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March 7, 2005

Press Release, March 8 (WG 5)

Thematic Subject Area I: The Causes and Underlying Factors of Terrorism
Working Group 5
Cultural Explanations

March 8th, the International summit on Democracy and terrorism will host a thirteen member panel which will debate the impact of cultural currents and undercurrents on terrorism. They will attempt with their findings to draw up concrete recommendations on how these can be addressed. The following themes will be investigated:

  • The emergence of `cultures of violence´ and explanations of how they come into existence.
  • Cultural alienation and factors contributing to its rise.
  • Whether the `global jihadi´ can be understood through a cultural lens.
  • What are the conditions in Arab countries (and in the west) which nurture the growth of these movements?
Conclusions will be made as to what needs to be done to reverse these trends, how moderate elements can be engaged, and where our efforts to tackle `cultures of violence´ should be concentrated. The conclusions of this working group and 16 others will be incorporated into the Agenda of Madrid, which will be published on March 11th, 2005.

Working group members will include:

Working Group Coordinator:

  • Jessica Stern (USA), lecturer in public policy at Harvard University. Initially focused on the threat of nuclear smuggling and terrorism, she has recently carried out extensive research on religious militants from different cultures. Author of Terror in the Name of God (HarperCollins 2003).


  • Nabi Abdullaev (Russia), former journalist at the Moscow Times. Covered the conflict in Chechnya, as well as terrorism and extremism in the Northern Caucasus. Was one of only a few local journalists who reported the whole Chechen war.
  • Mark Beissinger (USA), professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin. Main interests are nationalism, state-building and social movements. Currently working on a volume entitled Contemporary Empires: Imperialism and the Politics of Identity.
  • Hassan Abbas (Pakistan-USA), research fellow at the Harvard Law School. Formerly Member of the Pakistani police force, as well as staff officer to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Expert on Islam, human rights and conflict resolution. Numerous publications on these issues.
  • Haizam Amirah Fernández (Spain), senior analyst for North Africa and the Arab world at the Real Instituto Elcano, Madrid. Main research interests are Morocco and the strategy of North African jihadists. Many articles in Spanish and Arab publications.
  • Ejaz Haider (Pakistan), news editor of The Friday Times and foreign editor of the Daily Times, both Pakistan. During his career, he has reported extensively on security issues and Afghanistan. His weekly column for The Friday Times focuses on Pakistani politics and political Islam.
  • Engseng Ho (China-USA), Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University. Main research interests include diaspora and Islam in Southeast Asia. Has published numerous articles and conducted fieldwork in Yemen and maritime Southeast Asia among Chinese, Malay and Arab communities.
  • Gilles Kepel (France), professor at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques, Paris. Leading authority on radical Islam. Author of Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (Harvard 2002) and numerous other publications on this issue.
  • Jean-Luc Marret (France), researcher at the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, Paris. Has produced sociological profiles of Western jihadists. Focuses on the ‘radicalisation experience’ in European prisons. Author of The Factories of Jihad (French University Press 2005).
  • Andrés Ortega (Spain), editor of the Spanish edition of Foreign Policy and columnist for El Pais. Formerly a senior advisor to the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs and general director of the policy planning unit at the Prime Minister’s office.
  • Gardner Peckham (USA), formerly Deputy Assistant Secretary of State to former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, as well as Director of Legislative Affairs to National Security Advisor Brent Scrowcroft. Former senior policy advisor to U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and served on the national commission on terrorism.
  • Olivier Roy (France), senior researcher at the Centre pour la Recherche Scientifique, Paris. Author of numerous books, including The Failure of Political Islam (Harvard 1994). Formerly consultant to the UN in Afghanistan and OSCE representative in Tajikistan.

With the collaboration ofSafe Democracy Foundation
Members of the Club de Madrid

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