Dr Simon Cottee is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Kent and a Contributing Writer to The Atlantic.
The theatre of terror
Watching Murder: ISIS, Death Videos and Radicalization
'Watching Murder shines a light onto the dark world of jihadi murder videos and the people who watch and share them on the internet.
Images and videos of murder, torture and other cruelties are everywhere on the internet. Why do some people seek out and watch this material, how are they affected by it and do they have a right to watch any of it in the first place? In this ground-breaking book, terrorism scholar Simon Cottee visits the murky fringes of the internet in search of answers. Focusing on ISIS, he shows how the group transformed the urban myth of the snuff movie into a grim reality watched by tens of thousands of people across the globe. On shock-sites, he finds a contingent of ISIS fans who, while hating the group, love to watch its most monstrous depredations in high definition.'
"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
Black Flags of the Caribbean
'The Caribbean does not immediately come to mind when we think about ISIS and yet, in 2017, Trinidad and Tobago ranked first place in the list of western countries with the highest rates of foreign-fighter radicalization, with over 240 nationals travelling to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS caliphate. Simon Cottee investigates how ISIS came to gain such an unlikely, yet significant foothold in Trinidad.'
‘Easily the most original book on the ISIS phenomenon to date. A riveting detective story with deep insights on human behavior, this is social science at its best." --Thomas Hegghammer, Senior Research Fellow at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment and the author of The Caravan: Abdallah Azzam and the Rise of Global Jihad (2020)
ISIS and the Pornography of Violence
'ISIS and the Pornography of Violence' is a collection of iconoclastic essays on ISIS, spanning the four-year period from its ascendancy in late 2014 to its demise in early 2018. From a trenchant critique of the infantilisation of jihadists to a probing examination of the parallels between gonzo porn and ISIS beheading videos, the pieces collected in this volume challenge conventional ways of thinking about ISIS and the roots of its appeal. Simon Cottee's core argument is that Western ISIS recruits, far from being brainwashed or 'vulnerable' dupes, actively responded to the group's promise of redemptive violence and self-sacrifice to a total cause.
The Apostates is the first major study of apostasy from Islam in the western secular context. Drawing on life-history interviews with ex-Muslims from the UK and Canada, Simon Cottee explores how and with what consequences Muslims leave Islam and become irreligious.
‘Free people should be able to abandon their religion without being punished. Simon Cottee brings us the stories of British and Canadian ex-Muslims who live in the shadow of stigma and with the threat of ostracism. Wider society has ignored them, and the most disgraceful elements of the Left have denounced them, but here they can speak for themselves. Books are too often described as “important” or “original” when they are neither. The Apostates is both.’ — Nick Cohen, columnist and author of You Can’t Read This Book: Censorship in an Age of Freedom
Christopher Hitchens—political journalist, cultural critic, public intellectual and self-described contrarian—is one of the most controversial and prolific writers of his generation. Whatever readers might think about Hitchens, he remains an intellectual force to be reckoned with. And there is no better place to encounter his current thinking than in this provocative volume.
“The controversial pundit dishes out and takes punishment in this anthology of rancorous essays by him and the leftist comrades he abandoned to embrace the invasion of Iraq. . . .There'’s red meat aplenty for pro- and anti-Hitchens readers.” - Publishers Weekly