Synopsis: On 22 May about 25 DIA Alumni and DIA employees met in the Hughes Library to hear Anne Speckhard, Ph.D speak about how terrorists think and their motivations. Dr. Speckhard, who speaks Russian, is an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Medical School. She is married to a former Ambassador to Belgium. She spent ten years interviewing over 400 terrorists and their families to determine what psychological and environmental factors make a person a terrorist and what motivates them to engage in terrorism. Her work was unique: in that she went to the Gaza strip; she stayed overnight in the homes of terrorists in both Gaza and the West Bank; she interviewed friends of suicide bombers in the slums of Morocco; and she went to Moscow after the Chechen terrorists seized several hundred hostages in a Moscow theater. Dr. Speckhard collaborated with a Russian psychologist and did 65 psychological autopsies of the Chechen terrorists. She believes it is possible to intervene and prevent people from becoming terrorists As a result of the publication of her views in various papers and eventually in a book, DoD asked her to start a detainee rehabilitation program for 20,000 detainees in Iraq while her husband served as the Deputy Ambassador to that country. The program she started has had a very high success rate in converting people away from the terrorist mold. In a nutshell, according to Dr. Speckhard, terrorism is politically motivated with few “lone wolf” type individual terrorists. In addition, there are four areas that an individual usually must have satisfaction with in order to become a committed terrorist: 1. A group with goals that he/she agrees with, 2. An ideology he/she agrees with. Ideologies usually use faulty logic, usually via a religious belief, 3. A support group that provides social support and 4. Individual motivations. Dr. Speckhard believes that people who become traumatized by having their homes destroyed or family members killed by government forces, can become radicalized overnight. Her six trips to “Palestine” were a major factor in leading her to this conclusion. She also believes that to beat the terrorist, we must beat their emotions; logic is secondary.
BIO: Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School. Dr. Speckhard has been working in the field of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since the 1980's and has extensive experience working in Europe, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. She was the chair of the NATO Human Factors & Medicine Research and Technology Experts Group (HFM-140/RTG) on the Psychosocial, Cultural and Organizational Aspects of Terrorism, served as the co-chair of the NATO-Russia Human Factors & Medicine Research Task Group on Social Sciences Support to Military Personnel Engaged in Counter-Insurgency and Counter-Terrorism Operations and served on the NATO Human Factors & Medicine Research Task Group Moral Dilemmas and Military Mental Health Outcomes. She is a member of the United Nations Roster of Experts for the Terrorism Prevention Branch Office on Drugs and Crime and was previously awarded a Public Health Service Fellowship in the United States Department of Health & Human Services where she served as a Research Fellow. She has provided expert consultation to numerous European governments as well as the U.S. Department of Defense regarding programs for prevention and rehabilitation of individuals committed to political violence and militant jihad. In 2006-2007 she worked with the U.S. Department of Defense to design and pilot test the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq. In 2002, she interviewed hostages taken in the Moscow theater about their psychological responses and observations of the suicidal terrorists and did the same in 2005 with surviving hostages from the Beslan school take-over. Since 2002, she has collected more than four hundred research interviews of family members, friends, close associates and hostages of terrorists and militant jihadi extremists in Palestine, Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Russia, Chechnya, Belarus, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Belgium and France. Dr. Speckhard is the director of the Holocaust Survivors Oral Histories Project - Belarus, a project constructing the history of the Minsk Ghetto and Holocaust in Belarus through oral histories and archival research. She also researched traumatic stress issues in survivors of the Chernobyl disaster and has written about stress responses to toxic disasters. Dr. Speckhard worked with American expatriates after 9-11 (at SHAPE, NATO, the U.S. Embassy to Belgium and Mission to the EU) and conducted research on acute stress responses to terrorism in this population. She also studies psychological resilience to terrorism. Dr. Speckhard co-directed the NATO Advanced Research Workshops - Ideologies of Terrorism: Understanding and Predicting the Social, Psychological and Political Underpinnings of Terrorism and Understanding and Addressing the Root Causes of Radicalization among Groups with an Immigrant Heritage in Europe and served on the NATO/Russia Counter-Terrorism Advisory Group. Dr. Speckhard consults to governments and lectures to security experts worldwide.
Defense Intel Alumni Association PO Box 354, Charlotte Court House, VA 23923