Research Papers

ICCT Research Papers series includes the Centre’s academic research papers that offer in-depth research on a topic, theme or issue related to counter-terrorism. All publications have been peer-reviewed by ICCT’s Editorial Board and reflect the high standards of the Centre that focus on original and independent research and analysis.

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Policy Briefs

ICCT Policy Briefs series reflects one of the core tasks of the Centre, namely exchanging knowledge and experiences with policymakers. Within these series, the aim is to provide a general overview of a certain topic, offering background information and policy recommendations. All Policy Briefs have been peer-reviewed by the Editorial Board prior to publication.

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ICCT Reports offer reflections of Meetings, Events and Projects. Reports offer the possibility of looking into ICCT meetings and events, and/or full reports on research and projects.

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ICCT Perspectives are Commentaries and Op-Eds, mainly written by Research Fellows. Perspectives respond to or analyse timely topics. The aim is to offer background and a deeper understanding for a wide public. Perspectives are the author’s own views.

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Policy Brief | 20 May 2022
Militia Violent Extremists in the United States: Understanding the Evolution of the Threat

This Policy Brief outlines several approaches that can be adopted by U.S. policymakers to address the challenges posed by militia violent extremist groups.

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Policy Brief | 17 Feb 2022
The Importance of Public Relations in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism

The policy brief makes the case that policymakers and practitioners need to consider how P/CVE programmes engage in public relations (PR), specifically in communicating transparently.

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Policy Brief | 7 Feb 2022
Weapons in Afghanistan: The Taliban’s Spoils of War

This Policy Brief explores the large quantities of SALW left behind in Afghanistan and how the Taliban may use these newly acquired weapons.

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Policy Brief | 31 Jan 2022
Cooperation with the Taliban to Counter Terrorism in Afghanistan

This policy brief examines prospects for international cooperation with the Taliban in order to counter terrorism in Afghanistan.

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Policy Brief | 17 Dec 2021
Gender-Sensitive Approaches to FTF Child Returnee Management

This paper highlights the challenges for training professionals to enable gender-sensitive rehabilitation and reintegration interventions for children returning to Europe from the conflict zone in Iraq and Syria. The paper identifies the need for gender-sensitive training and responses.

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Policy Brief | 29 Nov 2021
The Expanding Use of Administrative Measures in a Counter-Terrorism Context – Part 2: In Need of a Gender and Age-Sensitive Approach

Administrative measures, when applied in a rule of law compliant manner, can function as a useful and legitimate tool to address a threat to national security, particularly when that threat is of a terrorist nature.

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Policy Brief | 25 Nov 2021
Civilians on the Front Lines of (Counter-)Terrorism: Lessons from the Volunteers for the Defence of the Homeland in Burkina Faso

This policy brief explores the phenomenon of armed civilians in Burkina Faso, identifying the rationale behind it, challenges and lessons learned.

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Policy Brief | 22 Nov 2021
The 10th Anniversary Of The Global Counterterrorism Forum: Time To Outgrow The Adolescence

The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) was established in September 2011. The objective was to to set up a nimble, action-oriented, informal network with a limited membership to operate as an incubator for global counter-terrorism (CT) responses. The question raised in this policy brief is whether the GCTF, ten years since its inception, is still fit for purpose.

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Policy Brief | 10 Nov 2021
The Expanding Use of Administrative Measures in a Counter-Terrorism Context – Part 1: In Need of Rule of Law Safeguards

To address the challenges of terrorism, states have adopted a broad set of measures to mitigate posed terrorist risks to national security. How and when can administrative measures can be applied in accordance with human rights?

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Policy Brief | 8 Nov 2021
Suicide Bombings in Mindanao

This Policy Brief analyses the suicide bombing phenomena in the Philippines. The frequency of suicide bombing in January 2019 is unprecedented in Mindanao. This article highlights the three trends of suicide bombing in Mindanao and outlines measures the authorities can take to combat the threat.

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Policy Brief | 24 Sep 2021
The US National Strategy on Countering Domestic Terrorism as a Model for the EU

This policy brief highlights US national strategy for countering domestic terrorism as a blueprint for improving the EU model.

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Policy Brief | 19 Jul 2021
Remembering Utøya, 10 Years Later: Enduring Lessons for Counter-Terrorism

In the ten years since the 2011 Norway Attacks, have we applied the lessons learned in counter-terrorism? This policy brief examines overlooked lessons from the attack and provides key recommendations for improving policies against far-right extremism today.

