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tv   Counterterrorism Strategy Since September 11 2001  CSPAN  September 11, 2017 11:13pm-12:45am EDT

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daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to today by your cable or satellite provider. >> now, a look at counterterrorism strategy since the d some -- september 11 attacks. the group compared and contrasted the counterterrorism strategies of trump and obama administrations, outlined the current threats posed by isis and al qaeda in outlined strategies for combating radicalization. this is 90 minutes. indiscernible conversations] peter: stop momentarily here. welcome to new america.
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we're here on the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. the purpose of this panel is to kind of describe where we are and where we might be going. we have an absolutely outstanding group of panelists. daveed gartenstein-ross who has is at the foundation for defense of american democracies, he has written multiple books related to jihadism and is one of the leading experts in the field. joshua geltzer to his right, your left. he was a senior director at the national security council. before that he worked at the department of justice in a senior position in the national security division. he's also actually written a book about al qaeda which was the fruit of his defill at kings college in london. to his right and your left, nadia oweidat, who is a fellow at new america as is josh.
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and is writing a book about kind of essentially the alternative voices to arab -- the alternative voices to isis in the arab world whether secular, liberal or any other flavor. so we're going to start with josh, reflecting a little bit about continuity and change between the obama and trump administration. then nadia is going to talk about what she's seeing in the arab world. daveed will talk -- try to meld the domestic and international discussion. i may say a couple of things as well. this is being carried by c-span live. so when we come to the q&a, please wait for the mic so your question can be heard, not only in this room but also by the audience. thank you for coming today. joshua: thanks very much, peter.
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thank you for having me. this is truly at least in my view a dream team to be part of for this discussion and also a meaningful day to do it as we talk about important policy issues. it's also a day to reflect on kind of the emotional elements of terrorism and counterterrorism and so i'm grateful for the chance to be part of this discussion. as you indicated i thought i might set the table a little bit with a few elements of continuity between how in my view the last administration, in some cases the last couple administrations approached counterterrorism and the new administration and then a few elements that strike me as element of change.
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when it comes to continuity, perhaps at the top of the list is the critical campaign to take back physical territory from isis in iraq and in syria. if isis is the preeminent terrorist threat of the moment at least, depriving that group of safe haven, of fighters in numbers strikes me as critical and i see a lot of continuity how this administration is approaching that. there was a basic campaign plan drawn up really a couple years ago at this point. it involved mosul which has now been largely cleared of isis. it involved clearing raqqah of isis which is under way. it involved a push into the euphrates river valley and continuing work that needs to be done there. but in terms of the amount of territory the group controls and the way that number is being shrunk over time and the pressure that's being applied to the group along the way, i see a lot of continuity in that. that strikes me as largely a good thing. second element of continuity, speaking more broadly here, is a basic since of where terrorist threats to the united states come from in this world and how to prioritize among them.
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one could have imagined a new administration, especially one that in some ways branded itself being different in many respects, including national security elements from its predecessor, coming in and seeing things quite differently. one never knew exactly what america first meant for counterterrorism but one could see looking at places like somalia and al-shabaab, looking at places like yemen and al qaeda in the arabian peninsula as well as isis which is active in both those places and either seeing the threat as much more severe, such that the u.s. might want to dramatically increase its involvement, or as not really a problem worth the united states dealing with. and neither has happened. instead, there's been some recalibration of authorities and policy approvals but fundamentally what i see about eight months in is largely an acceptance of where the threats are and how to rank them from a u.s. perspective. and finally, a third element of continuity is the idea that often, not always, but often u.s. counterterrorism is going to be a partner-driven affair. i think this is something the
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bush administration and the obama administration came to and increasingly emphasized over that there will always be some threat, so eminent, so dire that the united states needs to act against but dealing with the range of threat and all their varied form and all their geography cropping up is too much to do alone. so in various ways through training, through funding, through actual military partnerships, through other forms like intel sharing there would need to be a reliance on and time of building up of partners. again, eight months in, there's marginsation on the of maybe which partner is where. let me say three things that seem to me different and i preview by saying i find the difference a little bit concerning on all three and maybe we can get into why. one is the ideological dimension, especially of the
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counterterrorism effort more broadly. which is somewhat ironic for a new administration that some of whose voices came in criticizing the obama and the bush teams for dealing with only the surface problem and not getting at the ideological roots -- and this is their words -- of this problem. it seems to me there's actually been a stepping back and in particular from some of the structures that were built specifically to deal with the ideological dimension. domestically you had the relatively new counterviolent extremism task force focused overseas. you had the state department's global leadership center. and what you've seen is key leadership leaving those places. you've seen a hesitation to accept and use funds already allocated. in the task force's case, certain grants focused on right-wing extremism which looks even more concerning to me after the events of charlottesville. for the g.e.c. and initial disinclination to take money offered by congress. that seems to be changing although there's been a limit as to how much is being asked by the defense department which
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is something else congress allowed for. and, to roll back the structures to get to that part of the problem strikes me as concerning. a second element -- and this is in a sense ideological but more about us than about external actors is the idea of resilience in the u.s. public, politics and society. i think again from the bush administration into the obama administration there was an effort increasing over time to take seriously the very real fear that terrorism generates. but at the same time to try to cultivate a certain ability not to let that fear drive policy and to minimize how much that fear spreads. and to me at least one of the more surprising, befuddling new elements is almost 180 on that. of course we saw the president criticizing the mayor of london for trying to reassure the public there after an attack and
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seeming to stoke fear rather than build resilience. it seems to me what everyone's view of counterterrorism strategy, if you're doing what your adversary wants you to do you may need to rethink what you're doing. an, that seems to me to be element that is new and concerning here. one more element of some change, though i am not sure it should be called change yet. we are kind of in a watch and see, how quickly, how aggressively and how the united states is approaching al qaeda in syria. i mentioned before that isis may be today's preeminent terrorist threat but al qaeda in syria is worrisome. it is al qaeda's largest global authority at this point, it has key figures. and in the last administration there was an escalating effort to take on that challenge, take on that threat. perhaps most notably on the president's last full day in office, i think it was thursday, january 19, there was a sizeable
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strike against about 100 al qaeda in syria figures and that was kind of a trend line that seemed to be going in one direction. there was a notable strike in mid february against a key al qaeda in syria leader, but as reports come out of al qaeda in syria consolidating its control, eliminating some of the other extremist groups either by getting them off the battlefield or absorbing them and with discussion of a de-escalation zone there, de-escalation over there seems a good thing given the catastrophe that seems to unfold. but what all of that means forgetting at a group that seems to be exercising both tactical and strategic patience and how they're approaching themselves and the syrian context in which they find themselves, i worry about anything other than an increasing focus and perhaps an increasing aggressiveness to disrupt that group. so let me pause there.
