Thanks to the generous support and cooperation from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the CSIS Project on Prosperity and Development releases this new essay anthology, Sharpening Our Efforts: The Role of International Development in Countering Violent Extremism. As policymakers confront the ongoing challenge of radicalization and violent extremism, it is important that stakeholders and counterterrorism strategists recognize the critical role for development and other non-kinetic approaches to counter violent extremism (CVE). To that end, this new anthology takes a multidimensional role mapping out the role of soft power institutions in enabling lasting peace, prosperity, and global security. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Governments can get caught up in sweeping generalizations about the brutal extremists rampaging through Iraq, Syria and Libya based on the most recent news. ISIL, ISIS, the Islamic State have slaughtered thousands and may control up to half of Syria and a third of Iraq. The extremists’ hold over any community is tenuous. Hundreds of thousands flee the conflict, and the international community invests billions in counter-intelligence and airstrikes that bombard key holdings. Alexander Evans, who leads the UN Security Council’s expert panel on Al Qaeda, breaks down some myths about the extremists and offers recommendations. [Note: contains copyrighed material].
‘Mothers Schools’ to Working With Police: Women Prevent Violent Extremism. U.S. Institute of Peace. Viola Gienger. March 18, 2015
The helplessness pours out of a crying mother in India, so silenced by patriarchal traditions that she’s afraid to speak up about the risk that her son might be drawn to radicalism. Continents away in Nigeria, police officers are ashamed to admit the poor working conditions that weaken their ability and motivation to protect their communities. The seemingly disparate scenes are elements of the same puzzle – how to combat violent extremism. And in both countries, local women activists are putting the pieces together. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
What makes a young man or woman vulnerable to joining a violent extremist group? In the same way that a malnourished, exhausted, neglected, or traumatized body is more susceptible to disease or infection, a person who lacks resources, opportunity, and support is more vulnerable to engaging in violent extremism. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
The Islamic State (IS, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL/ISIS) is a transnational Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group that has expanded its control over areas of parts of Iraq and Syria since 2013, threatening the wider region. There is debate over the degree to which the Islamic State organization might represent a direct terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland or to U.S. facilities and personnel in the region.
The public has grown more supportive of the U.S. fight against ISIS, as about twice as many approve (63%) as disapprove (30%) of the military campaign against the Islamic militant group in Iraq and Syria. Last October, 57% approved and 33% disapproved. The possibility of sending U.S. ground troops to the region is more divisive, although the idea draws more support than it did four months ago. Currently, about as many favor (47%) as oppose (49%) sending U.S. ground troops to fight Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria; in October, 39% favored the idea and 55% opposed it. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Adolescents grapple to find an identity during a stage of human development described by psychologist Erik Erikson. Those who don’t succeed in feeling good about their role in society blame others and may hold a grudge against their community. They also make ideal targets for recruiters of criminal and extremist groups. “Religious fervor rarely has much to do with what draws people to join such groups,” writes Sakurai. “Deep down, it’s about purpose. Belonging. Excitement. A sense of identity. Order amid disorder. A focus for pent-up rage.” Recruiters offer an easy solution to life’s problems, with rewards and power, money and cars, or life after death. Too many marginalized youth lack the social or critical thinking skills to analyze the message, ponder the consequences and walk away – and instead, embrace a last-ditch effort to escape a futile, boring life. [Note: contains copyrighted material].