Simon Cottee

Academic and Author

Watching Murder: ISIS, Death Videos and Radicalization

“Watching Murder fills a conspicuous gap in the literature by providing an authoritative dissection of one of the more prominent—and chilling—features of contemporary terrorism: so-called jihadi snuff videos. Cottee brings his usual perspicacity, verve, and clarity to explain how ISIS harnessed social media to manipulate global opinion and communicate a carefully constructed image of the group designed simultaneously to repel and appeal to its multiple target audiences.”

Professor Bruce Hoffman, Georgetown University and author of Inside Terrorism

"In this book, Simon Cottee interrogates himself, and his readers, about why some people find terrorist atrocity films both repulsive and irresistible. These films often contain important information for counterterrorism, but not all of us are willing to risk PTSD in order to decode them. As we have come to expect of Cottee, he is perpetually, provocatively sceptical of any and all received wisdom. Lushly written and researched."

Professor Jessica Stern, Boston University and author of Terror in the Name of God Buy Watching Murder at Amazon

The Marxist who recognised evil

Norman Geras, who died 10 years ago today, was an unusual figure on the Western Left: he was a Marxist who steadfastly and unequivocally opposed militant Islamism and jihadi terrorism. As a free-thinking political theorist, he was as strident in his opposition to the abuses of Western imperial power as he was in his support for individual human rights, especially free speech. But he was also a formidable critic of the worst tendencies of his own side, often making him a pariah in that quarter.

Incels are the new jihadis

It is hard to know exactly when it happened, but, at some point over the last three years, the word “jihad” vanished from the news. Did anyone notice? There was a time, not so long ago, when jihadists seemed to be everywhere, seizing territory abroad and sowing terror at home. We were even on first-name terms with them: “Jihadi John”, “Jihadi Jane”, “Jihadi Jack”.

The Arrogance of fighting extremism

In Christopher Rufo’s new book, America’s Cultural Revolution, the conservative writer and professional shit-stirrer argues that a malevolent woke ideology, promoted by misguided Left-wing activists, has taken over America’s core institutions, “effectuating a wholesale moral reversal” under the rule of “diversity, equity, and inclusion”.

It’s Not Filter Bubbles That Are Driving Us Apart

In 1948, Sayyid Qutb went to America, where he stayed for almost two years. It was a formative experience for the devout, uptight, disgust-prone Egyptian, who is regarded as one of the founding fathers of Islamist ideology. To say that Qutb didn’t take to the place is an understatement: He thought it was soulless, materialistic, crass, haughty, and sexually permissive.

Is Tucker Carlson a “stochastic terrorist”?

‘Stochastic terrorism’ has become a fashionable term in recent months. I first came across it in May after a midwit terrorism scholar used the expression in relation to the racially-motivated rampage shooting in Buffalo, New York, an attack which killed ten people.

The seductive horror of extremist violence

There is something horribly seductive about the spectacle of extreme violence: it’s disgusting, gut-wrenching, appalling. It’s also impossibly compelling in its extremity and strangeness: just look at it.

Don’t fall for the Isis Matchmaker

I’ll never forget the moment I uncovered Umm Muthanna Al-Britannia’s real name. Back in early 2015, she was a brazen British propagandist and recruiter for the Islamic State. I’d been tracking her for months, almost marvelling at her shamelessness: she had posted pictures of herself brandishing an AK-47 on social media; she had justified the beheading of Western aid-workers; she had celebrated the 2015 Paris attacks; and she had scolded other Muslim women for not covering their faces (and eyes). She was terrifying, tormented and terrible. But who was she really?

The Shamima Begum delusion

Our national conversation on Shamima Begum, which ebbs and flows according to the imperatives of Begum’s legal team and a simultaneously cynical and naïve mass media, is saturated in bullshit. For her detractors, the 23-year-old East-London runaway is a danger to national security and must never be allowed back into the UK. For her supporters, she is a victim of grooming by terrorist recruiters and must be returned to Britain.

The Jihadists of the Caribbean

“He’s a truly spiritual person,” Fuad Abu Bakr told me. He was referring to his father, Yasin, the notorious Trinidadian militant who led the first and only Islamist insurrection ever attempted in a Western democracy. We were standing in front of the mosque his father built at 1 Murcarapo Road on the outskirts of Trinidad and Tobago’s capital city, Port of Spain.

Diary of a Jihadi: The 1990 Coup in Trinidad and Tobago

On July 27, 1990, 114 self-styled jihadis tried to overthrow the government of Trinidad and Tobago.
It was the only Islamist coup ever attempted in a western democracy. Bernard Blache, who fought on the side
of the Muslimeen, recorded the events of 1990 in his prison diaries.


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