INSCT Staff Members to Present at NAAIMS Conference

Director of Research Corri Zoli and Faculty Member Isaac Kfir will represent INSCT at the  North American Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies (NAAIMS) 44th Annual Conference at Brown University on Sept. 19, 2015. The theme of this year’s conference is “Sectarianism in Islam and Muslim Communities.”

Zoli and Kfir will be featured on Panel 3 of the one-day conference, “Contemporary Militant Sectarianism.” Kfir will present his paper “Human (In)Security and Social Identity Group: The Case of Jihadi Terrorism in Africa,” while Zoli will act as a Discussant. The panel will be chaired by Maria Massi Dakake of George Mason University.

More information can be found at

Why Did the Taliban Go to Tehran?

Taliban_FightersBy Farhad Peikar

(Re-published from The Guardian, May 22, 2015) Reports of an official Taliban delegation’s clandestine visit to Iran this week raised eyebrows in both Kabul and Tehran: why would Iran, a Shia powerhouse involved in proxy wars with several Sunni states and sectarian groups in the Middle East, host a radical Sunni militant group on its soil?

The two erstwhile foes once came to the brink of a full-blown war against each other. However, when it comes to regional politicking the two have found much in common, including their fear of the spread of the Islamic State influence in the region.

In 1998, Tehran deployed more than 70,000 forces along the Afghan border in a clear show of military might and threatened to invade Afghanistan and avenge the deaths of at least eight Iranian diplomats at the hands of Taliban in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif that year. Iranian generals predicted they would topple the Taliban regime within 24 hours, but the situation was defused when the United Nations interfered.

Then, when the US-led coalition forces ousted the Taliban in late 2001 for harboring Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of attacks on 11 September 2001, Iran tacitly supported the operation.

However, more than a decade later, the two archrivals seem to be willing to coexist in the face of the growing threat posed by Isis. This dovetails with another shared goal: pushing the United States and its western allies out of Afghanistan.

While Tehran may not wish to see a return of a Taliban government on its eastern border, Iranian officials would not have a problem seeing the Taliban becoming part of the current western-backed Kabul administration through a much-awaited reconciliation …

To read the full article, click here

Farhad Peikar (MPA/MAIR ’13)—a graduate of INSCT’s CAS in Security Studies program—is a former Afghanistan bureau chief for Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA).

Armed Conflict & Compliance in Muslim States, 1947–2014: Does Conflict Look Different Under IHL?

By Corri Zoli, Emily Schneider, & Courtney Schuster*

(Re-published from the North Carolina Journal of International Law & Commercial Regulation, 40:3 (Spring 2015))

We shall not enter into any of the abstruse definitions of War used by publicists.1

One of the central challenges confronting international relations today is that we do not really know what is a war and what is not. The consequences of our confusion would seem absurd, were they not so profoundly dangerous.2

If one asks what may cause war, the simple answer is ‘anything.’3

Regions with large Muslim populations in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa are no strangers to conflict and warfare, including protracted strife.4 Yet, remarkably few datasets have focused on Muslim states in their conflict behavior, and even fewer studies in the now expansive field of quantitative conflict research have examined the role of state compliance with the international law regulating armed conflict (international humanitarian law) as a variable in such conflict behavior. The slim inquiry on Muslim state conflict and compliance behavior contrasts with otherwise intensive study of closely related subjects: political violence in Muslim societies, democracy deficits in the Arab world, political Islam and stability, Arab resource and development dynamics, ethnic identity and religion in civil war, and so forth.

Addressing this paradox raises intriguing questions at the intersection of international relations, public international law, and security studies, and injects an empirical baseline for assessing now commonplace claims that Muslim-dominated areas disproportionately experience conflict, political violence,lawlessness, and instability. Recent political upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have only increased the need to examine such patterns rigorously and in ways that add emergent variables—such as law and compliance—to the existing literature.5

Likewise, cross-national inquiry on Muslim inter- and intra-state conflict dynamics may help to identify important related developments, such as the effects of compliance on post conflict stability and the rise of irregular armed groups with a Muslim state locus (i.e., as a safe haven, conflict zone, or training site).6 Toward these ends, the article introduces a new Muslim State Armed Conflict & Compliance (MSACC) dataset7 that provides an overview of modern armed conflict and international law compliance behavior for all Muslim states from 1947-2014.8

