Miriam Elman: Israel Is Right to Boycott Its Boycotters

By Miriam F. Elman

(The Forward | Jan. 9, 2018) This weekend Israel published a list of 20 mainly European and US-based pro-BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) organizations whose senior members will be automatically barred from entering the country. The list is a follow up to Israel’s decision last March to amend its 1952 Entry Into Israel Law so that foreign nationals who support a boycott would be prevented from abusing tourist visas.

“Now that Israel has specified exactly which radical anti-Israel groups will be affected by the ban, the fury is reaching apoplectic proportions.”

Despite the outcry from liberal circles, the amended law, and now the list of BDS organizations to be barred from Israel, are long overdue correctives to an absurd situation in which Israel welcomes those who work to undermine the country 24/7, and who actively incite hatred and discrimination against the state.

In recent years, key BDS activists entered Israel for the sole motive of engaging in a wide range of anti-Israel political activities such as harassing and obstructing IDF and security personnel at West Bank protests and collecting footage to be used to delegitimize the Jewish State once they got back home. For years these high-profile activists were basically taking advantage of Israel’s democratic institutions like freedom of the press in order to work against it. It makes sense if you think about it. People calling for a boycott of Israel aren’t there to enjoy the country but to find evidence of its alleged wrongdoing. In other words, prior to the ban, you had people visiting Israel whose only goal in so doing was to demonize the only country in the Middle East that actually grants all its citizens the kinds of civil liberties and human rights that others in the region can only dream about.

The new targeting of active BDS proponents entering Israel is a means of rectifying the harm that this was causing.

Nevertheless, the amended entry law has already drawn considerable outrage from US-based anti-Israel activists, first when five “famous and significant” radical BDS-promoters were barred from flying from the U.S to Israel this summer. Now that Israel has specified exactly which radical anti-Israel groups will be affected by the ban, the fury is reaching apoplectic proportions.

Media outlets and social media sites are being inundated with statements, op-eds and press releases opposing the ban, some even claiming that the move shows the effectiveness of BDS, and will rebound to the benefit of the banned groups by leading to increased interest and membership.

Much of this response is silly. Overwhelming evidence suggests that BDS is actually contracting, not growing. Two dozen U.S. states have now passed anti-BDS laws, recognizing that its platform is merely a continuation of the discriminatory Arab League boycott of Israel. According to a recent study of a number of American campuses, the vast majority of students reject academic boycotts of Israel, and not a single university has implemented a divestment policy.

Indeed, now ranked among the top 25 richest countries on the planet, Israel continues to forge new economic partnerships and diplomatic ties with countries and companies across the globe, despite the persistent calls for boycott and sanctions …

Read more: https://forward.com/opinion/391724/israel-is-right-to-boycott-its-boycotters/

The Double Standard Surrounding Ukraine’s Education Law

By Mark Temnycky (MPA ’17)

(Re-published from Euractiv | Nov. 30, 2017) As Ukraine celebrated its “Ukrainian Literacy and Language Day” on Nov. 9, 2017, controversy surrounding Ukraine’s education law remains.

Passed in September, the legislation stated secondary education in public schools would be taught in Ukrainian. This sparked outrage from the ethnic Russian community in eastern Ukraine, who represent nearly one-fifth of the Ukrainian populace, and the minority groups in Transcarpathia, such as the Hungarians and Romanians, who account for 0.6% of Ukraine’s population.

Ukraine’s education law also received backlash from the international community, most notably from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

PACE criticized the legislation, stating it did not create an appropriate balance between the Ukrainian and minority languages. The Assembly then offered a series of recommendations on how to amend the law, and a second review will be conducted at the Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels on 24 November. The Ukrainian law on education has also been sent to the Venice Commission for further assessments.

Hungarian and Romanian officials voiced their concerns as well, arguing the law would not allow minority groups to practice their languages in Ukraine. In retaliation, Hungary threatened to block any future Ukrainian advancements toward EU membership while Romanian President Klaus Iohannis cancelled his trip to Ukraine.

