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Seventh Annual Terrorism Conference
Dear Friends of Jamestown,
On behalf of the Jamestown Foundation, I would like to thank all those who participated in our seventh annual terrorism conference. This year’s conference was a major success as we had nearly 200 participants and featured prominent senior-level policymakers General James N. Mattis (ret.), former head of CENTCOM, and General Michael V. Hayden, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
For those who were not able to attend our conference, the DVD of the event is now available for purchase on our website. Since organizing our first annual conference in December 2007, each event has grown in popularity and overall attendance. We were truly delighted to host this year’s speakers and attendees. Jamestown views its annual terrorism conferences as an essential part of its outreach to the U.S. policymaking community, international businesses and our supporters. Jamestown distinguishes itself from other organizations that deal with foreign policy in Washington by utilizing our core strength: research and analysis.
Jamestown continues to focus on important regions of the world that affect U.S. national security interests but often go underreported in Western media. Utilizing its access to indigenously-sourced information, Jamestown is a major leader in providing the policymaking community with timely fact-based analysis. Our unique conferences tap into this core strength by bringing together many of the experts from regions of the world about which we write. This allows us to offer conference attendees a wide range of global perspectives each year, which enables the policymaking community to come away with a deeper understanding of the activities of militant groups in areas of the world we monitor.
We appreciate your continued interest in Jamestown’s work and truly look forward to your support of our activities in 2014.
The Jamestown Foundation Donates Books and Reports to U.S. Servicemen
On August 8, The Jamestown Foundation donated a number of books and reports to the North Dakota National Guardsmen stationed in Washington, D.C. Staff Sergeant Kyle S. Emmel came to The Jamestown Foundation to meet with Jamestown President Glen E. Howard and receive the reading material, which was provided to the soldiers to support their personal and professional development during their deployment. The donated books and reports cover an array of global issues and regions of the world, ranging from oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, to the South China Sea dispute, to Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria, to Russia’s military reform. Jamestown is proud to support our men and women in uniform.
In the News
Decoding Al Qaeda’s Strategy: The Deep Battle Against America
Jamestown Senior Fellow Michael W.S. Ryan’s new book, Decoding Al-Qaeda’s Strategy: The Deep Battle Against America, is now available for purchase.
By analyzing the work of well-known and obscure al-Qaeda theoreticians, Dr. Ryan finds that jihadist terrorism strategy has more in common with guerrilla strategies than mainstream Islam. In his new book, Dr. Ryan encourages strategists and researchers to devote their attention more to jihadi ideas than to jihadist military operations.
Dr. Ryan examines the Salafist-Jihadist roots of al-Qaeda’s ideology and concludes that al-Qaeda’s political-military strategy is revolutionary and largely a departure from classic concepts of jihad. By providing a theoretical framework for analyzing al-Qaeda’s plans and operations, Dr. Ryan aims to help the reader understand who al-Qaeda is, what they are trying to accomplish and how they are trying to achieve their goals.
Decoding Al-Qaeda’s Strategy: The Deep Battle Against America, published by Columbia University Press, is now available. Dr. Ryan’s next book, The Heirs of Al-Qaeda: The Evolution of the Global Jihadist Movement, will focus on the Salafi-Jihadist groups that have emerged across the Middle East and North Africa following the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The Rise of al-Shabaab: A Militant Leadership Monitor Special Report
In this Quarterly Special Report (QSR) on the rise of al-Shabaab, we focus on the various militants who are guiding al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-aligned militant organization that aims to impose Shari’a in Somalia. The group began as a radical youth wing of Somalia’s Islamic Courts Union in 2006. The QSR begins with Andrew McGregor’s analysis of the political and security landscape in Somalia, with an historical look at Somali resistance to Ethiopia. The QSR includes profiles of a number of al-Shabaab’s leaders, showing that they are divided over both the group’s ideology and its links with al-Qaeda. Another article assesses al-Shabaab’s deadly attack on Kenya’s Westgate Mall on September 24, 2013. The attack was orchestrated in protest of Kenya’s support for a new, autonomous administration in southern Somalia, which threatens to deprive Shabaab of operational mobility in one of its last strongholds. The QSR concludes with a timeline of al-Shabaab’s activity since September 30, 2012. The timeline highlights attacks the group’s increasing ability to carry out sophisticated terrorist attacks.
The November Issue of Militant Leadership Monitor features two briefs by Nicholas A. Heras. The first focuses on the recent announcement of the formation of al-Jabhat al-Islamiya (Islamic Front), a coalition of seven powerful opposition groups in Syria, with a look at one of its most prominent leaders, Shaykh Hassan Abboud. The second brief provides a snapshot of Shaykh Ahmad Issa who has been described as the new overall leader of al-Jabhat al-Islamiya. Dario Cristiani provides the first profile of Fu’ad Muhammad Khalaf, al-Shabaab’s Somali-Swedish militant. Next, Jacob Zenn takes a look at Boko Haram founder Muhammad Yusuf, as an individual and as a preacher, to develop a better understanding of him and his impact. Animesh Roul follows with a portrait of the new Pakistani Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah. The concluding profile by Andrew McGregor is of al-Shabaab’s Ikrima al-Muhajir.
