In a relatively short time, ISIS has come to dominate the global jihadi arena, boasting its own state that incorporates parts of Syria and Iraq, spurring offshoots elsewhere in the Middle East, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia. At the same time, through sophisticated use of social media it has recruited foreign fighters from all over the world while inspiring others in the West to wreak havoc at home. Moreover, it has engaged in a deadly competition with its parent institution, Al Qaeda. Assessing the strengths and vulnerabilities of terrorist movements, and policy responses to them, is the main burden of FPRI’s Center for the Study of Terrorism.
The Center is chaired by Lawrence Husick, a specialist on technology and terrorism, and Edward Turzanski, a former member of the US intelligence community, each of whom appears regularly in local and national media, while lecturing to community groups around the country, including in 2015 the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council in Honolulu and the World Affairs Councils of Anchorage and Juneau (Alaska). The Center draws on scholars in our National Security Program and our Middle East Program, among them –
- Barak Mendelsohn, author of The Al Qaeda Franchise: The Expansion of al-Qaeda and Its Consequences (Oxford University Press, 2015) and of numerous articles in Foreign Affairs
- Clint Watts, a former FBI special agent on a Joint Terrorism Task Force, now known for his work on tracking jihadis online; author of numerous blogs for War on the Rocksand FPRI’s blog Geopoliticus, and a guest on CNN
- Lorenzo Vidino, heads the Program on Extremism at George Washington University which published his 2015 report “ISIS in America”
- Vanessa Neumann, author of a forthcoming book on crime-terror pipelines (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and contributor to the OECD report “Illicit Trade: Converging Criminal Networks”
John Templeton Fellow
Senior Fellow Edward A. Turzanski
Edward Turzanski, who is also co-chair of FPRI’s Center for the Study of Terrorism, is tasked with providing timely, accurate analysis on critical challenges to US national security to the media community groups, civic and business leaders; and elected and appointed government officials (across the political spectrum). He covers security concerns related to large-scale domestic events and venues, geopolitical implications of US energy capabilities, allied perceptions of US foreign policy, and US responses to challenges posed by ISIS, Iran, Russia, and China. In 2015, he gave 114 radio and television interviews, delivered formal remarks in 41 public appearances, and met privately with numerous security officials. Formerly with the US intelligence community, he taught at La Salle University and is a regular panelist on “Inside Story,” a weekly news show on ABC affiliate WPVI TV in Philadelphia. He is President of the Board of Directors of the National Aerospace Training and Research (NASTAR) Center Educational Foundation, a Member of the Aria Health Foundation Board, and a Member of the Board of Directors of the Union League of Philadelphia.
Field Research Scholarship
Senior Fellow David Danelo
In 2015, FPRI’s Program on Field Research further developed the core training curriculum and completed research and analysis worldwide. The year’s two biggest accomplishments were an extended field research project in Germany in the spring, and acceptance for 2016 publication of the core curriculum by a major academic publisher.
In March 2015, field research program director David Danelo traveled to Germany, the Netherlands, and the Denmark/Sweden border to analyze evolving geopolitical events in northern Europe. His three-part series, Germany in the 21st Century, forecasted Europe’s 2015 refugee crisis, predicted Germany’s response to the unprecedented events, and explained the dilemma both the country and the continent would confront in 2016 and the coming decade.
The program was also proud to announce publication pending in 2016 of a textbook developed from our curriculum. In 2015, Georgetown University Press accepted Danelo’s The Field Research Handbook: A Guide to the Art and Science of Professional Fieldwork. At year end, the manuscript is in final edits and is slated for late summer 2016 publication.
Events in the field research program’s second year, both in how fieldwork has informed geopolitical forecasts and the acceptance of the core curriculum by a major academic publisher, have served to validate the program’s original ambitions. As the world remains complex in 2016, FPRI’s field research program looks forward to a new year of opportunities to bring back insights from the ground, and teaching others how to increase their chances of doing the same.
For 30 years, FPRI Senior Fellow Jim McGann has been studying think tanks – first, as a program officer for the Pew Charitable Trusts, then for his dissertation (Scholars, Dollars, and Public Policy), and then as the author of reports on trends in think tanks, initially in the US but later all over the world. Subsequently, he established a database on thousands of think tanks, and about 10 years ago created the Global Go-To Think Tank Index, which ranks think tanks all over the world – and which is covered by media all over the world. More recently, he initiated a series of think tank summits, and has held one or more summits on almost every continent. When you consider the entire evolution of this project since before its inception, it is a stunning trajectory – and it is not over. McGann is currently director of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Project at UPenn’s Lauder Institute and has written a number of books on the subject.