Since the start of the current conflict in Ukraine, there have been growing glimpses coming through media reports, social media feeds and personal networks of Central Asian mercenaries and volunteers fighting on both sides of the Russia-Ukraine war. But the emergence of this new foreign fighter phenomenon — less than a decade after thousands of Central Asians joined ISIS in Iraq and Syria — is raising increasing concerns and important questions for Central Asian security. Unlike the phenomenon of Central Asians fighting in Iraq and Syria, the cleavages in Ukraine are much closer to home and echo those in Central Asian society, which makes this mobilization much more divisive internally.
On Monday, President Biden revealed that a U.S. drone strike killed al-Qaida leader, and mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Ayman al-Zawahiri over the weekend. Al-Zawahiri was reportedly on the balcony of a safe house in Kabul, Afghanistan. Last week, the United States participated in a regional conference in Tashkent, Uzbekistan focused on counterterrorism, where Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said his regime had followed through on commitments to not allow Afghanistan to be used as a base for transnational terrorism.
More than three years after its military defeat in Iraq and Syria, ISIS is a downgraded threat thanks to the collective efforts of the U.S.-led global coalition that coalesced to defeat it along with Iraqi and Syrian partners. While the extremist group’s capacity has been drastically reduced and millions of people have returned home, ISIS has managed to continue attacks year after year despite no longer holding territory. Meanwhile, some of the most difficult human legacies — the challenges facing the people the ISIS conflict left behind — are still with us, with no end in sight.
On July 1, 2016, Bangladeshi militants carried out an attack, targeting mostly foreigners and non-Muslims, at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka. The Bangladeshi government responded to the attack with a concerted and controversial counterterrorism campaign. Although the number of terrorist incidents has been in steady decline since 2016, Islamist groups continue to operate, recruit, and carry out small-scale attacks while aspiring to perpetrate greater violence. This report examines the dynamics, drivers, and manifestations of extremism in Bangladesh and discusses measures to weaken its appeal.
On May 15, Somali legislators selected former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to reprise the chief executive role he played from 2012-2017. The vote marks a critical transition for Somalia and in the Horn of Africa, particularly after the election was delayed by two years and marred by corruption and violence. President Hassan Sheikh will return to power in a country seemingly splitting at the seams, amid a devastating drought, a metastasizing terrorist threat and a fractious political scene. Meanwhile, President Biden has decided to redeploy U.S. troops to fight the terrorist group al-Shabab, reversing a move made by President Trump at the end of his term.
More than three years after ISIS’s territorial defeat, the vexing challenge of displacement threatens to provoke the rise of ISIS 2.0 if not adequately addressed. The May 11 Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS ministerial meeting in Marrakech, Morocco highlights these concerns over the evolving threat the so-called Islamic State still poses. The Marrakech meeting coincides with both growing disquiet at deteriorating humanitarian and security conditions in the al-Hol displacement camp in northeast Syria — ground zero for the ISIS-related displacement crisis — and some hope for a path forward.
The RESOLVE Network’s multiyear research on Community-Based Armed Groups (CBAGs) has established critical findings for the international community on how to engage, manage and transform violent actors in conflict-affected states. While mitigation efforts tend to target anti-state extremist organizations, understanding the behavior of CBAGs is essential for comprehending complex conflict ecosystems and reassessing approaches toward peace and stability.
In 2021, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) insurgency escalated its challenge against Pakistan. Operating from bases in Afghanistan, and with a growing presence inside Pakistan, the group mounted an increasing number of attacks against Pakistani security forces — as well as against some critical Chinese interests in Pakistan. The insurgency also showed renewed political strength by bringing in splintered factions and improving internal cohesion. Additionally, al-Qaeda signaled its continued alliance with the TTP. On Tuesday, after an attack by the TTP on the police in Pakistan’s capital city of Islamabad, Pakistan’s Interior Minister warned that more attacks by the group are likely.
For four centuries, the Muslim-majority areas in the southern reaches of the Philippines have resisted domination by the capital Manila, whether its leaders were Spanish, American or Filipino. This dynamic has spawned insurgencies, glimmers of hope for peaceful coexistence and repeated disappointment — all amid endemic violence and poverty.
What motivates one person to engage in acts of violent extremism, while others choose to pursue change through nonviolent action? This report is based on pilot research into the psychological and social dynamics of a nonviolent resistance group—Algeria’s Hirak movement—that employs some of the same measures used to study participation in violent extremist organizations. A deeper understanding of these dynamics, it is hoped, will help practitioners, policymakers, and researchers to identify and support paths away from violent extremism and to strengthen and sustain engagement in nonviolent action.