Bethany L. McGann is a program officer at the United States Institute of Peace, leading the Africa research portfolio with the RESOLVE Network, the research component of the Violent Extremism team within the Center for Applied Conflict Transformation. She joined USIP in 2014, supporting its work on governance, justice, and the rule of law before joining the RESOLVE Network team in 2016.

Bethany leads the design and implementation of multi-year USAID funded desk and field studies focused on; Sahelian sub-state hybrid armed actors, militias, and local security assemblages; the role of women in armed community mobilization in East and West Africa; and local peacebuilding mechanisms in violent extremism affected contexts.

Her publications include a chapter in the Good Governance Africa Extremisms in Africa anthology as well as contributing the Africa paper for the 2019 West Point Student Conference on U.S. Affairs. Her graduate research was cited in New America’s 2019 Annual Terrorism Assessment.

Bethany has field experience from Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Bethany is a 2020 Shawn Brimley Next Generation National Security Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). She holds a master’s in Security Policy Studies from The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs, and a bachelor’s in Government and International Affairs from Smith College.

Publications By Bethany L.

Mozambique’s Crisis Requires a New Playbook to Fight Extremism

Mozambique’s Crisis Requires a New Playbook to Fight Extremism

Thursday, December 3, 2020

By: Leanne Erdberg Steadman; Bethany L. McGann; Colin Thomas-Jensen

Over the past three years, a local Islamist insurgency in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado has grown in strength and viciousness, developing ties with international terrorist groups and threatening one of the world’s largest natural gas projects. The insurgency is turning Cabo Delgado into a killing field. While many Americans are increasingly wary of overseas counterterrorism commitments, there is increasing consensus among experts that the conventional, militarized counterterrorism responses that have dominated in the post 9-11 era are failing, particularly in Africa. The situation in Mozambique is an opportunity to reorient such efforts through addressing the underlying drivers of conflict and extremism.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism; Fragility & Resilience

COVID-19 and Conflict: Violent Extremism

COVID-19 and Conflict: Violent Extremism

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

By: Kateira Aryaeinejad; Bethany L. McGann

The COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the globe is reshaping dynamics in fragile states and conflict zones. In this video, part of our #COVIDandConflict series, Kateira Aryaeinejad and Bethany McGann examine the pandemic's impacts on violent extremism: how extremist groups are exploiting the crisis, whether it is impacting recruitment, and how it complicates efforts to counter violent extremism.

Type: Blog

Violent Extremism; Global Health

Fight Against Violent Extremism Suffers Research Gaps

Fight Against Violent Extremism Suffers Research Gaps

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

By: Candace Rondeaux; Bethany L. McGann

The Trump administration’s effort to craft a new White House strategy to defeat the self-styled Islamic State extremist group has revived key questions, such as why young people join such organizations and how to reduce violent extremism or even prevent it in the first place. A recent analysis of studies conducted over the past 18 years reveals significant gaps in research that undermine the ability to curb this pervasive threat. 

Type: Blog

Violent Extremism; Fragility & Resilience

Twitter Forum Explores Lawlessness at Sea

Twitter Forum Explores Lawlessness at Sea

Monday, August 24, 2015

By: Bethany L. McGann

The unreported murder of four men in plain view, all too common on the high seas, led New York Times reporter Ian Urbina into the merciless world that resulted in his investigative series, "The Outlaw Ocean." In an event hosted by the International Network to Promote the Rule of Law (INPROL) and USIP on Aug. 18, Urbina and a panel of experts convened from three continents for a virtual forum on Twitter to discuss the issues and impact of lawlessness at sea.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Violent Extremism; Justice, Security & Rule of Law

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