Anne Speckhard, Ph.D., is Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE). She serves as Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine and is an Affiliate in the Center for Security Studies, Georgetown University.
She has interviewed over 800 terrorists, violent extremists, their family members and supporters around the world, including in Western Europe, the Balkans, Central Asia, the Former Soviet Union and the Middle East. Over the past five years, she has conducted in-depth psychological interviews with 273 ISIS defectors, returnees and prisoners, as well as 16 al Shabaab cadres (as well as family members and ideologues,) studying their trajectories into and out of terrorism, and their experiences inside ISIS and al Shabaab.
Speckhard developed the ICSVE Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative Project from these interviews, which includes over 250 short counter narrative videos that mimic ISIS recruitment videos but contain actual terrorists strongly denouncing ISIS as un-Islamic, corrupt and brutal. These videos have been utilized in over 200 Facebook and Instagram campaigns globally. Beginning in 2020, she launched the ICSVE Escape Hate Counter Narrative Project, interviewing dozens of white supremacists and members of hate groups, developing counternarratives from their interviews, and creating anti-recruitment videos. She has also conducted rare interviews with five Antifa activists (Antifa protestors rarely grant interviews.)
Dr. Speckhard is also an expert in rehabilitation and repatriation of terrorists and their families. In 2007, she designed the psychological and Islamic aspects of the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq to be applied to 20,000+ detainees and 800 juveniles. This work led to consulting with foreign governments on issues of terrorist prevention, interventions and repatriation; and the rehabilitation and reintegration of ISIS foreign fighters, wives and children. She has worked with NATO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), UN Women, United Nations Countering Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (UNCTED), United Nations Office of Drug and Crime (UNODC), the EU Commission and EU Parliament, and to the U.S. Senate & House, Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, Health & Human Services, and the FBI.
Today Dr. Speckhard actively trains key stakeholders in law enforcement, intelligence, elite hostage negotiation teams, educators, and other professionals in countering violent extremism, locally and internationally. Her focus is on the psychology of terrorism, the effective use of counter-narrative messaging materials produced by ICSVE, as well as studying the use of children as violent actors by groups such as ISIS. Her consultations and trainings include U.S., Canadian, German, British, Dutch, Austrian, Swiss, Belgian, Danish, Iraqi, Syrian, Jordanian and Thai national police and security officials, among others.
Dr. Speckhard is the author of five books: Homegrown Hate: Inside the Minds of Domestic Violent Extremists, Talking to Terrorists, Bride of ISIS, Undercover Jihadi, and ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate. She has appeared on CNN, BBC, NPR, Fox News, MSNBC, CTV, CBC, and in the New York Times, Washington Post, London Times, TIME Magazine, Newsweek, Daily Beast, Media Line and more. She regularly writes a column for Homeland Security. Her research has been published in Global Security: Health, Science and Policy, Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, Journal of African Security, Journal of Strategic Security, the Journal of Human Security, Bidhaan: An International Journal of Somali Studies, Journal for Deradicalization, Perspectives on Terrorism and the International Studies Journal. Her academic publications are found at https://georgetown.academia.edu/AnneSpeckhard and here on the website under research publications and brief reports.
ICSVE’s Breaking the ISIS Brand and Escape Hate Counternarrative videos and training seminars can be watched on ICSVE’s YouTube channel.
ICSVE’s research has been funded by the EU Commission; U.S. Departments of State, Homeland Security, Defense and Justice; UN Women; and the Embassy of Qatar.