The MSACC dataset tracks each modern Muslim state, defined by voluntary state membership in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC),9 in both its armed conflict history and compliance record with international humanitarian law (IHL), and the universal international regime governing conduct of hostilities during armed conflict.10 The dataset encompasses all international (IAC) and non-international (NIAC) armed conflicts as defined by IHL in which a Muslim state acts as a major belligerent party.11

In using an IHL-based definition of armed conflict, the dataset is distinctive in several ways. First, it relies upon a legal, instead of a political–sociological (i.e., battle deaths) framework for understanding and defining armed conflict. Second, it disaggregates the complex contemporary conflict spectrum into two streamlined types, international and non-international conflicts, as required by respective threshold triggers under IHL. Third, it focuses holistically on self-identified Muslim states in their actual conflict and compliance behavior, rather than on variables of presumed importance (i.e., regime attributes and other proxies). Finally, it correlates conflict and IHL compliance data in ways that offer new insights into traditional problems of conflict and war. By utilizing this data, one can examine Muslim state conflict trends, including by region, time period, and conflict type (i.e., IAC or NIAC), and provide baseline data for Muslim states that may be correlated with other data (e.g., development reports, security expenditures, human rights).

In what follows, we introduce the data, its IHL-based assumptions, and discuss resulting differences from extant datasets. By using bivariate analyses, we then demonstrate spatial and temporal patterns in the conflict behavior for Muslim states, and, finally, conclude with a discussion of future research on the subject …

To read the entire article, click here.


*Corri Zoli is the Director of Research at INSCT. Emily Schneider (LAW ’13) is a research associate at New America and Courtney Schuster (LAW ’13) is a research assistant with INSCT.

1 CARL VON CLAUSEWITZ, On War, in THREE VOLUMES 1, 1-2 (1918).

2 Hew Strachan, Chichele Professor of the History of War, All Souls’ College, Oxford, The Changing Character of War: A European Lecture Delivered at the Graduate Inst. of Int’l Relations 2 (Nov. 9, 2006).

3 Kenneth Waltz, Structural Realism after the Cold War, 25 INT’L SEC. 5, 8 (2000).

4 Monica Duffy Toft, Getting Religion? The Puzzling Case of Islam and Civil War, 31 INT’L SEC. 97 (2007); see Jonathan Fox, Are Middle East Conflicts More Religious?, MIDDLE EAST Q. 31 (Oct. 2014) (explaining how conflict in Muslim populated countries tend to be more religiously charged); MOHAMMED M. HAFEZ, WHY MUSLIMS REBEL: REPRESSION AND RESISTANCE IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD (2003); see also Andrej Tusicisny, Civilizational Conflicts: More Frequent, Longer, and Bloodier?, 41 J. PEACE RES. 485 (2004) (discussing the higher likelihood of escalation of conflicts among different civilizations than conflicts within a single civilization).

5 See Int’l Inst. for Democracy and Electoral Assistance [IDEA], An Energy-Rich Region of Increasingly Energized Citizens: The Interplay Between Democracy, Politics, and Energy in the Shadow of Political Upheaval in the MENA Region (June 28, 2012) (ONS Summit) (discussing the political and economic reform MENA region is recently undergoing due to issues involving armed conflict and democracy).

6 Christopher Blattman & Edward Miguel, Civil War, 48 J. ECON. LITERATURE 3 (2010) (explaining in abstract that cross-national studies will benefit our understanding of war and its causes).

7 C. Zoli, E. Schneider & C. Schuster, Muslim State Armed Conflict & Compliance Dataset (MSACC) 1947-2014, 2012, Distributed by Syracuse University, Institute for National Security & Counterterrorism (INSCT), College of Law/Maxwell School of Public Affairs,

