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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Reports

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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Perspectives

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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Research Paper | 9 Sep 2019
The Practitioner’s Guide to the Galaxy – A Comparison of Risk Assessment Tools for Violent Extremism

In this paper, the authors critically compare seven widely used risk assessment tools for violent extremism; better enabling policymakers and practitioners to navigate the often muddy, copyrighted, and expensive waters of the world of risk assessment.

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Research Paper | 29 Aug 2019
Understanding Dutch converts to Islam: On turbulent trajectories and (non-) involvement in jihadist movements

New Research Paper by Fiore Geelhoed, Richard Staring, and Bart Schuurman provides an in-depth look at convert radicalization using extensive interviews.

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Research Paper | 19 Aug 2019
Seven Years of Terror: Jihadi Organisations’ Strategies and Future Directions

In this paper, Asaad Almohammad employs Game Theory to perform a novel quantitative analysis of the global Salafi Jihadist Movement, and predict the future directions of the groups within.

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Research Paper | 27 May 2019
Providing Psychosocial Care to Child Soldiers Living in Post-IS Iraq

In this Research Paper, Jan Ilhan Kizilhan discusses the need for better psychosocial support for former child soldiers living in post-IS Iraq as rehabilitation and reintegration measure.

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Research Paper | 17 May 2019
Caliphate Soldiers and Lone Actors: What to Make of IS Claims for Attacks in the West 2016-2018

This ICCT Research Paper tries to find the links between lone actors and the organisation's main leadership through examining the changes in the ways IS has claimed credit for violent incidents in Western countries.

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Research Paper | 24 Apr 2019
Branding a Caliphate in Decline: The Islamic State’s Video Output (2015-2018)

In this Research Paper, Pieter Nanninga argues that the Islamic State’s multi-faceted response to its setbacks as reflected in the decline of their video production might ensure the groups’ appeal to its target audience in the years to come.

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Research Paper | 7 Sep 2018
Nine Bullets for the Traitors, One for the Enemy: The Slogans and Strategy behind the Islamic State’s Campaign to Defeat the Sunni Awakening (2006 – 2017)

In this Research Paper, Dr. Craig Whiteside builds on the work of the ICCT Counter-Terrorism Strategic Communications Project to examine how the Islamic State reshaped identity among Sunni Iraqis to delegitimize and discredit Sunni rivals of the Islamic State within its caliphate.

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Research Paper | 29 Aug 2018
Revisiting the Relationship between International Terrorism and Transnational Organised Crime 22 Years Later

In this Research Paper, Alex P. Schmid explores the links between organised crime groups and terrorist groups since the mid 1990s, noting key similarities and differences between the two types of groups.

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Research Paper | 10 Apr 2018
Cut From the Same Cloth? Lone Actor Terrorists Versus Common Homicide Offenders

In this Research Paper, Marieke Liem et al. provide a bivariate analysis of lone actor terrorists and common homicide offenders. Liem et al's findings problematise the classification of lone actors as an entity fundamentally different from the sample of single homicide offenders and call for future in-depth assessments of possible differences in homicidal drive.

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Research Paper | 22 Mar 2018
Terrorism, Diplomacy, and State Communications

In countering the communications of terrorist organisations, states face a number of distinct challenges. Blatant lying can be at the expense of a state's authority, credibility, and instrumental effectiveness. Effective state communications need to be integrated, multidimensional and persuasive. Often they are anything but.

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Research Paper | 12 Mar 2018
Islamic State’s English-language Magazines, 2014-2017: Trends & Implications for CT-CVE Strategic Communications

This paper provides a quick reference guide to IS’s English-language magazines released between June 2014 and September 2017 examining key themes and propaganda strategies deployed across three issues of Islamic State News, four issues of Islamic State Report, fifteen issues of Dabiq and thirteen issues of Rumiyah.

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Research Paper | 19 Feb 2018
ISIS Child Soldiers in Syria: The Structural and Predatory Recruitment, Enlistment, Pre-Training Indoctrination, Training, and Deployment

In this Research Paper, Asaad Almohammad uses a unique data-set made up of interviews and naturalistic observations from ISIS-held territories in Syria to explore the process of child recruitment and deployment.

