Anthony Glees

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Anthony Glees, right-wing think-tanker and 'terrorologist'

Peter Anthony Glees (born 6 August 1948) is a right-wing British academic considered an expert on 'terrorism' and radicalisation. He is currently head of the Buckingham University Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies (BUCSIS).[1]

Biography and career

Glees was born on 6 August 1948, the younger son of Professor Paul Glees, a German Anatomist who was then a lecturer at Oxford University.[2] He studied a BA in History and German at Oxford University, a BPhil in Modern European History from St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, and a DPhil also at Oxford University. He lectured at the University of Warwick before joining Brunel University on 1 October 1975. [3]

Glees taught at Brunel for over three decades, and was latterly the Director of the Brunel Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies.[4] Up until 2005, his area of academic interest was espionage and German history and politics. In July 2003 the website OpenDemocracy published an article by Glees which was accompanied by the following biographical note:

Anthony Glees is a reader in history at Brunel University. His research interests include German politics, British-German relations, German transformation since 1989; Germany’s new political culture with special reference to the impact of human rights abuses, truth and reconciliation issues in respect of the former German Democratic Republic. [5]

The making of a terror 'expert'

In the course of 2005, Glees emerged as a 'terrorism expert' consulted by the media. He appears to have emerged as an expert after the London bombings on 7 July 2005, when he was consulted as an 'intelligence expert' to comment on the alleged failure of the intelligence services to predict that attack. [6] By this time Glees had spent several months compiling a report for the right wing think-tank the Social Affairs Unit on extremism in British Universities. [7]

According to his profile at the consultancy Alpha Intelligence Management, Glees has been 'an official adviser to the European Parliament on counter-terrorism and security policy' since 2002. [8]

In September 2008 the Times Higher Education Supplement reported that Glees was to leave Brunel University and join the University of Buckingham, Britain's only private university. There it was reported he would 'set up a Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies with the emphasis on practical experience rather than theoretical understanding.' Glees criticised what he called a culture of "condoning failure" in the state sector, which he claimed was endemic in publicly-funded universities. He dismissed claims that the University of Buckingham was "Thatcherite" and said, "If there's one-dimensional politics in British higher education, it's a left-of-centre to Marxist consensus in the state system." [9]

Glees gave his inaugural lecture as Professor of Politics and Director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at Buckingham on 28 October 2008. His lecture was entitled Safeguarding our democracy: current themes in the study of Britain's secret agencies.[10] Along with his BUSCIS colleague Dr Julian Richards, Glees heads Security and Intelligence Research Centre Ltd (Company registration no: 6694451).[11]

Glees on 'The Stasi files'

Roger Morgan, writing in International Affairs (79/5, 2003), described the book as ‘unscholarly, sensationalist and deeply flawed’. More damning criticism came from John Sandford a leading light in the campaign for European Nuclear Disarmament GDR group which was active in promoting solidarity with the independent East German peace movement. Glees seems to have undergone something of a conversion on the GDR group. According to Sandford's account:

Glees, whom I had not met before, came to interview me in my office at Reading University on the afternoon of 17 November 1998. He was, he said, doing research for a BBC television programme, and presented me – rather curiously, I thought – with a BBC News business card belonging (according to the email address on it) to Sarah Hann on which he had written by hand his own name, private email address, and telephone numbers. The programme would, he said, bring to public attention ‘the unsung role of the GDR Group and others in the events of 1989’. (Glees was to paint an even more glowing picture of END a year or so later, when he wrote of it as ‘a most remarkable institution, with a political impact in eastern Europe so great that we are entitled to regard it as one of the main causes of the defeat of communism in central and eastern Europe’ (The New Germany in the East, ed. Christopher Flockton, Eva Kolinsky and Rosalind Pritchard, London 2000: Frank Cass, p. 177).)[12]

Later his view of the END GDR group was to change and he would describe them as 'assets' of the Stasi, the E German secret police.

‘The Sandford Story’ (pp. 328-335) is the title that Glees gives to a section of a chapter called ‘The Stasi’s British Assets’, which in its turn is contained within the part of the book entitled ‘Penetration and Recruitment’... His technique is to use – and trust – the Stasi files to provide the starting-point for his ‘story’, and to make up any gaps and links himself as he goes along in a manner that – sometimes by confident assertion, sometimes by sneering innuendo – furthers his thesis of the Stasi’s ‘penetration and recruitment’ of its ‘British assets’.[13]

When Students Turn to Terror

When Students Turn to Terror, 2005

With his former student Chris Pope, Glees is the author of When Students Turn to Terror: Terrorist and Extremist Activity on British Campuses Published by the right wing Social Affairs Unit in Autumn 2005. The report argued that British universities are in Glees's words 'recruiting grounds for those who wish to destroy parliamentary liberal democracy'. [14] Glees wrote an article in the Times Higher Educational Supplement promoting the report and summarising its main findings. In it Glees called for action against 'terrorism' and what he called 'subversion', and advocated that universities 'establish watertight screening methods, together with MI5' and 'ban "faith" societies'. He also suggested that there was 'scope for covert action' by 'plainclothes officers'. [15]

The report gained widespread mainstream media attention [16] and little proper criticism.

At over 100 pages this is a longish report claiming to find evidence of Islamist, animal liberation and British National Party 'terrorism' on UK campuses. The basis of the evidence that there is 'terrorist activity' is simply that people who have been arrested under anti-Terrorism legislation attended universities at some point. On this basis there is also evidence of terrorist activity in schools, nurseries and for that matter even in mother's wombs, since all terrorists were once presumably there.

Here is a quote on the 'dangers' of the universities from the report:

Instead of encouraging students to reflect on the values and virtues of liberal democracy, universities may be teaching them subjects or theoretical tools for understanding the world - Marxism for example - which could encourage them to believe Britain and other Western states are in terminal decline. Moving from campus to Mosque, students convinced by their dons might gain further inspiration from radical mullahs.[17]

This kind of reasoning is a recipe for thought control and the constraining of education within the conservative lexicon where 'liberal democracy' is by definition good and any critique of it in practice bad.

The Enemies Within

Anthony Glees described, in the Times Higher Education Supplement of April 2010, that 'Earth-shattering thinkers (Archimedes, Newton) had a single and major eureka moment, in the bath or under an apple tree. Jobbing scholars (like me) are more likely to have numerous minor insights in different places (in my case, in the shower, perhaps, or in the witching hours of the night)'. Glees goes on to describe his Eureka moments on the subject of 'Islamic terrorists on campus'.

The recent media interest in my work has often come from the eureka moment I had (when shaving) in 2002, pondering the emerging problem (as it then was) of Islamist terrorism. I had just completed the manuscript of my book on the Stasi (The Stasi Files: East Germany's Secret Operations Against Britain), describing, inter alia, how in the UK the security service had exploited academic space, British students and academics - people interested in ideas - to further its particular aims'.
The events of 11 September 2001 represented an obvious and serious intelligence failure. But it suddenly occurred to me that we needed to examine the background of the 9/11 bombers and not just regard them as appalling criminals, understandable as that view might be.
After all, several of the 9/11 operatives had been students (notably at Hamburg University) and al-Qaeda used graduates more generally, as well as "useful idiots". If Islamic terrorists were not just criminals but also students or graduates, campuses and colleges could be places to look for them. Of course, many universities contain both the bright and the idiotic, dons as well as students.
The next eureka moment came in 2004. If Islamic terrorists, even just a few, were stalking our campuses, we needed to find a means of preventing them from radicalising others. If educated people were turning to terror, it must follow that their education was lacking in some major way.
Universities ought therefore to be doing far more to convince their students that change in our country must be peaceful and democratic. If dons were too cowardly to do so themselves, the government should instruct them to act (after all, the taxpayer was funding them).
Rather than turning a blind eye to what was happening on their campuses, and focusing on research that few, if any, would read (unthinkingly following the mirage that is research funding), academics needed to get back to teaching their students - and not just their special subjects, but about life and liberty as well.
My next (and related) eureka moment took place in 2006: if Islamic terrorists came from two discrete groups, and one group was homegrown, then might they be trying to construct within campuses sites that would support radicalisation, and then bring thugs into the UK, perhaps posing as students, who were ready to bomb when the order came through?
This thought led naturally to the next thought: if there were a "campus" strand (and I never suggested it was more than a strand), was it being sustained by external funding? Together with my colleague Julian Richards (at that time research fellow in Brunel University's Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies), I looked into the funding issue and noticed that some £ 250 million of Arab and Islamic funding had poured into UK universities since 2000, most from Saudi Arabia, most to the University of Oxford, and most to support Islamic centres. Even philanthropic projects had an Islamic propagandistic side, as the rebuilding of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford readily illustrates[18].

