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Predicting the Next Terrorist Attack in the U.S.

Based on the historical record and current threat analysis of available evidence, some projections can be made about the next major terrorist attack in the U.S.

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Clarification about the Links between Islam and Terrorism

Much as I’ve wanted to avoid this debate about Islamophobia and current members of the presidential administration, as a research and educator in terrorism studies there are some things I need to point out.

1). Islamist extremists have been blowing up themselves and others in dozens of countries for the last half century, including our own. Nobody I know or care about is trying to minimize this reality. That said, mis-diagnosing the nature of this threat as one that applies throughout all of Islam – and formulating polices based on false perceptions – is dangerous and ill-advised. Criticisms of those misperceptions are not “libtard apologists for Islam” or any such nonsense. Many experts in security studies and counterterrorism have been pushing back against the Islamophibic primarily because they want to see a more effective counterterrorism approach, one based on evidence and thorough intelligence analysis rather than fear and hysteria.

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Trust, Security and Travel Bans

by James J.F. Forest, Ph.D.
February 11, 2017

How does an effective system of security work in the real world, beyond political and media punditry? Ask a professional in law enforcement, military or the intelligence community and you’ll hear an overwhelmingly common response:  security is built and maintained on relationships of trust, at every level. Healthy, trusted community and police relationships are key to maintaining peace and order, and for intelligence gathering on crime and security threats. Trust is critical for interagency cooperation and information sharing between local, state and federal agencies. At the national level, the different agencies and branches of government must trust each other implicitly in order to work together toward the overall common objective of ensuring security for the the nation and its interests. And at the international level, trusted relationships are vital for military cooperation, intelligence sharing, cross-national crime and terror investigations, diplomacy, economic security, energy security, cybersecurity, and so much more. These are all components of an effective security system for any country.

A quick caveat before I continue, as a response to some angry messages I have received from Trump supporters. The criticisms that I have shared publicly over the past few weeks about the current presidential administration and its policies have nothing to do with being against one political party or in favor of another. I have always registered to vote as an independent, and I much prefer discussions that focus on data, evidence and academic objectivity over politicized debates. My criticisms are based on what I have learned about effective counterterrorism (and security writ large), and my concerns over policy decisions that may result in our being less secure over time. There are two main themes in my criticisms: 1) the lack of real operational effectiveness and the potential damage this approach may have on our overall national security objectives; and 2) the rhetoric which is being utilized by some members of the administration (and supporters, including some in the media) in their attempts to justify these policies. Both of these areas of concern threaten to undermine critical relationships and trust on different levels, as described below.

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During the spring and summer months of 2017, I’ll be writing a new version of The Terrorism Lectures. Any recommendations for improvement (new topics that should be covered, mistakes that need to be fixed, et al.) are welcome and appreciated. You can send them to me directly via Facebook messaging  (https://www.facebook.com/TerrorismLectures).

Thanks. JF

 

 

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Sebastian Gorka & David Kilcullen on strategic communication

From the department of “it’s a small world,” Sebastian Gorka (before he was famous) and David Kilcullen co-wrote an interesting chapter “Who’s Winning the Battle for Narrative,” which was published in my 2007 edited volume Influence Warfare.

Here is an excerpt:

To simplify matters, and given the urgency of the task, we can boil the above down into three fundamental questions the United States and its allies must answer if they are to have any chance of building a coherent strategic communications platform which can delegitimize al-Qaida.

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Loopcast interview on Future of Terrorism & CT

May 19th, 2016

Dr. James J.F. Forest discusses The Future of Terrorism and Counterterrorism (CT) online at the Loopcast: http://www.theloopcast.com/e/the-future-of-terrorism-and-counterterrorism/

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Essentials of Counterterrorism

My new book, Essentials of Counterterrorism, is now available in paperback and hard cover.

Publisher’s website: http://www.abc-clio.com/ABC-CLIOCorporate/product.aspx?pc=A4446C

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Essentials-Counterterrorism-Praeger-Security-International/dp/1440832838

 

 

 

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Terrorist Magazines Report

Online Terrorist Magazines:
A report from the Cyberterrorism Project (Swansea) in collaboration with UMass Lowell’s Center for Terrorism & Security Studies:
http://www.cyberterrorism-project.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/CTP-2015-Report-Nov-03.pdf

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PT Special Issue on the Islamic State

The peer-reviewed journal Perspectives on Terrorism has published a special issue on the Islamic State with 14 research articles on various aspects of the organization, in addition to an extensive, specially compiled bibliography on IS.

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Terrorism Lectures, 2nd Edition

http://www.nortiapress.com/portfolio-item/forest/ Click here for information about the new Second Edition of the Terrorism Lectures course textbook.

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Publishing in an Academic Journal

Interesting piece in the Guardian: “How to get published in an academic journal: top tips from editors”
http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/jan/03/how-to-get-published-in-an-academic-journal-top-tips-from-editors

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Report: Lessons from the Hunt for Joseph Kony

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Congrats to CTSS at UMass Lowell

Department of Defense 2014 Minerva grant awards have been announced. UMass Lowell’s Center for Terrorism & Security Studies have received two of them – outstanding!

Here is the formal UMass Lowell CTSS Press Release

See the full list at: http://minerva.dtic.mil/funded.html

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Terrorism Research Conference, Sept. 2014

Click here for information on the 8th Annual International Conference on Terrorism and Counterterrorism (September 17-19, 2014), to be held in Boston and co-sponsored by UMass Lowell’s Center for Terrorism & Security Studies, the Society for Terrorism Research, and UMass Boston.

 

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Countering the al-Shabaab Insurgency in Somalia

JSOU Report: Countering the al-Shabaab Insurgency in Somalia: Lessons for U.S. Special Operations Forces by Graham Turbiville, Josh Meservey, and James Forest

In this report, the authors argue that al-Shabaab’s current prospects have probably never been so low.  This work provides a meaningful context to al-Shabaab and the Somali milieu.  Al Shabaab has been pushed from all of its major strongholds by a robust international effort, and its violent Salafism has alienated many Somalis.  But it still has teeth.  It continues to harass coalition forces, as well as ordinary Somalis, with improvised explosive devices, suicide bombings, and assassinations.  Its tactics reflect a strategic decision made by its leadership to fight a guerrilla war, a familiar role for a group that thrived by waging an anti-Ethiopian insurgency in the emid-2000s.  This monograph is a useful resource for anyone who wishes to know more about the conflict in the Horn of Africa.

Click here to Download the full report in PDF

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