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Research Paper | 30 Jan 2018
Prosecuting (Potential) Foreign Fighters: Legislative and Practical Challenges

In this Research Paper Christophe Paulussen and Kate Pitcher provide a critical assessment of the underlying legal frameworks and the concrete prosecutions of (potential) foreign fighters at the national level. The authors argue that magistrates and prosecutors should have a greater role in assessing whether actual prosecution or adjudication is appropriate in specific cases.

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Research Paper | 12 Dec 2017
The Fate of the Perpetrator in the Jihadist Modus Operandi: Suicide Attacks and Non-Suicide Attacks in the West, 2004-2017

While suicide attacks have long been considered the hallmark of jihadist terrorism, this Research Paper analyses a recent, dual trend towards suicidal and self-preserving attacks and discusses implications for the operational response to these attacks.

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Research Paper | 26 Sep 2017
What Types of Media do Terrorists Collect? An Analysis of Religious, Political, and Ideological Publications Found in Terrorism Investigations in the UK

ICCT Visiting Fellow Donald Holbrook’s Research Paper presents results from the study of media usage by convicted terrorists in the UK, shedding light on the nature of the media environment in which convicted terrorists operated prior to their arrest.

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Research Paper | 28 Aug 2017
Children of the Caliphate: Young IS Returnees and the Reintegration Challenge

In this Research Paper, Liesbeth van der Heide and Jip Geenen assess what sets young or juvenile Islamic State (IS) returnees apart from adult returnees or young criminals and discuss the potential for rehabilitation.

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Research Paper | 9 Aug 2017
Moderate Muslims and Islamist Terrorism: Between Denial and Resistance

In his latest Research Paper, ICCT Research Fellow Dr. Alex P. Schmid examines various aspects of moderation in Islam including how Islamist extremists view moderate Muslims and how the latter resist the former, and argues for humanism to be the middle ground for moderates of all faiths and political persuasions.

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Research Paper | 22 May 2017
Losing the Plot: Narrative, Counter-Narrative and Violent Extremism

Dr. Andrew Glazzard argues that, if counter-narrative is to succeed in presenting an alternative to the propaganda of violent extremist groups, it is essential to bring the tools and techniques of literary criticism to the analysis of such propaganda.

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Research Paper | 21 Apr 2017
Extremist Construction of Identity: How Escalating Demands for Legitimacy Shape and Define In-Group and Out-Group Dynamics

J.M. Berger's Research Paper examines how mainstream movements become extremist through a process of identity construction. The paper presents a framework for analysing extremist texts and designing strategic counter-terrorism communications.

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Research Paper | 11 Apr 2017
The Strategic Logic of the “Linkage-Based” Approach to Combating Militant Islamist Propaganda: Conceptual and Empirical Foundations

Dr. Haroro Ingram's Research Paper examines the strategic logic of the “linkage-based” approach to combating militant Islamist propaganda by exploring the conceptual and empirical foundations of this approach.

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Research Paper | 4 Apr 2017
Popular Mobilization Messaging

James Garrison’s Research Paper examines the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Unit’s (PMU) messaging on the organisation’s website and social media platforms to develop a more nuanced understanding of the PMU’s outlook, both present and future.

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Research Paper | 28 Mar 2017
Can a Copycat Effect be Observed in Terrorist Suicide Attacks?

Nicholas Farnham and Dr. Marieke Liem look at how a copycat effect – established within the field of suicide studies – may manifest itself in terrorist suicide attacks, and take an exploratory approach in evaluating the prospect of incorporating open-data resources in future counter-terrorism research.

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Research Paper | 27 Feb 2017
War by Suicide: A Statistical Analysis of the Islamic State’s Martyrdom Industry

This Research Paper from ICCT Associate Fellow Charlie Winter explores IS’s use of suicide tactics over the course of 12 months – from 1 December 2015 to 30 November 2016 – and, through statistical evaluation, demonstrates its attacks are now primarily perpetrated by local operatives against military targets, marking a new phase of operationalisation for suicide warfare.

