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Analysis and Comment (57)

The jihadi fighters in Iraq and Syria include hundreds of Australians. The jihadi fighters in Iraq and Syria include hundreds of Australians. EPA/Mohammed Jalil

Why hundreds of westerners are taking up arms in global jihad

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq are attracting many westerners, including young Australians, as jihadi fighters. Last December, Australian intelligence agencies reported that they were aware of at least…
Bad influence: Abu Hamza in court. Bad influence: Abu Hamza in court. EPA/Jane Rosenberg

Radical ideology isn’t what makes extremists turn violent

This week saw the convictions of two men at opposite ends of the process of radicalisation – one convicted for radicalising others, the other for being radicalised himself. In the United States, a court…
Mohamed Merah, home-grown jihadist, haunts French anti-terror policy. Mohamed Merah, home-grown jihadist, haunts French anti-terror policy. EPA/Ian Langsdon

A very French jihad: hundreds head to Syria and Paris fears their return

To date, approximately 500 jihadi fighters in Syria have come from France, making it the leading European supplier of insurgents to the Syrian conflict. In response, the French authorities have adopted…
Devastation at Binta Suga market, in Maidiguri, northern Nigeria in March. Devastation at Binta Suga market, in Maidiguri, northern Nigeria in March. EPA/Deji Yake

Boko Haram – the terror group that kidnapped 200 schoolgirls

As terrorist attacks go, it was as shocking for its scale and its choice of target: on April 14, at least 200 people were kidnapped from the Government Girls Secondary School in the Nigerian town of Chibok…
Can the smiles last? Irfan Siddiqui, special assistant to Pakistan’s prime minister, and Taliban representative Maulana Sami-ul-Haq chat after their meeting. Can the smiles last? Irfan Siddiqui, special assistant to Pakistan’s prime minister, and Taliban representative Maulana Sami-ul-Haq chat after their meeting. EPA/T. Mughal

Talking with Taliban won’t end Pakistan’s ‘existential threat’

Talks between the government of Pakistan and the Pakistani Taliban, known as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), were initiated last week in a secret location in the country’s north-west. These talks…
The war at home: Anti-Assad protestors in London. The war at home: Anti-Assad protestors in London. Lewis Whyld/PA

How Syrian conflict is putting British terrorism law to the test

The arrests of people travelling to or returning from the Syrian conflict have been widely reported over recent weeks in the British media. Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police…
This one goes in the bin, I think. This one goes in the bin, I think. Steve Parsons/PA

Don’t trust the government’s citizenship-stripping policy

Should British nationals suspected of terrorist offences or other serious international crimes be stripped of their citizenship? The British government thinks so. Over the past ten years, UK governments…
Protesters take a break during demonstrations in Yemen. Protesters take a break during demonstrations in Yemen. Al-Jazeera English

Arabian Al-Qaeda struggles for influence in Yemen

The deadly attacks on Yemen’s defence ministry that killed 52 people in early December have renewed speculation about the threat posed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). AQAP, which has claimed…
It is now for history to judge Nelson Mandela. It is now for history to judge Nelson Mandela. Paul SImpson

Heed Mandela’s example as struggle for his legacy begins

It is as the iconic figure of the struggle to end the repugnant system of apartheid that Nelson Mandela will be most simply, fondly and longest remembered. What type of society South Africa has become…
I’ve always thought that Miliband was a bit extreme … I’ve always thought that Miliband was a bit extreme … Anthony Devlin/PA

Blocking extremist sites is not the same as fighting child porn

Fresh from its success calling on search engines to block access to child porn, the UK government is turning its attention to terrorism. Ministers are poised to call on internet service providers to block…
Wanted: al-Liby is wanted in connection with 1998 US embassy bombings. Wanted: al-Liby is wanted in connection with 1998 US embassy bombings. US Department of State

Libyan terror suspect faces US court – but was his arrest legal?

Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, or Abu Anas al-Liby, as he is more commonly known, has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to kill and maim Americans abroad and to attack US national defence facilities…
An international team of forensic scientists from all disciplines is investigating Kenya’s mall attack. An international team of forensic scientists from all disciplines is investigating Kenya’s mall attack. EPA/Dai Kurokawa

Can forensic science unravel the chaos of Westgate mall?

The entire world witnessed last month’s horrifying terrorist attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Now forensic experts from Interpol, US, UK, Germany, and Canada have joined Kenyan law enforcement…
British woman Samantha Lewthwaite is suspected of being a ringleader in the Kenyan mall terror attacks. But why are we so surprised at the idea of a female terrorist? British woman Samantha Lewthwaite is suspected of being a ringleader in the Kenyan mall terror attacks. But why are we so surprised at the idea of a female terrorist? EPA/Dai Kurokawa

‘White Widow’, ‘Black Widow’: why do female terrorists perplex us?

While the Westgate terrorist siege in Kenya propelled terrorist group Al Shabaab and, to a lesser extent, the Muslim Youth Centre (MYC) back onto the global scene, the alleged involvement of Samantha Lewthwaite…
The deadly attack on a Nairobi shopping mall demonstrates that a lack of security in Somalia has a direct impact on Kenya. The deadly attack on a Nairobi shopping mall demonstrates that a lack of security in Somalia has a direct impact on Kenya. EPA/Kabir Dhanji

Kenya mall attacks: Somalia’s anarchy spreads

The Somali-based Islamic militant group Al-Shabaab’s weekend attack on the upscale Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi - which has left at least 60 people dead - poses a significant security threat not just…
Amid the chaos, a survivor is carried out of Westgate Mall. Amid the chaos, a survivor is carried out of Westgate Mall. EPA/Kabir Dhanji

Terror in Kenya: literature and laughs turn into pain and loss

At 9.30am on Saturday I drove past the Westgate Mall on my way to the National Museums of Kenya. I needed a coffee after a late night, and contemplated stopping but for no particular reason I drove on…
Universities just got a little more chilling … Universities just got a little more chilling … emdot

Spying on academics will not help fight terrorism

Universities in this country are under increased pressure to share information about the activities of students and staff whether for immigration purposes, in relation to activism on campus or even in…
The aftermath of the Bali bombing in 2002 that killed dozens of Australians. Do our intelligence services need further investment to prevent such tragedies from occurring again? The aftermath of the Bali bombing in 2002 that killed dozens of Australians. Do our intelligence services need further investment to prevent such tragedies from occurring again? AAP/Dean Lewins

Not so smart: the Coalition intelligence review repeats old mistakes

The Coalition has promised it will “rebuild” Australia’s frontline national security agencies if it wins government at the upcoming election. Shadow attorney general spokesman George Brandis has laid out…
Police will interview suspects following the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby but how they do it is important. Police will interview suspects following the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby but how they do it is important. PA/Dominic Lipinski

The psychology of interviewing suspects, from Woolwich to Boston

There are strong parallels to be drawn between last week’s Woolwich murder and the Boston bombings in April, and not just because of the terrorism connection. The subsequent shooting and hospitalisation…
Police officers search the scene following the attack which left serving soldier Drummer Lee Rigby dead. Police officers search the scene following the attack which left serving soldier Drummer Lee Rigby dead. PA/Gareth Fuller

From convert to extremist: new Muslims and terrorism

It has been reported that Michael Adebolajo, one of the two suspects in the case of the Woolwich murder of a British soldier on Wednesday, is a Muslim convert. There are significant issues regarding the…
Police activity close to the scene where a man was murdered in John Wilson Street, Woolwich. Police activity close to the scene where a man was murdered in John Wilson Street, Woolwich. PA/Nick Ansell

Terror on the streets of London, but don’t jump to conclusions yet

While the full details of the awful events in Woolwich remain unclear, the attack has already revived heated debates about the risk of terror at home. When building a profile of someone who allegedly commits…
Inspire’s writer, Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed in a US drone strike in November 2011. Inspire’s writer, Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed in a US drone strike in November 2011. By Magharebi via Wikipedia Commons

Inspire magazine and the rise of open-source jihad

The influence of globally available jihadist propaganda on the web is well established. But we know less about how and to what extent word-of-mouth and other more local channels of communication contribute…
Inmates at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Does the prison do the US more harm than good? Inmates at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Does the prison do the US more harm than good? EPA/Scott Applewhite

Can Obama finally shut the door on the Guantanamo embarrassment?

