Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism
The Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism (CTEC) conducts in-depth research on terrorism and other forms of extremism.
CTEC honors and remembers our friend and colleague, Mike Donnelly. His contributions to the Center and to MIIS will never be forgotten. If you would like to learn more about the Michael Donnelly CTEC Research Fellowship, click here.
Formerly known as the Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program, CTEC collaborates with world-renowned faculty and their graduate students in the Middlebury Institute’s Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies degree program.
Our research informs private, government, and multilateral institutional understanding of and responses to terrorism threats. CTEC is a mixed-methods research center, meaning that our experts and students use analytic tradecraft, data science, and linguistics. We mentor our students and the wider MIIS community on skills that are in demand from government agencies, international organizations, technology companies, and financial institutions.
While CTEC is affiliated with MIIS’s Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies (NPTS) department, we also employ faculty and students from across MIIS and Middlebury College.
In studying terrorism, other forms of extremism, and state sponsors of terrorism, CTEC’s focus is on five crucial areas:
CTEC analyzes an array of media platforms to better understand how extremist messaging motivates individuals to carry out acts of violence. CTEC’s research on terrorist use of the Internet enhances both public and private-sector understanding of terrorist recruitment and fundraising.
CTEC partners with technology companies to assist in developing better, more contextual, and more flexible policies and tools to handle online extremist content. Read more about our partnership with Spectrum Labs here.
Threat Finance and Sanctions
Working with the Institute’s Financial Crime Management program, CTEC studies and provides expert policy guidance on terrorism, criminal, and nonproliferation-related financing. In addition to counterterrorism financing and counterproliferation financing investigations and regulatory compliance, CTEC’s research highlights cases of sanctions evasion and examines the efficacy of terrorism-related sanctions imposed multilaterally by the U.S. government and other governments.
In collaboration with fintech and cryptocurrency companies, CTEC undertakes in-depth research to understand the use of online fundraising platforms and methods by terrorists and extremists.
Digital literacy is a critical component in the fight against radicalization and extremism, and CTEC works to build educational capacity in local communities for digital literacy skills.
CTEC also works with practitioners and experts in P/CVE to understand and improve on prevention and reintegration efforts for extremists and terrorists.
CTEC’s focus on mixed-methods analysis allows us to stay at the bleeding edge of new technologies like artificial intelligence in order to understand implications and consequences. Read more about CTEC’s partnership with OpenAI here.
CTEC is integrated into the curriculum of several Middlebury Institute degree and certificate programs, giving students opportunities to gain real-world work experience as paid research assistants:
The Michael Donnelly Fellowship, named in honor of our late friend and colleague, carries forward his legacy by supporting two underrepresented MIIS students each year with demonstrated financial need through a funded research position.
Substantial “foreign influence” has been identified in posts containing material peddling conspiracies fostered by the QAnon movement, according to former U.S. counterterrorism official Professor Jason Blazakis.
“The most radical QAnon believers exhibit traits that have manifested among dangerous cults and doomsday groups — a willingness to dismiss their own individuality for a perceived greater good.” Middlebury Institute Professor Jason Blazakis, director of the Center on Terrorism, Extremism and Counterterrorism writes about the cult of Qanon and similarities to cults of the past in The Los Angeles Times.