Understanding the Fight Against Violent Extremism

Violent extremist groups like Daesh are unlike any danger we have faced before. They do not threaten us with standing armies or nuclear arsenals, but with shadowy networks and hideous ideologies that have proven capable of destabilizing countries and twisting vulnerable minds across the globe. Even as the U.S.-led campaign causes Daesh to lose fighters and territory in Iraq and Syria, new followers and affiliates of the group have surfaced in places like Libya and Afghanistan. As Under Secretary, I interact with countries like Egypt, Indonesia, and Nigeria as they struggle to prevent Daesh from infiltrating and growing within their communities.

Faced with this global and adaptive threat, how can the international community ensure that violent extremists eliminated on the battlefield are not simply replaced by new followers in new places? It begins with appreciating the deeper forces that allow groups like Daesh to radicalize, recruit, and mobilize terror from war-torn provinces in western Iraq to working-class suburbs in Belgium. As Secretary Kerry said just one year ago at the landmark White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), “you cannot defeat what you don’t understand.”

In this podcast, “Understanding the Fight Against Violent Extremism,” we dive into that challenge. We explore how the threat of violent extremism has evolved since the attacks of 9/11, and begin to explain what that means for our approach. What have the United States and its partners around the world learned after more than a decade of struggle against violent extremism, and what new tools, allies, and capabilities can we bring to bear?

This is the story of how we began to not only take the fight to violent extremists around the world, but also prevent people from taking up violent extremism in the first place.

I hope you all have a chance to listen.

About the Author: Sarah Sewall serves as the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights at the U.S. Department of State.

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Lydia S.
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California, USA
June 1, 2016
I have been following the story of Sami Kazikhani, a translator who worked with US Marines during the war in Afghanistan. After most of our troops pulled out, he was outed as a “collaborator” and the Taliban has threatened.to kill him and his family. He had applied for a special visa under the U.S. State Department’s Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program and it was reported recently that it has been denied. While waiting, he and his family fled to Germany and recently learned that Afghani refugees face deportations and in his and his family's case, certain death! While our current administration and State Dept are letting in thousands of other refugees without vetting because that is impossible, why is it not possible to allow this man, an ally during a time of war, and his family, to come to America? If you to not revisit his application, you will surely condemn him and his family to death in Afghanistan. This is not the American promise of taking care of those who help us. Sincerely and in great hope, Lydia Smith, Newhall, CA
With Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall looking on, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks at the White House Summit to Counter Violent Extremism in Washington, DC.
Posted by Sarah Sewall
March 7, 2016

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