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The Kurds and the Fight Against Daesh

The Kurds and the Fight Against Daesh

Constructions of Terrorism

Recent bomb attacks in Turkey draw attention to the destabilizing effect of the ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq.  Retired four-star U.S. Army General and former head of the CIA David Petraeus has called the Syrian civil war a, “geopolitical Chernobyl—spewing instability and extremism over the region and the...

14 Jun 2016

Confronting the Challenges to Global Security Created by Daesh/Islamic State

Confronting the Challenges to Global Security Created by Daesh/Islamic State

Constructions of Terrorism

Daesh/Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIS/ISIL has seized the attention of global leaders, diplomats, military and security officials, academics and journalists alike.  Tracing its linage back to the insurgency that grew out of the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States and its allies, Daesh/IS now transcends...

19 Apr 2016

Chaos, The Legacy of Daesh: Observations after Brussels

Chaos, The Legacy of Daesh: Observations after Brussels

Constructions of Terrorism

Though the 22 March 2016 bombings in Brussels, Belgium captured the attention of Western Europe and the United States, Daesh (the Islamic State, ISIS/ISIL) has been responsible for killing scores recently in Turkey and hundreds in Baghdad.  These recent terror attacks against relatively soft targets challenges a developing consensus...

05 Apr 2016

Why is Terrorism Terrifying?

Why is Terrorism Terrifying?

Constructions of Terrorism

In spite of hundreds of billions of dollars spent globally on counter-terrorism measures, and the extremely low incidence of terrorism in most of the world, people (according to surveys of U.S. residents) are still terrorized by remote and unlikely threats and believe countering terrorism ought to be a priority...

03 Mar 2016

The Usefulness of the “Civilian” vs. “Military” Targeting Distinction in Defining Terrorism

The Usefulness of the “Civilian” vs. “Military” Targeting Distinction in Defining Terrorism

Constructions of Terrorism

In the longstanding debate about how best to define terrorism, some distinguish terrorism from other forms of political violence based on the targets of the violence. That is, a terrorist attack targets civilians, and not military personnel. Does this targeting distinction provide a sound basis for defining terrorism? There...

24 Feb 2016

Daesh/Islamic State in Paris and San Bernardino: Will fighting extreme ideas reduce extremist violence?

Daesh/Islamic State in Paris and San Bernardino: Will fighting extreme ideas reduce extremist violence?

Constructions of Terrorism

How should we understand the role of Daesh/IS in the November 2015 Paris attacks and the December 2015 San Bernardino attack?  What should the West do now?  In this post I argue that Daesh/IS was responsible for the Paris attacks but not for the San Bernardino attack, and that...

09 Feb 2016

Defining the Limits of Terrorism: Are We Terrorized?

Defining the Limits of Terrorism: Are We Terrorized?

Constructions of Terrorism

The end of 2015 and the start of 2016 was witness to several incidents of violence perpetrated in a variety of settings, using a diversity of weapons, against different kinds of targets.  Yet, in spite of these differences, all were quickly reported as acts of terrorism.  Using the definition...

25 Jan 2016

The Constructions of Terrorism Conference: Three Trends

The Constructions of Terrorism Conference: Three Trends

Constructions of Terrorism

TRENDS Research & Advisory, in cooperation with the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies recently held a conference on the “Constructions of Terrorism” at the University of California, Santa Barbara campus.  From this conference three trends emerge: 1) Defining and describing terrorism means putting terrorist violence into the...

22 Dec 2015

“The End is Near.” Millenarian Terrorism

“The End is Near.” Millenarian Terrorism

Constructions of Terrorism

This contribution will serve as a second part to a previous piece on how three of the most violent contemporary terrorist groups construct themselves.  The first part described how Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and Daesh have co-opted one of humanity’s great faiths for their own purposes and pretend to serve...

24 Nov 2015

Daesh Redefined

Daesh Redefined

Constructions of Terrorism

In the span of two weeks, Daesh has claimed the lives of nearly 400 unarmed civilians of easily a dozen nationalities on two continents.  This series of assaults in Paris, Beirut, and in the sky over the Sinai desert runs counter to recent assessments and conventional wisdom about the...

17 Nov 2015

How do terrorists “construct” themselves?

How do terrorists “construct” themselves?

Constructions of Terrorism

If we accept as a core definition of terrorism “violent political expression,” where death and destruction are used as means to a political end, then it is important to carefully consider the content of such expression.  This article briefly reviews how violent political groups have accepted or rejected the...

01 Nov 2015

Constructions of Terrorism: A Definition

Constructions of Terrorism: A Definition

Constructions of Terrorism

As part of the research project “Constructions of Terrorism” being undertaken by TRENDS Research and Advisory, and the Orfale Center for Global and International Studies, this article addresses the task of defining “terrorism.”  I will begin by advancing why it is important to undertake the task of carefully defining...

01 Oct 2015

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