Malcolm Nance

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Malcolm Nance
Malcolm Nance.jpg
Born Malcolm Wrightson Nance
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Education Excelsior College (BA)
Occupation Author, counterterrorism and intelligence commentator
Years active 1981–present
Employer Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy, Tactics and Radical Ideologies (TAPSTRI), executive director
Known for National security, Counterterrorism intelligence, Islamic extremism, SERE, torture
Notable work Terrorist Recognition Handbook
An End to al-Qaeda
The Terrorists of Iraq
Defeating ISIS
The Plot to Hack America
Military career
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1981–2001
Rank U.S. Navy E8 infobox.png Senior chief petty officer
Website Official website

Malcolm Wrightson Nance is an American author and media commentator on terrorism, intelligence, insurgency and torture. He is a former United States Navy senior chief petty officer specializing in naval cryptology.

Nance is an intelligence and foreign policy analyst who frequently discusses the history, personalities, and organization of jihadi radicalization and al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL); Southwest Asian and African terror groups; as well as counterinsurgency and asymmetric warfare.[1] Schooled in Arabic, he is active in the field of national security policy particularly, in anti- and counter-terrorism intelligence, terrorist strategy and tactics, torture and counter-ideology in combating Islamic extremism. In 2016, he published the book, Defeating ISIS: Who They Are, How They Fight, What They Believe,[2] and published The Plot to Hack America the same year.[3]

In 2014, he founded and became the executive director of the Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy, Tactics and Radical Ideologies (TAPSTRI), a Hudson, New York–based think tank.

Early life and education[edit]

Nance was born in Philadelphia, and attended the city's West Catholic Boys High School. He reportedly studied Spanish, French, and Latin languages, and took advantage of free classes in Russian and Chinese offered at South Philadelphia High School on Saturdays.[1] In 2011,[4] he received a bachelor of arts degree[5] from New York's Excelsior College.[6] Nance began working in the civilian intelligence arena through research into the history of the Soviet Union and its spying agency the KGB.[7] He subsequently analyzed Middle East terrorism and sovereign nations with ties to the Russian Federation.[7]

Military career[edit]

Nance served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years, from 1981 to 2001, receiving several military decorations.[8][1] As a U.S. Navy specialist in Naval Cryptology, Nance was involved in numerous counter-terrorism, intelligence, and combat operations.[9][10][11] He garnered expertise within the fields of intelligence and counterterrorism.[12][13][14] He was also an instructor in wartime and peacetime Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE), training Navy and Marine Corps pilots and aircrew how to survive as a prisoner of war.[15][16] There Nance helped to initiate the Advanced Terrorism, Abduction and Hostage Survival course of instruction.[1]

Nance took part in combat operations that occurred after the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings, was peripherally involved with the 1986 United States bombing of Libya, served on USS Wainwright during Operation Praying Mantis and was aboard during the sinking of the Iranian missile boat Joshan, served on USS Tripoli during the Gulf War, and assisted during a Banja Luka, Bosnia air strike.[8]

Post-military career[edit]

Intelligence consulting[edit]

In 2001, after retiring from the Navy, Nance founded Special Readiness Services International (SRSI), an intelligence support company. On the morning of 9/11, driving to Arlington he witnessed the crash of American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon.[8][1] He acted as a first responder at the helipad crash site where he helped organize the rescue and recovery of victims.[8][1] Subsequently, Nance served as an intelligence and security contractor in Iraq, Afghanistan, the UAE and North Africa.[17][18]

Between 2005 and 2007 Nance was a visiting lecturer on counterterrorism in Sydney, Australia at Macquarie University's Centre on Policing, Intelligence and Counter-terrorism (PICT) and at Victoria University of Wellington in Wellington, New Zealand.[19]

Nance now directs a think tank that he founded, the "Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy, Tactics and Radical Ideologies", which analyzes counterterrorism.[1][14] Nance is also a member of the advisory board of directors for the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.[8]


In 2007, Nance wrote an article criticizing waterboarding for the counterinsurgency blog Small Wars Journal titled "Waterboarding is Torture... period."[20][21] Republished in the Pentagon Early Bird, it set off a firestorm as the first credible description of the torture technique as used in SERE. The article strongly swayed the Pentagon against the use of the waterboard because its misuse would damage America's reputation worldwide. Nance claimed that using the torture techniques of America's former enemies dishonors the memory of U.S. service members who died in captivity through torture, and that torture does not produce credible intelligence.[15][16] Nance was called to testify before the U.S. Congress about the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques".[15][16] He told the House Judiciary Committee that: "Waterboarding is torture, period... I believe that we must reject the use of the waterboard for prisoners and captives and cleanse this stain from our national honor...water overpowering your gag reflex, and then feel(ing) your throat open and allow pint after pint of water to involuntarily fill your lungs."[15][16]

