«Rien n'est plus facile que de dénoncer un malfaiteur; rien n'est plus difficile que de le comprendre» ---Fédor Dostoïevski

vendredi 23 mai 2008

Appelez-Moi Master!

Juste pour le plaisir, quelques photos de la cérémonie de "graduation" du week-end dernier à la George Washington University...

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dimanche 18 mai 2008

En Congé pour une semaine

Certains auront déjà remarqué le ralentissement de ce blog depuis quelques jours...c'était en effet la semaine de la "graduation" à mon université, remise des diplômes avec la robe et les chapeaux, processions, cérémonies, etc. bref, beaucoup de choses à faire et pas beaucoup de temps à consacrer aux lectures...je mettrai une photo la semaine prochaine...

Je pars une semaine en vacances. Je reprendrai le cours normal de mes activités d'ici une grosse semaine (mardi de la semaine prochaine...). D'ici là, continuez à lire! ici ou ailleurs...

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jeudi 15 mai 2008

Nouvelle Publication: PJAK en Irak

Voici mon dernier article paru dans Terrorism Monitor sur le PJAK, une branche du PKK kurde en Iran, dont les membres sont réfugiés dans les régions au nord de l'Irak. Le PJAK se retrouve au milieu d'une guerre où s'entremêlent les intérêts irakiens, iraniens, kurdes, américains et turcs...bref, le "front kurde" s'avère fragile et instable avec un risque potentiel à l'échelle régionale...le lien permanent est ici.

PJAK in Northern Iraq: Tangled Interests and Proxy Wars
By Thomas Renard

The Kurdish area in northern Iraq has become one of the most complex fronts in the war in Iraq, a place where Iranian, Turkish, Kurdish, Iraqi and American interests clash. An often perplexing role in the region’s conflicts is played by the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), an Iranian Kurdish offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that engages in frequent clashes with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. PJAK claims its aims “are to unite the Kurdish and Iranian opposition, to change the oppressive Islamic regime in Iran and to establish a free democratic confederal system for the Kurds and the Iranian peoples” (PJAK Press Release, May 7). Iran regularly accuses the movement of being a U.S.-funded proxy, but recent PJAK claims that Turkey used U.S. intelligence and U.S.-made bombs in an air raid on a PJAK target have brought the U.S.-PJAK relationship into question.

Soon after the May 1-2 bombing, a PJAK spokesperson announced: “We have changed our stand toward the United States government and we are standing against them now … Maybe someday ... individual combatants might launch suicide attacks inside Iraq and Turkey, and even against American interests” (AP, May 5; Today’s Zaman, May 5). PJAK’s leadership quickly refuted the announcement, describing it as “untrue and fabricated” and in violation of PJAK principles. This did not prevent them from venting their anger with the United States: “The USA tells the world that it has a strategic conflict with the theocratic regime in Iran. But when the Kurdish people in Iran wage a sacrificing, modern struggle for the democratization of the country, they provide the means for an attack on them” (PJAK Press Release, May 7).

War on the Iranian Border

Earlier this week, Turkish warplanes bombed PKK bases in northern Iraq several nights in a row (Today’s Zaman, May 13). During previous raids on May 1-2, Turkish warplanes bombed northern Iraq’s Qandil Mountains, where Kurdish fighters are thought to be hiding. A military statement claimed that more than 150 rebels were killed during the operation (Today’s Zaman, May 5). However, it appears that targets of the bombings were, at least partly, PJAK members, and not exclusively PKK fighters. This would be a sign of increased security cooperation between Turkey and Iran.

PJAK fighters and Iranian troops regularly fight across the Iraq-Iran border, which is part of “Greater Kurdistan” according to the Kurds. On April 14, Iranian artillery shelled PJAK positions in the Qandil Mountains, killing one high-level commander (Hurriyet, April 15). The timing of the shelling—just before a counter-terrorism meeting between Iranians and Turks—was interpreted as a signal of cooperation from Tehran (see Terrorism Focus, April 22). On May 4, Iranian forces captured leading PJAK commander Resit Ehkendi in an operation carried out in the Iranian region of Sakiz. The prosecutor will seek the death penalty for terrorist activities, murder, armed robberies and other illegal activities (Anatolia, May 7). The capture occurred in the context of heightened combat between Kurdish rebels and Iranian and Turkish troops (Anatolia, May 10).

