Isis Propaganda War on the Front Line of Cyberspace

  • By Jarno Limnell  September 15, 2014 09:26 BST

When the White House finally invoked the word “war” on 12 September to describe the new US-led campaign against Isis in Iraq and Syria, the already ominous parallels between 1914 and 2014 grew more resonant still, with the 21st-century wrinkle of cyber conflict adding a particularly destabilizing factor to today’s situation.

Pockmarked by crises – Boko Haram, Gaza, Ukraine and MH17, Ebola, Isis – the unquiet summer just concluded seemed all along to be leading up to something.

In 1914 it took about six weeks after the June assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand for war to erupt between Germany and Austria, the Dual Alliance, and Britain, France, and Russia.

In 2014, similarly, it was only weeks after Isis militants drove hundreds of thousands of Iraqis from their homes in Mosul and Tikrit, and isolated the minority Yasidis on Mount Sinjar, that President Obama announced “we will degrade and ultimately destroy” Isis.[1] (The Isis beheading videos, starting with James Foley’s execution posted on the Internet on 19 August, were a political accelerant.)

The danger of another World War I, a violent continent-wide contest for territory and regional influence that leaves mass casualties and redraws maps, is low. Isis will not soon steam into New York Harbor, guns blazing. But, beyond the narrow and classically kinetic “war on Isis” newly defined by the Obama administration, there is a fierce below-radar war in cyberspace for economic and political influence, involving numerous players.

Isis flag

The black flag has become heavily associated with the Isis group(Getty)

With terrible brilliance, Isis, for one, both commits cyber crime and floats cyber propaganda. It boasts both a “backroom” criminal operation, which raises funds, and a front-of-house “daylight” operation devoted to image building.

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Turkey not asking NATO for help with ISIS


SPAIN/

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is seen through a viewfinder as he addresses the media during a joint news conference with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo (not pictured) in Madrid, June 12, 2014.  (photo by REUTERS/Susana Vera)

On June 11, NATO ambassadors gathered in an emergency meeting at Turkey’s request to discuss the rapid expansion of radical Sunni Islamist militants in northern Iraq in which they took control of Mosul and Tikrit. That same day, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), an al-Qaeda spin-off group fighting in both Iraq and Syria, seized Turkey’s Mosul consulate, taking the consul general and his 48 staff members hostage. Earlier in the week, ISIS also took 31 Turkish truck drivers hostage.

Summary- Turkey briefed NATO ambassadors regarding the seizure of its Mosul consulate, but it did not ask for any NATO involvement, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to be engaged directly in the hostage negotiations.

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What to do in Iraq

Reuters

Members of the Iraqi security forces patrol an area near the borders between Karbala Province and Anbar Province, June 16, 2014

It’s widely agreed that the collapse of Iraq would be a disaster for American interests and security in the Middle East and around the world. It also seems to be widely assumed either that there’s nothing we can now do to avert that disaster, or that our best bet is supporting Iran against al Qaeda. Both assumptions are wrong. It would be irresponsible to embrace a premature fatalism with respect to Iraq. And it would be damaging and counterproductive to accept a transformation of our alliances and relationships in the Middle East to the benefit of the regime in Tehran. There is a third alternative. Continue reading

Counterinsurgency, Local Militias, and Statebuilding in Afghanistan

30 May 2014

Afghan police force trains to serve, courtesy of NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan/flickr
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With an ongoing insurgency and the pending departure of ISAF forces, will the Afghan Local Police (ALP) have a positive impact the country’s politics and security? Jonathan Goodhand and Aziz Hakimi aren’t optimistic. They worry that the force may fragment into competing militias.

By Jonathan Goodhand and Aziz Hakim for United States Institute of Peace (USIP)

This report was originally published by the United States Institute of Peace on 18 December 2013.

