Canadian Intelligence Eh!

Russia and the Taliban getting together, really?

The old phrase ‘once burned twice shy’ does not seem to apply when it comes to Russia and Afghanistan: why would the former want to jump back in to the Central Asian nation?

Episode 224 – What is in store for a Russia-Taliban ‘marriage of convenience’?

Russian/Soviet history in Afghanistan is not a good news story. From the ‘Great Game’ of the 19th century to the Soviet invasion in 1979 (and ignominious withdrawal in 1989), Moscow does not have happy memories of involvement in the country. You would think, then, that Russia would think at least twice about jumping back in, and yet that seems to be highly possible as it is considering ‘delisting’ the Taliban as a terrorist group. What in heaven’s name is behind this strategy? Borealis talks with Alec Bertina on this fascinating turn of events.

Russia Inches Toward Marriage Of Convenience With Taliban In Terror Fight  (

About my guest

Alec Bertina is a freelance open-source analyst, non-traditional security actors researcher and conflict analyst at Militant Wire. His focus is mainly on Russian security, Russian strategy, Russian PMCs, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Western PMCs, grey-zone warfare and Russian paramilitaries. His work and interviews on these topics have been published in West Point’s CTC Sentinel, Jamestown Foundation, Grey Dynamics, Unherd, Taggespeigel and Newsweek. Alec has a BA in Politics and International Relations and an MA in International Security from the University of East Anglia, as well as experience doing free-lance consulting on the aforementioned topics of focus.

Canadian Intelligence Eh

In a world of multiple voices and opinions it can be very hard to know where to turn.  One choice is to look to those who actually worked in counter-terrorism in the national security world. 

In these half-hour podcasts, 30-year Canadian intelligence veteran Phil Gurski is joined by a fascinating array of individuals with something meaningful to say about these issues as they provide insight into what they mean and what we need to do about them.

About Phil Gurski

Phil worked as a senior strategic analyst at CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) from 2001-2015, specializing in violent Islamist-inspired homegrown terrorism and radicalisation. From 1983 to 2001 he was employed as a senior multilingual analyst at Communications Security Establishment (CSE – Canada’s signals intelligence agency), specialising in the Middle East. He also served as senior special advisor in the National Security Directorate at Public Safety Canada from 2013, focusing on community outreach and training on radicalisation to violence, until his retirement from the civil service in May 2015, and as consultant for the Ontario Provincial Police’s Anti-Terrorism Section (PATS) from May to October 2015.

He was the Director of Security and Intelligence at the SecDev Group from June 2018 to July 2019 and the Director of the National Security Programme at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute from 2020-2022. Mr. Gurski has presented on violent Islamist-inspired and other forms of terrorism and radicalisation across Canada and around the world.

He is the author of The Threat from Within: Recognizing Al Qaeda-inspired Radicalization and Terrorism in the West (Rowman and Littlefield 2015) Western Foreign Fighters: The Threat to Homeland and International Security (Rowman and Littlefield 2017), The Lesser Jihads: Taking the Islamist fight to the world (Rowman and Littlefield 2017), An end to the ‘War on Terrorism When Religion Kills: How Extremist Justify Violence Through Faith (Lynne Rienner 2019) and The Peaceable Kingdom? A history of terrorism in Canada from Confederation to the present (self-published: 2021, republished by Double Dagger in 2022). He regularly blogs and podcasts (Canadian Intelligence Eh!), and tweets (@borealissaves) on terrorism and intelligence matters.

He was an associate fellow at the International Centre for Counter Terrorism (ICCT) in the Netherlands and is currently a digital fellow at the Montreal Institute for Genocide Studies at Concordia University. He is also a visiting fellow at the International Security and Risk Management programme at the University of South Wales

Mr. Gurski is a regular commentator on terrorism and intelligence for a wide variety of Canadian and international media.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.