Corri Zoli Explores Terror’s Organizational Tactics in Terrorism and Political Violence Article

Zoli, Corri & Aliya H. Williams G’17. “ISIS Cohort Transnational Travels and EU Security Gaps: Reconstructing the 2015 Paris Attack Preplanning and Outsource Strategy.” Terrorism and Political Violence, 31 (June 2019).

In this article Zoli and Williams explore the underappreciated role of organizational tactics in terrorist violence in an understudied single case: ISIS’s execution of the Nov. 13, 2015 Paris attacks.

It is one of the first systemic reconstructions of the journeys made by two ISIS strike cohorts in the coordinated attacks, as teams traveled from the Levant to Europe. In contrast to other high-profile attacks, terrorism scholars have not undertaken a detailed reconstruction of this event, even while open source information is now available. By examining the transnational travels of foreign terrorist fighters, the authors identify ISIS’s distinctive terrorist outsourcing strategy in which operatives used their experiences to adapt to changing security conditions, while EU governments revealed limited responses.

Both elements in this tightly-knit dynamic—terrorist outsourcing savvy using FTFs and EU security policy failures—were necessary to achieve this high-profile attack.

Zoli’s and Williams’ essay contributes to descriptive empirical and theoretical knowledge of terrorist tactical innovation and adaptive operational learning, as these capacities are enhanced by on-the-ground organized networks to increase organizational (versus so-called “lone wolf”) campaign success. By using a single case interdisciplinary and exploratory framework, the authors claim that terrorism studies can delve deeper into superficially understood phenomena to isolate concepts with future cross-case value, such as cohorts and tactical adaptation.

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Corri Zoli Presents Terrorism, Security Papers at ISA 2019

Corri Zoli, Director of Research at the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, presented two papers and was a panel discussant at the 2019 International Studies Association Annual Convention in Toronto, Canada, on March 27 and 28, 2019.

At the Wednesday session of “Revisioning International Studies: Innovation and Progress,” Zoli presented on the “Challenges for Contemporary Special Operations Forces” panel. Her paper—”Terrorist Critical Infrastructures, Organizational Capacity and Security Risk”—joined others on topics such as computer-mediated threat assessment, weak states, ethic conflict, and terrorists’ use of emerging technologies.

On Thursday, Zoli joined the “Shaping the National Security State” panel and read “Leviathan Revisited: Assessing National Security Institutions for Abuse of Power and Overreach.” Other papers on this panel addressed civil‐military relations, the defense industry, and Cold War Military Balance.

Later in the same day, Zoli was the Discussant on the panel “New Directions in Qualitative International Studies” chaired by Eric Stollenwerk of Freie Universität Berlin. This wide-ranging discussion looked at modern qualitative international studies through the lenses of multi-method research, philosophy, autoethnography, and public diplomacy.

 

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Corri Zoli Interviewed by CNY Central About the New Zealand Mosque Shootings

(CNY Central | March 15, 2019) “We bring in a new perspective on an awful topic a woman we turn to often in times like this. Corri Zoli is an assistant professor at the Maxwell school at Syracuse University … why the recordings? why record what you’ve done?”

“I think this is a kind of classic terrorist tactic that we’ve been seeing since you know 2010 at the least where ISIS and al-Qaeda. I remember in the Toulouse attacks in France, for instance, where they recorded the attacks against a Jewish school with a GoPro video” …

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Corri Zoli Analyzes Immigration Debate on WAER

SU National Security Researcher Takes Fact-Based Approach to Charged Immigration Debate

(WAER | Jan. 8, 2019) A Syracuse University researcher is trying to take the politics and emotions out of illegal immigration and border security, even with the president’s address to the nation Tuesday evening. Dr. Corri Zoli is Director of Research at the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism. She says the political dynamics on both sides are counter-productive to arriving at a more permanent solution for the southern border.

“We’re seeing right now a real spike in unaccompanied minors and children essentially being dragged across the border.”

“If Congress had done a better job at clarifying immigration rules, laws, and statutes, which have been in need of reform for the last decade plus, then we wouldn’t have this level of resorting to politicizing this issue because it would be clarified in the law.”

So, Zoli says what we’re left with is a largely unsecured border that leads to a legal, humanitarian, and resource crisis. She says Department of Homeland Security data show tens of thousands of people affiliated with drug and human trafficking cartels are penetrating the border every year.

“We’re seeing right now a real spike in unaccompanied minors and children essentially being dragged across the border. Why are they doing that? Because the complexities of our law create incentives for traffickers to have a child with them” …

Read the full article.

 

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Mythbusting: INSCT, IVMF Veterans Research Reported by Military Times

(Military Times | Jan. 5, 2019) Here’s something everyone can agree on: The way the public views veterans isn’t always accurate.

Take the assumption that all veterans have served in combat and have post-traumatic stress disorder, for example. Or that people only go into the military because they can’t get into college.

