Foundations of the Foreign Fighter Problem: Investigating Blindspots Relating to Gender, Minors, and Families


On February 2 at 10 AM EST, The Program on Extremism at The George Washington University and the National Counterterrorism, Innovation, Technology, and Education Center (NCITE) held a virtual event titled "Foundations of the Foreign Fighter Problem: Investigating Blindspots Relating to Gender, Minors, and Families." Almost three years after the Islamic State's territorial collapse in Syria and Iraq, questions remain regarding the men, women, and children from around the world who traveled to join the conflict. This event focused on discussing the scope of the "foreign fighter problem" and provided insights into some of the major existing knowledge gaps relating to gender, minors, and families. Devorah Margolin, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Senior Research Fellow moderated the discussion, which featured:

  • Mary Beth Altier, Associate Professor at New York University's Center for Global Affairs.
  • Moustafa Ayad, Executive Director for Africa, the Middle East and Asia at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD).
  • Joana Cook, Assistant Professor of Terrorism and Political Violence in the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs, Leiden University, Senior Project Manager at ICCT, & Editor-in-Chief of the ICCT journal.
  • Austin Doctor, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Nebraska at Omaha, a member of the executive committee for the National Counterterrorism Innovation, Technology, and Education Center, (NCITE) a DHS Center of Excellence, & a nonresident fellow with the Modern War Institute at West Point.


A list of relevant works by the panelists and others is available here:


*This event is supported by a grant project funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T).