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nadia: so i just came back from three months in the middle east doing field research for my book that peter mentioned. it's really troubling in the region as your comprehensive paper talks about the sunni-shiia rivalry. it's troubling beyond any worse -- words anyone can describe, because it has direct relations to the war on terrorism. because terrorists happen to be sunni extremists. and a lot of sunni governments are more than happy to turn the other side when these militants are sunni agenda. including the borders, including ideologically. in saudi, for example, a colony, one of the most popular twitter stars, wahhabi stars, pro-jihad in syria, just got detained but it's not for urging young people
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to go to war in syria. it's for being a sympathizer. so you could perpetuate all the hate you want. you could urge people to go kill other muslims but -- and you have complete freedom. but if you sympathize -- this is actually really significant because it shows people who can actually take on terrorism are not only have adversarial powers in these governments, in the sunni government, but even companies like google and facebook, unfortunately you are shutting down their accounts because they are secular and they are offending, essentially, the taliban in these countries. so they are facing it from both ends. and unfortunately this is the best hope for really winning the war. this is a war of ideas essentially. it cannot be won militarily. yes, isis has a lot of weapons, a lot of training when they were on one side or the other, but it's ideological at the end of the day.
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all of these terrorists have in common is that ideological which -- that ideology, which we have not done anything to counter. our allies, while they say they are our allies, do not take down the accounts of these people that have sometimes followings in the millions that perpetuate these ideas. so, the war of ideas, we have not yet thought that idea. we have not really taken on or confront our allies to say, you have to stop this extreme of ideological river of hate that is destabilizing the entire world. security has become a concern all over europe. even though it's really the greatest casualty is people in the middle east, millions have -- their lives have been wrecked, not to mention the victims. so i am going to keep it here and then address questions later.
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daveed: so if it were 16 years ago and your friend had a crystal ball, they might tell you that in 2017 we would have experienced a number of rapid victories against the jihadist movement. you could of course see that as a good thing. when you hear what those victories are your view might change. we took mosul back from the jihadists. we took raqqah back in the and we the jihadists, are about to launch a major offensive in the euphrates river valley to take back control. right? it is obvious something has gone wrong. i strongly agree with what the other panelists said it's a great panel. it's an honor to be here with peter, with josh and with nadia, all of whom i respect greatly. i think that there's two things i want to talk about. one is the posture of al qaeda which is something i spilt a lot of ink over the past years. the other is, why do we get this
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problem wrong? why is it we appear to be moving backwards? with respect to al qaeda itself, this is an organization whose obituary has been written a large number of times. more times even than the various fighters who keep showing up alive and then dead. the organization itself seems to have more lives than a cat. within the past six years, originally the arab uprising was supposed to be the end of jihadism by discrediting the narrative. then, isis was supposed to be the end of al qaeda. isis had come along, according to a lot of views of the topic, displaced al qaeda as the premiere jihadist organization. it was certainly aggressively trying to peel off al qaeda branches. succeeded in a few cases.
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egypt. boko haram, which was an undeclared al qaeda affiliate did not go over. but i think al qaeda has emerged from both of these as a much stronger organization than it was in 2010. on the one hand, it skillfully played itself off of isis to portray its organization as being the moderate jihadist. people you might not like but you could do business with. and really to the degree you can operate openly -- and i'm certain, nadia, you saw this in the region -- it's shocking compared to what we would have expected five years ago, four years ago. in jordan, you have figures, major al qaeda ideologues who have been released from prison in part because they are anti-isis.
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not just released from prison but able to appear on television. the jordanians are no dummies. right? to them, they consider isis to be the more important threat. they're doing part of what the hashemite kingdom has always done which is playing things to get -- to muddle through in the to muddle through in the immediate and deal with the longer-term consequences when they get there. being more restrained has been helpful. what theganda said true -- used toderogatory name an islamic sect that is considered to be to ask -- to extreme. there is competition. ally of is it effective those states and that is clearly
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a case in syria. the branch that has gone through a couple of name changes had state support. haveis in the open and the provided support on that. defectives have a safe haven. this was written about in the washington post of last year with major figures going between syria and turkey. branch became a de facto ground force for the offensive to push back against the faction there and all of this is bad news.
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i don't think we really thought through how difficult it's going to be to disentangle al qaeda operate openly. the documents that were recovered from bin laden's compound talk very clearly how bin laden saw in the wake of a.q.'s defeat in iraq, they had a real branding problem. he wanted to change the way they were perceived. and i think that between 2011 and now, they have done so within the region. so why do we get these things wrong? i think one answer is just misperceptions on our part. if you look at our own policies have, of course, at times made this problem worse as opposed to better. i would say that two of our foreign misadventures have been a real problem -- the iraq war and the libya war. in both of those i think there were clear misperceptions on our part. for iraq, the assessment about iraqi w.m.d.'s is very well-known. i think in libya we put less attention on our own misperceptions that helped to contribute to that conflict. specifically i think if we appreciated to the degree to which jihadism was going to
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benefit from the arab uprisings we would have been far more hesitant to go to war in a country that stood in the middle of two others who had just experienced revolutions. i think there's no question the fall of the gaddafi regime has made it harder for tunisia. both of the terror attacks had their origins in libya. it's made things harder for egypt. it contributed directly to the fall of northern mali to an al qaeda branch. obviously they no longer control it but you currently have an insurgency raging there. the second thing i'd say is technology. isis use of social media is well-known. we see how isis deployed drones in its fight to hold its
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territory no iraq. technology is sometimes ambiguous when it comes between state and nonstate actors. one really good study done a few years ago by jacob shapiro talks about how in iraq during the course of the iraqi insurgency, if you look at the placement of cell phone towers and the incidents of insurgent violence, it was clear that it decreased. they increased the flow of information from people to counterinsurgent forces. that's an example of technology helping the counterinsurgents. it seems to me very definitively the pendulum has swung in the other direction and for the past few years violent nonstate actors have been benefiting from technology rather than being hurt by this. we can see this in one of the things that's made isis' attacks on the west so much more frequent and so much more
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deadly. it's a model of that i refer to the virtual planner of model. others have a different name for it but it was basically isis taking advantage of two trends. social media and their ability to talk to operatives much more easily. and end-to-end encryption, the ability to make those communications invisible to government forces trying to surveil them. virtual planners have been able to fill in and do all the things that physical terrorist networks once did, scouting for operatives, encouraging them to take action, helping them to conceptualize attacks and target and providing technical assistance. bomb making skills, for example, where it's much more effective than the old terrorist manuals to talk with an operative, get on an encrypted video chat, have them walk you through how you can build a bomb. in some cases the virtual planner is with the operative right until the moment until they detonate themselves. that was the case in a suicide attack that occurred in germany last year where the germans released this chat transcript
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where the operative was getting cold feet. he was supposed to carry out a suicide bombing at a concert and saw there was security there so he's saying to his virtual planner, there's guards there. i can't go in. virtual planner says, look, forget about the concert. go to a restaurant. and the operative says, pray for me, brother. you have no idea what's going on right now. the virtual planner says, hey, man. what's going on? even if i could kill two people i'd do it forget about the concert. trust in god and go to the restaurant. and that's just what the operative did. had the virtual planner not been there, from reading that chat transcript, i have no doubt that he would not have followed
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through. having someone there to chat with up until the very moment of detonation helped him to carry it out. so technology has been a factor, but then the final point i'll point to quickly, one analogy i use a lot to describe our conflict with these violent nonstate actors is startup firms against legacy industries. to me if you look at that competition in the economic sphere, in many ways violent nonstate actors are the startup organizations at the political organizing space. they're able to, like startups, shift their strategy very quickly and incorporate the latest technology into their plans while governments often look like legacy firms. too slow moving, often unable to even recognize the strategy their competitors are undertaking. i think part of, you know, the future of this competition is us thinking more about the design of our own government and the way we approach these questions and having something that's better suited internally to 21st century competitions. [inaudible] nadia: i actually think it would be a lot easier to understand
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what's happening in the middle east if we think of these terrorist groups as state militias. these are -- if these g.c.c. countries decide to really cut the supplies in ideology and platform, you can be killed for mocking the isis god as happened with one in jordan. or tweeting one liberal sentence against extremism and end up jailed. but you can preach jihadism for years on end on tv without any problem. so these are very much state militias, state actors. they are not nonstate actors. daveed: i don't disagree with the intersection of the states. as you know i am very much on the same page in terms of what you outline in how the
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constructs of the legal system and they feed into these groups. i call them nonstate actors in we can see what's happening in the middle east that's paralleled in other areas and not just in the sphere of jihadism. in latin america, i think it's no exaggeration to say ms-13 poses a threat to el salvador and honduras. when you look at mexican cartels, they have been able to adapt quickly the way that major transnational business doss. if you look at the uptick of violence in mexico where over 80,000 people have been killed since 2006, you can see the damage that's been done there. so the intersection of the state i absolutely agree. i also think looking across nonstate actors there's commonality.
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\[inaudible] peter: it has become complicated over time. maybe state acquiescence and now very active -- \[inaudible] turkey, saudi arabia, the saudi government supporting al qaeda in syria. al qaeda's principled goal is to overthrow the saudi government. let's try to drill on that before we move on because i think it's an important question and not one we're going to settle very easily on this stage because it's complicated. but state support seems overdrawn. nadia: but the shiia threat is seen as existential in g.c.c. countries.
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in yemen it's seen as shiia conflict. peter: the iran threat or both? nadia: i don't think there's much distinction honestly at least in the media. and the gulf states which dominate the middle east, so i'm not sure there is -- peter: josh, you were in charge for this effort so what's your view? joshua: in some ways, as daveed mentioned, threat misperceptions or broader misperceptions when it came to iraq and libya and in particular terrorist proshes that flowed from those. i do wonder if syria deserves to be in that bucket too. you had countries that perhaps should be considered to include our own that looked at what was breaking out there something maybe not a little push -- that might be a bit of a character -- but some element of an push, could lead to the oust of assad which should be universally accepted as a terrible and brutal person.
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and in fact whatever that assessment relied on, it didn't prove quite so easy. from a counterterrorist perspective what flowed and probably from a humanitarian perspective what flowed of this just persistent safe haven for the terrorist groups, recruitment capacity for the terrorist groups and just humanitarian disaster after humanitarian disaster on that side of things, maybe in some ways worst of all possible worlds especially if we don't know the way out from it. so i think that does lead countries to be leading the actors there now. it leaves things in, i admit, a worrisome place. daveed: i would stick by my statement they received state support. as you all know, one way al qaeda fought in syria was through coalitions. and all of you of course are familiar with the way al qaeda
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was funded prior to the 9/11 attacks. they were anti-saudi then. and they got a great deal of support from some saudi organizations that were quasi--governmental. and do they get state support pre-9/11? i think ultimately if you look at the way the state functions then yes. there were degrees of vaguery. these states knew what was happening. peter: as josh is indicating the context has changed. early in the war, the description you just made seems very true several years ago. is it true today?
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daveed: it's not true in the same way today. they have received state support. it was carefully worded. i think that today there's a question mark. i think for some it's less so but in turkey, a.q. figures definitely -- i haven't seen any evidence that they are less operate in turkey. some suggest the opposite is happening. for qatar, if you look at the designation of mohammed, it's very specific as to what he was channeling money to. he's still an advisor -- peter: for those who don't know him, who is he? daveed: he's a designated financier who's been an insider, served as advisor. at times he was out of favor. at one point he was jailed but he seems to be an advisor from what we can tell given qatar society. for figures who are ideologically committed to supporting jihadism, it's not so much of them doing like a team america and saying -- mohammed
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jihad. have you seen that? ok. instead you can frame these things in terms of national interest, right? that we have a national interest for qatar or saudi arabia in making sure iran doesn't dominate syria which it is coming to do and these groups may not like them but we should channel support there. it might be for a different reason depending who's undertaking the policy but we can see the policies. peter: i think that's a very helpful distinction for people in the room and the audience because when you say they are
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states supporting al qaeda we have a certain vision what that means. what you're saying supporting groups that happen to be in the al qaeda ecosystem, we're trying to get rid of assad. it kind of helps -- kind of clarify a little bit better. daveed: oh, i agree 100% there. one should understand what that means contextually but it's still a problem and that's where what nadia says is important. the regional context and the way in which things like blasphemy laws tend to favor people who want to support these groups. that's a real problem, that nadia is right, we don't address that enough. we are timid on that. peter: let me zoom out a little bit and go back to daveed's crystal ball and say here's another version of the crystal balance. if you had been looking at the crystal ball in 2002 and say there would be no attack by a foreign terrorist organization in the next 16, 95 americans would have been killed by jihadist terrorists, six a year, that would seem like a totally absurdly optimistic prediction but that's happened.
