New York: Proposed Regulations for Cybersecurity Come up Short

By Christopher Folk

(Re-published from | Sept. 15, 2016) Governor Cuomo released proposed regulations for cybersecurity yesterday through the Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) that would require Covered Entities to hire Chief Information Security Officers (“CISO”) and perform a number of other cybersecurity tasks which seems like a good step towards enhanced cybersecurity, but is it really?

First, let us examine what entities are actually covered under these new “regulations.” Under § 500.1 Definitions

Covered Entity means any Person operating under or required to operate under a license, registration, charter, certificate, permit, accreditation or similar authorization under the banking law, the insurance law or the financial services law.

A person is further defined as any individual, partnership, corporation, association or any other entity.

So take the realm of persons and entities engaged in business in New York and extract out the piece that includes: banking, insurance, and financial services and you have the business sector that would be impacted by Cuomo’s regulations.

Now that we have identified the “who” let us examine the “what.”  Under these regulations, each covered entity must develop a cybersecurity program designed to “ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the Covered Entity’s Information Systems (“IS”).”

The cybersecurity program must:

  • identify internal and external cyber risks;
    • identify Nonpublic Information (“NpI”) stored by Covered Entity’s IS
    • identify the sensitivity of NpI
    • identify access to NpI
  • use policies, procedures and also defensive infrastructure to protect IS from
    • either unauthorized access; or
    • other malicious acts
  • detect cybersecurity events;
  • respond to identified or detected cybersecurity events to mitigate;
  • recover from cyber events and restore normal operations and services; and
  • fulfill all regulatory reporting requirements

Furthermore, a cybersecurity policy must be implemented and maintained and must minimally address the following:

  • information security;
  • data governance and classification;
  • access controls and identity management;
  • business continuity and disaster recovery planning and resources;
  • capacity and performance planning;
  • systems operations and availability concerns;
  • systems and network security;
  • systems and network monitoring;
  • systems and application development and quality assurance;
  • physical security and environmental controls;
  • customer data privacy;
  • vendor and third-party service provider management;
  • risk assessment; and
  • incident response …

To read the whole post, click here.

Christopher Folk is a candidate (2017) for both a master’s in Forensic Science and Technology (Syracuse University) and a Juris Doctor degree (SU Law). Also a software engineer, Folk’s legal externship is with Chertoff Group company Delta Risk, where he focuses on legal and policy analysis pertaining to US and International cyber law.

“Lone-Wolf” Terrorists Rarely Act Alone, So Let’s Stop Calling Them That

By Corri Zoli

(Re-published from, Sept. 14, 2016) There is a disconnect between what we talk about when we talk about terrorism and the facts evident in recent attacks. Take the idea that recent attacks in Europe are disconnected from global terrorism and are instead the acts of “lone wolves.”

“‘Lone-wolf terrorist’ should be replaced with what is really at stake: ‘low-tech terrorism,’ a term that shifts how we orient ourselves to this global problem.”

That was the narrative yet again after the Nice attack of July 14, 2016. It later emerged that seven accomplices of Tunisian-born French resident Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel—who drove a 20-ton truck into Bastille Day crowds—were charged with aiding in “murder by a group with terror links.” Such accomplices contradict the “lone wolf” concept that fails to acknowledge a link between perpetrators and terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida or Islamic State.

In too many cases, the same story of the lone-wolf terrorist has been used to describe incidents in OrlandoSan Bernardino, Ottawa, Bavaria, Belgium, RiyadhSydney.

Social scientists and legal scholars value “case facts” in their research on terrorism. With a data-driven view of the often painful facts associated with an attack, we can better advance our efforts to prevent terrorism. In that spirit, I make some recommendations for scholars, public servants, journalists and members of the general public who want to understand how terrorism is evolving.

Scripted & Orchestrated Violence

First, “lone-wolf terrorist” should be replaced with what is really at stake: “low-tech terrorism,” a term that shifts how we orient ourselves to this global problem. After the initial shock of an attack, later analysis often shows that more than one person was involved, that an international network was used, and that the perpetrator’s violence against civilians was scripted and orchestrated.

The Nice attack, for instance, was as part of multinational criminal infrastructure. Bouhlel was a resident of France and a Tunisian citizen who used weapons from Albanian contacts, communicated plans to contacts in Syria, sent images of his conduct and money to Tunisia, and scouted attack sites, per instructions from Mideast operatives.

Some terrorist acts may appear isolated, random, and spontaneous—but that does not mean they are.

Even if personal motives are found — mental health, vendettas, workplace grievances—savvy jihadist recruiters have often “touched” these individuals because of them, radicalizing them online via a tight-knit network of seasoned operatives.

Ultimately, the “lone wolf” concept misunderstands the nature of terrorism, which at its core is an act of strategic communication. It’s about a weak group spreading a violent message using cheap and convenient means of attack: knives, homemade bombs, IEDs, cars, trucks, etc. This form of violent communication involves teamwork, whether direct “material support” or shared ideological, communications, criminal and recruiting networks. Some terrorist acts may appear isolated, random, and spontaneous—but that does not mean they are.