8 We define “Muslim state” by membership in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the intergovernmental organization of 57 members, including Palestine, with permanent U.N. delegation status (we exclude Palestine as it is not recognized by the U.N. as a state). See Member States, ORG. OF ISLAMIC COOPERATION, (last visited Oct. 28, 2014) [hereinafter OIC Member States] (enumerating member OIC states). State membership in the OIC is fluid so we determined membership as of 2010, when we began our research. Since then, Bosnia was added to the OIC in April 2013 and Syria was suspended in August 2012. Established in 1969, OIC defines itself as “the collective voice of the Muslim world” designed to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.” We use this framework for two reasons. First, OIC member states are inclusive of the traditional 47 Muslim population-majority states in which the population is at least 50.1 percent Muslim—with the exception of Muslim-majority state Kosovo, which is not an OIC member. In addition to the traditional 47 Muslim-majority states (minus Kosovo), we include the additional 11 OIC countries without a simple Muslim-majority population, largely in Africa: Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Suriname, Togo, and Uganda. Notably, countries with sizeable Muslim populations, India, China, and Russia (though Russia is an OIC observer state since 2005) are not members of OIC, either because they have been blocked (India), or do not see the benefits of identifying as a “Muslim state” for purposes of national identity or intraregional politics. Second, we use this more expansive definition of “Muslim state” to take into account state’s self-identification, as all OIC member states adopt a Muslim state identity, whether for religious, sociocultural, national, economic, and/or policy reasons, including regional balance of power issues. OIC has thus come to project, as per OIC Charter Article II(a)(b), a regional policy agenda expressly affiliated with Muslim states and Muslim notions of governance, particularly for the audience of the international community. This policy projection creates some sense of common purpose among diverse OIC member states, with respect to regional and international issues. See Gairuzazmi Ghani, Does OIC Membership Reduce Trade?, 28 J. ECON. COOPERATION 39, 41-43 (2007) (discussing the background of Muslim-states and incidences of conflict); PEW RES. CENTER’S F. ON RELIGION & PUB. LIFE, (last visited Aug. 12, 2013).

9 OIC Member States, supra note 8 (listing the fifty seven member states of OIC).


11 See generally Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts Project, GENEVA ACADEMY INT’L HUMANITARIAN L. & HUM. RTS., (last visited Oct. 16, 2013) (reporting on every concerned State and disputed territory in the world through the use of a global database to support the application and implementation of international law in armed conflict).

Ten Recommendations for Obama’s CVE Summit

Syria_and_Iraq_2014_mapBy Corri Zoli & Emily Schneider

(Re-published from Foreign Policy, Feb. 18, 2015) In light of recent attacks in Ottawa, Sydney, Paris — and now Copenhagen  — President Obama announced a White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) that begins on February 18 to discuss U.S. and international efforts to prevent violent extremists and would-be supporters from “radicalizing, recruiting, or inspiring individuals or groups to commit acts of violence.” The White House has said the summit will build on current White House strategy. However, the White House would be wise to keep in mind these ten recommendations derived from the field of international security studies:

Convene international religious scholars at the Grand Mufti level to issue public statements that specifically identify what counts as Islamist extremism, how their own respective traditions and norms are different, and what we should do about rising extremism in our communities.

[pullquoteright]Too much of the public discussion on extremism, terrorism, and nonstate political violence is unsubstantiated—based on little or limited data.”[/pullquoteright]It’s time to move beyond the “Islam/not-Islam” dichotomy when it comes to extremist violence and realize that one key, authoritative counter-narrative against Islamist forms of extremism must come from religious authorities. As we have learned in our own recent visit to the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh at the invitation of Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, for our preparatory workshop, The Role of Shari’a and Islamic Laws of War in Contemporary Conflict, religious authorities in most Muslim-majority states are critical of any form of Islamic extremism, including groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Muslim societies are on the frontline of these acts of violence, and local communities are the victims.

Relatedly, religious authorities must make clear the distinction between religious conservatism, which is pronounced throughout many Arab and Muslim communities including in the West, and extremist precepts, practices, and organizations. Right now, Muslim religious authorities, even highly conservative ones, are rightfully concerned as they know (better than most) that their own publics are vulnerable to these ideologies and their destructive dynamics. Likewise, as recent Pew “Global Attitudes” surveys indicate, Muslim publics are increasingly concerned about extremism and their supporters.

Get your facts straight.

Too much of the public discussion on extremism, terrorism, and nonstate political violence is unsubstantiated — based on little or limited data. The limits of good data in academic terrorism studies is the subject of a recent debate in the Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence and Marc Sageman’s “The Stagnation in Terrorism Research.”  Despite hefty government R&D funding, a deluge of academic newcomers, and no shortage of scholarly books and articles, we are no closer to building rigorous datasets to help answer basic questions, like: “What makes a person turn to political violence?” Or  “When and why is terrorist violence used as a preferred political tactic?” Although, some studies have tried to answer these questions, they are now outdated and the uptick in foreign fighters joining conflicts like those in Iraq and Syria deserves fresh attention.