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our defensive capabilities, our offensive capabilities and the fact public -- the public is attuned to this as an issue and so without getting into more details, we have put up a pretty strong defense. the terrorists have not succeeded which isn't to say they couldn't but -- so that brings you the question, what is the threat? there's been a lot of vaporization by various people. some who used to work in the trump administration and now don't. the threat is clearly a homegrown threat. new america releases a paper today based on a fairly comprehensive look at the data that was written by david, lisa and myself with an assist by chris mullen and the data is very clear. every lethal attack in the united states since 9/11 has been carried out by an american citizen or legal permanent resident. more than half of these folks -- if you look at the 413 cases of jihadist terrorism since 9/11, more than half of the people, the perpetrators were born in the united states. refugees are basically -- they
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are totally a nonissue. there are 12 refugees in the data set. many of them accused of readily trivial crimes in the grand scheme of things opposed to carrying out a plot. these things happened a long time ago. so you're looking at a very american problem and looking at a very internet-based problem. so for instance, of the 129 people we found on the public record who've traveled to syria, attempted to travel to syria or helped others who were trying to do so, 1129 militants, 101 were very active online. meaning not sending emails but downloading jihadist materials, swapping jihadist material. in some cases as daveed has laid out communicating with virtual recruiters in syria and iraq. people within isis. so this is a very internet-based phenomenon. of the 129 cases we found no cases of in-person recruitment. no radical cleric. no attendance at a mosque where you are bought into a plot. a lot of the old ideas about recruitment, in-person recruitment are not matched by the data. now, the situation in europe -- there's a reason, therefore, the attacks in the united states that we are seeing are people like one who was born in queens, new york, not far from where our
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president was born who was born in queens, new york. a very american person. and one born in arlington, virginia, who was a psychiatrist. doesn't get any more part of the american story. and luckily because of geography you can can't drive from washington to damascus. the united states is insulated from these ideas for two big reasons.
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one is physical and one is metaphysical. one is geography. we are separated by two big oceans. but secondarily, the american dream has worked very well for american muslims as it's worked for every generation of american immigrants. american muslims is well educated. they are on average have the same income. they don't live in ghettos except with one exception which is the very disadvantaged somali american population in minneapolis who lives in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the united states. riverside neighborhood. this is the exception that proves the rule. everything i just said you can reverse in europe. there's a lot of european muslims who live in ghettos. they are discriminated against. they wouldn't be called back to a job if you have a muslim name
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as opposed to a christian sounding name. the attackers have been through the universities of jihad that are the belgian and french prison systems. 8% of the french population is muslim. 60% -- an estimated 60% of the prison population is muslim. enormously helpful fact to understand how discriminated and -- against this group is in countries like france and belgium. so we have a very different situation here. so it's not only our defenses but also our ideology has allowed us to accept muslim immigrants in a way that makes them part of society rather than not part of society. and that's all the good news. the bad news is the following -- i was part of one of the people who was writing al qaeda's obituary. wolf blitzer leaned over, president obama with a 12-minute speech and he said, what do you think? no time to prepare. the war on terror is over. i didn't mean terrorism was over but i mean the war on terror as the organizing principle of american national security surely with this staff and also the destruction of almost all the leaders of al qaeda central and the arab spring in which al
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qaeda's ideas and personnel were totally absent that surely this would be it for this and that terrorism would become a second order problem. i was completely and utterly wrong. since we're here with a bunch of very smart people in the room and also on c-span, i will make a political science observation which is hobbes wrote "leviathan" in 1661. as the english civil war was winding down. he solved the catastrophe -- he just saw the english war being inflict on his own country. he said the only thing that's worse is anarchy. what we need is order. we ran a huge science experiment in iraq and decapitated the state and army with the result that anybody knows what happened and we did the same thing in lib the gentleman from it's like we didn't even pay attention. we made -- i think joshua sort of explained, the united states makes omission. we made sense with commission and then omission in iraq. it would have had its own problems could it have been any worse than what we see.
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but that raises then the question of where do we go from here? one point we all said al qaeda is doing pretty well. what does it mean for american national security, europe, and the middle east? it's important to rank these issues. we the united states are insulated from this for reasons i already stated. here's the reason for that. seven american militants who have been trained in iraq and syria have returned to the united states as far as we can tell from public record. there may be one or two we don't know about. the french interior ministry said publicly in july 271 french militants have returned. the french do not have a really good way to track these folks.
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obviously when you have had 7,000 europeans go one country, a couple dozen in europe. the problem in europe is much more profound. what we don't know what's going to follow isis, but we can almost guarantee whether it's al qaeda emerging with isis, bits of al qaeda and isis merging, there will be other iterations of this. that's because there are nine big drivers. there is the reasonable civil war between the sunni and shiia that nadia referred to. there is the social media that amplifies all the negative trends. there is the collapse of arab
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governments in libya and iraq and syria and yemen. there is a collapse of the arabic economies. the massive population bulk in the arab world. the air ran and north africa regions are the fastest growing regions in the world. their population also double in the next 50 years. then the massive weight of muslim immigration into europe which does not have the compass to the take the most importantly ideological to make these people french. and then there is the rise of european parties that will increase the alienation of muslims in europe because they are basically anti-immigrant parties. very strongly so. in hungary and poland and france and britain, france, these are
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all very marginal parties, but now they are key players if not actually running the government. so if you accept that all these big drivers are going to be out there -- because isis is a european phenomenon and middle eastern phenomenon. it's not american phenomenon in quite the same -- to any meaningful degree. if you accept these are out there, then you come to a rather pessimistic kind of writing prediction which is, we're going to have this problem for a long time. tend of the day it's a big problem in the middle east and it's a medium-sized problem for europe. and readily small problem for the domestic united states, except insofar as we're the leader of the free world and it is our responsibility to try to get our hand around this. i think this is a good segue to the question of how do we win the ideological war? nadia has raised -- we hear a
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lot of this, we have to win the ideological war, which is easy to say but turns into a slogan. how do you operationalize that? i would like to get your opinion, all three panelists, the state department did have a good answer to this. what google is doing. if you can reflect the government and social media companies have done in my view a readily good job in the last three years. josh, you led the effort on the government side you helped google to think through some these issues. let's start with this question because in a way it's the hardest. which is what has been done? what is working? what is not working? what could be done? and is this a fool's errand anyway? nadia: first of all there doesn't seem to be that i can really see an discernment of just how important the virtual space is. it is real. it is as important as the physical space. if we have thousands of jihad pieces, that is troubling. that is as good as having them physically. this really needs to be addressed. even though this is not an american problem because this is really a middle eastern problem, a j.c.c. problem. peter: that's what? nadia: gulf states.
