Conference Agenda

Thursday, Feb 21

6:00pm to 8:00pm

Welcome Cocktail Reception

Samson Reading Room

Welcome Address by MIIS President,
Sunder Ramaswamy

Friday, Feb 22


Doors Open for Breakfast
and Registration

Irvine Auditorium,
McCone Building


Conference Start

Irvine Auditorium,
McCone Building

Opening Remarks by BG. (ret.) Russell D. Howard,
MonTREP Director

9:15am - 10:30am

Student Panel

Irvine Auditorium,
McCone Building

10:30am - 11am


11am - 12:30pm

Panel: The Nexus of Terrorism
and Trafficking is Mostly Hype

Irvine Auditorium,
McCone Building

Moderator: Dr. Jeffrey M. Bale

12:30pm - 1:30pm


Samson Reading Room

1:30pm - 3:00pm

Panel: The Nexus of Terrorism and
Trafficking is a Clear and Present Danger

Irvine Auditorium,
McCone Building

Moderator: BG. (ret.) Russell D. Howard

3pm - 3:15pm


3:15pm - 4:15pm


Irvine Auditorium,
McCone Building

Dr. Rohan Gunaratna

4:30pm - 6:00pm

Post-Conference Happy Hour

Peter B's


Speakers and Panels

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Rohan Gunaratna

Rohan Gunaratna is a specialist of the global threat environment, with expertise in threat groups in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. He is Head of Singapore’s International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR), one of the largest specialist counter terrorism research and training centres in the world.

Invited to testify before the 9-11 Commission on the structure of Al Qaeda, Gunaratna led the specialist team that built the UN Database on Al Qaeda, Taliban and their Entities. He debriefed detainees in the U.S., Asia, Middle East including high value Al Qaeda detainees in Iraq. He chaired the inaugural International Conference on Terrorist Rehabilitation in February 2009.

Author and editor of 14 books including “Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror” (Columbia University Press), an international bestseller, Gunaratna is also
the lead author of Jane’s Counter Terrorism, a handbook for counter terrorism practitioners. His latest book with Chandler, former Chairman of the UN Monitoring Group into the Mobility, Weapons and Finance is "Countering Terrorism: Can We Meet the Threat of Global Violence?”

Panel 1: Student Panel

Moderator: Colleen TraughberColleen Traughber

Colleen Traughber is a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. Department of State with overseas assignments in Copenhagen, Denmark and Sana’a, Yemen, and is the author of The Nexus of Extremism and Trafficking: Scourge of the World or So Much Hype? with Russell D. Howard (JSOU Press, 2012). Prior to joining the State Department, Colleen was a Boren Fellow in Amman, Jordan and a graduate research assistant at the Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies, where she investigated the links between terrorism and organized crime and participated in the Combating Terrorism Working Group (CTWG) of the Partnership for Peace (PfP) Consortium. Previously, as a Fulbright Scholar at the Otto-Suhr Institute for Political Science at the Free University Berlin, she researched European foreign policy, including the European response to terrorism. Colleen has work experience with the German Council on Foreign Relations, the German Parliament, and the Concordia Language Villages. She holds an MA from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and a BA from Carleton College.

Student Panelists

  • Nathan Poffenberger: A devout student of counterterrorism, Nathan’s areas of interest lie in South and Southeast Asia, where he was raised. His studies have included governmental missteps during the Nepalese Civil War, the underground economy of West Africa and forecasting radicalization trends in Indonesia. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Nathan has spent significant time studying Spanish and Bahasa Indonesia. He holds a BA in History and will graduate from MIIS with an MA in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies in May.
  • Brita Sands: Brita Sands is a graduate of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies where she studied the links between international trade and security. While completing projects in Jordan and Lebanon last year, Brita investigated how the Levant economies and trade activity reflect the region’s political situation. She previously pursued an MA in French at Middlebury College in Paris where her thesis research addressed the impacts of EU Trade Policy on stability in the southern Mediterranean. Brita’s professional background includes work in the legal and international education fields. She holds a BA in Comparative Politics and French from Bowdoin College.
  • Lauren Silver: Lauren is a Graduate Research Assistant at MonTREP, as well as a Graduate Assistant to General Russell D. Howard, and a third semester Master's Candidate for 2013 in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies at MIIS. She is focusing her studies on Counterterrorism and Terrorist Organizations in the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia, with special attention to Anti-Money Laundering and Counterterrorism Financing. Previous to beginning her graduate studies in Monterey, Lauren worked as an Administrative Assistant to a Haute Couture Fashion Website Designer, as well is in the Professional Theater Industry as a Choreographer in Los Angeles . She also has professional and internship experience doing research for an elected member of the Beverly Hills School Board and with Jericho Publishing. She graduated Valedictorian with a Bachelor's in Political Science with a focus on Globalization and Development and International Security from American Jewish University and was nominated by University Faculty and Board to be the Commencement Speaker for her graduating class. She reads, writes, and speaks Arabic and Hebrew and has also studied French and hopes after graduation to work in International Security, Anti-Money Laundering and Counterterrorism Financing.
  • Alexander Wells: Alexander Wells is a Research Assistant at MonTREP, and an intern at the UNODC's Global Programme against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime and Terrorism Financing (GPML) in Vienna. Alexander recently served on the Working Group on Terrorism Financing at the U.N. Counter Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), and has also worked at Human Rights Watch's MENA HQ in Beirut, and the Rendon Group. Alexander will complete his MIIS M.A. in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies in May 2013, and earned a B.A. in Political Communication from the George Washington University in 2010.