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Policy Brief | 10 Jun 2021
Yemen’s Houthis and the Terrorist Designation System

What are the implications of Biden's reversal of the designation of Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO)?

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Policy Brief | 29 Apr 2021
Maritime Malice in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines: The Asymmetric Maritime Threat at the Tri-Border Area

What are the weaknesses of the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement between Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, against maritime terrorism in the region? This policy brief highlights key challenges and recommendations.

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Policy Brief | 2 Sep 2020
Re-Offending by Released Terrorist Prisoners: Separating Hype from Reality

This Policy Brief critically analyses terrorist re-offending in a wide range of international contexts, to inform the wider discussion on terrorist recidivism and rehabilitation.

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Policy Brief | 8 Jun 2020
The Future of the Islamic State’s Women: Assessing Their Potential Threat

In this Policy Brief, Jessica Davis explores the role of women in the Islamic State and presents an approach to assessing their potential threat.

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Policy Brief | 2 Jun 2020
Kosovo’s Experience in Repatriating Former Foreign Fighters

This policy brief examines Kosovo’s response to former foreign fighters and lessons EU member states can learn in handling this complex issue.

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Policy Brief | 6 May 2020
The Last Frontier: Prisons and Violent Extremism in Mali

This policy brief uses data gathered from the growing number of Violent Extremist Offenders in Malian prisons to provide an overview of and recommendations for implementing rehabilitation interventions.

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Policy Brief | 28 Apr 2020
The Growing Power of Online Communities of the Extreme-Right: Deriving Strength, Meaning, and Direction From Significant Socio-Political Events ‘in Real Life’

This policy brief examines the role of online communities of the extreme-right in radicalising individuals, particularly in the aftermath of offline events.

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Policy Brief | 17 Mar 2020
Testament to Murder: The Violent Far-Right’s Increasing Use of Terrorist Manifestos

In this Policy Brief, Jacob Ware assesses far right manifestos for common themes, before discussing implications for counterterrorism scholars and practitioners.

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Policy Brief | 26 Feb 2020
The Dutch Approach to Extremist Offenders

This Policy Brief focuses on the Dutch approach to dealing with extremist offenders, and analyses Dutch policy choices that have been made from the perspectives of prosecution, rehabilitation, and reintegration.

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Policy Brief | 13 Jan 2020
Far Right and Islamist Radicalisation in an Age of Austerity: A Review of Sociological Trends and Implications for Policy

This policy brief provides an overview of the sociological issues underpinning the issues of far right and Islamist reciprocal or cumulative radicalisation in the Western European context.

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Policy Brief | 27 Nov 2019
Nigeria: Community’s Perception of Legitimate Authority Matters for Rehabilitation and Reintegration

In this Policy Brief, ICCT Programme Manager Faisal Khan & Isioma Kemakolam present policy recommendations implementable by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs on community inclusion in R&R programming across Nigeria & the Sahel after conducting on the field research.

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Policy Brief | 25 Nov 2019
Right-Wing Extremists’ Persistent Online Presence: History and Contemporary Trends

From early dial-up bulletin board systems to contemporary social media and messaging apps, this Policy Brief traces how Western right-wing extremists have exploited the power of the internet.

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Policy Brief | 4 Nov 2019
A Schema of Right-Wing Extremism in the United States

In this Policy Brief, Sam Jackson presents a schema of three main forms of right-wing extremism in the United States in order to more clearly understand the landscape: racist extremism, nativist extremism, and anti-government extremism.

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Policy Brief | 25 Oct 2019
Free movement threatened by terrorism: an analysis of measures proposed to improve EU border management

In this Policy Brief, Willemijn Tiekstra critically analyses current EU border management in the context of terrorist attacks that have hit the EU since 2015.

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Policy Brief | 17 Oct 2019
Women in Islamic State: From Caliphate to Camps

In this Policy Brief, Gina Vale charts the evolution of women’s ideological commitment, adopted roles, and activism for Islamic State from the ‘caliphate’ to post-territorial internment camps.

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Policy Brief | 7 Oct 2019
A Threat from Within? Exploring the Link between the Extreme Right and the Military

In this Policy Brief, Daniel Koehler assesses the current and historical links between the extreme right and the military across Europe and North America.