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saudi arabia, emirates. so even though this is not an american problem, per se, but it is american platforms that are being used to either help jihadists or people who espouse ideas like freedom of conscious, freedom of expression, democracy, etc., etc. as you mentioned i did help with a google project i know a loft these companies have very good intentions -- peter: what did do you? nadia: i -- what i can say is google is targeting the people that are interested in going to join jihad, and exploiting an alternate view, maybe pictures of people who are returning or barely escaped with their lives after joining the islamic state to see what it's really like. it's not an islamist haven. it's authoritarian, brutal -- so just putting a sort of -- somebody who is interested to going to jihad, literally googling. but the thing is before it gets there, there is a huge lack of context. there is a huge lack of
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understanding and the nuances because somebody, for example, who preaches freedom of conscious, there may not be a discernment that there is a direct relationship between having freedom of conscious. we here in america, what you believe is your business, what i believe is my business. it's personal. not in muslim countries. there is a direct -- if you want to counter isis, you have to attack the consciousness in muslim countries. if we as muslims have the right to force our islam regardless of she yachts, whatever, that has power, on the rest of humanity, that is very troublesome. that has not been -- nobody previous challenged it in the muslim world. it has to be done in the muslim world.
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it is being done in the muslim world by a lot of educated people, but they are being silenced either by authoritarian states or sometimes their profiles are being shut down because they are offensive to taliban-like figures in the countries. so there has to be a discernment that the values that make america and europe a beacon for freedom of thought and expression, the very thing values need to be applied to everybody who uses the internet whether it's middle east or muslim countries or america. there shouldn't be two standards. there was a scandal about facebook helping the government identify blasphemous people. blasphemous people. should facebook or you tube really help this government crack down on people who don't want to believe in jihadism? american companies need to actually -- they are already part of this war. you are already in the midst of it. you are the playground. they have to -- they really can play an enormous role. peter: twitter has put down
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hundreds of thousands of accounts. facebook has thousands of people working in part either to get rid of fake news or russian trolls. nadia: it's this level as opposed the thing you need before you get to the fruit. peter: you raised a very tricky point which josh had to deal with a lot with. an with a a made hundreds of hours of speeches. probably 90% of them are ok. 10% were all about jihad. would you really want to take his speeches? could you do that anyway? is that the solution? because it's a slippery slope. what form of speech -- for the
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social media companies it's against that terms of use. anybody encourages violence whether you are a neo-nazi or other -- whatever. you seem to be advocating something different which is even people -- talking about jihad is not necessarily -- there's all sorts of ways you can talk about jihad without it inciting people to violence potentially, right? daveed: my overall take starts with the same as nadia. what happens in the virtual states is extremely important both in terms of reach. joshua: terrorist entry into the united states seems to me happen as your study requests. not physically. thankfully terribly often so much as virtually. they erupt every day, every hour through the wires. but also because of the
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persistence. even as territory gets taken back from groups like isis, that virtual component persists. it's not unrelated but it persists. i start from the same place that it's a very serious aspect of this continuing problem. i think the tech companies have done some serious work to do more in this space, and they still have some serious work to do from my perspective. in december they announced that they would share the digital signatures among four big companies of particular pieces of content that anyone deemed to violate its terms of service on these grounds. so other companies could assess whether it violated their terms of service. there was a sense that's how far the companies are willing to go. particular pieces of content the signatures will get shared. bad things happen. and earlier this year they announced the same companies will share the tool.
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the way they are finding those pieces of content, we'll share the tools with each other, too. but again i think that's how far we're willing to go. it's not going to be that's where it ends. one could imagine other things these companies would go that would go further. one could imagine them sharing not just the piece of content but information associated with the account that posted that content on the idea that another company might wonder whether it had accounts with similar identifying information that had content that violated their terms of service. there are reasons the companies haven't gone that far. i understand those reasons. it's not clear to me that the
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lines now will hold forever. it's also not clear to me that putting aside how the companies relate to each other, how the companies relate to the government will remain where it is now, which is largely to see this as work they do in forcing their own terms of service. with the reluctance -- peter: when you say government. it's governments. the german government may take different lines. joshua: that's right. there are other governments that have oriented differently towards these companies. the first i.r.u., internet referral unit, was stood up by the u.k. the brits have full-time government employees identifying content and sharing it with the companies relevant to that content saying we think this violates your terms of service. as i understand it they are often, the brits, often, not always right.
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but of course even though there are different laws in the u.k., that's how the p.t.r.u. has operated, not exclusively, on a nonenforced basis. when they get back an answer thanks for sharing that one. we're fine with that one. i can understand there is a dialogue and some learning on both sides come out of that. now there is an euiru, that other european countries are standing up. we're a different system of laws and culture that have made some reluctant to go that route. on the other hand there seems to be an effectiveness of what that allows. i also think it's interesting to compare the speed at which the companies have moved in the wake of charlottesville on some of the issues with that to the speed of developments as relates to isis and other groups like it. in fairness i felt there was interesting writing down by
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matthew prince, very interesting guy, very hard about these issues. he wrote a blog post and a "wall street journal" op-ed which he said, well, we move pretty quickly. and now i'm beginning to worry if we were right. it's interesting. i don't share -- peter: for clarity. after charlottesville the social media companies moved pretty quickly against nazi -- neo-nazi material on their platforms. joshua: if are you a cloud player are you are not offering content delivery service which a protection for a site you would otherwise offer. there were entities related to financial transactions online that moved quickly. this content stuff. looking for this content. to the extent it deemed to be a violation of service. and had to do with domestic politics and what strikes me as the absolutely right denunciation of those roots. it is interesting to note the different speed at which that occurs from some of the developments on the isis. one other point on the tech side, i think the companies spent a lot of time in particular on isis material. al qaeda and syria, their material was a lot more increasingly like isis' material in savviness than al qaeda senior leadership where al swarry pops up with a video that
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could have been 16 years ago. and that's not what it is. i don't think the companies have moved as quickly on that and some of the other development in the space as they might move in coming months andaries. daveed: he's looking -- regardless he has an endeavor, which is a new development for al qaeda, i think the tech companies' involvement is extremely important. i worked on the same jigsaw project you mentioned that nadia had worked on. it has been made public. what they did was fairly clever. using ad space in youtube. they ran two different tests of this, they call it the redirect. when someone was searching for pro-isis material, this ad would come up. they would use their ad space. it was a very isis feeling ad. it's propaganda. has a certain cinematic feel and end with something like, learn the truth about the caliphate. you click through, it took you to a play list. nadia and i both did research for videos used in these play lists in both english and arabic. where the videos appeared to be very neutral but gave people a different perspective on isis. and to me there is a clever way to do this, but the main reason
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i think it was important is it showed -- there is internal struggles within these companies, which are enormous creatures about how involved they should be. and i think they showed google they could be involved and the world wouldn't hate them. it would see this in a positive light. i think having tech companies involved is important because there are so many different creative things they are able to do when they have use of the platform. the longer term, i think one of the most important trends in this area is going to be something that nadia touched on.
