Working Papers

Linguistic and Narrative Trends Among Islamic State Videos and Magazines

This study applies the semi-automated method of sentiment analysis to magazines and videos that have been produced by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) in order to determine what thematic narratives are prevalent within this propaganda and how consistent these narratives are between the platforms of magazines and videos. The data for this study included 28…...

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Duped: Why Gender Stereotypes are Leading to Inadequate Deradicalization and Disengagement Strategies

In narratives around insurgencies, terrorism, and other forms of armed political violence, the media -and policymakers- frequently portray women as victims or unintelligent pawns of men. Occasionally, when a women has a direct role in a violent act, she will receive more in-depth attention, with various often salacious details reported by the media about her…...

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Belonging: Feelings of attachment and acceptance among immigrants in Canada

In line with previous research, we argue that belonging is a core dimension of immigrant integration, and that belonging is better conceptualized and measured by distinguishing between immigrants’ feeling of being attached and feeling of being accepted. Feeling attached captures immigrants’ desire to belong, whereas feeling accepted captures the perception that the community wants them…...

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Trajectories of Radicalized Females in Montreal

In February 2016, it was reported that 10-12 young females– from varied religious and secular families – who lived in Canada and had been educated in Canadian schools had left for Syria. Of these, at least five Canadian women had conceived children in ISIS territory (Cain 2016, Hopper 2016) and were thus contributing to raising…...

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Forensic Psychiatry and the Extremist: A Review of the Recent Violence Risk Assessment Tools for Offenders Convicted of Terrorism Offences

Opining on the concept of dangerousness, Michel Foucault once characterized psychiatry as an endeavor that attempts “to rationalize the confused where madness and crime mix”. In his view, psychiatry gained ‘prestige’ because it developed a framework of a medical discipline concerned with “a reaction to the dangers inherent to the social body”. There is some…...

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Kidnapping for Ransom: An Analysis of Canadian Cases

Since 2001, thirty Canadian nationals have been kidnapped and held for ransom by terrorist groups while traveling or working abroad. This paper explores two questions relevant to policymakers and analysts assigned to kidnapping for ransom (KFR) files: why are Canadians targeted in kidnapping operations by terrorist groups; and what options are available to the Government…...

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How “Alone” are Lone-Actors? Exploring the Ideological, Signaling, and Support Networks of Lone-Actor Terrorists

The threat of lone-actor terrorism poses a unique challenge to security practitioners tasked with detecting, identifying, and preventing acts of ideologically and politically-motivated violence. Conventional knowledge and early academic work on lone-actor terrorism has popularized the concept that these individuals radicalize, operate, plan, and execute terrorist plots in relative anonymity, with little connection to formal…...

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Understanding the diversity of Jihadi Rhetoric: Who says what, and how?

Information on how the Global Jihadist Movement’s (GJM) leaders define their ideology is widely available, but few studies have focused on analyzing the entire contribution of all the actors involved in the construction of this decentralized movement’s discourse (Winter 2015), and few studies provide an in-depth qualitative analysis of it (Macnair and Frank 2017). In…...

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From nascent insurrections to full-blown insurgencies: Why some militant groups engage in sustained armed conflicts, a quantitative approach

There is a growing threat from terrorism and insurgencies worldwide in recent years. It is puzzling why some initially weak militant groups, who face immense difficulties in garnering material resources and support, sustain violent operations and confront more powerful militaries. Why do some militant groups engage in sustained armed conflicts while other groups do not?…...

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Analysis of Low-Tech Terrorism in Western Democracies: Attacks with Vehicles, Blades and Incendiary Devices

This study explores the issue of low-tech terrorism in Canada, France, Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom from 2001 through 2017. As a descriptive analysis, this study reveals significant trends, as well as the most common terrorist groups involved in low-tech terrorism, their weapon(s) of choice, target(s) of choice, and how low-tech terrorism…...

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Reporting Suspicion in Canada: Insights from the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing

Following the premise that suspicion is less an event than a process, how do banks produce suspicion about financial transactions for reporting purposes? To what extent the quality of suspicious activity reporting is controlled? Download Working Paper Read Policy Brief

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The Experience of Canadian Muslim Civil-society Organization and Activists in Influencing and Shaping Counter-terrorism Legislation and Policy

The main objective of this research is to understand the experiences of Canadian Muslim civil-society organisations that seek to influence counter-terrorism legislation and policy. I use the public debate surrounding the enactment of one of the most significant pieces of Canadian counter-terrorism legislation since 2001, the 2015 Anti-terrorism Act, Bill C-51, as a case study.…...