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Research Paper | 15 Feb 2017
Public Opinion Survey Data to Measure Sympathy and Support for Islamist Terrorism: A Look at Muslim Opinions on Al Qaeda and IS

ICCT Research Fellow Dr. Alex P. Schmid's latest Research Paper explores what ‘sympathy’ and ‘support’ actually mean when it comes to jihadist terrorism and concludes that better instruments for measuring such sympathy and support are needed to inform counter-terrorist strategies.

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Research Paper | 30 Jan 2017
Sketch of a Social Ecology Model for Explaining Homegrown Terrorist Radicalisation

In this Research Note, Dr. Lorne L. Dawson argues the merits of adopting an ecological approach to organising and extending our grasp of the social and social psychological factors influencing the career of potential jihadists.

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Research Paper | 16 Dec 2016
Administrative Measures against Foreign Fighters: In Search of Limits and Safeguards

This Research Paper analyses the increasing use of administrative measures in counter-terrorism and, based on a review of their use in the United Kingdom, France, and the Netherlands, and after identifying where their use might be justified and the impact of their use on the protection of human rights, concludes by recommending the establishment of appropriate limits and safeguards.

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Research Paper | 15 Nov 2016
Lighting the Path: the Evolution of the Islamic State Media Enterprise (2003-2016)

This Research Paper develops a history of so-called Islamic State’s media department by examining primary documents and other media throughout its existence. Based on this history, six observations are made aimed at helping in the efforts to combat IS and its inevitable future imitators.

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Research Paper | 7 Nov 2016
Repressing the Foreign Fighters Phenomenon in Western Europe: Towards an Effective Response Based on Human Rights

This Research Paper explores the repression of the foreign fighters phenomenon and terrorism more generally in Western Europe and argues that only a response based on human rights will be effective in countering this global problem in the long run.

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Research Paper | 30 Sep 2016
Deciphering the Siren Call of Militant Islamist Propaganda: Meaning, Credibility & Behavioural Change

This Research Paper analyses how strategies of meaning, credibility and behavioural change are deployed in militant Islamist propaganda and concludes by outlining crucial lessons for understanding both the siren call of militant Islamist propaganda and counterterrorism strategic communications design.

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Research Paper | 16 Sep 2016
The Turner Legacy: The Storied Origins and Enduring Impact of White Nationalism’s Deadly Bible

The Turner Diaries, the infamous racist dystopian novel by neo-Nazi William Luther Pierce, has inspired more than 200 murders since its publication in 1978. This paper documents the books that directly and indirectly inspired Turner and examines the extensive violence that the novel has inspired.

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Research Paper | 23 Aug 2016
Italy’s Jihadists in the Syrian Civil War

This exploratory ICCT Research Paper examines the current extent of Italy’s foreign fighters in Syria through four case studies.

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Research Paper | 1 Jun 2016
A Brief History of Propaganda During Conflict

This Research Paper explores the history of propaganda during conflict and draws out key lessons for improving counter-terrorism strategic communications.

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Research Paper | 26 May 2016
Making CVE Work: A Focused Approach Based on Process Disruption

This Research Paper develops a narrow approach to Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), focusing on disengagement and the disruption of recruitment.

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Research Paper | 18 May 2016
Links between Terrorism and Migration: An Exploration

This Research Paper explores and questions some assumed causal links between terrorism on the one hand and (forced and irregular) migration on the other. It also offers recommendations that can go some way towards disentangling the issues of (refugee) migration and terrorism.

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Research Paper | 14 Apr 2016
Salafi Jihadist Violence in Egypt’s North Sinai: From Local Insurgency to Islamic State Province

This Research Paper analyses the development of militancy in Egypt's North Sinai governorate, focusing in particular on Ansar Bayt al Maqdis/Wilayat Sinai and how it has changed from the 2011 uprising to the present day.

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Research Paper | 1 Apr 2016
The Foreign Fighters Phenomenon in the EU – Profiles, Threats & Policies

In this Report commissioned by the Netherlands National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV), ICCT analyses the numbers and characteristics of foreign fighters, how the EU and Member States assess the threat as well as their policy responses regarding security, preventive and legislative measures.