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there is a piece i wrote earlier this year in foreign affairs called the coming islamic culture war. i know nadia since december of 2014, we met at a gnaw america event where she yelled at me because she thought i was too soften on al qaeda and we have been good friends ever since. that's exactly what happened. she was the first person in the field i'm in to see the same trend which i'm seeing which is you have this burgeoning debate which i described as those foreseeable black swan events possible. about islamic identity. in muslim majority countries. it's actually to me inherent to the logic of online communication. if you look back to the 1990's, i'm a social scientist, skeptic. if you look back to the 1990's, what's being done on computer
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media and communication could not have been more on point about the impact it would have. the studies on what's called identity demarginalization have correctly anticipated so much of what came late. what they found is when people communicated in the online space, and were able to express identities that are both marginalized and also concealable, they would express them more in the offline space. so if are you an ethnic minority or a physical handicap, overweight, someone can' that by looking at you. if you are gay, if you are a neo-nazi, if you are a jihadist, all three, someone can't necessarily tell by looking at you. the reason i point to this, other than jihadism, that's what the early studies were done on. you look at -- you were talking about referring to the neo-nazis. there's been a resurgence in the overt nature of this movement, which is fundamentally relate to the online space. what social scientists were finding in the 1990's, people who could communicate online find people who believed they
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did, find these online communities, if they are neo-nazis, would be more willing to make it part of their lives. they found the same thing for lgbt identity. we have had a very quick revolution in the united states in lgbt rights. 1996, a democratic president passed into law defense of marriage act. 2008, running for president, barack obama said that he defined marriage as a unit between one man and one woman. by 201, not only would it be unthinkable in the future that a democratic candidate would be anti-gay marriage, but trump, whatever else you might say about him, was the most pro-lgbt republican nominee we had. without question. so you had this reversal much faster. that's related to how fast things move in the online space. jihadism, identity would be marginalization applies. what nadia is talking about is a broader debate. it's going to happen. it already is. it's going -- when i say it's going to happen, it's going to happen in a way that people will recognize it as a strategic issue and they are not there yet. right now i see it, nadia sees t. and a friend, a scholar at rice, and he is nigerian, he went back to the region and wrote a very long facebook post talking about how he read my piece, didn't believe it and went back to the region and it's
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happening. peter: so everybody understands. what is it? daveed: where the different -- the different voices atheist voices, extreme secular voices, voice that is have a different view are coming to the fore in our own society that's happened. if you go back 100 years ago, to be very typical to refer to the west as the christian world. if you see someone calling the west a christian world today, you'll either think they are a member of the alt right or probably very old. whereas we refer to muslim majority country as the muslim world. we take some level of islamic identity for granted coming out of those societies. below the surface there are people who are not happy with that. there is going to be a debate about identity. and that's in the online space. atheist view, anti-religious views, all these are marginalized and concealable. and the online space brings them out. we can start to see. so leading edge of this.
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for example in bangladesh, if you look at who al qaeda was targeting, it's atheist bloggers, lgbt bloggers. the more time i engage in the online space and in the region, i see this is -- it's clearly already there. it's already recognized, but it hasn't risen to the level yet we think it's a big issue.
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sometimes these secular accounts gets pulled down because we have this very narrow frame of reference. what's happening is a debate about identity in the societies. nadia: as we see them. daveed: put it in the islamophobia box. a better box is debate about identity. "why i am not a christian" book, i am certain there is many people here who are not christians. probably none of them think this is a book that should be censored or deeply offensive. it's a debate about what our religious identity is within western society. even an atheist wrote a book "why i'm not a muslim." that's very edgy. joshua: this raises a good question.
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to be seen as defending somebody who might possibly have blast peopled somebody is a potential death sentence in pakistan. peter: to in the islamic, much worse than anything else because you are leaving your religion. so the costs of having this discussion is countries are enormously high. by the way, they are often happening in countries where probably opinion is very hard to gauge. your assertion that this is happening i don't disbelieve it. let's unpack that. what are the risks of having this discussion? nadia: the nuance that the west needs to understand, the west is part of this whether it wants to be or not, is that as long as there are blasphemy laws, you don't dream of counter tritching. the people who can take on these
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valid ideas from within, people who know the koran by heart, who went to school all their lives in the middle east are people who would be blasted as blast if a must. peter: the united states government, correct me if i'm wrong, josh, is not in the business of telling the pakistani government or saudi government, there are some laws on your book we just -- nadia: no. but the virtual space. that's the most important space
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because that's that space is what's fueling the debate. peter: explain more what you mean. nadia: let me just say something. this is not actually very theoretical debate in the arab world. most of the personal status laws in most of the arab countries is basically shari'a. the reason why i have patriot act particularly no agency in jordan is shari'a. it's not something -- it's very much governing my everyday life me and millions and millions of others, which is why we form islamic -- it's a legal issue. these people are changing for fighting for civil laws. are fighting for human rights. you mention in your paper governance. that is such an enormous issue. we have a massive governance problem. in fact, you could argue that the governance problem is the major seed for all of this. the online space allows people who are educated who wants to see essentially the values that government and the united states in the middle east where they can be free. why should we have to migrate to have freedom? why is it inevitable because it's very violent. violence is -- especially religious violence is seen as holy in one way or another. these people are using the join line -- online -- people who espouse the values. the only space they have indicates a secularism and we
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need to hold that sacred as we mentioned. it's an edgy book, that somebody -- let me mention most of the content is in arabic. imagine companies in silicon valley having to deal with an enormous amount of text in arabic, and you get a lot of complaints that this is offending people because it's preaching secularism and i would like shari'a law. peter: what are you recommending? nadia: i recommend that american companies become defender of the secular voices. what they want separation of religion and state. they do not want to deprive people of being muslim or christian or shiite. they want separation where the state or some cleric do not have the right to kill you or force on you a version you don't want to believe. joshua: i would have said that nadia's thoughts go to the question you asked earlier which i'm not sure i gave awe satisfactory on. what does it mean whether it's a tech company or u.s.