Without an evidentiary baseline, false assumptions and notions take precedence, such as the idea that poverty causes terrorism — it doesn’t.  Given such concerns and building on the University of Maryland’s START data, and spin off data projects from the quantitative armed conflict literature, the U.S. government should fund more data scholarship, support more robust academic partnerships, and release more data for empirical study …

To read the complete article, click here

Corri Zoli is INSCT’s Director of Research/Research Assistant Professor. Emily Schneider (LAW ’13) is a Research Associate at New America and a 2013 INSCT graduate.

Violence in the Name of Religion: The Jewish Perspective on the Crisis of ISIS

(L to R) Professor Miriam F. Elman of SU’s Maxwell School;  Tanweer Haq, former Islamic Chaplain, SU Hendricks Chapel; and Fr. Linus DeSantis, Alibrandi Catholic Center, at the Abraham’s Table Discussion at Interfaith Works, Syracuse, NY on Feb. 10, 2015.
(L to R) Professor Miriam F. Elman of SU’s Maxwell School;  Fr. Linus DeSantis, Alibrandi Catholic Center; and Tanweer Haq, former Islamic Chaplain, SU Hendricks Chapel, at the Abraham’s Table Discussion at InterFaith Works, Syracuse, NY on Feb. 10, 2015.

By Miriam F. Elman

(Remarks made on Feb. 10, 2015 at an Abraham’s Table Discussion, InterFaith Works, Syracuse, NY) In preparing my remarks for tonight, I’ve thought a lot about the crisis of ISIS (also called ISIL, the Islamic State, or Daesh—as it’s known in Arabic).

But I’ve also thought a great deal about the courageous men and women who refuse to be intimidated into silence and, often at great risk to themselves and to their families, are standing up for a different Islam—one that can co-exist with the fundamental human rights of liberty, freedom, pluralism, and the rights of women, of the child, and of all religious minorities.

And so, I’m left asking myself: am I doing enough to help these brave men and women? Or am I just free-riding on their hard work? What is my responsibility—as a Jew, as an American, and as a human being? I’d like to make four general points.

First, what we are witnessing today is a global crisis of much larger proportions than just ISIS.

ISIS is currently a grave threat to the Middle East region. But my own view is that, just like Al Qaeda’s reign of terror in Iraq eventually ended, so too we will see the demise of ISIS. It too will overstep; it too will exact such a high cost on society that people will rise up against it.

ISIS will come and go, but its ideology is a mass brand that will outlast its demise. It would be a relief if we only had to worry about a handful of jihadists involved in terrorism. But it’s time that we stopped living in denial. The first step to defeating Islamic radicalism is acknowledging that there is a problem.

My second point is that we need to recognize that this crisis is not just about religion.

ISIS and other radical Islamist groups view jihad as a religious duty. But it’s important to realize that, even within the writings of the Salafists, the justification for deliberate attacks on civilians, especially those living in democracies, is quite recent.

So today’s radical Islamism represents an unprecedented re-interpretation of jihad. But the current crisis of is also about money and power, and marketing a message.

We need to do a better job of countering these powerful messages. But we shouldn’t bother trying to out-Twitter the radicals.

Instead, we should promote a counter-narrative through community-based programs that involve parents, teachers, religious, and community leaders working in groups and one-on-one to move potential killers toward non-violence.

My third point is that unless we empower moderate Muslims to address underlying grievances—the factors that gave rise to ISIS in the first place—we will soon face another permutation of ISIS.

Radical Islam in the Middle East and North Africa won’t be defeated unless the underlying drivers of conflict are confronted: non-representative governments, under-development, and the increasing negative impacts of climate change. But to do that, we’re going to have to give moderate Muslims the help that they desperately need. As Lee Smith of the Hudson Institute recently notes, rhetorical support by the White House and other Western policymakers is just cheap talk that leaves the field free to extremists.

My final point is that we have to stop blaming ourselves for radical Islam.

The notion that radical Islamist attacks are a reaction to provocations from the West is not only patently false, but also plays into the hands of extremists whose ideological underpinnings rest on the claim that Judeo-Christianity represses Islam. Instead of violent extremism being the West’s fault, terrorism is triggered by a particular framing of contemporary Muslim life as a combination of humiliations at home and militaristic policies abroad.

To conclude, I’d like to offer some remarks on violence in the name of religion from the Jewish perspective.

