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Testimonies by Thomas Joscelyn

July 2017

The Terrorist Diaspora: After the Fall of the Caliphate

The fall of Mosul and the likely fall of Raqqa won’t be the end of the Islamic State. The group has already reverted to its insurgent roots in some of the areas that have been lost. It also still controls some territory. The Islamic State will continue to function as a guerrilla army, despite suffering significant losses

March 2017

Resolving the Conflict in Yemen: U.S. Interests, Risks, and Policy

Senator Corker and other members of the committee, thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the ongoing war in Yemen. Unfortunately, I do not see a way that this conflict can be resolved any time soon. Yemen is rife with internal divisions, which are exacerbated by the proxy war being waged by several actors. Arab states, Iran, and others see Yemen as a key battleground in their contest for regional power. In addition, al Qaeda has taken advantage of the crisis to pursue its chief objective, which is seizing territory and building an emirate inside the country.

February 2017

The Future of Counterterrorism: Addressing the Evolving Threat to Domestic Security

Chairman King, Ranking Member Rice, and other members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today. The terrorist threat has evolved greatly since the September 11, 2001 hijackings. The U.S. arguably faces a more diverse set of threats today than ever. In my written and oral testimony, I intend to highlight both the scope of these threats, as well as some of what I think are the underappreciated risks.

September 2016

Libya’s Terrorist Descent: Causes and Solutions

Chairman Poe, Ranking Member Keating and members of the subcommittee, thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the turmoil in Libya. Obviously, the multi-sided conflict in Libya is complex, with various forces pulling the country in multiple directions. My testimony today focuses on the jihadist groups operating inside Libya, especially the Islamic State’s arm and groups belonging to al Qaeda’s network.

May 2016

Guantanamo Bay: The Remaining Detainees

Chairman DeSantis, Ranking Member Lynch, and other members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today. I have been writing about Guantanamo and the detainees held there for more than a decade and I visited the detention facility in 2008.

September 2015

U.S. Counterterrorism Efforts in Syria: A Winning Strategy?

The war in Syria is exceedingly complex, with multiple actors fighting one another on the ground and foreign powers supporting their preferred proxies. Iran and Hezbollah are backing Bashar al Assad’s regime, which is also now receiving increased assistance from Russia. The Islamic State (often referred to by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL) retains control over a significant amount of Syrian territory. Despite some setbacks at the hands of the U.S.-led air coalition and Kurdish ground forces earlier this year in northern Syria, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s organization has not suffered anything close to a knockout blow thus far.

April 2015

“Terrorism in Africa: The Imminent Threat to the United States”

In preparing today’s testimony, I reviewed the history of al Qaeda’s plotting against the West. A number of facts demonstrate that al Qaeda’s presence in Africa has been tied to these efforts.

September 2014

Islamist Foreign Fighters Returning Home and the Threat to Europe

Chairman Rohrabacher, Ranking Member Keating and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the threat posed by Islamist foreign fighters returning home to Europe. We have been asked to answer the question, “How are European countries addressing the threat, and how can the US assist in those efforts to thwart future terrorist attacks?” I offer my thoughts in more detail below.

May 2014

Al Qaeda In Afghanistan And Pakistan: An Enduring Threat

It is widely assumed that al Qaeda’s presence in South Asia does not, in fact, pose an enduring threat to American interests. The slaying of top al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, and more than a decade of war and other counterterrorism operations have supposedly hobbled the organization. However, while I have no doubt that al Qaeda has sustained heavy losses, I do not think that bin Laden’s heirs are a spent force. On the contrary, al Qaeda lives. In the hearing today I am going to build on my previous testimony before this subcommittee last July. During that hearing (“Global Al Qaeda: Affiliates, Objectives, and Future Challenges”), we discussed the structure of al Qaeda and the challenges we face in the future. Today, I wish to emphasize five main points:

February 2014

Al Qaeda’s Expansion in Egypt Implications for U.S. Homeland Security

Al Qaeda’s theory of the revolution in Egypt, and the subsequent overthrow of Mohamed Morsi’s Islamist regime, is predicated on its deeply anti-American and anti-Semitic worldview. Al Qaeda’s senior leaders portrayed Mubarak’s fall as a defeat for the U.S. and its interests in the region. For instance, al Qaeda head Ayman al Zawahiri portrayed the toppling of dictators in Egypt and Tunisia as comparable to America’s military losses and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. America “was defeated in Tunisia and lost its agent there,” Zawahiri said in an October 2011 recording, and “it was defeated in Egypt and lost its biggest agent there.”

January 2014

Political, Economic, and Security Situation in Africa

Chairman Kaine, Ranking Member Risch and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the security situation in North Africa.

October 2013

Crisis in Syria: Implications for Homeland Security

Chairman McCaul, Ranking Member Thompson and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the potential threats to the U.S. emanating out of Syria.

July 2013

Global al Qaeda: Affiliates, Objectives, and Future Challenges

Chairman Poe, Ranking Member Sherman and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the threat posed by al Qaeda.

May 2013

Assessing the Threat to the Homeland from al Qaeda Operations in Iran and Syria

Chairman King, Ranking Member Higgins and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the threat posed by al Qaeda’s operations inside Iran and Syria.

July 2011

Al Shabaab’s Recruitment and Radicalization Within the American Muslim Community

On Wednesday, July 27, 2011, the Committee on Homeland Security held the third in the series of hearings on domestic radicalization entitled “Al Shabaab: Recruitment and Radicalization within the Muslim American Community and the Threat to the Homeland.”

June 2011

Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa: Ramifications for U.S. Homeland Security

On April 6, 2011 Thomas Joscelyn testified before the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence on the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa and its ramifications for U.S. Homeland Security.