Ukrainian Education and Science Minister Liliya Hrynevych has disputed these claims, stating Ukraine’s education law was not created to persecute minority groups. Rather, the law was designed to bring the Ukrainian education system closer to EU standards.

Given this controversy, why does Ukraine continue to pursue this policy? Perhaps this can be explained by its tragic history. For generations, those who ruled Ukraine tried to impose their languages upon the Ukrainian people. For example, both the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union forced their subjects to learn and speak Russian, and those who did not comply were persecuted. Despite their efforts, the Ukrainian language survived.

To this day, the Ukrainian language holds a high standard in Ukraine. According to a recent survey conducted by the Gorshenin Institute, in cooperation with the Friedric Ebert Foundation, 92% of citizens in Ukraine identify themselves as ethnic Ukrainians, indicating that a common language plays a large role in Ukrainian society. This, however, does not mean minority groups cannot practice their own languages …

To read the full article, click here

Mark Temnycky (MPA ’17; CAS in Security Studies) is a Ukrainian-American who earned a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. He has been previously published by The Ukrainian Weekly, EUobserver, and Forbes.

The Road to the 2018 NATO Summit & the NATO Defense Ministers Meeting in Brussels

By Kamil Szubart

On Nov. 8-9, 2017, NATO defense ministers met in Brussels to discuss the current security threats to NATO member states. Politicians agreed to reshape the NATO command structure and to boost the size of Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan. Both decisions are forward steps in adapting the Alliance to the new strategic challenges in Europe and Afghanistan. In Europe—ever since the Russian annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of violence in Donbas (in 2014)—we have observed the rise of Russian assertiveness and hostile activities against NATO alongside its eastern flank, while in Afghanistan, there has been an increase in Taliban and Islamic State (IS) activities.

“NATO also needs to permanently increase its collective and national capacities, improving the readiness of armed forces and increasing military expenditures.”

At the meeting, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis also briefed his Canadian and European counterparts on the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and he expressed his concerns over potential Russian violation of the agreement. Other topics touched at the meeting related to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missiles programs and progress on the fight against IS in northern Iraq and Syria.

The Growth of NATO’s Assets

Re-shaping the command structure—which develops operationally the strategic level outcomes of the 2016 Warsaw NATO Summit—creates two new NATO operational commands. Both new headquarters will be able to improve the current logistic assets of NATO to deploy its troops across the Atlantic and within Europe.

The Atlantic Command (AC) will be responsible for maintaining maritime trails between the United States and Europe, whereas a Logistics Command (LC) will respond more quickly to threats in Europe. There is still an open discussion about the locations of both commands. However, maritime nations such as Portugal, Spain, France, and the US could host the AC headquarters. The LC will be probably located somewhere in central Europe—likely Germany or Poland—allowing for swift movement of NATO forces across borders in the event of a conflict with Russia.

However, it should be noted that the final decisions related to location, size, and costs will be approved at the next NATO defense ministers meeting on Feb. 18, 2018. The fact is that the new commands will increase the number of NATO headquarters to nine, from the current seven, namely, two strategic commands (Allied Command Operations (ACO) in Mons, Belgium, and Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in Norfolk, VA); two operational commands (Joint Force Command (JFC) in Brunssum, Netherlands, and Joint Force Command (JFC) in Naples, Italy); and three tactical commands (Headquarters Allied Air Command (HQ AIRCOM) in Ramstein, Germany; Headquarters Allied Land Command (HQ LANDCOM) in Izmir, Turkey; and Allied Martine Command (HQ MARCOM) in Northwood, UK).

The creation of new commands reverses the policy of cutbacks that have been in effect since the 1990s. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, NATO dropped the concept of developing its forward military presence, a strategy based on maintaining considerable NATO forces located in the proximity of potential conflict. Instead, NATO began a strategy based on quick deployment to the battlefield. That strategy subsequently led to a reduction in the number of NATO permanent commands in Europe from about 60 during the Cold War to the current seven headquarters.

The Most Pressing Cybersecurity Challenges to NATO

At the Brussels meeting, NATO defense ministers also agreed to create the Operational Cybersecurity Center (OCC) to protect NATO troops deployed in the framework of NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (NATO EFP) to the Baltic States and Poland.