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Policy Brief | 4 Oct 2019
The Warning Signs are Flashing Red: The Interplay Between Climate Change and Violent Extremism in the Western Sahel

In this Policy Brief, Reinier Bergema and General (ret.) Tom Middendorp warn of how climate change opens a dangerous window of opportunity for terrorist organisations—as witnessed by the recent renewal of interest of the Islamic State in the Western Sahel.

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Policy Brief | 23 Sep 2019
Extreme-Right Violence and Terrorism: Concepts, Patterns, and Responses

In this policy brief, Tore Bjørgo and Jacob Aasland Ravndal highlight the distinctions between extreme-right violence and Jihadi violence and provide recommendations for practitioners working in this area.

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Policy Brief | 9 Jul 2019
Siege: The Atomwaffen Division and Rising Far-Right Terrorism in the United States

In this Policy Brief, Jacob Ware assesses the rising threat posed by far-right extremism in the United States, using the Atomwaffen Division as a case study.

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Policy Brief | 12 Apr 2019
The Role of Formers in Countering Violent Extremism

In this Policy Brief, Marina Tapley and Gordon Clubb examines the role former extremists and former combatants have in countering violent extremism (CVE).

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Policy Brief | 26 Mar 2019
Learning the Lessons of Terrorist Failure: The Dogs that Didn’t Bark in Scotland and Wales

In this policy brief, Nick Brooke examined the benefits of studying failed terrorist campaigns to have a more informed counter-terrorism policy by using the case studies of Scotland and Wales.

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Policy Brief | 27 Feb 2019
Violence and Terrorism from the Far-Right: Policy Options to Counter an Elusive Threat

Using Germany as a main case study, Daniel Koehler argues that far-right violence has a potential risk of being misunderstood and under-classified as a form of political violence and terrorism. He also offers several recommendations on how to avoid this potentially resulting in an elusive threat.

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Policy Brief | 24 Jan 2019
A Brief Primer on Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Methods in the Study of Terrorism

In this Policy Brief, Kurt Braddock emphasizes the importance of rigorous social scientific methods within terrorism research and describes methods of experimentation that can be put into practice to aid in the study of terrorism.

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Policy Brief | 10 Oct 2018
To Help Defeat Boko Haram, the EU Should Push for Good Governance and Accountability

In this Policy Brief, EJ Hogendoorn suggests what the EU could do to address the drivers of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. Hogendoorn argues that although the EU has increased its humanitarian support to those affected by Boko Haram, it has thus far refrained from becoming to involved in a direct counter-terrorism response.

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Policy Brief | 26 Sep 2018
Countering Islamist Radicalisation in Germany – A Guide to Germany’s Growing Prevention Infrastructure

Behnam T. Said and Hazim Fouad examine Germany's approach to preventing and countering violent extremism. This policy brief outlines the framework for prevention within Germany's federal system and gives an overview of the development of the German approach to CVE and PVE challenges.

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Policy Brief | 19 Sep 2018
Women in Jihad: A Historical Perspective

Associate Fellow Seran de Leede explores the importance of women in contemporary jihadism. de Leede assesses how women's facilitative and supportive contributions have maintained and propagated jihadist ideology.

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Policy Brief | 12 Jul 2018
Returning Indonesian Extremists: Unclear Intentions and Unprepared Responses

In this Policy Brief, Cameron Sumpter analyses the impact of returning Foreign Fighters to Indonesia. Sumpter recommends that intrastate coordination of CVE and CT initiatives is required to clearly define the role of stakeholders.

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Policy Brief | 6 Jun 2018
The Demise of the Islamic State and the Fate of Its Western Foreign Fighters: Six Things to Consider

In this Policy Brief, Dr. Lorne L. Dawson asks: with the military defeat of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, what will become of the remaining fighters? Will IS remain a significant terrorist threat, especially outside of Syria and Iraq? And, how will the demise of IS affect the future of jihadism in general?

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Policy Brief | 1 Jun 2018
Citizenship and Ancestry of Belgian Foreign Fighters

In this Policy Brief, authors Pieter Van Ostaeyen and Guy Van Vlierden explore the backgrounds of Belgian foreign fighters and find that while most Belgian foreign fighters are linked to Morocco, the second most prominent ancestral link is Russia.

