In this video, Jason Blazakis provides a virtual lecture on “Trump's Deployment of Terrorist Designations: A Look at the IRGC and Russian Imperial Movement.” Jason Blazakis is a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) where he focuses on threat financing, sanctions, violent extremism, and special operations related research. He is also the Director of MIIS’s Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism where he directs research on domestic terrorism, terrorism finance, recruitment, propaganda, and the use of special operations to counter transnational threats. CTEC provides expert guidance to and reports on the nature of far-right and far-left wing extremism to a world-leading Silicon Valley company as it fends off extremist efforts to abuse its platforms.
In this video, American University Associate Professor Stephen Tankel provides a virtual lecture on his experiences serving on the majority staff of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Stephen Tankel is an associate professor at American University and an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. His research focuses on terrorism and counterterrorism, security assistance and cooperation, the use of force, and political and security affairs in South Asia. Dr. Tankel frequently advises U.S. policymakers and members of the Intelligence Community on these issues. He has conducted field research in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Lebanon, Pakistan, Tunisia, and the Balkans. Dr. Tankel has served as a Senior Fellow on the majority staff of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and as a Senior Advisor at the Department of Defense.
In this video, GTD Program Manager Dr. Erin Miller provides a virtual lecture exploring the most recent terrorism trends found in the Global Terrorism Database (GTD). The GTD is the most comprehensive unclassified database of terrorist attacks in the world, and the 2020 update includes details of more than 200,000 events that took place worldwide over 50 years, from 1970 to 2019. The GTD research team combines artificial intelligence and analysis by experienced researchers to systematically identify violent events that meet the definition of terrorism and record a wide range of information about each event. The database, which is sourced by news media articles published around the world, includes more than 100 variables documenting the date, location, weapons, tactics, targets, perpetrators, and casualties and outcomes of each attack. You can view the recent report with the 2019 findings at this link.
In this video, Financial Investigator Rick Magill provides a virtual lecture on “Terrorist Financing Present and Future.” Please note there is an interruption in the video due to a technical difficulty starting at 17:35 and lasting for about two minutes, though the rest of the video is not impacted.
Many government officials have said that one of the most important keys in defeating global terrorism is to starve the terrorists of funding. That is often said without thinking about how terrorists actually fund themselves and what financial sectors are most vulnerable to being exploited by terrorists. Terrorist revenue streams are also constantly evolving, necessitating action that not only will target present funding mechanisms, but future ones as well. This talk delves into the challenges of cutting off funding to terrorists, a task much easier said than done.
In this video, Dr. Steve S. Sin offers a virtual lecture on “Information Warfare.” Misinformation, disinformation, "fake news", "deep fake", "facts under threat", influence operation, these are but a few terms that are swirling about in our society today that are all part of a discipline that has existed - and have been evolving - as long as history itself: information warfare. We will take a journey through the history and evolution of information warfare and explore how the information environment we are living in today - in the context of information warfare - is both similar and different from our past.
In this video, American University School of Communication Assistant Professor Kurt Braddock discusses his new book “Weaponized Words: The Strategic Role of Persuasion in Violent Radicalization and Counter-Radicalization,” which is designed to strengthen your understanding of the persuasive mechanisms used by terrorist groups and how they are effective in order to defeat them. The book applies existing theories of persuasion to domains unique to this digital era, such as social media, YouTube, websites, and message boards to name but a few. Terrorists deploy a range of communication methods and harness reliable communication theories to create strategic messages that persuade peaceful individuals to join their groups and engage in violence. While explaining how they accomplish this, the book lays out a blueprint for developing counter-messages perfectly designed to conquer such violent extremism and terrorism. Using this basis in persuasion theory, a socio-scientific approach is generated to fight terrorist propaganda and the damage it causes.
START Graduate Studies Director Marcus Boyd provided a virtual lecture on “Defining Terrorism,” which was based on a lecture from START’s Graduate Certificate in Terrorism Analysis.
When we talk about terrorism, we often assume that others know what we mean and share the same definition. The words “terrorism” and “terrorist” tell us just as much about the person using the terms as it does about who they are describing. The terms and the tactics flow like a thread through history, but a comprehensive definition remains elusive. This talk delves into the difficulties and pitfalls of defining terrorism. By linking social theory and philosophical thought, we can begin to critically examine why a universal definition of terrorism remains just out of reach.
Arie Kruglanski, David Webber, and Daniel Koehler discussed their new book, “The Radical's Journey: How German Neo-Nazis Voyaged to the Edge and Back,” in a virtual event moderated by START Director William Braniff. The book offers a crucial examination of right-wing extremism, supported by detailed empirical analyses of right-wing militants' experiences within and outside their organizations. The authors delve deeply into the motivations that prompt initial membership in these groups, the elements that make membership appealing, and the factors that ultimately cause members to leave. Interpreting the present empirical data within their psychological theory of radicalization, the authors determine the commonalities and differences between instances of radicalization and derive policy-relevant implications to combat right-wing extremism. In a turbulent global environment where this strain of extremist ideology has gained more mainstream popularity, this book is a critical and timely addition to scholarship on radicalization by leading experts in the field.
In this presentation, START Near-peer Competition Lead Researcher Barnett Koven explores Russian activities in Latin America, which have not received nearly as much coverage as Russian interference in neighboring countries such as Georgia and Ukraine, as well as in the U.S. This presentation will offer a comparative perspective of Russian engagement in Latin America and Eastern Europe. It will cover why Russia chooses to engage in the region and how its engagement differs from its activities closer to home. Key findings will be explicated through a short case study focused on Colombia. The presentation will conclude by discussing potential responses to this aggressive Russian behavior.
Given by START Researcher Egle Murauskaite, this presentation is adapted from the report "Foreign Fighters in Ukraine: Assessing Potential Risks," which is the first academic publication to focus exclusively on the subject of foreigners taking part in the conflict in Ukraine. What types of people does this conflict attract, and what happens to them upon returning home? Many in the West have come to mistakenly view these fighters as a potential risk of radicalization and violent extremism - erroneously comparing them to radicalized fighters returning from Iraq, Syria, and other hotspots in the Middle East. Instead, the risks associated with foreign fighters returning from Ukraine lie elsewhere: stigmatization upon return, their latent potential for foreign-directed disruptive action, and irresponsible media coverage that turns them into heroes for self-radicalizing elements of society.