Assessing Outcomes of Online Campaigns Countering Violent Extremism: A Case Study of the Redirect Method

Assessing Outcomes of Online Campaigns Countering Violent Extremism: A Case Study of the Redirect Method. Rand Corporation. Todd C. Helmus, Kurt Klein. December 10, 2018.

The number of programs dedicated to countering violent extremism (CVE) has grown in recent years, yet a fundamental gap remains in the understanding of the effectiveness of such programs. This is particularly the case for CVE campaigns, which are increasingly conducted in the online space. The goal of this report is to help CVE campaign planners better evaluate the impact of online efforts. It reviews prior assessments of online CVE campaigns, provides recommendations for future assessments, and provides a case study of one particular CVE campaign — the Redirect Method. A limited evaluation of the Redirect Method process variables suggests that the implementers are able to use advertisements linking to counter-extremist videos to effectively expose individuals searching for violent jihadist or violent far-right content to content that offers alternative narratives. Users clicked on these ads at a rate on par with industry standards. However, as is the case with other CVE evaluations, this partial evaluation did not assess the impact of the video content on user attitudes or behavior. The potentially highly radical nature of the Redirect Method’s target audience makes evaluation of the campaign particularly complicated and therefore might necessitate the recruitment of former extremists to help gauge audience response. Alternatively, it might be advisable to analyze user comments to understand how a subsample of users respond to the content. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 19 pages].

Counterterrorism Measures and Civil Society

Counterterrorism Measures and Civil Society. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Lana Baydas, Shannon N. Green. March 22, 2018

 To combat the global threat of terrorism, countries have passed and implemented numerous laws that inadvertently or intentionally diminished the space for civil society. States conflate terrorism with broader issues of national security, which is then used as a convenient justification to stifle dissent, including civil society actors that aim to hold governments accountable. As the global terror landscape becomes more complex and dire, attacks on the rights to the freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly only increase. This report analyzes the impact of counterterrorism efforts on civic space, examines its manifestations in various socioeconomic and political contexts, and explores various approaches to disentangle and reconcile security and civil society. It features case studies on Australia, Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Hungary, and India. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 87 pages].

15 Years After 9/11, a Sharp Partisan Divide on Ability of Terrorists to Strike U.S.

15 Years After 9/11, a Sharp Partisan Divide on Ability of Terrorists to Strike U.S. Pew Research Center. September 7, 2016.

As the 15th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, partisan differences over the ability of terrorists to launch a major attack on the United States are now as wide as at any point dating back to 2002. As the 15th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, partisan differences over the ability of terrorists to launch a major attack on the United States are now as wide as at any point dating back to 2002. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 12 pages, 387.50 KB].

After Liberation: Assessing Stabilization Efforts in Areas of Iraq Cleared of the Islamic State

After Liberation: Assessing Stabilization Efforts in Areas of Iraq Cleared of the Islamic State. Center for American Progress. Hardin Lang and Muath Al Wari. July 26, 2016.

Two years on, the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State, or IS, has achieved some important gains. This is particularly true in Iraq, where the liberation of Fallujah last month has focused attention on Mosul—the capital of the so-called caliphate. But military victory is only half the battle. As the Islamic State is pushed out of Iraqi cities and towns, the communities it ruled must be integrated back into Iraq. Nature abhors a vacuum; the U.S.-led Global Coalition to Counter ISIL should do more to support the Iraqi government in filling that vacuum. For its part, the Iraqi government itself must display a greater commitment to inclusive governance that reinforces its own legitimacy. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 32 pages, 711.9 KB].

The Islamic State and U.S. Policy

The Islamic State and U.S. Policy. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Christopher M. Blanchard and Carla E. Humud. June 14, 2016.

The Islamic State (IS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL/ISIS, or the Arabic acronym Da’esh) is a transnational Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group that controls large areas of Iraq and Syria, has affiliates in several other countries, has attracted a network of global supporters, and disrupts international security with its campaigns of violence and terrorism. The U.S.-led coalition military campaign against the Islamic State organization in Iraq and Syria has adapted since 2014, as Administration officials and coalition partners have implemented changes in strategy and tactics that have reduced the area controlled by the group and eliminated thousands of its personnel. While the Islamic State has suffered losses on the ground in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, a series of terrorist attacks attributed to the group or to individuals it has inspired have claimed hundreds of lives on four continents since November 2015, including in the United States. These incidents are creating a more global sense of urgency about further weakening the group and preventing future attacks.

[PDF format, 33 pages, 1.21 MB].

The Islamic State’s Acolytes and the Challenges They Pose to U.S. Law Enforcement

The Islamic State’s Acolytes and the Challenges They Pose to U.S. Law Enforcement. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Jerome P. Bjelopera. April 19, 2016.

Analysis of publicly available information on homegrown violent jihadist activity in the United States since September 11, 2001, suggests that the Islamic State (IS) and its acolytes may pose broad challenges to domestic law enforcement and homeland security efforts. Homegrown IS–inspired plots can be broken into three rough categories based on the goals of the individuals involved. The first two focus on foreign fighters, the last on people willing to do harm in the United States.

[PDF format, 18 pages, 901.58 KB].

More Support for Justice Department Than for Apple in Dispute Over Unlocking iPhone

More Support for Justice Department Than for Apple in Dispute Over Unlocking iPhone. Pew Research Center. February 22, 2016.

As the standoff between the Department of Justice and Apple Inc. continues over an iPhone used by one of the suspects in the San Bernardino terrorist attacks, 51% say Apple should unlock the iPhone to assist the ongoing FBI investigation. Fewer Americans (38%) say Apple should not unlock the phone to ensure the security of its other users’ information; 11% do not offer an opinion on the question. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 7 pages, 323.87 KB].

Additional U.S. Ground Troops to Counter the Islamic the Islamic State? Five Questions

Additional U.S. Ground Troops to Counter the Islamic the Islamic State? Five Questions. Cogressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Kathleen J. McInnis and Andrew Feickert. February 17, 2016.

Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) – the military campaign to counter the Islamic State (IS) – has three primary components: coordinated air strikes, training and equipping local security forces, and targeted special operations based out of northern Iraq. Perceived setbacks in OIR have led some observers to maintain that inserting significant numbers of additional U.S. and/or coalition ground forces is becoming necessary. Proposals include, but are not limited to, the introduction of additional ground forces to secure territory once it has been taken back from the Islamic State, and the introduction of additional trainers for local security forces. However, there are no clear-cut answers to determining the suitability, size, and mission profile of the ground elements of any military campaign; determining the disposition of military forces is in many ways as much an art as it is a science.

[PDF format, 2 pages, 92.64 KB].

Wanted: European Grand Strategy for War Against the Islamic State

Wanted: European Grand Strategy for War Against the Islamic State. YaleGlobal. Joergen Oerstroem Moeller. February 2, 2016.

Leaders of the Islamic State impose a rigid and fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, maintaining that the religion does not condone Western values of democracy, individual freedom, economic globalization or education. Moeller urges Europe to develop a grand strategy to combat extremism by recognizing how the long history of the Middle East influences political agendas, intensifying a laser focus on collecting intelligence, and praising Muslim leaders who insist that Islamic State actions contradict the religious faith. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[HTML format, various paging].

Views of Government’s Handling of Terrorism Fall to Post-9/11 Low

Views of Government’s Handling of Terrorism Fall to Post-9/11 Low. Pew Research Center. December 15, 2015.

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., the public’s concerns about terrorism have surged and positive ratings of the government’s handling of terrorism have plummeted. But other attitudes relating to terrorism and security, as well as perceptions of whether Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence, have shown far less change. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 44 pages, 486.7 KB].