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Combating Violent Extremism: The Counterradicalization Debate in 2011

Peter Neumann, Maajid Nawaz, and Matthew Levitt

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January 5, 2011


Following a year in which homegrown terrorist activity increased sharply, the 2010 holiday season witnessed a spate of attacks, plots, warnings, and arrests around the world, from Sweden to India to Portland, Oregon. As a result, efforts to combat violent extremism are being hotly debated. In Britain, the "Prevent" counterradicalization strategy launched in 2007 is now under review, while in the United States, Republicans have indicated that the recent congressional realignment will include increased hearings and attention on homegrown terrorism and related issues.

To discuss what shape this debate is likely to take over the coming year, The Washington Institute invited Peter Neumann, Maajid Nawaz, and Matthew Levitt to address a special Policy Forum on January 5, 2011.

Read a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.

Peter Neumann is director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College London and teaches classes on terrorism, insurgency, radicalization, and intelligence. He is currently a visiting professor at Georgetown University's Center for Peace and Security Studies.

Maajid Nawaz is cofounder and executive director of the Quilliam Foundation, a British think tank dedicated to challenging extremist narratives among Muslim communities in the West. A former member of the Islamist group Hizb al-Tahrir, he is also the founder of Khudi, a Pakistani social movement focused on countering the spread of extremist ideology.

Matthew Levitt is director of The Washington Institute's Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. From 2005 to early 2007, he served as deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Treasury Department. He is the coauthor of the recently released Institute monograph Fighting the Ideological Battle: The Missing Link in U.S. Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism.