A Quarterly, Peer Reviewed Online Journal

From the Editor | Vol. 7 No. 1, May 2017

Welcome to the Spring 2017 issue of CTX. Our production process has gone through some changes over the last two quarters, and we will publish fewer issues in Volume 7 (2017) than in previous years. That does not mean, however, that the quality of the articles and columns we publish will be affected in any way, except as we continually try to improve the journal based on what you, our readers, tell us about what you want to read.

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ISIS Prisons: Where Labor Demand Meets Labor Supply

Armed groups rely on various types of labor resources. Among these laborers are people who are dedicated to the goals of the group, people who are only interested in immediate profit, and people who don’t want anything to do with the work or the war, but have no choice—those who are forced to labor. Forced labor is the least preferable source of labor for any armed group, but as ISIS recently started losing its war in Iraq and its financial resources, it was faced with fewer labor supply options and greater demand for labor... 

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Maritime Terrorism in the Mediterranean Sea

Serving as the crossroads of three continents, the Mediterranean Sea has carried warships, commerce, and culture since the dawn of civilization. It was at the very center of the ancient Western world and enabled the earliest surges of globalization. In the twenty-first century, the Mediterranean still makes it possible for much of the world to share the benefits of human development, but it also conveys the consequences of insecurity. Refugees from war and migrants seeking a better life (and criminals exploiting both) ply its waters day and night, creating a host of security issues for the region’s governments...

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Drones and the Future of Security Policy: A Maritime Case Study for Assessing the Risk of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Given the recent proliferation of affordable and user-friendly small unmanned aircraft systems (sUASs, or “drones”) in the commercial marketplace, security professionals around the globe are grappling with how to safely, efficiently, and legally protect critical infrastructure sites from misuse of this emerging technology. While much attention has been afforded to the dangers drones pose to aircraft, most public research has overlooked sensitive facilities such as nuclear power plants, electrical power stations, and major ground transportation hubs...

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Adapting CT Strategies to Combat Organized Crime Gangs

Like the emerging threat of hybrid warfare, which blurs the lines between state-sponsored aggression and insurgency, the delineation between criminal organizations and terrorist organizations can be hard to distinguish. Networked organized crime organizations, such as criminal motorcycle gangs (CMGs), are more similar to terrorist organizations than they are different. The incentives for their activities are the main difference between CMGs and terrorists; for instance, biker gangs primarily want money and prestige, while terrorists want political change...

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Fundamentalism: The Branch Davidians and the Islamic State

On 19 April 1993, a religious sect known as the Branch Davidians, living near Waco, Texas, became a household name when the world watched live on television as 76 followers died at the hands of the FBI. The FBI described those who died in the inferno as members of a murderous cult who were being manipulated by a religious charlatan and who were committed to violently resisting any intrusions. As investigations unfolded, however, the FBI’s narrative increasingly appeared to be inaccurate...

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THE CTAP INTERVIEW: Vera Mironova, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

This interview is taken from the collection of the Combating Terrorism Archive Project (CTAP).  On 22 May 2016, Dr. Doug Borer, US Naval Postgraduate School, talked with Vera Mironova, a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Maryland and a fellow with the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. They discussed Mironova’s research into how terrorists organize themselves and manage their divisions of labor...

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THE CTAP INTERVIEW: Bruce Hoffman, Georgetown University

This interview is taken from the collection of the Combating Terrorism Archive Project (CTAP).  On 3 February 2017, noted terrorism expert Dr. Bruce Hoffman, director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, visited the US Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California. Dr. Michael Freeman of the Defense Analysis Department at NPS spoke with Dr. Hoffman about the lessons on counterterrorism in Dr. Hoffman’s history of the founding of Israel, Anonymous Soldiers: The Struggle for Israel, 1917–1947 (Knopf, 2015), and about the West’s strategies to defeat ISIS and Salafist terrorism...

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Ethics and Insight: Honor and Truth

Over dinner the other night, a friend asked me, in light of my recent retirement, what I learned about the students I taught over the past 18 years—the majority of whom were military officers or civilians engaged in some form of counterinsurgency or counterterrorism activity across the globe. It was an interesting question, and one I admit I was reluctant to answer, partly because what I learned about my students is inseparable from what I learned from them—and what I learned from them is impossible to express casually over dinner. But the question hung in the air, so I muttered something deliberately opaque and changed the topic...

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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