Jessica Stern

Jessica talks at TEDx Amsterdam 2011 “A Powerful Tool to Prevent Future Terror”

In Interview on January 11, 2012 at 10:34 am

Jessica gives a presentation at the 2011 TEDx Amsterdam Women Conference. She reveals a revolutionary idea with the potential to transform counterterrorism. The project is aimed at amplifying the voices of former terrorists who have left their terrorist organizations.

In the news

In Interview, News on January 7, 2014 at 12:05 pm

BU Today profiles Jessica. November 14, 2016.

Jessica testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee at the hearing “Inside the Mind of ISIS: Understanding Its Goals and Ideology to Better Protect the Homeland.” January 20, 2016.

Michiko Kakutani recommends “ISIS: The State of Terror” in the New York Times’ Top Books of 2015. December 10, 2015.

The Washington Post names “ISIS: The State of Terror” notable non-fiction of 2015. November 18, 2015.

The Wall Street Journal names “ISIS: The State of Terror” “one of ten must-read books on the evolution of terrorism in the Middle East.” November 17, 2015.

Boston University profiles Jessica’s new appointment as a Research Professor at the Pardee School of Global Studies. November 11, 2015.

Nieman Scholar cites “Denial: A Memoir of Terror” as a must read narrative. Septmeber 9, 2014.

Appearance on PBS NewsHour on foreign fighters in the Islamic State.

Interview with Gluck Radio on the realities of PTSD.  August 1, 2014.

Interview with NPR’s Rachel Martin on the meaning of Al-Qaeda’s split with the Islamic State of Iraq in Syria. February 9, 2014.

Keynote lecture at the Symposium on Guilt and Shame in Amsterdam, Netherlands. January 15, 2014.

Appearance on the BBC’s NewsHour program discussing Al Qaeda’s revival and the extent to which it is linked to the Arab Spring. January 3, 2014.

Jessica’s latest work from NDU Press and The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

In News on September 26, 2013 at 9:19 am

Read Jessica’s chapter in the National Defense University’s new compendium, Beyond Convergence: World Without Order – ISIL and the Goal of Organizational Survival. October 2016.

Read Jessica’s article in The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science: Radicalization to Extremism and Mobilization to Violence: What Have We Learned and What Can We Do about It? November 2016.


This article discusses individual mobilization to extremist violence from the perspective of a researcher and analyst, exploring what we know about the psychological and social factors motivating young people to join extremist groups and how that knowledge relates to the recruitment of individuals into ISIS. The biggest threat to the West, at least for now, is not core ISIS (or any jihadi group operating in the Middle East and North Africa region), but Westerners who self-mobilize for attacks at home or who return, trained to fight, from the “jihad” abroad. Finally, the article suggests specific ways for governments to respond to this threat, noting the limits of what government can do, and arguing that they join forces with the private sector. Mobilization to extremism must be addressed with broad, multi-institutional social strategies.