Better understanding these loosely organized jihadist networks means we have a chance to topple terrorism’s organizational edifice. That means paying attention to individual terrorist acts and linking them to global trends, such as those tracked by the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorist Data (GTD) project. Such data show increased jihadist attacks globally, thousands of jihadist groups adept at “low-tech” violence, and a broad use of various methods against “soft” targets.

Data also show how recent attacks follow a conventional approach, in which operatives — no matter how plugged into the group — play a key role before, during and after an attack. Terrorists announce their goals online, as they are trained to do, declare allegiances, make martyr videos, or post extremist material on social media. Contrary to the lone wolf myth, terrorist communiqués reveal group commitment to organizations and causes, a large audience for such material, and willing participants worldwide.

Spreading Weapons, Money, & Ideology

Terrorism is built on real—but often hidden—global logistics, social and communications networks. Three of these were used in this summer’s spate of attacks in Europe: trafficked weapons, illicit money transfers and online ideological communications. Many groups, including ISIS, go to great lengths to cover their organizational tracks, creating covert units—such as Emni—to “export terror abroad,” including over 140 attacks worldwide since 2014. An imprisoned ISIS recruit recently told a New York Times journalist that ISIS undercover operatives are common in Europe to recruit new converts who are used as “clean men” (not yet in intelligence agency databases) to “help link up people interested in carrying out attacks” …

To read the full post, click here.

The US & the Middle East: 15 Years after 9/11

(Re-published from SU News, Sept. 9, 2016) Fifteen years out from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the US, and the war on terror still rages. Osama Bin Laden is dead but US troops, albeit in fewer numbers, remain in Iraq and Afghanistan, and new enemies have risen.

Why has US policy in the Middle East struggled in the legacy of 9/11?

Osamah Khalil, an assistant professor of US and Middle East history in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, notes how the US built up its national security bureaucracy after 9/11—gathering incredible amounts of data—but has not addressed the root causes of instability in the Middle East through broader understanding.

His book, “America’s Dream Palace: Middle East Expertise and the Rise of the National Security State,” to be released in October, highlights how US foreign policy has shaped expertise in this often misunderstood part of the world over the past century and how the relationship runs much deeper than any current conflict.

“It is worth mentioning that these allies have terrible human rights records and their own domestic and regional political agendas, but this has been ignored—and is still being ignored—because they are partners in the ‘war on terror.’”

Q: What has been the aftermath of the US in the Middle East following 9/11?

A: America’s involvement with the area we now call the “Middle East” dates to the mid-19th century, and some scholars argue even earlier. As I discuss in “America’s Dream Palace,” there is a long period of engagement and interaction between the two areas that did not begin with the Sept. 11 attacks and did not end with death of Osama Bin Laden.

In the 15 years since 9/11, the United States remains deeply involved in the region, politically, economically, militarily, religiously and culturally. Although the focus is often on the active conflicts (Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan) and occasionally on the covert operations and drone strikes that are conducted from Libya to Pakistan, the engagement between the US and the Middle East is also deeper and richer than just military affairs and political crises.

Q: What are the threats driving US policy in the Middle East today?

While the general public often understands the relationship between the United States and the Middle East through the lens of current events, crises and threats, this obscures a much longer and deeper engagement. US policy in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe is driven by interests—material, strategic and ideological. Since the early post-World War II period US foreign policy has been driven by Washington’s decision to serve as the guarantor of global oil supplies, the goal of “maintaining security and stability” in the region from the US’s perspective, and America’s “special relationship” with Israel.

Q: What has hampered the US in its war on terror, even 15 years out from 9/11?  

A: Much like declaring a “war on drugs,” the idea that you can have or should have a “global war on terror” is part of the problem. Terrorism is a strategy, and often a deliberate one, and not an ideology. As I discuss in the book, even the definition of terrorism has not been consistent over the past four decades.

In addition, al-Qaʽida, the organization responsible for 9/11, was very small (with some scholars estimating that it had roughly 3,000 members largely based in Afghanistan and Pakistan). This threat could have been dealt with in a more strategic fashion. Instead, after 9/11, the national security bureaucracy underwent a massive expansion, the largest since the end of World War II, and one of the consequences was an increase in redundancy among the different agencies but not necessarily an improvement in how the US was assessing and analyzing threats.

Nor was there an attempt to address the root causes of conflict and instability in the region. Fifteen years later, this situation has not improved. For example, even though there is a robust and controversial global surveillance effort, the United States still lacks a sufficient number of analysts to quickly and efficiently evaluate the troves of data collected.

Q: What are the repercussions of not moving more quickly to analyze data?

A: This relates to the basic question of why are massive amounts of data (cell phone, social networking, etc.) being collected, including of American citizens, without a warrant. In many cases these are individuals who are not suspected of being affiliated with terrorist groups.

In addition, the database of suspected terrorists is still growing, and yet Obama administration officials concede that those on this list are not at the same level of importance as previous targets. There is no transparency on how or why individuals are added to the database or subjected to warrantless wiretapping or a process to challenge that determination.