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Policy Brief | 2 May 2018
Capacity-Building Challenges: Identifying Progress and Remaining Gaps in Dealing with Foreign (Terrorist) Fighters

In this Policy Brief, Walle Bos, Dr. Bibi van Ginkel and Tanya Mehra address capacity-building challenges in relation to the implementation of good practices in dealing with (returning) Foreign (Terrorist) Fighters.

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Policy Brief | 23 Feb 2018
Jihadists’ Grievance Narratives against France

A range of social, cultural, religious, economic, political, demographic drivers and identity factors converged to create a fertile ground for receptive radicals to emerge and break away from democratic values. Informed by these issues, this Policy Brief aims to identify avenues of further development for the French counter-terrorism strategic communication strategy.

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Policy Brief | 19 Dec 2017
The Effective Governance Gap in EU Counter-Terrorism and Stabilisation Policy for Somalia

Despite the fact billions of euros have been sent to Somali over the last two decades, the country remains a "failed state". This Policy Brief argues that to be more effective, the EU needs to become more adept at understanding local political dynamics.

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Policy Brief | 15 Nov 2017
Uighur Foreign Fighters: An Underexamined Jihadist Challenge

Uighurs, specifically individuals of Turkic decent from China’s northwest province of Xinjiang, have become a noticeable part of the constellation of globally active jihadist terror groups. This Policy Brief explores the scope and scale of Uighur Foreign Fighters (UFF) activity in various locations, its implications and how their participation in global jihadist groups may evolve.

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Policy Brief | 26 Oct 2017
IS’s Appeal to Western Women: Policy Recommendations

In ICCT's latest Policy Brief, Kiriloi Ingram analyses how IS recruits Western women through a detailed qualitative narrative analysis of the contents of all fifteen issues of a Dabiq magazine. Ingram argues that counter-terrorism strategic communications must be paired with community based initiatives.

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Policy Brief | 22 Sep 2017
The Failure of Prophecy and the Future of IS

In ICCT's latest Policy Brief, Dr. Lorne L. Dawson discusses the underlying vision of IS in propagating an apocalyptic struggle for its followers. He argues this cosmic struggle is characterised by the "caliphate legacy" which will survive despite military defeat.

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Policy Brief | 22 Aug 2017
Countering Islamic State Messaging Through “Linkage-Based” Analysis

This Policy Brief focuses on a linkage-based analysis of a 2017 audio message by Islamic State spokesperson Abu Hasan al Muhajir and outlines potential insights into crafting effective content for competing and alternative messages.

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Policy Brief | 8 Jun 2017
The Four Dimensions of the Foreign Fighter Threat: Making Sense of an Evolving Phenomenon

In this Policy Brief, Alastair Reed, Johanna Pohl and Marjolein Jegerings provide a concise outline of four main threats related to the issue of foreign fighters with the aim of clarifying the parameters of the phenomenon in its current manifestation.

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Policy Brief | 22 Nov 2016
A “Linkage-Based” Approach to Combating Militant Islamist Propaganda: A Two-Tiered Framework for Practitioners

This Policy Brief outlines a “linkage-based” approach to combating militant Islamist propaganda tailored for practitioners in order to help them synchronise campaign planning and message design.

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Policy Brief | 17 Aug 2016
Promoting Disengagement from Violent Extremism

This Policy Brief lays out a multi-tiered framework for counter-terrorism strategic communications programmes and concrete evaluation of programme results.

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Policy Brief | 20 Jun 2016
Lessons from History for Counter-Terrorism Strategic Communications

As part of the Counter-Terrorism Strategic Communications Project, this Policy Brief lays out key policy-relevant lessons for developing effective counter-terrorism strategic communications.

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Policy Brief | 17 Jun 2016
Converts and Islamist Terrorism: An Introduction

This Policy Brief provides an overview of what is known about converts’ involvement in homegrown jihadism and the foreign fighter phenomenon, analysing data from various Western countries.

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Policy Brief | 10 May 2016
Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent: A New Frontline in the Global Jihadist Movement?

This Policy Brief sheds light on and increases understanding of al-Qaeda Central's (AQC) latest affiliate al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).

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Policy Brief | 9 May 2016
Prosecuting Foreign Terrorist Fighters: What Role for the Military?

This policy brief focusses on the difficulties of prosecuting Foreign Terorrist Fighters, and the role that the military can play in assisting prosecutors in collecting evidence and arresting suspects in countries of destination.