Northern Nigeria’s Boko Haram: The Prize in al-Qaeda’s Africa Strategy
A New Occasional Report by Jacob Zenn
During the summer of 2012, under the auspices of the Jamestown Foundation, Jacob Zenn conducted field research in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad to study and learn about Boko Haram from indigenous sources. The product of his reseach is an Occasional Paper, entitled “Northern Nigeria’s Boko Haram: The Prize in Al-Qaeda’s Africa Strategy.” This Occasional Paper examines the evolution of al-Qaeda’s Africa strategy from its focus on East Africa in the 1990s to the entire African continent by the mid-2000s. It then analyzes al-Qaeda’s efforts to establish a relationship with Boko Haram’s predecessor, the Nigerian Taliban, from 2003 to 2009; the evolution of the Boko Haram threat to Nigeria and its neighbors from 2009 to late 2012; and the extent to which al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which now controls the separatist state in northern Mali called “Azawad” with two allied Islamist militias, has interacted with Boko Haram and other militants in northern Nigeria.
The paper argues that al-Qaeda has been interested in expanding its anti-American and transnational militant agenda to Nigeria through local Nigerian militants, but that the Nigerian Taliban largely pursued its own sociopolitical agenda in Nigeria. As a result, a partnership between al-Qaeda and Nigerian militants was never forged in the 2000s. However, since the rise of Boko Haram in 2009, which evolved from the Nigerian Taliban, the group‘s ideology has become much more anti-American, largely due to a change in leadership from the late Muhammad Yusuf to his former second-in-command Abubakr Shekau. AQIM’s rise in northern Mali, which is only 300 miles from northern Nigeria, will facilitate an al-Qaeda and Boko Haram alliance. As AQIM and Boko Haram’s areas of operations begin to overlap in northern Mali, Niger and northern Nigeria, so will their interests. This will have a significant impact on the stability of Nigeria, U.S. interests in Nigeria, and West African regional security.
Chinese Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile Development: Drivers, Trajectories and Strategic Implications
A New Occasional Paper by Andrew S. Erickson
China recently announced the creation of a new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) covering the East China Sea. Immediate reactions have focused on its effect on territorial disputes with Japan, as well as, to a lesser extent, with South Korea and Taiwan. However, the new ADIZ is also a major step toward China’s ambitions to monitor and control the operations of foreign militaries in what China describes as its near seas. As such, the ADIZ provides a legal framework for China’s longstanding efforts to develop anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. This especially affects the United States.
Andrew Erickson’s recent report on China’s anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) development, described by The Diplomat as “clearly the world’s authoritative guide detailing the strategic rationale, development and ramifications,” examines the history, progress and implications of the “assassin’s mace” that forms the military basis of China’s A2/AD efforts. This 160-page monograph examines the ASBM’s capability, showing how the DF-21D meets multiple priorities in Chinese defense modernization and in the national security bureaucracy as well its implications for the United States. Erickson wrote that the ASBM’s physical threat to U.S. Navy ships will be determined by the development of associated systems and organizations, which currently limit data fusion and coordination in the complex task of identifying a U.S. aircraft carrier in the open ocean. Still, the ASBM poses a direct threat to the foundations of U.S. power projection in Asia and will undermine the U.S. position, unless efforts to counter its political-military effects are taken.
The ADIZ increases China’s capacity to gather information about and track U.S. activity in the area and may help to overcome the limitations of the current system. Erickson’s report is critical reading for policymakers and military analysts to understand whether China can back up its claims to control the East China Sea with force.
Between al-Qaeda and the PKK: The Future of the Kurds in Syria
Wladimir van Wilgenburg, a longtime observer of Kurdish affairs in the Middle East, spoke at the Jamestown Foundation on November 13 on the ongoing fighting between al-Qaeda and the Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan (PKK – Kurdistan Workers’ Party) in Syria. Wilgenberg, who recently traveled to rebel-held areas in eastern Syria, discussed the recent setbacks by Syrian rebels at the hands of the Kurdish-backed Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG – People’s Protection Units). Wilgenburg believes that the military successes of the YPG are attributed to Syrian government support for the Kurds. The YPG, he noted, is nothing more than a de facto reincarnation of the PKK. Wilgenburg believes that Syrian rebels have lost the support of local Kurds in eastern Syria because of the rebels’ mismanagement and appropriation of local resources as part of their alignment with Sunni militant groups. The recent capture of a major Iraqi border checkpoint by the YPG was a major setback to anti-Assad forces and Turkey, since it decreases PKK/Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat (PYD – Democratic Union Party) dependence on Turkish border crossings.
Mr. Van Wilgenburg is a frequent writer on the Kurds for the Jamestown Foundation’s publication Terrorism Monitor and Militant Leadership Monitor, where he has profiled the leaders of the various Kurdish groups inside Syria and northern Iraq.
The Jamestown Foundation welcomes the new China Brief Editor, David Cohen, to our office. David Cohen has been working as a freelance journalist and research consultant as well as a regular China contributor to The Diplomat. The outgoing editor of China Brief, Peter Mattis, will stay on as a fellow with the China program as he begins doctoral research at the University of Cambridge. As editor, Peter Mattis expanded coverage of China’s place in the world and its internal security. He also directed China Brief’s substantial coverage of the implications of China’s recently completed leadership transition. We valued his contributions to China Brief and are pleased that he will remain part of the Jamestown family.
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