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In Depth

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Part 1: An Unconventional Military

in In Depth

Hossein Nikpor/Pakistan Defence // The IRGC added 12 Zolfaqhar class speedboats to its naval fleet.Editor's Note: In light of the April 28 boarding of a Maersk Line ship in the Strait of Hormuz by Iranian naval forces belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Stratfor is republishing its detailed October 2012 report on the elite corps.

Although details are still emerging, what is known is that the Maersk Tigris was stopped in Iranian waters and boarded, before being redirected to the port of Bandar Abbas under escort.

The Maersk Tigris was sailing under a Marshall Islands flag and is managed by Rickmers Ship Management, the Singapore-based arm of Hamburg's Rickmers Group. U.S.-based company Oaktree Capital originally had the ship constructed in the Philippines and retains ownership rights. The crew of 34 is believed to be multinational.

In Depth: Documents Reveal How Terrorists Are Targeted for Drone Strikes

in In Depth

Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt/U.S. Air Force/Reuters // Strikes by drones have come under new scrutiny since an April disclosure that a strike killed two aid workers held in Pakistan.Scott Shane (The New York Times) — Early in 2012, worried that suicide bombers might pass through airline security undetected, American counterterrorism officials ordered a drone strike in Yemen to kill a doctor they believed was working with Al Qaeda to surgically implant explosives in operatives, according to British intelligence documents.

The documents, previously undisclosed, include details about how terrorism suspects are targeted in drone strikes and how strikes can go wrong at times. The documents also show how closely the National Security Agency has worked in Pakistan and Yemen with its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters, or G.C.H.Q.

Britain has carried out drone strikes only in war zones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. The documents raise the possibility that in addition, British intelligence may have helped guide American strikes outside conventional war zones.

In Depth: Iraqis and Syrians Describe Life Under ISIS Rule

in In Depth

Militant website/AP // In this photo released on May 14, 2015 by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, a member of the Islamic State group's vice police known as Hisba, right, reads a verdict handed down by an Islamic court sentencing many they accused of adultery to lashing, in Raqqa City, Syria.Zeina Karam, Vivian Salama, Bram Janssen and Lee Keath (Associated Press) — When the Islamic State fighters burst into the Iraqi village of Eski Mosul, Sheikh Abdullah Ibrahim knew his wife was in trouble.

Buthaina Ibrahim was an outspoken human rights advocate who had once run for the provincial council in Mosul. The IS fighters demanded she apply for a "repentance card." Under the rule of the extremist group, all former police officers, soldiers and people whose activities are deemed "heretical" must sign the card and carry it with them at all times.

"She said she'd never stoop so low," her husband said. Buthaina Ibrahim was an outlier in her defiance of the Islamic State. It would cost her dearly.

The Secret History of SEAL Team 6: Quiet Killings and Blurred Lines

in In Depth

Stephanie Freid-Perenchio // Navy SEAL training exercises carried out in Coronado, Calif., include rapid descents from helicopters.Mark Mazzetti, Nicholas Kulish, Christopher Drew, Serge F. Kovaleski, Sean D. Naylor and John Ismay (The New York Times) — They have plotted deadly missions from secret bases in the badlands of Somalia.

In Afghanistan, they have engaged in combat so intimate that they have emerged soaked in blood that was not their own. On clandestine raids in the dead of the night, their weapons of choice have ranged from customized carbines to primeval tomahawks.

Around the world, they have run spying stations disguised as commercial boats, posed as civilian employees of front companies and operated undercover at embassies as male-female pairs, tracking those the United States wants to kill or capture.

The Death Squad Dilemma: Counterinsurgency Policy and the Salvadoran Model

in In Depth

Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos // On December 11, 1981, units from the Salvadoran Army killed 800 civilians, over half of them children, in the village of El Mozote.Steve Dobransky (Foreign Policy Journal) — This paper analyzes and evaluates the use of death squads in counterinsurgencies. It, particularly, examines the Salvadoran counterinsurgency (COIN) model and its potential applicability to current and future wars.

The Salvadoran model involved widespread use of death squads and other paramilitary units both officially and unofficially sanctioned. Despite being hailed as a success by many in the COIN community, the Salvadoran model was not applied in the Afghan and Iraq Wars.

This paper attempts to explain the key factors in determining whether or not the Salvadoran model tends to be more applicable in an unconventional war and, if so, whether it can be done successfully.

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