CTX Journal Vol. 5, No. 1
From the Editor
The Combating Terrorism Exchange begins its fifth volume with this issue. Contributors, from military personnel to academicians to policy makers, continue to send us thoughtful, thought-provoking essays that tackle the ever-changing world of terrorism from a variety of angles, as the present issue demonstrates.
Afghanistan still features prominently as a locus of jihad and a subject for analysis, but, sadly, Iraq is back in the headlines. There were many who warned that the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 would likely unleash a sectarian firestorm in that country, but few could foresee that, 12 years after the US overthrow of Saddam Hussein, internecine violence would engulf the entire region. While this issue does not include any articles on the Islamic State (aka ISIS or ISIL) per se, the radical army's impact on other jihadist organizations and mainstream Islamic communities around the world is an undercurrent that runs through all of the articles.
The use of social media such as Twitter and YouTube to spread radical messages is a hot topic these days, and one that CTX has covered extensively, as for instance, in our special issue, "Social Media in Jihad and Counterterrorism" (Vol. 2, No. 4). Nonetheless, Captain Edval Zoto tackles the subject from a novel angle, by using the Albanian language as a unique marker to track the spread of jihadist videos via YouTube. He finds that even in Albania, which is generally pro-Western, Muslim youth are captivated by well-produced, visually exciting videos spread by ISIS supporters. "The participation of Albanians in the Syrian jihad," Zoto suggests, "may be correlated with successful jihadist information operations online." As the recent attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris and several towns in northern Nigeria make painfully clear yet again, the dilemma of ideological seduction is one the world must resolve.
Surinder Kumar Sharma offers a brief, chilling description of the Pakistan-based jihadist organization Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT), which, he warns, may prove more dangerous to the world in the long run than ISIS. While ISIS runs amok in Syria and Iraq, demanding media attention through acts of barbarous cruelty, HuT is quietly building a global infrastructure of radicalized youth and deep-pocketed Arab support in preparation for the global Khilafat.
In the next article, Dr. Guy Duczynski, Dr. Samuel Huddleston, and Colonel Jaroslaw Jablonski describe an interactive analytical method for use on "wicked, messy problems," such as creating sustainable Afghan security forces. This process, which aggregates and distills stakeholder knowledge rather than simply applying outside "expertise," helps stakeholders identify realistic steps to move from a dysfunctional system to one that is reliable and sustainable.
The final feature article takes us to Nigeria, where author Muhammad Feyyaz seeks to explain the extraordinary levels of violence unleashed on that country's population by the radical anti-Western Islamist group Boko Haram (BH). Like similar groups, BH latched on to the economic and political grievances of a marginalized population, in this case the Muslims of Nigeria's northern states. But, Feyyaz argues, BH's escalating violence is in direct response to brutal government crackdowns and extrajudicial killings by unregulated security forces. The solution, he concludes, must come from both sides of the conflict.
This issue's CTAP interview is with veteran Time magazine photojournalist Robert Nickelsberg. Dr. Leo Blanken spoke with Nickelsberg about his 30-year career covering many of the most important social and political events in Central and South Asia. Some striking samples of the photographer's work illustrate the interview.
Movie critic Dr. Kalev Sepp is back, with a look at films about prisoners of war who try to escape. From The Bridge on the River Kwai, a famous World War II film about the morality of collaboration versus survival, to director Werner Herzog's controversial depiction of the story of POWs in the jungles of Laos in 1966 (Rescue Dawn), to the elaborate and entertaining deceptions of Argo, audiences never tire of watching captives pit their wit and will against terrifying odds in the attempt to regain their freedom.
Finally, our colleagues at the Joint Special Operations University have two new publications on offer. You can read the synopses and find links to these articles and the full JSOU archive in the Publications Announcements.
Thanks for your interest in CTX. Please send any questions and comments you may have about this or any issue of CTX to CTXEditor@GlobalEcco.org. If you have an article, a work of art or photography, a story, or any other original composition relevant to counterterrorism that you'd like to see published in our journal, please forward it to CTXSubmit@GlobalEcco.org. CTX is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal. All submissions will be evaluated by area experts and, if accepted, professionally edited prior to publication. We especially encourage members of the military from every part of the world to send us your thoughts, ideas, and essays.
Managing Editor, CTX