Take Notice: The 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

January 9, 2014

2014-NCTC-Counterterrorism-Calendar-spiral-boundIf you didn’t catch the Washington Post “In the Loop” article by Al Kamen this week entitled “Counter terror calendar 2014 is out!,” you’ll be pleased to know that yes, the 2014 edition of the National Counterterrorism Center’s annual Counterterrorism Desk Calendar is now available for ordering on the U.S. Government Bookstore.

Image: Cover of the 164-page 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar from the National Counterterrorism Center depicts the 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon. Photo Credit: David L. Ryan / Boston Globe.

The goal behind the Counterterrorism Calendar is to educate and inform both professionals– first responders, military, intelligence, law enforcement and other counterterrorism personnel– as well as civilians about the threats of international terrorism and how to prevent, respond or mitigate these threats against the United States both at home and abroad.

History of U.S. Government Inviting Citizen Involvement in Domestic Security

Since its founding, America has had a history of inviting its citizens to participate in its own defense. Even with the danger of British sympathizers turning them in, brave revolutionaries posted recruiting posters on behalf of the Continental Congress such as the one below that invited Americans to “Take Notice” and help General Washington and the Continental Army defend against “the hostile designs of foreign enemies.”

revolutionary-war-take-notice-recruiting-posterImage: This Revolutionary War recruiting poster urged brave and able-bodied young men to “take notice” and join forces with General Washington and the Continental Army in the fight against “foreign enemies,” in this case, the British. Photo Credit: Bettmann/CORBIS

In World War 2, the Federal Government issued numerous similar domestic campaigns reminding citizens that it was their civic duty to “defend America” and inviting citizens to help support the war industry and to be vigilant against spies, saboteurs and other actions by the enemy both at home and abroad.

Defend-American-Freedom It's Everybody's-Job- World War II 2 propaganda poster for civilian workersImage: U.S. Government World War II propaganda poster urging civilians to participate in the war effort. Source: University of North Texas Digital Library

Today, the war is a War on Terror, and the U.S. Government still needs involvement and vigilance of its citizens and allies, whether in the United States or abroad, to identify and protect against terrorists.

The 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

Under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Counterterrorism Center or NCTC serves as the primary organization in the U.S. government for integrating and analyzing all intelligence possessed or acquired by the U.S. government about international terrorism, including data from U.S. Federal agencies like the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the FBI as well as other domestic and international sources.

First published in a spiral-bound daily planner format in 2003, just two years after the World Trade Center attacks, the Counterterrorism or CT Calendar from the NCTC is published annually. According to the NCTC, their 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar:

…provides information on known terrorist groups, individual terrorists, and technical information on topics such as biological and chemical threats.This edition, like others since the Calendar was first published in daily planner format in 2003, contains many features across the full range of issues pertaining to international terrorism: terrorist groups, wanted terrorists, and technical pages on various threat-related topics.

Features of the Calendar

In addition to serving as a desk calendar / event planner, the 164-page 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar also serves as a tutorial on international terrorism and a gallery of “most wanted” terrorists.

The right-hand page of the planner has the event planner dates along with key historical events of significance to terrorists that might be used to plan future terrorist activities. For example, on January 8, 1998, terrorist Ramzi Ahmed Yousef was sentenced to life plus 240 years for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.

On the left-hand pages are photos, maps and/or data on terrorists and terrorist organizations around the world, from Africa and the Middle East to Europe and the Americas.

Map-Somalia-based-al-Shabaab-terror-attacksImage: Map denoting locations of major terrorist incidents likely committed by the Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin—commonly known as al-Shabaab, a “clan-based insurgent and terrorist group” operating in and around Somalia. Source: NCTC 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

“Terrorism tutorial” information ranges from cultural—details about the Islamic Calendar; the spelling of Arabic names and terms; lists of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), and logos used— to technical –  information about Chemical-Biological-Radiological-Nuclear-Explosive (CBRNE) weapons commonly used by terrorists, from suicide bombs to sarin gas, and how to detect and mitigate them.  For example, who among us would recognize the terrorist threat from these innocent-looking beans?

Castor-beans-used-to-make-ricinImage: Photo of castor beans from which the deadly toxin ricin is extracted. Ricin is poisonous if inhaled, injected, or ingested. Source: NCTC 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

“Wanted” Terrorists

Providing the real drama of the calendar are the full-page “Wanted” poster-style pages of an individual terrorist, complete with photo (if available), aliases, his terrorist activities, the reward offered, and how to report information about him.

One of the largest rewards, $25 Million, is offered for information leading to the capture of Ayman al-Zawahiri, also known as “The Teacher” or “The Doctor” who is a physician and the founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. According to the CT Calendar:

“This organization opposes the secular Egyptian Government and seeks its overthrow through violent means. Al-Zawahiri is believed to have served as an advisor and doctor to Usama Bin Ladin. He has been indicted for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. The embassy bombings killed 224 civilians and wounded over 5,000 others.”

Wanted-page-of-terrorist-Ayman-al-Zawahiri-of-Egyptian-Islamic-JihadImage: Extract from the “wanted” page of Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaida leader and founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Source: NCTC 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

Civilian Involvement

Finally, the NCTC carries on the civilian involvement tradition by including instructions for citizens of the U.S. and other countries on how they can help fight terrorism. Pages on” Indicators of False Travel Documents”, “Radicalization”, and how U.S. residents can report suspicions are provided. Additionally, the  Rewards for Justice (RFJ) Program is described in detail, wherein the U.S. Secretary of State may offer rewards for information that prevents or favorably resolves acts of international terrorism against US persons or property worldwide.

On the last page is a Bomb Threat Call Procedures form with valuable details of questions to ask and information to note about the caller, such as his or her voice (accent, age, tone, language) and background sounds. Did you note if the caller was clearing his throat or had an accent? Were there sounds of machinery in the background? What kind? Any and all details could help law enforcement.

Aspects-to-note-about-Bomb-Threat-CallerImage: Table from the Bomb Threat Call Procedures form. Source: Page 160 of the 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar.

Forewarned is Forearmed

Like the tradition of the best Government civilian campaigns since the founding of the Nation, the National Counterterrorism Center’s annual Counterterrorism Calendar is simultaneously meant to alert and inform us, making both civilians and professionals alike aware of the very real dangers around us and educating us on what—and whom—to look for. With the cover photo depicting the 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon– where ordinary citizens were instrumental in identifying and locating the terrorists responsible– the importance of having an informed and involved citizenry has never been clearer.

How can I get a copy of the National Counterterrorism Center’s 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar?

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


War, Will and Warlords: An Interview, Part II

July 23, 2012

 

In this second part of a two-part interview by Government Book Talk blog editor Michele Bartram,  Col. Robert M. Cassidy, author of the new, critically acclaimed book, War, Will, and Warlords: Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2011, describes the lessons learned after ten years of war in Afghanistan. Click here to read Part I of the interview.

GovBookTalk: In Chapter 5 of War, Will, and Warlords, you refer to Pakistan’s prospects of doing what needs to be done as “hard, not hopeful, but not impossible.”  What role does Pakistan play today in 2012 in this counterinsurgency, and how do you rate these prospects today on the scale of hopeful vs. impossible?

Cassidy: There is currently not much at all to be sanguine about in relation to Pakistan, as it has done the most odious things in terms of regenerating and sustaining the Afghan Taliban and other groups.  And, the Coalition and the international community have allowed Pakistan to get away with this—murders, literally.  Pakistan poses as a friend, but performs as a foe. The Afghan Taliban would have withered away over the last several years of the surge if Pakistan had stopped supporting the regeneration, resting, recruitment, and retraining of militants, improvised explosive device makers, technology, and components in its tribal sanctuaries and in Baluchistan.

Image: Balochistan’s strategic importance. Source: Intellibriefs

Pakistan has employed terrorism and unconventional warfare to ostensibly achieve strategic depth by supporting its proxies in Afghanistan for almost four decades.

However, the United States has not yet crafted a Pakistan strategy that employs its substantial leverage to modify Pakistan’s strategic calculus.  A genuine Pakistan strategy, coupled with unambiguous momentum and perseverance in Afghanistan, could compel Pakistan to alter its strategic rationale and reduce support to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network. 

Image: [GovBookTalk] The Haqqani Network,an insurgent group allied with the Taliban and operating on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, is one of the most dangerous groups fighting U.S.-led Coalition forces and the Afghan government. Originating in Afghanistan during the mid-1970s, it was nurtured by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan. Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani lead the group. A reward of $200,000-USD was offered by Coalition forces for information leading to the arrest of Siraj Haqqani. Source: Wikipedia.

The United States needs a strategy for Pakistan, one which is logically and temporally linked and integrated with the imperatives in Afghanistan.  A viable strategy must first recognize that the U.S. does have considerable leverage over Pakistan.  America must demand discernible results for the steady diet of carrots it has been feeding Pakistan for the perfidious abetting of enemies who kill and maim the Afghan and Coalition civilians and military forces trying to stabilize the country in some lasting way.

