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Technology Allows ISIS Terror Threat to Spread across wider circles, say Intelligence Officials

The issue of easily shared information by ISIS among different countries across their international borders is what poses a threat to the governments and the defense organisations

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FILE - An Islamic State militant holds a gun while standing behind what are said to be Ethiopian Christians in Wilayat Fazzan, in this still image from an undated video made available on a social media website on April 19, 2015.

September 8, 2016: Even though the U.S.-led coalition has made progress in efforts to oust Islamic State from its “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, top U.S. intelligence officials warn that technology is allowing the threat of terrorism to spread across even wider circles.

“The terrorism threat we face is broader, wider and deeper than in the recent past,” said Nick Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center at an intelligence and national security summit in Washington. “It is more geographically expansive and as a result, considerably less predictable. Plotting in this environment matures more quickly and with much less warning.”

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Director of National Intelligence James Clapper emphasized the difficulties in predicting how technology will affect national security, saying the influence of IS on the global terrorism landscape has created a new intelligence reality.

FILE - IS social media distributed photos in several languages of children holding placards in Islamic State territories offering "congratulations" on the deaths of Americans, apparently in reference to the Orlando mass shooting on June 12, 2016.
FILE – IS social media distributed photos in several languages of children holding placards in Islamic State territories offering “congratulations” on the deaths of Americans, apparently in reference to the Orlando mass shooting on June 12, 2016.

“ISIS will eventually be suppressed, but I think for some time to come, we’ll have more extremist organizations, which will be spawned and which we have to contend with,” said Clapper while delivering a keynote address at Wednesday’s summit. ISIS is an acronym for Islamic State.

Information sharing

Many in the intelligence community say the terror threat in the U.S. is increasingly dominated by homegrown violent extremists or those individuals who often don’t fit a specific demographic profile or have clear ties to terrorist networks overseas.

“What’s changed, what’s different is the size and scale of the population that’s proven vulnerable to homegrown violent extremism,” said Rasmussen, adding that, “this puts a greater amount of pressure on intelligence and law enforcement officials, to get to them before they get to us.”

That increasing fragmentation and diversity of threats highlight the importance of information sharing between countries. But that’s a task that some say is tough to accomplish across international borders.

“Europe is in a very, very bad counterterrorism place,” said Michael Leiter, chief operations officer for Leidos, a global science and technology solutions company, adding, “[their] ability to police their own borders is largely nonexistent.”

Defining ‘victory’

The framing of the counterterrorism debate is also at issue, with many saying the rise of the Islamic State needs to be viewed through a broader counterterrorism lens.

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“The conversation on ISIS/ISIL tends to become all consuming,” Rasmussen said. “The stuff we’re seeing with ISIL is additive and comes on top of an already difficult threat picture.”

Experts agree that figuring out what comes after the takedown of terrorist organizations like al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula or Somali militant group al-Shabab is also an area that needs more work.

Being able to define what victory looks like, says Dr. Frank Ciluffo, director of the George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, is crucial to the success of overall counterterrorism efforts.

“I do see a day when we can defeat ISIS,” Ciluffo said. “But I don’t think that translates to the jihadi threat going away.” (VOA)

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    So technology now becoming their weapon too! It’s just wrong use of technology.

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    Sharing of information made easy.. but improper use makes the wrong use as the ISIS.

  • Manthra koliyer

    Technology and sharing information should not be used in such a manner.

  • Ayushi Gaur

    India undoing a target

SHARE
  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    So technology now becoming their weapon too! It’s just wrong use of technology.

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    Sharing of information made easy.. but improper use makes the wrong use as the ISIS.

  • Manthra koliyer

    Technology and sharing information should not be used in such a manner.

  • Ayushi Gaur

    India undoing a target

Next Story

U.S. President Donald Trump Administration Says There Is No Return For US-Born Jihadist

The U.S. decision on Muthana comes amid rising debate in Europe on the nationality of extremists. Britain recently revoked the citizenship of Shamina Begum, who similarly traveled to Syria and wants to return to her country of birth. 