US president Barack Obama has renewed his promise to close the controversial US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The prison camp is currently the scene of a hunger strike by numerous inmates, some…
Bombings at the site of the Boston Marathon have killed at least three people. Bombings at the site of the Boston Marathon have killed at least three people. EPA/Stuart Cahill/The Boston Herald

Too close to home: the Boston Marathon bombing

The terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon calls up a number of questions that have no easy answers. As someone who once lived next to the scene of the attack and who experienced terrorist attacks while…
Australian links to political violence in Lebanon run deeper than a single attack. Australian links to political violence in Lebanon run deeper than a single attack. AAP/Stringer

The Australian link to Hezbollah and the Bulgaria bus bombing

An Australian has been linked to the July 18, 2012 Bulgarian bus bombing, that killed five Israeli tourists, the driver of a bus and a man carrying a bomb. Several of those responsible for the attack are…
Vice President Joe Biden is spear-heading the Obama administration’s efforts to tackle gun control. Vice President Joe Biden is spear-heading the Obama administration’s efforts to tackle gun control. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Gun control could help the fight against homegrown terrorism

The gun control debate in the United States has been reawakened for the new year, with Vice President Joe Biden providing President Barack Obama with 19 recommendations for action on guns. As The Economist…
The remains of a Real IRA car bomb after an attack on a British Army base in 2010. Terrorists or ‘freedom fighters’? The remains of a Real IRA car bomb after an attack on a British Army base in 2010. Terrorists or ‘freedom fighters’? EPA/Paul McErlene

One man’s freedom fighter… can we ever define terrorism?

Terrorism defies definition. We all know one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter; or in some cases, one man’s terrorist is another’s recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. The use of the word…
Is possessing jihadi literature enough to be prosecuted on terrorism charges? Is possessing jihadi literature enough to be prosecuted on terrorism charges? Terrorism image from www.shutterstock.com

Inspire magazine: inciting terrorism in Australia?

Jihadist activity has been a primary source of concern for security agencies in the Western world for longer than a decade. When contrasted against other broadly comparable countries, the threat to Australia…
David Hicks could have his criminal charges overturned. David Hicks could have his criminal charges overturned. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Was David Hicks convicted of a ‘non-crime’?

On Monday the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia handed down a decision which invalidated one of the charges against Salim Hamdan – Osama bin Laden’s driver. Hamdan was convicted of the crime…
Part of the Kuta tourist strip that was destroyed by the 2002 Bali bombings in which 202 people - including 88 Australians - were killed. Part of the Kuta tourist strip that was destroyed by the 2002 Bali bombings in which 202 people - including 88 Australians - were killed. AAP/Dean Lewins

Remembering the Bali bombings ten years on

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the 2002 Bali bombings. Although more than 120 Australian civilians have been killed by terrorists overseas since 2000, and the embassies in Jakarta, Iraq and Phnom…
The scene after two popular bars at Kuta Beach in Bali were bombed by Islamic militants in 2002. The scene after two popular bars at Kuta Beach in Bali were bombed by Islamic militants in 2002. AAP/Dean Lewins

Reclaiming our home away from home: the Bali bombings

Ten years ago, the Bali bombings unleashed a torrent of grief. Alongside the dreadful toll of dead and injured, Australians mourned the loss of Bali as a holiday idyll. Journalists turned to the image…
Al-Furqan Islamic Bookshop in Melbourne’s East was raided by police early Wednesday morning. Al-Furqan Islamic Bookshop in Melbourne’s East was raided by police early Wednesday morning. AAP/Julian Smith

Domestic terror raids: a timely reminder of a persistent threat

A man arrested yesterday in anti-terror raids in Melbourne has been charged by Federal Police with four counts of making a document likely to facilitate terrorist acts. But this does not mean there is…
Suicide bomb attacks, such as this one in Afghanistan last week, continue to wrack the Middle East. Suicide bomb attacks, such as this one in Afghanistan last week, continue to wrack the Middle East. EPA/Abdul Mueed

Eleven years after 9/11, are we any safer?