Turkish-Iranian Cooperation

Turkey and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding stating their willingness to develop cooperation on security issues during the 12th Turkey-Iran High Security Commission held in Ankara last month. The fight against the Kurdish insurgency was part of the memorandum. “The escalation in terrorist activities in the region is harming both of the countries,” the document said. “The most effective method for dealing with this illegal problem is an exchange of intelligence and cooperation in the security field” (Today’s Zaman, April 18).

Although worrisome for the United States, this cooperation is unlikely to become very effective, at least in the short-term. Indeed, Turkish officials have publicly expressed their distrust toward the Iranian regime (Today’s Zaman, April 21). It should also be remembered that the previous High Security Commission meeting in February 2006 had reached a similar agreement with little improvement in cooperation (Sabah, April 14). Turkey and Iran are powerful regional actors with divergent agendas. Therefore, both countries are likely to remain competitors, although casual cooperation is possible.

More worrisome to the United States is the growing Iranian influence in northern Iraq, where Iran has established relations with most Kurdish groups. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), for instance, whose leader is Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, sees Iran as a crucial trading partner and as a potential ally to ensure Kurdish security. Last August, “Iranian pressures” allegedly compelled Talabani’s PUK peshmerga militia to attack Kurdish guerrilla fighters (International Herald Tribune, October 22, 2007).

Parallel to the growing influence of Iran in Iraqi Kurdistan, Kurdish support to the PKK and PJAK decreased substantially in Iraq, as indicated by the following: First, the skirmishes with the PUK; second, Kurdish guerrilla fighters in Iraq now concentrate mainly in the isolated Qandil Mountains, where, despite their remoteness, the insurgents are on the run after the recent air raids, according to the Turkish military (Today’s Zaman, May 13). Third, the PJAK leadership recently accused Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), of collaborating with Turkey and Iran, warning that this could lead to a “national tragedy” for Kurdistan (Hawlati [Sulaymaniyah], May 11). Barzani has condemned PJAK multiple times. In an interview with the pan-Arab daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat, Barzani claimed:

"[The KRG is] determined to maintain the best relations possible with all neighboring countries. Iran is a very important neighbor for us, and we have a very long common border with it. Regrettably, Iran’s occasional artillery bombardments of the border area within the Kurdistan Region because of the presence of PJAK elements mar these relations. I again reassert that we will not allow any armed group to attack any neighboring countries from the territory of the Kurdistan Region" (Al-Sharq al-Awsat, May 10).

A U.S. Proxy in the Struggle with Iran?

Iran accuses the United States of backing PJAK. Iranian intelligence claims to have evidence of such support, but have not produced any proof. Many analysts, however, believe that Iranian assertions might be correct. Undoubtedly PJAK offers a tempting asset for the United States to carry out operations against Iran. It is well known, for instance, that the United States collaborated with the Iranian Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and even before, although the group was—and is—classified as a terrorist organization by the State Department. Although the United States allowed Turkey to conduct several cross-border raids against the PKK in order to secure a strategic alliance, the United States is unlikely to collaborate with Iran against PJAK. On the contrary, the Bush doctrine of regime change is more likely to lead to the support of anti-Tehran insurgents. PJAK vehemently denies any suggestion of U.S. support: “PJAK is a self sufficient and independent organization. It depends on the Kurds’ and Iranian people’s support, contrary to the Iranian dictatorial regime misinformation campaign that PJAK is getting help from the USA and the West” (PJAK Press Release, May 7).

Osman Ocalan, brother of imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and a founder of PJAK, claims that PJAK has a “good relationship” with the United States and that Americans offer “some military, economic and medical assistance” to the movement (Los Angeles Times, April 16). According to Robert Baer, a former CIA operative with close ties to Kurdish northern Iraq: “I understand that the U.S. provides intelligence to PJAK so that they are better able to protect themselves in any conflict with the Iranians. This force protection intelligence is given to them through the Delta Forces” (Spiegel Online, April 14).

Last summer, PJAK leader Abdul Rahman Haji Ahmadi visited Washington. Officially, he was given a cold shoulder and did not meet any member of the administration. Therefore, it is not clear whether his visit was an attempt to create contacts with the United States—suggesting that such contacts are nonexistent—or whether a planned secret meeting occurred in Washington.

