Defeating the rising threat of Islamist extremist ideology and violence of the past four decades is a long term and multidimensional challenge. Lessons need to be learned from purely security-led approaches to countering violent extremism; and, in order to prevent it, we need to address the problem before it becomes violent and recognise that violence is symptomatic of (and supported by) a way of thinking.
Our research and on the ground experience has shown that extremist ideologies prosper when ideology and the role of religion in society are not properly considered, or ignored. Extremism also thrives where there is a leadership vacuum; where civil society is weak or blocked; where there is a lack of participation in state institutions by local communities; or where there is a lack of trust between the state and its citizens.
We advocate a three-pronged approach to tackling this complex problem:
Understand. In order to defeat Islamist extremism, we first have to understand it. We help governments and organisations around the world develop that understanding. We define extremism as the imposition of a belief, ideology or value-system on others by indoctrination, force or by seeking to control government, to the exclusion of all other views. We class any worldview as extreme if it actively opposes human rights, rule of law, religious pluralism, or equality. This means identifying the ideology being used to radicalise and recruit – its religious elements, its root causes, its perpetrators, how it works – and ensuring its threat is properly understood by those trying to address it.
Address. The threat from religious extremism is global. Based on our research and analysis, we provide those on the front line with practical, evidence-based examples of how to address extremism. We have a range of tools and approaches that help government, civil society and the private sector to respond to the ideology, by disrupting the efforts of extremists and promoting effective counter and alternative narratives.
Build Resilience. Extremism manifests itself differently at various points on a spectrum, and radicalisation is a gradual and social process. Our approach embodies both top-down and bottom-up strategies to build comprehensive resilience. We work with governments and international agencies to develop programmes and policies that protect communities against extremism, based on evidence-driven research and analysis. We work with individuals and communities to understand and respond to local needs and the diverse, complex drivers of extremism.