Moreover, since 9/11, the United States has relied on regional allies to help with Arabic translation, intelligence collection, as well as arresting and often torturing suspects, including a number of individuals that were falsely identified and accused.

It is worth mentioning that these allies have terrible human rights records and their own domestic and regional political agendas, but this has been ignored—and is still being ignored—because they are partners in the “war on terror.”

Q: Why is the US lacking in analysts?

A: In part this has to do with different and competing priorities as well as manpower and budget constraints. However, ideology also plays a role. After Sept. 11, the George W. Bush administration dismissed the need for area expertise and language training. Fifteen years later, federal funding for university-based language training, including Arabic, has not kept pace with dramatically increased enrollments. Even though the US military was in desperate need for translators, a number of gay and lesbian translators were forced out of the armed services.

Q: In your book, you discuss the influence of think tanks with neoconservative agendas on US foreign policy after 9/11. How has this stymied US efforts in fighting terror? How does the US—and its allies—start to better understand the Middle East?

This was evidenced most prominently—and disastrously—with the invasion and occupation of Iraq. We are still dealing with the consequences of the US-led invasion of Iraq and its implications across the region and internationally today.

As I discuss in the book, the United States has a vast reservoir of expertise on the Middle East in universities and colleges across the country. However, there is a tendency to view those outside of government with skepticism. Instead, the US government has often chosen to embrace the expertise that reflects and reinforces existing US interests in the region and internationally. This contributes to short-term approaches that emphasize crisis resolution or conflict management and ignore the fundamental problems and root causes of conflicts.

Suspicion in America: Creating a Problem for a Solution

By Ryan J. Suto

(Re-published from Fair Observer, Aug. 23, 2016) Amid an election full of outlandish statements, Twitter spats, and ad hominem accusations, many important problems facing America have failed to grace headlines. In Suspicion in America, the second of a five-part series exploring issues ignored during the 2016 presidential election season, Ryan J. Suto addresses the danger of continuing the implementation of the CVE program at the federal level. Click here for part 1.

The Obama administration recently led the federal government in pursuing a discriminatory and ineffectual anti-terrorism policy that, at best, adds little to present efforts and, at worst, could alienate and disenfranchise an entire segment of the American population. The next president will inherit this policy, Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), facing the decision to abandon or maintain it.

“Terrorism research routinely concludes that there is no known ‘terrorist profile,’ single set of indicators of radicalization, nor a unitary path toward violence that local leaders could be taught.”

CVE is a federal program with the stated goal of providing planning and funding to support the community-based recognition, reporting and, ultimately, prevention of the root causes of violent extremism. In 2015, the White House launched the program with a summit to coordinate efforts with both local and international leaders. As part of CVE, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has begun to train students, teachers and other community members with the hope that they could recognize and prevent violent extremism.

The program’s framework emphasizes cooperation with local officials and has thus launched three pilot programs: one in Boston, another in Los Angeles and the last in Minnesota. Speaking on the subject, George Selim, the head of the new office of community partnerships within the Department of Homeland Security, admitted, “There is no uniform agreement on the best way to tackle terror recruitment and the risk of violence on American soil”—the motivating justification behind the local focus of the program. Despite this recognition, CVE, like the Transportation Security Administration’s SPOT program, is based on no scientific evidence regarding methods of detecting potential extremists or terrorists.

Nonetheless, earlier this year, Senator Cory Booker introduced a new bill to “authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish university labs for student-developed technology-based solutions for countering online recruitment of violent extremists.” More recently, Representative Todd Young introduced a bill to ensure the CVE program is effective via an oversight group. While neither bill has advanced to the president’s desk for a signature, it is clear that both parties have taken up CVE as a noble policy model for bureaucratic growth.


There are at least three policy-based deficiencies of the Countering Violent Extremism program.

First, CVE creates more national security bureaucracy: America now has yet another office, here within the Department of Homeland Security, with the goal of preventing terrorism within our borders. Since the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001, the federal government has been endeavoring to improve coordination among federal agencies and between them and local law enforcement on this singular subject. While overlapping competencies may have the aim of eliminating holes in coverage and jurisdiction, the funding diverted for CVE would be better spent improving the accuracy and efficacy of existing efforts.

Second, CVE inherently assumes that either local community leaders can be effectively trained on detecting future terrorists, or that communities presently turn a blind eye toward potential extremists. However, terrorism research routinely concludes that there is no known “terrorist profile,” single set of indicators of radicalization, nor a unitary path toward violence that local leaders could be taught. Indicators are not simple enough to present during a workshop and expect results without large numbers of false positives. Moreover, there is no evidence whatsoever that American Muslim communities have knowingly harbored any past active or potential terrorists.

Third, while CVE emphasizes coordination with local actors, the program itself is still top-down, instead of originating from grassroots efforts. The messaging of this and related federal government anti-terrorism programs, for example, is comical. Catchphrases such as “Think Again, Turn Away” and “Don’t Be a Puppet” ring hollow when originating from a government, viewed as either secular or Christian, that routinely guns down Muslims via drone strikes or detains them for decades without trial …

To read the full blog, click here.

