In this United States Institute of Peace special report, freelance journalist Andrew Walker explains the history of Boko Haram, an extremist Islamic sect in Nigeria, that has created havoc across the north of the country and its violent attacks on government offices, the United Nations, and churches.
Reports that Pakistan-based militant groups may be moving to unite could help clarify U.S. talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan. But CFR's Daniel Markey calls it a tricky game, complicated by unclear U.S. intentions in the region.
Attacks on Shia Muslims in Afghanistan claimed by a Pakistani militant group are a disturbing omen -- for sectarian ties and the prospects for a peace deal with insurgents, says counterterrorism expert Brian Fishman.
John Campbell, CFR's Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies, discusses the recent escalation of violence by Nigeria's radical Islamic movement, Boko Haram, and analyzes strategies to undermine the threat.
This video is part of a special Council on Foreign Relations series that explores how 9/11 changed international relations and U.S. foreign policy. In this video, Ed Husain, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, who was previously a member and strategist for radical Islamist organizations in London discusses the impact of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on Islamist extremism as well as global counter-terrorism efforts. "The most important thing that happened after 9/11," says Husain, "is not just the so-called 'War on Terror', but more importantly, the unspoken and often unheard developments within Islamist extremism globally." Husain argues that "the global Islamist movement then split into two, immediately after 9/11," into global jihadists like al-Qaeda on one side and non-violent extremists on the other.
Stewart M. Patrick, Director of the Council on Foreign Relations' International Institutions and Global Governance Program, explains why some weak and failing states such as Pakistan are more attractive than others as safe havens for transnational terrorist groups.
Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, says that bin Laden's death helps the drive for democracy in the Middle East and weakens the influence of al-Qaeda in the Arab world.
In this report by the Institute for the Study of War and AEI's Critical Threats Project, Jeffrey Dressler and Reza Jan look at the expansion of the Haqqani network, Afghanistan's most capable insurgent organization, and argue that the peace accords signed between the Sunnis and Shias lack legitimacy.
In The National Interest, Bruce Riedel comments on the al-Qaeda plot to terrorize "Obama's city" of Chicago on the eve of U.S. elections back in 2010, noting that the Saudi spy who defected to our allies underscores the importance of U.S. alliances in the Middle East.
CFR's John Campbell says deteriorating economic and social conditions in Northern Nigeria are behind the recurring upsurge in Boko Haram's activity. Campbell cautions that the circumstances enabling Boko Haram to operate may be taken advantage of by Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups, though that has not happened yet.
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