Whether the United States supports PJAK or not, the relationship between the two parties has been generally good so far. Since the beginning of May, nevertheless, tensions have arisen between PJAK and the United States. PJAK leaders, who are usually supportive of the United States, accused Washington of sharing intelligence with Turkey and—indirectly—with Iran, as well as claiming that the Turkish Air Force dropped U.S.-made gas bombs on Qandil during the May 1-2 air raids (Kurdish Aspect, May 7).

The United States is not the only Western country that has paid close attention to PJAK. With a large Kurdish population, Germany also monitors the activities of the group. Last July, Tehran sent a verbal note to the German ambassador to protest against German indifference to PJAK’s “terrorist activities.” Several German citizens are thought to be fighting in PJAK’s ranks. Should one of those fighters kill Iranians or be captured, it could create major diplomatic tensions between Tehran and Berlin and also have a potential impact on German relations with Ankara, and on the large Kurdish and Turkish communities in Germany.


PJAK was created for three reasons: To establish Kurdish activities in Iran; as a means of escaping the PKK terrorist designation; and to obtain U.S. support in actions against the Iranian regime. Although PJAK claims to be different from the PKK, its history, its goals and its leadership suggest that the two groups remain tightly connected [1]. PJAK counts somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 fighters. Interestingly, half of the members are women, which are gathered under a branch named the Eastern Kurdistan Women’s Union (YJRK). Fighters are trained in hit-and-run tactics and armed with Kalashnikov rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, Russian-made sniper rifles and machine guns.

During the last few years, the Kurdish insurgency has become more than a remote fight for Kurdish nationalism. Untangling the varied national interests at work in the area could have a dramatic impact on the region’s long-term stability. The current balance is extremely fragile and every player acts with extra precaution in an effort to maintain their alliances while pursuing their individual interests.


1. Soner Cagaptay, Zeynep Eroglu, “The PKK, PJAK, and Iran: Implications for U.S.-Turkish Relations,” The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, PolicyWatch #1244, June 13, 2007.

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lundi 12 mai 2008

Ce que Disent les Forums Militaires Jihadistes

MEMRI a publié la semaine dernière un document assez intéressant sur les discussions d'ordre "militaire" sur les forums jihadistes. Ces messages comprennent des instructions pour la fabrication d'explosifs, l'utilisation d'armes à feu, ou encore des discussions d'ordre tactique et stratégique. Premier constat: les discussions sur les explosifs sont nettement plus populaires que celles sur les armes à feu ou les discussions théoriques...il y a plusieurs manières d'interpréter cela, évidemment. Le glissement vers le pôle "terrorisme" me vient naturellement à l'esprit. Aussi, des individus isolés (et donc davantage actifs sur la toile) sont sans doute davantage attirés par le mode "explosifs" que par la formation aux armes à feu, qui est peut-être davantage le travail de "cellules".

Deuxième constat: comme de nombreux autres forums, les forums "militaires" sont fréquentés par des gens avec visiblement un background en chimie ou une expérience militaire, ainsi que par des amateurs...le forum joue donc ici parfaitement son rôle de partage de "savoir-faire"...

Niveau armes à feu, les forums renvoient essentiellement vers des ouvrages étrangers, notamment le livre "The Ultimate Sniper", écrit par le Major John L. Plaster. Voilà une bonne illustration du fait que les deux camps "se lisent"...

Enfin, certains messages sur les forums expliquent comment falsifier des documents du type passeport. Par contre, les messages discutant les armes de destruction massive sont presque inexistants, ce qui confirme qu'il ne s'agit pas d'une préoccupation majeure pour les jihadiste, contrairement à ce que certains auteurs apocalyptiques voudraient faire croire.

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dimanche 11 mai 2008

Revue de Presse (5 mai - 11 mai)

International: "Quatre chefs d'inculpation pour terrorisme contre le trafiquant Viktor Bout" (Romandie News) - Le trafiquant d'armes présumé Viktor Bout fait l'objet de quatre chefs d'accusation relatifs au terrorisme, ont annoncé mardi des procureurs américains, lui reprochant d'avoir cherché à vendre des millions de dollars d'armes aux Forces armées révolutionnaires de Colombie (Farc).

Iran: "Explosion : l'Iran reconnaît l'attentat" (Le Figaro) - L'Iran a annoncé aujourd'hui que l'explosion ayant fait 13 morts dans une mosquée de Shiraz (sud) le 12 avril était un attentat et que le cerveau de l'opération avait été arrêté, a rapporté l'agence Fars.

