Islam Is Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Part Four

As I learned more about my faith, I began to look deeply at the profiles of violent extremists. The oft-repeated question of ‘why Muslims kill' forced me to look beyond the push and pull drivers of violent extremism.I had to humanize the boys and girls—who would become adult terrorists—to respond to the ‘why.’At work, I continued to remind other analysts and operators that most Muslims are not … [Read more...]

Undocumented Children Are Prime Terrorist Recruits

Earlier this year, I spent some time with experts working in Lebanon who track ISIS recruitment of children. Given the sensitivity of their work, their names are not mentioned in this brief report, but their insights are worth sharing. Given a variety of factors, multiple sources believe that ISIS recruiting has steadily increased in Beirut. ISIS’s recruiting strategy in Lebanon leverages a … [Read more...]

Looking Back: The Orlando Shooter Defiled Islam

Earlier this summer, on June 12th, a man stormed into the Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida and killed 50 people and wounded 53 others. The killer was identified as Afghan American Omar Mir Seddique Mateen and his target was the LGBT community. That the horrific incident happened during Islam's holy month of Ramadan, when thousands of American Muslims were fasting from dawn to sunset as they … [Read more...]

Why Do Extremists Kill During Ramadan?

It astonishes me that religious extremists choose to kill during one of Islam's holy months, Ramadan. As a young counter-terrorism analyst, I have been asked every Ramadan to explain why religious-based violence occurs and increases during the sacred month of fasting. According to devout Muslims, there is no justification for fighting during any one of the four sacred months ordained for worship. … [Read more...]

How To Stop Girls From Joining the Islamic State (ISIS)

It’s not that simple. A lesson on the true principles of Islam can help counter some vulnerable girls /women, but it’s not enough. Girls need more than a lecture on Islam. They need love, support, family, and confidence-building measures. As one Muslim mother told me, "We need to empower our daughters.”I have been doing this for a very long time. I began my career in The Counter-Terrorism Center … [Read more...]

Reclaiming the Right to Islam

Who represents Muslims in America? In 2010, I published an op-ed in The Washington Post to look at the question of faith. The truth is that no one represents American Muslims.We are too diverse, different, and determined to practice faith from our own unique personal and cultural lens.The fact is that Muslims in America are too decentralized. And that is a blessing, not a curse. After all, as I … [Read more...]

The Final Analysis: Why Extremist Women Write

Writing from behind-the-screens, female propagandists are viewed by their followers as credible messengers, speaking out in volumes about life, death, marriage, martyrdom, and more. For the girls and women of ISIS, emerging literature addresses these how-to topics:how to fit in when you come to Raqqa, the ISIS-controlled city in Syria;how to behave with other women;how to act with your new … [Read more...]

Tracing the Literature of Extremist Women: Part III

With the approval and praise of their men, extremist women glorify violent jihad with words, while guarding their gender. Behind a computer screen, women can conceal their identities from everyone else, while reaching the mainstream media and the general public.As anonymous actors, using fake identities, these women may believe they are liberated to write, so long as they remain undetected, … [Read more...]

Tracing the Literature of Extremist Women: Part II

For decades, women have been crafting messages of violence to reach a wider audience. Before social media, extremist women published articles in magazines, newsletters, and pamphlets distributed widely to Muslim-majority communities to persuade, push and urge other men and women to join violent extremism. Today, new social media has made extremist messaging that much easier for these women (and … [Read more...]

Tracing The Literature of Extremist Women: Part I

Terrorism has always been a battle of ideas, reflecting a desire for immediate attention and change in the international world order. Like men, women leave their homes, families and communities to join terrorist organizations, such as The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), to support violent extremism. Because of their gender, women assume an auxiliary role within most male-oriented … [Read more...]

A Man On A Mission To Help Radicalized Youth

  Former extremists are leading a movement to help at-risk youth renounce the use of violence. The Against Violent Extremism (AVE) network includes charismatic speakers and former radicals, including Mubin Shaikh. Based in Canada, Mubin--called 'the undercover jihadi--travels to different locations in the West to talk openly about his recruitment into radical Islam and why he finally … [Read more...]

Discrediting Extremists With Teachings of Islam

The movement has begun. Increasingly, Muslims are questioning radical interpretations of Islam and lashing out against extremists. While this momentum began years ago, there is a greater push in the West and the Muslim world to reaffirm their faith by understanding the Quran and the Sunnah, the oral traditions of Islam's Prophet. Short films are one way to reach young audiences across the Islamic … [Read more...]

An Interview Translation With France’s Most Wanted Woman

An original translation of an interview with Hayat Boumedienne, the wife of Abu Bashir al-Ifriqi, is provided (bel0w). The interview was published in Dar al-Islam, the French-language magazine of the Islamic State, issue no.2. (Note: Abu Bashir's real name is Amedy Coulibaly, the dark-skinned man who attacked a Kosher super market in Paris in  January 2015 and then subsequently shot by French … [Read more...]

A Youth Director Tells Me It’s Easy To Join ISIS

Ignorance is not a gift. On a trip to Colorado, in the pristine city of Denver, I discovered a community of Somali youth who did not know (or understand) Islam. One afternoon, I sat down with Mahad, the youth director, to learn about his community, their concerns, and his practice of Islam. It is easy to join ISIS here. I nearly dropped my jaw. But I didn't react. I didn't want to show the … [Read more...]

What We Can Learn From The Sister of ISIS Bomber “Jihadi John”?

  In an interview, the sister of the new "Jihadi John" ISIS member said her brother was once compassionate, loving and a family guy. If that's true, how did an ordinary-looking boy named Sid become a fugitive and feared terrorist? Days ago, Konika Dhar told CNN that she didn't want to believe her brother could join ISIS. Because he belonged to a normal Muslim family. He was colorful … [Read more...]