The day will come when 11 September is just another date on the calendar. But that time is still some way off. Eleven years after the horrible spectacle of the World Trade Center towers being struck by…
The aftermath of the 7/7 attacks in London. The aftermath of the 7/7 attacks in London. Wikicommons

Any Olympic terror attack will look more like 7/7 than 9/11

What does one billion Pounds Sterling of Olympics security get you? Rapier surface-to-air missiles in Blackheath common, the Royal Navy’s largest battleship moored in the Thames (complete with eight Lynx…
Muslim women pass bombed Christian shops in Nigeria: researchers and policymakers are developing complex views of organised violence. Muslim women pass bombed Christian shops in Nigeria: researchers and policymakers are developing complex views of organised violence. AAP/EPA/Ruth McDowall

Challenge 10: Transnational security threats - new research and converging strategies

In part 10 of the multi-disciplinary Millennium Project series, Alex Burns argues that we are getting more sophisticated in our approach to global threats and conflict. Global challenge 10: How can shared…
Green groups have been accused of taking their protests too far, but does this mean ASIO should spy on them? Green groups have been accused of taking their protests too far, but does this mean ASIO should spy on them? AAP Image/Greenpeace

Is Australia at risk from green terrorists?

Environmental activists and mining protesters are now being labelled as terrorists, with reports security agency ASIO is spying on conservation groups protesting at coal mines. Resources and Energy Minister…
Should Breivik’s hateful diatribe be made public? Should Breivik’s hateful diatribe be made public? AAP/Hakon Mosvold Larsen

Terror on trial: should Anders Breivik’s views be heard?

The trial of Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik for the murder of 77 people has a special significance for journalists in Australia, and not just because Breivik summoned the names of John Howard, Peter…
It’s time for the government to review our national security laws. It’s time for the government to review our national security laws. Flickr/another_activist

The politics of fear: why haven’t counter-terrorism laws changed?

More than ten years ago, the Australian public and policymakers overreacted to 9/11 and created a set of laws that went beyond what was needed to protect us against terrorism. With the recent release of…
The UK and Australia have both looked at reforming their counter-terrorism laws, but which country has been more rigorous? The UK and Australia have both looked at reforming their counter-terrorism laws, but which country has been more rigorous? Flickr/neeravbhatt

Who’s watching counter-terrorism laws in Australia?

Within a couple of weeks of each other, the independent monitors of counter-terrorism laws in both the UK and Australia have delivered their reports assessing the operation of national security legislation…
The aftermath of a car bombing in Mogadishu in February, blamed on Al-Shabab. The aftermath of a car bombing in Mogadishu in February, blamed on Al-Shabab. EPA/Elyas Ahmed

What the al Shabab-al Qaeda merger means for Australia

Al Qaeda’s recent acquisition of the Somali militant group al Shabab as its newest franchise has been dismissed in some circles as a propaganda ploy, and a play for relevance by two groups on the decline…
A rooftop ‘E-bomb’ could wreak havoc on critical infrastructure and electronic devices nearby. A rooftop ‘E-bomb’ could wreak havoc on critical infrastructure and electronic devices nearby. Shane Brennan Productions

I advised NCIS: LA on ‘E-bombs’ but they’re not a work of fiction

In tonight’s episode of NCIS: Los Angeles airing on Channel Ten, the program’s protagonists try to locate a stolen electromagnetic bomb before detonation. I know this, because I was the scientific advisor…
Spy agencies in Australia have a big job, but does the job match the budget? Spy agencies in Australia have a big job, but does the job match the budget? Flickr/ocularinvasion

Cloak and dollar: how much do security agencies in Australia really need?

