December 2017 issue of Perspectives on Terrorism

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For those encountering difficulties accessing the December 2017 issue of Perspectives on Terrorism, here’s a link to download the full PDF version:

PoT issue 6

The rising homegrown terror threat on the right

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In this piece, published in The Conversation, our Director of Security Studies and Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Dr. Arie Perliger, discusses the rise of the extreme far-right.

Read the piece in its entirety here:


Now accepting applications: CTSS Fall 2017 Internship

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Fall 2017 Internship: Propaganda and Extreme Action

UMass Lowell’s Center for Terrorism and Security Studies (CTSS) is seeking highly motivated students to become involved in the CTSS Internship. CTSS is offering one 3-credit internship (CRIM 4960) that focuses on the gathering and the analysis of data which explore the nexus of terrorist groups’ propaganda and operational behavior. The Internship will cover both domestic (far-right) and international groups. Students will be given the opportunity to experience the various stages of research construction and design, and to utilize the data for their own work as well.

About CTSS

CTSS conducts scholarly research on all aspects of terrorism, political violence and issues of domestic and international security. The center’s work aims to to better understand the causes and consequences of new and emerging security challenges in order to support counter-terrorism training, education and policy.

The CTSS Internship

The CTSS internship offers students the opportunity to gain some hands-on experience of researching terrorism and terrorist offenders. As part of this internship students will collect, analyze and present data on terrorist offenders and terrorist attacks in the United States. Students have used the CTSS internship to support job applications for law enforcement, government agencies, roles for intelligence agencies and the armed forces.


Weekly meetings will take place on UML South Campus. The position will require a commitment of 10 hours per week.

How to Apply

This internship is open to UML students from all majors. While we encourage previous interns to re-apply and continue to work with us, we also strongly encourage new interns to apply.

No previous education in terrorism or homeland security is required to apply for this internship.

  1. E-mail a resume and cover letter as
    a single file, PDF document to Neil Shortland at
  2. The file must be titled “Your-Last-Name CTSS Application.pdf.”
  3. Resume should include both your cumulative and last-semester grade point averages.
  4. Cover letter should be addressed to Professor Neil Shortland.
  5. Cover letter must indicate whether the student intends to pursue the internship for credit.

For full call please see:

CTSS.Call for Interns

Trust, Security and Travel Bans

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by James J.F. Forest, Ph.D.
February 11, 2017

How does an effective system of security work in the real world, beyond political and media punditry? Ask a professional in law enforcement, military or the intelligence community and you’ll hear an overwhelmingly common response:  security is built and maintained on relationships of trust, at every level. Healthy, trusted community and police relationships are key to maintaining peace and order, and for intelligence gathering on crime and security threats. Trust is critical for interagency cooperation and information sharing between local, state and federal agencies. At the national level, the different agencies and branches of government must trust each other implicitly in order to work together toward the overall common objective of ensuring security for the the nation and its interests. And at the international level, trusted relationships are vital for military cooperation, intelligence sharing, cross-national crime and terror investigations, diplomacy, economic security, energy security, cybersecurity, and so much more. These are all components of an effective security system for any country.

A quick caveat before I continue, as a response to some angry messages I have received from Trump supporters. The criticisms that I have shared publicly over the past few weeks about the current presidential administration and its policies have nothing to do with being against one political party or in favor of another. I have always registered to vote as an independent, and I much prefer discussions that focus on data, evidence and academic objectivity over politicized debates. My criticisms are based on what I have learned about effective counterterrorism (and security writ large), and my concerns over policy decisions that may result in our being less secure over time. There are two main themes in my criticisms: 1) the lack of real operational effectiveness and the potential damage this approach may have on our overall national security objectives; and 2) the rhetoric which is being utilized by some members of the administration (and supporters, including some in the media) in their attempts to justify these policies. Both of these areas of concern threaten to undermine critical relationships and trust on different levels, as described below.

Continue reading

CTSS Study Abroad in Portugal: Summer 2017

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CTSS Study Abroad

This Summer the UMass Lowell’s Center for Terrorism and Security Studies (CTSS) is seeking highly motivated students to become involved in an immersive 2-week study abroad program in Portugal. This program offers two distinct courses, the first course is aimed at giving students a broad insight into criminal justice issues in Portugal and across Europe (including drugs, policing, prisons). The second course is a CTSS internship that will start in Portugal and continue into the Fall 2017 semester. This program offers 9 credits in total (6 credits for the Summer programs with an additional 3 credits earnt during the Fall 2017 semester).


