Countering Violent Extremism

U.S. Department of State

Introduced as part of an Obama administration counterterrorism program, the phrase “Countering Violent Extremism” (or “CVE”) refers to a broad spread of ideas and strategies aimed at dissuading and understanding radicalization. CVE initiatives range from academic research on extremist propaganda and the role of religion in violent ideology to civil society programs aimed at reintegrating disaffected youth. Despite its recent popularity, however, CVE faces some notable problems. While some Muslim community leaders view CVE programs as a welcome alternative to police surveillance, other leaders argue that it is simply surveillance by a different name. Perhaps even more seriously, critics have charged that the definition of CVE is so vague as to be almost unformed: what, after all, do we define as “violent extremism”? And what does it really mean to “counter” it?

Latest in Countering Violent Extremism

Counterterrorism

Lawfare Resources on Right-Wing Extremism, Domestic Terrorism and De-platforming

On Aug. 4, in Dayton, Ohio, a gunman opened fire and killed nine people. The day before, another shooter killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas, apparently after posting a racist message to the anonymous online forum 8chan decrying an ostensible “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Though there is no indication so far that the Dayton shooting was motivated by extremist political beliefs, the violence in El Paso is the third mass shooting in 2019 to be linked to 8chan and to some form of far-right extremism.

Congress

Livestream: Hearing on Social Media Companies’ Efforts to Counter Extremist Content and Misinformation

The House Committee on Homeland Security will hold a hearing titled, “Examining Social Media Companies' Efforts to Counter Online Terror Content and Misinformation” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday. A video of the hearing is available here and below.

Witnesses include

Terrorism

Far-Right Extremism and the Christchurch Massacre: Adapting to New Threats

Within 24 hours of the massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand—in which an Australian assailant murdered 50 people attending worship services at two mosques—the public reaction and discussion took two notable paths. The first was a nearly universal acknowledgment among informed observers that far-right violent extremism has grown into a sizable international threat.

Foreign Policy Essay

Preventing, Not Just Countering, Violent Extremism

Editor’s Note: Programs to counter (or, if you prefer, prevent) violent extremism are much talked about but rarely implemented. The Obama administration did some initial exploratory efforts, but even these small programs are on the chopping block in the Trump administration. Katerina Papatheodorou contends that this is a mistake: High levels of extremism make these programs necessary, and there are multiple models that offer lessons for the United States.

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Foreign Policy Essay

What CVE Can Learn from Guerrilla Marketing

Editor’s Note: The Islamic State is weakened militarily, but many of the ideas it champions remain strong. In addition, the group continues to spread its message both virtually and in face-to-face settings. Katerina Papatheodorou of GWU's Program on Extremism argues that the United States and its allies can, and must, do better at blending online and offline efforts as part of their strategy to counter violent extremism.

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Countering Violent Extremism

The Domestic Terrorism Danger: Focus on Unauthorized Private Military Groups

The Charlottesville tragedy came close to home for me because I teach at the University of Virginia and because it signaled the reappearance of a threat I had encountered before: the rise of well-armed private militia groups. For those close to the action, including the law enforcement personnel on duty, hardly any aspect of the Charlottesville confrontation was more menacing than the appearance of organized, often uniformed, private bands of men in military getups, openly brandishing assault rifles and other long guns.

Countering Violent Extremism

The Importance of CVE in Light of the Changing Nature of the Threat

Over the past few years the idea of countering violent extremism (CVE) has become part of the lexicon when discussing issues related to terrorism. But contrary to popular misunderstanding, CVE is neither a replacement to counterterrorism (CT) efforts nor a way for the US government to spy on citizens. Rather, CVE is a complement to CT and has become all the more relevant in the aftermath of the Boston bombings and the Islamic State and other jihadi groups’ recruitment of unprecedented numbers of Americans to fight abroad.

Foreign Policy Essay

How Local Law Enforcement Uses Community Policing to Combat Terrorism

Editor’s Note: Terrorism is a global problem, but it is also a local one. Individual terrorists, particularly lone wolves, are often linked to their communities in terms of their resentments, ambitions, and targets. Not surprisingly, making local communities comfortable with law enforcement is a vital part of counterterrorism. Programs to encourage this, however, are often underdeveloped and under-researched.

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