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Letta M. Tayler

Associate Fellow, Rule of Law Responses to Terrorism


Letta Tayler is an Associate Director in the Crisis and Conflict Division of Human Rights Watch, where she leads the division’s work on terrorism and counterterrorism. Her focus includes the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, counterterrorism policy at the United Nations, foreign ISIS suspects and families, the extreme-right in the United States, and drone strikes and other targeted killings.

Tayler also serves on the Legislative Frameworks working group of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT). She has worked in more than three dozen countries as a human rights defender and in her previous capacity as a journalist.

She has been a guest on BBC, CNN, Fresh Air, Al Jazeera, and Democracy Now, profiled in publications including Elle magazine, and quoted by media including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and National Public Radio. Her research has been published by The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, The Guardian, and Just Security, among other outlets. 

Tayler has presented her findings and recommendations at fora including the United Nations High-Level Summit on Counter-Terrorism, the UN Human Rights Council, the European Parliament, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. She has briefed government officials in countries around the world.

As a foreign correspondent with Newsday, Tayler chronicled events including the US invasion of Iraq and the bombings of Tora Bora. She also served as Latin America bureau chief.

Tayler graduated Magna Cum Laude from Barnard College and holds a Master’s in International Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford.


Tayler, L. Thousands of Foreigners Unlawfully Held in Northeast Syria, Human Rights Watch, March 2021.

Tayler, L. Q&A: Protecting the Vote from Security Risks in the US 2020 Elections, Human Rights Watch, October 2020.

Tayler, L. “Bring Me Back to Canada”: Plight of Canadians Held in Northeast Syria for Alleged ISIS Links, Human Rights Watch, June 2020.

Tayler, L. “We Live in Constant Fear”: Possession of Extremist Material in Kyrgyzstan, Human Rights Watch, September 2018.