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Research Paper | 31 Mar 2016
The Islamic State’s Global Propaganda Strategy

This Research Paper aims to analyse in depth the global propaganda strategy of the so-called “Islamic State” by looking at the methods through which this grand strategy is carried out as well as its objectives.

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Research Paper | 28 Jan 2016
Beneath the Apparent State of Affairs: Stability in Ghana and Benin

In this Clingendael paper, ICCT Fellows Knoope and Chauzal explore how Ghana and Benin are dealing with politics, identity and societal stress, in response to the Sahel crisis and regionalisation of Boko Haram.

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Research Paper | 23 Dec 2015
Foreign (Terrorist) Fighters with IS: A European Perspective

In this Research Paper, ICCT Research Fellow Dr. Alex P. Schmid analyses the widely diverging foreign fighter estimates. Having identified push and pull as well as resilience factors that facilitate or inhibit young Muslims joining ISIS, he argues that stopping them from departing to Syria is not enough; political solutions have to be sought.

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Research Paper | 10 Nov 2015
Jihadist Foreign Fighter Phenomenon in Western Europe: A Low-Probability, High-Impact Threat

In this Research Paper, Prof. Dr. Edwin Bakker and Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn explore the threat that returning foreign fighters may pose to Western societies. By analysing four distinct areas where the impact of this phenomenon is most visible, the authors determine the extent of the threat in physical, political and social terms.

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Research Paper | 19 Oct 2015
Fickle Foreign Fighters? A Cross-Case Analysis of Seven Muslim Foreign Fighter Mobilisations (1980-2015)

In this Research Paper, Dr. Isabelle Duyvesteyn and Bram Peeters study seven conflicts that in the past 35 years have triggered Muslims worldwide to leave their home country and become a so-called foreign fighter.

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Research Paper | 1 Sep 2015
Operation ‘Serval’: A Strategic Analysis of the French Intervention in Mali, 2013–2014

In this Article published by Leiden University's Centre for Terrorism and Counterterrorism, ICCT Research Fellow Sergei Boeke and Bart Schuurman discuss the French military intervention in Mali, launched in 2013.

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Research Paper | 1 Jul 2015
Identifying foreign terrorist fighters: The Role of Public-Private Partnership, Information Sharing and Financial Intelligence

In this Research Paper, Visiting Research Fellow Tom Keatinge asks what barriers exist to greater partnership and information sharing between the security authorities and the financial-services industry in tackling terrorism.

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Research Paper | 4 Jun 2015
Challenging the Narrative of the “Islamic State”

Dr. Alex Schmid identifies a dozen narrative themes of ISIS and discusses them from different angles in an attempt to show vulnerabilities and point the way towards developing convincing counter-arguments.

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Research Paper | 26 May 2015
The Role of the Military in Securing Suspects and Evidence in the Prosecution of Terrorism Cases before Civilian Courts: Legal and Practical Challenges

In this Research Paper, by Dr. Bibi van Ginkel and Dr. Christophe Paulussen, the role of the military when performing law enforcement activities in terms of collecting evidence and/or securing suspected terrorists is analysed.

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Research Paper | 30 Apr 2015
Towards a European Position on Armed Drones and Targeted Killing: Surveying EU Counter-Terrorism Perspectives

In this Research Paper, Jessica Dorsey and Dr. Christophe Paulussen gauge the extent to which European Union Member States share the position of the United States on armed drones and targeted killings.

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Research Paper | 31 Mar 2015
Responding to Cyber Jihad: Towards an Effective Counter Narrative

Research Fellow Dr. Bibi van Ginkel analyses the role of the internet and social media in processes of radicalisation.

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Research Paper | 26 Feb 2015
Dignity and Dawn: Libya’s Escalating Civil War

This Research Paper provides a detailed examination of the armed conflict in Libya between the Operation Dignity and Libya Dawn military coalitions.

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Research Paper | 5 Feb 2015
Mali’s Long Road Ahead

The authors discuss recent military operations in Mali and warn against the temptation to treat the various jihadists as a homogenous group.

