Building ‘terrorism studies’ as an interdisciplinary space

Over the years, there have been many debates regarding the state of research into terrorism and whether “terrorism studies” constitutes an academic discipline in its own right. Such reflections, coupled with the natural evolution of what is still a relatively new area of research, have arguably led to significant improvements in quality and rigour. At the same time, the status of terrorism studies itself remains somewhat ambiguous: it is both discussed as a distinct field and simultaneously evades criticism by pointing to the difficulties of defining its boundaries. There are undoubtedly a number of advantages to forming a separate discipline, which would go some way to helping the field address some of the recurring problems that terrorism research faces. However, this article ultimately argues that scholars are better served by deliberately moving in the other direction and developing the field as a space for interdisciplinary engagement.

Click here to read the article (open access).

The Numbers Game: Transparency and Reliability Issues in Estimating Russian Rebel Involvement in Syria and Iraq

Articles discussing rebel involvement in the conflict in Syria and Iraq and the threat posed by returnees often cite estimates by the Soufan Group. In this research note, I’m going to explain why this is problematic in relation to Russia, and identify some of the challenges in estimating how many Russians have travelled to the Middle East. Continue reading “The Numbers Game: Transparency and Reliability Issues in Estimating Russian Rebel Involvement in Syria and Iraq”

New Report On Russian-Speaking Foreign Fighters

Despite its early and spectacular successes in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State (IS) has, over the last year, suffered repeated setbacks that have weakened its ability to control captured territory and implement its state-building agenda. A key aspect of IS’s strategy has been the mobilisation of supporters across Russia and the former Soviet Union. Other rebel groups in Syria have also attracted support from these areas, illustrating the need for a proper understanding of the Russian-speaking militant milieu, beyond IS’s territorial claims. Continue reading “New Report On Russian-Speaking Foreign Fighters”

A Primer on the Caucasus Emirate

The Caucasus Emirate (Imarat Kavkaz) was the main insurgent group operating in the North Caucasus between 2007 and 2015. However, the deaths of key ideologues, intense pressure from the security services, and mass defections to the Islamic State (IS) resulted in the group’s decline. In this guide, Mark Youngman and Dr Cerwyn Moore explain the background and transformation of the Imarat Kavkaz.

Click here to read the rest of the article for Radicalisation Research.