This decision implements the outcomes of the 2016 Summit, where political leaders of NATO member states decided to recognize cyberspace as the next battlefield alongside land, sea, and air. The OCC will help NATO to protect elements of command-and-control system of four Battalion Battle Groups (BBGs) deployed to NATO’s eastern flank. The exact location of the OCC—like the locations of AC and the LC—remains unknown. However, it will be probably located at the ACO in Mons, where the NATO Computer Incident Response Team (NCIRC) has been hosted. The decision to place the OCC in Belgium will allow NATO to bring together its cybersecurity assets to one location nearby the NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

President Trump’s Impact on NATO & European Allies

NATO Defense Ministers also approved the decision to increase NATO’s footprint in Afghanistan. As a result, the size of the Resolute Support Mission (RSM, for which NATO cooperates with 39 partner nations) will increase from around 13,000 to around 16,000 troops. Moreover, NATO confirmed its willingness to continue to fund the Afghan Security Forces (ASF) until at least 2020.

It seems that US President Donald J. Trump’s pressure on European allies regarding insufficient military expenditures—only four European NATO members contribute 2% or more of their GDP, namely, the UK, Estonia, Poland, and Greece—and unwillingness to engage in Afghanistan has brought the first effects. The decision to increase NATO troops in Afghanistan also meets the main outlines of the new Afghan strategy announced by Trump on Aug. 21, 2017, which increased the number of US troops in the country. However, it necessary to mention that NATO troops will be only conducting training support to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and will remain excluded from combat operations conducted by the US forces.

Summary: Back to Its Roots

The decision to create two new headquarters in Europe indicates that the Alliance has adapted itself to the changing security environment. After years of out-of-area missions—conducted since 2014, in response to Sept. 11, 2001—NATO has gone back to its roots and the strategy of collective defense according to Art. 51 of the UN Charter and Art. 5 of the Washington Treaty (1949). Furthermore, the changes to the NATO command structure meet political decisions from the two previous NATO Summits in Newport (2014) and Warsaw (2016). The change enhances NATO’s collective defense and the Alliance’s ability to respond to modern threats in cyberspace.

However, although NATO decided to deploy four battle groups to the Baltic States and Poland—approximately 1,000 to 1,200 troops each and about 4,500 troops combined—and increase its military presence in Romania and Bulgaria, NATO’s potential to deter Russia remains insufficient. NATO needs to be ready to deploy multinational rapid response forces to Central and Eastern Europe, such as the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF, also known as “NATO’s spearhead” consisting of 15,000 troops) and the major part (40,000 troops) of the NATO Response Force (NRF). A potential conflict in Central and Eastern Europe requires receiving reinforcement troops from Western Europe and the US as soon as possible. The Russian annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of violence in Eastern Ukraine in 2014 drove NATO to reshape its defense strategy and rebuild its command structure.

Maintaining the ability to a swiftly deploy US and NATO troops across the Atlantic and within Europe is crucial to improving NATO’s capacity to deter Russia effectively. It also meets calls for “military Schengen zone” (analogically to EU Schengen zone) to get troops moving among European countries. At the meeting in Brussels, the Alliance has made substantial progress in reducing legal obstacles to cross-border operations, tardy bureaucratic requirements, and infrastructure problems, such as roads and bridges that are unable to accommodate large military vehicles and storage tank platforms. The idea is nothing new and has covered most of Europe since 1996. However, it has not been fully implemented within all EU and NATO countries over the last 20 years. In recent months, a dozen political and military leaders—such as Gen. Ben Hodges, US Army Europe Commander, or Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the Dutch Defense Minister—as well as security experts on both sides of the Atlantic, have highlighted the need of this improvement.

Moreover, NATO cannot stop its new adaptation process. Its battle groups currently suffer from equipment shortages that have an impact on their operational capabilities. The NATO frontier forces require more armored vehicles and tanks, artillery, medium-range air defense systems (i.e., moving US Patriot systems from Germany to the Baltic States or Poland), as well as a clarification of the rules of engagement.

