Extremist movements — such as ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban and al-Shabab — fuel, and often stem from, instability and violent conflict and present a complex challenge. The U.S. Institute of Peace works to understand the underlying causes of violent extremism and helps develop localized and viable solutions by providing research, training and expertise to practitioners and policymakers. From examining the critical role of women in combating violent extremism in Afghanistan to exploring the dynamics of radicalization in Kosovo, USIP seeks to reduce this ever-shifting threat.

Featured Publications

How Civil Society Can Help Prevent Violence and Extremism

How Civil Society Can Help Prevent Violence and Extremism

Thursday, June 6, 2019

By: Leanne Erdberg ; Bridget Moix

Editor’s Note: Congress charged the U.S. Institute of Peace with convening the Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States. Following the public launch of the Task Force’s final report, four groups of experts came together to discuss how to implement the report’s recommendations. This four-part series will discuss the findings from these strategy sessions. Part one summarizes expert discussion on how civil society actors are preventing violent extremism and building resilience in their communities and practical ways the U.S. and other international actors can more effectively interact with civil society to bolster its role in prevention.

Fragility & Resilience; Violent Extremism

Leanne Erdberg on the Psychology Behind Terrorism

Leanne Erdberg on the Psychology Behind Terrorism

Thursday, May 9, 2019

By: Leanne Erdberg

Nearly 20 years after 9/11, determining the profile of someone who is going to join a terrorist group remains a deeply challenging effort. For too long we have looked at simple explanations— like poverty or lack of education—for why people join violent movements. Erdberg discusses a new project to investigate the psychology and neuroscience that motivates people to resort to extremism.

Violent Extremism

A Visit to Post-ISIS Syria: Human Crises Pose Risk

A Visit to Post-ISIS Syria: Human Crises Pose Risk

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

By: Robin Wright

After losing its last territory in Syria on March 23, 2019, the Islamic State quickly reclaimed global attention with the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka on April 21 and a video tape of its reclusive leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, on April 29. The jihadi movement is now shifting focus to its ISIS branches, or “provinces,” in Africa, Asia and Europe. Baghdadi signaled ISIS’s expansion by formally embracing two Sunni extremist groups in Mali and Burkina Faso. But the Islamic State’s human core—more than 100,000 fighters and their families, including children—remains clustered in the rubble of its former “caliphate” in both Syria and Iraq. In Syria, they are detained in makeshift prisons, a hospital and refugee-style camps in the desert of northeastern Syria. USIP Senior Fellow Robin Wright made a rare tour of northeastern Syria to interview men and women who were part of the ISIS caliphate and to assess the risks posed by the post-caliphate crisis.

Violent Extremism

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Current Projects

Peace Education in Afghanistan

Peace Education in Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s next generation of leaders have an opportunity to break out of the cycles of violence that have caused civil wars, insurgencies, and widespread human rights abuses and domestic violence over the past decades.  To do this, government officials and community leaders need to have practical skills to identify sources of conflict and know how to de-escalate tensions and negotiate peaceful solutions.

Youth; Democracy & Governance; Gender; Violent Extremism

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