Irak: "Un ancien détenu de Guantanamo auteur d'un attentat suicide en Irak" (Le Monde) - L'auteur d'un récent attentat suicide dans la ville irakienne de Mossoul, a été identifié comme un ancien détenu koweïtien de la prison militaire américaine de Guantanamo, à Cuba, ont indiqué mercredi des responsables militaires américains.
Abdallah Salih al-Ajmi, libéré de Guantanamo en novembre 2005, est le premier kamikaze identifié comme étant un ex-détenu de Guantanamo, selon un porte-parole du Pentagone, le commandant Jeffrey Gordon.

Algérie/France: "L’Algérie est un partenaire important dans la lutte contre le terrorisme" (La Nouvelle République) - La relation franco-algérienne est d’une «importance capitale aux yeux du gouvernement français», a déclaré hier, Mme Michèle Alliot-Marie lors de la conférence de presse animée au siège de la direction générale de la Protection civile à Alger.

Colombie: "Report: Farc set up cells abroad" (al-Jazeera) - The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia has established undercover cells abroad in 17 countries, a Spanish newspaper says, quoting from documents found on the computer of Raul Reyes, a slain commander of the anti-government group.

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mercredi 7 mai 2008

Pause jusque lundi...

J'ai termine mon dernier travail pour mon Master a la George Washington University...je serai diplome la semaine prochaine...donc pour feter ca, je serai absent jusque dimanche...reprise des activites lundi...

PS: pardon pour l'orthographe mais je m'ai acces qu'a un ordinateur US en ce moment...ce qui explique egalement la diminution d'activite ces derniers jours...

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mardi 6 mai 2008

Al-Qaïda et les Medias

Pour ceux d'entre vous qui s'intéressent à l'appareil médiatique d'al-Qaïda (et de ses affiliés), deux rapports/articles ont été publiés récemment:

"The al-Qaeda-Media nexus", par Daniel Kimmage (Radio Free Europe).
"The al-Qaeda Media machine", par Philip Seib.

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lundi 5 mai 2008

Réponse d'Al-Aqsa Belgique

En lien avec l'article que j'avais écris précédemment sur al-Aqsa Humanitaire en Belgique, vous pouvez lire l'interview de Mohamed El Hajjaji, président de la fondation, réalisée par Ricardo Gutierrez pour le quotidien belge Le Soir de ce lundi.

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"Terroriser les Terroristes"

Marc Hecker a eu la gentillesse de m'envoyer par email son dernier rapport intitulé "Du Bon Usage de la Terreur" publié par l'Institut Français des Relations Internationales (IFRI) dans la série "Focus Stratégique". Je l'ai lu avec grand intérêt. Marc Hecker explique quand, comment, pourquoi et dans quelles circonstances, un état démocratique peut être amener à "terroriser les terroristes". Une question fort intéressante qui pourrait déboucher sur des heures de débats. Il parle, principalement, de l'utilisation de la torture pour "faire parler" les terroristes, surtout dans un scénario (fort théorique) d'une "ticking bomb". Le débat sur l'utilisation de la torture a largement fait la Une des journaux aux Etats-Unis, après la révélation de l'utilisation de la technique dite du "waterboarding". Marc Hecker conclut, comme de nombreux autres experts et membres de la communauté contre-terroriste que l'usage de la torture est contre-productif.

On regrettera tout de même, dans ce rapport, l'absence de discussions sur les méthodes d'infiltration des groupes terroristes par les services de renseignement d'états démocratiques qui débouchent parfois sur des situations délicates où des agents de l'état se retrouvent impliqués dans des actes terroristes (comme dans le cas de l'opération "Stakeknife" en Irelande, par exemple, ou le cas de Mikel Lejarza dit "el lobo" en Espagne, dont une interview exceptionnelle est accessible en espagnol ici).