GovBookTalk: After wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, what lessons has the US military learned about fighting a counterinsurgency campaign— in strategy, training, equipment, communications with locals, relations with coalition nations and neighboring regions?

Cassidy: Let me clarify at the outset that counterinsurgency is not a strategy in and of itself, but more of the art and method of an operational campaign to defeat or neutralize an insurgency.  The first and most paramount thing we should learn is not to unlearn or expunge what we know of previous counterinsurgencies’ best practices.  In 2001-2003 when we undertook those wars, there was very little thinking, knowledge, doctrine, or awareness of the requirements for prosecuting counterinsurgency to a successful conclusion.   The American military was compelled to adapt in the crucible of combat and it ultimately changed over time, and we now see the most seasoned counterinsurgent forces in our history.

Image: [GovBookTalk]: This is an actual PowerPoint slide shown by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan in the summer of 2009 to portray the complexity of U.S. strategy. Source: Charles V. Peña. Click on image above to enlarge.

Cassidy: Notwithstanding, it is negligence of criminal magnitude to prepare soldiers with the doctrine, the equipment, and the leadership savvy for countering insurgents only after the fighting has begun.  Also, in many ways and instances, it was the early methods of American military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan that helped catalyze support for the insurgencies by alienating large parts of those populations.  Here are some pithy things we should retain:

  • Knowledge empowers and the one who thinks, wins:  analyze and understand the environment.
  • Good counterinsurgency campaigns fully integrate both general purpose and special forces.
  • Start with simple and clear, not convoluted and cumbersome, command and control.
  • Match action and information to address grievances to win the war of ideas.
  • If the insurgency benefits from unimpeded sanctuary, ruthlessly shut this down.
  • Start with the end— what should the indigenous security capacity be when we leave?
  • Show moral rectitude:  kill precisely the insurgent leaders and protect most of the people.

GovBookTalk: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in this book?

Cassidy: Two things: one, I would have added a chapter that explained how we need to rethink and reframe our relationship with Pakistan after the bin Laden raid; and two, I would have made one more look to minimize any redundancy between the first chapter and the last chapter because the last chapter was something I developed apart from the main manuscript when I was last in Afghanistan during 2011.

GovBookTalk: Did you personally learn anything from writing this book and what was it?   

Cassidy: I deepened and broadened my knowledge about the enduring and deplorable perfidy of the Pakistani ISI in Afghanistan over almost four decades of war in the region.

Image: Pakistan spy chief (right), Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha, is head of  the Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI, whose headquarters are shown to the left. Source: Jagran Post. [GovBookTalk] Note that the ISI continually denies links to the Taliban and terrorism, in spite of accusations by Coalition allies of ISI ties to the 7/7/2005 terrorist attacks in London, the attempted assassination of President Karzai, the bombing of the Indian embassy, supporting terrorist groups and other acts. Source: The Council on Foreign Relations 

GovBookTalk: Are there additional resources where readers can go for more information, assistance with this topic?

Cassidy: Some useful resources include the websites of the Afghan Analysts Network (AAN), the New America Foundation Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative Policy Paper series, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) [link to Stanford University’s archives of CRS reports], the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), The Council on Foreign Relations  and the U.S. Government 1230 and 1231 reports on the progress in Afghanistan.  Also, they could start with the bibliography of this book.

GovBookTalk: What are the next upcoming projects for you?  

I am drafting an outline for a new book with the draft title of, On Raw War:  The wages of the American way of strategy and war.  This will start with a theoretical chapter that distills the best thinkers on strategy and war and then it will proceed to explore American wars after Vietnam, from the Persian Gulf War up until Afghanistan to assess how practices compared to the theory.

GovBookTalk: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers in parting, a memorable quote?

Cassidy: The Roger Ascham quote in Chapter 1:  “it is a costly wisdom that is bought by experience;” juxtaposed with the famous Bismarck quote that “fools say they learn from experience; I prefer to learn from the experience of others.”

GovBookTalk: Thank you for your insights, Col. Cassidy!
HOW CAN YOU OBTAIN a copy of War, Will, and Warlords: Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2011?

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library.

To learn more about America’s involvement in Afghanistan, browse our new Afghanistan Collection of Federal publications.

