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Talking to Terrorists: Understanding the Psycho-Social Motivations of Militant Jihadi Terrorists, Mass Hostage Takers, Suicide Bombers & Mart Paperback – September 11, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 882 pages
  • Publisher: Advances Press (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935866532
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935866534
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #532,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Few academics can equal the breadth and depth of Anne Speckhard's field research and the penetration of her specialist interviewing skills."--Robert Lambert, St. Andrews, UK
 
 
"A remarkable well-written, wholly unique and seminal study combining a deep understanding of the academic literature on terrorism with an extraordinary number of sensitive and revealing interviews with terrorists.  Everyone interested in terrorism will find this study fascinating and rewarding." --David Rapoport, Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence

 


"Talking to Terrorists is the inside story of how to approach the mind through the heart. As advisors to Detainee Task Force 134, I watched Anne in action at Camp Cropper, the world's largest detention center. Her empathy, smile, Belgian chocolates, and paper tissues for the occasional tears, worked to enlist the cooperation of even the most hard-hearted and unrepentant killers." --Rohan Gunaratna, Author, "Inside al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror", Columbia University Press, New York


"She wisely understands the clear distinction between personal faith and belief tradition, and the possible perverted and brutal acts of a terrorist." --Mokhtar Benabdallaoui Hassan II Univ. Morocco
"A daring woman with an open heart." --Farhana Qazi, Counter Terrorism Expert

"A new approach for understanding the motivation of terrorists"--Boaz Ganor, ICT
 
"Reads like a gripping documentary movie."  --Joshua Sinai, Virginia Tech



"The embarrassing truth about Terrorism Studies is that most writers on the subject have never met a terrorist. Dr. Anne Speckhard is an exception; in the last ten years she conducted more than 400 interviews with terrorists ... making her work highly original and, indeed, unique. With her empathetic approach, she makes clear that most terrorists are both shockingly normal and human--but also tormented souls. Nobody has gotten closer to the 'heart of darkness' than she has. An amazing achievement." --Alex P. Schmid, Director, Terrorism Research Initiative

"Provides critical new insights into the terrorist mindset." --Bruce Hoffman, Georgetown 
 
"Invaluable to those in the field of terrorism studies." --Yoram Schweitzer, Israel
 
"A fascinating study of pathways to violent radicalization" --Brynjar Lia, FFI
 
"A truly valuable read." --Arie Kruglanski, START

"Evocative interviews that have illuminated the mind of the extremist." --Jerrold Post, George Washington Univ

"An arresting, highly readable book"  --Stephen Sloan, MIPT

From the Back Cover

"The embarrassing truth about Terrorism Studies is that most writers on the subject have never met a terrorist. Dr. Anne Speckhard is an exception . . . Nobody has gotten closer to the 'heart of darkness' than she has. An amazing achievement." --Alex P. Schmid, Director, Terrorism Research Initiative
 
 "A remarkable well-written, wholly unique and seminal study" --David C. Rapoport, Founding and CoEditor, Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence
 
 "Anne is one of a handful who goes alone and without security into the lion's den to interview her subjects who most often have blood on their hands. This is a first-hand account and it's sensational!"--Peter S. Probst, Former CIA Officer 
 
"Invaluable to those in the field of terrorism studies, as well as to the general public."  --Yoram Schweitzer, Israel's Institute for National Security Studies
 
"Few academics can equal the breadth and depth of Anne Speckhard's field research and the penetration of her interviewing skills"--Dr. Robert Lambert, Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, U of St. Andrews, UK
 
 ". . . her access to these incarcerated perpetrators and supporting communities is unsurpassed . . ."--Dr. Joshua Sinai, Adj. Associate Professor, Virginia Tech
 
 "Talking to Terrorists is the inside story of how to approach the mind through the heart. I watched Anne in action at the world's largest detention center [as she] worked to enlist the cooperation of even the most hard-hearted and unrepentant killers." --Rohan Gunaratna, Author, "Inside al Qaeda"
 
"Talking to Terrorists is an arresting, highly readable book that has made a major and classic contribution to our study and understanding of terrorism."  --Stephen Sloan, The Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism  
 
". . . a fascinating study of pathways to violent radicalization, based on her very impressive fieldwork." -- Dr Brynjar Lia,  Norwegian Defense Research Est. 
 