Those are just a couple of the “persistent, recycled myths” about veterans that Syracuse University researchers addressed during a session at the Student Veterans of America National Conference Friday, using both federal data and an 8,600-person survey of the military community to debunk some of the most common misconceptions about the nation’s youngest generation of veterans.

On one hand, studies by Gallup, Pew Research and others have shown there is “enormous public support (for the military) but at the same time a tremendous gap in knowledge about who we’re supporting,” said Corri Zoli, director of research at Syracuse’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism. “They don’t have a lot of granular detail about who they’re supporting and why.”

Myth 1: Veterans are a small subset of the population

The number that’s often thrown out is 1 percent, but that applies to active duty troops, researchers said. As of 2017, federal data show veterans make up 8 percent of the U.S. population, with post-9/11 veterans the fastest growing group among them.

Myth 2: Veterans join the military because they could not get into college and are uneducated

According to federal data collected in the 2017 Current Population Survey, 35 percent of post-9/11 veterans have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 31 percent of all veterans and 32 percent of the general U.S. population.

Rosalinda Maury, a researcher with the Syracuse Institute for Veterans and Military Families, said education benefits tend to be a top recruiting incentive, and the military promotes and prepares service members for post-secondary education …

Read the full article.

 

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Searching for Justice: The Courier Speaks to Corri Zoli on the 30th Anniversary of the Lockerbie Disaster

Staring into the ‘bowels of hell’: Lockerbie disaster 30 years on and the ongoing transatlantic search for justice

In an exclusive interview marking the 30th anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing, Michael Alexander speaks to an American terrorism expert whose university is marking the loss of 35 of its students in the attack – and hears the ‘hellish’ memories of several journalists who covered the aftermath.

(The Courier | Dec. 21, 2018) Cruising at a height of 31,000 feet and packed with students embarking on the long journey home to America for Christmas, passengers on board New York-bound Pan Am flight 103 were just 38 minutes into their flight from London Heathrow when at 7.03pm on December 21, 1988, a bomb exploded on board as the Boeing 747 flew over the Scottish borders.

“I had a briefing fairly recently from the FBI and the Scottish prosecutors on this. They talked about the various leads that they were pursuing in this long process.”

As well as killing all 259 people on the aircraft, the falling debris which hit the town of Lockerbie two minutes later, also wiped out 11 people on the ground.

As bodies, luggage and debris tumbled six miles through the sky, the most devastating carnage in the town came as the wings containing thousands of gallons of aviation fuel exploded on impact – gouging out a huge crater in Sherwood Crescent and obliterating two houses and their inhabitants with it …

… It’s a chapter which is of particular interest to terrorism expert Dr Corri Zoli – Syracuse University’s director of research at the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, and a teaching professor of law.

In an exclusive interview with The Courier, she revealed she was recently briefed by the FBI and Scottish prosecutors on the ongoing criminal and civil cases against alleged co-conspirators.

While she knows there was controversy around al-Megrahi’s prosecution, she thinks there was “good strong evidence” for him being involved – particularly as the late Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi admitted his country’s involvement in 2003.

She’s confident that, despite the complications of a trans-national investigation and liaising with “unstable” countries like Libya, further prosecutions will take place.

“I had a briefing fairly recently from the FBI and the Scottish prosecutors on this,” she said.

“They talked about the various leads that they were pursuing in this long process.

“They actually were closer to finding information in part because there has been destabilisation in Libya.

“They were getting access to records they hadn’t been able to gain access to before. So I do think there will be that level of justice in terms of prosecuting people beyond those who have already been prosecuted.”

Dr Zoli, who has worked at Syracuse since 2009, said the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 was “shocking” in all the ways that terrorist attacks are shocking.

It was atypical in that hijackings were the most prevalent form of terrorism at the time and, some 13 years before 9/11, it was unusual in that it targeted Americans. It was also relatively rare for bombs to eliminate aircraft in flight.

However, the fact there were 35 American students on board from a single university was in itself “quite unprecedented” …

Staring into the ‘bowels of hell’: Lockerbie disaster 30 years on and the ongoing transatlantic search for justice

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Corri Zoli to Attend UNSC Counterterrorism Special Meeting on the “Madrid Principles”

Zoli_UN_MeetingINSCT Director of Research Corri Zoli has been invited to attend a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee on Dec. 13, 2018, in the Economic and Social Council Chamber, UN Headquarters, New York City. The meeting will discuss “Security Council Resolution 2396 (2017): A Review of the Madrid Principles,” a document that provides guidance to member states on stemming the flow of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) across national borders, while staying compliant with human rights laws and norms.  

In particular, explains UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Chair Gustavo Meza-Cuadra in his letter of invitation, the special meeting will tackle the issue of FTFs “in light of the evolving threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, particularly FTF returnees and relocators and their family members.” The review of the Madrid Principles also will examine gaps that may hinder states’ abilities to detect, interdict, prosecute, rehabilitate, and reintegrate FTF returnees and their families, as well as identify good practices.

