.…  Seguir leyendo »

Debris from a building destroyed in the aftermath of a counter-terrorism mission conducted by the U.S. Special Operations Forces are seen in Atmeh, Syria, 4 February 2022. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Mahmoud Hassano

Who was the ISIS leader killed yesterday in north-western Syria?

Abdullah Qardash, an Iraqi national also known as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, became ISIS leader on 31 October 2019, one week after his predecessor, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in a U.S. raid in Idlib province in north-western Syria. Qardash was a long-time jihadist veteran. He joined what was known as al-Qaeda in Iraq shortly after the 2003 U.S. invasion to fight the U.S.-led coalition forces and the new Iraqi government. Like several other future ISIS leaders, he was arrested for his role in the insurgency and spent time in the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Future federal air marshals participate in a shooting exercise in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., on March 29, 2017. (Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post)

Twenty years after the worst terrorist attack in history, there hasn’t been “another 9/11.” By one count, 107 people have been killed in jihadist attacks in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001, and nearly half of those were in one attack — the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting. Any deaths are tragic, but more Americans are dying of covid-19 every two hours than died of Islamist terrorism in the United States during the past 20 years.

You would think this counterterrorism success would be celebrated. Instead, on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the “global war on terror” — as it was once called — is widely reviled.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una bandera estadounidense y una rosa se colocan entre los nombres de personas fallecidas el 11 de septiembre de 2001 en el monumento conmemorativo en Nueva York, Estados Unidos, el 8 de septiembre de 2021. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Quienes vivimos el 11 de septiembre siempre recordaremos con exactitud dónde estábamos y qué estábamos haciendo cuando Estados Unidos fue atacado. Como nuevo funcionario del Departamento de Justicia, pasé la mayor parte del día en un centro de comando abarrotado en la sede del Buró Federal de Investigaciones (FBI, por sus siglas en inglés). Fue un remolino de actividad y emociones: preocupación por los seres queridos, furia contra quienes nos atacaron, incertidumbre sobre el futuro inmediato. Pero lo que nunca olvidaré es la increíble sensación de solidaridad que hubo en ese salón. Estábamos unidos por nuestra determinación de encontrar a los responsables y decididos a prevenir otro ataque.…  Seguir leyendo »

These are the women who crushed the Caliphate

In early 2016, the first time a friend told Gayle Tzemach Lemmon the story of Kurdish Women's Projection Units in northeastern Syria -- also known as the YPJ -- she had two reactions. The first was fascination: How had no one else told the tale of these women, aligned with US forces (and later provided with support by the Trump administration) who were fighting the Islamic State -- a group which routinely kidnapped, raped and murdered women?

The second reaction, when an American friend of Lemmon's who had been working with the women's units, urged her, "Come on, you have to see it," was: "No."…  Seguir leyendo »

Jihadists of former al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham block demonstrators from approaching the Bab al-Hawa crossing between Turkey and Syria’s north-western Idlib province on 20 September 2019. Omar HAJ KADOUR / AFP

If the Biden administration is looking to correct Washington’s overly militarised foreign policy, one opportunity to redefine U.S. counter-terrorism strategy lies in Idlib, an area which U.S. officials once described as “the largest al-Qaeda safe haven since 9/11”. The north-western Syrian province is no longer that, for reasons explained below. But, in other respects, it remains what it has been for much of the Syrian war: a crowded refuge for three million civilians, the site of looming potential humanitarian disaster and a last stronghold of Syrian rebel groups. Its fate could also prove pivotal for the future of – and U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Les forces françaises de l'opération Barkhane au nord du Burkina Faso, en novembre 2019. Photo Michele Cattani. AFP

Huit ans après ses débuts au Mali en janvier 2013, l’intervention militaire de la France au Sahel s’est ensablée dans une guerre dont on ne voit pas la fin et qui rappelle l’enlisement des Soviétiques puis des Américains en Afghanistan. Le problème ne tient pas qu’aux défis de la lutte contre le terrorisme dans des territoires immenses, mais aussi à l’entêtement de dirigeants qui ne veulent pas perdre la face et qui refusent d’admettre publiquement leurs erreurs d’analyse.

L’Elysée n’a jamais annoncé clairement quel était «l’état final recherché», comme disent les militaires. Officiellement, les soldats de l’opération Barkhane n’ont pas pour objectif de rétablir l’ordre au Sahel.…  Seguir leyendo »

The killing of al Qaeda deputy leader Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, which multiple current and former U.S. officials have attributed to a team of Israeli agents, according to the Associated Press, was a big blow to the top tier of America's decades-long terrorist enemy. A long-standing member of al Qaeda's senior leadership who had been in Iran since 2003, his death was yet another victory in a US-led counterterrorism campaign that in recent months has killed the group's purported media chief in Afghanistan, according to an AP report, and a string of senior leaders based in Syria. Meanwhile, rumors persist that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri may also have recently died from natural causes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Il n’existe aucune justification à des exécutions cruelles telles que celles qui ont eu lieu récemment en France et en Autriche. Cette fois, c’était en Europe. À de nombreuses autres occasions, les citoyens d’autres régions du monde étaient visés. Tous les dirigeants à travers les continents et les régions doivent continuer à unir leurs forces pour lutter contre le discours de haine et contre le terrorisme.

