August 22, 2006

HARRISONBURG—Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, has been invited as a “distinguished speaker” to address a plenary session of the First International Conference on Combating and Preventing Terrorism in Africa, which meets August 29-31, 2006, at the Castle in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The conference, the first of its kind to be held in Africa, is organized around the theme “Toward a Terror-Free Africa: Minimizing Threats Posed by the Global Surge of Terrorism and Terrorist Activities.” The meeting will bring together diplomats, parliamentarians, military officers, and other government officials from African, European, and North American countries as well as academics and representatives of non-governmental organizations from the three continents to discuss past and present counterterrorism efforts in Africa.

Dr. Pham’s address, entitled “No Longer Optional: Terrorism and Africa’s Significance to U.S. Security,” will examine how the continent is an important front in America’s new policy paradigm of the “global war on terrorism” and the resulting impact on U.S. relations with African states as well as exploring possible scenarios for African responses along with emergent pressures and opportunities. Dr. Pham said: “I hope to propose a mutually beneficial agenda wherein America’s interests converge with African interests in developing authentic African capacities in development, security, open societies, and governance, all of which can be enhanced by cooperation on security concerns in the counterterrorism effort.”

According to conference coordinator Nathaly Nortjé, “The event has been researched and developed in close consultation with leading professionals in the field and they have expressed major interest in learning from Dr. Pham…His expertise and experiences in this field provides an excellent perspective on the key issues in this program.”

Other speakers at the conference include Dr. P. Magnus Ranstorp, chief scientist at the Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies of the Swedish National Defense College and former director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews; Mounir Idriss Lallali, head of the African Union’s Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism; and David Radcliffe, regional director for Africa in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

Dr. Pham, who teaches the popular Seminar in International Terrorism for JMU’s Political Science and Justice Studies Departments, is also an adjunct fellow of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan policy institute that studies terrorism and political violence, as well as a research fellow at JMU’s Institute for Infrastructure and Information Assurance, which has supported his investigations into Africa’s strategic significance to U.S. energy security. He writes a weekly syndicated column that frequently focuses on African defense and security issues, “Strategic Interests,” distributed by the World Defense Review.