Christian fundamentalists. Hindu nationalists. Islamic jihadists. Buddhist militants. Jewish extremists. Members of these and other religious groups have committed horrific acts of terrorist violence in recent decades. How is this possible? How do individuals use their religious beliefs to justify such actions? How do they manipulate the language and symbols of their faith to motivate others to commit violence in the name of the divine?
Phil Gurski, president and chief executive officer of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and program director for the Security, Economics and Technology hub at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute, will present his book and address some of these essential questions as he explores violent extremism across a broad range of the world’s major religions.
Phil Gurski worked as a senior strategic analyst at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service from 2001 to 2015, specializing in violent Islamic-inspired homegrown terrorism and radicalization. From 1983 to 2001, he was a senior multilingual analyst at Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s signals intelligence agency, specializing in the Middle East.
Gurski served as a senior special advisor in the National Security Directorate at Public Safety Canada from 2013 until his retirement from the civil service in May 2015. His work focused on community outreach and training on radicalization and violence. He worked as a consultant for the Ontario Provincial Police’s Anti-Terrorism Section from May to October 2015. From June 2018 to July 2019, Gurski was the director of security and intelligence at the SecDev Group.
He has presented on violent Islamic-inspired and other forms of terrorism and radicalization across Canada and around the world.
Gurski is the author of The Threat from Within: Recognizing Al Qaeda-inspired Radicalization and Terrorism in the West (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015); Western Foreign Fighters: The Threat to Homeland and International Security (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017); The Lesser Jihads: Bringing the Islamist Extremist Fight to the World (Rowman and Littlefield, 2017); An End to the War on Terrorism (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018); and When Religion Kills: How Extremists Justify Violence Through Faith (Lynne Rienner, 2019).
He regularly blogs, podcasts and tweets on terrorism. He is an associate fellow at the International Centre for Counter Terrorism in the Netherlands, a digital fellow at the Montreal Institute for Genocide Studies at Concordia, a member of the board at the National Capital Branch of the Canadian International Council and an affiliate of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism Security and Society.
Gurski is a regular commentator on terrorism and radicalization for a wide variety of Canadian and international media. He is fluently trilingual in English, French and Spanish.