NATO also needs to permanently increase its collective and national capacities, improving the readiness of armed forces and increasing military expenditures. For comparison, Russia is currently assumed to be able to mobilize at least 100,000 troops within few weeks and could seize the Baltic States within 36 to 60 hours. The recent Zapad 2017 military exercises indicated that Russian troops could conduct this sort of operation. It is also necessary to increase NATO’s presence alongside its eastern flank. The presence of four battle groups is insufficient to counter a potential Russian attack on the Baltic States. Allies might appreciate the deployment of the US Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) to Eastern Europe to strengthen NATO’s ability to deter Russia (currently the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Infantry Division from Fort Riley, KS, is deployed in Poland).

The creation of two new operational commands also brings some concerns. The first one is fear of adequate funding. Despite the increasing defense budgets of European members of NATO—Poland, for instance, will increase its military spending from 2% to 2.5% of GDP by 2030, while Germany’s military budget in 2017 increased by 8% in comparison with the previous year—it may be challenging for NATO to find sufficient funds to financially cover two new commands and the OCC.

Additionally, the increase in NATO’s support for Afghanistan operations is a signal that President Trump’s demands could affect NATO and America’s allies in Europe. Europeans will remain against involving their troops in combat operations carried out by the US against the Taliban and IS as there is a tremendous fear among European leaders of a military death toll, and this attitude will surely cause more allegations by Trump against the commitment of his European partners.   

All of the above concerns no doubt will be touched on the next NATO defense ministers meeting in February 2018, which will be one of the last meetings before the 2018 NATO Summit in Brussels (on July 11-12, 2018).


INSCT Research and Practice Associate Kamil Szubart was a 2017 visiting fellow at INSCT, via the Kosciuszko Foundation. He works as an analyst for the Institute for Western Affairs in Poznan, Poland, where he is responsible for German foreign and security policy, transatlantic relations, Islamic threats in German-native-speaking countries and topics related to NATO, CSDP, OSCE, and the UN. Currently, he is working on a doctoral dissertation examining US-German relations in the field of international security since 9/11.

Corri Zoli Participates in UN Counterterrorism Conference

On Nov. 15 and 16, 2017, Corri Zoli, Director of Research, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, represented Syracuse University at two United Nations Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate (UN CTED) workshops, at New York University and UN headquarters.

“Few people know that the UN has taken a leading role in counter terrorism efforts around the world,” says Zoli. “Two weeks after the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, the UN unanimously established the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) by Security Council Resolution No. 1373 (2001), comprising all 15 Security Council members. To help advise member states around the world in measures to advance their legal and institutional capacity to counter terrorist groups, attacks, and criminal activities, the Security Council in 2004 established CTED to assist in the research needed to help the CTC monitor and implement counterterrorism measures, from criminalizing the financing of terrorism to information sharing about safe havens or groups supporting terrorists.”

At both events, Zoli provided insights on data-driven approaches to understanding terrorism, radicalization, and countering violent extremism (CVE). She also shared information with colleagues and delegates on the systems, critical infrastructures, and organizational structures that terrorist organizations often use to effect their goals of political violence and creating fear among local populations.
At the UN headquarters event, Zoli was included as an expert on questions from concerned delegates from across the globe interested in understanding “best practices” to combat terrorism. Queries posed included how to lawfully deal with foreign fighters returning home and what measures should be taken for counter-radicalization, including for women and children who were also drawn to the Levant by groups such as ISIS and Al Nusra.

Zoli’s presence at this conference continues INSCT’s close collaboration with UN CTED. For the past few years law and graduate students in INSCT’s Law 822 Research Center have presented research to the directorate on how UN member states are complying with UN Security Council Resolution 2178, which calls on members to prevent the “recruiting, organizing, transporting, or equipping of individuals who travel to a State … for the purpose of the perpetration, planning of, or participation in terrorist acts.”

In May 2016, INSCT was invited by UN CTED to join The Prevention Project, directed by former US Department of State counterterrorism official Eric Rosand through the Global Center on Cooperative Security. The project aims to support member states’ efforts to deal holistically and constructively with citizens who travel to fight with extremist and terrorist organizations.