Introduction

In the context of the Afghan security transition of 2014, when the bulk of foreign military forces are due to withdraw, policy debates have focused on the role and capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).[1] Much effort has been devoted to building up and bureaucratizing the means of violence in Afghanistan with a view to establishing a legitimate monopoly over the means of coercion. Yet this has been paralleled by a series of government and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) experiments in arming local defense forces, including local militias under the ALP, to fight the insurgency and provide security at the local level. Frequently, notions of Afghan ownership, local solutions, and cost-effectiveness are invoked to justify such programs. This strategy is not without controversy, however. It has prompted concerns about the efficacy and impact of such interventions on the Afghan state’s capacity to rein in armed groups, impose a monopoly over the means of violence, improve security, balance civil-military relations, enforce the rule of law, create political stability, and end the internal conflict. These debates on the role of irregular forces tend to be driven by agency interests and based on limited or disputed evidence. Continue reading

How Putin Is Reinventing Warfare

Though some deride Russia for backward thinking, Putin’s strategy in Ukraine betrays a nuanced understanding of 21st century geopolitics.

BY Peter Pomerantsev MAY 5, 2014

The Kremlin, according to Barack Obama, is stuck in the “old ways,” trapped in Cold War or even 19th century mindsets. But look closer at the Kremlin‘s actions during the crisis in Ukraine and you begin to see a very 21st century mentality, manipulating transnational financial interconnections, spinning global media, and reconfiguring geo-political alliances. Could it be that the West is the one caught up in the “old ways,” while the Kremlin is the geopolitical avant-garde, informed by a dark, subversive reading of globalization?

The Kremlin’s approach might be called “non-linear war,” a term used in a short story written by one of Putin’s closest political advisors, Vladislav Surkov, which was published under his pseudonym, Nathan Dubovitsky, just a few days before the annexation of Crimea. Surkov is credited with inventing the system of “managed democracy” that has dominated Russia in the 21st century, and his new portfolio focuses on foreign policy. This time, he sets his new story in a dystopian future, after the “fifth world war.”

Surkov writes: “It was the first non-linear war. In the primitive wars of the 19th and 20th centuries it was common for just two sides to fight. Two countries, two blocks of allies. Now four coalitions collided. Not two against two, or three against one. All against all.” Continue reading

Ukrainian extremists move headquarters from Kiev to Dnepropetrovsk

April 24, 0:40 UTC+4

In Russia, the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against Yarosh on charges of public calls for terrorist and extremist activities

© ITAR-TASS/Zurab Javakhadze

KIEV, April 24. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine’s extremist organization Right Sector has moved its headquarters from Kiev to Dnepropetrovsk, said its leader Dmitry Yarosh who is running for president.

“It’s easier to monitor the situation in Donbass from Dneptropetrovsk,” Yarosh said on Wednesday.

Earlier, local media reported a meeting in camera between Yarosh and head of the Dneptropetrovsk regional administration Igor Kolomoisky.

The Right Sector leader denied receiving funding from oligarchs. “We’re not using oligarchs’ money in politics, but when a war is on, we do not object to their funding the army,” he said. Continue reading

SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW Weekly Assessments & Briefings Volume 12, No. 38, March 24, 2014

Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal
ASSESSMENT
AFGHANISTAN

Critical Cusp
Ajit Kumar Singh
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management

With less than a fortnight to go for the all important Presidential Elections scheduled to be held on April 5, 2014, a wave of terror strikes has enveloped the length and breadth of Afghanistan. In the most recent of major incidents (each resulting in three or more fatalities) at least nine persons, including four foreigners and five Afghans (including two children and two women), were shot dead by Taliban terrorists inside the luxurious Serena Hotel complex in national capital Kabul, in the night of March 20, 2014. The attackers managed to smuggle pistols past security checkpoints and then hid in a bathroom, eventually springing out and opening fire on guests and hotel guards. All the four terrorists were killed in the subsequent operation by the Security Forces (SFs). The attack took place despite recent security reports rating Serena Hotel, guarded round the clock by dozens of security guards armed with assault weapons, among the highest-risk locales in the city. The hotel is frequented by foreign officials and the Afghan elite. Continue reading