WIU homeland security student, faculty publish article on women terrorists

"Is the Woman Next Door a Terrorist?" by Dean Alexander and Robert Ceresero

Recent Western Illinois University alum Robert Ceresero collaborated on the article, “Is the Woman Next Door a Terrorist?” with Dean Alexander, director of the Homeland Security Research Program at WIU. The piece was published in the September 2013 issue of “Security Magazine.”

As many a women’s magazine editor could tell you, short articles about beauty and fashion tips are among the go-to content for almost every issue.

That fact is likely no different for the editors of al Qaeda’s “Al-Shamikha” (the “majestic woman”). What is vastly different about the glossy mag—which has been dubbed “Jihad Cosmo“—though, is it also “encourages women to participate in violent jihad,” according to a September article by recent Western Illinois University School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration (LEJA) alumnus Robert Ceresero and LEJA faculty member Dean Alexander.

“Al-Shamikha” is one of many periodicals, articles, and other materials Ceresero came across in his research for the piece, “Is the Woman Next Door a Terrorist?

For the article published in last month’s issue of “Security” (a business magazine “uniquely focused on solutions for enterprise security leaders“), Ceresero collaborated with Alexander (who is an associate professor in the School of LEJA at Western, as well as the director of the WIU Homeland Security Research Program), and served as Alexander’s co-author.

“I primarily researched many different periodicals and other materials on the subject. I then compiled my findings into a more compact, organized format. From there, we pieced the article together by sending it back and forth and making suggestions,” Ceresero explained.

The collaboration came about as a result of Alexander’s research through the Homeland Security Research Program (HSRP) and his invitation to Ceresero to participate.

“By conducting research on various terrorism topics, students gain perspectives on the complex and ever-evolving aspects of homeland security. Gaining insight on issues often overlooked enables students to be glib on often cutting-edge issues. In turn, this helps them during interviews and while on the job at homeland security and law enforcement agencies,” Alexander said.

According to Ceresero—who completed his bachelor’s degree this past summer—he is actively searching for a position as a law enforcement officer either at the local or state level. Later in his career, he noted, he is interested working at the federal level, possibly in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“I have learned a lot of valuable information from Western’s Homeland Security Program, which will benefit me greatly in my future law enforcement career,” Ceresero added. “If you are student studying law enforcement and homeland security at Western, I would highly recommend collaborating with a faculty member on this type of project. It was a great experience, and I learned a lot while researching and writing an article to be published in a magazine.”

Homeland Security at WIU
Since its Fall 2006 inception, the School of LEJA’s Homeland Security Research Program has been involved in a number of activities, such as curriculum development, organizing events, as well as research and writing. As director, Alexander has spearheaded the development of the homeland security undergraduate minor, which is now one of the largest areas of minor study at Western, with more than 200 students. Through the HSRP, four new security-related courses have also been developed, including, “Terrorism and Law Enforcement;” Terror Financing”; “Legal Aspects of Terrorism” (all LEJA); and “Terrorism in South Asia.”

For information about the courses in the School of LEJA’s homeland security minor, see www.wiu.edu/catalog/programs/leja.php

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