Where? This first week of this course will take place at the University of Minho Braga in North Western Portugal. Here students will engage in local culture, and local events such as the Bom Jesus Festival. The second week of the course will take place in the city of Lisbon.

When? The trip will run from June 16th until June 30th. However students are encouraged to travel before, during (at the weekend) and after the trip.

How much? The fees for the trip (not including tuition or airfare) are estimated to cost $1500. However scholarships of between $400 – $800 may be available.

CRIM 3800: Comparative Criminal Justice

The goal of this course is to educate students on the issues, methods and policies of criminal justice in Portugal in order to serve as a unique comparison point for their ongoing learning and development. Specifically this course will involve students’ being exposed to lectures by leading Portuguese faculty (lectures will be delivered in English) on issues such as recidivism, drugs, cultural integration, cyber security and Portuguese law. In addition to this students will also be exposed to several immersive experiences such as visiting local Portuguese prisons in order to see these  differences in-action.

CRIM 4910: P2P Internship

Over the past several years we have seen a exponential increase in the number of people who have become radicalized “online.” As part of this effort the Department of Defense (in partnership with Facebook) has chosen specific Universities to develop projects that seek to combat and challenge the “pull” of violent extremist organizations. The Center for Terrorism and Security Studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell is part of this on-going effort. During this study abroad experience students will use their experiences and reflections on Portuguese culture, history and the security climate to support the development of a Countering Violent Extremism Project (CVE). This CVE project will then be fully developed in the Fall 2017 semester and will be delivered to the Department of Defense in December 2017. Submissions from the Top-5 universities will then be invited to Washington D.C. to present on their project.

If you are interested in applying for this program please contact as soon as possible. Spaces are limited.

Spring 2017 Courses in Security Studies

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The following is a list of on campus and online courses offered in Spring 2017 that can be used to fulfill degree requirements for the MA or MS in Security Studies. Of course, some electives cannot be used for certain concentrations (like the MS in Cybersecurity concentration which requires a specific set of IT and Computer Science courses). Please refer to your individual program of study, specific to your chosen Concentration within the degree program, for further guidance. Also, where “permission required” is indicated, please contact the instructor and the Security Studies program coordinator to discuss before attempting to enroll.


CRIM.5910 Research Design
Dr. Jason Rydberg
Mondays 5-7:50pm

CRIM.6890 Special Topics:  Seminar in Transnational Crime Networks  (permission required)
Dr. Sheldon Zhang
Mondays 5-7:50pm

CRIM.6900 Advanced Regression Analysis
Dr. Jason Rydberg
Thursdays 5-7:50pm

CRIM.7100 Advanced Research in Terrorism (permission required)
Dr. Arie Perliger
Tuesdays 5-7:50pm

PCST.5080 Theories of Political and Criminal Violence
Dr. Angelica Duran-Martinez
Wednesdays 3:30 to 6:20pm

BIOL.5720 Virology (permission required)
Dr. Michael Graves
Tues/Thurs 9:30-10:45am

ENGY.5070 Reactor Engineering and Safety (permission required)
Dr. Dean Wang
Mon/Wed 2:00-3:15pm

GLST.7012 Conflict, Cooperation, Security and Human Rights
Dr. Jenifer Whitten-Woodring
Wednesdays 3:30 to 6:20pm

GLST.7170 Developing Economies
Dr. John Wooding
Tuesdays 3:30 to 6:20pm

PUBH.5030 Toxicology and Health  (permission required)
Dr. Dhimiter Bello
Mondays 3:30-6:20pm

PUBH.5750 Introduction to Epidemiology  (permission required)
Dr. Natalia Palacios
Wednesdays 3:30-6:20pm

PUBH.6161 Exposure and Risk Assessment  (permission required)
Dr. Margaret Quinn
Wednesdays 3:30-6:20pm

PUBH.6191 Measurement of Chemical Exposure  (permission required)
Dr. Susan Woskie
Tuesdays 3:30-6:20pm


CRIM.5750 Contemporary Security Studies
Dr. Charles Kirchofer

CRIM.5720 Comparative Terrorism and Counterterrorism
Dr. James Forest

CRIM.5780  Intelligence Analysis Policy and Practice
Mr. Chris Hickey

CRIM.5660 Transportation Systems Safety and Security
Mr. Gary Gordon

CRIM.5730 Threat Assessment and Risk Management
Dr. Jarret Brachman

CRIM.5740 Overview of Homeland Security
Dr. Tim Croft

CRIM.5900 Descriptive & Inferential Statistics
Dr. Jason Rydberg

CRIM.5910 Research Design
Dr. Kareem Jordan

CRIM.6500 Violence in America
Dr. Carol Higgins-O’Brien

CRIM.6580 Issues in Computer Crime and Cyber Security
Mr. Scott McGann

CRIM.6680 Scientific & Technological Dimensions of National Security
Dr. David Boyd

CRIM.6660 Terrorism Networks
Dr. Arie Perliger

CRIM.6990 Capstone Research Paper/Project
Dr. James Forest

MSIT.5140 Systems Security and Auditing
Dr. Thomas Cummings

MSIT.5450 Designing and Building a Cybersecurity Program
Dr. Lawrence Wilson

MSIT.5620 Computer Network Security
Dr. Jie Want

MSIT.5620 Digital Forensics
Dr. Xinwen Fu

CTSS is Hiring! Apply for Research Assistantships now.

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UMass Lowell’s Center for Terrorism and Security Studies (CTSS) is seeking to hire several highly motivated students as Research Assistants, who will work alongside CTSS personnel to conduct research on terrorist behavior. Successful applicants for these positions will gain valuable experience in collecting, coding and analyzing data on terrorist offenders and terrorist attacks.

About the Project:

Increasingly we are becoming interested in the “online” lives of people who become involved in terrorism, and more and more, when someone commits a terrorist attack, we look back and say there was a “cue” or “indicator” in their online behavior.

However, Researchers in the field of security studies have thus far been unable to make informed judgments about the risks posed by an individual based on the nature of their online activity and expressions of ideology. This CTSS project therefore seeks to apply a novel form of narrative and discourse analysis to explore whether online expressions of intent and ideology can be used to diagnose an individuals’ intent to engage in extremist behavior.

Research Assistants will be involved in every step of this project; from data management, to assisting data collection, to write up and delivery.


These research assistantships are part-time and open to all UMass Lowell undergraduates, regardless of academic degree program, although students majoring in Criminal Justice and Psychology (either single of joint honors) are especially encouraged to apply.

The position will require a commitment of 10 hours per week. Students may work remotely on some project tasks. Research Assistants will be paid at a rate of $12 per hour and will be expected to work 8 hours per week.

Access the call for applicants here:


CTSS Study Abroad; highlights from Week 1


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This summer I have the great pleasure of taking a group of CTSS students to Portugal to study cross-cultural approaches to criminal justice, security and terrorism at the University of Minho, Braga. For me, studying abroad is a unique environment; it is shorter, and more intense. Far more independence is afforded (and indeed expected in return). “Learning” is not so much about passive reception of information but about actively seeking out information. Students’ are  required to reflect on everything they see and experience  (“what do these differences between Portuguese and American culture mean?” “How can we learn from this?”). As such this trip is a combination of classroom based learning and more applied experiences (in week 2 we are able to tour a local prison, while in week 3 we are going to be visiting the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon to discuss our experiences and have a briefing from the United States Ambassador to Portugal (Hon Robert Sherman). While here the students will also be collecting and analyzing data on a (security related) subject of their choice.

As part of this trip we are asking students to write regular blog posts to allow them to reflect on their experiences as well as to communicate what they have learnt to the outside world.

Below are a few of these blogs for the first week of our trip; they reflect on the students’ early experiences and their perceptions of the, very unique, São João Cultural Festival which we were able to attend just after we landed in Portugal.


Blog 1: Written by Jill Calden

Never have I felt more accepted or had a greater sense of belonging than in Portugal. These past few days here have been some of the best days of my life, and the things I have experienced have been unimaginable. I know my time here will fly by so I’m trying to make the most of what little time I do have.

This past weekend, we had the opportunity to go to the beach and swim in the freezing water. I got whipped by the sand and burned by the sun but still had an incredible time. A few of us bought a soccer ball at a nearby shop and started playing at some nets set up at the beach. Eventually, some Portuguese men on the beach asked to join us and we played a pickup soccer game. Our skills were no match for them and they demolished us. Even though only a few spoke English, we all had a grand time filled with laughter.

The following day, we hiked to the top of Bom Jesus do Monte, a religious sanctuary that overlooks the whole city. The sun beat down on us as we made our way up to the top and we climbed over 70 flights of stairs to get there. From the top, the view was stunning, as you can see for miles in all different directions. Exploring on top of the hill, we found caves, gardens, old buildings, and even tried to rent a boat to explore a pond.

Later that night, a local Portuguese student, José, invited us over to his place for a home cooked meal. A group of us piled into his small flat and ate delicious pasta in a meat sauce. We took up his kitchen table, his living room, his balcony, wherever we could find a spot to sit, and we all laughed, told stories, and enjoyed each other’s company. At one point, José began to cry because never in his life did he imagine having a group of Americans in his home.

