GTTAC Speaker Series: “Breaking the ISIS Brand” featuring Anne Speckhard

The Global Terrorism Trends and Analysis Center on Nov. 6 hosted its third Speaker Series event, featuring Anne Speckhard (pictured below, at left), who discussed her research while interviewing hundreds of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria, as well as other terrorists across the world.

Dr. Speckhard described some of her findings, particularly with what drove a variety of individuals to terrorism, whether it be a sense of duty to defensive jihad, to monetary incentives to support their families.

Dr. Speckhard is Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) and serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University’s School of Medicine. She has interviewed more than 700 terrorists, their family members, and supporters in various parts of the world, including Western Europe, the Balkans, Central Asia, the former Soviet Union, and the Middle East.

In the past five years, she has conducted in-depth psychological interviews of more than 250 ISIS defectors, returnees, and prisoners as well as 16 al-Shabaab cadres (she also has interviewed their family members as well as ideologues). In this time, she has studied their trajectories into and out of terrorism and their experiences inside ISIS (and al-Shabaab). From these interviews, she has developed the Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative Project materials, which include more than 200 brief counternarrative videos of terrorists denouncing their groups as un-Islamic, corrupt, and brutal.

GTTAC will host more of these events in the future, featuring speakers who are experts in the fields of terrorism, counterterrorism, and international security.

If case you were unable to attend today’s event, we will distribute a link to the fully recorded webinar soon. To attend future events, please follow this link to register in our listserv:

If you are not presently following us on Twitter, please visit and follow us at: @DSG_GTTAC and @DSGNow for future updates.

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