Emerging Trends in Terrorism and Counterterrorism

New York University Center for Global Affairs | Nov. 15, 2017

Session I: Returning & Relocating Foreign Terrorist Fighters

While the flow of FTFs to Iraq and Syria has slowed, returnees and the relocation of fighters from the conflict zones to other regions present a considerable threat to international security. The flow of returnees risks spreading the threat posed by individuals loyal to ISIL to new regions. In addition to calling for terrorist attacks on an international scale, terrorist organizations—including ISIL (Da’esh), Al-Qaida, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab—have compensated for their territorial losses by expanding their presence to new areas. This session will focus on discussing challenges related to returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs).

Session II: Countering Violent Extremism

Some Member States are concerned that the numbers of FTFs returning to their countries of origin, potentially intending to perpetrate attacks, in combination with those being radicalized to violence within those countries, present a growing challenge to national security. The purpose of this session is to share and discuss good practices in countering violent extremism (CVE), including the role of the media, civil and religious society, the business community and educational institutions to enhance dialogue and broaden understanding, and in promoting tolerance and coexistence, and in fostering an environment which is not conducive to incitement of terrorism.

Session III: Protection of Soft Targets

Over recent years, the proportion of terrorist plots resulting in fatalities has increased, in part due to the activities of returning and relocating foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), as well as due to the evolution in terrorists’ modus operandi, including: (i) their use of basic (legal and easily accessible) tools that reduce opportunities for detection and disruption; (ii) their emphasis on (often poorly protected) civilian targets; and (iii) their use of information and communications technologies (ICT), including encrypted messaging services, for terrorist purposes, including to remotely guide single-perpetrator terrorist attacks. The purpose of this session is to analyze and discuss challenges and good practices related to preventing terrorist acts against civilians.

Session IV: The Future of the Global Research Network

The purpose of this session is to assist CTED in its preparation of: (i) A list of specific trends, developments and issues that require further research and analysis; and (ii) An internal work plan for future engagement with members of the Network, with a view to developing further evidence-based research that can support the work of the Committee and CTED.

CTED Second Open Meeting of the Chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee and Global Research Network Partners

UN Headquarters, New York City | Nov. 16, 2017

  • Session I: Summary of NYU technical consultations
  • Session II: Implementation of Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014)
  • Session III: National practices in CVE that can be conducive to terrorism
  • Session IV: The protection of civilian (“soft”) targets

Speakers included:

  • Emman El-Badawy, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
  • Cheryl Frank, Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria
  • Pavel Mareev, Commonwealth of Independent States Anti-Terrorism Center (CIS ATC)
  • Magnus Ranstorp, Swedish National Defence CollegeDavid Scharia, Chief of Branch, Counter-Terrorism Executive Director (CTED)
  • Ali Soufan, The Soufan Group

Gassing International Law

By David M. Crane

(Re-published from The Jurist | Nov. 6, 2017) The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) should not ignore or walk away from the alleged use of any prohibited weapon, such as chemicals, as it signals it is permissible to violate the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and erodes international norms related to such weapons. Further, it signals that countries with deep ties to P5 (U.K., U.S., France, Russia, China) are outside the scope of UNSC authority, therefore creating a bigger issue of eroding the international authority of the UNSC and jeopardizing the foundation of international law.

“The UN is not impotent, as it has facilitated international cooperation on the conflict, resulting in ceasefires, the initial formation of JIM, condemnation of acts, and investigation of potential war crimes.”

On Tuesday, October 24, 2017, Russia vetoed the resolution extending the mandate of the investigators probing chemical weapons attacks in Syria. [JURIST report] [Meeting Record] Following the chemical attack in 2015, Russia and America created the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) to investigate the presence/use of chemical weapons in Syria, which found 27 active production facilities. In its most recent report late last month, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it had verified the destruction of 25 of the 27 chemical weapons production facilities declared by Syria and continued to prepare an inspection to confirm the current condition of the last two. The vote on the resolution was in advance of the JIM investigative report (presented Thursday October 26). The report sought to identify the party responsible for a deadly April 4 attack in the rebel-controlled town of Khan Sheikhoun in southern Idlib that killed and sickened scores of civilians allegedly using sarin gas. Shortly after that attack, the United States launched an airstrike on a Syrian air base and accused the al-Assad regime of carrying out the gas attack.

