"Jihadist Safe Havens: Efforts to Detect and Deter Terrorist Travel" United States House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence release_nftzwfhhofcqxgtyept6rv4tau

by Robin Simcox

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In recent years, the US and its allies have faced threats emanating from terrorist safe havens in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. The most recent areas of concern to have developed are in Iraq and Syria. In the short-term, the greatest danger to emerge from these safe havens is the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS, and formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq, or ISI, and al-Qaeda in Iraq) and Westerners returning to their homeland having fought in Iraq and Syria. Formulating effective policies to counter this threat is now a priority for the US and its allies. ISIS The danger ISIS poses to the West is becoming increasingly clear, highlighted by General David Petraeus, European Union counterterrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove and British Prime Minister David Cameron in recent weeks. 1 These concerns are understandable. ISIS now controls a stretch of territory the size of Jordan and has declared an Islamic caliphate, acquiring recruits, weapons and money to the extent that it is now more of a terrorist army than a terrorist group. ISIS has succeeded in establishing a base in the Levant from which to expand its influence throughout the region. In a recently released ISIS video, a British jihadist proclaimed that ISIS 'understand no borders' and will fight 'wherever our sheikh wants to send us.' He specifically cites Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria as targets. 2 All of these countries have been targeted on multiple occasions for terrorist attack by ISIS and its precursor organisations in the last decade. Yet the danger posed by ISIS is not limited to the Middle East. ISIS and its precursor groups have also been connected to a series of attacks in Europe over the last decade.  The perpetrators of a June 2007 attack against targets in London and Glasgow, Scotland-operations which consisted of a car bombing attack on Glasgow Airport and car bombs in London's West End-had the telephone numbers of ISI members on their cell phones. At the time, counterterrorism officials called the Glasgow and London attacks 'the closest collaboration' between ISI and terrorists outside the Middle East to date.
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