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

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 in the Atlantic and the New York Times

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

Just as containing the Soviet Union required much more than a strategy of hope, so too, containing ISIS will require fighting the organization’s spread with both military and diplomatic means. It took nearly 70 years for the Soviet Union to collapse, which occurred, in large measure, as a result of internal economic forces and the Soviet people’s discovery that what they had been promised was available only to their leaders. ISIS, too, will no doubt eventually collapse as a result of its equally false utopian promises and difficulties delivering even rudimentary human needs, such as healthcare. In the meantime, the United States and its allies need to implement a continuously evolving strategy of robust containment.

Read Jessica’s article in the Atlantic: How Not to Contain ISIS December 9, 2015.

People often wonder, how afraid should we be? My answer is that it depends on who you are, where you live, and what you do. But even with a rise in the number of mass-casualty attacks, the likelihood that any given individual will be caught in such an attack is vanishingly small. Statistically speaking, you are far more likely to die in a car accident than in a terrorist attack, especially if you don’t wear a seatbelt.

In many years of studying this subject, I have come to understand that a mass shooting or terrorist attack evokes a powerful sense of dread. It is a form of psychological warfare whose goal is to bolster the morale of its supporters and demoralize and frighten its target audience — the victims and their communities. Terrorists aim to make us feel afraid, and to overreact in fear.

The good news is that when people are reminded of what they value most, such as the divine, before being reminded of their inevitable death, the negative impact is reduced. And when people are reminded of values such as tolerance or their commitment to individual rights, their awareness of mortality increases these commitments.

Read Jessica’s article in the New York Times: How Terror Hardens Us. December 5, 2015.