This Is Not Your Father’s Hezbollah

This Is Not Your Father’s Hezbollah

BEIRUT — Around a kitchen table in Beirut’s southern suburbs, a midlevel Hezbollah commander moved empty coffee cups and a plastic water bottle around a cell phone, demonstrating how his men repelled an assault by what he said were Islamic State fighters along Lebanon’s border with Syria.

“They tried to come down through this valley, but we control the hills on either side,” he said, gesturing to the cell phone lying between the coffee cups and moving the water bottle to indicate the territory the militants still hold. “Right now we don’t have orders to attack; we are just defending.” Continue reading

Islamic State recruits broadly, not just fighters

FILE - In this Oct. 22,2 104 file photo, the apartment building in Aurora, Colo., which police say is the home of two of the three teenage girls who, according to U.S. authorities, were en route to join the Islamic State group in Syria when they were stopped at an airport in Germany. The three teenage girls from Colorado swapped Twitter messages about marriage and religion with recruiters for the Islamic State group, then set out for Syria with passports and thousands of dollars in stolen cash. Authorities intercepted them in Germany, then returned them to their families without criminal charges.  (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — As it looks to expand its territorial base across broad swaths of Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State group is recruiting for more than just fighters

The extremist organization also has been targeting its sophisticated propaganda to entice potential wives and professionals such as doctors, accountants and engineers in its efforts to build a new society.

Among those it has lured were three teenage girls from Colorado, who set out for Syria this fall after swapping Twitter messages about marriage and religion with IS recruiters, and a young woman who sought to fight there — or failing that, to use her nursing skills. It’s a diverse pool of recruits whose motives perplex Western governments seeking to combat the flow.

The group “is issuing a bit of a siren song through social media, trying to attract people to their so-called caliphate,” FBI Director James Comey told reporters. “And among the people they’re trying to attract are young women to be brides for these jihadis.” Continue reading

The Maldives-Syria Connection: Jihad in Paradise?

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 12 Issue: 22
November 21, 2014 04:03 PM

 

Screenshot from Abu Turab video in Divehi (Source: YouTube)

The Maldives, the Muslim-majority archipelago country in the Indian Ocean, is going through a tumultuous time, facing increasing Islamist activities at home, an exodus of radicalized youth to join the jihad in Syria and a growing domestic clamor for the implementation of Shari’a law. This has been accompanied by the targeted abduction and intimidation of local Maldivians who hold progressive ideals and secular values. Although the country is better known as a romantic honeymoon destination, these developments – which include the establishment of the “Islamic State of the Maldives” (ISM) group – have exposed the deep extremist undercurrents in Maldivian society and are increasingly drawing the attention of local and international security forces. Continue reading

New Intelligence on Italian Jihadists

English: War flag of al-Shabaab

English: War flag of al-Shabaab (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

August 25, 2014

Compared to France, Germany, or Britain, Italy’s problem with domestic jihadism is relatively modest, yet it is growing fast, thanks to the wars in Syria and Iraq. A new report in Corriere della Sera, Italy’s paper of record, based on current intelligence from Italian secret services, paints a disturbing picture of rising radicalism.

At present, according to the latest intelligence in Rome, some fifty Italians are fighting with the Islamic State (IS — get my assessment of that dangerous group here), of whom a shocking eighty percent are converts, not immigrants or born Muslims. Many go abroad to wage holy war after a surprisingly brief period of conversion and radicalization. They are very young and come mostly from northern Italy. The Salafi jihadist scene in Italy is fragmented regionally and a key role is played by what Italian intelligence terms “liaison officers,” the individuals who facilitate the recruitment of new holy warriors and get them to the war zone. Continue reading

The Importance of Financing in Enabling and Sustaining the Conflict in Syria (and Beyond)

Western Asia in most contexts. Possible extens...

Western Asia in most contexts. Possible extensions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Vol 8, No 4 (2014) > Keatinge

by Tom Keatinge

Abstract

The availability, sources, and distribution of funding are critical issues to consider when seeking to address an on-going conflict such as the one we are witnessing across Syria and Iraq. In the Syrian case, whilst funds from states such as Russia, Iran, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Qatar support various elements, a key factor to consider in addressing extremist groups is funding provided by private donors, some of whom are attracted by the concept of ‘jihadi finance’, seeking the honour and reward of waging jihad by proxy. This article reviews the importance of financing for insurgent groups, focusing in particular on the highly influential enabling role played by private donor financing in the current conflict in Syria, as well as the sustaining role of the war economy as the conflict spreads. Finally, it considers whether, in its fourth year, this conflict can still be influenced by targeting sources of financing.

Keywords: Terrorism finance, Syria

Introduction

The Syrian conflict has drawn support in the form of weapons, spare parts, supplies, and fighters from across the globe. But most importantly, the conflict has been enabled by the ready and generous supply of financing provided by a broad array of states and private individuals and it is sustained by the development of a highly lucrative war economy. It is thus not an exaggeration to say that financing is extremely important to all parties in the conflict, and that the availability of financing has substantially influenced  the course the conflict has taken thus far. Continue reading

Hizbollah’s Political and Security Situation: Existing and Emerging Challenges

Download PDF Print         INSS Insight No. 529, March 19, 2014
Since the beginning of the bloody civil war in Syria three years ago, Hizbollah’s political and security environment has grown far more complex, with the Lebanese Shiite organization involved in a prolonged civil war that has strong regional implications, and with its status within Lebanon increasingly contested. Thus while Hizbollah remains the single most powerful military organization in Lebanon, both its freedom of action and its capacity to project power have been constrained. Currently, Hizbollah must deal with challenges at both the domestic and regional levels.
Since the beginning of the bloody civil war in Syria three years ago, Hizbollah’s political and security environment has grown far more complex, with the Lebanese Shiite organization involved in a prolonged civil war that has strong regional implications, and with its status within Lebanon increasingly contested. Thus while Hizbollah remains the single most powerful military organization in Lebanon, both its freedom of action and its capacity to project power have been constrained. Currently, Hizbollah must deal with challenges at both the domestic and regional levels.

Funeral of a Hizbollah fighter killed in Syria, March 3, 2014; AFP/Getty Images

Within Lebanon, Hizbollah is grappling with a prolonged period of instability, with the country ever-more polarized between pro-and anti-Bashar al-Assad supporters. Adding to the complexity of the situation is the pressure on Lebanon caused by the steady influx of Syrian refugees, numbering one million by late 2013 more than 20 percent of Lebanon’s total population a number expected to rise to 1.5 million by the end of 2014.  Continue reading

The Fragile Process for Engaging Iran

 

An enlargeable relief map of Syria

An enlargeable relief map of Syria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

The diplomatic fracas over inviting and disinviting Iran to the Syrian peace talks only makes sense if you factor in President Obama’s fragile consensus for engaging Iran over its nuclear program – while influential neocons keep pressing for confrontation. That mix has made for a messy process on Syria, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

The handling of the issue of Iranian participation in the next round of multilateral discussions on the civil war in Syria has been something of an embarrassment — certainly for the United States, the United Nations, and the conglomeration known as the Syrian opposition.

The United States has seemed to be more interested in words rather than in substance in the demands it has been placing on Iran.

Continue reading