Nance's books on counter-terrorism and intelligence include: An End to al-Qaeda,[22] Terrorist Recognition Handbook,[23] The Terrorists of Iraq,[24] Defeating ISIS,[2][25] The Plot to Hack America,[3] and Hacking ISIS.[26] In 2018, he published The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West.[27]




  1. ^ a b c d e f g Jones, Layla A. (March 10, 2017), "Philly native is media expert on intelligence", The Philadelphia Tribune, retrieved June 7, 2017
  2. ^ a b "Malcolm Nance on Defeating ISIS". Washington Journal. C-SPAN. March 13, 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Nance, Malcolm (October 10, 2016), The Plot to Hack America: How Putin's Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election, Skyhorse Publishing, p. 216, ISBN 978-1510723320
  4. ^ "Student Rounder". Times Union. Albany, NY. January 28, 2011.
  5. ^ The Conservative Thinker (October 8, 2016). "Malcolm Nance – International Terrorism and Counterterrorism Expert". The Conservative Chronicles 24/7.
  6. ^ "Malcolm Nance to present fall 2016 Manatt-Phelps Lecture in Political Science". Iowa State University. August 23, 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Lipkin, Michael (October 10, 2016), "The Plot to Hack America: How Putin's Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election", New York Journal of Books, retrieved June 7, 2017
  8. ^ a b c d e Lamb, Brian (April 28, 2017), "Q&A with Malcolm Nance", C-SPAN (video), retrieved June 7, 2017
  9. ^ Wolcott, James (March 21, 2017), "5 essential Twitter feeds for keeping up with Trump and Russia", Vanity Fair, retrieved June 7, 2017
  10. ^ Cabanatuan, Michael (May 21, 2017), "Barbara Lee brings John Dean, Malcolm Nance to town hall meeting", San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved June 7, 2017
  11. ^ Concha, Joe (February 18, 2017), "Maher: Russian election influence is worst political scandal in US history", The Hill, retrieved June 7, 2017
  12. ^ Devega, Chauncey (March 14, 2017), "Intelligence expert Malcolm Nance on Trump scandal: 'As close to Benedict Arnold as we're ever going to get'", Salon, retrieved June 7, 2017
  13. ^ Donahue, Joe (January 5, 2017), "Counterterrorism Expert Malcolm Nance", WAMC, retrieved June 7, 2017
  14. ^ a b Hobson, Jeremy (October 12, 2016), "How Hackable Is The Election?", Here and Now, WBUR, retrieved June 7, 2017
  15. ^ a b c d Kellman, Laurie (November 8, 2007). "Ex- Navy interrogator: Ban waterboarding". Navy Times. Associated Press.
  16. ^ a b c d "House Panel Gets Earful On Waterboarding". CBS News. November 8, 2007. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  17. ^ Freeman, Colin (April 19, 2004). "12 U.S. troops die in Iraq; Spain leaving". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
  18. ^ Freeman, Colin (April 4, 2004). "Iraqi police 'were too scared' to help Americans in Fallujah". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on August 21, 2004. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
  19. ^ "Sydney ferries a 'soft terrorist target'". The Age. August 30, 2006. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  20. ^ "Waterboarding is torture... Period". Small Wars Journal. October 31, 2007. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  21. ^ Chadwick, Alex (November 1, 2007), "Expert Sheds Light on Waterboarding", Day to Day, National Public Radio, retrieved June 9, 2017
  22. ^ Nance, Malcolm (2010), An End to al-Qaeda: Destroying Bin Laden's Jihad and Restoring America's Honor, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 978-0312592493
  23. ^ Nance, Malcolm (2013), Terrorist Recognition Handbook: A Practitioner's Manual for Predicting and Identifying Terrorist Activities, CRC Press, ISBN 978-1466554573
  24. ^ Nance, Malcolm (2014), The Terrorists of Iraq: Inside the Strategy and Tactics of the Iraq Insurgency 2003-2014, CRC Press, ISBN 978-1498706896
  25. ^ Nance, Malcolm (2016), Defeating ISIS: Who They Are, How They Fight, What They Believe, Skyhorse Publishing, ISBN 978-1510711846
  26. ^ Nance, Malcolm (2017), Hacking ISIS: How to Destroy the Cyber Jihad, Skyhorse Publishing, ISBN 978-1510718920
  27. ^ Nance, Malcolm (2018), The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West, Hachette, ISBN 978-0-316-48481-7

External links[edit]