INSCT CAS in Postconflict Reconstruction alumnus Ryan J. Suto (JD/MS/MAIR ’13) currently works for Cydecor, a defense consulting firm based in Washington, DC.

Lessons from Israel’s Security Zone: From “Pumpkin” to the Present

By Lauren Mellinger

(Re-published from Strife, Sept. 5, 2016) Ten years ago, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 brought the Second Lebanon War to an end. Almost immediately journalists, historians and policy analysts began grappling with the significance of the 34-day conflict. Yet to date, the pivotal events in the years that preceded that war – namely, the 15-year period between 1985 and 2000 during which troops maintained Israel’s security zone in southern Lebanon before unilaterally withdrawing all Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in May 2000 – have largely been overlooked.

“Bookended by two wars … the 15-year period in which Israeli troops were stationed in southern Lebanon still has no official name, and no official national monument.”

In his recent war memoir Pumpkin Flowers: A Soldier’s Story, author Matti Friedman begins to fill this gap.[1] Friedman’s own experiences as an IDF solider serving in southern Lebanon took place in the final years of the security zone – at a time when there was a growing and vocal movement within Israel advocating for withdrawing from Lebanon.

During his service, Friedman was stationed at Pumpkin (Dla’at in Hebrew), one of dozens of fortified hilltop outposts that comprised the security zone.[2] The self-proclaimed first historian of the outpost, Friedman provides a unique account of this period in a memoir that is part a history of the war and part-political analysis, recounting the experiences of a generation who grew up under the promises of a ‘new Middle East,’[3] only to find themselves in southern Lebanon, observing as the seeds of twenty-first century warfare were planted. Yet, this period in Israeli – and for that matter, in the region’s history – remains incredibly relevant. Indeed, as Friedman argues in Pumpkin Flowers, ‘It is hardly possible to understand current events without understanding these ones [the Security Zone years], and yet they have been overlooked.’[4]

Israel’s troubled history in Lebanon: 1982-2016

Prior to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the 1982 Operation Peace for Galilee, cross-border incursions perpetrated by Palestinian terrorist organisations based in southern Lebanon were a frequent occurrence. Though Israel ultimately achieved the mission’s stated purpose of routing the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)[5] from its base of operations in southern Lebanon, in their place emerged a new, and ultimately more formidable adversary: Hezbollah.

Three years later, on January 14, 1985, then-Defence Minister Yitzhak Rabin announced the cabinet’s decision to deploy IDF troops to maintain a 328-square mile buffer zone in southern Lebanon, to prevent the area from being used as a staging ground for acts of terrorism targeting northern Israel. For the next 15 years, those residing in northern Israel were able to maintain a relatively normal life, free of the fear of terrorist infiltration, (though they were still subject to occasional attacks from mortars and rockets launched from within the security zone by Hezbollah). Moreover, as a result of the relative quiet, residents in Israel’s north benefited from a thriving tourism industry during this period.[6]

But this improved quality of life came at a price. Between 1985 and May 2000, Hezbollah attacks on Israeli troops stationed in the security zone became the organisation’s raison d’être. The IDF lost an average of two dozen troops annually, which according to the army’s estimates amounted to 559 fallen soldiers, including 256 in combat operations.

When the IDF withdrew from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Hezbollah proclaimed an Arab victory. Indeed in a now infamous speech, given on May 26, 2000 – Hezbollah’s declared ‘Victory Day’ – Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah remarked, ‘Israel . . . is feebler than a spider’s web.’

But following the withdrawal the newfound ‘quiet’ along the border would not last, and in July 2006, the Second Lebanon War broke out in response to a Hezbollah provocation. Since the 34-day conflict ended in August 2016, the security situation along the Israel-Lebanon border has been governed by mutual deterrence, with neither Israel nor Hezbollah eager for the next round of fighting, despite Hezbollah’s efforts to enhance its military capabilities in the interim.

Meanwhile, the events that took place in the security zone between 1985 and 2000 foretold the type of conflicts that the United States and coalition forces would soon find themselves immersed in following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Why the security zone years are worth remembering

Visitors to Israel are familiar with the country’s painstaking efforts to memorialise its military history, especially the service and sacrifice of Israeli troops. Yet bookended by two wars, to date, the 15-year period in which Israeli troops were stationed in southern Lebanon still has no official name, and no official national monument. The ‘security zone’ era, as it is referred to, seems to have been largely forgotten. Yet, there are several reasons why the events that took place during this period are worthy of greater consideration …

To read the full blog post, click here.

INSCT alumna Lauren Mellinger (JD/MAIR ’10) is a doctoral candidate in War Studies at King’s College, London, and a senior editor of Strife’s blog and journal. Her research specializes in Israeli counterterrorism and foreign policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You can follow her on Twitter @Lauren_M04.


[1] Matti Friedman, Pumpkin Flowers: A Soldier’s Story (Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 2016).

