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Perspectives

How is the terrorist threat level determined?

One thing we have all gotten used to in the post 9/11 era is the question: at any given time how at risk are we from terrorism?  In an effort to answer this query for a nation’s citizenry a number of methods have been proposed. One of the more famous ones was the US Department […]

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Perspectives

Trends in analysis and why they tend to be wrong

I am a big Isaac Asimov fan (and a big science fiction fan in general, although I don’t get to read as much as I’d like what with all this terrorism to look at).  In his classic Foundation series we are introduced to a character right at the outset named Hari Seldon, a mathematics professor […]

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Perspectives

Should Canada send anti-terrorist forces to Mali?

There are few places on Earth more pitiable than Mali, a landlocked country in West Africa that is about the size of South Africa.  It ranks in the bottom ten with respect to poverty, has one of the world’s largest birth rates (6 children per mother), and has a serious terrorist problem to boot. It […]

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Perspectives

Alternative facts and the fight against terrorism

In Lewis Carroll’s Alice through the looking glass Humpty-Dumpty delivers this famous line: “When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” Alice replied: “he question is whether you can make words mean so many different things.” I think this notion that anyone can say anything they like […]

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Perspectives

From de-radicalisation to re-radicalisation

Luc Opdebeeck is a man with boundless energy.  He is the leader and artistic director of Formaat, a participatory theatre group in Rotterdam, an initiative I have had the honour of working alongside a bit over the past few months.  I attended a typical ‘evening’ last night and witnessed the important and groundbreaking work Formaat […]

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Perspectives

Black and white and grey all over

Did you ever have one of those days where in a matter of minutes you were exposed to things that when you compared them turned out to be polar opposites?  I had one of those days today. I had traveled from The Hague to Utrecht in the Netherlands to meet with a university professor.  I […]

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Perspectives

Why I support CVE

For some it might seem a bit odd that a person who spent three decades in intelligence, and half of that  in counter terrorism especially, might think that there is a solution other than investigation and incarceration for terrorists.  After all, terrorism is a real threat and we cannot be naive about it.  How can […]

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Perspectives

Can theatre help with radicalisation?

Bill Murray is one of my favourite actors.  And one of my favourite Bill Murray films is “The Man who Knew too Little”, a spoof on a Hitchcock film where mistaken identity and the world of spycraft head off in a dangerous direction, except of course that when Bill Murray is involved comedy replaces danger. […]

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Perspectives

When foreign fighters are a good thing?

When we write and talk about foreign fighters we are normally referring to the phenomenon of outsiders who travel to engage in combat in a land that is not theirs.  More specifically, at least these days, we are focused on those joining up with terrorist groups like Islamic State and Jabhat al Nusra which are […]

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Perspectives

The reach of Islamic State

I have gone on record several times to state that Islamic State (IS) does not pose an existential threat to anybody.  It can certainly cause havoc and mayhem and destruction but there is no way that this motley crew of extremists is ever going to threaten the world.  Yes, it has a state – sort […]