Dundee University and Special Branch surveillance

Dundee University was one of those named as a potential recruiting ground for terrorists and this has led to overt and covert surveillance by Special Branch of Islamic and anti war groups.[19] Sohaib Saeed writes:

The only Scottish university named was Dundee, where a suspect in the 2002 Bali bombings is said to have once studied.
The publicity associated with the report has caused great consternation on the Dundee campus, which is home to one of the country’s most active Islamic societies. DUIS president Hassan Habib told the iWitness of his society’s positive efforts to portray Islam accurately and engage with the wider student body. They have won several awards of recognition from the Student Association.
“If there is any illegal activity going on, then it should be dealt with on the basis of evidence. If the Islamic society can be of any assistance in tackling such problems, then we will not hesitate to do our part.”
Prof. Glees’ report, entitled “When Students Turn to Terror”, is remarkably devoid of detail about what exactly is wrong at Dundee. The only relevant paragraph informs us that “Suspected or confirmed terrorists who have studied in Britain in recent years include the lecturers Dr Azahari Husin, 45, who went to Reading University, and Shamsul Bahri Hussein, 36, who read applied mechanics at Dundee. They are wanted in connection with the Bali bombings in October 2002, when 202 people, including 26 Britons, died.”
According to the Sunday Times, Hussein was at Dundee in the 1980s. Exactly what connection his student days in Fife have to his alleged involvement in a terrorist atrocity more than two decades later, is not made clear. Neither is the relevance of that case to the present time. Nevertheless, Glees states: “We have discovered a number of universities where subversive activities are taking place, often without the knowledge of the university authorities.”
An open letter compiled by the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) claims that the report “has been undertaken without any academic or credible research; indeed the authors have systematically opted to rely on hearsay and allegations rather than fact.” The letter further called on the media to “exercise more caution” in their coverage.[20]

City University - report denounced by Vice Chancellor

I have read your soon-to-be published report ‘Why students turn to terror: terrorist and extremist activity on British campuses’ which was quoted in the Guardian today. In it, you include City University as one of a number of universities where (allegedly) ‘extremist or terrorist groups have been detected’. The only other reference to City University we can detect in your report (p52) is where you describe the case of Mr Saajid Badat. You say he was offered a place as a student at City University.
Mr Saajid Badat did not however take up that place. When my press officer telephoned your co-author and you to point this out, she was told that you had other evidence which demonstrated a connection. She was then told that this was what appears on a BBC web site [21]. In reality, that report says unequivocally that he did not take up either of the offers of places he had at this and another university.
All of us take the issue of terrorism extremely seriously. The well-being of students, staff, visitors to the university and the population in general are of the highest importance to us here in City. I will therefore deal appropriately with any relevant matters drawn to my attention – provided that there is some genuine evidence. In this case, the ‘evidence’ you have given us is farcical. I ask that you substantiate your claim or that you issue an immediate apology, remove City University from your list and notify the Guardian.[22]


