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Brothers in arms?

Last week I was asked to speak at the Canadian Military Intelligence Association annual conference in Ottawa. The speakers’ list included the Canadian National Security Advisor (and former Director of CSIS) Richard Fadden and Chief of Defence Staff General Vance. The day was well attended by members of the Canadian intelligence community. On the tables […]

The Threat From Within

Recognizing Al Qaeda-Inspired radicalization and terrorism in the West This textbook examines what drives Al Qaeda-inspired radicalization to violence, how to detect it, and how to confront it. The chapters discuss behaviors and ideologies that are observable and tangible in radicalized individuals or those on the path to violent radicalization. These behaviors are drawn from […]

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Lessons from the election and terrorism

In the wake of the stunning Liberal victory on October 19, two stories have caught my eye that have a bearing on terrorism. The first had to do with the surprise surrounding the “miraculous” comeback of the Liberals who, four years ago, had been declared all but dead.  With their measly 34 seats, there were […]

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Is Tom Cruise the future of intelligence?

“Big data” is going to solve a lot of problems we are told.  The ability to amass and analyse huge corpuses of information will assist in spotting business trends, preventing diseases, combating crime and other amazing things.  The collection of all this will allow us to become better predictors of a whole gamut of phenomena.  There […]

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How do we determine threat levels?

There are a lot of misconceptions out there on how intelligence agencies do what they do.  It is not hard to see why this is: after all, spy services work in the shadows and seldom say anything publicly (“I can neither confirm nor deny…”).  On the contrary, if these organisations were open books then they […]

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A new government and national security

Canadians have overwhelmingly voted for change.  Mr. Harper is now a former prime minister and Mr. Trudeau is now prime minister elect. The new government will have a lot of challenges before it: the economy and income disparity; the environment; immigration and our role in the refugee crisis; First Nations; and many more. But what […]

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Elections and security: how safe are we?

As we near the end of a very long federal election campaign, I’d like to review what, if anything, has been said that touches on terrorism and national security  Spoiler alert: not much.  But a lot that has nothing to do with terrorism may actually have a significant impact on how safe we will be […]

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The verdict is in, and it is a good one

The VIA passenger train trial has been a tortuous one.  The two terrorists, Raed Jaser and Chiheb Esseghaier were found guilty on eight of nine charges back in March of this year.  The plot was disrupted two years previously: that is how long it takes terrorist cases to come to trial. Actually, this was very […]

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Suffer the young – part two

When we studied radicalisation to violence at CSIS in the 2000s, we found out that while anyone could engage in violent ideologies, the vast majority were young – ish.  The age range tended to be 18-28.  This is not to say that older, or on rare occasions younger, people did not get involved.  This finding […]

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Signs of the times – 2

It is comforting and yet humbling to see a news article that conveys information which confirms a lifetime’s work.  I studied radicalisation to violence, as inspired by Al Qaeda (and increasingly nowadays the Islamic State) for 15 years from a privileged position as a senior strategic analyst at CSIS.  I was able to leverage that […]