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START Newsletter: Under Secretary to address Countering Violent Extremism

National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START)

Under Secretary Sonenshine: Public Diplomacy and Countering Violent Extremism,
March 27

START will host U.S. Department of State Under Secretary Tara Sonenshine as she discusses “Public Diplomacy and Countering Violent Extremism” at 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 27 at the University of Maryland. The event will be held in Stamp Student Union's Atrium (Rm. 1107) and is free and open to the public. Sonenshine will discuss international terrorism, public diplomacy, online media and social networking usage and the power of video games to counter extremism. Limited space is available, so please RSVP by Friday, March 15 to infostart@start.umd.edu.
Graduate Certificate in Terrorism Analysis: Information Session, March 14
Current practitioners, those looking to break into the terrorism studies field and established scholars who are interested in earning a Graduate Certificate in Terrorism Analysis through START can learn more about the program through an online information session 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14. Register now…


Should START researchers embrace the brain?
Pete Simi and Gina Scott Ligon, based at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, discuss the pros and cons of incorporating a neuroscience approach to the study of terrorism. They conclude that social scientists should team up with neuroscientists to examine violent extremist groups to better understand how phenomena such as deradicalization, propaganda, and social networks are associated with violent extremist behavior, attitudes and physiology. Full story…


DHS renews support for the Integrated US Security Database (IUSSD)
With nearly $820,000 in new grant funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s Resilient Systems Division, START researchers are creating an integrated relational database that can be used by researchers and practitioners to conduct analyses and provide insights into the dynamics of terrorist activity and extremist crime in the United States.  Full story…
Database Spotlight: Update on Profiles of Perpetrators of Terrorism in the US
START recently updated its Profiles of Perpetrators of Terrorism in the United States (PPT-US) dataset, which provides detailed information on the 147 organizations known to have engaged in terrorist activity against targets on United States soil between 1970 and 2011. Within the dataset, 31 terrorist group profiles have been updated, seven have been added and three have been removed. Full story…  
Student research recognized by Combating Terrorism Center
CTC at West Point recently recognized the research of four START students for their projects examining the characteristics, causes and implications of terrorism. Their research explored topics ranging from Somali-American radicalization in the Diaspora to a capacity-building proposal for Diyarbakir, Turkey. Full story…

Naval Research Laboratory creates unique career opportunities for students
An unpaid internship with START led to an internship with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) for Jesse Thrift, who now works at the NRL as a research assistant. He is part of a team that conducts research on different criminological and sociological projects for various government agencies. Full story…
START researcher explores how terrorism affects democracy
Nil Satana, START visiting faculty member, recently delivered a talk based on her forthcoming research finding that terrorism weakens the quality of democracy in developing and advanced democracies, such as the United States and Turkey. Full story…
START study abroad focuses on Australia’s counterterrorism strategies
Last month, 14 START students traveled to Australia to learn about the country’s counterterrorism policies. As part of a unique winter-term study abroad program, students met with terrorism experts at Sydney’s Macquarie University to learn how terrorism impacts Australia and other Pacific Rim countries. Full story…
START’s training events help others understand terrorism
In the past month, START staff members have participated in four training events designed to help a wide range of audiences understand the phenomenon of terrorism. These audiences included state and local law enforcement, newly appointed state homeland security advisors, the FBI’s Fly Team and a cross-section of the interagency. Full story…
Intern Spotlight: Rick Magill
Rick Magill, a current second-year graduate student at the University of Maryland, is working with Special Project's Open Source Intelligence research in Europe. His research is focusing on criminal and terrorist groups, and identifying new and emerging patterns in national security interests. Full story…

START to expand social media presence
To give our Consortium and colleagues across the country and around the globe a greater chance to keep up with START news, researchers and projects, we will be increasing our presence through social media channels Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Full story…


The Organizational Dynamics of Far-Right Hate Groups in the United States: Comparing Violent to Nonviolent Organizations
This article by START researchers Steven Chermak , Joshua Freilich and Michael Suttmoeller identifies the factors that distinguish violent from nonviolent far-right hate groups in the United States, further illuminating characteristics of violent groups and articulating the factors that increased groups’ propensity to commit violence. Click here for article.
Religion, Government Coalitions, and Terrorism, Terrorism and Political Violence
This article by START researchers Nil S. Satana , Molly Inman and Jóhanna Kristín Birnir argues that extremist factions within minority groups make use of divergence in religion to mobilize support for violent action when the group is excluded from government. Click here for article. 
Handbook of Computational Approaches to Counterterrorism
This book provides the first in-depth look at how advanced mathematics and modern computing technology is shaping the study of terrorist groups. This book includes contributions from world experts in the field, featuring numerous articles authored by START Researchers, including: Victor Asal, Erica Chenoweth, Laura Dugan, Gary LaFree and Jonathan Wilkenfeld. Click here for articles.


Tunisia: Major political player assassinated outside of his home
Tunisian politician Chokri Belaid was assassinated on Feb. 6 in broad day light, sparking protests and strikes throughout the capital. No group has claimed responsibility for this attack. Full story…
Turkey: US Embassy target of suicide bombing
The United States Embassy complex in Ankara, Turkey was the target of a suicide bombing on Feb. 1, when a member of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party detonated explosives near the complex. The bombing killed a security guard and wounded several others. Full story…

Colombia: Two German tourists continue to be held by members of ELN
Members of the National Liberation Army of Colombia (ELN) have held German tourists Uwe and Gunther Breuer hostage for a number of weeks and are demanding proof the two are not spies. Full story…


Psychology and national security
This Psychiatric Times article discusses the role of psychological insights in promoting national security and peace. It highlights the work of START Researcher Arie Kruglanski, who presented his research on “The Quest for Significance as the Underlying Motivation for Terrorism” during a recent symposium. Full story…
Interviewing the terrorists: reflections and implications
John Horgan, START researcher and Director of the International Center for the Study of Terrorism, authored this blog post for the Extremis Project about interviewing terrorists and the need for researchers to be more explicit about the origins, uses and limitations of interviews as a method of data collection. Full story…

Al-Shabaab mostly used Twitter to spin its narrative of events
This Fierce Homeland Security Article discusses a recent START Research Brief analyzing how al-Shabaab used Twitter. The brief is based on work by James Sheehan, Shiraz Maher and Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, funded through START and the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence. Full story…


This is a selection of news clips from the past month.
A complete list of START’s media coverage can be found here.



Last month START Headquarters packed up its offices in Symons Hall and moved to the second floor of the University of Maryland’s Route 1 Annex, adjacent to campus at 8400 Baltimore Avenue, Suite 250, College Park, MD 20740. Full story…


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The START Consortium is dedicated to generating knowledge of the human causes and consequences of terrorism. Applying rigorous standards to both research and education, START seeks to illuminate one of the most highly politicized and understudied phenomena in the social sciences for students, practitioners and policy-makers. Funded primarily through research grants to date, START is seeking to generate an endowment that will provide the flexibility and autonomy to ensure that it can continue to serve as an objective source of data and empirically based analysis into the future.  To donate, or for more information, please click here.

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