Over the past few weeks the START Center has done a series of high profile briefings. A few weeks ago, Bill Braniff, START Executive Director, and Gary LaFree, Professor of Criminology and Director of the START Center, briefed Jeh Johnson, the Director of the Department of Homeland Security, on START research on domestic radicalization, foreign fighters, ISIL and countering violent extremism. Shortly after, START briefed Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) and his staff on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee and on February 13, 2015, Bill Braniff testified before the House Armed Services Committee on the majority side (R). On February 19, 2015, START did major presentations for the United Nations Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate. Following a morning session involving 12 international research centers, START gave an hour long briefing to the 15 Ambassadors that comprise the U.N.’s counterterrorism committee on behalf of the other international research centers in attendance. On March 3, 2015, START is hosting Maryland’s own Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger on campus. (Dutch is also the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.) And on March 10, 2015, START will provide a speaker for the first panel presentation at the Global Counter Terrorism Forum conference on foreign fighters and radicalization.
When START opened its doors ten years ago, one of the major goals was to provide science-based evidence on terrorism and counter terrorism to policy makers. In recent weeks START has been called on to provide objective information on highly politicized topics to policy makers on both sides of the aisle. This is a great tribute to Maryland’s land grant heritage.