Analysis

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Ties to Extremists

The Muslim Brotherhood is a transnational Sunni Islamist movement that seeks to implement sharia (Islamic law) under a global caliphate. Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Brotherhood is that country’s oldest Islamist organization and has branches throughout the world. A 2015 U.K. government investigation concluded that the Brotherhood has “promoted a radical, transformative politics, at odds with a millennium of Islamic jurisprudence and statecraft….” In line with the British assessment, and despite the Brotherhood’s official commitment to non-violence, CEP has documented ideological and operational links between the Brotherhood’s ideology and violent terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.

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CEP Position: Preventing the Dissemination of Terrorist Content Online

CEP supports the introduction of the EU regulatory proposal. We believe that such is the urgency and gravity of the proliferation of online terrorist content, that it merits a directly applicable regulation rather than a directive. The legislation, if implemented, will tackle the serious and ongoing problem of online extremism and recruitment by terrorist organisations. The viewing of terror content online has serious consequences for society as it plays a critical role in enabling the radicalisatio of individuals, with devastating consequences.

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The Extreme Right on Facebook

Neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and far-right groups and online businesses maintain a presence on Facebook. Facebook is the third most visited website on the Internet and is also the world’s largest social media network, with over 2.2 billion regular users as of February 2018. Because of its popularity, Facebook has become an important tool for political or community organizations and commercial brands—including, unfortunately, for far-right extremists. Even though the company explicitly bans hate speech and hate groups in its Community Standards, Facebook appears to have a reactionary approach to removing neo-Nazi and white supremacist content from its platform.

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Die Kosten des Extremismus

Das Brandenburgische Institut für Gesellschaft und Sicherheit (BIGS) wurde vom Counter Extremism Project (CEP) beauftragt, eine Kurzstudie über die Kosten des Extremismus am Beispiel der Bundesrepublik Deutschland zu erstellen. Dabei soll es im Wesentlichen darum gehen, zu beschreiben, was Extremismus ist, woraus die Kosten von Extremismus bestehen können, bei wem sie anfallen und welches Ausmaß sie haben.

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European Ethno-Nationalist and White Supremacy Groups

More than 70 years after the defeat of Nazi Germany, ethno-nationalist and white supremacist movements in Europe continue to thrive. They include far-right political parties, neo-Nazi movements, and apolitical protest groups. Some groups openly espouse violent white supremacy, while others have propagated their radical stances under the guise of populism. Though not all of these groups directly link their ideologies to Nazism, their propaganda portrays immigrants and ethnic minorities in a similar manner to how Nazi propaganda portrayed Jews, blaming them for national economic troubles and depicting them as a serious threat to the broader national identity.

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When Terrorists Come Home: The Need for Rehabilitating America's Convicted Jihadists

Over the next five years, nearly a quarter of the United States’ terror convicts will complete their terms of imprisonment. While it is possible that these individuals will commit offenses at a lower rate than other federal prisoners, it is still likely their recidivism rate will not be zero. Further complicating the situation, the United States has neither established a formal rehabilitation and re-entry program for convicted terrorists nor developed infrastructure to support individuals upon their release.

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Germany's NetzDG: A Key Test for Combatting Online Hate

Germany’s Network Enforcement Act, or NetzDG law represents a key test for combatting hate speech on the Internet. Under the law, which came into effect on January 1, 2018, online platforms face fines of up to €50 million for systemic failure to delete illegal content. NetzDG has not provoked mass requests for takedowns. Nor has it forced internet platforms to adopt a ‘take down, ask later’ approach.

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Extremists & Online Propaganda

This report profiles 168 individuals who consumed official propaganda materials produced by the media arms of groups like ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and al-Shabab, which are intentionally crafted to radicalize, inspire, and incite to violence. Individuals accessed and disseminated this content on a variety of social media platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, WhatsApp, Skype, Tumblr, and Paltalk.