[2] Per Israeli military jargon at that time, it was common to name things after produce — hence a range of hilltops in southern Lebanon with names such as Red Pepper, Basil, and Crocus. Floral code words were popular as well – if the code word ‘flowers’ was sent over the radio, that meant there were wounded soldiers. Id, p. 24.

[3] Id; See also Shimon Peres, The New Middle East (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1993).

[4] Friedman, Pumpkin Flowers, p. 20.

[5] At the time, the PLO was classified as a terrorist organisation by the Israeli government.

[6] See Gal Luft, “Israel’s Security Zone in Lebanon – A Tragedy?” Middle East Quarterly, Vol. 7, no. 3 (September 2000), pp. 13-20.

Is the US About to Cede Control of ICANN?

By Christopher Folk

(Re-published from Cybersecurity Blog, Aug. 28, 2016) According to a recent article in The Daily Wire, the US Department of Commerce Commerce Department is slated to relinquish control over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) beginning on Oct 1, 2016.  The article posits that US control over ICANN enabled it to thwart the encroachment of censorship and authoritarianism.  

“There seems to be very little public outcry either for or against the anticipated Oct. 1 ICANN changes.”

The Daily Wire article also uses a reference to Arnold Ahlert’s article in FrontPageMag to assert that the passage of Net Neutrality regulations established the Internet as a “telecommunications service” thus laying the groundwork for including this within the United Nation’s International Telecommunications Unit (“ITU”).  

The article then draws the conclusion that authoritarian regimes such as those within Russia and China would have a greater ability to censor speech under the new model than with ICANN being in US control.  The article bolsters this claim by showing that several GOP senators discovered that the ICANN office in Beijing is sited within the same building as the Cyberspace Administration, which reportedly is the censorship arm of the Chinese government.  Additionally, the ITU has allegedly passed a treaty that would grant governments the authority to restrict their citizens’ ability to access the global internet, according to The Daily Wire.

Finally, the article suggests that at the very least once the US relinquishes control over ICANN taxes and fees could be levied on users who register or renew domains and this would create revenue incentives for foreign governments.


While some of the assertions the article makes are arguably plausible and possible, the article seems to indicate that we should view every other UN member or government as less altruistic and more controlling than the US government.  The article also seems to suggest that governments rather than global multistakeholders will become the predominant controlling authorities over ICANN and that retaining ICANN within the US is a far better scenario.  

As a US citizen I see a number of advantages to retaining US control over ICANN; however, from the perspective of a member of the global community, it is also not difficult to consider that very large population blocks of Internet users would view this quite differently.  The mere fact that the US has control over ICANN does not prevent regimes from censorship or denying their citizenry the ability to access the global internet.  

Additionally, it seems a number of groups have taken up this cause, yet there seems to be very little public outcry either for or against the anticipated Oct. 1 ICANN changes.  There have been various attempts within the House and Senate to block this move by the Obama Administration, although as the date drawn near there is still nothing concrete.  

As we approach the US General Election, the electorate is largely distracted by myriad other issues, and as the legislators fight to keep or control majorities, it is unclear whether they have the focus and zeal to fight this public non-issue, which is unlikely to become an election hot-button.  Either way, the road ahead for ICANN will be interesting to watch, perhaps more so than the November elections.

Christopher W. Folk is a second year student at SU College of Law.

On Being an American of Muslim Faith in the US Military

By Syed H. Tanveer, US Navy (E-5)

The recent argument between Khzir and Ghazala Khan, parents of Bronze Star Medal recipient Capt. Humayun Khan who was killed in Iraq in 2004, and presidential candidate Donald Trump have raised many questions about Americans who practice the Muslim faith serving in the United States military, including whether the military is safe with Muslims in it and whether Muslims should have the opportunity to serve their country when some believe this country is at war with Islam.

“If the United States as a whole could learn from the diverse and evolving culture of the military, we would be a stronger nation.”

I am one of 5,900 service members—a mere 0.02%—who identify themselves as an American of Muslim faith in the US military. Just like every other service member, we have taken an oath to “Support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and to “bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” But not only have we sworn to represent and defend the United States and its Constitution, we are also bestowed the task of representing our cultures, which in my case is an American of Pakistani descent and of the Islamic faith, and to teach fellow service members who Muslims really are.

I enlisted into the United States Navy to give back to the country that gave me everything: a home, a public education, a childhood that most Pakistani children only dream of, and the tools necessary to have a stable and successful life. American is near and dear to my heart, but my faith stands alongside it.

Being an American of Muslim faith in the US military is neither a task that is too daunting nor a task that is too simple. The atmosphere in the military is diverse but because the objective is always “mission-oriented,” it is very easy for us to fit into our respected commands and to do the jobs we are given adequately and with equal opportunity. No non-Muslim servicemember will come up to a Muslim servicemember and say, “Hey, you must be a terrorist because you sure look like one.” In fact, most people approach me with many questions about what Pakistani Muslim culture is like and what my religion sets out to teach. In return, I always give them the answer that I’ve learned and followed growing up as a Pakistani-American Muslim: Islam is a faith that teaches peace, not harm.

