Dr. Roger Warren
Professor Veteran Author Consultant
Roger Warren is an Assistant Professor at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada) on the faculty of Terrorism, Risk and Security Studies (TRSS) Professional Master’s Program. He is one of those rare breeds who has both operational (Northern Ireland and Iraq) and academic expertise in countering terrorism. His current research interests include radicalization leading to terrorism / violent extremism, Arab and Western foreign fighters, the ideology of political Islam (Islamism) and ‘suicide attacks’ / ‘martyrdom operations’.
Education & Training
Dedicated & Experienced
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
University of St Andrews (Scotland, UK)
Master of Letters (MLitt)
University of St Andrews (Scotland, UK)
Junior Division Staff Course
JDSC Warminster (UK)
Colloquial Arabic Course
Defence School of Languages (UK)
British Army Officer Training
The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (UK)
The degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the University of St Andrews, was based on a thesis titled ‘Forged in the Crucible of Defensive Jihad: Arab Foreign Fighters and their Trajectory to Involvement in Islamist Terrorism.’
The degree of Master of Letters (with Distinction) from the University of St Andrews, was based on a dissertation titled ‘Why Radical Islamist Ideology is a Threat: A Study of Gulf Arab Detainees Recommended for ‘Continued Detention’ in Guantanamo Bay.’
Due to his extensive military knowledge of the Arab and Muslim world (having been embedded within their land forces), Roger Warren has been sought after to offer advice on Western Islamists and the threat they may, or may not, pose to the West in general, and Canada in particular. This acknowledges the cultural and religious connectivity between the Arab world and Western societies, and recognizes that what happens in the Middle East impacts on the West. Roger Warren understands the Western Islamist mindset and ideology (political Islam) and the many risk factors that may lead some individuals into becoming involved in Islamist violence – including participating in jihad (for example in Syria), violent extremism or in terrorist related activities.
Main areas of consulting expertise include:
Conducting security risk assessments of Islamists that draw on risk factors that include the religion of Islam, the ideology of political Islam, Muslim culture and sensitivities. His unique security risk assessments are specific to Islamists (as opposed to right-wing extremists or Incels, for example).
Translating Islamist documents.
Arabic and Muslim culture in Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Morocco.
The reintegration of returning foreign fighters to Western countries.
This book offers the first detailed, in-depth account of how and why some Arab foreign fighters subsequently became involved in Islamist terrorism. It draws upon a unique dataset of 3,367 Arab foreign fighters compiled using biographies, martyrdom eulogies and postings on 'jihadi' websites (in Arabic). The book covers Arab foreign fighter involvement in 1980s Afghanistan, Iraq (post-2003) and Syria (post-2011).
The central argument of the book is that, overlaps notwithstanding, Arab foreign fighters involved in jihad defending co-religionists against a foreign invader or an unpopular autocratic Arab regime, should not necessarily be deemed synonymous with Islamist terrorists. These two groupings (Arab foreign fighters and Islamist terrorists) often have quite distinct motivations, ideologies and levels of radicalization. The linkage therefore between Arab foreign fighters and Islamist terrorists appears to involve situational factors experienced over time whilst participating in their respective defensive jihads. The situational factors that increase levels of radicalization include, but are not limited to, exposure to the brutalising effects of close combat in a war zone; being subjected to ideological (religious) indoctrination (as part of group training and socialization); and the notion of obedience to authority. In effect, their trajectory to subsequent involvement in Islamist terrorism was via participation in defensive jihad, as opposed to the direct ‘fast track’ route taken by the majority of 9/11 hijackers. Such situational factors experienced while participating in defensive jihad appeared, over time, to influence some individuals to move from involvement in jihad targeting military elements (eg. Assad’s regime in Syria) to involvement in terrorism, targeting civilians and non-combatants.
Lastly, this book argues somewhat counter-intuitively, that many Arab foreign fighters who travelled to participate in a defensive jihad, appeared to be ordinary men – in the sense of being regular and normal individuals. This suggests that whilst some Arab foreign fighters may have been radicalized prior to arriving in a conflict zone, this did not appear to apply to all of them. This book challenges the commonly held notion that all (as opposed to some) Arab foreign fighters are somehow necessarily radicalized (prior to travelling). This becomes particularly relevant when comparing Arab to Western Islamist foreign fighters who have also travelled to Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Kashmir (for example). Whilst the book focusses on Arab foreign fighters, it has wider applicability to include Western foreign fighters – indeed such Westerners gain inspiration and ideological guidance originating from the Arab and Muslim world.
This book is available through:
Bloomsbury UK (link above) for C$144 (including postage) and is delivered within 7-28 days. (This book is not available from Bloomsbury US for Canadian readers).
Amazon.ca for C$143 (including postage) and is delivered "within 6 weeks".
Amazon.com for C$141 (including postage) and is delivered "within 5 weeks".
From Real-World to Research
Roger Warren served as an officer for 26 years in the British Army (retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel) with operational deployments to Iraq (2003), Kosovo (1999), Bosnia (1997), the Western Sahara (1992), Kurdistan (1991) and Northern Ireland (1983). He has worked under the United Nations, NATO and the Royal Marines. Other key milestones in his military career include:
• Providing strategic advice to the Emirati Armed Forces (2006-2012).
• Providing strategic advice to the Kuwaiti Armed Forces (2004-2006).
• Responsible for the integration of former ANC guerrillas into the South African Army (2002).
• Providing operational advice to the UN Mission in Burundi, Central Africa (2002).
• Being awarded a QCVS by HM The Queen for ‘meritorious service’ in the Kosovo War (1999).
• Provided tactical training to the Sultan of Oman’s Land Forces in Oman (1987-1989).
Ultimately, his raison d’etre in the British Army was his knowledge of the Arab world, language (spoken and reading) and Arabic culture. Since the 9/11 attacks, he has spent nine years in an advisory role embedded within Arab militaries.
Since January 2018, Roger Warren has been an Adjunct (2018), Visiting (2019) and Assistant Professor (since 2020) at Simon Fraser University on the faculty of the Terrorism, Risk and Security Studies (TRSS) Professional Master’s Program. He has been responsible for the delivery of three classes: Current Issues in Terrorism; Radicalization and Recruitment to Terrorism; and Fundamentals of Security Risk Management.
From 2014 – 2015, Roger Warren mentored and tutored students on the Certificate in Terrorism Course run by the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CTSPV) within the University of St Andrews (Scotland).
Selected Academic Presentations
Calgary Police Service, ReDirect Program. Arab Foreign Fighters. 22 February 2018.
'The Differential Radicalization of Arab Foreign Fighters: A Trajectory towards Islamist Terrorism.’ The 18th Annual Graduate Strategic Studies Conference. The Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies (University of Calgary). Thursday 25 February 2016.
The Ideological Motivations of Arab Foreign Fighters and Arab Terrorists: From 1980s Afghanistan to the Current Syrian Conflict.’ The 16th Annual Graduate Strategic Studies Conference. The Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies (University of Calgary). Thursday 28 February 2014.
Academic Professional Affiliations
• CSIS Academic Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement Group
• Junior Research Affiliate – Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society (TSAS).
• Member of the European Consortium for Political Research – Standing Group on Political Violence.
• Academic Peer Reviewer
- Perspectives on Terrorism (University of Massachusetts).
- Journal of Deradicalization
- Journal of Terrorism Research / Contemporary Voices: St Andrews Journal of International Relations
(University of St Andrews).