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Rolf Mowatt-Larssen

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Rolf Mowatt-Larssen

Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Contact:
Email: rolf_mowatt-larssen@hks.harvard.edu

 

Experience

Prior to his appointment as a senior fellow at the Belfer Center, Mr. Rolf Mowatt-Larssen served over three years as the Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the U.S. Department of Energy. Prior to this, he served for 23 years as a CIA intelligence officer in various domestic and international posts, to include Chief of the Europe Division in the Directorate of Operations, Chief of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Department, Counterterrorist Center, and Deputy Associate Director of Central Intelligence for Military Support. His overseas assignments include Stockholm (1984-1987), Moscow (1988-1990, 1992-1994), Athens (1990-1992), Yerevan (1992), Zurich (1994-1996) and Oslo (1998-2000). Prior to his career in intelligence, Mr. Mowatt-Larssen served as an officer in the U.S. Army. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY. He is married to Roswitha and has three children. He is a recipient of the CIA Director's Award, the George W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism, the Secretary of Energy's Exceptional Service Medal, the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, Secretary of Defense Civilian Distinguished Service Medal, and the National Intelligence Superior Performance Medal, among others.

 

 

By Date

 

2014

AP

September 24, 2014

"Four Key Observations About The Campaign Against ISIL"

Op-Ed, Just Security

By Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

After the United States and a five-member Arab coalition launched the first strikes against ISIL, Rolf Mowatt-Larssen offered four preliminary observations:

1. We should be conservative in assessing impact of the strikes.

2. It will be crucial to keep the Arab coalition directly involved as U.S. proceeds deeper into this campaign.

3. U.S. deployment of technological innovations that have been achieved over a decade of war may be coming together as a whole that is greater than the parts, reminiscent of the novel tactics the U.S. successfully waged to topple the Taliban in the fall of 2001.

4. In order for the re-assertion of U.S. and allied military power in the Middle East to be successful in the long term, U.S. strategy must take into account two problems that must be managed, each with its own distinct characteristics

 

 

AP

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"ISIL as an Insurgency and a Terrorist Threat"

Op-Ed, Just Security

By Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Yesterday, I posted four preliminary observations about the campaign against ISIL. My fourth observation emphasized the point that the United States-led efforts against ISIL must recognize that the extremist group represents both a terrorist threat to the U.S., and an insurgency that threatens the stability of the Middle East. If the campaign against ISIL is to succeed, both of these issues must be recognized and addressed.

 

 

Paul Zinken/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

July 15, 2014

"Beyond the US-German Case: Understanding the Espionage 'Rules of the Game'"

Op-Ed, Just Security

By Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

As a former Chief of Europe Division in the CIA, I have no comment to offer concerning the Germany espionage flap, of which I know nothing, save for what I have read in the press. My intent in offering these observations is not to explain alleged CIA actions in this case.  Rather, I am using this opportunity to provide a broader perspective, to relate the “rules of the game” of intelligence decision-making that applies the world over.  The senior policymaker in question could be President Obama, or Chancellor Merkel, or perhaps Vladimir Putin. To each of these leaders, I would give the same advice, if asked how to handle a spy-case:  there’s nothing novel here, nothing new. Let’s do what must be done and move on expeditiously, keeping our broader, shared interests in mind.

 

2011

June 6, 2011

The U.S.-Russia Joint Threat Assessment of Nuclear Terrorism

Report

By Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom, Yuri Morozov, Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Simon Saradzhyan, Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, William H. Tobey, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Viktor I. Yesin and Pavel S. Zolotarev

Researchers from the United States and Russia have issued a joint assessment of the global threat of nuclear terrorism, warning of a persistent danger that terrorists could obtain or make a nuclear device and use it with catastrophic consequences. The first joint threat assessment by experts from the world’s two major nuclear powers concludes: “If current approaches toward eliminating the threat are not replaced with a sense of urgency and resolve, the question will become not if but when, and on what scale, the first act of nuclear terrorism occurs.”

 

 

April 13, 2011

Nuclear Security Summit: One Year On and Looking Ahead

Op-Ed

By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School, Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom, William H. Tobey, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

We asked nuclear policy experts in Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs to summarize in one paragraph the achievements in the year since President Obama convened a summit on nuclear security on April 12-13, 2010. And we asked for a second paragraph on what needs to be done in the year before the follow-up summit planned for Seoul, South Korea.

 

 

Spring 2011

"Q & A: Rolf Mowatt-Larssen"

Newsletter Article, Belfer Center Newsletter

By Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

After more than two decades in intelligence with the CIA and U.S. Department of Energy, Rolf Mowatt­Larssen is now a senior fellow at the Belfer Center focusing on nuclear terrorism, domestic security, and al Qaeda’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) ambitions. His most recent research report is titled “Al Qaeda’s Religious Justification of Nuclear Terrorism,” a follow­-up to his timeline of al Qaeda’s quest to acquire WMD. We asked Mowatt-­Larssen to share his views on al Qaeda's intent and justification for terrorism and to reflect on American life post­ 9/11 and the future of global intelligence.

 

 

February 11, 2011

"US and Russian Intelligence Cooperation during the Yeltsin Years"

Occasional Paper

By Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

"Over the years, cooperation between the US and Russia has waxed and waned. Trust has come and gone.  As we look to the future to find new  ways of  strengthening this enigmatic relationship, we should draw on propitious times in the past, when Russians and Americans managed to bridge the divide – most notably, during world war two.  History once again favors a genuine partnership between our two nations.  Today, there is more that unites us than divides us.  We confront common threats  of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and the challenges of globalization and an interconnected world.  The question is: will we have the courage to do the right thing?"

 

 

Cover design by Tim Duffy

January 2011

Islam and the Bomb

Paper

By Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

We can not exclude the possibility of nuclear terrorism. It is not tomorrow's threat; it is with us here today. The game changing impact of a single mushroom cloud could destabilize the world order and raise fundamental doubts about the ability of governments to continue to provide security for their people.

 

2010

AP Photo/IntelCenter

November 12, 2010

Al Qaeda's Religious Justification of Nuclear Terrorism

Working Paper

By Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

"...Bin Laden would develop an idea that would breathe life back into Zawahiri's dreams: the United States must become the target of the jihad. If the Americans could be provoked into war, they could be defeated like the Soviets, and expelled from Muslim lands for good. The fall of the U.S. superpower would lead to the overthrow of secular Arab states. This insight led to successive Al Qaeda strikes against the U.S., including the unsuccessful bombing of the World Trade Center (1993), bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa (1998), and the bombing of the USS Cole (2000).  It was not evident at the time, but the road to 9/11 began on the day Al Qaeda was formed."

 

 

AP Images

September 9, 2010

"Nine Years After 9/11: Keeping America Safe"

Op-Ed, The Huffington Post

By Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

"In order to achieve success, the intelligence leadership must ensure that every officer in the community understands that the DNI is here to stay, and that the FBI requires their full support. Internal dissonance and institutional rivalries are the surest ways to leave holes in our nation's defenses."

 

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