Iraq and WMD

In 2005 Glees wrote an article for Parliamentary Affairs entitled ‘Evidence-Based Policy or Policy-Based Evidence? Hutton and the Government's Use of Secret Intelligence’. The article examined in some detail the process that led to the production of the infamous September 2002 dossier but did not attribute much blame to any of the parties involved. Glees dismissed the idea that the intelligence services might have been involved in deliberate misinformation, commenting that, 'it would be naïve to imagine that in a liberal democracy, those providing them [intelligence assessments] would, or could, agree to falsify intelligence even if [it] were technically possible.' [23] A year earlier Glees had complained in the Times Higher Education Supplement that his fellow academics were too sceptical of the intelligence services, referring to a "lack of political consensus that security and intelligence agencies are a vital resource for protecting democracy." This scepticism amongst academics he argued "had a profound negative impact on the development of our security." [24]

Happy that the intelligence services were blameless, Glee's main concern in his Parliamentary Affairs article seems to have been that the publication of the dossier undermined elite policy making by encouraging public scrutiny and undermining public confidence. He lamented that: 'future governments will find it much more difficult to convince citizens of the rectitude of intelligence-based policy in support of pre-emptive military action.' [25] He also warned that:

The interests of open government and transparency – laudable aims in any advanced liberal society – may inadvertently constitute a security threat of their own. Openness is not always a virtue, secrecy is not always a vice. Publication [of the ‘dodgy dossier’] gave the electorate the feeling that they and not the government had the final say on what British policy should be, and whether the evidence adduced supported the attack on Iraq. This was a chaotic way to govern, and as has been amply shown by subsequent events, fundamentally counter-productive. [26]

Glees also rather curiously referred to the Guardian as having ‘consistently opposed Blair’s Iraq policy’. [27]

Internment and Human Rights

In October 2006 Glees wrote an article in the Independent arguing for internment without trial and the overturning of the European Convention on Human Rights. Glees argued that, 'Academics should think the unthinkable,' and 'not be blinkered by political correctness.' He argued that the European Convention on Human Rights had 'gone too far' and was 'deeply flawed'. [28]

In the closing paragraph of the article Glees called for action 'against extremism' and urged Britain's Muslims to leave the country:

Liberal democracy will be easily destroyed if we do not act against extremism. We give our enemies the weapons they need to destroy us. We need to be more mindful that there is a threshold that should not be crossed. Not everything is permissible. Wearing the niqab is saying we don't want to be British. Forty per cent of British Muslims say they want to live under sharia law. That is unacceptable. They should go to a country with sharia law. [29]

Mass surveillance

Glees has appeared several times on BBC media[30] to dismiss privacy and other objections to the Draft Communications Data Bill ("Snoopers' Charter", CDB). He has also appeared before parliamentary select committees on the CDB[31], and control orders, arguing in vague terms that state action against terrorism, serious organised crime and paedophilia outweighs privacy, but was unable to distinguish between targetted and mass surveillance. One attempt by an MP to describe Glees' position was: "There is wrongdoing happening online; we could collect information about it, hence we ought to". On control orders Glees stated that: "I do not believe that civil liberties and liberty generally are undermined by effective, proportionate and accountable intelligence-led security policy. I think that’s a complete nonsense."[32] At a separate committee hearing Glees had argued that, "In 2003, I wrote a book about the East German intelligence service, commonly known as the Stasi. If you have a look at a real surveillance society, which is what communist East Germany was, in 1989, the last year of the Stasi’s existence, there was one Stasi member to every seven East German citizens. In Britain today, there is one MI5 officer to every 7,000 citizens". [33]

Henry Jackson Society

Glees is connected to the Henry Jackson Society Project for Democratic Geopolitics in that he has participated in their events and activities. Glees signed and 'Open Letter Regarding Zimbabwe' sent by the HJS to Gordon Brown, George W. Bush, Javier Solana and Thabo Mbeki.[34] On 2 July 2008, Anthony Glees was present at a Henry Jackson Society event where Jonathan Paris spoke about the "radicalization of Muslims in Europe" and how the Cold War should be a model on dealing with the problem. One of the discussants after the talk was Glees, and it was evident that they knew each other well. Glees is also associated with the Social Affairs Unit which has published several of his reports and also the manifesto of the Henry Jackson Society.

