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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. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this video are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of START, the University of Maryland or the United States government.

Event Coverage

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.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this video are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of START, the University of Maryland or the United States government.

Event Coverage

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. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this video are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of START, the University of Maryland or the United States government.

Event Coverage

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. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this video are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of START, the University of Maryland or the United States government.

Event Coverage

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. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this video are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of START, the University of Maryland or the United States government.

Event Coverage

Former START TRA Kurt Braddock recently gave a talk on two new projects in communication theory and experimental methods in the study of radicalization and counter-radicalization. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this video are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of START, the University of Maryland or the United States government.

Event Coverage

START Researcher Martha Crenshaw and START Director Gary LaFree highlighted some of the challenges facing counterterrorism policy makers during a lecture on their new book Countering Terrorism. Crenshaw and LaFree were joined by the National Counterterrorism Center’s Todd Veazie, a former Navy SEAL. This video is a recording of the event. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this video are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of START, the University of Maryland or the United States government.

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