Bennett Clifford

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Bennett Clifford

Senior Research Fellow


Bennett Clifford studies violent extremist movements and organizations in the United States, as well as in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Balkans. His work focuses on terrorist operational and strategic planning, in addition to the adaptation of digital communications technologies by violent extremist groups. Bennett is the author of Homegrown: ISIS in America (IB Tauris, 2020) and several full-length reports for the Program on Extremism. His research has been featured in several academic and popular publications, including the Atlantic, the Washington Post, Lawfare, and the CTC Sentinel.

Bennett holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy degree from the Fletcher School and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and International Affairs from Wake Forest University. Prior to joining the Program on Extremism in 2017, he worked for several research organizations in the country of Georgia. Bennett conducts research in English, Georgian, Russian, and Spanish.


"Don’t Blame Social Media for the Tragedy in Buffalo," National Interest, May 18, 2022

"Online Extremists Are Using Old Technologies for New Purposes," National Interest, March 10, 2022

"Afghanistan and American Jihadists: More Inspiration, Less Destination," Lawfare, October 27, 2021

"The U.S. government can do more to fight domestic terror without any new lawsThe Washington Post, March 2, 2021.

"An Abridged History of America’s Terrorism Prevention Programs (Part OnePart Two)," Lawfare, December 29-30, 2020.

"When Terrorists Plotted a Texas Jailbreak and Other Stories We Almost Missed," The Daily Beast, November 15, 2020.

"Extremist Experimentation with Text-Based Instant Messaging Applications," Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET), November 9, 2020.

"This Case Kept Me Up At Night," Military Times, October 30, 2020.

De-platforming and the Online Extremist’s Dilemma,” Lawfare, June 6, 2019.

"Sixteen-Year-Old American Islamic State Fighter Reportedly Captured in Syria," Lawfare, January 9, 2019.

"Rethinking 'Prison Radicalization': Lessons from the U.S. Federal Correctional System," International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT)- the Hague, November 16, 2018.

"The Cup and the Caliphate: Russia’s Counterterrorism Operations Before Major Sporting Events and the Global Jihadist Movement," Lawfare, June 22, 2018.

"A New American Leader Rises in ISIS," The Atlantic, January 13, 2017.

"Radicalization and the Uzbek Diaspora in the Wake of the NYC Attacks," Program on Extremism, November 2017.

"First He Became an American—Then He Joined ISIS," The Atlantic, May 25, 2017.

Mayhem, Murder, and Misdirection: Violent Extremist Attack Plots Against Critical Infrastructure in the United States, 2016-2022, Program on Extremism, September 7, 2022.

Imitators or Innovators? Comparing Salafi-Jihadist and White Supremacist Attack Planning in the United StatesProgram on Extremisim, April 2022.

"The Colleyville Hostage Crisis: Aafia Siddiqui’s Continued Pertinence in Jihadi Terror Plots against the United States," CTC Sentinel 15 (3), March 2022.

Racially/Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremist Attack Planning and United States Federal Response, Program on Extremism/National Counterterrorism, Innovation, Technology and Education Center (NCITE) Report, May 2021

Migration Moments: Extremist Adoption of Text‑Based Instant Messaging Applications, Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET), November 2020

"'Breaking the Walls' Goes Global: The Evolving Threat of Jihadi Prison Attacks and Riots," CTC Sentinel 13 (2), February 2020.

A Review of Transatlantic Best Practices for Countering Radicalisation in Prisons and Terrorist RecidivismEUROPOL, July 2019.

Encrypted Extremism: Inside the English-Speaking Islamic State Ecosystem on Telegram, Program on Extremism, June 2019.

 “Doxing and Defacements: Examining the Islamic State’s Hacking Capabilities,” CTC Sentinel 12 (4), April 2019.

"Exploring Pro-Islamic State Instructional Material on Telegram,” in On the Horizon: Security Challenges at the Nexus of State and Non-State Actors and Emerging/Disruptive Technologies. Joint Staff-Department of Defense-Department of Homeland Security Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) Periodic Publication, April 2019.

"United States v. Aws Mohammed Younis al-Jayab: A Case Study on Transnational Prosecutions of Jihadi Foreign Fighters," CTC Sentinel 11 (11), December 2018.

Radicalization In Custody: Towards Data-Driven Terrorism Prevention in the United States Federal Correctional System, Program on Extremism, November 2018.

"Trucks, Knives, Bombs, Whatever: Exploring Pro-Islamic State Instructional Material on Telegram," CTC Sentinel 11 (5), May 2018.

The Travelers: American Jihadists in Syria and Iraq, Program on Extremism, February 2018

"Georgian foreign fighter deaths in Syria and Iraq: what can they tell us about foreign fighter mobilization and recruitment?,"  Caucasus Survey 6 (1), November 2017.

Homegrown: ISIS in America, IB Tauris, November 2020.

American Jihadist Travelers in Iraq and Syria, in Handbook of Terrorism and Counter Terrorism Post 9/11, Elgar, December 2019

"United States," in Counterterrorism Yearbook 2018, Australian Strategic Policy Institute: Canberra, Australia, March 2018.