Analysis

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 the Gay Community

In early May 2016, an ISIS court charged a young Syrian man with the crime of sodomy. 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 “crime.” This is but one case of how ISIS exploits pre-existing religious and social biases against homosexuality among the populations under its control to justify its persecution of gays...

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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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