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ICSVE and Parallel Networks Team Up to Fight Violent Extremism

ICSVE and Parallel Networks Merger Launch Event

Note: The merger between ICSVE and Parallel Networks ultimately did not occur. Each organization is independently running and there is no current relationship between the two.

Jesse Morton

Daryl Davis

Ryan Lo’Ree

Anne Speckhard, Director ICSVE

11:00 AM EST

December 16th, 2020

The International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism is proud to announce our merger with Parallel Networks! Parallel Networks, run by ex-jihadist propagandist Jesse Morton, is an organization, in part, dedicated to off-ramping members of hate and extremist groups by providing them with alternative avenues for finding meaning, purpose, and significance in their lives. Like ICSVE, Parallel Networks believes that efforts to prevent and counter radicalization must mirror the recruitment efforts of violent extremist groups in both quantity and quality while making use of the internet to connect online and offline activity. Together, ICSVE and Parallel Networks will be expanding upon ICSVE’s already successful Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative Project by adding more comprehensive resources to the ICSVE-run website TheRealJihad.org and by creating counter narratives against far-right violent extremism. ICSVE and Parallel Networks will also be working on enhancing Parallel Networks’ Light upon Light initiative, a holistic approach to combating polarization, structural injustice, racism, hate and extremism in the United States.

On December 16th, we officially launched the ICSVE-Parallel Networks merger, where key team members of the Light Upon Light initiative were introduced, the current state of U.S. divide and conflict was addressed, and future goals and projects were discussed.

Speakers included:

Jesse Morton, ICSVE Senior Researcher and Practitioner, was once a jihadist propagandist (then known as Younes Abdullah Muhammad) who ran Revolution Muslim, a New York City-based organization active in the 2000s and connected to a number of terrorism cases. He connected al-Qaeda’s ideology and transformed it for America, creating English language propaganda and collaborating with the most notorious jihadist preachers of that era. Morton deradicalized in 2011, following his arrest in Casablanca and then incarceration in the U.S. Since then, he has worked to become a leading commentator and researcher on jihadist, far-right and far-left extremism and reciprocal radicalization. He is also one of the world’s most prominent preventing and countering violent extremism practitioners.

Daryl Davis is not white. He’s not even light-skinned. Make no mistake about it; he’s black. Yet, Klan-Destine Relationships author, Daryl Davis has come in closer contact with members of the Ku Klux Klan than most whites and certainly most blacks — short of being on the wrong end of a rope. What’s more? He continues to do so, making him one of the most unique lecturers on the speaking circuit today. Over the past two decades, Daryl Davis walked on the edge with one-foot dangling over the precipice. His nonfiction stories of setting up surprise meetings with Klan leaders who were unaware of his skin color, and attending Klan rallies, has the suspense of Hitchcock, keeping audiences riveted to their seats in disbelief. On a quest to do nothing more than explore racism and gather information for his book, Klan-Destine Relationships, Daryl eventually became the recipient of numerous robes and hoods given to him by KKK members who rescinded their beliefs after coming to know him. He had inadvertently stumbled upon a successful method of forming friendships between sworn enemies.

Daryl’s methods have made him the center of controversy in some circles where he is considered “politically incorrect,” but after proving his methods work, he has made supporters out of his detractors. As a race relations expert, Daryl Davis has received acclaim for his book, Klan-Destine Relationships and his work in race relations from many respected sources including CNN, NBC, Good Morning America, The Learning Channel, National Public Radio, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun and many others. He is also the recipient of numerous awards including the highly prestigious Elliott-Black Award and the Bridge Builder Award presented by the American Ethical Union and Washington Ethical Society respectively, to name a few. Filled with exciting encounters and sometimes amusing anecdotes, Daryl Davis’ impassioned lectures leave an audience feeling empowered to confront their own prejudices and overcome their fears, seeking to build a bridge and forge peace with their most unlikely adversaries.

Ryan Lo’Ree, is working at ICSVE as an Interventionist and Program specialist and producing counter narrative materials. Ryan was once a right-wing extremist with the Rollingwood Skins, a Michigan-based offshoot of the largest Nazi movement in the United States. While in the organization, he moved up the ranks quickly to become Vice President. In his role, he was responsible for mainstreaming hate groups on social media. To finance these efforts, Ryan found himself in trouble with the law. After Ryan’s incarceration, he went through a process of transformation and healing centered around trauma associated with sexual, physical and mental abuse he endured from male family members.

As part of his healing and deradicalization, Ryan went on to create the Team Revelation Mixed Martial Arts, a program utilized to prevent troubled youth from entering gang and extremist cultures. They offered mentorship, leadership, and self-discipline training. The program’s success led to a partnership with local juvenile probation offices in Genesee and Shiawassee County. The program would go on to keep over 100 children from entering the school to prison pipeline. Ryan would later enter the political arena where he ran for County Commissioner going after political corruption, racial and environmental justice in his hometown. Ryan has now helped to organize hundreds of justice rallies across the country, and his research has been centered around environmental impacts and their links to violent extremism. Ryan has also helped to pull dozens of former extremists out of hate groups in Michigan where he had the assistance of several organizations around the country and state. Ryan has helped to pass policy and proclamations in Flint and surrounding areas. He will now bring his expertise to ICSVE, contributing to the organization’s work on combating polarization, structural injustice, racism, hate, and violent extremism.