This action by Russia is primarily concerned with the sovereignty of Syria and stresses the maxim that you cannot enter a sovereign territory without concrete evidence of wrong doing. Further Russia believes they face possible retaliation by Syria and/or rebel groups present in Syria. Finally, Russia is concerned that there has been a blurring of lines between the conflict against Syria and the conflict against ISIS. Additionally Russia is supporting the regime and has economic ties to Syria. They do not want the US to gain any influence in Syria.

The media and various member states are concerned that the UNSC is impotent in assisting in Syria due to the P5 structure. The UNSC and the UN system are shouldering the blame for little progress in Syria. The broader discussion criticizes the entire UN system as being outdated and ineffective.

The UN is not impotent, as it has facilitated international cooperation on the conflict, resulting in ceasefires, the initial formation of JIM, condemnation of acts, and investigation of potential war crimes. Further, the UN is serving its purpose as a neutral forum for these discussions. Syria has not simply become a battlefield upon which America and Russia are fighting, nor are we seeing a return to interstate war. Therefore, the UN is working as a forum for these issues. Further negotiations need to be based on interests and relationships as nationalistic and realist strategies fail within the cooperative international organizational model …

To read the complete article, click here.

What the US Government Can Do to Prevent Low-Tech Terror Attacks

By Corri Zoli

On Oct. 31, 2017, as reported by CNN, eight people were killed and almost a dozen injured when 29-year-old Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov drove a rented pickup truck down a busy bicycle path in New York City’s Lower Manhattan district. Authorities found a note claiming the attack was made in the name of Islamic State (ISIS) near the truck used in the attack.[1] Saipov was shot by police and taken to the hospital. Originally from Uzbekistan, he entered the United States under a visa program designed to encourage immigration from underrepresented nations.

“Likely, the visa lottery program Saipov used to enter the US in 2010 will come under scrutiny.”

Given the case facts, this tragic incident looks like yet another low-tech terrorist attack, similar to vehicular attacks in the last two years in London, France, Sweden, Spain, Germany, and elsewhere. The inspiration for these attacks comes from ISIS and its online recruitment materials that advocate for the surprise killing of civilians using any available modern tools as weapons, such as trucks, knives, or homemade bombs.[2] Europe has suffered hundreds of deaths due to this “low-tech” but powerful strategy.

US Congressmembers emphasize that we’re in a high-threat environment given ISIS attacks across the world and given thousands of foreign terrorist fighters returning to their home countries (as Islamic State collapses). It should be remembered that 60,000 foreign fighters have joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq since 2012. While numbers of recruits from the US are far lower than from France and Britain—not to mention other countries—they are not zero. Since 2014, 136 individuals have been charged for ISIS-related offenses in the US, with 79 so far found guilty.

What can the US government do to prevent such low-tech terror attacks in the homeland? Physical barriers to prevent car and truck attacks would help in places where people congregate, but it is not feasible to line every road or bike path with such concrete barriers. Nor do we have as many domestic policy tools as we might like to have to deal with this issue, such as heavily secured borders or detailed vetting procedures for immigrants and refugees. Instead, we must turn to surveillance, public notification of extremist behavior, forward-leaning law enforcement professionals, and community engagement, all of which must be balanced with civil liberties.

Importantly, lawmakers and law enforcement officials need to stay ahead of global terrorist strategic, tactical, and recruitment trends, especially after the fall of Raqqa and now that ISIS operatives are beginning to return home or move into other regions (such as Mali in western Africa). To politicize these issues—or ignore them or wish them away—is folly. Preventing terror attacks will require thorough policy reviews, investigative reports, and new bipartisan laws and agency procedures, such as those developed in the past to close VISA loopholes. The U.S. is not alone on these challenges—France issued a new anti-terrorism law this week, and British ministers are actively asking what to do with foreign terrorist returnees. 