About the author: Colonel Robert M. Cassidy, USA, is a military professor at the U.S. Naval War College, a senior fellow with the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, and a member of the RUSI Advisory Board. His experience and scholarship focus on strategy and irregular warfare. He has served on deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, Egypt, and Grenada. He most recently served as a special assistant to the senior operational commander in Afghanistan in 2011. Colonel Cassidy has published a number of articles and two previous books on stability operations and irregular war:  1) Peacekeeping in the Abyss: British and American Peacekeeping Doctrine and Practice after the Cold War and 2) Counterinsurgency and the Global War on Terror: Military Culture and Irregular War. He has a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.


War, Will and Warlords: An Interview, Part I

July 17, 2012

Government Book Talk editor Michele Bartram writes a two-part interview with author Col. Robert Cassidy about his new, critically acclaimed book, War, Will, and Warlords: Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2011, which covers the causes and consequences of counterinsurgency in that troubled region and recommendations for future American approaches there and in similar operations. Part I goes into the cause of the war there and explanations of the key concepts. Click here to read Part II of the interview.


Since World War II, the character of the wars America has fought has changed radically. Traditional methods of warfare, technology, training and strategies designed to counter national armed forces, are not suited for today’s counterinsurgency operations often where civilians mingle freely with enemy combatants in complex urban terrain or remote encampments, and which can be carried out by local warlord-led troops, small guerrilla groups or even individual insurgents. First in Iraq and now honed by the war in Afghanistan, American military (operations), tactics and technology have required reengineering to adapt to this new reality of war.

Soldier-scholar Col. Robert Cassidy, Ph.D., is a military professor at the U.S. Naval War College and a senior fellow with the Center for Advanced Defense Studies who served on operations in Grenada, Egypt, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and most recently as the special assistant to the commander of ISAF Joint Command in Afghanistan from June 2010 to June 2011.

As an expert in strategy and irregular warfare, Cassidy has authored the recently published War, Will, and Warlords: Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2011 which is featured this month in our U.S. Government Bookstore’s special War in Afghanistan collection.

Foreign Policy magazine lauds War, Will, and Warlords as a “must read for all scholars, policymakers, diplomats, and military practitioners seeking to understand the Afghanistan-Pakistan nexus” which provides invaluable analysis “concerning uneven U.S. involvement in the region, the contradictions of Pakistan, and the counterinsurgency (COIN) approaches implemented on both sides of the porous region” between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Some refer to the War in Afghanistan as America’s longest war, but to Afghans, conflict has been going on there continuously for almost four decades. Today, July 17, 2012, actually marks the 39-year anniversary of when continual tumult and conflict began in Afghanistan. In July 1973 Afghanistan’s last King or Padishah, Mohammed Zahir Shah, was ousted in a coup d’état by his first cousin and former Prime Minister Mohammed Daoud Khan, who established a republican government. Years of conflict followed, including war with the Soviet Union, rise and fall of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and today’s insurgency.

Image: (Left) Zahir Shah, King of Afghanistan, with his first cousin and Prime Minister Daoud Khan (right) who later deposed Zahir in 1973, beginning Afghanistan’s slide towards forty years of war. Source: CivFanatics Forum.

AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR

In this two-part special feature, Government Book Talk was pleased to be able to interview Col. Cassidy about the book, his personal observations about the conflict and the countries, and his recommendations for the future.

Government Book Talk: What inspired you to write this book?  

Colonel Robert Cassidy: I had written a study about the Soviet War in Afghanistan at the French École de Guerre in 2000-2001 and I continued to study our war in Afghanistan after September 2001.   The proximate reason was that I was at the Naval War College in 2009-2010 between tours in Afghanistan and I thought it would be helpful to capture and compare what happened for the first eight years to those years after the surge.  Also, I knew that researching and writing this book would make me more knowledgeable and useful as an adviser in Afghanistan during my tour in 2010-2011.

GovBookTalk: I understand that this was not the original title for the book. How did you arrive at the final choice?

Cassidy: Two initial titles were vetoed. First, I suggested “Malice in Wonderstan,” and my editor then suggested “Ten Years Gone,” which I liked because of its triple reference to the Afghan War’s length, the Led Zeppelin classic song, and the subject of that song, an ancient Greek war.  In the end, I picked “War, Will and Warlords” because these three things are so salient in terms of Afghanistan and what we have done or not done there since we supported the anti-Soviet insurgency in the 1980s.

In the excerpted piece of the preface below, I explain the meaning behind the title because “War, will, and warlords…are central to any understanding of what has transpired in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

WAR: First, the Afghan people have faced tumult, conflict, and war since July 1973… A corollary to this is the fact that the Pakistani state has helped foment insurgent proxy war and terrorism in Afghanistan since 1973. In fact, fomenting insurgencies in Afghanistan by proxy is in the metaphorical DNA of the Pakistani security apparatus.

