Why Libya Matters

June 1, 2015  Zachary Fillingham



Libya is quietly slipping into chaos while the more established debacles of Iraq and Syria dominate in Western headlines and corridors of power. The more grave and consequential the Libyan civil war becomes, the less attention is paid to it. It’s almost as if the country has already been relegated to an embarrassing footnote in the history books, another ‘oops’ on the growing list of flawed Western interventions.

But it can and will get worse if Europe and its international partners choose to stand idle, because there can be no long-lasting stability in North Africa unless Libya is brought under control.

A Security Crisis

It’s a worst-case scenario that has been unfolding with stunning regularity throughout the MENA region: Islamic State (ISIS) moves into a vacuum and quickly becomes entrenched, bolstering its revenue, recruits, and standing with jihadis worldwide. Many thought that Libya would not provide fertile ground for ISIS expansion due to the country’s tight-knit tribal structure and aversion to outsiders. ISIS appears to be proving them wrong by going the franchise route and aligning its ‘brand’ with pre-existing Libyan Islamist outfits. Now the black flag is flying over Sirte and Derna, providing ISIS with a base to make further gains amidst the fighting between Tubruq and Tripoli. There are also more established, al-Qaeda aligned jihadist groups operating in Libya such as Ansar al-Sharia, which is currently proving a tactical headache for General Haftar’s forces in Benghazi. Continue reading

Two Overlooked Aspects Of Those Leaks About NSA Spying On French Presidents

US Intelligence Community Seal

US Intelligence Community Seal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

from the reasons-to-be-cheerful dept

There’s been quite a lot of excitement in the press about the latest leaks that the NSA has been spying on not just one French President, but (at least) three of them. As Mike pointed out, this isn’t such a big deal, because it is precisely the kind of thing that you would expect the NSA to do — as opposed to spying on the entire US public, which isn’t. There is, though, an aspect that most people have overlooked: the fact that these NSA leaks don’t appear to originate from Snowden’s stash.

Of course, Mr Crypto himself, Bruce Schneier, did spot it, and pointed out it could be one of his “other” US intelligence community leakers, listed a couple of months ago, or even a completely new one. As that post shows, there are now a few people around that are leaking secret documents, and that’s a pretty significant trend, since you might expect enhanced security measures taken in the wake of Snowden’s leaks would have discouraged or caught anyone who attempted to follow suit. Continue reading

Tunisia Shooting Death Toll Rises to 40 After Belgian Tourist Dies


09:33 27.06.2015(updated 10:39 27.06.2015) Get short URL

A gunman disguised as a tourist opened fire on a beach near the Tunisian resort town of Sousse on Friday.

BRUSSELS (Sputnik) — A female Belgian tourist died early Saturday after she suffered a lethal wound during Friday’s shooting spree at a Tunisian resort, Belgium’s Foreign Ministry said.

The latest death has brought the death toll up to 40. Most of fatalities were British, Tunisia’s Prime Minister Habib Essid said earlier at a press conference. Tunisians, Germans, and French were also killed.

Friday’s deadly attack targeted foreign holidaymakers who were sunbathing on a beach in Tunisia’s northeastern resort town of Sousse. The gunman, pretending to be a swimmer and carrying a rifle under a parasol, opened fire at the beach before entering Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba. Continue reading

Iran seen from Beijing

Author: Kevjn Lim Source: Think tank Published: 16 June 2015

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and China's President Xi Jinping in Shanghai on May 22, 2014

China views Iran as a central element in its much-touted Silk Road Economic Belt, which aims to extend Beijing’s influence overland through Central Asia to the Persian Gulf and Europe.

Also available in Arabic. Although China has long been Iran’s largest oil customer, international sanctions recently relegated the Islamic Republic from third to sixth place among Beijing’s suppliers — a list consistently topped by Iranian rival Saudi Arabia. Similarly, while China’s bilateral trade with Iran reportedly expanded to around $50 billion by late 2014, it remains dwarfed nearly elevenfold by its trade with the United States. Continue reading

Terrorism And the Pragmatics Of Transnational Intervention

ANALYTIC GROUNDING: The Boko Haram terrorist (BHT) group was founded in 2002 by a Sunni Islamic preacher Mohammed Yusuf in Maiduguri, Borno state in Nigeria’s north – east. Yusuf exploited the seemingly conservative nature of Northern Nigeria as reflected in the region’s opposition to or backwardness in western education. Consequently, Yusuf built a mosque and Islamiyah School in Maiduguri (madrassa). At the madrassa that thousands of people, mostly uneducated and poor Muslims and converts from across Nigeria and the neighboring countries of Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger were dogmatically radicalised into Boko Haram ideology. Similarly, the endemic poverty, illiteracy and unemployment in the north – east was also exploited by Yusuf, thereby succeeded in creating a cult like followership. Continue reading

Big Brother is watching EU

U.S. Embassy at focus of NSA Germany Spy scandal. Getty

As the US moves towards privacy reform, Europe enacts sweeping new spying powers.

A strange — and strangely unnoticed — trend is emerging in the evolving global response to massive 2013 leaks about US surveillance activities. While our European cousins talk privacy reform, the United States is actually moving ahead with it, albeit more slowly than many would like. As the American side of the Atlantic inches toward self-restraint, many European governments are seeking sweeping new spying powers. Europe is at risk of falling behind the US in privacy reform. 

Following two post-Snowden reviews of US surveillance activities, the United States announced new limitations to its electronic surveillance activities, including additional privacy protections for Europeans and other non-US citizens, which few European countries currently afford Americans. Much-criticized US surveillance activities, including the bulk telephone metadata program, are set to expire in days unless Congress intervenes. Meanwhile, the bipartisan Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Overseas (LEADS) Act and similar draft laws are moving through Congress and garnering broad support from technology companies, business organizations, and privacy and civil liberties advocacy groups. Continue reading

“I’m down for a Jihad”: How 100 Years of Gang Research Can Inform the Study of Terrorism, Radicalization and Extremism

Vol 9, No 1 (2015) > Decker  by Scott H. Decker and David C. Pyrooz

Abstract [1]

One of the difficult tasks in the social sciences is integrative, interdisciplinary work. There are many commonalities across the social sciences in method, theory, and policy. The study of gangs has a tradition in the U.S. that dates back nearly 100 years, with an emerging focus in Europe and other parts of the world. This Research Note argues that there is considerable overlap between the study of gangs and that of radicalized groups. Both fields examine violence conducted largely in a group context. Group structure, demographics, marginalization, strength of membership bonds, leaving the group, and the role of prison in expanding membership are all issues the two have in common. There are lessons those who study radicalized groups can take from the long tradition of gang research. This Research Note identifies twelve lessons learned (mistakes and successes) from the study of gangs that have relevance to the study of radicalized and extremist groups.

Keywords: gangs; criminology; terrorist groups; organized crime; terrorism research.


How can the study of gangs, gang members, and gang crime provide insights and guidance for the study of radicalization, extremism and terrorism? It is our contention in this short Research Note that lessons learned in the study of gangs have direct applicability to understanding terrorist groups and acts. While the study of political radicalization has a long tradition, the recent global concern over terrorism has focused increased attention and resources on the issue. Many criminologists paid little attention to acts of terror prior to the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.[2] Thus there has been some “catching up” in understanding radicalization and extremism, with several independent groups of scholars holding that much can be learned through the comparative study of radicalization and extremism with other groups of criminological, political, and sociological relevance.[3] Continue reading