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Research Paper | 6 Aug 2014
Transitioning from Military Interventions to a Long-Term Counter-Terrorism Policy

The past two decades have shown that it is arguably easier to start a military intervention than to end one. In this Research Paper, Sergei Boeke looks at exit strategies from a counter-terrorism perspective.

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Research Paper | 12 May 2014
Violent and Non-Violent Extremism: Two Sides of the Same Coin?

This Research Paper seeks to obtain a clearer understanding of what “Islamist extremism” entails.

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Research Paper | 27 Mar 2014
Security in the Sinai: Present and Future

This Research Paper analyses the current threat emanating from the Sinai Peninsula by mapping the various violent actors and their international connections.

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Research Paper | 18 Feb 2014
Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia’s Shift to Jihad

This Research Paper analyses the likely future of the conflict between the most significant salafi jihadist group in the country, Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia, and the Tunisian state.

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Research Paper | 16 Jan 2014
Towards a Theory of Fear Management in the Counter-Terrorism Domain

The Paper identifies and analyses governmental approaches to managing fear in relation to terrorist incidents.

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Research Paper | 14 Jan 2014
Al Qaeda’s “Single Narrative” and Attempts to Develop Counter-Narratives

In this Research Paper efforts by governments and non-governmental bodies to challenge al Qaeda's narrative are discussed by Research Fellow Dr. Alex P. Schmid .

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Research Paper | 16 Dec 2013
Dealing with European Foreign Fighters in Syria: Governance Challenges and Legal Implications

The increasing amount of foreign fighters brings the possibility that returnees have radicalised which makes them a potential threat.

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Research Paper | 14 Oct 2013
Nigeria’s Troubled North: Interrogating the Drivers of Public Support for Boko Haram

In this Research Paper, Former Visiting Fellow Akinola Olojo examines the key drivers of public support for Boko Haram in northern Nigeria.

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Research Paper | 23 Aug 2013
The Anders Behring Breivik Trial: Performing Justice, Defending Democracy

This Research Paper examines to what extent the Breivik trial attained the goals of criminal justice and also aims to determine if the trial contributed to the need for closure in society.

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Research Paper | 28 May 2013
Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia’s Long Game: Dawa, Hisba and Jihad

Associate Fellow Dr. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross examines the activities, organisation and possible future of Tunisia's largest salafi jihadist organisation: Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia (AST).

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Report, Research Paper | 16 Apr 2013
Boundaries of the Battlefield: A Critical Look at the Legal Paradigms and Rules in Countering Terrorism

This Research Paper is a detailed report of a two-day symposium by the same title, which was convened in The Hague in January 2013.

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Research Paper | 27 Mar 2013
Radicalisation, De-Radicalisation, Counter-Radicalisation: A Conceptual Discussion and Literature Review

Based on an in-depth literature review, Research Fellow Dr. Alex P. Schmid explores the terms "radicalisation", "de-radicalisation" and "counter-radicalisation" and the discourses surrounding them in greater detail.

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Research Paper | 25 Feb 2013
The Need for More & Structural Data Analysis in Detention and Rehabilitation of Extremist Offenders

The authors suggest that increased and structural data analysis is essential to produce evidence-based policies that are tailored to countering violent extremism.

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Research Paper | 30 Aug 2012
Towards the Intelligent Use of Intelligence: Quis Custodiet ipsos Custodes?

Dr. Bibi van Ginkel examines the role of the exchange of intelligence between states, the applicable human rights framework, and the dilemmas involved.

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Research Paper | 28 Aug 2012
Testing the Adequacy of the International Legal Framework in Countering Terrorism: The War Paradigm

In this Research Paper, Dr. Christophe Paulussen explores whether the current international legal framework is sufficiently equipped to effectively deal with the threat of terrorism and counter-terrorism practices.

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Research Paper | 25 Aug 2012
Engaging Civil Society in Countering Violent Extremism

In this Research Paper Dr. Bibi van Ginkel takes an in depth look at how multi-lateral institutions engage with civil society to counter violent extremism.