Le rapport est accessible ici. Voici quelques extraits:

"Il n'est en effet pas rare que des démocraties engagées dans des conflits asymétriques se retrouvent confrontées à des scandales liés à l'utilisation de moyens de terreur. La « gégène » et les « corvées de bois » restent présentes dans les mémoires collectives algérienne et française, près d'un demi siècle après les événements. Les images d'Abu Ghraïb ne seront pas oubliées de sitôt."
"Quand la contre-insurrection n’a pas les moyens d’assurer la sécurité des civils face aux actions des insurgés, elle peut être tentée de « sur-terroriser » la population. A ce moment-là, il ne s’agit plus seulement de « terroriser les terroristes » mais de terroriser également les civils pour que le coût de leur soutien à l’insurrection (et même de leur neutralité) devienne supérieur à celui de leur adhésion à la contre-insurrection. La logique de responsabilité collective est ici portée à son apogée : toute personne ne coopérant pas avec les forces chargées de lutter contre les terroristes pourra elle-même être considérée comme indirectement responsable des actions commises par ces derniers. Les arrestations arbitraires deviennent monnaie courante et les individus arrêtés sont traités comme s’ils coopéraient avec les terroristes."
"Si l’effet recherché par l’exercice de la « sur-terreur » est de faire en sorte que les combattants aient trop peur pour poursuivre la lutte et que les civils soient terrifiés à l’idée de rejoindre l’insurrection, les sévices entraînent exactement l’effet opposé. Chez certains activistes, le sentiment d’humiliation peut semble-t-il conduire à une radicalisation puis au passage à l’acte."
"Toute démocratie tentée par la généralisation et la systématisation de méthodes de terreur parviendra peut-être à des résultats tactiques mais risque fort d’hypothéquer ses chances au niveau stratégique."

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dimanche 4 mai 2008

Revue de Presse (28 avril - 4 mai 2008)

États-Unis: "La torture autorisée contre le terrorisme" (L'actualité internationale 24H/24) - Selon la presse américaine, l'administration Bush ne se prive d'aucune méthode pour lutter contre le terrorisme, et affirme que les agents du renseignement peuvent recourir à des méthodes d'interrogatoire interdites par les lois internationales.

: "Les services israéliens craignent un important attentat" (AP) -
Le commandant des services de renseignement militaires israéliens a averti mardi que des militants palestiniens tenteraient de mener une attaque terroriste de grande envergure contre les cérémonies du 60e anniversaire de la création de l'État hébreu le mois prochain.

: "Menaces sur la France et l'Espagne" (L'Express) - Une organisation indépendantiste clandestine du Pays basque français, Irrintzi, menace de multiplier les "actions armées" en France et en Espagne pour imposer une "négociation" aux autorités des deux pays.

Terrorisme: "Al-Qaïda a en partie reconstitué ses forces, selon le département d'État américain" (Le Monde) - Près de sept ans après les attentats du 11-Septembre, Al-Qaïda a en partie reconstitué ses moyens d'action et demeure la menace terroriste la plus importante pour les États-Unis et ses alliés, estime le département d'État dans son rapport annuel, publié mercredi 30 avril. Le terrorisme aurait fait 22 000 victimes à travers le monde en 2007, en progression de 8 % sur un an.

Afghanistan: "Selon Kaboul, Al Qaïda est derrière l'attentat contre Karzaï" (Reuters) -L'organisation Al Qaïda au Pakistan est derrière l'attentat qui a visé la semaine dernière le président afghan Hamid Karzaï à Kaboul, affirme le chef des services de renseignement afghans, Amrullah Saleh.

Afghanistan: "Terrorisme: Kaboul exhorte Islamabad à empêcher les talibans d'utiliser le territoire pakistanais" (RIA Novosti) - L'Afghanistan veut vivre en paix et bon voisinage avec le Pakistan et tient à ce que le territoire de cet État voisin ne soit pas utilisé par terroristes et commandos talibans, lit-on samedi dans une déclaration du porte-parole du ministère afghan de la Défense, le général Mohammad Zahir Azimi.

Iran/Liban: "Report: Iran building communications system for Hizbullah" (ynetnews.com) - Lebanese Communications Minister Marwan Hamada accuses Iran of building communications network for Hizbullah with separate landlines across Lebanon; to allow tapping, protect Hizbullah from being tapped.

Somalie: "Le Pentagone a mené un raid contre un haut responsable d'Al-Qaïda en Somalie" (AFP) - L'armée américaine a mené tôt jeudi une attaque aérienne contre le réseau terroriste Al-Qaïda en Somalie, qui a coûté la vie à au moins 12 personnes, dont, selon des sources concordantes, un haut responsable d'Al-Qaïda dans ce pays de la Corne de l'Afrique.

: "Un attentat contre une mosquée fait 18 morts et 45 blessés au Yémen" (AFP) - Au moins 18 personnes, en majorité des soldats, ont été tuées vendredi dans un attentat à l'entrée d'une mosquée de Saada (nord-ouest), que l'armée yéménite a imputé à la rébellion chiite active dans cette région.