Among the working sessions will be those on “border security and information-sharing”; “global research perspectives on cross-cutting trends”; “countering incitement, recruitment, and violent extremism”; and “judicial measures, international cooperation, and prosecution, rehabilitation, and reintegration strategies.” Invited discussants include Edmund Fitton-Brown of the Analytical and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the ISIL and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee; Elisabeth Neugebauer, Deputy Special Representative, International Criminal Police Organization; and Tanya Mehra, International Centre for Counterterrorism, The Hague.

The Madrid Principles were developed from a July 2015 special meeting hosted by the Government of Spain and co-organized by the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), with which INSCT collaborates on counterterrorism prevention. This Madrid meeting was attended by member states from every region of the world, as well as representatives of international and regional organizations, universities, and civil society groups. Discussions and technical sessions identified 35 guiding principles that were subsequently adopted by the Security Council and offered as a practical tool for use by member states in their efforts to combat terrorism.

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Corri Zoli Discusses Mail Bomb Attacks & Domestic Terrorism on Spectrum News

Are Recent Suspicious Packages an Act of Political Terrorism?

(Spectrum News | Oct. 25, 2018) One after the other, suspicious packages were delivered to the media and liberal leaders, many in New York City.

“This is a very painful time in our nation. It’s a time when people are feeling a lot of hate in the air,” said Bill de Blasio, (D) New York City Mayor.

Some are calling it domestic terrorism and others call it political terrorism.

“Someone one who might be trying to use scare tactics or trying to enhance political passions, make partisan divisions worse,” said Corri Zoli, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism Research Director.

It is a scary thought for a country largely functioning on a two-party system.

Zoli said, “It’s not accurate to characterize opposition groups as enemies in a two-party system that structures the United States.”

But, is that what we’re seeing?

In 2017, the target appeared to be on the other side of the aisle, members of Republican Congressional baseball team.

“Is this a retaliatory attack for those attacks? This is the problem with polarization. You get these kind of escalating dynamics…clearly this is an expression of partisanship gone awry,” said Zoli …

Watch the whole segment.

 

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Corri Zoli Co-Authors Safety Science Article on “Terrorist Critical Infrastructures”

INSCT Director of Research Corri Zoli has published “Terrorist Critical Infrastructures, Organizational Capacity, and Security Risk” in the engineering journal Safety Science. This interdisciplinary article is co-authored with Zoli’s Syracuse University colleagues Professor Laura J. Steinberg of the School of Engineering and Computer Science and Professor Margaret Hermann of the Maxwell School, along with Martha Grabowski, an engineering professor at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, NY.

This essay addresses gaps between studies of terrorism and infrastructure resilience to explore “terrorist critical infrastructures” (TCIs) as one critically missing framework to understand the rise of terrorist political violence globally. This approach to global terrorism maximizes core perspectives common in resilience and safety research and uses comparative analyses from terrorism studies, systems engineering, and infrastructure protection.

The authors develop a topology of terrorist infrastructures, introduce the concepts of “enabling” and “coopted” TCIs, and contrast characteristics of TCIs with those of conventional infrastructures. They argue that the organizational intelligence that comes from aligning strategic goals with infrastructural capacity is critical to explaining the prevalence, durability, and resilience of many terrorist organizations (as well as their increasing use of violence).

“We can understand these emerging organizational forms by their design and development, often flat, mobile, and flexible ‘networks of networks’ themselves,” the authors explain.

Article Highlights
  • Analysis used a systems-based interdisciplinary approach to terrorism.
  • Informal, illicit non-state groups, such as terrorist organizations, build and design critical infrastructures to effect terrorist aims and goals, including targeting soft targets.
  • The types of TCIs can be categorized according to terrorist organizations’ strategic targeting priorities; interface with existing context-specific civilian infrastructure systems; and their need to design, build, and engineer new infrastructure systems particular to illicit organizations.
  • Such TCIs involve formal and informal, legitimate and illegitimate, and physical and virtual systems.
  • TCIs often interface with criminal networks and low-governance.
  • Results show the need for more research and a targeted, infrastructure based approaches to combating terrorism.\
  • Practical implications for governments and security sectors are discussed.

 

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Corri Zoli Speaks to CNYCentral About Planning the North Korea Summit

WSTM News Channel 5 | May 24, 2018

Transcript:

HOST: Let’s bring in some new perspective on this international news. Corri Zoli is an assistant professor at the Maxwell school at Syracuse University and a familiar face here on CBS 5.

Thanks for coming in. This is sort of an unconventional from the start, the way this plan for the summit was announced. Maybe it won’t happen, maybe it will. We’re hopeful it’ll happen, and then finally today … what do you make of today’s announcement.

ZOLI: I think that this is a great example of how negotiations are a language of power, so we’re seeing stuff on the surface … somehow this president of all people is impacted by insults … so what we think we’re seeing on the surface is not reflective of what’s actually going on here in terms of the power dynamics …

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