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Research Paper | 17 Aug 2012
Strengthening the Role of Victims and Incorporating Victims in Efforts to Counter Violent Extremism and Terrorism

Following terrorist attacks, governments are often quick to express their solidarity with victims but as the memory of a terrorist atrocity fades, attention for the victims also ebbs away – in both government and society.

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Research Paper | 19 Jul 2012
Forecasting the Unpredictable: A Review of Forecasts on Terrorism 2000 – 2012

The Research Paper aims to provide a general review of publications on the future of terrorism by academics, think tanks and government agencies over the past ten years.

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Research Paper | 25 Jun 2012
Blind Spot? Security Narratives and Far-Right Violence in Europe

This Research Paper discusses the challenges of countering far-Right political violence.

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Research Paper | 21 Jun 2012
Through the Militant Lens: The Power of Ideology and Narratives

This Research Paper explores violent extremist “narratives” within the Indonesian context by interviewing a convicted terrorist and one currently undergoing trial.

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Research Paper | 2 Apr 2012
Impunity for International Terrorists? Key Legal Questions and Practical Considerations

This Research Paper discusses several of the key questions related to the subject of impunity of international terrorists, taking both a fundamental and a more practical approach within the context of international law.

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Research Paper | 2 Mar 2012
Designing Rehabilitation and Reintegration Programmes for Violent Extremist Offenders: A Realist Approach

In this Research Paper, Dr. Tinka Veldhuis makes an argument for a Realist approach to rehabilitation and reintegration programmes for violent extremist offenders in prison.

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Research Paper | 2 Feb 2012
Counter-Terrorism, Technology and Transparency: Reconsidering State Accountability

In this Discussion Paper, Dr. Quirine Eijkman discusses the use of surveillance, storage of personal information, biometrics, satellite technology and other forms of ICT technology used in the fight against terrorism and the risks that come along with them.

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Research Paper | 2 Aug 2011
Incitement to Terrorism: A Matter of Prevention or Repression?

Dr. Bibi van Ginkel analyses the relevant research and policy question related to the criminalisation of incitement to terrorism.

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Research Paper | 2 Jul 2011
Preventive Counter-Terrorism Measures and Non-Discrimination in the European Union: The Need for Systematic Evaluation

This study briefly discusses the concept of preventive counter‐terrorism, after which it will go on to consider the use of preventive counter‐terrorism measures in the EU as well as their potential discriminatory side‐effects.

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Research Paper | 2 Mar 2011
Compatible or Incompatible? Intelligence and Human Rights in Terrorist Trials

This Research Paper focuses on the special procedures of Canada, France, the Netherlands and the UK for the use of intelligence in terrorism-related court cases.

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Research Paper | 12 Feb 2011
Why Communication and Performance are Key in Countering Terrorism

In this Research Paper, Prof. Dr. Beatrice de Graaf emphasises the importance of effective communication and performance in the fight against terrorism and the fear it aims to induce.

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Research Paper | 3 Feb 2011
Report ICCT International Launch Conference

Over 200 high-level international experts from various governments, counter-terrorism agencies, academic institutions and NGOs gathered to discuss the status of counter-terrorism.

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Research Paper | 2 Feb 2011
Joint Investigation Teams: Added Value, Opportunities and Obstacles in the Struggle against Terrorism

This Research Paper is an updated version of the discussion paper that was prepared for the ICCT Expert Meeting on ‘Joint Investigation Teams: Added Value, Opportunities and Obstacles in the Struggle against Terrorism’.

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Research Paper | 2 Nov 2010
Lone Wolves: How to Prevent this Phenomenon?

In this Research Paper Prof. Dr. Edwin Bakker and Prof. Dr. Beatrice de Graaf examine the rise of terrorist acts perpetrated by individuals.

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Research Paper | 2 Mar 2010
Use of Diplomatic Assurances in Terrorism-related Cases: In search of a Balance between Security Concerns and Human Rights

Dr. Bibi van Ginkel and Federico Rojas analyse the different policies on diplomatic assurances in countries that are representative of a trend and clarify the criteria that have to be fulfilled before assurance may be used.

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