". . . provides critical new insights into the contemporary terrorist mindset." --Professor Bruce Hoffman, Georgetown University

More About the Author

Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School. Dr. Speckhard has been working in the field of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since the 1980's and has extensive experience working in Europe, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union. She was the chair of the NATO Human Factors & Medicine Research and Technology Experts Group (HFM-140/RTG) on the Psychosocial, Cultural and Organizational Aspects of Terrorism, served as the co-chair of the NATO-Russia Human Factors & Medicine Research Task Group on Social Sciences Support to Military Personnel Engaged in Counter-Insurgency and Counter-Terrorism Operations and served on the NATO Human Factors & Medicine Research Task Group Moral Dilemmas and Military Mental Health Outcomes. She is a member of the United Nations Roster of Experts for the Terrorism Prevention Branch Office on Drugs and Crime and was previously awarded a Public Health Service Fellowship in the United States Department of Health & Human Services where she served as a Research Fellow. She has provided expert consultation to numerous European governments as well as the U.S. Department of Defense regarding programs for prevention and rehabilitation of individuals committed to political violence and militant jihad. In 2006-2007 she worked with the U.S. Department of Defense to design and pilot test the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq. In 2002, she interviewed hostages taken in the Moscow theater about their psychological responses and observations of the suicidal terrorists and did the same in 2005 with surviving hostages from the Beslan school take-over. Since 2002, she has collected more than four hundred research interviews of family members, friends, close associates and hostages of terrorists and militant jihadi extremists in Palestine, Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Russia, Chechnya, Belarus, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Belgium and France. Dr. Speckhard is the director of the Holocaust Survivors Oral Histories Project - Belarus, a project constructing the history of the Minsk Ghetto and Holocaust in Belarus through oral histories and archival research. She also researched traumatic stress issues in survivors of the Chernobyl disaster and has written about stress responses to toxic disasters. Dr. Speckhard worked with American expatriates after 9-11 (at SHAPE, NATO, the U.S. Embassy to Belgium and Mission to the EU) and conducted research on acute stress responses to terrorism in this population. She also studies psychological resilience to terrorism. Dr. Speckhard co-directed the NATO Advanced Research Workshops - Ideologies of Terrorism: Understanding and Predicting the Social, Psychological and Political Underpinnings of Terrorism and Understanding and Addressing the Root Causes of Radicalization among Groups with an Immigrant Heritage in Europe and served on the NATO/Russia Counter-Terrorism Advisory Group. Dr. Speckhard consults to governments and lectures to security experts worldwide.

Customer Reviews

The book turned out to be the shortest 788 page reading ever.
John F. Shuchart
The psychology behind Dr. Speckhard's work allows the readers to understand that these "terrorists" are humans too.
BinaPatel
Dr. Speckhard is also an excellent writer which makes the book an easy and spell binding read.
Jazmine von Holzrand

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mohammed Abbasi on November 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
I am re-reading this book again and ordering one for a friend in Germany.

This Professor is one gutsy lady! She has interviewed over 350 terrorists, extremists, their supporters, hostages, family members and their close associates in Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Iraq, Russia, Belarus, North Ossetia, Morocco, Belgium, UK, the Netherlands and France. She was responsible for the design of the psychological and Islamic challenge portions of the US Department of Defense Detainee Rehabilitation Program in 2006-7 for use with the 20,000+ security detainees held by US forces in Iraq.

This is the type of people who need to be out there explaining the motivations behind religious and political violence and how we collectively as a human family can tackle issues within peoples minds who wish to go down the terrorist route.