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CEP Recommendations: Tackling Extremist Content Online

CEP set out a number of recommendations ahead of the release of the European Commission’s proposal on removal of terrorist content online in autumn 2018. In a position paper, CEP reiterates that online platforms are not doing enough to tackle extremist content online. While some progress has been made compared to a few years ago, there are still significant gaps by companies in the development and deployment of technology to quickly and accurately find and remove terror-related content.

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eGLYPH Web Crawler White Paper: ISIS Content on YouTube

From March 8 to June 8, 2018, CEP conducted a study to better understand how ISIS content is being uploaded to YouTube, how long it is staying online, and how many views these videos receive. To accomplish this, CEP conducted a limited search for a small set of just 229 previously-identified ISIS terror-related videos from among the trove of extremist material available on the platform.

To read the fact sheet, please click here.

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Paraguay and Terrorism in the Tri-Border Area

Numerous terrorist groups operate in Paraguay’s southeast near its border with Argentina and Brazil. The region, known as the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of South America, is considered a hotspot for criminal and terrorist activity. U.S.-sanctioned terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, and Hamas, are believed to recruit, plan attacks, and fundraise in the TBA, and within Paraguay specifically.

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Spiders of the Caliphate

This report analyzes the strength of the Islamic State’s (IS) network on Facebook using online network measurement tools and uncovers the myriad of ways in which IS operates on Facebook. To do so, researchers Gregory Waters and Robert Postings mapped the accounts and connections between 1,000 IS-supporting Facebook profiles with links to 96 countries.

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OK Google, Show Me Extremism

On July 21, 2017, Google announced the launch of its Redirect Method Pilot Program, which is intended to target individuals searching for ISIS-related content on YouTube and direct them to counter-narrative videos. Between August 2 and August 3, 2018, CEP reviewed a total of 649 YouTube videos for extremist and counter-narrative content. The result of CEP’s searches highlights the extent of the enduring problem of terrorist content on YouTube and undermines claims touting the efficacy of the company’s efforts to combat online extremism.

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The Many Criminal Heads of the Golden Hydra

The Tri-Border Area (TBA) that straddles the intersection of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil is considered the “Golden Hydra,” as it is the lucrative regional entry point of many “heads” of transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) and foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) that all lead to the underworld of illicit trade for more than forty years.

Fact Sheet (English), Fact Sheet (Spanish), Fact Sheet (French)

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Hezbollah's Influence in Lebanon

Hezbollah has evolved significantly from its origins as a guerilla group in the early 1980s into a major political and military force. In defiance of U.N. resolutions and international agreements demanding its disarmament, Hezbollah has used its military strength, political power, and grassroots popularity to integrate itself into Lebanese society.

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Guide to White Supremacy Groups

While traditional white supremacist groups such as the Aryan Brotherhood promote blatant racism and violence, more modern groups such as the League of the South and Identity Evropa have promoted white nationalism as a legitimate ideology that belongs in mainstream political and academic spheres.

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Brazil's Lax Approach to Countering Terrorism

Numerous terrorist groups operate in Brazil’s southwest near its border with Argentina and Paraguay. The region, known as the Tri-Border Area (TBA) of South America, is considered a hotspot for criminal and terrorist activity. U.S.-sanctioned terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, and Hamas, are believed to recruit, plan attacks, and fundraise in the TBA, and within Brazil specifically.

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Guide to Online Propagandists

In November 2017, YouTube adopted a policy prohibiting content from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki. YouTube’s decision is a positive step, but more must be done to eliminate radicalizing extremist ideologies from the Internet. There is no shortage of extremist actors and ideologues online. At a minimum, content from individuals with links to violent extremist actors should be removed from online platforms.

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Terrorists on Telegram

Terrorist and extremist groups use encrypted application Telegram to recruit new members, fundraise, incite to violence, and even coordinate terrorist activity. Telegram’s messaging application has both public-facing and private components. This flexible interface enables extremists to do everything from self-promotion, brand development and propaganda dissemination, to secret plotting of attacks outside detection or interference from law enforcement.

