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

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.

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


A utilization focused guide for conducing terrorism risk reduction program evaluations

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With the Society for Terrorism Research (STR) 8th Annual International Conference fast approaching, STR, partnered with the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies (CTSS), is launching a series of guest blog posts, written by those who will be presenting their research at STR14. In the eighth installment of this series Dr. Michael Williams discusses his upcoming presentation on conducting evaluations of risk reduction programs aimed at individuals involved in terrorism. Dr. Williams’s research relates to countering violent extremism (CVE) and how to rehabilitate/reintegrate those previously involved in such extremism. Here Dr. Williams breaks down the title of his presentation to outline exactly what is meant by “A utilization focused guide for conducting terrorism risk reduction program evaluations”.  Continue reading

Radicalization 2.0: Examining Methods for Identifying Persons at Risk of Recruitment to Violent Extremism on Social Media

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With the Society for Terrorism Research (STR) 8th Annual International Conference fast approaching, STR, partnered with the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies (CTSS), is launching a series of guest blog posts, written by those who will be presenting their research at STR14. In the seventh installment of this series Jeff Weyers and Professor Jon Cole discuss their work applying the structured professional judgment tool known as the Identifying Vulnerable Persons (IVP) to extremist activity on social media. Jeff Weyers and Prof. Jon Cole are working on this project as members of the University of Liverpool Tactical Decision Making Research Group.

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Crisis Negotiation Techniques In Terrorist Incidents: It’s Been 10 Years Since Beslan- What Have We Learned?

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With the Society for Terrorism Research (STR) 8th Annual International Conference fast approaching, STR, partnered with the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies (CTSS), is launching a series of guest blog posts, written by those who will be presenting their research at STR14. In the sixth installment of this series Detective Jeff Thompson (@nonverbalPhD) discusses his work on the lessons learnt from the Beslan School Siege. Detective Jeff Thompson is the 2013/2014 recipient of the New York City Police Department Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly Scholarship and attended Columbia University as Research Scholar.  His research topic was crisis and hostage negotiation as well as terrorism related incidents [This article does not reflect the opinion of any group or organization that he is employed by or a member of]. 

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Putting todays green-on-blue attack in context

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“KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan soldier killed a United States Army major general and wounded a German brigadier general and at least 14 other foreign and Afghan military service members on Tuesday at a military training academy on the outskirts of Kabul, officials of the American-led coalition said Tuesday. The major general appeared to be the highest-ranking member of the American military to die in hostilities overseas since the Vietnam War.”

From New York Times, (08/05/2014)

In response to the reported green-on-blue shooting that killed an American General officer and wounded up to 15 more,  Center for Terrorism and Security Studies Senior Research Associate, and Society for Terrorism Research 8th Annual Conference Organizer Neil Shortland discusses his research on green-on-blue attacks and how todays events fit the wider trends for this recurring threat in Afghanistan.

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