Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Extremism - Carter Center
Violent extremism fractures communities, fosters division, and exacerbates political conflicts. It knows no religious, national, or ethnic boundaries. Violent extremist movements continue to fuel the world’s most violent wars in Africa and the Middle East, and right-wing ethno-nationalist extremism in Europe and the United States has spawned homegrown terrorist networks and fueled the rise of Islamophobia. Extremists increasingly use internet technology and sophisticated communication and marketing campaigns to radicalize and recruit young people. U.S. security institutions estimate that as many as 46,500 citizens from 100 countries have joined Daesh (or Isis) in Syria and Iraq, including more than 3,000 Europeans and 100 Americans.
The majority of Westerners who have joined Daesh have very little knowledge of Islam and no prior connection to Syria. Instead, they are in search of personal meaning. Daesh, like all extremist organizations, succeeds by offering marginalized youth an outlet for their grievances, hopes, and dreams. To understand how these youth are radicalized, it is necessary to pay special attention to the rational and emotional appeals used by Daesh for recruitment. To stop the flow of recruits, it is vitally important to not only address root causes but also to engage religious actors who can provide psychosocial support to those vulnerable to recruitment. Addressing the problem of violent extremism requires partnership with religious actors who hold positions of authority and credibility, and who have ties with local communities.