WILL: Second, protracted irregular wars are a contest of will, as insurgents use the art of the ambush, armed propaganda in the form of spectacular violence, and cross-border sanctuaries to protract the war to erode the will of the counterinsurgents so they give up the fight. The insurgents can win if they can prolong the war while not exhausting their own will.

WARLORDS: Third, warlords, or feudal barons, run criminal patronage fiefs or insurgent-terrorist networks that operate across the borders and exist outside and inside the states as well as serve as state proxies in some cases. Patronage has long been a reality in South Asia. However, the growth and scope of warlord-led insurgent and criminal networks that began before the Soviet-Afghan War… have helped catalyze support for the insurgencies.

Image: Afghan warlords and power brokers. Source: WorldNews,

GovBookTalk: What is the overall message in the book that you want readers to grasp?  

Cassidy: To understand the catalysts for and the ineluctable links between security and insurgency in both Pakistan and Afghanistan; to know the grave consequences if we ultimately fail, and to fathom the odious role of Pakistan’s perfidy in its persistent support of terrorism and insurgency in Afghanistan.

GovBookTalk: You have been on multiple tours in Afghanistan. What surprised you most about either the people or the country itself? 

Cassidy: I would not use the word surprised, but what intrigued me and enthralled me were the country’s beautiful diversity and the Afghan people’s formidable resiliency.

GovBookTalk: What was the single most important “don’t miss” chapter and page in your book and why?

Cassidy: The most important chapter is Chapter 3 because it explains why and how the Taliban regenerated from sanctuary in Pakistan and what catalyzed the Pakistani Taliban’s insurgency within and against that state.

The most important single page is page 6 because it elucidates why and how the tribal areas in Pakistan along the Durand Line are the most dangerous places on earth in terms of the terrorist and militant machinations to support attacks on the U.S., other western states, and non-western states.

Image: [GovBookTalk] The Durand Line: Established in an 1893 treaty between Amir Abdul Rahman Khan of Afghanistan and Sir Mortimer Durand, the foreign secretary of the British Indian government, the Durand line set up the border between Afghanistan and then British India/now present-day Pakistan. Not recognized today by Afghanistan and a source of contention with Pakistan, this poorly marked buffer zone cuts through the Pashtun tribal areas, dividing ethnic Pashtuns (Afghans) on both sides of the border. It is considered to be one of the most dangerous places in the world. Source: IntelliBriefs and Wikipedia.

READ PART II: In PART II of this interview, Cassidy describes Pakistan’s role, hard lessons learned, useful resources and more…

HOW CAN YOU OBTAIN a copy of War, Will, and Warlords: Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2011?

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library.

To learn more about America’s involvement in Afghanistan, browse our new Afghanistan Collection of Federal publications:


Terrorists as Armed Groups

November 1, 2010

I can’t think of too many Government publications that cover pirates, Vikings, the Teutonic Knights, the Italian Red Brigades, the Irish Republican Army, and the Taliban in one volume, but that’s what Armed Groups: Studies in National Security, Counterterrorism, and Counterinsurgency does. Published by the Naval War College, it’s a collection of essays by noted experts that expands our view of “terrorism” by using the term “armed groups,” which includes classic insurgents, terrorists, guerrillas, militias, police agencies, criminal organizations, mercenaries, pirates, drug cartels, apocalyptic religious extremists, orchestrated rioters and mobs, and tribal factions. Once you start reading, it’s hard to stop, although it’s certainly not light entertainment.

For me, the scariest essays were those dealing with domestic armed groups, like militias, white supremacist groups, and large organized street gangs. Although a lot of the examples mentioned were familiar to me, such as the post 9/11 anthrax scare and the arrest in subsequent years of several biological terrorist wannabes – seeing all of the examples assembled in one place convinced me of one author’s contention that domestic armed groups are no less menacing than the international organizations that get so much media exposure.

Armed Groups is a rich source for all kinds of background on the use of violence by the politically powerless and the broad array of organizations that practice it. It may not help you sleep better at night to know that such groups are so prevalent, but it’s indispensable information for anyone who wants to delve beneath the surface of an often-described but not always well-understood cultural, sociological, and political phenomenon. The book’s editor, Jeff Norwitz, has posted chapters on his own Web site. You also can browse Armed Groups here, get your own copy here, or find it in a library here.


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