The Torah tells us that when Adam and Eve went against the Lord G-d’s command and ate from the Tree of Knowledge, Hashem called out to Adam and said: “Where are you?” Of course, as Rashi, the great medieval Torah commentator, tells us: G-d knows everything and knew exactly where Adam was. But He was giving Adam the chance to explain, to take responsibility, to speak up. The Rabbis of the Gemara teach a similar message: “Silence is agreement.”

Yet the world, too often during attacks on Jews, is silent. This is the Jewish perspective.

For Elman’s full remarks, click here.

Rise of the Female Jihadists

Female_JihadistBy Peter Bergen & Emily Schneider (LAW ’14)

(Re-printed from CNN, Jan. 10, 2015) The hunt is on for Hayat Boumeddiene, the 26-year-old woman wanted over Thursday’s fatal shooting of a French policewoman. Early reports suggested she might have escaped Friday from a kosher grocery store in eastern Paris as French authorities mounted a rescue operation to free hostages being held there by Amedy Coulibaly, believed to be her boyfriend. However, CNN reports that no witness has publicly said the woman was actually at the scene of the siege, and now sources are saying she left France before the attack on the policewoman.

[pullquoteright]In many cases, these Western women are often going to Syria with the fantasy that there they will be able to marry the jihadist militant of their dreams.[/pullquoteright]Boumeddiene is believed to have left France for Turkey around January 2 with the final destination of Syria, according to French and Turkish sources.

Regardless, photographs of Boumeddiene published by Le Monde show her shooting what appears to be a crossbow in an all-enveloping black niqab. At first glance, this might appear puzzling. After all, jihadist militant organizations support Taliban-style rule, which allows women only a role at home.

However, we have seen a number of women from the West, including American citizens, taking an operational role in jihadist terrorist plots, including Colleen LaRose, a Caucasian-American 46-year-old from Pennsylvania, known as “Jihad Jane,” who traveled to Europe in 2009 to scope out an attack on Lars Vilks, a Swedish artist who had drawn a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed’s head on the body of a dog. 

European women have also played an operational role in jihadist terrorism. Muriel Degauque, a 38-year-old Belgian woman, died when she committed a suicide bombing in Iraq in 2005. And on May 14, 2010, Roshonara Choudhry, a 21-year-old British woman, stabbed Stephen Timms, her local member of Parliament, for his vote in support of the Iraq War. Timms survived the attack.

And there is also 31-year-old British citizen Samantha Lewthwaite, who is, according to Interpol, “wanted by Kenya on charges of being in possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony dating back to December 2011.” The Kenyans believe she was part of a terrorist cell that was planning to carry out an attack in Kenya. Lewthwaite is the widow of one of the suicide attackers who set off bombs on London’s transportation system on July 7, 2005, killing 52 commuters.

All this underscores that the phenomenon of females joining the jihad has become far more common in the past four years, fueled by the Syrian war, which is drawing an unprecedented number of foreign militants from around the globe, including from the West.

According to data collected by New America, based on media reports and court documents, of the 455 individuals who have been publicly identified from around the world who have traveled or were arrested while attempting to travel to Syria to fight with a terrorist organization, 36 were women from the West. That’s 8%. And their average age is, astonishingly, only 18 years.

They hail from countries from around the West: Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Britain and the United States. And in many cases, these Western women are often going to Syria with the fantasy that there they will be able to marry the jihadist militant of their dreams …

For the complete article and video, click here

Peter Bergen is CNN’s National Security Analyst, Vice President at New America Foundation, and Professor of Practice at Arizona State University. He is the author ofManhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden—From 9/11 to Abbottabad. Emily Schneider (LAW ’13) is a Research Associate at New America and a 2013 INSCT graduate.

How the Kouachi Brothers Turned to Terrorism

Je_suis_CharlieBy Peter Bergen & Emily Schneider (LAW ’14)

(Re-printed from CNN, Jan. 9, 2015) Said and Cherif Kouachi, who are the leading suspects in Wednesday’s attack on the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, grew up in a world of poor job prospects, life in the French equivalent of the projects and prison time that is not untypical for the French “underclass,” which is disproportionately Muslim.

