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CVE – is about the choice we set

CVE – is about the choice we set

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Today we have seen the arrest of three Americans plotting to commit terrorist acts here in the homeland and join Daesh/ ISIS. We also saw earlier this week three young women fly from the UK to Turkey, and now possibly enter Syria to do the same – and join Daesh.

This has followed terrorist plots and significant attacks in Copenhagen, London, Paris, and other Western cities over the last few months.

After the attacks on Paris I wrote and spoke about that fact it would not be “if” but a matter of “when” these kinds of attacks would happen here in the United States.

I noted the need for stronger local intelligence networks, and for an increase in resilience – both of which seem to have helped the arrest the three today. 

What is also needed though to stem and halt the flow of recruits (like those arrested today and the girls from London), to these terror groups. 

Just last week the White House convened a large gathering of experts and leaders to discuss countering violent extremism (CVE) and halting the growth in members to these groups. 

Unfortunately, what has mainly been discussed following this conference is the methods of targeting and the methods of propaganda of Daesh / ISIS  – and not what the actual “pull or push factors” are nor what is the narrative stories that these potential and real recruits buy into. 

We must not mix up communications methods & techniques and actual story that is being told over these systems. We have heard a lot about Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp … but this misses the point.

Next week I will be attending a major conference in Riga, Latvia discussing peace and reconciliation in Iraq as well as countering Daesh/ISIS. You can find more here:  http://www.riga2015.com/en/conference/ 

I will speaking about the need for the West and our allies to understand the pull factors of the Daesh narrative, and how we have counter it, but far more importantly facilitate the building of a credible alternative narrative.

So what do I mean by this?

It’s clear for the targets of ISIS there are two competing stories being told :

(ok I know that this is simplistic phrasing here … but it is a blog after all !)

A. A godless Middle East, run by corrupt governments that are inflicting mass murder on their country, and the future is more of the same in a destabilized world

B. A brotherly (and sisterly) organization under God, following the ways of the founding of Islam, conducting God’s work for a better future

You and I know that this Option A is not the full story and has very complex answers & challenges; and Option B is completely untrue.   

But we have let both to take hold.   In this way, option B may be a credible choice. 

What we now need to do, with our Arab and European allies, is to craft a new and more positive Option A.  This must set out a future for all Arabs and be credible.  It needs to have a path to political and social inclusion – and more importantly economic revival. 

I will be expanding on these issues in Riga next week.

Until we get a grip on building a positive alternative narrative, we will not be able to succeed