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Two women, reportedly wives of IS fighters, wait with others in the internally displaced persons camp of al-Hol in al-Hasakeh governorate, Syria, Feb. 7, 2019. The United States is refusing to take back a U.S.-born IS propagandist, saying she is no longer a citizen. VOA

The United States said Wednesday that it would refuse to take back a U.S.-born Islamic State propagandist who wants to return from Syria, arguing that she is no longer a citizen.

The Trump administration’s refusal to admit Hoda Muthana, 24, could set precedent and face legal challenges, because it is generally extremely difficult to lose US citizenship.

“Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. “She does not have any legal basis, no valid U.S. passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States.”

FILE - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Feb. 1, 2019.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Feb. 1, 2019. VOA

“We continue to strongly advise all U.S. citizens not to travel to Syria,” he added.

Pompeo did not elaborate on the legal rationale for why the Alabama native, who is believed to have traveled to Syria on her U.S. passport, was not considered a citizen or where she should go instead.

Pompeo’s statement on Muthana — one of the comparatively few U.S.-born jihadists amid the hundreds of Europeans to have joined the ranks of the Islamic State group in Syria — is at odds with his calls on other countries to take back and prosecute their own jihadist nationals.

Just this weekend, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to chastise European allies who have not taken back IS prisoners caught in Syria.

US-born, then radicalized

Muthana was born in the United States to parents from Yemen who became naturalized American citizens, according to the Counter Extremism Project at George Washington University, which has identified 64 Americans who went to join IS in Syria or Iraq.

In late 2014, shortly after moving to Syria, Muthana posted on Twitter a picture of herself and three other women who appeared to torch their Western passports, including an American one.

She went on to write vivid calls over social media to kill Americans, glorifying the ruthless extremist group that for a time ruled vast swaths of Syria and Iraq.

But with IS down to its last stretch of land, Muthana has said she renounced extremism and wanted to return home.

Muthana, who has been detained by U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters, said that she had been brainwashed by reading social media as a closeted teenager in Hoover, Ala.

“To say that I regret my past words, any pain that I caused my family and any concerns I would cause my country would be hard for me to really express properly,” she said in a note to her lawyer reported by The New York Times.

Hassan Shibly, lawyer for 24-year-old Hoda Muthana, 24, is pictured in his office in Tampa, Fla., Feb. 20, 2019. The United States said Wednesday that it would refuse to take back Muthana, a U.S.-born Islamic State propagandist, who wants to return from Syria, saying that she is no longer a citizen.
Hassan Shibly, lawyer for 24-year-old Hoda Muthana, 24, is pictured in his office in Tampa, Fla., Feb. 20, 2019. The United States said Wednesday that it would refuse to take back Muthana, a U.S.-born Islamic State propagandist, who wants to return from Syria, saying that she is no longer a citizen. VOA

She was married three times to male jihadists and has a toddler son.

Hard to lose citizenship

The U.S. decision on Muthana comes amid rising debate in Europe on the nationality of extremists. Britain recently revoked the citizenship of Shamina Begum, who similarly traveled to Syria and wants to return to her country of birth.

Britain asserted that she was entitled to Bangladeshi citizenship because of her heritage, but the Dhaka government on Wednesday denied that she was eligible, leading her to become effectively stateless.

U.S. citizenship is significantly more difficult to lose. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1868 after the Civil War as slavery was abolished, establishes that anyone born in the country is a citizen with full rights.

In recent years, it has been considered virtually impossible to strip Americans of citizenship, even if they hold dual nationality.

The U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark 1967 Afroyim decision rejected the government’s attempt to revoke the nationality of a Polish-born naturalized American after he voted in Israel.

And last year a federal judge rejected a government attempt to strip the nationality of a Pakistani-born naturalized American who was convicted in a plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge.

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But Trump has campaigned on a hard line over immigration and raised the prospect of ending birthright citizenship ahead of last year’s congressional elections.

In 2011, President Barack Obama ordered drone strikes that killed two Americans in Yemen — prominent al-Qaida preacher Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son — but did not believe it was possible to revoke citizenship. (VOA)