Servicemembers have a mindset that differs from the general population. We are taught to be curious, which creates us a thirst for learning, but still obey the orders of those appointed over us and learn from the people next to us in order to create comradery that assists us during harsh conditions. Most of my peers in the military have learned what type of people Muslims really are through my own actions, such as always helping your peers before yourself, giving back to the community as often as you can, and being calm in any circumstance. Through my actions, my colleagues see what we Muslims are taught to do and why we do it on a daily basis, such as not eating pork because we believe it is unclean or giving 2.5% of your income to the needy.

In fact, spreading Muslim awareness within military commands is a way to reiterate who the enemy target really is. We need to stay away from ideas of who average Americans think the war on terrorism is against. In the military, we know that the target isn’t the Muslim populous; the target is the ideology of terrorism. Having American Muslims in the military is a way to reinforce a positive image of Islam because we can teach the true message of the faith to our peers, and when we fight alongside our comrades, who are from many faiths and many cultures, it is in pursuit of one goal—to subdue those who threaten the national security of the United States and who are opposed to what the US Constitution represents.

Recently, I fasted through the month of Ramadan, a month in which Muslims don’t eat from sunrise to sunset for 29 or 30 days. Most of my military peers didn’t know what Ramadan was about, what it represents, and what happens after the last day of this Islamic holy month. So I answered the questions they had to the best of my abilities and shared the knowledge of the Islamic faith throughout the month itself, which enlightened them enough to want to learn more on their own. Specifically, one of the sincerest actions that anyone has done for me in my time of service is when my supervisor—or LCPO, a Chief Petty Officer at rank E-7—fasted all 30 days during the holy month herself! She had set out the goal to go through Ramadan with me in order to support my goal of fasting. I was astounded, especially because we were going through a very vigorous and stressful inspection, which also included going out to sea, and the Hawaiian heat was at its peak during the month of June. I never would have thought a fellow servicemember—who isn’t Muslim at all—would want to go through the demanding month of Ramadan with me, let alone complete all 30 days of it. It made me so excited to see what servicemembers will go through in order to understand and support their peers.

In those 30 days, my supervisor learned more than the struggles of not eating or drinking anything from sun up to sun down, she learned why Muslims do this and what it represents, and thus she learned the history behind Ramadan, some of the teaching of the Quran, and the “five pillars of Islam.” This personal example shows how being an American of Muslim faith in the military makes me an effective representative of Islam. I and my fellow Muslim servicemembers are able to encourage others to take the knowledge we give them about Islam and make it positively influence their views on the faith, as a way to spread understanding about what Islam is properly trying to teach. This new found knowledge of Islam can aid those who fight our wars in the Middle East because they will better understand and communicate with the local populous.

When military members swear to defend the United States and its Constitution, one of the core values we are defending is “equality.” Equality is one of the core ideas of the American experiment, but throughout American history this concept has been beaten and battered around, always with a new social, religious, or ethnic group claiming its right to this value. First there were the American colonists shaking off English King George III’s reign; then there was the abolition of slavery during the US Civil War, followed by the fight to end the Segregation; and along the way the fight for women’s rights included securing a woman’s right to vote. Now we’re seeing other diverse communities—such as American Muslims—raise issues about equality.

Recently, the fight for Muslim equality has centered around political discussions of Islam, immigration, and patriotism (as in the case of the Khans and Trump) and around trying to change the perspective of those who view all Muslims as radical Islamists. As American Muslims, I and my fellow servicemembers want to help shape the image of Islam in a positive way and to encourage others to look past the image of the radical Islamist. The fight for equality might never end, but hopefully progress will always be ongoing. In my case, being able join the military as a Muslim shows me just how far the battle for equality and equal opportunity for American Muslims has come. If the United States as a whole could learn from the diverse and evolving culture of the military, we would be a stronger nation. Freedom of religion, equality under the law, and equal opportunity is what separates this nation from the rest of the world, and it is what I believe makes us the United States of America.

Syed Tanveer attended the Warrior-Scholar Program Academic Boot Camp at Syracuse University in summer 2016. He is an active duty member of the US Navy (E-5 rank) and has applied for a transfer to become a computer science major at SU in fall 2017.

Lone-Wolf or Low-Tech Terrorism? Emergent Patterns of Global Terrorism in Recent French & European Attacks

By Corri Zoli

(Re-published from Lawfare, Aug. 17, 2016) According to media reports, seven accomplices of Tunisian-borne French resident Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel—the man who drove a 20-ton truck into Bastille Day crowds in Nice—have been charged with aiding in “murder by a group with terror links” and violating weapons laws “in relation to terror groups.” The existence of such accomplices would seem to contradict initial news reports denying any link with terrorist organizations—a lack of connection that French authorities initially maintained, as well.

“It is time to do away with the confusing term ‘lone wolf’ and instead recognize the distinct category of ‘low-tech terrorism.'”

