Lucha antiterrorista

Soldados patrullan las calles del Distrito Aguablanca en Cali, Colombia, en mayo. Credit Ernesto Guzmán Jr./EPA vía Shutterstock

El campo puede ser un aliado del crimen. Allí la soledad y la lejanía colaboran cuando los violentos de cualquier bando deciden que las vidas de los demás les pertenecen. Algo así ocurrió el 22 de junio en Santa Cecilia, un caserío del Eje Cafetero colombiano, donde siete soldados violaron a una indígena de la etnia emberá katío y al menos uno de ellos ofreció dinero por su silencio. La impunidad no cuajó esta vez porque la familia de la chica, de 12 años, denunció la agresión enseguida. Desde 2016 el ejército de Colombia suma 118 investigaciones abiertas por abuso sexual de menores.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ministry of Defence, Whitehall on Feb 3, 2016 in London, UK. Photo: Getty Images.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, the United Kingdom’s intelligence services were in several instances complicit in the use of torture by the CIA and other foreign agencies. Despite a series of inquiries since 2010, and some reforms of the system, questions remain about whether enough has been done to prevent future British involvement in the torture of detainees. Ben Horton speaks to Ruth Blakeley and Sam Raphael from The Rendition Project to find out more about what they describe as a ‘machinery of denial’ at the heart of the British state.  

Could you explain what you mean by complicity in torture? …  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 »

Military commanders inspect arms and ammunitions recovered from Boko Haram jihadists. Audu Marte/AFP via Getty Images

The Nigerian government recently announced that it had released about 1,400 Boko Haram suspects. The reason given was they had repented and were to be re-integrated into society. The government said the releases – which happened in three tranches – were part of its four-year old de-radicalisation programme called Operation Safe Corridor.

The announcement generated a lot of angst. Opposition leaders attacked the decision, as did soldiers fighting the terrorists.

These reactions mask a fundamental challenge facing governments in conflict situations: how does it deal with defectors? Simply executing combatants, or detaining them indefinitely, aren’t viable options. De-radicalisation and re-integration programmes therefore become unavoidable.…  Seguir leyendo »

Soldiers arrive home in the middle of the night to a snowstorm at Fort Drum in 2011.Credit...Damon Winter/The New York Times

Outside the headquarters of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum stands a monument to the unit, the one most frequently deployed in the years since the attacks of 9/11. Two wiry soldiers, frozen in bronze, help each other ascend a crag with the help of a rope. Etched around the monument is the unit’s motto: “Climb to Glory.”

I walked around the stone and bronze, in the frigid darkness of upstate New York, for a good 20 minutes last month, as my old friend Capt. Richard Murphy stood just out of earshot and spoke on his phone about his looming deployment to Afghanistan and about suicide.…  Seguir leyendo »

Membre des forces de sécurité dans le désert de l'Aïr, région d'Agadez, Niger, février 2019. CRISISGROUP/Julie David de Lossy

Le 13 janvier à Pau, le président Macron et ses homologues du G5-Sahel (Mauritanie, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Tchad) discuteront de la situation dans le Sahel en présence du secrétaire général des Nations unies, du président de la commission de l’Union Africaine et du chef de la diplomatie européenne. Sauf surprise, cette réunion de haut niveau devrait se contenter de réaffirmer l’engagement des différents pays à lutter ensemble contre le terrorisme jihadiste qui gagne tant de terrain au Sahel. Pourtant, face à l’ampleur des insurrections, les opérations militaires menées par la France et les pays sahéliens ne peuvent constituer une réponse suffisante tant qu’elles n’appuient pas une réponse politique claire qui continue de faire défaut.…  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 »

Less than a month ago, London endured another terrorist attack. Wielding two knives and wearing a fake suicide vest, Usman Khan killed two people and injured three others. Khan had been imprisoned in 2012 for plotting attacks on the London Stock Exchange and Parliament, but was released “on license” (the British version of parole) in December 2018, subject to security measures including a government-run disengagement and desistance program and a GPS tag. He was considered, by some, a “poster boy” for rehabilitation.

While prison can rehabilitate some terrorists, it can further radicalize others. Unfortunately, experts are not very adept at assessing the risk — predicting who will return to terrorism, either after time in prison or returning from a conflict zone.…  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 »

‘Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia!” The instructions to the Delta team in pursuit of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi were probably less direct than that of the Mexican crime lord in the Sam Peckinpah splatter movie but there’s little doubt that it was effectively an American hit job. In the end, the trapped leader of the Islamic State death cult blew himself up, sparing the need for an awkward debate about the ethics of targeted assassinations.

