Orlando and Nice attacks: Domestic violence links to radicalisation

Originally Published by BBC News 22 July 2016. Original linked here.

In the aftermath of the recent mass killings by lone attackers in Orlando and Nice, more details have come to light about the attackers’ histories and identities. Both attackers had track records of domestic violence, records of depression and questions around their sexual identities.

As the Islamic State group (IS) continues to stake claim on exported attacks on the West, it has also disseminated a range of identity politics and gender norms.The message is less about empowering individuals through religion, and more about attracting insecure and threatened individuals with a psychological need for control and simple answers. Continue reading

Newsweek Podcast Ep. 2: Hunting Lone Wolves

Episode two of Newsweek’s Foreign Service podcast asks how governments can prevent erratic and unpredictable attacks by so-called “lone wolf” terrorists. Published 21 July 2016. Link to Newsweek Foreign Service Podcast here

Gavin Long, the man who killed three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Sunday, had past links with radical groups. But in politically charged Youtube videos infused with violent rhetoric, he insisted he acted alone. In Nice, where Mohamed Bouhlel killed at least 64 people and wounded dozens more with a truck, the Islamic State Militant Group (ISIS) took credit for the carnage. But Bouhlel’s links with the group are unclear, and likely indirect.

So how do you prepare for attacks that come without warning or large-scale planning? Do we now live in a world where any angry, isolated person who comes across the right messages can become a terrorist? Or, with the right knowledge, can governments and security services separate genuine dangers from false alarms, and turn those most at risk of perpetrating appalling crimes back from the brink?

This episode discusses the question from our London office with Hillary Hurd, who has studied religious-inspired violence and strategies for post-conflict rehabilitation, and Erin Marie Saltman, a senior researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. Link to podcast: https://soundcloud.com/newsweek-foreign-service/episode-two-hunting-lone-wolves

Youth Innovation Labs: A Model for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism

PUBLICATION: Saltman E., Dow M. and Bjornsgaard K. (July 2016), Youth Innovation Labs: A Model for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, (London: Institute for Strategic Dialogue).

The following publication discusses the development, implementation and evaluation of Youth Innovation Labs. Labs are immersive, activist-led events that create a secure environment to facilitate capacity-building while giving participants the contacts, tools and resources needed to develop strategic campaigns for preventing and countering violent extremism. The purpose of this publication is to share the methodology and structure thatYouthCAN has developed, as well as the best-practices and outcomes from YouthCAN’s work with young activists and creatives.

The full publication can be found here.

Book Chapter: Female Radicalization to ISIS and the Role of Women in CVE

Saltman, E. and Frennett, R. (2016) ‘Female Radicalization to ISIS and the Role of Women in CVE’, in Chowdury Fink et. al. (eds.), A Man’s World? Exploring the Roles of Women in Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism, (Abu Dhabi and New York: Hedayah and GCCS), pp. 142 – 163.

Abstract: Women have played significant roles in a number of contemporary terrorist organizations. A range of far-right, far-left and Islamist extremist organizations have utilized female forces for a variety of activities including logistics, recruitment, political safeguarding, operational leadership, suicide bombing and combat. The recent surge in female recruitment to groups such as the terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has brought this long lasting phenomenon into sharp focus. This trend is unfortunately often paired with misperceptions around the role of women within these violent networks and engendered responses to the radicalization of women. A more nuanced understanding of the roles women play in preventing and countering violent extremism (PVE and CVE) is therefore critical. This chapter explores the crucial roles that women play in countering the violent extremist narrative, by reaching a wider audience of those “at risk” of radicalization and bringing much-needed innovation into the CVE sector. Addressing gender dynamics in CVE work is significant as we see an increasing number of women being radicalized and recruited into terrorist networks like ISIS from all over the world.

Full publication available here: http://www.hedayah.ae/pdf/a-man-s-world-1.pdf

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).

Continue reading

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

‘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