In addition to the challenge of homegrown terrorism, our immigration systems are not immune to these threats. Both the Obama and Trump administrations have increased vetting of immigrants and refugees to deal with the ways terrorist operatives target migration flows and programs. Former FBI Director James Comey in 2015 Congressional testimony noted that 15% of refugees (300 out of 2,000-plus open FBI cases) are under FBI investigation for “some contact with foreign terrorists.”

Terrorists exploiting immigration and refugee programs is a bigger problem, however, in Europe, where ISIS operatives in the Paris (2015) and Belgium (2016) attacks, among others, used refugee flows and passports to skirt border security measures.

Likely, the visa lottery program[3] Saipov used to enter the US in 2010 will come under scrutiny[4]. While a small program,[5] after the San Bernardino attack in 2015, President Barack Obama’s Department of Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson and lawmakers—including Central New York’s John Katko, who leads the House bipartisan Task Force on Combating Terrorist and Foreign Fighter Travel—reevaluated the K-1 VISA program for fiancée/spouses, some recommending social media surveillance of individuals.

The vetting process for the K-1 program was determined to be less rigorous than refugee vetting processes and therefore changed. In this case—as in the case of San Bernadino killer Tashfeen Malik, who was determined to have been radicalized before entering the US—an important question is whether Saipov exhibited signs of radicalization before he entered the US and whether he was properly vetted.

[1] Sayfullo Saipov’s first name translates into “Sword of Allah.” Reportedly, he pledged allegiance to ISIS and had ISIS flags in his vehicle.
[2] Here’s a sample from Rumiyah: Though being an essential part of modern life, very few actually comprehend the deadly and destructive capability of the motor vehicle and its capacity of reaping large numbers of casualties if used in a premeditated manner. This was superbly demonstrated…by the brother Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel who, while traveling at the speed of approximately 90 km p/hour, plowed his 19-ton load-bearing truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, harvesting through his attack the slaughter of 86 Crusader citizens and injuring 434 more. The method of such an attack is that a vehicle is plunged at a high speed into a large congregation of kufar, smashing their bodies with the vehicle’s strong outer frame, while advancing forward—crushing their heads, torsos, and limbs under the vehicle’s wheels and chassis—and leaving behind a trail of carnage.” (Rumiyah, 2016, Issue 3, p. 10)
[3] There were 1,051,031 new legal permanent residents (“Green Card” holders) in FY 2015, with about 5% coming from the “diversity” visa lottery program and most (66%) coming from family relations preferences.
[4] News outlets are also reporting that Saipov was in fact investigated by the FBI in 2015 over his ties with suspected terrorists. He was further listed as a “point of contact” for 23 visitors and immigrants, two of whom were found in DHS’s counterterrorism database and overstayed their tourist visas, itself a growing problem in the US (more than 700,000 overstayed their visas in 2016). One individual was flagged as arriving from a threat country while the other was identified as a “suspected terrorist.” Vetting procedures were again changed—this time to link classified (US Department of Defense) and unclassified data on jihadists—when it was discovered that two Iraqi refugees arrested on terror offenses in Bowling Green, Kentucky had previously committed IED attacks against US soldiers in Iraq.
[5] The Diversity Visa Program prioritizes immigrants from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the US. Congressionally mandated as part of the Immigration Act of 1990, the program creates priorities—diversity—beyond traditional US immigration policy of immigrating family members or US employment needs. The program allows for 55,000 immigrants per year (beginning in 1995) with countries excluded that have sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the US in the previous 5 years.


Haley Calls Russian Election Interference “Warfare,” But Is It an Armed Attack?

By Ryan White

(Re-published from Crossroads: Cybersecurity Law & Policy | Oct. 20, 2017) On Oct. 19, 2017, Reuters reported that US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called last year’s Russian meddling in the Presidential election “warfare.”  The comments came during a panel discussion alongside two former Secretaries of State, Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice.

“Syracuse University College of Law Professor William C. Snyder, the editor of Crossroads, says he prefers to define “armed attack” as something that ‘tears at the fabric of society.'”