On Friday, the two brothers were killed in a shootout with police, achieving their goal of a supposedly heroic “martyrdom.” Before they died, one of the brothers spoke on the phone to a journalist from the French news network BFM saying, “We are just telling you that we are the defenders of Prophet Mohammed. I was sent, me, Cherif Kouachi, by al Qaeda in Yemen. I went there and Sheikh Anwar Al-Awlaki financed my trip… before he was killed.”

Anwar al-Awlaki was a Yemeni American cleric born in New Mexico who spent much of his life in his native United States, but he left in 2002 when he became the subject of intense FBI scrutiny. He traveled first to the United Kingdom and then to Yemen, where he joined al Qaeda, eventually rising to become the head of its operations to target the West.

Al-Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in September 2011.

Cherif Kouachi, the younger of the brothers had dreams of being a successful rapper that fizzled and later worked in a series of menial jobs, including as a pizza delivery guy. He fell under the spell of a militant cleric in the 19th arrondissement, a gritty immigrant-dominated suburb of northeastern Paris that has little in common with the glamorous French capital city that is known to tourists.

He was arrested by French authorities in 2005 when he was about to leave to fight in Iraq.

He planned to travel to Iraq via Syria. This appears to be quite significant as the pipeline of Western “foreign fighters” traveling to Syria and then to Iraq during this time period was dominated by “al Qaeda in Iraq,” which was a precursor both of the Nusra Front, which is al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, and also of ISIS, which broke away from al Qaeda early last year.

He was sentenced to three years in prison in 2008 for recruiting fighters to join in the Iraq War alongside the notorious leader of the al Qaeda affiliate there, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, but didn’t serve any time after the conviction; the judge ruled that his pretrial detention had been enough.

Nonetheless, Cherif’s time in prison awaiting trial seems to have not only solidified his radicalization, but also connected him to people who were important in French militant circles While in pretrial detention, Cherif met Djamel Beghal, who was in prison for his role in an attempted attack against the U.S. Embassy in Paris in 2001.

Cherif and Beghal became friends and in 2010, when Beghal was released, he and Cherif allegedly planned the jail break of another radical Islamist who was serving a life sentence for his involvement in the bombing of the Musee d’Orsay train station in Paris in October 1995 that wounded 29 people.

But prosecutors couldn’t prove the conspiracy, and Cherif was released.

While there is no particular economic profile of terrorists — some are from privileged backgrounds and others are not — it’s interesting to note some of the similarities between the Kouachi brothers and the Tsarnaev brothers, who are alleged to have carried out the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013.

The Tsarnaev brothers grew up in a working-class household in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The elder brother Tamerlan had dreams of becoming a world-class boxer but was unemployed when he carried out the Boston attacks.

He had traveled to Dagestan in Russia in 2011 in an attempt to meet up with militants there. He also felt alienated from American society, telling an interviewer, “I don’t have a single American friend.” The Tsarnaevs were influenced by the jihadist propaganda of Awlaki.

The Tsarnaevs, however, are not typical of American Muslims. For Muslims in the United States the “American Dream” has, on average, worked fairly well. They are as educated as most Americans and have similar incomes.

This is often not the case for the Muslims of France, who make up the largest Muslim population of any country in the West. Consider that around 12% of the French population is Muslim, but as much as an astonishing 70% of itsprison population is Muslim.

According to a researcher at Stanford University, Muslim immigrants in France are two-and-a-half times less likely to be called for a job interview than a similar Christian candidate and Muslim incomes are around 15% below their Christian counterparts …

For the complete story, click here.

Peter Bergen is CNN’s National Security Analyst, Vice President at New America Foundation, and Professor of Practice at Arizona State University. He is the author ofManhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden—From 9/11 to Abbottabad. Emily Schneider (LAW ’13) is a Research Associate at New America and a 2013 INSCT graduate.

INSCT Co-Hosts International Workshop on Islam & Conflict Norms

Saudi_Arabia_Workshop_1214Representatives from the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT) traveled to the Arab Gulf recently to co-host a preparatory workshop toward a future international conference on Islam and the Laws of War, to be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2015.

“The Role of Shari’a and Islamic Laws of War in Contemporary Conflict” workshop took place at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies (KFCRIS) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Dec. 14 and 15, 2014. The workshop was hosted by Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, Chairman of KFCRIS. Co-hosts of the event, along with INSCT, were two partners in INSCT’s Islam, Law, and War research project: the US Institute of Peace (USIP) and Italy’s International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences (ISISC).