This disconnect between public narrative and fact pattern is prevalent in recent incidents, both in France and beyond. In a preceding incident, on June 13 in Magnanville, Larossi Abballa, a French citizen of Moroccan descent previously convicted in 2013 of criminal association to plan terrorist acts, used a knife to kill a police officer and his wife in front of their three-year-old child. While initial reports underscored the perpetrator’s solitary lone wolf status, less than a week later French prosecutors charged two other men—Charaf-Din Aberouz and Saad Rajraji, both convicted in 2013 of “being part of a French jihadist group”—for providing support to Abballa.

Accomplices—often discovered weeks after the media loses interest in a case—are not the only or best indicator of the durable links, ideological and material, that have animated a terrorist act. It is impossible to treat the 14,000+ terrorist attacks worldwide in the past year individual, but focusing on France, two January 2016 incidents involved similar suspects, tactics, and motives. First, a 29-year-old French national of Tunisian descent drove his car into soldiers protecting a mosque in Valence on January 1, and a Tunisian native, Tarek Belgacem, used a fake explosive vest and meat cleaver to attack police in the Goutte d’Or district on January 7, the one-year anniversary of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo killings. In both cases, news reports found the attackers “acting alone” with “no particular link to any movement.” Aside from the fake suicide vest, a symbolic weapon of contemporary irregular wars, Belgacem held more than 20 aliases from seven different countries, had migrated to the EU through Romania in 2011 by falsely posing as an asylum-seeker from Iraq or Syria, and lived at an asylum center in Recklinghausen, Germany. Both men, as per ISIS-dictated cliché, shouted a version of Allahu Akbar at imminent victims, amassed jihadi content on their electronic devices, and rationalized their acts by vague reference to global grievancesagainst “Muslims” (excepting, of course, those they attacked).

Empirically-minded social scientists and legal scholars share an appreciation for “case facts,” a methodological impulse too often set aside in even expert commentary on recent attacks. In calling for “a better taxonomy of mass violence” after the Orlando shooting, Lawfare editor Benjamin Wittes made what should be a simple request: rather than seeking “confirmation” of one’s “particular worldviews” in ascribing motives in these “horrific” events—a “self-validating” exercise that affirms one’s “prior assumptions”—it is time to acknowledge these attacks both defy easy “categorization” and require us to put some effort into “reduc[ing] the story-telling and lesson-drawing impulse from all quarters in the description of these crimes” so as to “develop a more clinical, more Linnaean taxonomy for mass violence.”

In the spirit of that request for social scientific rigor, and with attention to “case facts,” this essay makes three data-driven suggestions to move past the lone-wolf terrorist concept, with implications for how we design better concepts for understanding and preventing contemporary terrorism in the future.

Category Confusion: Terrorism’s Strategic Embrace of Low-Tech Methods

First, it is time to do away with the confusing term “lone wolf” and instead recognize the distinct category of “low-tech terrorism.” This recognition is hovering on the edges of recent innovative analyses of “amateur terrorism” and the “lack of sophistication” of ISIS as a mark of its footprint in Europe. The term “lone wolf,” particularly when used in the public domain, misunderstands the fact that terrorism is at its core an act of strategic communication —a very loud message using the cheapest, often least sophisticated means and methods of attack: knives, homemade bombs, vehicles-as-weapons. This form of “low tech terrorism” combines weak organization with a strong message (i.e., public violence) as the defining feature of this form of political violence. This mismatch of message and organizational strength is one reason why strategic scholars categorize modern terrorism as a form of asymmetric warfare, in which the militarily weak can win wars, exert political influence, and exploit stronger adversaries’ vulnerabilities …

To read the complete article, click here.

Never Forget: Sbarro Pizzeria Massacre, Jerusalem, Aug. 9, 2001

By Miriam Elman

(Re-published from Legal Insurrection, Aug. 9, 2016) On this day 15 years ago, a Hamas terror gang based in the West Bank executed a bombing attack on a busy restaurant in the center of Jerusalem.  In the horrific act of savagery 15 people were killed, including 7 children.

“Although perpetrated by a Hamas terror cell, Israeli officials at the time held the Palestinian Authority and the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat complicit in the carnage.”

Two U.S. citizens were among those murdered. Four additional Americans were wounded — one severely.

In total, some 130 were injured with varying degrees of severity by the “human bomb” and his team of accomplices.

The mastermind was Ahlam Tamimi, relative of Bassem Tamimi, and a hero to this day in her home village of Nabi Saleh where international activists still protest the security barrier constructed in response to the Sbarro and dozens of other suicide bombings.

I’ll describe the attack, its victims, and the team of terrorists involved in order to underscore the disgraceful fact that for over two decades the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has not prosecuted a single Palestinian terrorist who has killed Americans in Israel or the disputed territories, even though U.S. law requires it to do so.

Included at the end of the post is a statement exclusive for Legal Insurrection by Frimet and Arnold Roth—the parents of Malka (Malki) Roth, a 15-year-old American girl who was murdered in the Sbarro atrocity.