: "Drugs for guns: how the Afghan heroin trade is fuelling the Taliban insurgency" (The Independent) - The heroin flooding Britain's streets is threatening the lives of UK troops in Afghanistan, an Independent investigation can reveal. Russian gangsters who smuggle drugs into Britain are buying cheap heroin from Afghanistan and paying for it with guns. Smugglers told The Independent how Russian arms dealers meet Taliban drug lords at a bazaar near the old Afghan-Soviet border, deep in Tajikistan's desert. The bazaar exists solely to trade Afghan drugs for Russian guns – and sometimes a bit of sex on the side.

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Glissement de Pôle Tactique en Afghanistan

Un article paru dans le dernier numéro de l'Economist indique un glissement tactique de la part des Taliban en Afghanistan. Selon l'hebdomadaire britannique, le nombre d'actes de terrorisme a augmenté en comparaison aux actes de guérilla. Cela semble confirmer l'idée de "dynamique insurrectionnelle" dont j'ai déjà parler dans ce blog et qui sera davantage développée dans un article que j'ai écrit avec Stéphane Taillat, à paraître dans un prochain numéro de Défense et Sécurité Internationale.

Concernant la récente tentative d'attentat contre le président afghan Hamid Karzaï, je recommende la lecture de cet article de John Mackinley (du King's College) et la réponse de Nick Walton (de la BBC) sur l'objectif de "propagande" de cette attaque.

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Nouvelles Ressources

Un petit mot pour signaler une nouvelle ressource très intéressante: La base de donnée "Human Security Gateway". Bon, c'est pas entièrement neuf, mais je commence tout doucement à l'utiliser et à l'apprécier. HSG recense un grand nombre d'articles (mais pas tous) classés dans divers catégories. Pour l'intérêt des lecteurs du Front Asymétrique, il y a une catégorie Terrorisme. Le lien est ici. On notera que mon dernier article figure en haut de liste ;))

Aussi, certains auront déjà remarqué que la Terrorism Knowledge Database (TKB) mise en ligne par MIPT a cessé ses activités le 1 avril. La TKB était LA base de données sur le terrorisme. MIPT renvoie désormais ses visiteurs vers la Global Terrorism Database (GTD) mise en ligne par l'Université du Maryland. La GTD est donc destinée à devenir LA base de données sur le terrorisme. Elle présente de nombreux avantages par rapport à la TKB (prétendument exhaustive, méthode d'analyse systématique, analyses graphiques disponibles, grand nombre de recherches variées possibles...), mais doit encore, selon moi, améliorer son graphisme et rendre son moteur de recherche plus "user-friendly".
Je suis très heureux que la GTD devienne la référence dans le domaine étant donné que j'ai contribué à son élaboration en 2006-07 lorsque je travaillais au Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies. Donc, lors de vos recherches dans la base de données, certains accèderont des informations produites par...moi ;))

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jeudi 1 mai 2008

Rapport du State Department 2007

Le Département d'Etat américain a publié mercredi son rapport annuel sur le terrorisme, disponible ici. Chaque année, le rapport est très attendu puisqu'il s'agit d'un des seuls documents qui traite des tendances annuelles du terrorisme à travers le monde (le rapport offre des analyses pays par pays). En outre, le rapport fait oeuvre d'autorité en matière de savoir quels groupes sont considérés comme terroristes par les Etats-Unis.

En 2007, le nombre global d'attaques a diminué, mais le nombre de victimes, par contre, s'est accru de 8 pourcent (22.000 victimes). Le rapport précise qu'al-Qaïda constitute toujours la principale menace contre la sécurité américaine. En outre, selon le rapport, le groupe de Ben Laden aurait reconstitué certaines capacités pré-9/11, même si dans l'ensemble le groupe demeure plus fragile qu'avant les attentats du 11 septembre. Au sein du groupe, al-Zawahiri aurait émergé comme le leader stratégique et opérationnel, alors que Ben Laden serait davantage une figure emblématique, selon le rapport. Enfin, le rapport identifie l'Iran comme le principal "sponsor" du terrorisme.

