A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

December News: UWT presents on foreign influence operations


December News: UWT presents on foreign influence operations

December 20, 2021

NEWS

Unconventional Weapons and Technology team present research on influence operations at Laboratory for Analytic Sciences symposium
Earlier this month, Unconventional Weapons and Technology (UWT) researchers Megan Rutter and Rhyner Washburn and UWT Director Dr. Steve Sin provided a virtual presentation titled “Influence-to-Action Model (I-AM) Development: Measuring Foreign Influence Operation Impact” at the 2021 Laboratory for Analytic Sciences (LAS) Symposium.

Students participate in violence prevention simulation with ICONS Project
In November, a group of ten high school students gathered at the headquarters of the Alliance of Concerned Men (ACM) in Anacostia, Md. to participate in a simulation of community violence with START’s ICONS Project.

START Founding Director delivers Sutherland lecture at American Society of Criminology annual meeting
START Founding Director Gary LaFree delivered the Sutherland lecture, titled “In the Shadow of 9/11:  How the Study of Political Extremism Has Reshaped Criminology,” in Chicago, Ill. at the annual meetings of the American Society of Criminology (ASC) in November.

FEATURED PUBLICATIONS

Dynamic Dimensions of Radicalization and Violent Extremism in Sabah, Malaysia
Henkin, Samuel D.
Malaysia offers a unique lens to evaluate the changing dynamics of radicalization and extremism in Southeast Asia, as the threat of both home-grown and external extremism grows. The country’s geographic location, bordering multiple active centers of violent extremism (the southern Philippines, southern Thailand, and Indonesia), makes it particularly vulnerable to further threats from violent extremism and terrorism, as regional and local violent extremist organizations (VEOs) exploit Malaysian geohistorical contexts and growing grievances related to social and political instability.  Threats and risks of violent extremism are especially pronounced and manifest with severe consequences in the Malaysian state of Sabah.

QAnon-inspired Violence in the United States: An Empirical Assessment of a Misunderstood Threat
Jensen, Michael A. and Sheehan Kane
National security experts in the United States have recently warned that the QAnon conspiracy theory is a danger that could soon rival more traditional terrorist threats. Are their fears warranted? Are QAnon supporters like other U.S. extremists? This paper addresses these questions by examining 100 QAnon sympathizers who committed crimes in the United States through August 2021. We argue that while QAnon presents a danger, it is not a traditional terrorist threat. QAnon offenders have not displayed the motivation or capabilities required to successfully carry out terrorist attacks. Rather, QAnon adherents have been primarily motivated to commit acts of interpersonal violence, often targeting those around them, including their own children. 

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

Online Winter Courses
START offers fully online summer and winter courses each year which are open to any current degree seeking student or non-degree seeking individual. Current University of Maryland students may register through Testudo. Non-University of Maryland students must apply as non-degree seeking students, visiting students, or students with Golden ID Cardholder Status through the University of Maryland’s Office of Extended Studies. The class this winter includes “Social Network Analysis for Terrorism,” and will run from January 3-21, 2022.
 
Master of Professional Studies (MPS) degree in Security and Terrorism Studies
Prospective students can now apply for START’s fully online MPS in Security & Terrorism Studies. The program is appropriate for individuals interested in (and/or currently) working in fields related to intelligence analysis, national security analysis, or analysis of other relevant topic areas, and individuals interested in (and/or currently) conducting scholarly research on terrorism and security. Apply by January 7, 2022 for Spring 2022. 

Global Terrorism Studies Minor Program
START has developed an undergraduate minor in Global Terrorism Studies, a cross-disciplinary program housed in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Maryland. The minor is designed to train the next generation of terrorism analysts, including students who plan to pursue graduate study related to terrorism as well as employment in the federal, state, local, non-profit, and/or private sectors. START accepts applications to the program from University of Maryland undergraduates once per calendar year, during the spring semester. Apply by February 11, 2022 for Fall 2022. 

OTHER OPPORTUNITIES

Postdoctoral Fellowship: Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital’s Trauma and Community Resilience Center (TCRC)
The TCRC is offering one postdoctoral fellowship in the MVP core for the 2022-2023 training year (start date negotiable, June-September 2022). This is a full time, one-year training experience with participation in federally-funded research projects related to the prevention of radicalization to violence/terrorism. The option for a second-year advanced fellowship may be available with consideration of funding and matching fellow / program interests. Apply by January 15, 2022.

EVENTS

The Role of Formers in P/CVE and Peacebuilding Workshop
February 17 – 18, Online
The University of Leeds Centre for Global Security Challenges and START will host a two-day virtual workshop on the role of former extremists in P/CVE and Peacebuilding. If you would like to register for this event, please email Dr. Gordon Clubb at g.clubb@leeds.ac.uk.
 
Insurgent Terrorism: Intergroup Relationships and the Killing of Civilians
10 a.m. ET February 23, Online
Victor Asal, Brian Phillips and R. Karl Rethemeyer will provide a virtual talk on their new START-Oxford University Press book, “Insurgent Terrorism: Intergroup Relationships and the Killing of Civilians.”
 
Developing Impact and Effectiveness Assessment Tool for Influence Operations
1 p.m. ET April 26, Online
Unconventional Weapons and Technology (UWT) Director Steve Sin and UWT researchers Megan Rutter and Rhyner Washburn will provide a virtual talk on the findings from their project on foreign influence operations.

START IN THE NEWS

National Institute of Justice: Hate crimes: National database identifies traits and motivations marking distinct pathways of people who commit bias-based offenses
This article focuses on data about hate crime actors from the Bias Incidents and Actors Study (BIAS).

Military Times: Fighting falsehoods: Veterans coalition aims to battle extremism with truth
START Director William Braniff co-wrote this op-ed about We the Veterans and START partnering to combat extremism among veterans.

Defense One: Veterans are being recruited by extremist groups. How do we help them say no?
START Director William Braniff is quoted in this article about extremist groups targeting veterans for recruitment.

Military Times: How extremist groups target veterans, and what can be done about it
START Director William Braniff is quoted in this article about extremism among the veteran community.

Washington Institute for Near East Policy: Egypt's counterinsurgency success in Sinai
This brief on counterinsurgency efforts in Egypt uses data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD).

Business Insider: How TikTok's algorithm enables far-right self-radicalization
This article about online radicalization uses data from the Radicalization and Disengagement (RaD) portfolio.

Defense One: At least 458 US crimes tied to extremism involved veterans, active-duty troops
START Director William Braniff is quoted in this article about extremism among servicemembers and veterans.

This is a selection of news clips from the past month.

A complete list of START’s media coverage can be found here.

SUPPORTING START

Help Support START Research and Education
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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