WASHINGTON D.C. – May 14, 2024 – Today, the Atlantic Council announced the launch of the Counterterrorism Project (CTP), the next iteration of its counterterrorism work. With an increasing number of global counterterrorism-related challenges, the project is designed to take a deep dive into the future of global terrorism threats and counterterrorism efforts.

The project will be overseen by Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative (SMESI) Director Jonathan Panikoff, as part of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center & Middle East Programs, and led on a daily basis by Nonresident Senior Fellow Alex Plitsas, a former Department of Defense official and intelligence community veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“More than twenty-two years since 9/11, terrorist actors continue to proliferate and evolve, threatening the US and its allies across the world,” said Panikoff. “There has never been a more important time to take an in-depth look at the future of terrorism and there is no better person to lead this project than Alex Plitsas, whose experience on the front lines managing these issues will help drive this effort forward.”

The CTP will focus on five thematic areas: current and emerging threats; state sponsors of terrorism; terrorist use of hostage-taking; terrorist financing and supply chains; and emerging technology tactics, techniques, and procedures. A sixth area, women in counterterrorism, will serve as a cross-cutting endeavor that informs and contributes to the other five fields.

“Following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, a widespread assumption emerged that international terrorist threats had been eliminated; but you cannot kill an ideology with bombs and bullets,” said Plitsas. “It takes a sustained effort to address international terrorism and its root causes—whether the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, or Iranian-sponsored terror groups. Our team is committed to analyzing the future of terrorist groups and their behavior, and making concrete policy recommendations to help collective global security.”

The Counterterrorism Project will build upon the Atlantic Council’s previous initiative in this field, the Counterterrorism Study Group (CSG). Many CSG members will transition into an advisory capacity to the CTP, providing an opportunity for close and extensive collaboration between long-time CSG and new CTP members.

“Washington tends to vacillate on the threat of terrorism, exaggerating it immediately after a major attack while otherwise neglecting it,” said William Wechsler, senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center & Middle East Programs. “This effort will help maintain a disciplined, consistent focus on the subject while the counterterrorism professionals inside government go about their quiet work to keep the threat off of the front pages.”

Members of the Counterterrorism Project include:

  • Daniel Elkins, Founder & CEO, Special Operations Association of America
  • Stephen Honan, President, Frontier Allies; former Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer
  • Emilia Pierce, Program Officer, Rule of Law, DT Institute
  • Omer S Rafiq, Middle East Director, Onebrief; Researcher, Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; former Marine, United States Special Operations Command
  • Jaclyn (Jax) Scott, Senior Executive of Cybersecurity; Founder of Outpost Gray
  • Liz Cathcart, Executive Director, Hostage US
  • Morgan Tadych, intelligence professional; former Army Captain

For more information on the Counterterrorism Project, visit the Atlantic Council’s website. For media inquiries, please contact press@atlanticcouncil.org.