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ISIS's Persecution of Women

According to Iraqi reports, ISIS has executed hundreds of Muslim women and their relatives for refusing to marry ISIS fighters. ISIS has brutal disregard for women within its territorial control. Firsthand accounts indicate that ISIS repeatedly abuses and mistreats women in its territory, enslaving and molesting non-Muslim women and girls, and abusing and restricting the movements of Muslim women and girls.

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Qatar, Money and Terror: Doha's Dangerous Policies

Qatar supported and harbored international terrorist organizations and individuals. The hydrocarbon-rich Gulf country sends direct financial and material support to internationally-designated terrorist groups such as Hamas and the Nusra Front, and knowingly permits internationally-designated or wanted terrorist leaders and financiers to operate within its borders.

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ISIS Online: U.S. Rights and Responsibilities

ISIS is the most notable of the many extremist groups that have weaponized social media and messaging platforms—such as Twitter and Facebook—as well as encrypted messaging applications like Telegram and WhatsApp—to recruit, incite violence, and plot attacks. Social media companies, meanwhile, have for years failed to either acknowledge the severity of the problem of online extremism or to incorporate preventive safeguards onto their platforms.

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Vehicles as Weapons of Terror

On March 22, 2017, terrorist assailant Khalid Masood killed five people and wounded 50 more during a vehicle and stabbing attack in London. The following day, a similar attack was thwarted in Antwerp, Belgium. Similar ISIS-claimed attacks in Nice, Ohio, and Berlin each involved armed assailants using cars and trucks as weapons, charging at pedestrians in crowded civilian areas.

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Khomeinism

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the country’s first supreme leader, is one of the most influential shapers of radical Islamic thought in the modern era. Khomeini’s Islamist, populist agenda—dubbed “Khomeinism” by scholar Ervand Abrahamian—has radicalized and guided Shiite Islamists both inside and outside Iran.

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Terms of Service: Company Policies on Online Extremism

Extremists have weaponized social media and other Internet platforms to recruit, incite, and propagandize. Unfortunately, industry reaction to terrorists’ misuse of Internet platforms has often been reactive, inconsistent, and piecemeal. CEP has worked to outline and compare Internet and technology companies’ approaches to extremist content as it may appear on social media, messaging applications, websites, blogs, and video-hosting websites, among other platforms.

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ISIS's Persecution of Religions

Since 2014, ISIS has demonized, threatened and persecuted religious minorities. This report explores the ideological justifications for ISIS’s violent campaign to target—and ultimately eliminate—other religious communities.

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Qutbism

Qutbism is an Islamist ideology that advocates violent jihad to establish governance according to sharia (Islamic law). It is believed to be the foundational ideology of today’s most dangerous violent Islamist groups, including al-Qaeda and ISIS. Qutbism synthesizes the ideas of Sayyid Qutb, Hassan al-Banna, and Abul Ala Maududi, among other Islamic theologians.

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Terror Targets in the West: Where and Why

How do terrorists select their targets? The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) has analyzed attacks carried out by al-Qaeda and ISIS operatives in the United States, Europe, and Australia. CEP’s report—Terror Targets in the West: Where and Why—explores the ideological and tactical rationale for selecting targets to attack.

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Extremist Hubs

Thousands of people from Europe and North America have left their homes to fight alongside al-Qaeda and ISIS. Others have stayed behind to carry out attacks in France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other countries in the name of extremist ideologies. CEP’s Extremist Hubs resource examines a list of the neighborhoods, cities, and states that Western news outlets, mayors, and other government officials have labeled as “hotbeds of extremism” or “extremism hubs.”

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Extremist Converts

Terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda have for years relied on foreign recruits and lone-wolf supporters to bolster their ranks. Jamal Ahjjaj, an imam at As-Soennah Mosque in The Hague, told the Washington Post that converts are “the most vulnerable because they do not yet fully understand Islam.” The imam noted that “sometimes there are people — the wrong people — waiting outside the mosque to greet them...”

