Seamus Hughes

Seamus Hughes is the Deputy Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. He is an expert on terrorism, homegrown violent extremism, and countering violent extremism (CVE). Hughes has authored numerous reports for the Program including ‘ISIS in America: From Retweets to Raqqa’ and ‘The Travelers: American Jihadists in Syria and Iraq.’ He regularly provides commentary to media outlets, including the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, the Atlantic, CNN, MSNBC, FoxNews, BBC, PBS, and CBS’ 60 Minutes. He has testified before the U.S. Congress on multiple occasions.

Hughes previously worked at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), serving as a lead staffer on U.S. government efforts to implement a national CVE strategy. He regularly led engagements with Muslim American communities across the country, provided counsel to civic leaders after high-profile terror-related incidents, and met with families of individuals who joined terrorist organizations. Hughes created a groundbreaking intervention program to help steer individuals away from violence through non-law enforcement means, and worked closely with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, Fusion Centers, and U.S. Attorney Offices.

Prior to NCTC, Hughes served as the Senior Counterterrorism Advisor for the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He organized over a dozen congressional hearings on the threat of homegrown violent extremism, and led fact-finding delegations to the various European and Middle Eastern countries. He authored two reports for the Senate: “A Ticking Time Bomb: Counterterrorism Lessons from the U.S. Government’s Failure to Prevent the Fort Hood Attack” and “Zachary Chesser: A Case Study in Online Islamist Radicalization and Its Meaning for the Threat of Homegrown Terrorism.”

Hughes has authored numerous legislative bills, including sections of the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act and the Special Agent Samuel Hicks Families of Fallen Heroes Act. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland, and a recipient of the National Security Council Outstanding Service Award and two NCTC Director’s Awards for outstanding service. He teaches classes at George Washington University and Georgetown University.

Key Publications:

The U.S. government can do more to fight domestic terror without any new laws” The Washington Post, March 2, 2021.

The Capitol mob’s gleeful selfies are easy to mock. They’re also a warning sign.” The Washington Post, January 19, 2021.

When Terrorists Plotted a Texas Jailbreak and Other Stories We Almost Missed,” The Daily Beast, November 15, 2020. 

‘This case kept me up at night’,” Military Times, October 30, 2020.

Why the FBI had to pretend Hamas wanted to plot with ‘boogaloo boys’,” The Washington Post, September 9, 2020.

White Supremacist Terror: Modernizing Our Approach To Today’s Threat” Program on Extremism, April 6, 2020.

Our laws have a problem calling domestic terrorism what it is” The Hill, February 6, 2020.

The Fractured Terrorism Threat to America,” Lawfare, November 10, 2019.

The Other Travelers: American Jihadists Beyond Syria and Iraq,” Program on Extremism report, August 2019

It’s Not Only Iraq and Syria,” Lawfare, August 23, 2019.

Sixteen-Year-Old American Islamic State Fighter Reportedly Captured in Syria,” Lawfare, January 9, 2019 

The Story of an American Islamic State Member Captured in Syria,” Lawfare, January 6, 2019

United States v. Aws Mohammed Younis al-Jayab: A Case Study on Transnational Prosecutions of Jihadi Foreign Fighter Networks,” CTC Sentinel, December 2018.

America’s Terrorism Problem Doesn’t End With Prison- It Might Just Begin There,” Lawfare, June 17, 2018

Whose Responsibility is it to Confront Terrorism Online?” Lawfare, April 27, 2018

The Travelers: American Jihadists in Syria and Iraq,” Program on Extremism report, February 2018

A New American Leader Rises in ISIS,” The Atlantic, January 13, 2018

Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Service Committee: Low Cost, High Impact: Combatting the Financing of Lone-Wolf and Small-Scale Terrorist Attacks, September 6, 2017

Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: Combatting Homegrown Terrorism, July 27, 2017

Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee: Allies Under Attack: The Terrorist Threat to Europe, June 27, 2017

First He Became an American—Then He Joined ISIS,” The Atlantic, May 25, 2017

The Threat to the United States from the Islamic State’s Virtual Entrepreneurs,” CTC Sentinel, March 9, 2017

To Stop ISIS Recruitment, Focus Offline,” Lawfare, August 7, 2016

Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee: Countering the Virtual Caliphate, June 23, 2016

Islamic State is successfully radicalizing Americans. How do we stop them?” Los Angeles Times, May 18, 2016

Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security: The Rise of Radicalization: Is the U.S. Government Failing to Counter International and Domestic Terrorism?, July 15, 2015