Terror effects, prevention subjects of guest speakers

Islamic Congress' Weddady coming Nov. 21, NYPD's Silber Nov.30

Nasser Weddady, left, of the American Islamic Congress and Mitchell Silber of the NYPD.

"The War on Global Terrorism,” a new course that examines the buildup of al-Qaeda prior to the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent decade of counterterrorism efforts, will be opened to the entire Brandeis community on Nov. 21 and Nov. 30, when guests with broad human-rights and counter-terrorism experience address the class.

Nasser Weddady, civil rights outreach director of the American Islamic Congress, will be the first speaker; Mitchell D. Silber, director of the analytic and cyber units in the New York Police Department’s intelligence division, will be the second. Both appearances will be from 3:30 to 4:50 p.m. in Lown 002.

“We’ve talked a lot about ‘bad’ Muslims and the threat al-Qaida poses to our society, to global society and to Muslims in Muslim countries,” says Jytte Klausen, the Lawrence A. Wien Professor of International Cooperation, who originated and teaches the course. “I wanted to make clear the effect they have on the general Muslim population in terms of raising suspicion” and make sure that students come out of the course with a realistic perspective.

“When you spend a whole semester talking about al-Qaida and risk, you can get paranoid that a terrorist lurks behind every website, behind the house next door, behind the nearest mosque,” she says. “The speakers will balance that.”

Weddady, a native of Mauritania who grew up in Libya and Syria, has organized conferences for young human rights activists across the Middle East. Fluent in five languages, he has lectured at the U.S. Institute of Peace and a variety of interfaith forums.

Silber has been responsible for strategic threat assessment for the NYPD and for developing and maintaining relations with foreign police and intelligence agencies. He is the author of the NYPD report “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat” and has a forthcoming book on the subject.

Silber has also presented on behalf of the NYPD at the White House, National Security Council, CIA  and FBI, and teaches a course on modern urban counterterrorism at Columbia University.

“The reality is that counterterrorism works, and we have made great strides in our ability to prevent attacks,” said Klausen, who is the author of a book on the politics of the rioting that shook parts of Europe and the Arab world after a Danish newspaper published editorial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed a few years ago.

“People say to me, ‘Aren’t you afraid?’ and the truth is I am less afraid than I ​have ever been,” she said. “The most convincing person to bring in on that subject is Mitch Silber."

Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences, International Affairs

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage