Swansea University Researcher Lectures at NATO Advanced Training Course

A Swansea University researcher has delivered a lecture at a NATO training course in Ankara, Turkey on the threats posed by terrorists using the internet.

David Mair at NATO 2016

PhD candidate David Mair of the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law delivered the to the NATO Centre of Excellence Defence Against Terrorism (COE-DAT) Advanced Training Course on Terrorist Use of Cyberspace.

David, who is aged 28 and originally from Glasgow, who was recently named the Swansea University Rising Star 2016 (Postgraduate Research), was the only UK representative at the course, which featured 11 speakers from 7 countries and was attended by 42 participants from 18 countries, across 4 continents.

The course – aimed at military officers, law enforcement personnel, security service employees and government policy-makers – consisted of an intensive five-day conference where experts from computer science, law and security studies identified the threats that exist from terrorists’ use of the internet and the most valuable responses available to NATO countries. 

The course director, Col. Murat Aydin of the Turkish Army, said: “This course is necessitated by terrorists’ use of cyber space for all aspects of their organisational and tactical operations.  The fact that the cyber domain is getting more diverse, challenging, and risky by the day pushes me to ensure that each course is better and more up-to-date than the last.  Those that invest in understanding how terrorists are able to utilise the internet for their nefarious purposes are better placed to respond to this threat.  For this reason, NATO COE-DAT is proud to work on the forefront of this developing field and provide training to our NATO partners based on cutting-edge research and analysis.  I owe a real appreciation to David for his great contributions throughout the course and his on-call readiness to support COE-DAT activities alongside the other distinguished experts and academicians.”

David’s lecture focused on how terrorist groups utilise social media for the production and dissemination of propaganda; and to engage in psychological warfare operations.  To illustrate this, he presented a case-study on fictional threat content regarding an imminent attack against London that was constructed by ISIS supporters on social media. 

Speaking on his return to the UK, David said: “I am very grateful to have been invited to NATO COE-DAT to share my research on this topic with practitioners who are professionally tasked with counter-terrorism operations in the cyber domain.  Terrorist propaganda on social media is hugely problematic.  In the last couple of years, it has been influential in recruiting British citizens to foreign battlefields, has generated news headlines across the world, and has been weaponised on a number of occasions to terrify civilian populations and tie-up the security services in, what can only be described as, wild goose chases.

“The value of bringing academics, military, and government employees together to discuss the challenges posed by terrorist use of cyberspace cannot be understated; and I am very thankful to NATO COE-DAT, Swansea University, and the College of Law and Criminology for facilitating my participation in this Advanced Training Course.”

David Mair is a member of the Cyberterrorism Project – an award winning interdisciplinary and international group of researchers working on a number of projects related to violent extremist and terrorist use of the internet.  In summer of next year, the Cyberterrorism Project is hosting a conference in Swansea on Terrorism and Social Media.  Registration for attendance at this conference is now open.

For more information:

David Mair’s research on Twitter: @CyberTProject.

The Cyberterrorism Project on Twitter: @CTP_Swansea.

Swansea University’s College of Law and Criminology on Twitter: @Swansea_Law.