From the Director

Thanks to Editor-in-Chief Paul Cruickshank for allowing me to take over this space this month as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Combating Terrorism Center, established at West Point in February 2003. Originally the vision of Mr. Vinnie Viola, Brigadier General (Retired) Russ Howard, and General Wayne Downing, the CTC has evolved into a trusted global hub for scholars, practitioners, and policymakers. At the heart of what we do are the Cadets of West Point, who have made the Terrorism Studies Minor the number-one choice of minors at West Point over the last 10 years and who graduate to lead our nation’s Soldiers in complex times. This mission is empowered by 20 years of teammates, donors, partners, and stakeholders around the world who ensure the CTC is delivering cutting-edge research and insight in the fight against terrorism. While the CTC has been a mainstay of the CT fight for the last two decades, I posit that the most important time for this team is now. As national security priorities and resources rebalance toward strategic competition, the CTC will maintain its focus on understanding current and future terrorism threats to our nation and to the world, ready to assist our nation and our allies wherever we are called. To all who have made this possible, thank you.

In this issue, the directors of the Combating Terrorism Center over the past 20 years—Brigadier General (Retired) Russell Howard, Colonel (Retired) Kip McCormick, Colonel (Retired) Joseph H. Felter, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Reid L. Sawyer, Colonel (Retired) Liam Collins, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Bryan C. Price, Brian Dodwell and myself—provide our reflections on the contribution the Center has made to the counterterrorism enterprise.

In our interview Col. (Res.) Omer Bar Lev, the former Minister of Public Security of Israel, discusses recent security challenges in Israel and warns that a potential third intifada is “getting closer and closer.” Aaron Zelin examines Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’s ‘counterterrorism’ campaign against the Islamic State in northwestern Syria. As concern rises over the threat posed by older far-right terrorists, David Wells examines relevant data in the United Kingdom.

Colonel Sean Morrow, Director, Combating Terrorism Center


Over 20 years, the CTC has had more teammates, partners, Cadets, and donors than we could ever hope to thank in one space. However, there is one teammate who has been doing the work with the CTC for the entire 20 years. Congratulations and thank you to Dr. Bruce Hoffman on two decades of service with the Center. Dr. Hoffman is the CTC’s only Senior Fellow who has been in the trenches with the Center since day one and continues to this day. From all of us at the CTC, thank you for your leadership, insight, wisdom, partnership, and friendship. 

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