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Malcolm Nance

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Malcolm Nance
Malcolm Nance.jpg
Born Malcolm Wrightson Nance
(1961-09-20) September 20, 1961 (age 55)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Excelsior College (B.A. Arabic)
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
Website Official website

Malcolm Wrightson Nance (born September 20, 1961) is a retired United States Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer in naval cryptology and author, scholar, and media commentator on international terrorism, intelligence, insurgency and torture.

Nance is an expert on intelligence and terrorism,[1] and 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. Fluent 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 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

Nance was born in Philadelphia, and attended the city's West Catholic Boys High School. He 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] He graduated from New York's Excelsior College with a degree in Arabic.[4] Nance was an interpreter for Russian, and began working in the intelligence field through research into the history of the Soviet Union and its spying agency the KGB.[5] He subsequently devoted years of research to analyzing Middle East terrorism and sovereign nations with ties to Russia.[5]

Military career

As former U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer in Naval Cryptology, he was involved in numerous counter-terrorism, intelligence, and combat operations.[6][7][8] He garnered expertise within the fields of intelligence and counterterrorism.[9][10][11] He served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years, from 1981-2001.[12][1] He received military decorations and speaks Arabic. He became an instructor in wartime and peacetime SERE, training Navy and Marine Corps pilots and aircrew how to survive as a prisoner of war.[13][14]

Nance took part in combat operations which occurred after the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings, was involved with the 1986 United States bombing of Libya, served on the USS Wainwright during Operation Praying Mantis and participated in the sinking of Iranian missile boat Joshan, served on the USS Tripoli during the Gulf War, and assisted during a Banja Luka, Bosnia air strike.[12]

Post-military career

Intelligence consulting

After retiring from military service, Nance founded a consulting company based in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. where he provided advising services to United States Special Operations Command.[12] In early 2001, 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.[12][1] He acted as a first responder at the helipad crash site where he helped organize the rescue and recovery of victims.[12][1] Nance served as an intelligence and security contractor in Iraq, Afghanistan, the UAE and North Africa.[15][16]

Nance created a training center called the Advanced Terrorism, Abduction and Hostage Survival School.[1] Nance manages a think tank analyzing counterterrorism called "Terror Asymmetrics Project on Strategy, Tactics and Radical Ideologies", consisting of Central Intelligence Agency and military intelligence officers with direct prior field experience.[1][11] Nance is a member of the board of directors for the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.[12]

Between 2005–2007 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.[17]


In 2007, Nance wrote an article criticizing waterboarding for the counterinsurgency blog Small Wars Journal titled "Waterboarding is Torture... period."[18][19] 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.[13][14] Nance was called to testify before the U.S. Congress about the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques".[13][14] 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."[13][14]

Nance's books on counter-terrorism and intelligence include: An End to al-Qaeda,[20] Terrorist Recognition Handbook,[21] The Terrorists of Iraq,[22] Defeating ISIS,[2][23] The Plot to Hack America,[3] and Hacking ISIS.[24]




  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. ^ "Malcolm Nance to present fall 2016 Manatt-Phelps Lecture in Political Science". Iowa State University. August 23, 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2017. 
  5. ^ 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 
  6. ^ Wolcott, James (March 21, 2017), "5 essential Twitter feeds for keeping up with Trump and Russia", Vanity Fair (magazine), retrieved June 7, 2017 
  7. ^ Cabanatuan, Michael (May 21, 2017), "Barbara Lee brings John Dean, Malcolm Nance to town hall meeting", San Francisco Chronicle, retrieved June 7, 2017 
  8. ^ Concha, Joe (February 18, 2017), "Maher: Russian election influence is worst political scandal in US history", The Hill, retrieved June 7, 2017 
  9. ^ 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 
  10. ^ Donahue, Joe (January 5, 2017), "Counterterrorism Expert Malcolm Nance", WAMC, retrieved June 7, 2017 
  11. ^ a b Hobson, Jeremy (October 12, 2016), "How Hackable Is The Election?", Here and Now, WBUR, retrieved June 7, 2017 
  12. ^ a b c d e f Lamb, Brian (April 28, 2017), "Q&A with Malcolm Nance", C-SPAN (video), retrieved June 7, 2017 
  13. ^ a b c d Kellman, Laurie (November 8, 2007). "Ex- Navy interrogator: Ban waterboarding". Navy Times. Associated Press. 
  14. ^ a b c d "House Panel Gets Earful On Waterboarding". CBS News. November 8, 2007. Retrieved December 22, 2016. 
  15. ^ Freeman, Colin (April 19, 2004). "12 U.S. troops die in Iraq; Spain leaving". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  16. ^ 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. 
  17. ^ "Sydney ferries a 'soft terrorist target'". The Age. August 30, 2006. Retrieved 2007-11-10. 
  18. ^ "Waterboarding is torture... Period". Small Wars Journal. October 31, 2007. Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  19. ^ Chadwick, Alex (November 1, 2007), "Expert Sheds Light on Waterboarding", Day to Day, National Public Radio, retrieved June 9, 2017 
  20. ^ 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 
  21. ^ Nance, Malcolm (2013), Terrorist Recognition Handbook: A Practitioner's Manual for Predicting and Identifying Terrorist Activities, CRC Press, ISBN 978-1466554573 
  22. ^ Nance, Malcolm (2014), The Terrorists of Iraq: Inside the Strategy and Tactics of the Iraq Insurgency 2003-2014, CRC Press, ISBN 978-1498706896 
  23. ^ Nance, Malcolm (2016), Defeating ISIS: Who They Are, How They Fight, What They Believe, Skyhorse Publishing, ISBN 978-1510711846 
  24. ^ Nance, Malcolm (2017), Hacking ISIS: How to Destroy the Cyber Jihad, Skyhorse Publishing, ISBN 978-1510718920 

External links