The terrorism “experts” who are anything but

Status of terrorism experts questioned (Education Guardian)

The Education Guardian casts doubt on the number of so-called terrorism experts who have gained prominence since 9/11, some of whom (like Evan Kohlmann) have been called to give evidence for the prosecution in terrorism cases, who have appeared out of nowhere, whose qualifications do not add up to much, whose independence is questionable due to associations with “rightwing or pro-Zionist organisations” (the four names they mention speak for themselves in that regard), and some of whom make false claims about their links to the intelligence services:

As with many trends, this one started in the US with academics - such as Dr Reuven Paz, director of the Project for the Research of Islamist Movements and the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya, Israel; Dr Matthew Levitt, member of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research; and Rita Katz, co-founder of the Search for International Terrorist Entities Institute - giving expert testimony. And where the US leads, the UK invariably follows. Last year, Evan Kohlman, a veteran of several US terror prosecutions, gave expert evidence that helped to convict Mohammed Atif Siddique, a British-born Muslim, for internet-related terrorism offences.

But just how expert is expert? Doubts have been cast both in the US and the UK about Kohlman’s credentials. “He appears to have risen almost without trace,” says David Miller, professor of sociology at Strathclyde University, who is compiling a Spinwatch database of “terrorologists”. “With no expertise beyond an undergraduate law degree and an internship at a dubious think-tank, he has become a consultant to the US department of defence, the department of justice, the FBI, the Crown Prosecution Service, and Scotland Yard’s SO-15 Counter Terrorism Command.” Yet this is only half the problem. “The real issue is one of independence: many of the expert witnesses to have appeared for the prosecution have been associated with rightwing or pro-Zionist organisations. Under these circumstances, how can the expertise not be in some way contaminated?”

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