While I do miss my comfort foods and my dogs, I feel so fortunate to be here, experiencing this culture. I cannot wait to see what next week holds for me and I can only hope that it is as memorable as this past week.


Blog 2: Written by Victoria Beauchesne

Portugal has always been on my top 5 list of places that I wanted to go. So, I jumped at the opportunity to not only travel to Portugal but also combine it with a classroom learning environment. So far, this trip has been a big shock. I was under an extremely false impression that more people would speak English and that it would be a lot easier to get around and communicate. This was not reality. Thank goodness we have an amazing group of students from the University of Minho showing us around and helping us communicate our needs to the local people of Braga.

So far, the culture here is amazing. As a group, we had the opportunity to attend Braga’s, São João festival which celebrates the Saint for that area. During this festival, there was a lot of food from local places, all of which is amazing! Also, a big tradition that the people of Braga participate in is tapping people on the head with a toy hammer that makes noises. The people also send off heat balloons with wishes that float into the sky. Though everyone is supposed to be hitting everyone else on the head, every time someone would do it to me, I felt the need to thank them for involving me in their traditions and being so nice!

Before the festival, we also had the opportunity to tour an old city nearby. In this city, we got to visit two castles and enjoy an amazing view from them. We also got to see them preparing for a big fair that they had going on over the next few days. This fair is a reenactment of a medieval marketplace. Their costumes and set up were so authentic and fit in perfectly with the city. I feel as though fairs in the US become more of an eyesore as opposed to a being an extension of the cities’ histories.

All in all, it is only day two of being in Portugal and I’m already in love with it. This has been an eye opening, once in a lifetime experience that I’m so excited I had the opportunity to enjoy.


Blog 3: Written by Christopher Calandra

Coming into this experience, I did not know what to expect. I was nervous being in a country I did not know well and where I did not speak the native language. So far, everyone has been very nice and welcoming, especially the Portuguese students that are helping us. They’re constantly offering us tips, suggestions, and doing anything they can to make our experience as great as it can be. It was very interesting talking with them about different topics within criminal justice and seeing how the United States and Portugal/Europe differ in those aspects.

The tours of Guimaraes and Braga were both incredible. Both cities have so much culture and history. It was amazing seeing the castles and the many churches, cathedrals, and chapels (pictures 1-3). In the United States, we usually do not get to see these types of buildings and structures, so getting to see them in person was so surreal. Everywhere we turned, there was always something fascinating to see.

The Festa de São João, or the festival of St. John the Baptist, was one of the best experiences I’ve had. At first, it was a little strange seeing people walk around and hitting each other on the head with plastic squeaky hammers. As the night went on, it became more and more normal. The streets of central Braga were filled with thousands of people, endless places to get food and desserts, and everyone was just having an amazing time (picture 4). People of all ages were there, from babies and toddlers to grandparents; everyone joined in on the festivities. At the end of the night, it was all capped off with fireworks (picture 5).

In our groups, we talked about what some of the differences were between Portugal and the United States that we saw from our first few days. We realized that Portuguese people do not talk much about terrorism; they have much stricter laws on weapons; and, we did not really see many police officers at the festival the night before. It seems like they try not to let the media talk about terrorism, because, that way, the terrorists cannot get national attention, at least not in Portugal. The United States will always be able to learn a thing or two from other countries, but the United States can also teach a few things.


Castle in Guimaraes, Portugal



Fireworks at the Festa de São João


CTSS Internships, Fall 2016 – Applications due May 1st

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UMass Lowell’s Center for Terrorism and Security Studies (CTSS) is seeking highly motivated students to become involved in the CTSS Internship. CTSS is offering one 3-credit internship (CRIM 4960) that focuses on issues of terrorism and counter-terrorism in the United States. This internship give students applied experience of collecting, coding and analyzing data on terrorist offenders and terrorist attacks.

Click Here for Complete Details


JM Berger visit to Lowell

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ISIS: The State of Terror, with J.M. Berger
Author’s book signing and discussion

When: April 13th, 7pm
Where: HyperText Bookstore, 107 Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA 01852

J.M. Berger is a fellow with George Washington University’s Program on Extremism. He is researcher, analyst and consultant, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and use of social media. Berger is co-author of the critically acclaimed ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern and author of Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement. Berger publishes the web site and has written for Politico, The Atlantic and Foreign Policy, among others. He was previously a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and an associate fellow with the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation.