Simon Cottee

Academic and Author

“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, author of The Caravan: Abdallah Azzam and the Rise of Global Jihad
"Cottee's book offers us new and original insights into the surprisingly understudied world of Trinidadian ISIS members. With such a relatively high proportion of its population joining ISIS, Trinidad offers a useful case study in better understanding the global reach of the movement. Cottee takes on the challenge of analysing this with passion and an eye for detail."
Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, KCL, UK
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Black Flags of the Caribbean

Incel (E)motives: Resentment, Shame and Revenge

This article provides a framework for thinking about incels and incel-inspired terrorism. Incels are part of a fringe online subculture that trades in misogyny, victimhood and fatalism. The aim of the article is to describe these aforementioned orientations and the emotions associated with them. Only a tiny minority of incels commit acts of incel-inspired terrorism. Research on shame and revenge provides a useful starting-point for understanding these acts.

Terrorists Are Still Among Us. Can Brain Scans Expose Them?

What makes terrorists tick? This is the Holy Grail of terrorism studies, as well as the animating conundrum in virtually every news story about all those ever so “normal” terrorists next door, whether jihadi or white supremacist.

7th Apr 2020

Trini, Bajan woman on life with ISIS: We thought it was irie

Aliya Abdul Haqq, one of the hundred or so TT citizens currently stranded in the Al Hol camp in Syria, recently told two foreign journalists that life inside the ISIS caliphate was “irie” – a Jamaican expression for nice or cool. Abdul Haqq, 34, is the sister of Tariq Abdul Haqq, a former lawyer and Commonwealth Games boxing finalist who traded his enviable life in Trinidad for war and death in Syria.

When the Line Between Terrorism and Death Wish Disappears

Was Sudesh Amman, the 20-year-old who on Sunday stabbed two people in south London before being shot dead by police, a terrorist? He had previously been convicted under terrorism laws, and he was wearing a fake suicide vest when he was killed, so there is a strong case for thinking that he was. But the botched and desperate nature of his attack, coupled with his obsession with martyrdom, suggest that while he may be classified as a terrorist, he is certainly not a conventional one. Instead, he is emblematic of a new and growing type of jihadi: the individual who embraces suicide not as a means to further a political cause but as an end in itself.

5th Feb 2020

Liberal Professors’ Deadly Delusions About Curing Terrorists

The British filmmaker Chris Morris has made a career of depicting the inanities and idiocies of jihadis or the agencies that try to track and ensnare them. If he wanted to do the same for his own political tribe—the liberal-left, broadly conceived—he could do worse than to set it in an august academic institution run by well-meaning progressives who believe that everyone, even convicted jihadis who once professed to love death more than life, can be reformed and brought back into the liberal fold.

France shouldn’t fall for the Isis ‘matchmaker’s’ self pity

Tooba Gondal, the so-called Isis “matchmaker” who acted as a megaphone and recruiter for the terror group, is reportedly on her way to France, as part of an initiative by Turkey to deport foreign jihadists in its jails. Gondal, who holds a French passport but spent most of her life in Britain, travelled to Syria in early 2015, where she married three times, gave birth to two children, became mates with ex-punk rocker Sally Jones, posed with an AK47 on social media, boasted about her firearm training, and hung on to the bitter end in Baghouz, from which she miraculously escaped just before it fell to Kurdish forces in March.

Trinidad’s Islamic State Problem

Editor’s Note: One of the least known, but most alarming, aspects of the Islamic State is its ability to draw recruits and sympathizers from around the world, including from many countries not known as hotbeds of radicalism. On a per-capita basis, Trinidad was one of the largest providers of volunteers for the caliphate, a development that seems to come out of nowhere. Simon Cottee of the University of Kent looks in detail at the volunteers from Trinidad, assessing their motivations and the danger they pose should they return.

The Warped World of the British Isis Fugitive Tooba Gondal

Tooba Gondal, a notorious female Isis recruiter from Britain, was until Sunday a captive in the Ain Issa camp in north-eastern Syria. Now that the camp has fallen amid the chaos that is unfolding in the region, she is free again, as are hundreds of the other foreign denizens of the camp she was housed with. Her whereabouts are currently unknown.

White Supremacy Has Triggered a Terrorism Panic

Our collective response to terrorism seems to swing on a pendulum between rank complacency and terrified myth-making. In January 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama dismissed the Islamic State as al Qaeda’s “JV team.” But by September of that year, after the group had captured Mosul in Iraq and launched a genocidal campaign of slaughter against the Yazidis, he started bombing it.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Is Back - Minus the Bling and Bluster

When Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last appeared on video, nearly five years ago, in the al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, Iraq, he was all swagger and poetic bluster: a veritable don proclaiming the historic establishment of the caliphate. His talk was big and bold, as was the silver watch he was wearing for the occasion. How different he now looks in his latest appearance on celluloid: a chubby, diminutive old geezer with a badly dyed beard – a faded orange – and not a watch in sight.

What right-wing violent extremists and jihadists have in common

The parallels between the extreme ideologies of the violent far right and the global jihadist fringe are too striking to ignore. Both believe that they are in a cosmic war between good and evil. Both look back to an imagined glorious past that has been derailed by an imagined inglorious present. Both think that their way of life is under existential threat and that only extreme violence can save their souls.

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