Les récents attentats terroristes perpétrés en Europe visaient les fondements de nos sociétés. Ce n’est pas la première fois que les terroristes ont cherché à déchirer des sociétés. Comme par le passé, nous voulons unir nos forces avec tous nos partenaires pour lutter contre cette menace avec unité et détermination.…  Seguir leyendo »

«Nous sommes en guerre à la fois contre un ennemi extérieur et intérieur.» L’expression est lâchée par le ministre de l’Intérieur. En guerre «culturelle» contre un ennemi idéologique, l’islamiste, qui pénètre la société et manœuvre les consciences ; et en guerre tout court contre des ennemis immédiats, les terroristes. La rhétorique belliqueuse répond aux multiples appels lancés ces derniers jours à se donner «enfin» les moyens de lutter, quitte à «sortir du cadre», à «s’exonérer des lois de la paix», à adopter une «législation de guerre» et à «en finir avec l’Etat de droit». Ce serait le prix à payer pour juguler les menaces et apaiser les anxiétés.…  Seguir leyendo »

An article entitled “The Crusaders’ Worst Nightmare” in the ISIS newsletter al-Naba. Crisis Group downloaded the newsletter from the website Jihadology. The newsletter was originally distributed by ISIS’s messaging network.

As the COVID-19 pandemic swiftly reorders the priorities of policymakers and the public worldwide, conflicts that only recently occupied centre stage in the global policy and media debate are receding into the background. The fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere is no exception.

But while UN Secretary-General António Guterres has argued that mankind faces a common enemy in COVID-19, and thus appealed for a “global ceasefire”, ISIS has made clear that it sees things differently. In a new editorial in its weekly newsletter, ISIS has told its membership that their globe-spanning war is to go on, even as the virus spreads.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Nov. 29, London Bridge was the site of another terrorist attack. Usman Khan, a 28-year-old convicted on terrorism offences in 2012 and then released from jail last year, stabbed two people to death and injured three others. British police shot and killed Khan, and the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack the following day.

A week later, a Saudi trainee at a Navy base in Pensacola, Fla., murdered three sailors before military security shot him dead. The Navy grounded nearly 300 Saudi trainees while the FBI investigated the incident as a presumed terrorist attack.

These two acts jolted Western governments and security agencies to the risk of jihadist terrorism.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le 11 novembre a été inauguré, à Paris, un monument en mémoire des soldats « morts pour la France » loin de leur pays depuis 1963. Si on examine le contexte dans lequel sont morts les 549, et hélas bientôt 562, soldats dont le nom y est inscrit, on s’apercevra que presque tous sont tombés en luttant non contre des Etats, mais contre des organisations armées. Aujourd’hui, et pour ne considérer que le Sahel, nous affrontons Ansar Eddine, Al-Qaida au Maghreb islamique (AQMI), la katiba Macina et la katiba Al-Mourabitoune réunies dans un Groupe pour le soutien de l’islam et des musulmans (GSIM), ainsi que l’Etat islamique dans le Grand Sahara (EIGS).…  Seguir leyendo »

«Fuera todos los yihadistas extranjeros. Turquía “no es un hotel”». Con estas palabras, pese a su habitual estilo irritante, Ankara plantea un problema legítimo, aunque durante años haya sido “la autopista de la yihad”. Ahora, la idea del Gobierno de Recep Tayyip Erdogan de enviar repentinamente a los llamados “combatientes extranjeros” a sus países de origen es lo que ha hecho estallar el caso.

Este es un tema embarazoso. Lleno de implicaciones jurídicas, dificultades logísticas y aspectos morales relacionados con las familias de los terroristas. Suponiendo que todos lo sean. La cuestión de los combatientes extranjeros de la “guerra santa”, procedentes sobre todo de Asia y África, pero entre los que también hay muchos de Europa y Estados Unidos, es la fruta envenenada del octavo año de conflicto en Siria.…  Seguir leyendo »

Soldiers sit at a watch post next to the runway inside Mogadishu airport’s secure perimeter, where international organizations such as the United Nations and European Union are based, in Mogadishu, Somalia. (Dai Kurokawa/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

On Oct. 13, al-Shabab sent mortar rounds into the United Nations base at the Mogadishu airport, one of the most fortified areas in Somalia. A July hotel attack and car bombing in a Somali port town left more than 26 dead. In May, al-Shabab detonated a car bomb near the presidential palace in Mogadishu, killing nine people.

Al-Shabab is an Islamist extremist group affiliated with al-Qaeda, seeking to oust the Western-backed federal government of Somalia and install an Islamic government instituting sharia law. Despite coalition efforts to counter this militant group, al-Shabab continues to demonstrate resiliency and the ability to launch attacks both domestically and cross-border into Kenya.…  Seguir leyendo »

This image released by the Department of Defense on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019, and displayed at a Pentagon briefing, shows an image of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (Department of Defense via AP)

The death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, caused by a raid by Army Delta Force operators based in Iraq, was an enormous but not fatal blow to that dangerous terrorist network. Others among the ISIS leadership are being hunted and killed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was outraged that President Trump didn’t notify Congress before the raid, though he did notify Russia. Custom, not the law or the U.S. Constitution requires notifying Congress, so she’s way off base. The sad fact is that we had to notify Russia because Russia controls the airspace our Delta guys had to fly through to get to their target.…  Seguir leyendo »

US military vehicles after withdrawing from a key base in northern Syria

They are good at dismay, the Europeans. Their cheek-clutching horror at US President Donald Trump's abandonment of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) was worthy of Munch's "The Scream".

But to have reacted with surprise at this much-telegraphed decision reveals a staggering level of naivety. Worse still, their failure to anticipate the behavior of America's mercurial President reveals both cowardice and stupidity -- not among the tiny number of special forces from the United Kingdom, France, Denmark and elsewhere, who were sent to help with the defeat of ISIS, of course. But certainly among the leaders of wealthy western nations that have the greatest strategic interest in what happens in the Middle East.…  Seguir leyendo »