A group of budding Swansea University cyberterrorism experts will be setting off for Massachusetts soon to undertake a research project which will involve examining the official publications of designated terrorist organisations that follow a jihadist ideology.
The group (pictured) will assess the publications from groups such as al-Qaeda, Islamic State, al-Shabaab and Boko Haram amongst others in order to identify the narratives utilised to encourage individuals to engage in terrorist acts, both in terms of home-grown terrorism and travel to foreign battlefields. In order to conduct this analysis, this project will utilise a corpus linguistics methodology; an advanced quantitative process that identifies linguistic patterns and profiles within bodies of text and assesses their importance in the overall structure of the narrative.
This study will allow conclusions to be drawn on the role that terrorist publications play in the recruitment and radicalisation process of terrorist actors, and the way in which these narratives are constructed to make them attractive to would-be jihadists, allowing for the creation of effective counter-narratives for use in de-escalation projects. At the end of the internship, a policy report will be created for dissemination to key policy makers and practitioners within the security sector.
The Swansea University group consists of eight second year undergraduate students, five from the College of Law and Criminology and three from the College of Arts and Humanities. They are studying a range of subjects, from Law and Criminology to Politics and English. The undergraduates will be accompanied by a postgraduate student from the College of Law, who is studying for his PhD.
The group will be based at the Centre for Terrorism and Security Studies (CTSS) at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, near Boston between 21 August and 19 September. The students will be working under Dr James Forest, an expert in terrorism and editor of the journal Perspectives on Terrorism.
The students said:
- Elliott Parry, 2nd Year Philosophy, Politics and Law student from Llantwit Major said: “Having the opportunity to take part in a summer work placement that deals with issues of great significance such as terrorism and radicalisation online as part of my experience at Swansea University, will be extremely rewarding. The added element of travelling abroad and becoming immersed in the culture and charm of Boston is something I find truly exciting and can’t wait for. I’m looking forward to exploring new and challenging ideas and having the opportunity to do this at the University of Massachusetts in Boston with fellow Swansea University students is a unique and wonderful opportunity which I’m very grateful for."
- Kate Thomas, 2nd Year Law student from Longford, Neath said: “I can't wait to start training in the next few weeks for what will be an epic experience in Boston! I am really looking forward to attending a conference in London where we will meet global terrorism experts and learn about the cutting edge research being done in this field. I believe that this placement is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am really pleased to be a part of it! I’m not just looking forward to getting stuck into the work, though; I've got the Boston Celtics Jersey ready - all I need now is a Red Sox’s one! I'm literally counting down the days now until the project kicks off! Can't wait!”
- Luke Walker, 2nd Year English Language student from Exmouth, Devon said: “The opportunity to go to Boston is a great chance to get involved in an important field of research and learn more about terrorist groups operating worldwide. I’m really looking forward to working in a group of like-minded students and getting started! “
Swansea University organised a Summer School, in June this year, for the benefit of the students taking part in the internship, to provide an understanding of contemporary terrorism and advanced research methodologies. The Summer School included external speakers from a number of high profile organisations, such as the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Initiative (UNICRI) and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), who presented expert lectures on a range of topics ranging from how terrorists use the Internet to the dangers posed by the Dark Web. The students also attended an academic conference at the British Academy on how terrorist groups learn and attended a lecture by Sir David Omand on tackling today’s terrorists.
Picture caption: Swansea University students, left to right (back row) David Mair, Saffron Lee, Anina Kinzel, David Nezri, Elliot Parry, Luke Walker, and (front row) Nash Maravanyika, Jodie Parker, Kate Thomas.
- Monday 17 August 2015 01.00 BST
- Thursday 19 September 2019 12.35 BST
- Swansea University, Tel: 01792 295050