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Security and threat

Research is at the heart of a solid security policy. That’s why researchers from Leiden are analysing the motives of radicalised people and the biggest risks surrounding digital activity. Read more about their work in the research dossier ‘Security and Threat’.

How and why do terrorist attacks happen? How can we foil their plans and make sure that civilians will (continue to) feel safe? How do we deal with risks surrounding the internet? Researchers from Leiden are looking for answers to these questions and are sharing their insights with other researchers, the mainstream public, the Dutch government and other sovereign states. The research dossier ‘ Security and Threat’ takes a closer look at their work and achievements.

Motives of foreign fighters

One of the areas the dossier looks at is the work by Edwin Bakker, Professor of Terrorism and Counterterrorism. At the request of  the Dutch government and as part of a broader European context, he studies young people who decide to travel to Syria to fight and is especially interested in their motives. Bakker: ‘Some of those boys have trouble at home, with money, with their education or with the police. Then they suddenly hear about a way out. Just a day and half away from here, they can suddenly become a warrior “called to protect families under the holy flag of Islam.” That’s obviously a very appealing career opportunity.’

The effects of arrests

It they suspect that an individual is planning an act of terror, Dutch authorities are faced with difficult choices that need to be reviewed for every single case: do you arrest them, or not? Daan Weggemans is studying the effects of arrests. ‘In some cases, terrorist sympathisers develop stronger feelings of anger when they’re arrested, or even see their ideological perspectives confirmed through contact with other detainees. However, discussions with other people can also lead to the decision to let go of extremist ideologies.’ In the dossier, Weggemans discusses recommendations for re-integrating suspects.

Keeping digital activities secure

Digital technology is playing an increasingly significant role in the lives of civilians and consumers, and also in the functioning of companies and the government. Cybersecurity, ensuring that digital technologies can be used safely, is therefore increasingly important. A number of technical, organisational, economic, legal and executive aspects play important roles in that process. You don’t even want to think about what could happen if hackers with bad intentions manage to break into the systems of critical infrastructures, such as Schiphol or the Rotterdam Harbour. Associate professor Bibi van den Berg is therefore studying the safety of digital activities in the Netherlands and in the international sphere, and is exploring possibilities for enhancing that safety.

Coming from a number of disciplines, researchers from Leiden University are making important contributions to a safe, healthy, sustainable, prosperous and just world. You can read more about their work in our science dossiers, of which ‘Security and Threat’ is just one of many. An overview of all the science dossiers can be found in the right-hand column

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