Bernhard Blumenau interviewed on Lithuanian Public Radio

Pasaulio laikas - 27-03-2016

Bruce Hoffman - The Coming ISIS-al Qaeda Merger

“You are pitiful, isolated individuals! You are bankrupts. Your role is played out. Go where you belong from now on—into the dustbin of history!”

Thus in 1917 Leon Trotsky consigned the Mensheviks, the non-Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party, to perennial insignificance—a fate from which they never recovered. Only five years ago, al Qaeda’s downfall appeared similarly imminent. Its founder and leader was dead. A succession of key lieutenants had been eliminated. And the region was transformed by the Arab Spring. Civil protest, it seemed, had achieved what terrorism had manifestly failed to deliver—and al Qaeda was the biggest loser. As John O. Brennan, then deputy national security advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and assistant to the president, told an audience gathered at a DC think tank in April 2012, “For the first time since this fight began, we can look ahead and envision a world in which the al Qaeda core is simply no longer relevant.” Less than a month later, on the first anniversary of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s killing, U.S. President Barack Obama proudly proclaimed that, “The goal that I set—to defeat al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild—is now within our reach.”

How completely different it all looks today. In February, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper painted a singularly bleak picture of a newly resurgent al Qaeda alongside an ambitiously expansionist Islamic State (ISIS) in his annual worldwide threat assessment. Al Qaeda and its affiliates, Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “have proven resilient and are positioned to make gains in 2016.... They will continue to pose a threat to local, regional, and even possibly global interests....” More alarming still was the rise of an even more extreme offshoot. ISIS, he explained, “has become the preeminent terrorist threat because of its self-described caliphate in Syria and Iraq, its branches and emerging branches in other countries, and its increasing ability to direct and inspire attacks against a wide range of targets around the world.”

Read the complete article [PDF]

This article was originally published in Foreign Affairs (29 March 2016)

Bernhard Blumenau - Terrorists don’t recognize borders. Europe’s security forces are failing because they do

CSTPV’s Dr Bernhard Blumenau was interviewed by Quartz (24/3/16).


Yesterday’s (March 22) attacks on the Brussels metro system and airport have been described as “an attack on all of Europe.” With Brussels having been struck a few months after Paris was subject to Europe’s worst terrorist attack in a decade, many are wondering how this can happen again, so soon and on such a large scale.

As the French and British leaders declared recently (pdf): “Europe is no longer a safe haven.”

Some have blamed the European Union (EU) itself for yet another catastrophic attack on a member state’s soil. But the Brussels attacks suggests the problem is the complete opposite: it’s Europe failure to work together across the region that’s the issue.


Bernhard Blumenau - More attacks like Brussels ‘can and will happen’, warns terrorism expert

CSTPV’s Dr Bernhard Blumenau was interviewed by The National (22/3/16) in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Brussels:


As police patrols were stepped up at Scottish transport hubs in the wake of the Brussels bombings a terrorism expert warned that such attacks can and will happen again.

The warning came from Dr Bernhard Blumenau, who lectures in international relations at St Andrews University’s Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV).

Terror group Daesh was thought to be behind the Brussels attacks, and Blumenau told The National: “The advantage Daesh has is manpower – it has a lot of people who are committed to its cause and it can call on quite easily to plan attacks in European countries, because they have European passports or were born there and can quite easily hide in these places.

The example of Belgium shows that police and intelligence agencies were not aware that [terror mastermind] Salah Abdeslam was hiding there for a couple of months. I think we have enough evidence that these individuals at least have been travelling in several European countries in order to prepare operations there.

“That shows us there is a risk of these attacks happening and they will probably happen again.”


Irvine Lecture 2016 - Sex and the Christian Churches: An Argumentative History

Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch (University of Oxford):
31 March 2016
5pm, School III, St Salvator’s Quadrangle


Diarmaid MacCulloch is Professor of the History of the Church, in the Theology Faculty; he is a Fellow of the British Academy, and co-edited the Journal of Ecclesiastical History for two decades.

He has written extensively on Tudor England; his biography Thomas Cranmer: a Life (Yale UP, 1996) won the Whitbread Biography, Duff Cooper and James Tait Black Prizes. More recent publications from Penguin/Allen Lane have included Reformation: Europe's House Divided 1490-1700 (appearing in the USA as The Reformation: a History), and A History of Christianity: the First Three Thousand Years (in the USA, Christianity: the First Three Thousand Years), which won the 2010 Cundill Prize; his latest book is Silence: a Christian History. He is working on a biography of Thomas Cromwell.

Professor MacCulloch was the presenter on BBC4 and BBC2 of "A History of Christianity - the first 3,000 years", which won the Radio Times Listeners' Award in 2010, "How God made the English" (BBC2, 2012) and "Henry VIII's fixer: the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell" (BBC2, 2013); his BBC2 series Sex and the West is aired in spring 2015.

He received a knighthood in January 2012 for services to scholarship.

All Welcome

JTR - Call for Papers: Special Edition: Security and Counter-Terrorism Challenges arising from the Syrian Conflict

The Journal of Terrorism Research is pleased to invite papers for consideration in a Special Edition on Security and Counter-Terrorism Challenges arising from the Syrian Conflict.

This topic touches on many important issues at the top of the political agenda. The protracted conflict that is taking place in Syria is causing significant regional and global destabilisation, and its impacts have manifested themselves in tangible ways.

Regional players such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as the impact of ISIS, are ensuring that this conflict does not have an end in sight. The security implications for the rest of the world are manifesting themselves in terrorist attacks such as those in Paris, Beirut, Tunis and Sousse during 2015.

This Special Edition of the Journal of Terrorism Research welcomes contributions on all aspects of the Security and Counter-Terrorism Challenges arising from the Syrian Conflict and encourages practitioners and academics from all disciplines to submit papers.

The following suggested topics provide a guide for submissions, but papers need not be limited to this list:

  • The refugee and humanitarian crisis
  • Cross-border migration and security issues
  • Home-grown terrorism
  • ISIS
  • Islamic and/or right-wing extremism
  • Counter-terrorism strategies (both national and international)
  • Counter-extremism

For further information on the Journal and submission guidelines please visit our website at:

Deadline for submission of papers is the 31st August 2016. Anticipated publication is early 2017.

For further information, please email Erika Brady at:

CSTPV Staff to attend Oslo Workshop on Right-Wing Extremism

Colleagues from CSTPV are attending a joint workshop organised by Oslo’s Center for Research on Extremism (C-Rex) with speakers coming also from the University of Leiden and the University of Bielefeld in Oslo on 24 and 25 May 2016. Participants from the four universities or centres will present their recent and ongoing research projects on right-wing political violence and terrorism and will explore possibilities for future cooperation and joint research projects. CSTPV will be represented by Dr Mark Currie, Dr Peter Lehr, Dr Jeffrey Murer and Dr Bernhard Blumenau.

Richard English to speak in British Academy Debate about Extremism

Is true religion always extremist?

Thursday 3 March, 6.30 - 8pm
Riddell Hall, Queen's University Belfast, 185 Stranmillis Road


2016 Guardian University Rankings


The University of St Andrews is ranked the third best university in the United Kingdom (after Oxbridge) and top in Scotland, according to The Guardian University Guide 2016. The University of St Andrews is the only Scottish University in the top fifteen.

The Handa CSTPV is delighted that the School of International Relations, of which the CSTPV is a part, has been ranked top in the UK in the Politics subject area. Three other schools at St Andrews were also ranked first in their field.

The Guardian’s league tables rank universities according to: spending per student; the student/staff ratio; graduate career prospects; what grades applicants need to get a place; a value-added score that compares students’ entry qualifications with their final degree results; and how satisfied final-year students are with their courses, based on results from the annual National Student Survey (NSS).


The 2016 Guardian University Rankings can be viewed in full here.

Gillian Brunton - Association of University Administrators Annual Network Award

Advocates from the University of St Andrews were recently nominated for the Association of University Administrators Annual Network Award and have today been notified that they have won. Gillian Brunton, St Andrews Branch Advocate and NE Scotland Lead Advocate will be presented with the award at the Annual Conference Gala Dinner on Tuesday 22 March at The Royal Armouries, Leeds.

Advanced Summer Programme on Countering Terrorism

The T.M.C. Asser Instituut and the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) are excited to announce that the registration is open for the Sixth Advanced Summer Programme on Countering Terrorism: Legal Challenges and Dilemmas, which will take place from 29 August – 2 September 2016 in The Hague, the Netherlands. Read More...