Author Archives: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross

Geography and history of the Afghanistan-Pakistan region

This presentation, based on a recent lecture that I delivered, examines the geography and history of the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, as it applies to the current challenges that the US confronts in the region. The presentation covers several historical themes, including Afghanistan’s history of foreign invasion, how leaders gain legitimacy, center-periphery relations, and the Afghanistan-Pakistan relationship.

Competing interests: The United States, Iraq, and Iraq’s neighbors

On December 5, The New York Times noted that while “Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was a regional menace that sent shudders through its neighbors,” today Iraq finds it difficult to restrain the ambitions of countries that share its borders — particularly as the US prepares to withdraw. The Times notes that this meddling by Iraq’s neighbors […]

New report: ‘Domestic Intelligence: New Powers, New Risks’

Today I was a panelist at the rollout event for a new report published by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, Emily Berman’s Domestic Intelligence: New Powers, New Risks. The report — which is focused on the expansion of investigatory powers in the 2008 Attorney General’s Guidelines for […]

Reflections on Osama bin Laden, and his continuing relevance

Earlier today, I did a rather lengthy written interview with a journalist from an online Romanian newspaper. In light of the new tapes Osama bin Laden released last month, he put a number of questions to me about the al Qaeda leader. I thought the following, adapted from the interview but maintaining its Q&A format, […]

Reflections on the al Qaeda plot in Europe

Earlier today, I served as a panelist at an FDD event on the current warnings about an al Qaeda plot in Europe. The panel, moderated by Clifford D. May, also featured Frank Cilluffo of George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute and Tom Joscelyn of both FDD and LWJ. This entry is excerpted from my […]

New HSPI report on foreign fighters

Yesterday I attended the launch event for a new report published by George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute. (Full disclosure: I am a 2010 Senior Fellow at HSPI.) The report, entitled Foreign Fighters: Trends, Trajectories & Conflict Zones, is co-authored by Frank Cilluffo, Jeffrey Cozzens, and Magnus Ranstorp, and can be downloaded here. Though […]

Critical questions regarding the role of foreign fighters in Shabaab

Earlier today I served as a panelist at the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s annual conference on foreign fighters, discussing the phenomenon in Somalia. The panel discussion was based around Ambassador (ret.) David Shinn’s forthcoming paper on foreign fighters in Somalia; since it is still a work in progress, the paper is not yet available online. […]

Is ‘constructive disengagement’ the solution in Somalia?

On Thursday, Joshua Foust published an article at PBS’s Need to Know that, though avoiding the term “constructive disengagement,” mirrors the arguments advanced by Bronwyn Bruton’s report for CFR, and those made by Fareed Zakaria in the wake of the bombings al Shabaab executed in Uganda. Though constructive disengagement is often advanced as a minor-league […]

New Zawahiri tape eulogizes Mustafa Abu al Yazid

Ayman al Zawahiri has issued a new 47-minute audio tape with accompanying imagery eulogizing Mustafa Abu al Yazid, a major al Qaeda financial chief whose death has been previously reported by the The Long War Journal, as well as numerous other outlets. Some highlights from the tape [translations from Open Source Center]: Delegitimizing mainstream clerics. […]

‘Rhetoric and Reality,’ and our understanding of the rule of law

Last month, Marc Lynch published a report for the Center for a New American Security, Rhetoric and Reality: Countering Terrorism in the Age of Obama. The report is a worthy contribution to public discussion of the Obama administration’s counterterrorism policies, outlining the early contours of the administration’s strategy and tracing its continuity with the Bush […]

Vigilance in an age of constrained resources

Let me begin by saying that the reports about large numbers of Somalis being brought into the US illegally are genuinely alarming. Despite that, my interview on Fox Business Channel last night represented a recognizable (though highly entertaining!) descent into insanity. Watch for yourself: I thought it was worth making a few points about this […]

Is al Qaeda racist?

Those familiar with the inner workings of jihadi circles will know that racism is in fact prevalent within al Qaeda’s ranks. But that makes the administration’s new line of rhetorical attack against the terrorist group — that it shows a disregard for African life — no less absurd. Jake Tapper reports: In an interview earlier […]

A bizarre take on the rules of engagement

General David Petraeus has said that he will consider changing the rules of engagement in Afghanistan because of concerns that, though they are designed to protect civilians, they end up putting Coalition troops in greater danger. The current, more restrictive, rules of engagement were put in place with the goal of reducing civilian casualties during […]

Some perspective on Afghanistan’s mineral resources

As everyone who follows Afghanistan should know by now, during the past week the country was estimated to have up to $3 trillion in untapped mineral resources. There is hope that this could transform the country and the war effort: as James Risen wrote following the discovery, senior US officials believed it could be “enough […]

Reflections on Brian Michael Jenkins’ ‘Would-Be Warriors’

Recently RAND released a new paper by Brian Michael Jenkins entitled Would-Be Warriors: Incidents of Terrorist Radicalization in the United States Since September 11, 2001. The paper constitutes a competent contribution to the study of homegrown terrorism; it is worth reading for both its analysis and also the data set it contributes. There are several […]

The vindication of Rashad Hussain

Fortunately, the debate about Rashad Hussain seems to be winding down. His long-time friend Josh Goldberg has weighed in with a strong defense of Hussain’s character and ideas, and Marc Lynch has written an important piece on the matter for Foreign Policy. Plainly, this debate is no longer dominated by claims that Hussain is an […]

Did Rashad Hussain lie about his 2004 comments?

I have already weighed in on the case of Rashad Hussain, Obama’s controversial new special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). I argued that the image of Hussain that has emerged in the public debate is exaggerated; the latest gross distortion of his beliefs is the Washington Examiner‘s proclamation (the top headline […]

A defense of Rashad Hussain

As Fox News notes, President Obama’s newly-announced envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Rashad Hussain, “is at the center of a controversy.” He is not only beset by criticism for a quote he has admitted to making about the prosecution of Sami al-Arian in 2004 (at the age of 24) but also […]

Osama’s audio on Abdulmutallab’s ‘raid’

Osama bin Laden’s latest tape, entitled “From Osama to Obama.” As reported in other media outlets, Osama bin Laden released a one-minute audio recording yesterday about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound plane last month. Addressed “from Osama to Obama,” here is the complete Open Source Center translation of the statement: In […]

Is Obama’s TSA nominee soft on terrorism?

The controversy surrounding President Obama’s nomination of Erroll Southers to head TSA has been growing. The latest salvo in the attacks on Southers is that he is soft on terrorism. This charge originated with a post by Erick Erickson at RedState entitled “The Man Who Would Keep Us Safe From Terrorists Would Rather Focus on […]

Is the importance of terrorist ideology a myth?

Yesterday, Jessica Stern published an op-ed in the Washington Post debunking what she describes as “5 myths about who becomes a terrorist.” Terrorism-myth-debunking pieces tend to be fairly automatic because there is a standard set of myths that researchers have pretty thoroughly disproved: that terrorists are poor and ill educated, that they are mentally ill, […]

Lax security at Amsterdam airport?

A trusted colleague who lives in Europe sent me the following report yesterday about his experiences flying into Amsterdam: I just flew into Amsterdam airport yesterday and was shocked by the laxity of the passport check. The officer did not even look at me. Just grabbed my passport, quickly flipped to a page, not looking […]

Understanding Indian press rumors about Headley

I previously analyzed the rumors, centered around the Indian press, that David Headley had penetrated Lashkar-e-Taiba as a CIA asset. These rumors generally hold that Headley then “went rogue” and become committed to LeT’s mission before his involvement in the Mumbai attacks. Although I argued that these rumors should not be regarded as credible, the […]