Written Evidence to the Home Affairs Committee – Counter Extremism Inquiry

Written evidence submitted by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue

Published 2 February 2016. Original document can be found via the UK Parliament Website here

The following written evidence is submitted to the Home Affairs Committee adding to the Countering Extremism Inquiry. As such, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) would like to use its research and experience working to counter violent extremism to highlight evidence and findings relevant to this inquiry. In particular, ISD would like to touch upon the topic of preventing violent extremism (section 2), inter-sector relations in CVE (section 3), and the need for credible, targeted counter-narratives (section 4).

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The Need to Embrace Nuance and Diversity in the Fight Against Violent Extremism

Originally published by Reform Magazine February 2016. Original link here to abbreviated online version. Full version only available to subscribers (or on this blog).

For the last two years the international community has been transfixed on the rise of the terrorist group Daesh (also known as Islamic State, ISIS and ISIL). For Western communities there has been a particular focus on the seemingly shocking phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters and female migrants. It is estimated that over 5,000 Western European citizens have traveled hundreds of miles to join what we know to be a violent and brutal terrorist group. Yet despite the intense media focus and public discourse around this trend, there remain many misleading headlines and misunderstandings about processes of radicalisation and prevention. Continue reading

Politics, Nation and Identity in the Midst of Hungary’s Refugee Crisis

Originally Published by Policy Network 15 September 2015. Original linked here.

Hungarian political discourse has taken a dark turn as the refugee crisis has been enveloped with fear of a nation losing its identity. The current crisis that now dominates headlines has shown images of Syrian refugees quarantined within Hungarian train stations, protesting for the right to safely pursue new lives in Europe as asylum seekers. Yet even before the current crisis now affecting Hungary, despite being a country with a relatively low influx and outflux of migrants, the topic of immigration has become increasingly salient with strong political divides.

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What next for the missing Bethnal Green girls in Syria?

Originally Published by The Telegraph 03 July 2015. Original linked here.

Britain has seen hundreds of male foreign terrorist fighters return home, but what happens when Isil jihadi brides want to come back? While the number of Western male foreign terrorist fighters remains staggering, there is an equally unprecedented number of Western females migrating to Syria and Iraq to join Isil state-building efforts.

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‘Till Martyrdom Do Us Part’ – Gender and the ISIS Phenomenon

By Erin Marie Saltman and Melanie Smith

The following is the introduction to the latest Women and Extremism report from ISD. A link to the full report can be found here. Launched 28 May 2015

Although often assumed to be passive agents, women have played significant roles in a number of contemporary terrorist organizations. Violent extremist groups across the political and ideological spectrum have utilised female forces for a range of activities including logistics, recruitment, political safeguarding, operations, suicide bombing and combat. However, the recent unprecedented surge in female recruits to the terrorist organization Islamic State (ISIS) has brought this phenomenon into sharp focus. For many there remain misperceptions and misunderstandings concerning the role women play within these violent networks, often paired with engendered responses to the radicalisation of women. By analysing how terrorist organisations choose to utilise women, we are able to better understand the decision-making processes of terrorists and the inner-workings of the organization itself. Continue reading

Behind the Facade: Jobbik’s rebrand is bringing electoral success, but its true nature isn’t hard to track down

Originally Published by Policy Network 30 April 2015. Original linked here.

Earlier this month, a candidate for Hungary’s radical-right party, Jobbik, won a by-election for a vacant parliamentary seat in Tapolca, Hungary. Lajos Rig’s victory is not only a first for a far-right party in Hungary, but, notably, his win is the first time a newer party, not involved in Hungary’s first democratic elections in 1990, has acquired such a mandate. Onlookers now question whether Jobbik has truly shed its extremist past or simply taken on a new guise.

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The Institute for Strategic Dialogue on embracing the ‘softer side’ of counter-terrorism

By Erin Marie Saltman and Jake Barker

Originally Published by New World UNA-UK 24 February 2015. Original linked here.

The need for cohesive and effective counter-terrorism policy among UN member states is as crucial as ever. Transnational terrorist organisations, like Islamic State (IS), are territorially expanding in the Middle East, while the foreign fighter phenomenon is affecting a number of countries. With the continuation of this crisis, international gaps within counter-terrorism strategies have shown themselves. There is scope for improvement in UN strategies in terms of increasing its soft power capabilities through enhancing the infrastructure around counter-extremism. Continue reading

Islamic State: How foreigners are helped to reach Syria and Iraq

Originally Published by BBC News 24 February 2015. Original linked here.

Three girls from London travelled to Turkey, sparking international concerns they were en route to Syria to join Islamic State (IS). But what makes people want to travel to conflicts in foreign lands and how are they helped to get there? Continue reading

Anti-Semitism in Hungary: New Voices for Old Narratives

Originally Published by TBFF 20 January 2015. Original linked here.

Hungary’s seemingly recent political move away from ‘liberal European values’, towards localised and nationalist politics has caused a great deal of international concern and speculation. Strong electoral support of the right-wing conservative nationalist party, Fidesz, and far-right party, Jobbik, has increased in recent years, with notable far-right support coming from youth voters. Alongside this new wave of far-right politics has been an increasing xenophobic, and in particular anti-Semitic and anti-Roma, political rhetoric.

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With the right support, community-led efforts to tackle extremism can succeed

Originally Published by Left Foot Forward 24 November 2014. Original linked here.

Many communities have already become active in addressing Ofsted’s concerns about far right and Islamist extremism. Last week, the media divulged a string of new Ofsted statements. They flagged up a number of secondary schools and sixth form colleges that are said to be vulnerable to radicalisation, or that have been reported as not adequately preparing children for ‘life in modern Britain’.

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