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Policy Brief | 19 Jan 2016
Rehabilitation for Foreign Fighters? Relevance, Challenges and Opportunities for the Criminal Justice Sector

This Policy Brief aims to inform the current debate on integrating rehabilitation into the overall approach to foreign fighters by highlighting the challenges and opportunities within the criminal justice sector response.

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Policy Brief | 20 Nov 2015
Paris: 11/13/15 – Analysis and Policy Options

In this Policy Brief, experts of ICCT and Clingendael shed light on some of the pressing questions that currently take central stage in the debates following the Paris attacks.

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Policy Brief | 27 Oct 2015
Foreign (Terrorist) Fighter Estimates: Conceptual and Data Issues

In this Policy Brief, Dr. Alex P. Schmid discusses various definitions of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) by disaggregating the “foreign”, “terrorist” and “fighters” elements of the UN Security Council definition in resolution 2178 (2014). Subsequently, an attempt is made to bring structure to the widely diverging estimates of the numbers of foreign fighters and their origins.

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Policy Brief | 26 Oct 2015
Reintegrating Violent Extremist Offenders: Policy Questions and Lessons Learned

In this article published in the framework of George Washington University's Program on Extremism, ICCT Research Fellow Dr. Tinka Veldhuis discusses rehabilitation and reintegration programmes for violent extremist offenders.

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Policy Brief | 27 Jul 2015
Motives and Considerations of Potential Foreign Fighters from the Netherlands

In this Policy Brief, Prof. Dr. Edwin Bakker and Peter Grol studied several cases of potential foreign fighters. These observations form the basis of policy suggestions that could contribute to the prevention policy within the framework of the “Comprehensive Action Programme to Combat Jihadism” of the Dutch government.

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Policy Brief | 26 May 2015
European Female Jihadists in Syria: Exploring an Under-Researched Topic

The number of young Western women travelling abroad to join the "Islamic State" (IS) continues to increase. However, little is known about these women, including their motivations and roles within organisations such as IS. This Background Note provides preliminary answers and explain what is known so far.

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Policy Brief | 26 Apr 2015
Pathways of Foreign Fighters: Policy Options and Their (Un)Intended Consequences

In this Policy Brief, Dr. Alastair Reed, Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn and Prof. Dr. Edwin Bakker look at the different pathways foreign fighters could take once they have arrived in Syria or Iraq.

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Policy Brief | 24 Dec 2014
Addressing the Foreign Terrorist Fighters Phenomenon From a European Union Perspective

A Policy Brief based on the expert meeting at the European Union to discuss the implications of UN Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014) on foreign fighters and to explore responses to the threat foreign fighters pose.

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Policy Brief | 20 Jun 2014
Returning Western Foreign Fighters: The Case of Afghanistan, Bosnia and Somalia

In this Background Note, Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn and Prof. Dr. Edwin Bakker investigate three historical cases of foreign fighting: Afghanistan (1980s), Bosnia (1990s) and Somalia (2000s).

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Policy Brief | 10 Apr 2014
Afghan Women and the Taliban: An Exploratory Assessment

In this Policy Brief, Research Fellow Seran de Leede examines the position of women in Afghanistan towards the Taliban to a better understanding of the role of women in (countering) political violence in Afghanistan.

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Policy Brief | 13 Aug 2013
The Need for a United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Coordinator

In this Policy Brief, Dr. Howard Stoffer emphasises the need for a global UN Counter-Terrrorism Coordinator to oversee the smooth and efficient running of all UN counter-terrorism related activities.

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Policy Brief | 27 Jun 2013
Moving Terrorism Research Forward: The Crucial Role of Primary Sources

Conducting empirical research in the field of terrorism is not an easy task: gaining access to police files, interviewing (former) terrorists or accessing intelligence information can be arduous.

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Policy Brief | 20 Mar 2013
The Nexus between Security and Development

Research Fellow Dr. Bibi van Ginkel and Clingendael Senior Research Fellow Ivan Briscoe analyse the relationship between the development and counter-terrorism sectors in light of the changing nature of terrorism.

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Policy Brief | 20 Feb 2012
A Fear Management Approach to Counter-Terrorism

In this Policy Brief, Research Fellows Prof. Dr. Edwin Bakker and Dr. Tinka Veldhuis explore the dynamics of fear in response to terrorism.

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