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Broadening our Understanding of Anti-Authority Movements in Canada

Academic explorations of anti-authority movements are virtually non-existent in Canada. We have no reliable primary data or empirical insights into Freemen-on-the-Land (FOTL) or other similar contingents. What we do know comes largely from Associate Chief Justice Rooke’s decision in Meads v. Meads (2012). He refers to the loose collection of individuals and small cells as…...

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A Concurrent Evaluation of Threat Assessment Tools for the Individual Assessment of Terrorism

This research examines what is the content overlap among three tools that may be relevant for assessing an individual’s risk for terrorist violence: Version 3 of the Historical-Clinical-Risk Management—20 (HCR-20 V3), the first and second versions of the Violent Extremism Risk Assessment Protocol (VERA and VERA 2), and the Multi-Level Guidelines (MLG)? Download Working Paper…...

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Talking to Foreign Fighters: Socio-Economic Push versus Existential Pull Factors

The research acquired primary data through interviews with foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, the families and friends of such fighters, and other online supporters of jihadism, to better understand the process by which these fighters radicalized and their motivations for travelling to Syria or Iraq. Between mid-2014 and early 2016 130 interviews were completed…...

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Trying to Talk to Terrorists: Ethical and Methodological Challenges in Canada

Scholars have long shied away from talking to terrorists. This is because there are significant methodological and ethical problems posed by such research. How can we manage those challenges and facilitate such research? Terrorism scholars face a unique challenge: accessing “primary data.” Most social sciences use interviews with those they are studying as an essential…...

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The Future of Right-Wing Terrorism in Canada

What is the range of likely scenarios for future right-wing terrorism in Canada, based on connections to radical movements in the US and Europe? Which factors or actions may mitigate the most likely scenar­ios? How might the future of Canadian right-wing terrorism be distinct from those of the US and Europe? There has been a…...

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Jihad in the Jazeera: Explaining The Islamic State’s Growing Insurgent Threat in Egypt

Why did Wilayat Sinai – The Islamic State’s affiliate in the Sinai Peninsula – evolve to become an unprecedented challenge to the Egyptian state? From 2012 to 2015, militant attacks in the Sinai have increased tenfold, to over 100 attacks per month on average in 2015. Egyptian military casualties are estimated to be over 700…...

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Research into How Resources are Acquired, Moved and Used to Support Acts of Terrorism

The study was directed to answer six questions on terrorist resourcing in Canada through a comparative analysis that identified: resourcing activities; actors involved; interconnections of activities; importance of different forms; implications of the activities; means of response; and, the relative value of conducting analysis through the Terrorist Resourcing Model (TRM) lens. The Canadian approach to…...

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Social impacts of the securitized arrival experiences of in-Canada refugee claimants

This multi-sited research included qualitative interviews with 19 in-Canada refugee claimants declared convention refugees under the new (since Dec 1, 2012) immigration legislation. The research sought to answer two questions: (i) What are the effects of the securitization of migration policies insofar as success in integration and feelings of trust and belonging; and (ii) Are…...

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Analyzing the formal and informal roles of women in security and justice in Yemen: Reflections for future considerations

This paper is part of a larger project which examines the roles and agency of women in counterterrorism practices. This paper specifically asks: what formal and informal roles have women played in the provision of security in Yemen, and how may this inform domestic post-conflict security considerations, as well as international security concerns? Yemen is…...

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Cheering on the Jihad: An Exploration of Women’s Participation in Online Pro-jihadist Networks

This paper poses the following questions: Can identifiable patterns of engagement by female posters be discerned based on content of posts? Does the type of the jihadist group studied have any appreciable effect on female members’ posting content? This paper presents the findings of two separate, but inter-related, studies of the posting activities of women…...

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Teaching CVE: a review of the Preventing Violent Extremism and Radicalisation in Australia handbook, and challenges across policy and practice

(1) What are some of the key issues and challenges that emerged following the release of the Preventing Violent Extremism and Radicalisation in Australia (PVERA) handbook? (2) What lessons that can be drawn from the content and public reception of the PVERA handbook? Schools and community organizations have recently become an important focus of the…...

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Assessment of the state of knowledge: Connections between research on the social psychology of the Internet and violent extremism

This paper seeks to answer the question: How does social psychology contribute to our understanding of the link between the Internet and violent extremism? There seems to be little doubt that the Internet is increasingly implicated in radicalization processes. Yet the mechanisms underlying the link between the Internet and violent extremism, and their relative importance,…...

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Bridging the National Security Accountability Gap: A Three-Part System to Modernize Canada’s Inadequate Review of National Security

This paper examines existing challenges associated with the current structure of national security accountability review in Canada. It then draws on best practices in other jurisdictions to propose a systematic overall of the Canadian national security review system. The paper hopes to contribute to current discussions about reform in this area. It focuses particular attention…...

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