Everyone should read this!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Speck on January 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As you can see by my name, I am related (full disclosure) to the author but I also don't write biased reviews. I think Anne's book is spot on and information that, up until now, has been lacking in the intelligence/counter terrorism community - at least publically. Anne took what she has learned over many years of research and interviews and applied it to recent events. These can be looked up online via blogs and interviews which are directly related to the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings and male active shooters. Anne is a leading authority on victims and trauma which comes across in this book and is masterfully applied to the questions she asks terrorists. She asks the tough questions, the questions we all want to know the answers to.

She continues to be a thought leader in this area of study and her insights are relevant and fascinating. Just read an excerpt from the book and it will reel you in. I can't wait to see what she publishes next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John F. Shuchart on December 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
For many of us, courage is an elusive concept. Does it take courage to apply to Harvard when your G.P.A. is 2.5? Is it courage that drives us to ask the prom queen if she'll go to the movies with someone other than the captain of the football team? Surely it must be courage to "keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you" (Kipling). And without a doubt, it takes courage to put yourself in harm's way over 400 times, interviewing real, live terrorists.

That is just what the author has done. The stories she encounters from terrorists are, well...terrifying. But actually sitting down with these people, well THAT takes courage.

The book is one of the longest I've read...it's even short compared to one of my all time favorites, WAR AND PEACE (which I read in Russian!). However, as I turned the pages, I found myself fifty pages ahead of where I thought I was. The book turned out to be the shortest 788 page reading ever.

Dr. Speckhard does an excellent Walter Cronkite imitation. Pressing her interviewees far further than I would have the courage to do so, with the flair of a seasoned reporter and news investigator, she doesn't skip the hard stuff, there's no fluff here. As an example, she asks Ahmed Sa'adat not just what he has done, but WHY? She wants to know what propelled Ahmed into his role as a terrorist. After all, she says, "no one is born a militant". She presses him, asking him to talk about his past, the experiences which directly influenced him, led him to his present predicament (he is in a Jordanian prison). She's asking every question each of us would ask if only we had the courage! Instead, how many of us would throw up marshmallows to this terrorist?
Read more ›
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Rail on March 15, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
There has been so very much written about what is happening in the never ending boiling cauldrons of the war zones of this world that we all must live in. However "Talking to Terrorists" by Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. is critically different from most other books in that the words and experiences are not passed along but culled directly from one who actually walked upon the blood stained and hate filled ground of the conflict areas of our very troubled world. I will always be amazed when I reflect back upon the fact that she was armed with remarkable courage, compassion, and a tenacity to seek out truth and understanding, while I placed most of my comfort of mind in my 9mm Beretta and Colt full auto .223 machine gun. I spent over four years in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and met with colleagues and "others" from Moscow to Ghana, and recognize critically viable and outstanding writing based on sympathetic and highly knowledgeable and thoughtful insight. This is a book that I feel compelled to recommend to all who wish to understand the multi facetted light of conflict, and sad logic of death and loss, and the emotion that glares down upon the conflicts of our ever shrinking world. This book is not just an outstanding must read... From my humble perspective may I say "please read this book in the hope of bringing a more insightful perspective to the dark corners of our world" Robert Rail "Surviving the International War Zone"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joan on January 9, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Taken on a daring adventure to the far corners of the earth where terrorism prevails, I felt at ease with Anne in the homes of terrorists, with families of suicide bombers (or failed suicide bombers), in prisons, and on the streets where no woman in her right mind should be approaching strangers and asking for interviews— putting herself in harms way. Kudos to Anne, an absolutely courageous and captivating woman as well as interviewer and educator! Anne easily won the hearts of so called hardhearted killers because she understood the pain behind their rage. Who could be more qualified to undertake such fieldwork than a woman who’s goal it is to understand the mind through the heart? There is no better way to begin to understand terrorism than to look at the underlying motives with empathy, getting at some kind of truth. We may condemn the violence of terrorism but not Islam or any other religion or civilization that is too often misrepresented in our news media and/or western culture.
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