Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has sought a foothold in local affairs in places such as Mali and has not simply tried to impose itself as an outsider, Alex Thurston of Northwestern University said at a conference March 25 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
"Policy makers should distinguish between outgoing and returning foreign fighters and treat the latter as more of a threat," the article says. "Prosecuting all aspiring foreign fighters as prospective domestic terrorists has limited preventive benefits, because so few of them, statistically speaking, will go on to attack the homeland."
The head of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb urged militants in Mali to refrain from applying Islamic law, so as not to alienate the public, in a letter recently discovered in Timbuktu. The Associated Press found it in a building the Islamic extremists had occupied for almost a year. To prevent a backlash, he suggested that his followers "pretend to be a 'domestic' movement that has its own causes and concerns."
The number of Muslim-Americans indicted on terrorism charges fell for the third year in a row in 2012 down to 14, and for the second year in a row, no fatalities or injuries resulted from Muslim-American terrorism, f inds a study printed by the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security.
Jihadists are increasingly turning to social media sites to exchange ideas and publicize their beliefs, according to a new report (.pdf) from the New America Foundation. "It is only a matter of time before terrorists begin routinely using Twitter, Instagram, and other services in ongoing operations."
The conviction of a 21-year-old Oregon resident who tried to detonate what he thought was a car bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony has renewed controversy over the FBI's sting operations. The FBI says it's being proactive--as an article published last year in its monthly bulletin put it, "it no longer proves sufficient to solve crimes after people have committed them."
Al Shabaab has used Twitter largely to promote its preferred narrative of world events, research out of the University of Maryland says. The university's National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism released interim findings (.pdf) about the group's use of Twitter shortly after the website suspended al-Shabaab's account, @HSMPress, on Jan. 25.
Reducing the use of the Internet by terrorists requires a public-private approach to the problem, according to a report (.pdf) published this month by the European Union-funded Clean IT project. Towards that end, the report recommends 13 best practices that could reduce terrorist use of the Internet in the EU, including several technology-based solutions such as flagging mechanisms and an end-user browser mechanism.
Mali is in danger of becoming a terrorist safe haven, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Jan. 23 during testimony before separate House and Senate international relations committee hearings. "If you look at the size of northern Mali, if you look at the topography, it's not only desert, it's caves--sounds reminiscent. We are in for a struggle."
Nearly half of terrorists crossing into the United States to perform violent acts or making an escape from the country afterward were American citizens, and a significant percentage were Canadians, finds a Homeland Security Department-funded study.