Panel discussion: The Changing Face of Terror w/ Lizzie Dearden (author of ‘Plotters’), Dr Rajan Basra, Dr Julia Ebner & Faisal Al Yafai
Modern terror threats are changing rapidly. Where once Islamists were the focus of counter-terrorism, now neo-Nazis, anti-woman incel ideology and amorphous “unstable” ideologies are growing. Lizzie Dearden (author of Plotters), Dr Rajan Basra and Julia Ebner join Faisal Al Yafai to discuss the changing face of terror.
What will the terror threats of the future look like? Will lone wolves slip through the net? And is there a danger that the threats evolve so fast the security services miss the new plotters on the block?
About the book
Since 2017, the UK has seen fifteen terrible terrorist attacks. But the atrocities on our evening news are the tip of a vast iceberg. Security services are striving to contain a staggering 3,000 jihadists, far-right extremists and other potential threats. We are in a new age of terror, with self-radicalising, hard-to-categorise individuals planning violence—but each one caught by the British state tells us something about British society.
For every successful plot in the six years since Westminster Bridge, more than twice as many have been foiled. Some were thwarted by nerve-wracking undercover operations; others were narrowly averted by heroic citizens, or ruined by the absurd mistakes of would-be attackers. Invariably, the all-too-human stories of these failed terrorists reveal the true picture of UK extremism.
Through interviews with senior counter-terror figures and astonishing court testimony, Plotters unpacks how and why British terror attacks happen—and don’t. From dating websites and prison cells to Telegram networks and Tesco knives, Lizzie Dearden’s deep dive offers one disturbing certainty: the plotters will keep coming. To confront them, we need to understand them.
‘Plotters gives a useful overview of the demographic and ideological composition of the current terrorist threat… This is, of course, a serious book, but it is also darkly funny.’ — The Guardian
About the speakers
Lizzie Dearden is The Independent’s Home Affairs Editor. She writes about extremism, terrorism, crime, policing and legal affairs. She received a commendation in the crime and legal affairs category of the 2020 British Journalism Awards, for “a range of high-quality exclusive stories on huge matters of public interest”.
Faisal Al Yafai is International Editor for New Lines Magazine.
Dr Julia Ebner is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), where she has led projects on online radicalisation, terrorism, conspiracy myths and hatespeech. Based on her research, she has given evidence to numerous governments, as well as advised intelligence agencies, tech firms and international organisations such as the UN, Europol and NATO. Ebner regularly holds guest lectures at universities in the UK, Europe and the United States. She is an award-winning and internationally bestselling author of several books, including The Rage: The Vicious Circle of Islamist and Far-Right Extremism, Going Dark: The Secret Social Lives of Extremists and Going Mainstream: How Extremists Are Taking Over. She holds a DPhil in Anthropology from the University of Oxford and is a Fellow at Oxford’s Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion.
Dr. Rajan Basra is a Senior Research Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) and a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. He researches how terrorists think and act, focusing on the terrorist threat in Europe, the relationship between regular crime and terrorism, and the role of prisons in radicalisation and recruitment. Dr Basra has presented his research at the United Nations Security Council, the European Council, and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, and is a member of the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN). He completed his PhD in War Studies at King’s College London, for which he won a 2021 King’s Outstanding Thesis Prize. He holds an MA in Terrorism, Security, and Society from King’s College London and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Warwick.