A Quarterly, Peer Reviewed Online Journal

The Combating Threats Exchange staff are happy to bring you the July 2021 issue of CTX. 

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From the Editor

When most human beings perceive a threat, the natural reaction is to lash out with whatever power is available to stop and, preferably, destroy the threat. In simplistic Darwinian terms, whoever is most successful at eliminating threats is the one most likely to spread its DNA into the next generation.

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At the Very End, I Smiled

The explosion is a muffled noise, but the tremor in the ground discloses the enormous power of the blast. I blow my whistle and we get up. A second later, the muzzle flashes make the night glimmer and sparkle. alf of all the world’s sounds fall away as the explosive bangs of the gunshots mix with the metallic noises of rifle actions...

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ISIS Medical System as a Target for Counterterrorism Efforts

Everyone deserves [quality/affordable] healthcare.” This statement can be found in thousands of sources ranging from personal opinions to politicians’ speeches to organizational position statements. Regardless of the source, the sentiment is the same: all humans, irrespective of demo-graphics, should be entitled to medical treatment...

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The Future of Islamic Extremism in Pakistan: An Ethnography, Part Two

This section summarizes the more detailed interviewee narratives in Part One, which describe the present level of extremism and provide the basis for this article’s predictions about Pakistan’s future...

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THE CTX INTERVIEW | GEN David Petraeus, US Army (ret.)

On 10 December 2019, General David Petraeus, US Army (retired), spoke via video teleconference with Chuck Woodson and Dr. Clint Biggs from MIIS. They discussed GEN Petraeus’s service in Iraq during the 2007 troop surge, his subsequent experience in Afghanistan, and the significant changes he made to US counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine...

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THE GAME FLOOR | Facilitating CT Virtual Games: The Transition to the Virtual World

Even before the world went virtual in 2020, the Global ECCO team was already facilitating virtual “serious games” to train professionals on counterterrorism (CT) strategy. Global ECCO, is a team of researchers and educators based at the USNaval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California...

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Sometimes you find yourself in a situation with people who are incredibly unpleasant and you want to just walk away—to keep walking and not come back. Sometimes, however, you simply can’t do that, especially when you are on duty. It’s your job to be at your station, to staff the checkpoint and work together with your partners as you pass people through...

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THE WRITTEN WORD | Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS

The terrorist group that became known as ISIS first captured international attention through suicide bombings and media blitzes of extremely violent videos. In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, author Joby Warrick provides an intense, detailed, and informative narrative that paints a vivid picture of the key events and people that shaped the terrorist group from its earliest years...

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THE WRITTEN WORD | The Global Spread of Islamism and the Consequences for Terrorism

Terrorism motivated by Islamist religious ideology has been on the rise for the last forty years. Why? The three prior waves of terrorism—anarchist, nationalist, and Marxist—arose generally from a combination of geopolitical events and local grievances. This “fourth wave” of terrorism, however, has risen out of a different set of conditions...

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This journal is not an official DoD publication. The views expressed or implied within are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any governmental or nongovernmental organization or agency of the United States of America or any other country.


Copyright © 2023 by the author(s), except where otherwise noted. The Combating Threats Exchange journal (CTX) is a peer-reviewed, quarterly journal available free of charge to individuals and institutions. Copies of this journal and the articles contained herein may be printed or downloaded and redistributed for personal, research, or educational purposes free of charge and without permission, except if otherwise noted. Any commercial use of CTX or the articles published herein is expressly prohibited without the written consent of the copyright holder. The copyright of all articles published herein rests with the author(s) of the article, unless otherwise noted.


  • SALLY BAHO, Copy Editor
  • LAYOUT AND DESIGN, Graduate Education Advancement Center, Naval Postgraduate School


  • VICTOR ASAL, University of Albany SUNY
  • CHRIS HARMON, Marine Corps University
  • TROELS HENNINGSEN, Royal Danish Defense College
  • PETER MCCABE, Joint Special Operations University
  • RAJAN RAVINDRAN, Indian Army (Ret.)
  • IAN C. RICE, US Army (Ret.)
  • ANNA SIMONS, Naval Postgraduate School
  • SHYAMSUNDER TEKWANI, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies
  • CRAIG WHITESIDE, Naval War College


  • AMINA KATOR-MUBAREZ, Naval Postgraduate School