The problem, though, is that most modern terror organisations cannot be decapitated. When Osama bin Laden was eventually run to ground in Pakistan in 2011, a cache of porn and works by Noam Chomsky on the bookshelves of his hideout, it became clear he had become largely irrelevant to the daily proceedings of al-Qaeda.…  Seguir leyendo »

An image grab from a video released in 2014 shows Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi preaching at a mosque in Mosul. Photo by Al-Furqan Media/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi does not mean the automatic end of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). But the immediate future of ISIS depends more on local dynamics in Syria than on whether it still has a leader or not.

Baghdadi was a powerful tool for ISIS, especially at a time when the organisation was planning to establish a so-called state. Considering that there could not be a caliphate without a caliph, ISIS put Baghdadi in the public eye to give its supporters around the world an identifiable figurehead.

Despite the military defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, its supporters still saw in the presence of Baghdadi hope of restoring the caliphate one day.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Badrid, rebautizado como Abu Bakar al Bagdadi. AAP/EPA/ al Furqan ISIS media

Si el 29 de junio de 2014 estuvo marcado por la proclamación del Califato en la Mezquita de Al Nuri en Mosul, el 26 de octubre de 2019 será recordado por el obituario de su líder, el autoproclamado Califa Ibrahim que murió en la ciudad siria de Barisha.

Nacido como Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Badrid, este iraquí originario de Samarra adoptó el nombre de Abu Bakar al Bagdadi como forma de atribuirse el carisma del que fuera el primer sucesor de Mahoma. Su vida es una incógnita o, en mejor de los casos, una gran conjetura. Incluso después de muerto poco se sabe de este terrorista que supo poner en jaque a Europa entre los años 2015 y 2017 con atentados tan crueles como los de París, Bruselas o Barcelona.…  Seguir leyendo »

Women line up for aid supplies at al-Hol camp in Hassakeh province, Syria, on March 31. (Maya Alleruzzo/AP)

Last month, the Defense Department’s inspector general issued a detailed report on conditions in the al-Hol refugee and detention camp in rebel-controlled Syria. In al-Hol, tens of thousands of women and children who once lived under the so-called caliphate of the Islamic State are now being held in dire conditions. Yet minimal security permits women to spread the Islamic State ideology uncontested — resulting in what some observers are calling “a reign of fear.” If the extremist group continues to exert influence in the region despite its lack of a physical stronghold, these women will bear responsibility.

Eighteen years since the devastating terrorist attacks of 9/11, violent extremism persists unabated.…  Seguir leyendo »

Burkina Faso is in the grips of a dangerous threat from armed Islamist fighters who are murdering civilians and threatening to destabilize other West African countries. But the government’s abusive counterinsurgency strategy, notably the summary execution of suspects, risks inflaming the conflict by driving more people into the hands of Islamist militant recruiters.

Since 2017, I have documented the alleged extrajudicial execution by the security forces of more than 150 men accused of supporting or harboring terrorists. I cannot confirm whether any of the executed men supported armed Islamists. But all of the victims were last seen in the custody of government security forces and found hours later shot in the head or chest.…  Seguir leyendo »

One disturbing aspect of the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka was that the slaughter of 321 victims came at a time when the United States is suffering what might be described as terrorism fatigue.

The wars against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are part of a painful past that policymakers and the public want to escape. Those Middle East conflicts were costly and distracting. They didn’t produce many tangible gains, other than killing terrorists. Sept. 11, 2001, feels like it happened a long time ago, and many politicians want to move on.

But the networks of violent extremists are still there, stretching to places most of us probably hadn’t even imagined, like Sri Lanka.…  Seguir leyendo »

Debbie Bookchin. Girls playing in the garden of the Museum of Martyrs in Kobane, the town where some 1,400 mainly Kurdish men and women died fighting ISIS in 2014 and 2015, Northern Syria, March 21, 2019

As the de facto chief negotiator of the liberated region called the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, Ilham Ahmed, the Kurdish co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council, has much on her mind. In recent months, she has traveled in the US and Europe, negotiating the future of a domain that is home to an estimated 5 to 6 million people, including a substantial portion of Syria’s 6.2 million internally displaced persons, and, now in addition, thousands of families implicated in Islamic State terrorism who are today living in refugee camps. As Ahmed continues delicate talks with the world’s superpowers over the status of this territory, its future is, to a certain degree, in her hands.…  Seguir leyendo »