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The Muslim Brotherhood’s Ties to ISIS and Al-Qaeda

As the progenitor of the modern Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood has had a profound influence on the belief system that fuels al-Qaeda and ISIS. These groups share ideological underpinnings based on the writings of the late Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb…

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Propagandists, Recruiters, and Spokespersons

The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) compiles summary reports on today’s most influential propagandists and recruiters. Since our launch in 2014, CEP has tracked terrorist recruiters and propagandists operating on behalf of ISIS and al-Qaeda. CEP’s Digital Disruption project highlights the systemic problem of online recruitment by...

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Anwar al-Awlaki’s Ties to Extremists

U.S.-born al-Qaeda extremist Anwar al-Awlaki has for years served as a radicalizing figure for U.S. and European extremists. On September 30, 2011, Anwar al-Awlaki was targeted and killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen. Nonetheless, his lectures online have continued to inspire Westerners to terror, both before and after his death...

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ISIS’s Persecution of Gay People

In early May 2016, an ISIS court charged a young Syrian man with the “crime” of engaging in gay sex. In front of a crowd numbering in the hundreds in Manbij, Syria, ISIS fighters threw the young man from the top of a building as punishment for his so-called “crime.” This is but one case of how ISIS exploits pre-existing religious and social biases against gay people among the populations under its control in order to justify their persecution.

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European Responses to Terror

Since the end of World War II, extremist groups have carried out numerous acts of violence in Europe in the pursuit of political and religious objectives. The policy responses from European governments to these terrorist acts have too often been weak, ad hoc, and have failed to deter future attacks or dismantle terrorist networks...

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Digital Developments: Extremists' Use of Modern Communication Tools

The rapid adoption of state-of-the-art communication tools—with an emphasis on Internet-based applications—has been critical to the organization, expansion, and success of terrorist networks. Terror groups use modern communication technology in myriad ways, from fundraising, radicalization, and recruitment, to issuing threats, inciting violence, and planning attacks. While Osama bin Laden used fax machines and satellite phones in the 1990s, the early 2000s saw a boom...

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Foreign Fighters: Fact or Fiction

Fiction: ISIS-fighters celebrate and embrace new recruits.
Fact: Local ISIS militants treat new foreign fighters as amateurs, or worse, spies. Most of the newcomers are given undesirable tasks, such as removing dead bodies from the streets. In a December 2014 letter, one French foreign fighter wrote to his family, “I also help clean weapons and transport dead bodies from the front. Winter’s arrived here. It’s begun to get really hard.” ISIS fighters are often wary of newcomers’ commitment to the cause, and may test the newcomers’ knowledge of Islam...

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Libya's Fight for Survival: Defeating Jihadist Networks

This publication is a compilation of four different essays that focus on radicalization in Libya. The essays assess the current on-the-ground situation. They identify and analyze patterns and trends as well as specific local and regional developments. The goal is to provide a comprehensive overview of radicalization in post-Qaddafi Libya and the extent to which the situation may be contributing to regional and international instability.

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Secularism in Azerbaijan: And the Threat of Radicalisation in the Region

Islamic radicalism has grown progressively in Azerbaijan since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The country is now home to a significant community of Salafists who follow a particularly puritanical interpretation of Islam. Sectarian divisions have also become more distinct, as support for radical Shia ideologies and the creation of an Islamic republic similar to Iran has become increasingly popular. This report analyzes these recent developments and how the state works to promote religious freedom, moderation, and tolerance.

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Tunisia: A Nascent Democracy Under Siege

At the end of 2010, Tunisia witnessed the beginning of the Arab Spring, and the country soon commenced its transition to democracy. Tunisia’s strong civil society, tradition of reformed Islam, history of “Islamic secularism,” smaller population, and high literacy rates make for a promising future. This report discusses how Tunisia works towards a democratic future in the face of radicalization and terrorism as well as socio-economic problems that spawned the Arab Spring.

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