Panel 2: The “Nexus” Has Long Existed but Has Often Been Hyped, and The Threat It Poses May Not Be Growing

Moderator: Dr. Jeffrey M. Bale


  • Michelle Jacome: Michelle Jacome is a researcher at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) in Maryland. At START she was one of the key investigators for the project on Transnational Criminal Organizations, Terrorism and Radiological or Nuclear Smuggling: Exploring a Potential Nexus in Central America and the Caribbean. She was responsible for the field research in the region, more specifically in Mexico and Panama. Furthermore she has experience in the development of conceptual and forecasting models dealing with violent non-state actors. Prior to her work at START she was part of the United Nations Development Program working on trafficking issues in the border areas of Ecuador and Colombia. Her main interests include transnational criminal organization, trafficking and development issues, violent non-state actors and weapon proliferation. She has published a variety of articles on border security issues between Colombia and Ecuador, labor rights issues and transnational criminal organizations. She received her MS in Development Management from American University, Washington DC. Michelle is from Quito, Ecuador.
  • Dr. Jonathan Marshall: Jonathan V. Marshall is an independent scholar living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Educated as an historian at Stanford, the University of Sussex and Cornell, he worked in journalism as Associate Editor at Inquiry magazine, Editorial Page Editor at the Oakland Tribune, and Economics Editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, among other positions. He has published five books, including The Lebanese Connection (Stanford University Press, 2012); Cocaine Politics (University of California Press, 1998 and 1991, with Peter Dale Scott); To Have and Have Not (University of California, 1995); Drug Wars (Cohan & Cohen, 1991); and The Iran-Contra Connection (South End Press, 1987, with Peter Dale Scott and Jane Hunter). His scholarly articles have appeared in Journal of American History, Journal of Policy History, Crime, Law and Social Change, Journal of Intelligence History, Middle East Report, Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars and other journals. He has also published hundreds of articles in magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.
  • Dr. John Picarelli: John T. Picarelli is the Program Manager for Transnational Issues at the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The Program for Transnational Issues at NIJ invests in research and evaluation projects that examine how transnational organized crime, human trafficking and terrorism impact the U.S. criminal justice community. Since 2008, Dr. Picarelli has built the program by revitalizing research on transnational organized crime, expanding the human trafficking portfolio and founding a new program on domestic radicalization and violent extremism. Dr. Picarelli has published over two dozen journal articles and book chapters on issues related to transnational threats. His most recent publication exploring the links between transnational organized crime and terrorism is found in the journal Terrorism and Political Violence. Dr. Picarelli also teaches graduate and undergraduate courses at George Washington University. He received his PhD in international relations from American University in 2007.
  • Dr. Phil Williams: Phil Williams holds the Wesley W. Posvar Chair in International Security Studies at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh and is Director of the University’s Matthew B. Ridgway Center for International Security Studies. During the last 16 years his research has focused primarily on transnational organized crime and he has written articles on various aspects of this subject in Survival, Washington Quarterly, The Bulletin on Narcotics, Scientific American, Crime Law and Social Change, and International Peacekeeping. In addition, Dr. Williams was founding editor of a journal entitled Transnational Organized Crime and has edited several volumes on combating organized crime, Russian organized crime, and trafficking in women. He has been a consultant to both the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime and United States government agencies and has also given congressional testimony on organized crime. He was also a joint author for the United Nations of a study on Offshore Financial Centers and Money Laundering. Most recently he has focused on alliances among criminal organizations, terrorist finances, drugs and violence in Mexico, and complexity theory and intelligence analysis. He also has a chapter on Nigerian organized crime in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Organized Crime.

