Richard Barrett (counter-terrorism expert)

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Richard Martin Donne Barrett CMG OBE (born 14 June 1949) is a former British diplomat and intelligence officer now involved in countering violent extremism. Barrett is a recognized global expert on terrorism who frequently appears as a panelist in related conferences and whose commentary is regularly featured in the press.


Barrett was born in Taplow and was educated at Ampleforth College in Yorkshire. In 1973, he was awarded a Master of Arts in Modern History and Italian Literature from University College, Oxford.

From March 2004 to January 2013 Barrett led the Monitoring Team that supports the United Nations Security Council Committee pursuant to resolution 1267 (1999) concerning Al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities.[1] Mr. Barrett was also a founding member of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF), which was established in 2005 to promote the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy adopted by the General Assembly in 2006. He chaired the CTITF Working Group on Terrorist use of the Internet and the CTITF Working Group on Dialogue Understanding and Countering the Appeal of Terrorism.

Barrett has been designated as one of the Global Experts of the Alliance of Civilizations, a group of recognized expert commentators available to the media to provide objective analysis on a range of pressing international issues.[2] He has spoken frequently on television and radio, and his interviews have been featured on Amanpour (CNN) and Charlie Rose (PBS).[3][4] He is the author of several articles and commentaries including op-eds for The Guardian, The New York Times, The Financial Times and The International Herald Tribune.[5][6][7][8]

Before being appointed to lead the Monitoring Team, Barrett spent his career in government service to the United Kingdom. He has held positions in the British Security Service (MI5) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Barrett also served as Director of Global Counter Terrorism Operations for the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) both before and after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.[9]

He has served abroad in Canada, Jordan, Turkey and the United States.

Barrett sits on the boards of the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague;[10] the Transnational Crisis Project; the Global Center on Cooperative Security;[11] The Centre for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad,[12] The Qatar International Academy for Security Studies in Doha [13] and The Center for the Study of United Nations Systems and the Global Legal Order (SUNSGLOW).[14]

Barrett was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1992[15] and Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 2013 Birthday Honours.[16]

Barrett was author (see below) of at least one ICSR report.

Career as opinionist[edit]

  • In October 2009, Barrett wrote that the terrorist organisation-du-jour "is 'losing credibility' among its potential supporters", Barrett also remarked that it hadn't "really made a connection to a new generation" of young Muslims who have little recollection of the events of 9/11 and are less interested in religion. In the case of the attempted assassination on 27 August 2009 of Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, at the time the Saudi terrorist rehabilitation programme, the Daily Telegraph summarised that:[17]
  • On 6 September 2014, Barrett wrote that one useful addition to the CONTEST (or Prevent) strategy would be to utilise "repentant fighters" or "disillusioned militants" to "come home" and publicise the brutality of ISIS.[18]
  • He returned to the theme of terrorist repatriation scant hours after the Bataclan massacre occurred in Paris on 13 November 2015, writing:[19]
  • On 26 November 2014, scant hours after the Rifkind report into the murder of Lee Rigby was released to the public, he appeared to excuse tech firms like Facebook,[20] which had been shown to broadcast the terrorist threats of Adebolawe that led directly to his savage actions.[21]
  • Barrett wrote an op-ed in The Guardian two days after the June 2017 London attack in which he mistook YouTube videos for encryption technologies.[22]
  • Two days after the July 2016 Bastille Day attacks in Nice, Barrett wrote an article about how "The best defence..." against terrorism is to freeze state anti-terror policy, the security services had still not much clue about who becomes a terrorist and why they become a terrorist, and that Muslim community loyalty to the state seems dependent on success:[23]
  • Barrett wrote one day after the Manchester Arena bombing of May 2017 that "We have the world's best security services - but the Manchester attack was inevitable" and that "These attacks highlight our vulnerability to the indiscriminate acts of people who see no better way to express their disaffection than by murdering their fellow citizens." Barrett found the ISIS explanation a "perfectly ridiculous description".[24]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 24, 2011. Retrieved January 7, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 26, 2011. Retrieved March 26, 2011. 
  3. ^ "CNN". Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "Charlie Rose -". Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Richard Barrett. "Taliban put to the test". the Guardian. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  6. ^ "Time to Talk to the Taliban". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-07-07. 
  7. ^ "Why the Afghan end-game is so hard to play". Financial Times. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "Terrorism and counterterrorism". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-07-07. 
  9. ^ "Richard Barrett". Global Experts. Retrieved 2016-07-07. 
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 18, 2011. Retrieved March 26, 2011. 
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 10, 2011. Retrieved March 26, 2011. 
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ "QIASS - Qatar International Academy for Security Studies". Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  14. ^ "Global Training in the Rule of Law". Retrieved 2016-07-07. 
  15. ^ "London Gazette Issue 53153, Supplement (30 December 1992)". London Gazette. 17. Retrieved 2016-07-07. 
  16. ^ "No. 60534". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 June 2013. p. 3. 
  17. ^ "New al-Qaeda 'body bombs' that can beat airport security are alarming terror experts", 3 Oct 2009
  18. ^ "Disillusioned British militants have role to play in fight against Isis", 6 Sep 2014
  19. ^ "", 15 Nov 2015
  20. ^ "We can’t expect Facebook to stop terrorists", 26 Nov 2014
  21. ^ "Lee Rigby murder: Facebook could have picked up killer’s message - report", 26 Nov 2014
  22. ^ "Theresa May’s ‘enough is enough’ risks making the extremist threat worse", 5 Jun 2017
  23. ^ "The best defence against terrorism is to show that it does not work as a way of changing government policy or public perception", 16 Jul 2016
  24. ^ "We have the world's best security services - but the Manchester attack was inevitable", 23 May 2017

Selected publications[edit]

External links[edit]