Private security

Glees was a director of Alpha Intelligence Management, described at Companies House as a "Business & management consultancy", incorporated 22/11/2006 and dissolved 18/01/2011.

Contact, References and Resources




  1. Buckingham University Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, 6 may 2009.
  2. The Times, Tuesday, Dec 21, 1971; pg. 12; Issue 58356; col D; 'Professor Paul Glees', The Times, 4 August 1999
  3. Letter from Brunel University Information Access Officer, 15 April 2009
  4. Anthony Glees, Letter, The Times, Friday, Aug 15, 1980; pg. 11; Issue 60704; col H; Melanie Newman, 'Culture in the state-funded sector condones failure, claims professor', The Times Higher Education Supplement, 4 September 2008
  5. OpenDemocracy, Anthony Glees (accessed 30 March 2009)
  6. e.g. 'Anthony Glees discusses improving anti-terrorism intelligence', Weekend All Things Considered, NPR, 8:00 PM EST 9 July 2005
  7. Polly Curtis, 'They don't sit with a sign recruiting for terrorists', Guardian, 19 July 2005
  8. Screengrab of <> created 30 March 2009, 07:31:14
  9. Melanie Newman, 'Culture in the state-funded sector condones failure, claims professor', The Times Higher Education Supplement, 4 September 2008
  10. Press Release - Professor Anthony Glees, University of Buckingham, 30 October 2008.
  11. Contact Us, Security and Intelligence Research Centre Ltd, Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 1 May 2010 on 13 November 2017.
  12. John Sandford, Anthony Glees: The Stasi Files: East Germany’s Secret Operations Against Britain (London 2003: The Free Press)
  13. Ibid.
  14. Anthony Glees, Beacons of truth or crucibles of terror? Times Higher Educational Supplement, 23 September 2005
  15. Anthony Glees, Beacons of truth or crucibles of terror? Times Higher Educational Supplement, 23 September 2005
  16. Social Affairs Unit [1]
  17. Anthony Glees and Chris Pope When Students Turn to Terror: Terrorist and Extremist Activity on British Campuses, Social Affairs Unit, 2005, p. 15
  18. Anthony Glees, The enemies within, The Times Higher Education Supplement, 22-April-2010
  19. Freshers' fair surveillance criticised The Courier, 19 September 2006.
  20. Sohaib Saeed, Dundee students refute extremism smear The I-Witness, 24 September 2005
  21. [2]
  22. Letter to Anthony Glees from the Vice chancellor of City University, dated 16 September 2005, posted on the City University website
  23. Anthony Glees, ‘Evidence-Based Policy or Policy-Based Evidence? Hutton and the Government's Use of Secret Intelligence’, Parliamentary Affairs, Vol.58 No.1 1, 2005, pp.138-139
  24. Steve Farrar, ' Scholars thwart spies]', Times Higher Education, 9 April 2004
  25. Anthony Glees, ‘Evidence-Based Policy or Policy-Based Evidence? Hutton and the Government's Use of Secret Intelligence’, Parliamentary Affairs, Vol.58 No.1 1, 2005, 141
  26. Anthony Glees, ‘Evidence-Based Policy or Policy-Based Evidence? Hutton and the Government's Use of Secret Intelligence’, Parliamentary Affairs, Vol.58 No.1 1, 2005, 153
  27. Anthony Glees, ‘Evidence-Based Policy or Policy-Based Evidence? Hutton and the Government's Use of Secret Intelligence’, Parliamentary Affairs, Vol.58 No.1 1, 2005, 143
  28. Anthony Glees, 'Internment should be a policy option' Independent, 19 October 2006
  29. Anthony Glees, 'Internment should be a policy option' Independent, 19 October 2006
  30. 19 July 2012
  31. Uncorrected transcript, 17 July 2012
  32. Joint Committee on Draft Enhanced Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill, 24 October 2012
  34. Henry Jackson Society Open Letter Regarding Zimbabwe – Friday 27 June 2008  – accessed 30 March 2009