In an era of evolving threats, judgment calls will continue to rely on the provision of accurate, timely intelligence. But this intelligence does not come cheap. In order to be well-prepared and well-organised…
People in Libya are desperate for change and the new government will have to manage expectations carefully. People in Libya are desperate for change and the new government will have to manage expectations carefully. AFP/Abdullah Doma

The challenges for Libya now Gaddafi is gone

The relegation of Moammar Gaddafi to the meat-locker of history is a significant exorcism of Libya’s past. Whether it would have been better for him to face trial is a moot point. It’s doubtful that too…
Some groups in Karachi have demanded the army takes to the streets to restore law and order. Some groups in Karachi have demanded the army takes to the streets to restore law and order. EPA/Rehan Khan

Karachi violence putting NATO troops in Afghanistan at risk

There is a threat to Nato forces in Afghanistan which the world is ignoring. Violent gangs have been killing indiscriminately in Karachi, the Pakistani city vital to the supply chain which sustains ISAF…
Mourners at the New York 9/11 memorial on tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Mourners at the New York 9/11 memorial on tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. AAP

9/11: The value of memory

This past weekend, whole sections of the United States community felt something like a duty or desire to attend sites linked with the events of 11 September 2001. The public memory ceremonies at these…
Mourners will gather on the site of the Twin Towers to remember 9/11 victims today. Mourners will gather on the site of the Twin Towers to remember 9/11 victims today. AFP/Alex Fuchs

Remembering 9/11

Ten years ago today, on September 11th 2001, al-Qaida terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. Passengers on a fourth jet overpowered hijackers, bringing…
Right-wing extremism is threatening multiculturalism in Europe EPA/JON ARE BERG JACOBSEN/AFTENPOSTE Right-wing extremism is threatening multiculturalism in Europe EPA/JON ARE BERG JACOBSEN/AFTENPOSTE

What do the Norway attacks mean for multiculturalism?

The recent massacres by Anders Breivik in Norway drew the attention of the world to a growing reactionary element in Europe who resent the three Ms – Muslims, multiculturalism and Marxism. So how do these…
The suspected killer, Anders Behring Breivik’s extreme views motivated his twin attacks on Norway AFP/Facebook. The suspected killer, Anders Behring Breivik’s extreme views motivated his twin attacks on Norway AFP/Facebook.

Norway killings a sign of extremism on the rise in Europe

As the self-confessed perpetrator of the Norway attacks, Anders Behring Breivik is due to face court today, The Conversation spoke with Dr Binoy Kampmark, lecturer in Global Studies at RMIT about whether…
aapone topshots australia norway attacks original. aapone topshots australia norway attacks original.

Norway tragedy exposes pundits' tunnel vision on terrorism

When injustice is done, when the innocent are threatened, a common expression of sympathy is “I am one of you”. So, as the famous movie line goes, “I am Spartacus,” or a little more recently, “Ich bin…
Abu Bakar Bashir is driven away from court after being sentenced to 15 years in jail. Abu Bakar Bashir is driven away from court after being sentenced to 15 years in jail. AAP

Abu Bakar Bashir’s sentence: why only 15 years?

Radical Indonesian Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir was yesterday sentenced to 15 years in jail for supporting and sponsoring terrorism. RMIT Associate Professor Jeff Lewis, an Indonesia expert, tells The…
Osama bin Laden masterminded the 9/11 attacks, but his death won’t mean an end to the terror threat. Osama bin Laden masterminded the 9/11 attacks, but his death won’t mean an end to the terror threat. AFP/Doug Kanter

The death of bin Laden doesn’t mean the terror threat is over

The US military’s assassination of Osama bin Laden in North Pakistan is an important landmark in the “war on terror”. As the leader of al Qaeda he was the primary target of the military campaign to defeat…

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