Haley explained, “When a country can come interfere in another country’s elections that is warfare. It really is, because you’re making sure that the democracy shifts from what the people want,” she said. “This is their new weapon of choice and we have to get in front of it.”

Haley’s comments touch on one of the most important questions when it comes to cyber space and cyber war.  In 2011, the then legal adviser of the US state department Harold Koh clearly stated that International Law applies in cyber space. That much has broad support.  The challenge comes when you try to apply it.

What qualifies as an “armed attack” in cyber space?  There is no clear answer. While Haley didn’t use those exact words, the term “warfare” seems to be very close in nature to “armed attack.”  If the US were to officially adopt this stance, it would have major implications.  Why?  Because nations that are signatories of the UN Charter have agreed to not use military force in international affairs unless authorized by the Security Council or in self-defense after an armed attack.  Thus, activities like Russian interference in an election would open the door to a response from the United States.

But what type of response? Is it limited to a cyber response? Could it take kinetic action in the traditional military sense?  Again, these are the ambiguities that exist when trying to apply even the most established principles of international law to cyberspace.

Many experts restrict an “armed attack” in cyberspace to actions whose effects include immediate death or serious bodily injury. Syracuse University College of Law Professor William C. Snyder, the editor of Crossroads, says he prefers to define “armed attack” as something that “tears at the fabric of society.” Perhaps the interference in last year’s election didn’t quite rise to this level. But it’s certainly plausible to see scenarios where, had the Russian attempts been more successful, the United States would have been in chaos.  The election results sparked significant divisiveness as it is. 

Imagine if the results were contested and we truly didn’t know the result of an election.

In context, Haley’s comments do not amount to an official position and aren’t changing the cyber landscape quite yet. But this type of thinking from our nation’s leaders could alter the way cyber activities occur between international actors.

Ryan White is a third-year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. 

Qatar & the “Quartet”: International Blackmail

By David M. Crane

(Re-published from The Jurist | Oct. 11, 2017) Within the United Nations paradigm, state-parties settle their disputes peacefully and only resort to the use of force as a last measure. Several weeks ago four state-parties skipped the first step and used force against a fellow member state. That aggressive act consisted of embargoes, cyber-attacks, and trade and flight disruption, culminating in a list of demands by those states to lift those sanctions.

“The use of force by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, and Egypt (the Quartet) against Qatar would not have happened but for a new and unstable president in the White House.”

In 2017, it is hard to imagine that a member state would use force without a legal sanction by the Security Council or an appropriate regional body. The unilateral decision to do harm to a member state of the United Nations by other member states is an action that should be condemned and corrected. Most remarkably is how little has been done by the international community to correct the situation and restore international peace and security within the region. The silence is deafening.

The use of force by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, and Egypt (the Quartet) against Qatar would not have happened but for a new and unstable president in the White House. Past presidents, regardless of party, would not have allowed this to happen; and one would surmise that this Saudi led attack would not have even been contemplated by this Quartet of member states due to that leverage by the West. This quartet saw a political weakness and an opening and took it almost assured of the reaction by the West.

This action by the Quartet could most likely be the beginning of a series of “events” brought upon by a weakened and confused American foreign policy. The lack of leadership coming out of Washington is starting to weaken that international peace and security upon which the United Nations is grounded. Though international blackmail cannot be allowed to stand, the lack of discourse between the feuding parties will only exacerbate the situation. The recent demand by the UAE for Qatar to withdraw as a host of the 2022 World Cup is an example of the blackmail and the lack of interest in settling a dispute peacefully.

The violations of international law and norms committed by the Quartet against Qatar are almost too numerous to mention. Among the treaties violated are the Universal Declaration of Human rightsthe International Covenant on Civil and Political Rightsthe Arab Charter on Human Rights, as well as the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United States, among several others. These violations could arguably amount to an act of aggression. The battlefield and the weapons used are not conventional, but an embargo and the use of cyber space as a weapon to do harm could be construed as an aggressive act.

Hence the dilemma the international community now faces, technology has shifted the concept of conflict to another dimension, cyberspace. Its use to do harm continues to manifest itself and the lack of regulation of this new battlespace causes muddled or ineffectual response …

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