Panel 3: The Nexus is a Clear and Present Danger

Moderator: BG (ret.) Russell Howard


  • Suzzette Abbasciano: Suzzette Abbasciano is a researcher at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) in Maryland. At START she has been researching the crime-terror nexus, especially as it relates to the trafficking of illicit goods, including radiological and nuclear (RN) material in Latin America and Europe. Independently, and as a former research associate with First Watch International, she has researched and written on political strategic issues in Latin America, the Middle East, and South Asia. Her main interests include the rise of Brazil, arms control and nonproliferation regimes, weapons proliferation, international trafficking issues, and transnational criminal organizations and activities. She received her BA in International Affairs from Franklin College in Lugano, Switzerland, and her MA in International Policy Studies with a concentration on Terrorism and Nonproliferation from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, CA. Suzzette lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband.
  • James J.F. Forest, Ph.D.: James Forest is Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Security Research and Technologies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He is also a senior fellow with the Joint Special Operations University, where he contributes to the teaching and research needs of the U.S. Special Operations Forces community. As a faculty member in the School of Criminology and Justice Studies at UMass Lowell, Dr. Forest teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on terrorism and counterterrorism, weapons of mass destruction and contemporary security studies. He also directs the new MA and MS programs in Security Studies, which offers degree concentrations in cybersecurity, homeland security, critical infrastructure protection and several other areas. He has published 16 books and dozens of articles in journals such as Terrorism and Political Violence, Contemporary Security Policy, Crime and Delinquency, Perspectives on Terrorism, the Cambridge Review of International Affairs, the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, the Journal of Political Science Education, and Democracy and Security. He was selected by the Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy as one of “America’s most esteemed terrorism and national security experts” and participated in their annual Terrorism Index studies 2006 through 2011.
  • Dr. Bob Mandel: Robert Mandel is Chair and Professor of International Affairs at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. He has published eleven books and over forty articles and book chapters on global security and conflict issues. His latest books are Global Security Upheaval: Armed Nonstate Groups Usurping State Stability Functions (Stanford University Press, 2013) and Dark Logic: Transnational Criminal Tactics and Global Security (Stanford University Press, 2011). He is currently finishing a book manuscript entitled “The Coercion Conundrum: State Use of Brute Force and Global Security.” He has testified before the United States Congress and worked for several government intelligence agencies.
  • Rick "Ozzie" Nelson: Rick "Ozzie" Nelson currently serves as Vice President for Business Development at Cross Match Technologies, a global provider of best-in-class, multimodal biometric identity management solutions. Prior to joining Cross Match, he served as a Senior Fellow and Director of the Homeland Security and Counterterrorism program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), an internationally recognized policy think tank. Nelson is a former Navy helicopter pilot with over twenty years operational and intelligence experience. He retired from the U.S. Navy in 2009, where he served in a variety of senior policy and operational positions. His last military assignment was with the Joint Special Operations Command. In 2005, he was selected to serve as an inaugural member in the National Counterterrorism Center's (NCTC) Directorate of Strategic Operational Planning. Prior to his assignment at NCTC, Nelson served as associate director for maritime security in the Office of Combating Terrorism on the National Security Council staff at the White House. Other career assignments have included counterterrorism team leader in Deep Blue, the navy's operational think tank created after September 11th; Navy legislative fellow for Senator Edward M. Kennedy; assistant aviation officer community manager; and flag aide in Okinawa, Japan, to the commander of naval amphibious forces in the Western Pacific. He is operationally trained in naval helicopter strike warfare in the SH-60B Seahawk and SH-2F Seasprite helicopters, and he has deployed around the world and flown in support of numerous operations. Nelson graduated from the George Washington University with a B.A. in political science, holds an M.A. in national security studies from Georgetown University, and is a graduate of the Naval War College. He is an adjunct lecturer at Georgetown University, a CSIS non-resident senior associate and a Council on Foreign Relations Life Member. He is also a frequent contributor to many media outlets, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, NPR, Fox, CNN, and BBC, among others.