Jessica Stern


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.

Filter By:



Recent 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.


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.


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.


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.

Featured 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)Featured 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.

Featured 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....

We Need to Worry about Somali Terrorists in the US

by Jessica Sternvia Time Magazine
Thursday, September 26, 2013

More than 67 people have died at Nairobi’s Westgate Mall this past week in an attack attributed to a terrorist group that most Americans had never heard of, despite the fact that authorities have confirmed that several Americans, possibly from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, were among the attackers.