In the face of ongoing conflicts throughout the diverse Muslim world and high-profile misappropriations of Islam by extremist groups, this interdisciplinary, inter-cultural workshop discussed Shari’a traditions and approaches to conflict settings and international conflict norms. Workshop presenters and participants also explored how Shari’a norms intersect with International Humanitarian Law and the challenges posed by postconflict transition and justice (the full agenda can be found below) in the Arab and Muslim worlds and beyond.

Scholarship that framed the workshop includes INSCT’s ongoing work on these topics; “Justice in Postconflict Settings: Islamic Law and Muslim Communities as Stakeholders in Successful Transition” (a white paper by INSCT, ISISC, and USIP); and The Sharia and Islamic Criminal Justice in Time of War and Peace (Cambridge UP, 2014), a new book by Professor Cherif Bassiouni, ISISC President.

The workshop convened Islamic, legal, and social science scholars and thought leaders from around the world, including Sheikh Dr. Shawqi Allam, Grand Mufti of Egypt; HE Sheikh Abdullatif Darian, Grand Mufti of the Lebanese Republic; Dr. Hamid Khan, Senior Program Officer, USIP; Sheikh Dr. Badrul Hasan Qasmi, Vice President, Islamic Fiqh Academy (India); Dr. Abdur-Razzaq Iskander, Chancellor, Islamic University (Pakistan); Iyad Madani, Secretary General, Organization of Islamic Cooperation; and Dr. Robert Gleave, Professor of Arabic Studies, University of Exeter (a full list of participants and guests can be found below).

Opening remarks were delivered by Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud. Professor William C. Banks, Director, and Dr. Corri Zoli, Director of Research, represented INSCT. As a result of progress made during the workshop, an international conference on Islam and the Laws of War is being planned for 2015 in Riyadh, based in part on a commitment of support from both Prince Turki and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Workshop Agenda

Day 1 (Dec 14, 2014)

Opening Remarks

  • Professor Yayha bin Junaid, Secretary-General, KFCRIS
  • Prince Turki, Chairman, KFCRIS
  • Kent Syverud, Chancellor, SU
  • Professor Cherif Bassiouni, President, ISISC
  • Dr. Hamid Khan, Senior Program Officer, USIP

Panel 1: Conflict Norms in Islam and Contemporary Applications

  • Speaker: HE Sheikh Dr. Badrul Hasan Qasmi, Vice President, Islamic Fiqh Academy (India)
  • Discussant : HE Mr. Iyad Madani, Secretary General, Organization of Islamic Cooperation

Panel 2: Postconflict Justice

  • Speaker: Prof. Cherif Bassiouni, ISISC President
  • Discussant : Prof. Hamid Khan, USIP Senior Program Officer

Panel 3: Gulf Leadership on Postconflict Transition

  • Speaker: Dr. Corri Zoli, Director of Research, INSCT

Closing Remarks

  • Sheikh Dr. Shawqi Allam, Grand Mufti of Egypt
  • Sheikh Dr. Abdullah Almutlaq, Member, Council of Senior Scholars

Day 2 (Dec. 15, 2014)

Recap of Day 1

  • Prof. Yayha bin Junaid, Secretary-General, KFCRIS
  • Iyad Madani, Secretary-General, Organization of Islamic Cooperation
  • Dr. Robert Gleave, Professor of Arabic Studies, University of Exeter
  • Dr. Corri Zoli, Director of Research, INSCT

Panel: Agenda of Future Conference, etc.

  • Moderator: Dr. Saud Alsarhan, KFCRIS Research Director

Closing Remarks

  • Prince Turki, Chairman, KFCRIS
  • Professor William C. Banks, Director, INSCT
  • Professor Cherif Bassiouni, President, ISISC
  • Dr. Hamid Khan, Senior Program Officer, USIP

Workshop Participants


  • HE Sheikh Dr. Shawqi Allam, Grand Mufti of the Arab Republic of Egypt
  • HE Sheikh Abdullatif Darian, Grand Mufti of the Lebanese Republic

Scholars from Saudi Arabia

  • HE Sheikh Dr. Abdullah Almutlaq, Member, Council of Senior Scholars
  • HE Dr. Abdul-Wahab Abu Sulaiman, Member, Council of Senior Scholars
  • HE Sheikh Dr. Qais bin Mohammed bin Abdullatif Aal Al-Sheikh Mubarak, Council of Senior Scholars
  • Dr. Abdullah Fadaaq, Teacher, Holy Mosque in Makkah
  • Sheikh Abu Abdulrahman bin Aqeel Al-Dhaheri