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Nouvelle Publication: Les Tendances Terroristes en Europe

Je suis fier de vous annoncer ma première publication dans le journal Terrorism Monitor, qui est publié par la Jamestown Foundation (comme Terrorism Focus avec lequel je collabore déjà depuis plusieurs mois). Mon article analyse les principales tendances du terrorisme en Europe mises à jour par le récent rapport Europol. J'avais déjà publié mes principales conclusions ici. Comme quoi la lecture de ce blog vous place aux avant-postes de la littérature contre-terroriste! ;)

Europol Reveals Trends in Jihadi Terrorism in Europe
By Thomas Renard

Terrorist activities in Europe increased dramatically in 2007, according to the annual report published by Europol, the European Union’s criminal intelligence agency [1]. Terrorists carried out—or attempted to carry out—583 attacks last year, a 24 percent increase from the previous year. Accompanying this increase in terrorist activities was an increase in counter-terrorist operations: 1,044 individuals were arrested for terrorism-related offenses, a 48 percent increase compared to 2006.

Most terrorist attacks were claimed or attributed to separatist groups in the Basque country, Spain (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, or ETA), or in Corsica, France (Fronte di Liberazione Naziunale di a Corsica, or FLNC). ETA and FLNC were responsible for 517 attacks, constituting 88 percent of all terrorist actions. Arrests among separatist groups were also responsible for the large increase in arrests in the European Union (EU) in 2007. Spain saw a seven-fold increase in arrested suspects compared to 2006, while France registered a 68 percent increase. In total, arrests among separatist groups represented more than half of the total arrests.

Islamist terrorism was statistically much less significant. Only four attacks were recorded: Two failed bombings in the United Kingdom (the Glasgow attacks), and two foiled plots in Germany (the Sauerland cell) and Denmark (the Glasvej case). The number of arrests could indicate a general decrease in jihadi activities. Indeed, EU police forces arrested 201 jihadi suspects, 56 fewer than in 2006. However, it should be mentioned that these numbers do not include arrests in Great Britain, which refuses to communicate precise statistics, although Britain did indicate a 30 percent increase in jihadi arrests. Including the British data could result in an increase of the arrests between 2006 and 2007.

Despite the comparatively low number of attacks, Islamist terrorism is still perceived as the main threat to European security. The reason for this assessment cannot be measured in number of attacks or arrests; it is an estimate of potential damages. “Most investigations into failed and foiled Islamist terrorist attacks in the EU in 2007 showed that Islamist terrorists continue to aim at causing indiscriminate mass casualties,” claims the report. “This is not only observed in the choice of targets but also in the methods and explosives used.”

Several European countries are currently—or were until very recently—at a very high level of terrorism alert. This was the case, for instance, in France, the UK, Spain and Belgium. On April 22, Gerard Bouman, head of the Algemene Inlichtingen-en Veilgheidsdienst (AIVD—Dutch domestic intelligence), confirmed that the threat of jihadi terrorism is growing in the Netherlands [2], especially since the release of the Islamophobic movie “Fitna” by Dutch extreme-right politician Geert Wilders (AP, April 22).

The Europol report underscores several interesting trends in Islamist terrorism in Europe:

• First, “although the majority of all arrested suspects for Islamist terrorism continue to be North African citizens, the member states reported a high number of arrested suspects with the nationality of the country of arrest.” This seems to confirm a growing threat of homegrown terrorism that has been observed for several years.

• Second, this increase in homegrown terrorists is partly the result of an increase in quantity and a “new quality” in jihadi propaganda in Europe (see Terrorism Focus, February 20). It is now widely recognized that propaganda on the internet has a central importance in recruitment. Hence, some recent developments appear particularly worrisome. For instance, al-Qaeda’s media arm, al-Sahab, now offers English subtitles or translations. In order to target some specific audiences, certain jihadi websites have recently decided to translate jihadi material into other languages, such as German, despite some apparent difficulties in using the language correctly (Die Welt, February 8). Similarly, the website al-Ikhlas recently launched two new forums in French and Italian [3].

Recruitment constitutes an important part of jihadi activities in Europe and arrests related to this activity have increased. The observed developments in propaganda and recruitment suggest that al-Qaeda is taking roots in Europe and could potentially become stronger in the near future. On April 18, European ministers of justice reached agreement on a law that would condemn, among other things, online propaganda and recruitment (AFP, April 18). This new law—which must still be approved by the European Parliament—should facilitate EU cooperation with internet providers and, eventually, allow the identification of cyber-terrorists. According to Gilles de Kerchove d’Ousselghem, the EU counter-terrorism coordinator, there are approximately 5,000 jihadi websites that contribute to the radicalization of European youth.

