The ISIS Files- Establishing a System of Meaning through ISIS Education

 

In 2018, The Program on Extremism at the George Washington University and the New York Times have agreed on a research partnership to make a virtual public archive of the 'ISIS Files,' which comprise of approximately 15,000 pages of documents of ISIS, which were obtained by the Times colleagues from Iraq. Since then, The Program on Extremism, in cooperation with the GW Libraries and Academic Innovation, has started to digitize, archive, and translate the documents, and publish them on an open, searchable website, which was launched in June 2020.

In 2019, Hedayah and the Program on Extremism of George Washington University launched a research partnership to evaluate education-related documents of the terrorist group ISIS, as collected in the 'ISIS Files.' The research entailed systematically analyzing the documents through a critical discourse analysis to identify common narratives, values, and themes utilized by ISIS in their education policies and curriculum, to the extent that the documents allowed. The primary research was coupled with desk research of existing analyses of narratives and education policies of ISIS.

On February 25, 2021, the Program on Extremism hosted a launch event to present the research findings from this project as well as some general recommendations for those working on education, social services, rehabilitation and reintegration of children affiliated with ISIS. This project was sponsored and conducted in partnership with the European Institute for Counter-Terrorism and Conflict Prevention (EICTP). This project was also generously sponsored by the Government of Spain, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Cooperation. Below is the event agenda and featured panelists:
 

Opening Remarks:

  • Lorenzo Vidino, Director, Program on Extremism, George Washington University
  • HE Herbert Scheibner, President, European Institute for CounterTerrorism and Conflict Prevention
  • HE Fidel Sendagorta, Political Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Union Cooperation, Government of Spain
  • HE Ahmed Al Qasimi, Executive Director, Hedayah

Research Findings: ISIS’s System of Meaning:

  • Sara Zeiger, Program Manager, Research and Analysis, Hedayah
  • Farangiz Atamuradova, Research Associate, Research and Analysis, Hedayah
  • Lilah ElSayed, Program Associate, Dialogue and Communications, Hedayah

Q&A and Discussion:

  • Moderated by: Devorah Margolin, Director of Strategic Initiatives & Senior Research Fellow, Program on Extremism, George Washington University

Concluding Remarks

  • Ivo Veenkamp, Deputy Executive Director, Hedayah