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Global Islamism Monitor - No. 49

Edited by Ilan Berman and Jacqueline McCann
February 16, 2018

Members of the Taliban have established schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan in an effort to train a rising generation in the group's austere Islamist creed. Images of the schools obtained by Western media sources show staff members carrying weapons while observing students at their studies. At the same time, the group continues to target schools in parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan that promote western education and teachings frowned upon by the Taliban. (London
Daily Mail, December 5, 2017)


The Taliban has created a "special forces unit" designed to carry out elite missions, primarily against the Afghan National Army, police force, and other "high-value targets." The unit, known as the "Sara Kheta," is made up of as many as 1,000 highly-trained and well-equipped recruits, and has carried out a series of significant attacks against Afghan forces — including a November 2017 attack on Afghan security personnel that left dozens dead. (
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, December 5, 2017)


At the height of its power in 2014 and 2015, the Islamic State was the best-funded threat group in history, generating nearly $2 billion annually from diverse sources, ranging from taxation to the sale of antiquities. But now, amid battlefield reversals and a catastrophic loss of territory, the organization appears to be turning to other means of sustenance. According to Vasily Nebenzya, the head of Russia's mission to the United Nations, the group has begun compensating for the loss of its traditional revenue streams by turning to running online gambling websites. "They are honing their skills with modern technology," Nebenzya has told a recent meeting of the Security Council. "Caliphate fighters are not shying away from seeking revenue from online casinos." (
The Moscow Times, February 9, 2018)


The collapse of the Islamic State's "caliphate" is turning out to be a lucrative enterprise for Syrian rebels. At Least 450 IS members so far are believed to have relied on U.S.-backed groups to smuggle them away from the area of fighting and into Syria's interior, often paying thousands of dollars at various Free Syrian Army and Syrian Defense Forces' checkpoints along the way. The price to smuggle an Islamic State member out of the group's crumbling territory varies based upon his or her ranking and location, but is said to range from $2,000 to $10,000. (Abu Dhabi
The National, February 6, 2018)


After years of turning a blind eye, the United States is finally moving to penalize Pakistan's government for its extensive sponsorship of terrorism. The Trump administration has formally proposed that the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) once again place the country on its global terrorist-financing watchlist. The move, which comes on the heels the Trump administration's decision to withhold some $2 billion in aid to the Pakistani government, could have major implications for the country's already ailing economy.

For their part, officials in Islamabad are scrambling to stop the blacklisting. "We are now working with the U.S., UK, Germany and France for the nomination to be withdrawn," Pakistan's acting finance minister Miftah Ismail has told reporters. "We are also quite hopeful that even if the U.S. did not withdraw the nomination that we will prevail and not be put on the watchlist." (
Reuters, February 13, 2018)

Related Categories: Iran; Southeast Asia; Afghanistan; Countering Islamic Extremism Project

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