• Third, propaganda and recruitment serve multiple purposes. Some would-be jihadis are recruited by local cells to carry out operations in their own countries. Some are “self-recruited” through the media, and constitute a “new generation” of terrorists [4]. Some limit their support to financing terrorism. Others, finally, decide to join the jihad abroad, in Iraq—which remains the main destination for European fighters—in Afghanistan, or, increasingly (according to French intelligence), in Somalia.

• Fourth, the remaining core leadership of al-Qaeda in Pakistan still largely commands, controls and inspires jihadi terrorists in Europe. Europol, however, recognizes the rising importance of groups isolated—or more autonomous—from al-Qaeda’s core leadership, and their potential threat to European security. “This expansion of the ‘al-Qaeda franchise’ has the potential to constitute a threat to the EU’s security,” claims the report. “It could provide al-Qaeda with access to new centers of support which it can motivate and exploit.”

• Fifth, the report emphasizes the strategic importance of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan for European security. Should the situation in Iraq improve or the war terminate, Iraqi fighters—European or not—could relocate to other places and continue to wage jihad. Former Iraqi fighters could, for instance, carry out operations in Europe, establish new cells, or teach their know-how to young, would-be terrorists. In other words, there is a risk that the Iraqi generation will follow a similar path to the 1980s Afghan generation.

The problem with Afghanistan and Pakistan is more imminent. European citizens receive training in Pakistani tribal areas camps, either to go fight in Afghanistan, or to bring jihad back to Europe. “Al-Qaeda and affiliated pro-Taliban groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan are increasingly recognized as one of the main drivers of Islamist extremism and terrorism in the EU,” says the report. This statement underscores the European dilemma in facing terrorism. On one hand, EU members recognize that their domestic security is related to the evolution of the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. On the other hand, however, they refuse a greater commitment in those regions for various other reasons, including electoral concerns.

Finally, a last interesting trend relative to Islamist terrorism in Europe concerns judicial sentences. In 2007, one-third of jihadi terrorist suspects were acquitted, while only one-fifth of separatist terrorists were discharged. This seems to indicate two things. First, the strong emphasis on Islamist terrorism by security services has led to a certain “paranoia” and abusive arrests that could ultimately hurt European efforts in countering radicalization. However, it should also be emphasized that some individuals were acquitted due to a lack of evidence, but could still be related to terrorism. Second, the better records in jailing separatist terrorists prove that European intelligence agencies have a greater knowledge of separatist groups and more effective strategies to counter them than is the case with Islamist terrorism.

Although a large part of the Europol report is dedicated to Islamist terrorism, it also includes other chapters on separatist terrorism, left-wing terrorism, extreme-right terrorism, and single-issue terrorism. Four points concerning those other forms of terrorism are worth a quick highlight:

• Attacks by separatist groups continue to overwhelmingly outnumber any other form of terrorism.
• ETA activities remain largely based in Spain, with logistical support in France. However, Portugal noticed an increase of Basque activities within its borders.
• ETA is starting to use propaganda videos in order to recruit among youth. This confirms that terrorist groups copy successful strategies developed by other groups, in this case al-Qaeda’s model.
• Extreme-left terrorism is regionally in decline. However, these activities increased in Italy. Moreover, French Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie declared recently that left-wing groups constitute a resurgent threat to domestic security (AFP, February 10).

Looking at the number of attacks, separatist groups are more active than jihadi terrorists. However, jihadi groups are still perceived as the main threat to European security due to their potential for damage. Moreover, it appears that the Islamist threat is growing. Al-Qaeda is taking roots in Europe, seducing an increasing number of EU citizens, although the influence of the core leadership remains important. In terms of counter-terrorist strategies, the EU as a whole—as well as EU members individually—are taking some steps to increase their efficiency. Nevertheless, they are still better at fighting separatist movements than at countering jihad.


1. “TE-SAT 2008 – EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report,” Europol, April 2008.
2. “Jaarverslag AIVD 2007,” Algemene Inlichtingen-en Veiligheidsdienst, April 2008.
3. “Islamist Website Al-Ikhlas Launches French, Italian Forums,” MEMRI Islamist Websites Monitor Project, April 4, 2008.
4. Marc Sageman, “The Next Generation of Terror,” Foreign Policy, March/April 2008.

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