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government to do better in this stuff? i think that goes back to how you use the technology to try to be not just a source of challenge but there is -- also a source of trying to mitigate that challenge. the fundamental, philosophical reorientation that the global engagement certainty was to substantiate was to acknowledge late than it should have been, the u.s. government is not going to be a good messenger for conveying any of the issues that nadia. so only rarely and only for certain limited audience. instead to figure out how to empower voice that is did offer credible messages without taking those voices which is the worst result in the world is part of the challenge. the challenge to the companies is also grappling with as they offer training sessions. the reason the technology seems maybe more on the challenge learning right now is isis got
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to this quickly and built a virtual community that people feel at least connected to it. i said in writings that it's a false sense of connection. but they don't feel like -- they feel not alone at all. they feel they are part of something bigger an have something to plug into. how to elevate voices offering a different vision, especially to those who are so vulnerable, that isis and other messages are compelling. that seems to me where you go to make things better. daveed: in terms of your question, i know this is happening with with respect to this identity debate, i'd say it's the logic of the online space. it brings out that which is marginalized. i agree with you about the targeting of secularists or atheists. as we know for the past 16 years it's hard to kill an idea. in terms of what the government should do, that's much, much more difficult. but to me one of the main things
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in this area, knowing what's coming is important because i think it's obvious this is coming. it's going to have profound impact. we can already see it who the jihadists are targeting. it's going to have an impact in the region. thinking it through is part of the way the strategic environment going to evolve. peter: optimistic way to begin the question and answer question. daveed: absolutely. peter: if you have a question, wait fundraise the mike and identify yourself. we'll take the lady in the back first. the lady behind you. >> cynthia from georgetown university. i want to just delve a little deeper into the kind of topics that nadia's talking about and particularly with technology in the virtual space. what google has been doing, as i understand it, is targeting individuals who are susceptible and trying to turn them one by one. then there is a whole gray phase
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you were talking about for the war of ideas. of what i'm curious to know more about what kinds of information, what kinds of voices you feel need to be leveraged more in that gray space. i'm working specifically in timbuktu in northern mali, working with the google cultural institute is provide translations and explanations of the content of the timbuktu manuscript. which could have been written in 15th century florence. it's all about humanism. i'm curious about the content and voices that you think should get out and is there -- who should be doing that? who can do that and how? nadia: great question. the good thing is that there is actually a plethora. as research in my book, i was going -- i said if you look at
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education, there is also self-entrepreneurs. for example, one young man living in dubai was watching his kids watching children's stories on tv. the very intolerant, almost fascist ideas that we're superior we're muslim and non-muslims are not human. he was not comfortable. even not directly haven't, it's that great area makes it easy for to you get to the next state. you have to go through it. so he quit his job and studied this platform. children stories in beautiful arabic. he hired top linguists and local actors to for the stories. which basically aim at instilling in children curiosity about the other. about the world in general. tolerance. confidence in yourself. individualism. he believed that his kids need. his product gets a million down loads with zero advertising. so there is an education in
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journalism and music and film, short film. there is a plethora of talent. people who live in the middle east, enough of them, enough brilliant people realize it's either us or isis. you know what? they really see it -- there is no gray area. arab states are much more comfortable with extremists who allow them to continue to rule than with liberal voices that ultimately mean they have to leave. for the first time in our history have to have actual democratic governments that allow for freedom. we have never experienced that yet. they are much more comfortable is islamist voices than liberal voices which is why you can tweak one sentence that is government rights that you are jailed or killed. there is a plethora of them. who is to decide?
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i think there is an intention. there is an intention and recognition that in order to really counter the ideology, you need to populate the virtual space where people go for knowledge, would be scandal material that furthers real tolerance and nonviolence, etc. you can have a committee and i think it would not be very hard to identify who can -- it's so much. if there is a will, there is a way, right? peter: the gentleman in the front here. >> attorney veteran of the army. 16 years ago my sister had just left a job in the north tower, no one she worked with survived. i'm particularly touched by what went down on 9/11, and i tried to understand it and i have done a lot of work since then on the
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counterterrorism problem. thinking about people and plots, i wonder each of you if you discuss a little bit of the panel what you think it says about the counterterrorism effort that we can't find either baghdadi or zawahiri, and here we're 16 years into this and we don't know where the leaders of the organizations that we're fighting even are. and then secondly, i think that both al qaeda and isis are looking at wmd. they have it on a long time frame, with you i'm concerned if john brennan thinks that this is a 100-year war we're embarked on o, that time is on the jihadi side and party was very on the money over time saying that the threat was really a low grade, nonexistential threat, thrick
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focused on aviation, everything has born out his prognosis so far. everyone missed the wrong devices. however i do feel that zawahiri in particular pays heed to bin laden's victim that he will be patient until patience is outworn by patience. i feel now that there is a second or even a third generation of al qaeda that are more professional, better networked, more experienced, more dug into these societies like mali and pakistan. i wonder, a, does it matter we can't find bin laden's successors? does it matter that we can't even tell if baghdadi is dead or alive?
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third and most importantly, what do you think of wmd? is it on their menu and will we see it? peter: the paper today we have quite a comprehensive arctic that will wmd question. weapons of mass destruction. peter: the paper today we have quite a comprehensive arctic that will wmd question. weapons of mass destruction. the plots in the west one thing is quite striking, none of them involved weapons of mass destruction. it's a misnomer. there is only one, a nuclear bomb. but chemical bombs, biological bombs. in the 41 cases in 9/11, not one of the people involved tried to use these weapons. tried to get precursors. it's a nonissue. which doesn't mean it couldn't become an issue. in this country, 13 people motivate by the extreme right wing ideology, some with idiosyncratic motives have experimented with these weapons
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in a low-level way. these are very hard to -- unlimited amounts of money in the search for weapons of mass destruction and never got to what wasn'ted, which was nuclear weapons. these are complicated things to acquire. there are few caveats. one more point. when isis took of what we most know they had cobble 60, they had taken -- they did nothing with t they had no idea what it was. the could he bolt 60 would have been used for the radiological weapons. al qaeda before it in iraq, other weapons. when you have a korean bomb people die from the blast not the chlorine. it's inefficient. most of these groups have not gone down that group. it's years to kill somebody with
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a bomb or shoot them. the big caveat to this is bioterrorism. the big caveat comes in two flavors. first, it was bruce who had idiosyncratic motives to kill people after 9/11. he was a microbiologist at a senior level in the government. to me it's not how trying to become a killed microbiologist, it's adopting jihadist ideas or other extreme ideas. that i think is a reasonable concern. you can imagine indonesian microbiologist who suddenly thinks the ideas are the right ones. that's a big problem. the second problem is editing. i'm not a scientist, my comments will quickly show, but gene editing takes us into a whole new world. a lot of good things. like any technological development bad things. could you imagine a virus that attacked people with distinct jewish heritage or irish.
