The West failed to predict the emergence of al Qaeda in new forms across the Middle East and North Africa. It was blindsided by ISIS's sweep across Syria and Iraq, a blow that changed the map of the Middle East, at least temporarily. Both movements skillfully continue to evolve—and surprise. They have produced dozens of franchises, expanding the threat globally. A new U.S. administration faces daunting tests in navigating violent extremism and the related policy problems. On December 12 the U.S. Institute of Peace held a discussion with two panels of experts who will explore future trends in extremism and outline comprehensive policy responses.

Evolving Threat 4336-X2.jpg
l to r - William McCants, Brookings Institution, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Robin Wright, USIP/Woodrow Wilson International Center, Frederic Wehrey, Carnegie Endowment, Hassan Hassan, Tahir Institute

Movements, leaders, targets, tactics and arenas of operation have all proliferated in ways unimagined in 2001. The growing challenges have spurred new interest in broader strategies – to defuse current crises, stem proliferation of extremist ideologies and avoid future shocks. The obstacles in crafting a viable and sustainable policy are many: Limited resources, poor coordination, competing political interests and complex strategic factors.

This forum highlighted the analysis of three separate reports:

  • The Jihadi Threat: ISIS, Al Qaeda and Beyond,” led by USIP and the Wilson Center.
  • "Turning Point,” from the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Commission on Countering Violent Extremism.
  • “Communities First: A Blueprint for Organizing and Sustaining a Global Movement Against Violent Extremism,” from The Prevention Project.

Speakers


Nancy Lindborg
President, U.S. Institute of Peace

Robin Wright, Moderator  
Joint Fellow, U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

William McCants
Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
Senior Fellow, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies

Frederic Wehrey 
Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Hassan Hassan
Resident Fellow, Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy

Georgia Holmer, Moderator
Director, Countering Violent Extremism, U.S. Institute of Peace

Amy Pope
Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Homeland Security Advisor, White House National Security Council

Sarah Sewall
Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, U.S. Department of State

Juan Zarate
Former U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser for Combatting Terrorism; Senior Advisor, Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Eric Rosand
Director, The Prevention Project

Related Publications

Protests Test Nigeria’s Democracy and its Leadership in Africa

Protests Test Nigeria’s Democracy and its Leadership in Africa

Thursday, October 22, 2020

By: Oge Onubogu

Nigeria’s protests against police brutality already were the largest in the country’s history before security forces opened fire on a crowd in Lagos on October 20. The protest and bloodshed have only heightened the need for the government in Africa’s most populous country to end the pattern of violence by security forces against civilians. Leaders must finally acknowledge that this brutality has fueled violent extremism. How the Nigerian government will respond to citizens’ insistent demand for accountable governance will influence similar struggles—for democracy, accountability, nonviolence and stability—across much of Africa.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism; Democracy & Governance; Nonviolent Action

Can Syrians Who Left ISIS Be Reintegrated into Their Communities?

Can Syrians Who Left ISIS Be Reintegrated into Their Communities?

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

By: Mona Yacoubian ; Chris Bosley; Leanne Erdberg Steadman

More than a year since the territorial defeat of ISIS, the region is still reeling in the wake of the self-styled caliphate’s destruction. Kurdish authorities operate two dozen detention facilities in northeast Syria holding thousands of former ISIS fighters. On October 5, Kurdish authorities in charge of al-Hol said they would free the 24,000 Syrians in the camp, where conditions have become increasingly unsustainable. USIP’s Mona Yacoubian, Chris Bosley, and Leanne Erdberg Steadman look at what led to the decision to release these Syrians and the challenges ahead for reintegrating them into their communities.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Reconciliation; Violent Extremism

To End ISIS, We Must Find Futures for Its Survivors

To End ISIS, We Must Find Futures for Its Survivors

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

By: Chris Bosley

At age 15, Shamima Begum ran away from home in England and, with two girlfriends, ventured into Syria’s war to join ISIS. Within days, she was married to an ISIS fighter; she has since had three children, all of whom have died. Begum, one of 70,000 former residents of the ISIS-declared state now confined in a displacement camp in Syria’s desert, is asking a British court to overturn a government order that stripped her of her citizenship. As nations worldwide seek justice, accountability—and their own security from ISIS’ violent extremism—Begum’s story shows how a “peacebuilding” approach is needed.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism; Reconciliation

Preparing the Global Counterterrorism Forum for the Next Decade

Preparing the Global Counterterrorism Forum for the Next Decade

Monday, August 17, 2020

By: Eric Rosand

In the two decades since the 9/11 attacks, terrorist networks have become more global and interconnected even as they remain locally tethered. The transnational and localized nature of the threat underscores the continued importance of international cooperation in all aspects of a response. This report explores the work of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, launched in 2011 to energize such cooperation, and how best to position it for an effective and far-reaching future.

Type: Special Report

Violent Extremism

View All Publications