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.
Learn more in our fact sheet on USIP’s Work on Violent Extremism.
In the past five years, terrorist attacks have declined notably around the globe. While this is certainly good news—particularly in the 20th year of the so-called global war on terror—terrorism remains a pervasive threat. Despite declines in its prevalence, the scale of the challenge posed by terrorism and the violent ideologies that underpin it is still immense and the mechanisms by which to address it remain complex and in need of further coordination on a global scale. What trends did we see in 2020? And how can those trends inform policy to counter violent extremism?
At first glance, the October state-led killings of protesters in Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, seem to have little in common with the November Boko Haram massacre of at least 43 farmers in Nigeria’s northeast, or the December 11 abduction of hundreds of school students in Katsina State. With vastly different circumstances, motivations, and perpetrators—and separated by hundreds of miles—all three episodes could easily be recorded as just further tragic installments in Nigeria’s long history of violence. However, these incidents underscore the wider failure of the state to provide security for its citizens, only deepening the trust deficit felt by Nigerians.
Heading into 2021, the violent extremist landscape is more diverse than at any previous point in the last two decades since the start of the U.S.-led Global War on Terrorism. While that effort was almost exclusively focused on combating violent extremist organizations motivated by Salafi-jihadism, there has been a universal recognition that other forms of extremism have proliferated. Many governments and states feel completely unprepared and underequipped to deal with these new forms of extremism, which include, but are not limited to, racially and ethnically motivated terrorism, terrorism inspired by extreme misogyny, left-wing terrorism, and the rapid spread of conspiracy theories.
Despite the degree of stability that Tunisia has achieved since its 2011 revolution, there are still obstacles to democratic consolidation, as well as unaddressed issues that threaten social and political stability—such as growing economic disparities, deepening mistrust between civil society and the government, weak local governments, and the difficult process of achieving meaningful institutional reforms.
USIP’s Women Preventing Violent Extremism (WPVE) program aims to shape national policies and community approaches to countering violent extremism in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. USIP does this by empowering women-led organizations and building local capacity that fosters collaboration between community-level activists and national-level policymakers.