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or choose your flavor. this is the kind of future that is not entirely impossible. i think for the moment we don't have to concern ourselves. ail turn it over to the rest of the panel, we tend to overthink particular people. it turns out we overthought bin laden. his ideas survived his death. and 77 people in this country after the depth of anwr awlaki were found to have his videos in their suppose. killing all ideas is hard. killing people can be tricky. can you make the argument, great, worst person in the world to al qaeda you would find al zawahiri. a charisma free boor is disliked
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by people in his organization. great, he continues to run it into the ground. we get too hung up on that. baghdadi died tomorrow clearly they thought this one through. josh, had you to deal with this to the extent can you talk about it publicly what, can you say? joshua: just on the wmd issue. this strikes me as one of the reasons why addressing safe safe havens remains important. you can never please everyone category. over the past couple months some commentary, how much does it matter isis helped held mosul anyway? it matters for various reasons. including. so message something more credible if you have territory to hold and point to. another is because wmd work doesn't necessarily take a
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certain amount of space, it sure is easier if you are insulate interested law enforcement, intelligence collection, etc. as a problem i admit seems not thankfully to have been acted on in any of the plots -- peter: the university of mosul became an expertise in both bio and chem? for example with the plot the expertise that migrate from syria? peter: if it became an expertise it was not big because in the university of mosul they had materials they could have deployed which they dew point use. joshua: but still worrisome. i'm agreeing with that. on the other front, individuals, i tend to be where peter is in part.
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this goes back to our discussion of the role of the virtual world. there is a leadership capacity organizationally, especially isis with all its planning, i suspect has figured out a strategy hopefully less talented folks, then there is the inspirational element to leadership. i'm all for decapitating the leadership of terrorist groups. i think that's part of. not sufficient but part of the approach to counterterrorism. when those voice does live on to the extent that the inspirational piece is about how they articulate a message and something distinctive about wait they speak to that message and able to galvanize, perhaps a very smart of the global population to act on. when do you have al wacky sill still inspiring, it doesn't go away. nadia: psychologically there are some people in the middle east who have heard the stories. if they really wanted to kill them they. it's america. they put a man on the moon,
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why can't they do this. are they in some shape or form complacent in this? but at the same time from the u.s. perspective, again like invest so much resources in killing one person when that one person may or may not have an impact, especially when the big inspirations -- peter: according to general tony thomas, head of special operations command, we the united states led coalition killed 60,000 to 70,000 isis fighters. the u.n. now last month estimated there was maybe 12,000 to 20,000 isis fighters left. my guess is the 12,000 is accurate. the foreign fighters we're concerned about, many are dying in place. there was a lot of concern they would come back. some did come back to the west.
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the ones staying either they are volunteering to die or they just die because they are being killed. daveed: i would just add that one of the enduring lessons of the past 16 years is the difficulty of finding and killing an individual person who has gad operational security. peter: david? >> david, here at new america. i want to take the conversation back a little bit to the question of state support. ask about what i think are two highly unlikely routes to an end to the current jihadist terrorist threat but ones i would like to get your sense of is there a possible route regardless of likelihood? some sense of how likely you would see that. and those two are -- that al qaeda and other jihadist groups continually see their efforts to
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take over territory, getting smashed and instead retreat to local terrorism. and not attacking the enemy. and the second is gulf states or other states in the region via funding various ecosystems actually succeed in taking over radical groups and forcing them to increasingly go to their demands which may not may not agree to the international system. i think much here agrees it's quite unlikely compared to the jihadist threats, but do you think those are possible conditions, especially given that in some of it's propaganda, seems to be the isis claim about why al qaeda is not a legitimate
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conveyor of jihadist ideology or politics in the future. nadia: i dare say that most arab states are not interested in uprooting -- taking the poisonous fruits when convenient. the government, look at the arab world a few decades ago. took look at tv a few decades ago. women are very western looking. it was a very liberal place. cinema in cairo, a very different place. and then you see the rise of islam, with government blessing, and the choice was us or the islamist, what would you like? of course people would rather vote for secular states than islamists until they became so authoritarian that people said, you know what, we'll take the islamists, you're unbearable. the choice is us or isis, what would you like? isis is important or sisters.
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isis under any name, whether it's al qaeda, etc. the choice that the arab states, many of them it's us or them. they don't want an actual liberal voice. an actual viable democratic competition. that is way worse scenario than actually dealing with terrorists that they basically can fund. they have the almost -- they are totally in charge because they are in charge of liberal voices dunn to a sentence. opening the borders for thousands to pour into syria or -- until in the west there is again really understanding and appreciation for the power, the threat power because it's the only power they can root very liberal values.
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i don't see the states becoming that part of history in the arab world. daveed: i was reminded of that line from the "x-files" i want to believe. i would love to see those things come true. i share that skepticism that's wait it plays out. nadia spoke pretty well to the second scenario. on the first scenario joshua: part of what's challenging about the ideological component of taking on what is itself an ideologically driven phenomenon is that it's not final. what's been cultivated first by al qaeda and now isis, it's able to integrate into its message. i think it's the sincerely believe message, whatever happens. you hold territory. that's a sign of victory and things to come. if you lose territory, that's a sign that you're in one of those
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periods where you need to regroup and you'll come back stronger. the message is able to incorporate world events with more or less credibility and still forge ahead. the idea that a group that has tasted the big scream as much as isis or al qaeda would voluntarily resort to pursuing only more local grievances i think it would be foolish for that to happen. we do see affiliates or splinter groups pop off. it's not a yes or no question. but the big picture it would seem knee difficult for them to either believe or make the deliberate recruitment strategy of trying to get new folks to sign on to something that sounds less exciting. a sort of a hard sell. that's my inclination though i wish other scenarios would unfold. daveed: so the final word is i actually agree with both nadia and josh.
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i would be very interested in seeing a rigorous take on under what conditions a jihadist group is purely local. this debate comes up a lot. this group is lot of-- they are not transnational. it's almost never true in the sense that we can see flow of foreign fighters, flow of technical assistance across groups. even in groups that are really described in literature almost always as being nationally. like the islamic movement, the leader group. if you look at the rhetoric it's a.q. rhetoric plus they are in battlefields like syria and afghanistan. the idea that they are purely local i don't think is born out by the evidence. it would be interesting to see, but the trend is against pure localization because both of the interconnected world we live in which is easier to be
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transnational, and b by the fact you have so many jihadist victories across so many different areas, these groups benefit by being interconnected. c, based on the fact their ideology is a transnational ideology, it tends to make local groups the exception rather than the norm. although every group does have some local aspirations. i don't think you find any that is only transnational and has no local focus. peter, i want to thank you for inviting us to be here. peter: thank you. daveed: great discussion. [applause] peter: thanks for coming. thanks to the production team. it was a wonderful discussion. thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017\] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit\]


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