The International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) is an action based, interdisciplinary, research center working on psychosocial, cultural, political, economic, ideological, and technological topics impacting global peace and security. 

At ICSVE, our growing team of experts of diverse academic and professional backgrounds provides research, training, and strategic advice to government leaders, intelligence, defense, international organizations, and civilian communities, worldwide, to prevent and deter the threat of violent extremism in the core areas such as capacity building and programmatic support, countering extremist narrative, developing community resilience, managing intervention activities, understanding pathways into and back out of terrorism and countering violent extremism  training.

ICSVE is new. Started in July of 2015, it grew out of the work of Dr. Anne Speckhard, Ph.D. who has been working on these issues for two decades. ICSVE welcomes partners and donors interested in fighting violent extremism.

ICSVE is independent and non-partisan. We do not take part in classified research for governments or international organizations. All of our work is published in open source venues. 

Breaking the ISIS Brand - The ISIS Defectors Interviews Project

In 2015, Dr. Speckhard started the Breaking the ISIS Brand–the ISIS Defectors Counter-Narratives ProjectSince then, she, along with ICSVE staff, have interviewed 101 ISIS defectors, returnees and captured ISIS cadres from Syria, Iraq, Western Europe, Central Asia, Africa, and the Balkans and 25 family members of those who went to ISIS, and two terrorist ideologues, most captured on video. She has also, with ICSVE staff, interviewed 16 al Shabaab affiliates.

The ICSVE team has since been editing the videos of defectors denouncing the group into short video clips to upload on the Internet to fight ISIS’s online recruiting. The video clips are being subtitled in the 21 languages ISIS recruits in 24/7 and have been focus-tested with success in Central and Southeast Asia, the Balkans, Western Europe, Jordan, Iraq and the United States and can be viewed on this website and also on YouTube.  ICSVE research fellows are also currently focus-testing them for prevention and intervention purposes globally, specifically with ISIS endorsers on Facebook, Youtube and in Telegram chatrooms.

ICSVE is dedicated to breaking the ISIS brand and flooding the Internet with counter-narratives to fight with what ISIS is saying about the ISIS “Caliphate” and introducing alternatives to the narratives employed by the terrorist group to attract recruits.  The project has been lauded by the White House, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. State Department and many foreign governments as well as been covered in the Washington Post, in Time magazine, on NPR and in many other news networks and print outlets.  

The Breaking the ISIS Brand counter-narrative project videos are being used in multiple countries to fight extremist recruitment in youth and adults and in targeted interventions with foreign fighter returnees and to monitor drivers of radicalization. Our hope is to offer powerful tools to delegitimize terrorist groups and their ideologies and diminish social support for them globally.  

ICSVE Board of Advisors

Dr. Peter Bergen – Vice President at New America, and Professor at Arizona State University.  CNN National Security Analyst – USA

Christopher Dickey – Foreign Editor of The Daily Beast – USA and France

Ambassador Alberto Fernandez – President of Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN), formerly the Coordinator for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) at the U.S. Department of State – USA

Ambassador Suzi Levine – Former United States Ambassador to the Switzerland Confederation and Principality of Liechtenstein, Cofounder I-Labs—USA

Peter Knoope – Senior Visiting Fellow at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT). Former Director of ICCT from its inception until August 2014. Former Deputy Director of the Policy and Strategy Department of the Dutch National Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism (NCTb)—Netherlands

Dr. Arie Kruglanski – Distinguished University Professor in Psychology at the University of Maryland – USA

Dr. David Rapoport – Founding and Chief Editor Terrorism and Political Violence, Professor Emeritus UCLA Political Science Department—USA

Dr. Jerrold Post – Professor of Psychiatry, Political Psychology and International Affairs at George Washington University—USA

Dr. Alex Schmid – Editor of Perspectives on Terrorism, formerly Officer-in-Charge of the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the United Nations, Director of the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence in St. Andrews University – the Netherlands

Mark Singleton – Former Senior Dipomat, CEO of Nexus Strategy – the Netherlands

Thomas Wuchte –  Executive Director—International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, Former OSCE Head on Anti-Terrorism Issues – USA




Affiliated with world-class researchers based around the globe (US, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East) who are themselves attached to top universities, ICSVE is involved in research projects and educational programs around the world.

ICSVE forms creative and flexible interdisciplinary teams for each of its projects, converging first-rate subject matter experts , each with linguistic, cultural and on-the-ground experience in a range of security matters.

In addition to research, ICSVE fosters the opportunity for in-depth and strategic dialogue for politicians, diplomats, leaders and scholars interested in security, peace studies and violent extremism.


ICSVE’s mission is to bring scholars and leaders, from politics to creative pursuits, together in the fight against violent extremism. Producing world-class research, educational materials and highly stimulating workshops, our aim is to educate the public and support policymakers and practitioners in their quest for practical and useful solutions in preventing and stopping violent extremism.