Jessica Stern

Research Team: 

Jessica Stern consults with various government agencies on counter-terrorism policy. In 2009, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for her work on trauma and violence.  She has authored Terror in the Name of God, selected by the New York Times as a notable book of the year; The Ultimate Terrorists; and numerous articles on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. She served on President Clinton’s National Security Council Staff in 1994–95 and is a member of the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations. She was named a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow, a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Fellow of the World Economic Forum, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellow. She has a BS from Barnard College in chemistry, an MA from MIT in chemical engineering/technology policy, and a PhD from Harvard University in public policy.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Islamic State Moulds Children Into New Generation Of Militants

by Jessica Sternvia BBC News
Thursday, October 8, 2015

France's first air strike targeting Islamic State (IS) in Syria is reported to have killed 12 children recruited by the jihadist group. Their deaths have highlighted how the young populations of Syria and Iraq are being moulded into a new generation of militants, writes Jessica Stern.

Analysis and Commentary

ISIS As Cult

by Jessica Stern, J.M. Berger via Lawfare
Thursday, March 26, 2015

In a study that is widely seen as among the most important contributions to social psychology, a team of observers joined a prophetic, apocalyptic cult to determine what would happen to the group if the predicted events failed to materialize.

Analysis and Commentary

ISIS And Sexual Slavery

by Jessica Stern, J.M. Berger via Lawfare
Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Slavery was abolished in most countries by the end of the nineteenth century, although it is still practiced in some countries, illegally.

Analysis and Commentary

The Race To Caliphate

by Jessica Stern, J.M. Berger via Lawfare
Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The quality of ISIS video releases fluctuated as the organization gained momentum, but overall, the group’s media team improved steadily over time, even as the quantity of its output increased.

Analysis and Commentary

Smart Mobs, Ultraviolence, And Civil Society: ISIS Innovations

by Jessica Stern, J.M. Berger via Lawfare
Monday, March 23, 2015

Offline, ISIS has followed the model of a functional—if limited—government. Online, it has played a different game.

Analysis and Commentary

ISIS And The Foreign-Fighter Phenomenon

by Jessica Stern, J.M. Berger via The Atlantic
Sunday, March 8, 2015

Why do people travel abroad to take part in somebody else’s violent conflict?

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

ISIS’s Apocalyptic Vision

by Jessica Sternvia Defining Ideas
Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Many Islamists believe that they are fighting the “Final Battle” against the West.

The Digital Age

The Imperative to Protect Institutions: An Amended Front-Page Rule

by Jessica Sternvia The Briefing
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

“Every age has its own kind of war,” Clausewitz prognosticated in the early 19th century.[i]  And the corollary is that every age has its own kind of intelligence requirements and seductions.

Analysis and Commentary

The Briefing: The Imperative to Protect Institutions: An Amended Front-Page Rule

by Jessica Sternvia Advancing a Free Society
Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The War Against Terror Must be Fought with Words Too

by Jessica Sternvia Time Magazine
Monday, December 16, 2013

Margaret Thatcher famously referred to publicity as the oxygen on which terrorists depend. Ayman al-Zawahiri, who replaced Osama bin Laden as the leader of al-Qaeda, agrees....