Over two days in early November 2015, the Program on Extremism (POE) at The George Washington University hosted and was invited to participate in a number of discussions on alternative approaches to countering violent extremism (CVE).
On November 9, Lorenzo Vidino and Seamus Hughes—Director and Deputy Director of POE, respectively—were asked to brief and participate in the fourth meeting of the Alternative Dispositions Working Group at the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C. Dr. Vidino and Mr. Hughes were joined by Daniel Koehler, who has served as a counselor for Hayat, a German intervention program that helps families prevent relatives from engaging in violent extremism; Rashad Ali, who is trained in Islamic theology and jurisprudence, a former member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, and has worked on de-radicalization initiatives in prison, probation, and community settings in the United Kingdom for over five years; and Angela King, Deputy Director of U.S.-based Life After Hate, and co-founder of its Exit USA program, which supports individuals leaving far-right organizations and educates communities about root causes of violent extremism.
Following the meeting at DOJ, POE, in conjunction with ISD and the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at The Brookings Institution, hosted a panel to discuss the causes and possible solutions to violent extremism. The panel, titled “Countering Violent Extremism Through Early Interventions,” featured Dr. Vidino, Mr. Koehler, Mr. Ali, and Ms. King, and was moderated by Dr. William McCants, Director of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World. The panelists evaluated the success of an array of alternative approaches to CVE implemented across Europe and dispelled a number of the legal and ethical concerns often associated with CVE initiatives in the U.S. In sum, the panelists stressed that CVE initiatives must be uniquely tailored to each country’s political, social, and legal culture, and that prior to the implementation of these programs in the U.S. stakeholders must determine the appropriate scale of the program, the role of ideology and the government, and the resources necessary for success.
On November 10, 2015, Mr. Vidino, Mr. Koehler, and Mr. Ali traveled to Suffolk Law School in Boston, Massachusetts, to participate in an event jointly hosted by POE and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts. The event, titled “Resilience to Violent Extremism: Effective Intervention Approaches,” provided information about effective strategies for intervening in the lives of those displaying concerning behavior inspired by violent extremist ideology. Service providers, faith-based organizations, law enforcement, and crisis support and crisis intervention teams left with knowledge of specific ways to provide support and services to those in need.