Emails, Erin Miller, program manager, Global Terrorism Database, National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland, Nov. 7, 2017

5:36 p.m.

As discussed I reviewed the nine attacks referenced below and indicated whether or not we would attribute them to Islamic State-inspired individuals. We would not attribute any of these attacks to Islamic State itself. The post-June determinations are preliminary as we haven't done the data collection for these attacks yet. I just reviewed the media coverage quickly.

  1. 3/22/2017 – London, United Kingdom  – Westminster Bridge attack NO (no indication perpetrator was inspired by IS)
  2. 4/7/ 2017 – Stockholm, Sweden – Hijacked truck attack on central street in Stockholm MAYBE (initial reports were inconclusive, but this source suggests yes. Will revisit.)
  3. 6/3/2017 – London, United Kingdom – London Bridge and Borough Market attack YES (references to IS propaganda)
  4. 6/19/2017 – Paris, France – Champs-Elysee car ramming attack YES (We didn't initially flag this as IS-inspired but sources suggest yes)
  5. 8/9/2017 –Paris, France – Soldier barracks attack  NO (As far as I can tell there are no reports whatsoever on motive. After a quick search I don't even see reports that IS "claimed" this one i.e., called him their soldier.)
  6. 8/17/2017 – Barcelona, Spain – Las Ramblas attack NO (IS "claimed" the perps as soldiers, but I'm not seeing any info corroborating this. This article calls it an IS attack, but despite great depth seems to offer no actual link to IS beyond the claim.)
  7. 8/18/2017 – Cambrils, Spain– Vehicle ramming NO (See above)
  8. 9/30/2017 – Edmonton, Canada  – Police ramming and stabbing YES (IS flag in truck)
  9. 10/31/2017 – New York – Lower Manhattan bike path attack YES (Letter, statements made by perpetrator.)

Erin

Erin Miller

Program Manager, Global Terrorism Database

National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism

University of Maryland

On 11/7/2017 6:04 PM, Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin) wrote:
 
In our phone visit today, you said the consortium considers an attack to be connected with ISIS only if perpetrators show, or proclaim, an affinity or affiliation. You said it’s not enough solely for ISIL to claim responsibility as it did after the Westminster Bridge attack.

Anything more on this?

G.

6:07 p.m.

Sure, first I'd clarify that I was referring to attacks outside the region where ISIL is known to be based (Iraq/Syria) and add that even referring to these ISIL statements as "claims of responsibility" is generous. I try to avoid it though it does roll off the tongue and the media tends to adopt it without reservation. If you look at ISIL's actual statements, they're typically brief and indicate that the assailants were "soldiers of the Caliphate." That's intentionally vague and doesn't actually "claim" tactical responsibility for the attack beyond a blanket assumption that because they urge individuals to carry out attacks on their own, all assailants are therefore acting at ISIL's behest. More on that here, but as I mentioned on the phone this is splitting hairs between the concept of responsibility in a tactical/operational sense and responsibility in an abstract philosophical sense.

Second is the issue of credibility. In these situations we'll classify an attack as ISIL-inspired if the perpetrators who carried out the attack indicate in some way that they were inspired by ISIL. You'll see from the list I just sent that this can take various forms, direct and indirect including statements made by the perpetrators, propaganda found on their devices, IS flags, references by witnesses, etc. Likewise, in order to classify an attack outside Iraq/Syria as perpetrated by ISIL (not just ISIL-inspired individuals) we need some evidence that ISIL members they were tactically/operationally responsible. The 2015 Paris attacks are a good example of this. The actual perpetrators who orchestrated and carried out the attack were ID'd by authorities as members of ISIL.

In Iraq/Syria there's a bit of a lower bar. If authorities or witnesses attribute the attack to ISIL, or if ISIL claims an attack we'll take that at face value unless there's indication of doubt in the source materials. If so, we'll mark the attribution as "suspected."

Apologies for the long answer, hopefully it's clear.

Best,

Erin

Erin Miller

Program Manager, Global Terrorism Database

National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism

University of Maryland

6:11 p.m.

Here's a brief that lays out how we classify ISIL-related terrorism:

https://www.start.umd.edu/pubs/START_IslamicStateTerrorismPatterns_BackgroundReport_Aug2016.pdf

Partial update: 

https://www.start.umd.edu/pubs/START_GTD_OverviewTerrorism2016_August2017.pdf

Erin Miller

Program Manager, Global Terrorism Database

National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism

University of Maryland