Scholars from the Muslim World

  • HE Sheikh Dr. Badrul Hasan Qasmi, Vice President, Islamic Fiqh Academy (India)
  • HE Sheikh Dr. Abdur-Razzaq Iskander, Chancellor, Islamic University (Pakistan)
  • HE Dr. Mohammad Yasaf, Secretary-General, Supreme Ulema Council of the Kingdom of Morocco

International Organizations

  • HE Mr. Iyad Madani, Secretary General, Organization of Islamic Cooperation
  • HE Mr. Faisal Bin Abdulrahman Bin Muaammar, Secretary-General, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre

Intercultural Dialogue

  • HE Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Ba Bakr, Secretary General, International Islamic Fiqh Academy

Syracuse University/ISISC/USIP

  • Kent Syverud, Chancellor, SU
  • James O’Connor, Executive Director of Middle East Advancement and External Affairs, SU
  • Charles Merrihew, Vice President, Advancement and External Affairs, SU
  • Professor William C. Banks, Director, INSCT
  • Dr. Corrinne Zoli, Director of Research, INSCT
  • Professor Cherif Bassiouni, President, ISISC
  • Dr. Hamid Khan, Senior Program Officer, USIP


  • Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, Chairman
  • Dr. Yahya bin Junaid, Secretary-General
  • Princess Maha Alfaisal, Deputy Secretary-General
  • Prince Khaled bin Saud Alfaisal, Director of External Relations and Partnerships
  • Prince Faisal bin Saud bin Abdulmohsen, Director of Cultural Affairs and Public Relations
  • Dr. Saud Al-Sarhan, Research Director

Why ISIS Is Spreading Across the Muslim World

ISIS.territoryBy Peter Bergen & Emily Schneider

(Re-published from CNN Opinion, November 19, 2014)

In the many media stories about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, much of the focus has rightly been on the thousands of foreign fighters ISIS has attracted, its brutal tactics and its robust social media presence.

But an arguably even more important development has not received the attention it deserves: the group’s widening influence across the Muslim world, driven by the numerous terrorist and insurgent organizations that have recently sworn loyalty to it.

In the past six months, ISIS has drawn into its fold some dozen groups from Algeria to Pakistan. Al Qaeda, in contrast, had been in existence for a decade before it recruited its first affiliate, Egypt’s Jihad Group, in 1998.

[pullquoteright]Three other groups—al-Mujahidin in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Mujahidin in Libya and al-Mujahidin in Yemen—also recorded statements of allegiance to ISIS in November.”[/pullquoteright]And, in its 2½-decade existence, al Qaeda has only manged to add some half dozen affiliates, one of which was al Qaeda in Iraq, the parent organization of ISIS that has now split off from the core al Qaeda organization.

Indeed, just this week, an ISIS delegation met with leaders of a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban to talk about how to unify Pakistani militants, The Associated Press reported.

Also this month, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, one of the most violent militant groups in Egypt, pledged allegiance to ISIS, The New York Times reported. ABM is believed to have been responsible for an attack on a police checkpoint near Gaza last month that killed 30 Egyptian soldiers.

And ISIS has continued to expand its geographical reach. Three other groups—al-Mujahidin in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Mujahidin in Libya and al-Mujahidin in Yemen—also recorded statements of allegiance to ISIS in November, which ISIS broadcast online. Meanwhile, ISIS now controls the eastern Libyan city of Derna, not far from the Egyptian border.

And last month, six Pakistani Taliban leaders reportedly swore allegiance to ISIS in an audio message, although Shahidullah Shahid, the Pakistani Taliban’s official spokesman, said he was speaking for himself and five other Taliban leaders in the message, not for the rest of the Pakistani Taliban.

The Taliban reacted by firing Shahid, but a senior Taliban official told the BBC that “he was the most important of the five who have left us” and said that the leaders had defected because they were unhappy with senior Taliban leaders …

To read the full article, click here.

Peter Bergen is CNN’s National Security Analyst, Vice President at New America Foundation, and Professor of Practice at Arizona State University. He is the author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden—From 9/11 to Abbottabad. Emily Schneider (LAW ’13) is a Research Associate at New America and a 2013 INSCT graduate.