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Prof. Alex Schmid

Alex P. Schmid is a historian by training who moved into social and political sciences in the course of his career. From 2013 to March 2018 he was an Associate Professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs at Leiden University (Campus The Hague) and a Research Fellow at the International Centre for Counter Terrorism (ICCT) in The Hague. Dr. Schmid is one of the three Directors of the Vienna-based Terrorism Research Initiative (TRI), a consortium of institutes and individual scholar engaged in collaborative efforts to study terrorism. He was co-editor of the Taylor & Francis journal Terrorism and Political Violence and is currently editor-in-chief of Perspectives on Terrorism, the largest peer-reviewed scholarly online journal in the field of Terrorism Studies.

Prof. Schmid held a chair in International Relations at the University of St. Andrews (Scotland) where he was, until 2009, also Director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV). From 1999 to 2005, he was Officer-in-Charge of the Terrorism Prevention Branch at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in the rank of a Senior Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer. From 1994 to 1999, Dr. Schmid was an elected member of the Executive Board of the International Scientific and Professional Advisory Council of the United Nations’ Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme (ISPAC). From 1991 to 1999 he also held the position of Extraordinary Professor for the Empirical Study of Conflict and Conflict Resolution (Synthesis Chair) in the Department of Sociology, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, and the position of Research Coordinator of PIOOM (Interdisciplinary Research Projects on Root Causes of Human Rights Violations, Centre for the Study of Social Conflict) at Leiden University where he also taught Polemology in the Department of Political Science from 1985 to 1999.

In 2003, Dr. Schmid was appointed Corresponding Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), which was followed by an appointment as Fellow-in-Residence at the KNAW’s Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS) in 2011. Currently Alex Schmid serves on a number of advisory boards, including the Asia-Pacific Foundation in London, the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) in Washington, D.C. and the Centro per lo Studio del Terrorismo at the University of Rome Tor Vergata.

 Alex Schmid has lectured in more than thirty countries and his work has been published in ten languages. He has close to 200 publications and reports to his name. Some of Dr. Schmid’s key publications include: Violence as Communication (1982), Soviet Military Interventions since 1945 (1985), Terrorism and the Media (1992), Western Responses to Terrorism (1993), The Politics of Pain (1995), Countering Terrorism through International Cooperation (2001), Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power (2005) and After the War on Terror (2009). Prof. Schmid is editor and principal author of the acclaimed Routledge Handbook of Terrorism Research (2011), an expanded and revised update of the award-winning volume Political Terrorism (1984, 1988, 2005). He is co-editor and co-author of the Terrorists on Trial – A Performative Perspective, published by Leiden University Press ( 2016).

Dr. Schmid is chairman of the jury for the annual award for the ‘Best Ph.D. Thesis on Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism’ and director of TRI’s international network of Ph.D. theses writers. As Associate Professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs, Leiden University, Campus The Hague, he has been supervising thesis writing. In 2014, he was Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s Center of Excellence for National Security (CENS) in Singapore. Earlier in his career (1985-86), he had been an Einstein Fellow at Harvard University. Prof. Schmid is a member of the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) of the European Union.

His contribution to the field of Terrorism Studies has been in the field of conceptualisation (where he elaborated the Academic Consensus Definition of Terrorism, based on the input of close to 200  scholars), typology (where he introduced widely accepted categories such as ‘single-issue terrorism’) and theory, where he was the first to apply communication theory to the study of terrorism, beginning  with ‘Violence as Communication: Insurgent Terrorism and the Western News Media’ (1982), the first book-length study covering the evolution of the idea of  terrorist ‘propaganda of the deed’ from 1880 to1980.  In his handbooks on terrorism he provided authoritative surveys of the state of art in the field of terrorism research as well as in counter-terrorism. He has worked at universities on both sides of the Atlantic (including Harvard and St. Andrews) and also gained practical experience in the field of counter-terrorism: in 1999 he was appointed Officer-in-Charge of the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna from where he conducted missions to Asia, Africa and Latin America in order to pass legal and judicial know-how to UN member states. He has also conducted missions for OSCE to the Balkans and Central Asia and has been involved in NATO-linked activities, e.g. as member of the Partnership for Peace Consortium of Directors of Research Institutes in the field of Security Studies.

 In 2007 he co-founded, with Robert Wesley, the Terrorism Research Initiative, a cooperative effort of 15 institutes and more than 120 scholars to enhance human security through collaborative research. In 2009 he became Editor-in-Chief of TRI’s peer-reviewed independent online journal Perspectives on Terrorism which he  produces six times a year ( , with Prof. James Forest (University of Massachusetts at Lowell Campus) as his co-editor. He is also on the Editorial Board of ‘Terrorism and Political Violence’. Prof. Schmid is lecturing widely: e.g. in August 2015 he talked in Nairobi about ‘The Way Forward on Counter-Terrorism: Global Perspectives’ at a conference on ‘Terrorism: Challenges to Emerging Democracies in Africa’ or, in October 2015, in Kuala Lumpur  he talked about ‘Counter- and Alternative Narratives as Part of a Comprehensive Strategy to Combat ISIS’ at the invitation of the Global Movement of Moderates. Prof. Schmid serves on the Advisory Board of VOX-Pol, an FP-7 funded Network of Excellence for Research in Violent Online Political Extremism. He is an Expert Evaluator for the European Commission and also a regular keynote speaker at the annual World Forum on Counter-Terrorism held in Herzliya, Israel.

Prof. Alex Schmid