The final Task Force report will be released February 26, 2019

Nearly 20 years have elapsed since the terrorist attacks of September 11. While U.S. counterterrorism policy has succeeded during that time in preventing attacks on the homeland, the threat posed by violent extremism has grown and evolved such that quashing it requires an entirely new approach. The willingness of global allies—including partners in the Middle East—to work with the U.S. to stem violent extremism means that, for the first time, a truly comprehensive, multilateral approach is in view.


Congress has charged the United States Institute of Peace, an independent, bipartisan leader in reducing and preventing conflict, with convening The Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States. The bipartisan initiative will recommend a new approach for U.S. policy that harnesses existing U.S. programs and international partnerships to target the underlying causes of extremism and limit the ability of extremist groups to exploit fragile states.

The Task Force is led by former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean and former Representative Lee Hamilton, the co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission. The Task Force includes thirteen leading former policymakers, legislators and other experts whose unique experience and insights will shape the Task Force’s policy recommendations.

Interim Report

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Beyond the Homeland: Protecting America from Extremism in Fragile States

Today, on the 17th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the Task Force is releasing its first report, which warns that the United States urgently needs a new approach to stem the spread of violent extremism and previews a comprehensive preventative strategy that focuses on strengthening resilience against extremism in fragile states.

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Key Takeaways from the Interim Report

Beyond the Homeland: Protecting America from Extremism in Fragile States

Since the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001, extremist groups have expanded in fragile states across the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. Against this backdrop, the congressionally mandated, bipartisan Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States has released a report that calls for a new strategy to mitigate the conditions that enable extremist groups to take root, spread, and thrive in fragile states. 

Featured Blogs

Raqqa’s main cemetery, after Islamic State members desecrated the graveyard, in Syria, June 13, 2018. (Ivor Prickett/The New York Times)

Down But Not Out: Extremists’ Evolving Strategy

The U.S. State Department Bureau of Counterterrorism recently released its annual report on terrorism. The report concludes that despite the success of efforts to dismantle ISIS, “the terrorist landscape grew more complex.” Extremist groups such as ISIS, al-Qaida, and their affiliates are proving resilient and adjusting to heightened counterterrorism pressure with new attempts to destabilize, seize, and govern territory in fragile states. 

Fighters, who joined a militia to help liberate the city of Mosul from the Islamic State, wait at their base near the Mosul Dam near Karaj, Iraq, Oct. 18, 2016. (Bryan Denton/The New York Times)

Seventeen Years After 9/11: Re-examining the Terrorist Threat

Seventeen years ago today, we experienced the gravest attack on our nation since World War II. Everything we thought we knew about protecting the safety of American citizens and security of our shores changed overnight. Americans came face-to-face with an unfamiliar enemy: violent extremists.

A family works to rebuild a home that was destroyed in the fight to defeat the Islamic State group in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq. (Ivor Prickett/The New York Times)

Fragile States Fail Their Citizens and Threaten Global Security

Under congressional mandate, USIP has convened the bipartisan Task Force for Extremism in Fragile States to design a comprehensive new strategy for addressing the underlying causes of violent extremism in fragile states. But what is a fragile state? And how does state fragility in the Middle East, Horn of Africa and the Sahel threaten American interests? In this excerpt from the Task Force’s forthcoming report, we dive into the conditions of fragility and how they seed the ground for extremism to take root.

A sign points the way to a centuries-old church in Mosul that the Islamic State turned into a religious police headquarters in Mosul, Iraq, Sept. 9, 2017. (Ivor Prickett/The New York Times)

How Extremists Exploit Fragile States

Extremists have attempted to achieve their ideological objectives in different ways. Islamist militants in Algeria and Egypt waged bloody but unsuccessful insurgencies during the 1990s to overthrow those countries' regimes. Osama bin Laden blamed their failure on Western support for secular Middle Eastern states. He created al-Qaida to attack the United States and force it to withdraw from the region.


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Nancy Lindborg on Addressing Extremism in Fragile States

Seventeen years after the 9/11 attacks, Nancy Lindborg details the findings of an interim report from the congressionally mandated Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States. Convened by USIP, the Task Force will devise a comprehensive new strategy for addressing the underlying causes of extremism in fragile states, says Lindborg, a member of the Task Force.

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Foreign Podicy: Extremism and Fragile States

Today, on the 17th anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack in America's history, U.S. Institute for Peace has released a new report on "protecting America from extremism in fragile states." To discuss its analysis and recommendations, FDD president and Foreign Podicy host Clifford D. May is joined by Stephen J. Hadley, former national security advisor to President George W. Bush, and now the chair of the U.S. Institute for Peace—a congressionally founded and funded policy institute; Nancy Lindborg, president of USIP; and Reuel Marc Gerecht, a senior fellow at FDD and a former Middle East specialist in the CIA's Directorate of Operations.

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Despite counterterrorism efforts that have “thwarted dozens of plots and thoroughly disrupted terrorist capabilities,” we “cannot rest” in our efforts to prevent violent extremism, said Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats Tuesday night at an event at the U.S. Institute of Peace. The event, co-hosted by USIP and the Bipartisan Policy Center on the 17th anniversary of 9/11, recognized 9/11 Commission chairs Gov. Thomas Kean and Rep. Lee Hamilton for their work leading the Commission and for continuing this work through the Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States.

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