Learning from Violent Extremist Attacks: Behavioural Sciences Insights for Practitioners and Policymakers

Violent Extremism, Radicalisation, Behavioural Sciences, Terrorism, Learning, Day After, Countering Violent Extremism, Psychology, Risk Assessment, Crisis Assessment, Lone Wolf, Mental Illness, Bystander Intervention, Intergroup Conflict, Youths, Youth-centric Rehabilitation, Isis, National Resilience, 2016 Orlando Shooting, Social Media, Media Effects, Fake News, Religious Fundamentalism, Right-Wing Extremism, Islamophobia, Indonesia, Jakarta Bombings, Counter-Terrorism Intelligence, Smart Technology, Mindanao, Marawi, Singapore


Authors : Majeed Khader (Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore & Nanyang Technological University, Singapore), Loo Seng Neo (Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore), Jethro Tan (Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore), Damien D Cheong (S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) and Jeffery Chin (Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore)

Publisher : World Scientific

ISBN : 978-981-3275-43-0

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How can we use psychology and the behavioural sciences to aid law enforcement to better identify violent extremists? What can we learn from past attacks to ensure that our society is more prepared? How can societies deal with tension after these attacks?

Violent extremists are evolving, constantly honing their strategies to out-manuever the 'good guys'. Faced with the quandary, challenges, and responsibilities of ensuring the safety of the society, practitioners and policymakers have to take decisive steps to respond and mitigate the impact of an attack. However, the daunting task of countering violent extremism is still plagued by the lack of basic understanding of the phenomenon.

This book, Learning from Violent Extremist Attacks: Behavioural Sciences Insights for Practitioners and Policymakers, attempts to fill a gap in the extant literature by offering a behavioural sciences approach to integrate our understanding of the threat of violent extremism, with knowledge drawn from diverse fields, such as psychology, sociology, history, political science, technology, and communications to identify the lessons learned and provide scientifically defensible interventions and approaches for both the practitioners and policymakers.
Dr Majeed KHADER is the Director of the Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre under the Ministry of Home Affairs, and Chief Police Psychologist. Dr Majeed is also concurrently the Chief Psychologist of the Ministry of Home Affairs. A trained hostage negotiator, his previous operational duties include being the Deputy Commander of the Crisis Negotiation Unit and a trainer with the negotiation unit. He teaches criminal psychology as an Assistant Professor (Adjunct) at the School of Social Sciences at Nanyang Technology University, Singapore. For the past 23 years, Majeed has overseen the development of psychological services in the areas of stress, resilience, employee selection, deception psychology, leadership, crisis negotiations, crime profiling, and crisis psychology. For his work, he was awarded the National Day Public Administration Award (Bronze) in 2006 by the President of Singapore, and once again the Public Administration Award Silver in 2014. A pioneer forensic psychologist, Majeed holds a Masters degree (with Distinction) in Forensic Psychology from the University of Leicester (United Kingdom) and a PhD in Psychology (specialising in personality and crisis leadership) from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. Majeed has been invited as a speaker to organisations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, Canada, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, and the United States to share on crime psychology, terrorism, and leadership. He has also presented at the FBI, NCIS, and the RCMP. He has been the Chairman of the Asian Conference of Criminal and Operations Psychology thrice. He is the Asian Director of the United States-based Society of Police and Criminal Psychology and a member of the Asia Pacific Association of Threat Assessment Professionals. He is a Registered Psychologist with the Singapore Psychological Society, and a member of the British and American Psychological Societies. He has contributed to several book chapters and published widely in peer-reviewed journal such as Journal of Research in Personality, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Psychology and Health, Cognition and Emotion, International Journal of Psychophysiology, Personality and Individual Differences, International Journal of Police Science and Management, Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, and Security Journal.


Loo Seng NEO is a Principal Behavioural Sciences Research Analyst with the Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. For the past 12 years, Loo Seng has been specialising in the area of violent extremism, particularly in the fields of online radicalisation, online threat assessment, pre-attack warning signs, and psychology of violent extremism. He works with a team of research analysts undertaking behavioural sciences research on violent extremism, resilience, and intergroup conflict. He has presented at many international conferences, trained law enforcement officers, and published many government research reports and peer-reviewed journals and book chapters on the topic of violent extremism. He has also co-edited a book titled Combating Violent Extremism and Radicalisation in the Digital Era in 2016, and a four-volume compendium titled A Behavioural Sciences Approach to Understanding Terrorism in 2017. Loo Seng is currently pursuing his PhD in psychology, researching on the personality profile of violent extremists at Nanyang Technological University.


Jethro TAN is a Senior Researcher with the Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre. His research focuses on whole-of-society resilience in the aftermath of crisis. He studies a variety of security related issues pertaining to the day-after-terror scenarios, such as crisis communications, online falsehoods, and psychological trauma. Jethro is currently pursuing a Masters of Social Science (Psychology) from the National University of Singapore.


Dr Damien D CHEONG is a Research Fellow at the National Security Studies Programme (NSSP), S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Prior to this, he was Research Fellow and Coordinator of the Homeland Defence Programme at the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS) at RSIS from 2011–2017. He has researched and written on various topics related to homeland security, strategic communications, and political violence. His current research focuses on small state security.


Jeffery CHIN is a Senior Psychologist at the Home Team Behavioural Sciences Centre. Key areas of his work at the centre include applied research in violent extremism, investigative interviewing, deception, and leadership during critical incidents. As a concurrent appointment, Jeffery also supports the operations of the Crisis Negotiation Unit, Singapore Police Force, as a psychologist. Jeffery holds a Master degree in Investigative and Forensic Psychology from the University of Liverpool (United Kingdom). His Master's dissertation topic was on critical incident leadership.
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