My MPACS Research Colloquium Presentation on Islamic State's Foreign Recruiting via Social Media [VIDEO]

Location: Waterloo, ON Waterloo, ON, Canada

Below is my presentation of the research I did during my time in the Peace and Conflict Studies program. Basically, I had to address: "What have you done with your time here, why did you study that, and defend your choices against critique."

My research has focused on the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL/DAESH) and the relevant security implications associated with their theology, their recruiting efforts, and the soft-power attempts to 'destroy or degrade' IS.

I was able to record my initial presentation. I was unable to record the critique response due to privacy concerns by participants - which is out of my control. However, I passed this milestone with full possible points!

Full Paper on Islamic State Recruiting: (HTML) (PDF)

Bonus Video:

Comparative Analysis of Occupy Wall Street and Marxist Philosophy

I, along with my group partner, Tyler Cox, gave a presentation on the application of Marxist philosophy in the context of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

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An Equality of Terror? Why an Attack's Modus Operandi Matters (Part 1 of 2)

The recent attack on the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, like the beheading at the Vaughan Foods plant in Moore, Oklahoma before it (2014), is certainly a form of terrorism, but they are not the same incarnation of terrorism as Islamic State's attack on Paris or even the attack on Planned Parenthood in Colorado. In the Paris and Planned Parenthood cases, the attacks were perpetrated by persons who did not have preexisting relationships with the targets or their victims. They were launched blindly in their aim (in respect to who specifically they would kill/maim) with only their extremist ideologies connecting them to their attack's modus operandi. i.e. The Islamic State attack in Paris - the plan and its instruction - were foreign in origin and the attackers did not work at the locations they attacked, nor did they target specific persons with which they had a preexisting relationship. The same goes for the Right-Wing Christian Extremist who attacked Planned Parenthood; he did not know his victims beforehand nor did he have a preexisting relationship with that Planned Parenthood.

Flag of California
The case of San Bernardino and that of the Vaughan Foods Beheading involve ad-hoc targets, victims, and locations. The reason the attackers chose their place of work as their primary target were to specifically maim/kill those individual victims. Pre-planning was involved and no doubt they were loaded for bear, but the San Bernardino attackers, like the Moore attacker, had specific intent based off of preexisting relationships with their targeted location and the victims inside. Workplace rage heavily influenced these two attacks. As preliminary reports suggest, the San Bernardino attackers were angered at a company gathering, left, and returned to attack. Likewise, the Moore attacker had recently been suspended from his only job (working at Vaughan Foods) for disciplinary reasons. If these attackers were truly motivated by their extremist terrorist ideology, and indeed their sole wish was to inflict wanton terror, they would have forgone their specifically limited contexts and targeted a soft location for maximum effect. In these two cases, however, because of the context of their specific workplaces, they limited the amount of death and destruction they brought about. So while these two attacks certainly wrought terror, they were not solely motivated by the simple desire to advance their ideological agenda by attacking as many innocent civilians as possible - as was seen in the Paris and Planned Parenthood cases.

Flag of France
The reason why this distinction is important is because the latter set of examples will be somewhat unavoidable. Whenever people are in an environment that involves stress, sustaining livelihood, and forced interaction - (a.k.a. the stresses of work) - people that are predisposed to hatred, violence, or psychotic attacks will lash out, regardless of the justification. As such, the average American is far more likely to die because of workplace violence than an act of extremist terrorism. These cases of terrorism, with the primary modus operandi of workplace targeting, will be limited to their respective workplaces. But because the modus operandi specifically targets a predetermined location, the potential harm arising from said situation may be possibly more confined than a target specifically chosen for the high potential for casualties (such as a crowded concert hall or medical facility). For example, in the USA, even the worst cases of workplace violence pale in comparison to pure extremist terrorism. In addition to the means by which an attack is carried out, the possibility for interdiction by law enforcement is perhaps greater with workplace violence as opposed to randomly targeted terror. In the two clear cases of workplace terror, preexisting connections linked the attackers to their targets - where even the coworkers could sense something ahead of time. In the case of Paris or Planned Parenthood, those overt warning signs were not there. That tactic of Lone Wolf Terrorism is what contributes to the lack of channels for interdiction by law enforcement prior to the attacks unfolding.

The true nature of extremist terrorism is terrifying for this reason. The selection of the location is not just chosen to settle a score or get revenge on one's coworkers, but rather to inflict as much death, destruction, and terror for the sole purpose of terrorism in the cause their are taking on. The pure terrorist attacks - whose modus operandi lacks a selfish ulterior motive - can happen to devastating effect without any warnings at all. In these instances, everybody then becomes a potential target, chosen at random, whilst lacking any ability to avoid the impending devastation.


The purpose of these articles is not to reduce or belittle the tragedy or loss of life from these attacks. Rather, the analytical approach is carefully crafted to better understand these kinds of attacks in order to contribute to the conversation on how to prevent such horror from taking place again. This applied article is Part 1 of 2 in an analytical series on recent terrorist activity in the Western world. Part 2 of this series will look at the ideological justifications used by the attackers and how that correlates to society and politics from a wider perspective. Stay tuned for more...

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