Video and Shapiro’s book The Terrorist’s Dilemma

Here’s a great 90 minute video of Jake Shapiro, Bruce Hoffman and Will McCants speaking at an event announcing the release of Jake’s new book, The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations.

His book systematically examines the structural differences between terrorist groups, discusses the core managerial challenges these groups face, and illustrates how the organizations are affected by their political goals and operational environments.  Shapiro provides a historically-informed explanation for why some groups have little hierarchy, while others resemble miniature firms.  Looking at groups in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America, he highlights how consistent and widespread the terrorist’s dilemma — balancing the desire to maintain control with the need for secrecy — has been since the 1880s. A good read for anyone interested in a higher-level study of terrorist organizations.

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Launch Event Sept 24: Center for Terrorism & Security Studies

See the following link for details on the formal launch of the UML Center for Terrorism and Security Studies. Participants include:

  • Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis III
  • Former National Security Council Deputy for
    Counterterrorism Roger Cressey ‘87
  • National Counter Terrorism Center Deputy
    Director Nicholas Rasmussen
  • FBI Boston Division Special Agent in Charge Vincent B. Lisi
  • Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety Andrea Cabral

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New PoT Issue: Terrorist Financing

Check out the August issue of Perspectives on Terrorism for several articles on Terrorist Financing and an extensive guide to conducting literature reviews.


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Reflections on Terrorism Studies

On this anniversary of 9/11 it seems appropriate to reflect on how Terrorism Studies has evolved as a field of interdisciplinary research and education. A recent article raises a number of good points for consideration:

There are still research grants available for scholars in this field, and many publishing opportunities in respected peer-reviewed journals (particularly in our own journal, Perspectives on Terrorism), and there has been a proliferation of research centers (like CTSS) at which you can pursue sophisticated research (for example, see the list of 100 Centers compiled by Benjamin Friedman). UMass Lowell will soon be offering a doctoral-level education in terrorism studies, an option within our PhD program in the School of Criminology and Justice Studies. There are Master’s degree programs throughout the U.S. as well.

Overall, I take a “glass is half full” attitude toward the current state of the field. Surely I’m an optimist, but being an optimist may actually be required for those who study the terrible things that terrorists do to innocent people. The reality is that terrorism has been a part of human history for centuries, and is unlikely to go away anytime soon. With that in mind, academe appears to be slowly, perhaps grudgingly acknowledging the need to study the phenomenon of terrorism, understand the many complexities of it, and hopefully discover new ways to contain, mitigate, and even prevent it in the future.


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New Research Center at UMass Lowell

A few years ago, our journal Perspectives on Terrorism published a very popular resource article by Benjamin Freedman, “Terrorism Research Centres: 100 Institutes, Programs and Organisations in the Field of Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism, Radicalisation and Asymmetric Warfare Studies“. 

Now that the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies at UMass Lowell is up and running (with Professor John Horgan as Director – see we’re going to need to update that list . . .

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Book Review of WMD and Terrorism

Great review of my book WMD & Terrorism (co-edited with Russ Howard), from the Spring 2013 Journal of Strategic Studies. Click here:

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New book: Homeland Security & Terrorism

The 2d edition of Homeland Security and Terrorism has now been published by McGraw-Hill.


Information is available online at the following link:

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Illicit Networks and National Security

New book of interest from the Center for Complex Operations at National Defense University, Convergence: Illicit Networks and National Security in the Age of Globalization.

Free download of full volume in PDF, at:

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Media and the Boston terror attack

Living here in the Boston area, the past week has been an almost sleepless blur. Here are some news stories for which I was interviewed:

CNBC interview #3 about Boston
» Continue reading “Media and the Boston terror attack”

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New U.S. Intelligence Primer

A new “Overview of U.S. National Intelligence” has been released by the ODNI, and is available online at: 2013 Overview_web.pdf

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Inspire Magazine’s 10th Issue

Assessing Inspire Magazine’s 10th Edition

By Scott Stewart  [ VP of Analysis at STRATFOR ]

Republished with permission of Stratfor.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released the 10th edition of its English-language magazine, Inspire, on March 1. After discussing its contents with our analytical team, initially I decided not to write about it. I concluded that Inspire 10 conformed closely to the previous nine editions and that our analysis of the magazine, from its inception to its re-emergence after the death of editor Samir Khan, was more than adequate.

Since making that decision, however, I have been very surprised at how the media and other analysts have received the magazine. Some have overhyped the magazine even as others have downplayed — even ridiculed — its content. I have heard others say the magazine revealed nothing about al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. All these reactions are misguided. So in response, I’ve endeavored to provide a more balanced assessment that can be placed in a more appropriate perspective.

» Continue reading “Inspire Magazine’s 10th Issue”

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2013 Threat Assessment and Cybersecurity

The Directorate of National Intelligence has just released the 2013 Worldwide Threat Assessment, which places cyber security as a higher threat than terrorism. Interesting . . . [ Click here to download the full report ]

With that in mind, perhaps the 2013 European Cyber Security Conference (May 16, in Brussels) will draw a lot of attention. Details are online at:


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America’s Far-Right Extremists

An excellent new report on violent far-right extremists, published by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, is available here.

This study provides a conceptual foundation for understanding different far-right groups and then presents the empirical analysis of violent incidents to identify those perpetrating attacks and their associated trends. Through a comprehensive look at the data, this study addresses three core questions: (1) What are the main current characteristics of the violence produced by the far right? (2) What type of far-right groups are more prone than others to engage in violence? How are characteristics of particular far-right groups correlated with their tendency to engage in violence? and (3) What are the social and political factors associated with the level of far-right violence? Are there political or social conditions that foster or discourage violence?



Also of related interest, the report and data on Homegrown Terrorism Cases, 2001-2011 by the New America Foundation and Syracuse University’s Maxwell School. URL:

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WMD and Terrorism article in JSS

My article, “A Framework for Analyzing the Future Threat of WMD Terrorism,” has been published in the Winter 2012 issue of the Journal of Strategic Security, and is now available online at:


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Global trends in kidnapping by terrorist groups

The academic journal Global Change, Peace and Security has recently published an article of mine on kidnapping by terrorist groups, using data 1970-2010. You can download a free copy of the article at the following link:

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