CTC Sentinel – August 2014 Issue

A good briefing from the USA, Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point

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About The Sentinel

The Combating Terrorism Center is an independent, privately funded, research and educational institution located in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy, West Point. The CTC Sentinel harnesses the Center’s global network of scholars and practitioners to understand and confront contemporary threats posed by terrorism and other forms of political violence.

CTC Sentinel | August 2014

Published by Combating Terrorism Center

Cover Story Overview

ISIL’s Political-Military Power in Iraq
By Michael Knights

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has the world on edge. Since its nadir in the spring of 2010, ISIL is considered to have evolved from a terrorist group on-the-ropes to “a full-blown army,” in the words of U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Brett McGurk. An analysis of ISIL’s recent military accomplishments is difficult due to the lack of confirmed facts about much of what has transpired in Iraq, particularly during the hectic months since the collapse of federal security forces in Mosul on June 10, 2014. Nevertheless, using a range of case studies from the Iraqi side of ISIL’s area of operations, this article explores what is currently known about the movement from a military standpoint. If ISIL is an army, what kind of army is it and what are its weaknesses? This article finds that ISIL is a military power mostly because of the weakness and unpreparedness of its enemies. Lengthy shaping of the battlefield, surprise and mobility made its recent successes possible, but all these factors are diminishing. As a defensive force, ISIL may struggle to hold terrain if it is attacked simultaneously at multiple points or if its auxiliary allies begin to defect.

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In This Issue

– A Deeper Look at Syria-Related Jihadist Activity in Turkey

By Stephen Starr
– Stories of Foreign Fighter Migration to Syria

By Muhammad al-`Ubaydi
– Brazil’s Police Struggle to Pacify Gang-Run Slums

By Ioan Grillo
– The Pakistani Taliban’s Campaign Against Polio Vaccination

By Animesh Roul
– The Death Knell for Foreign Fighters in Pakistan?

By Raza Khan
– Recent Highlights in Political Violence

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