Distinguished Speakers 2016

Rik Coolsaet is Full Professor of International Relations at Ghent University (Belgium) and Senior Associate Fellow at the Egmont–Royal Institute for International Relations (Brussels). He was invited to join the original European Commission Expert Group on Violent Radicalisation (established 2006) and the subsequent European Network of Experts on Radicalisation (ENER).

From 2002 to 2009 he served as Director of the ‘Security & Global Governance’ Program at Egmont–Royal Institute for International Relations (Brussels). He has held several high-ranking official positions, such as deputy chief of the Cabinet of the Belgian Minister of Defence (1988–1992) and deputy chief of the Cabinet of the Minister of Foreign Affairs (1992–1995).

His areas of expertise are international relations, diplomacy and Belgian foreign policy, and terrorism and radicalisation. On the last issue, he has published i.a. Jihadi Terrorism and the Radicalisation Challenge. European and American Experiences (Ashgate, 2011). His latest research dealt with the push and pull factors boosting today’s foreign fighters phenomenon and was updated in March 2016: Assessing the fourth foreign fighters wave. What drives Europeans to Syria, and to IS? Insights from the Belgian case (Egmont Institute, Brussels).


Jessica Stern’s main focus is on perpetrators of violence and the possible connections between trauma and terror. She has written on terrorist groups across religions and ideologies, among them neo-Nazis, Islamists, anarchists, and white supremacists. She has also written about counter-radicalization programs for both neo-Nazi and Islamist terrorists. She has been working with a team at Boston Children’s Hospital on the risk factors for violence among Somali-refugee youth. She is currently working on a study of Radovan Karadzic, indicted for war crimes in Bosnia.

Stern is the coauthor with J.M. Berger of ISIS: The State of Terror; and the author of Denial: A Memoir of Terror, selected by the Washington Post as a best book of the year; Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill, selected by the New York Times as a notable book of the year; The Ultimate Terrorists; and numerous articles on terrorism. She has held fellowships awarded by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Erik Erikson Institute, and the MacArthur Foundation. She was a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow, a National Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and a Fellow of the World Economic Forum. Stern taught as a Lecturer at Harvard University from 1999-2015. Prior to joining the Harvard faculty, she worked in government, serving on President Clinton’s National Security Council Staff and as an analyst at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Stern has nearly completed her training as an Advanced Academic Candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Psychoanalysis.


photo: Christian Vinculado Tandberg/FFI

Thomas Hegghammer is senior research fellow at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) and adjunct professor of political science at the University of Oslo. A specialist on jihadism, he is the author and editor of several books, including Jihad in Saudi Arabia (Cambridge, 2010), The Meccan Rebellion (Amal, 2011), Saudi Arabia in Transition (Cambridge, 2014), Jihadi Culture: The Art and Social Practices of Militant Islamists (Cambridge, forthcoming), and The Caravan: Abdallah Azzam and the Birth of the Global Jihad Movement (Cambridge, forthcoming).

He has worked extensively on Islamist foreign fighters, and his articles on the topic have been published in the American Political Science Review and International Security. He is currently working on a history of jihadism for Penguin press.





Rogelio Alonso is an Associate Professor of Politics at Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid, where he coordinates its Master’s programme on Terrorism. He has been a member of the European Commission’s Expert Group on Violent Radicalisation and a member of the Editorial Board of the Centre of Excellence of the Radicalisation Awareness Network, as well as senior advisor on counter terrorism for the Spanish Government.

He has received several international awards for his publications on terrorism and radicalization. He has been Principal Investigator of numerous international projects on terrorism, antiterrorism and radicalisation, as well as author of several books and peer reviewed articles in top academic journals.





Paul Gill is a senior lecturer at University College London’s Department of Security and Crime Science. His research focuses upon terrorist behaviour with a particular interest in lone-actor terrorism. He has published over 40 papers in this domain. His work is largely interdisciplinary, evidenced by publications in leading psychology, criminology, political science, mathematics and general science journals.

His research has been funded by the Department of Homeland Security, the National Institute of Justice, the European Union, the MINERVA programme, the Office of Naval Research, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. Routledge published his recent book on lone-actor terrorism.