At 2:00pm on a hot summer day, a Palestinian terrorist entered the Sbarro Pizzeria and detonated a bomb.

Situated at the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road in Jerusalem, probably one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in Israel, the bomb blast completely gutted the restaurant.

I ate at this Sbarro a number of times when I lived in and visited Israel. It was a popular kosher eatery, conveniently located, and a good place to bring the kids.

On August 9, 2001 the restaurant was filled with lunch-time diners—many of them children and their mothers. The street was also crowded with pedestrian traffic.

At the time, like most public spaces in Israel the pizzeria wasn’t guarded, something which enabled the human bomber to enter the place unimpeded.

According to media reports, documentation by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and accounts piece together by those who lost loved ones in the horrific attack, the terrorist and his 10 kilogram bomb was transported by taxi to the site by a woman named Ahlam ‘Aref Ahmad al-Tamimi, also known as Ahlam Tamimi, and another Palestinian, Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri.

They reportedly concealed the explosives inside a guitar case. The case was also packed with nails, screws, and bolts to ensure maximum damage.

The terrorist al-Masri was killed in the blast. Tamimi escaped but was arrested a few weeks later. Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the bombing.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Jerusalem municipality police closed down the PLO’s east Jerusalem headquarters (known as the Orient House) and the IDF took control of Palestinian military and political buildings at Abu Dis, just outside of Jerusalem. The IDF also attacked the PA’s West Bank police headquarters in Ramallah.

Although perpetrated by a Hamas terror cell, Israeli officials at the time held the Palestinian Authority and the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat complicit in the carnage. Then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, the architect of the Oslo peace accords, reportedly said on the day of the attack:

If the Palestinian Authority had acted with the necessary determination and carried out preventive detentions of Hamas terrorists and their operators, the murders today in Jerusalem would have been prevented”.

Six weeks after the bombing an exhibit at Al Najah University in the West Bank, which included a mock-up of the Sbarro pizzeria complete with bloody plastic body parts and partially-chewed pizza crusts, glorified the attack and the bombers …

To read the complete article, click here.

Soldiers on the Home Front: President Trump & the Military

By William C. Banks & Stephen Dycus

(Re-published from The Hill, Aug. 4, 2016) 

News photos depicting the aftermath of recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, and Nice show heavily armed soldiers patrolling the streets. Troops have not yet been deployed in response to terrorism in this country since 9/11, but they might be. Americans should be deeply concerned about this possibility. Here’s why.

“If President Trump were as bellicose and bombastic as candidate Trump, he might direct the defense department to take the lead among federal agencies in responding to continuing terrorist threats, despite his tenuous legal authority for doing so.”

Imagine that soon after the presidential inauguration next January several U.S. cities are hit by ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks. Using conventional weapons and truck bombs, jihadists kill dozens of people and injure many more. Intelligence and police officials say they have thwarted other attacks, and they have detained a number of suspects, but others remain at large. Americans everywhere are on edge.

Now imagine that news bulletins begin to report power blackouts on the West Coast. Terrorists have blown up transformers and power lines, and they have mounted a cyberattack on the electric grid. As the blackout rolls eastward, major elements of the nation’s infrastructure — the Internet, public water supplies, the banking system — also start to fail. Widespread panic quickly ensues.

This is not a far-fetched scenario. Many experts believe it’s not a matter of whether, but when.

If Donald Trump were President in January, how would he respond? Would Trump, as Commander in Chief, order military forces out into the streets of American cities? If he did, what would he authorize those troops to do?

If President Trump were as bellicose and bombastic as candidate Trump, he might direct the Defense Department to take the lead among federal agencies in responding to the attacks, despite questionable legal authority for doing so — or he might even declare martial law. He might order troops to patrol the nation’s streets and neighborhoods, arrest citizens, and use military force to maintain order. The new president might even ignore a judge’s orders that found these actions unlawful.

President Trump might follow through on his campaign pledge to bar Muslims from entering the country. Or he might order the Army to spy on those already here. With support from many angry and frightened Americans, he might use troops to imprison all Muslims or even to torture those in military custody.  (He has said of waterboarding, “I like it a lot. I don’t think it’s tough enough.”)

For good measure, the new president might unleash armed drone aircraft over American cities, with orders to kill suspected terrorists and their families.

Finally, in response to the escalating crisis, President Trump might direct military commanders to take over the Internet, radio, and TV, allowing only communications approved by the White House.

If he did any of these things, President Trump would violate a long tradition of avoiding military intrusions into civil society whenever possible.

Americans have always embraced the military at home with caution. We understand the value of a highly disciplined, well-equipped, experienced fighting force to defend against foreign invaders or to help out when civilian authorities are overwhelmed by domestic violence or natural disasters. Sometimes U.S. troops operating on home soil have done what no other government entity could — saving thousands of lives and avoiding huge property losses, as when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans …

To read the complete article, click here.

William C. Banks is INSCT Director and Stephen Dycus is a law professor at Vermont Law School. They are coauthors of the recently published Soldiers on the Home Front: The Domestic Role of the American Military.