Dr. Anne Speckhard is Director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) and serves as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. She has interviewed over 700 terrorists, their family members and supporters in various parts of the world including in Western Europe, the Balkans, Central Asia, the Former Soviet Union and the Middle East. In the past five years years, she has interviewed 257 ISIS defectors, returnees and prisoners as well as 16 al Shabaab cadres and their family members (n=25) as well as ideologues (n=2), studying their trajectories into and out of terrorism, their experiences inside ISIS (and al Shabaab), as well as developing the Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative Project materials from these interviews which includes over 200 short counter narrative videos of terrorists denouncing their groups as un-Islamic, corrupt and brutal which have been used in over 150 Facebook and Instagram campaigns globally. She has also been training key stakeholders in law enforcement, intelligence, educators, and other countering violent extremism professionals, both locally and internationally, on the psychology of terrorism, the use of counter-narrative messaging materials produced by ICSVE as well as studying the use of children as violent actors by groups such as ISIS. Dr. Speckhard has given consultations and police trainings to U.S., German, UK, Dutch, Austrian, Swiss, Belgian, Danish, Iraqi, Jordanian and Thai national police and security officials, among others, as well as trainings to elite hostage negotiation teams. She also consults to foreign governments on issues of terrorist prevention and interventions and repatriation and rehabilitation of ISIS foreign fighters, wives and children. In 2007, she was responsible for designing the psychological and Islamic challenge aspects of the Detainee Rehabilitation Program in Iraq to be applied to 20,000 + detainees and 800 juveniles. Her publications are found here: https://georgetown.academia.edu/AnneSpeckhardWebsite: and on the ICSVE website http://www.icsve.org Follow @AnneSpeckhard

This is the twelfth discussion in this series of panels discussing ISIS Foreign Fighters and terrorist rehabilitation. The first panel, “Issues of ISIS Prisoners & Repatriations in a Time of COVID,” can be reviewed here. The second panel, “Can an ISIS Terrorist be Rehabilitated and Reintegrated into Society?” featuring Redouan Safdi and Moussa Al-Hassan Diaw, can be reviewed here and the report that was inspired by this panel can be found here. The third panel, “Can We Repatriate the ISIS Children?” can be reviewed here and the report that was inspired by this panel can be found here. The fourth panel, “Terrorist Rehabilitation in the Dutch Prison System,” can be reviewed here. The fifth panel, “Into and Back Out of ISIS: An ISIS Defector Speaks Out,” can be reviewed here. The sixth panel, “Fighting ISIS Online: An Introduction to Breaking the ISIS Brand,” can be viewed here. The seventh panel, “Talking Terrorist Propaganda with a Pro,” can be viewed here. The eighth panel, “Terrorism Prevention, Intervention, and Rehabilitation with Juveniles,” can be viewed here. The ninth panel, “Community-Focused Interventions Against Terrorism,” can be viewed here. The tenth panel, “Are We Losing a Valuable Feminist Project in the Middle East?” can be viewed here. The eleventh panel, “Rescue Me: A Conversation with the Yamout Sisters re Prison Rehabilitation,” can be viewed here.

The panel will each speak briefly and questions will be most welcome with a lively discussion to ensue! Questions can be posed using the Zoom chat feature or by Twitter to @ICSVE

Chat Log

08:02:40 From ICSVE – Molly Ellenberg : You can view our previous events here! https://www.icsve.org/news/icsve-events/

08:03:04 From ICSVE – Molly Ellenberg : You can watch our counter narratives here: https://www.youtube.com/icsve

08:03:41 From ICSVE – Molly Ellenberg : You can read about the first 220 ISIS interviews here: https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/26907414.pdf?casa_token=0CZGl8ZKes4AAAAA:RpLerj8F0xIv_aQOgltpi9IilKljPYhKmqgQ-e7fPMfu4zfNarhuIFQNIEi_8H_d827vSt1RhZ99OmUfdbZ0WUMjcRY2JF-NHZXQv1We96P5IwE-ekrx

08:04:24 From ICSVE – Molly Ellenberg : You can read about some of our counter narrative Facebook campaigns here:

https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/26936548.pdf?casa_token=PKge_nRP9IQAAAAA:fc3l8GTC8D9bHikabbI353ht3P7s7XnxWLQNLjLvz2GSRB3yd4Ar3B-kPPnYG-3xkSGW14tSltE2NhHqNfd68U7PRs-SPI_JEAH4PrT1f8AKtlo3Mtm6

08:04:34 From ICSVE – Molly Ellenberg : http://www.librelloph.com/journalofhumansecurity/article/view/johs-16.1.16/461

http://isj.ir/En/index.php/quarterly/item/download/38_ff8b08fd8655077e1b288a4fffccef9b

08:10:24 From Dr. Lisa McConnell : I’m so pleased to learn from all of you today! Please touch upon your deradicalization process – what it consisted of, how you knew you were deradicalized, the metrics, the behaviors, and the thoughts. Cheers!

08:17:59 From MailletteN : My interest is mostly on cyber terrorism. I am interested into knowing how much technical background did you have prior to be radicalized. Would you be considered tech savvy with the group you were in? Thank you.

08:18:25 From Farkad Aboodi : Hi Anne, if you would like some help with translation I can volunteer to do what you like. 

08:18:54 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard : thank you Farkad, we definitely need your help!

08:19:37 From Farkad Aboodi : Any time.. just let me know

08:30:42 From Karina Iskandarova : “Ignorance Brings Fear” well said Mr. Davis!

08:32:19 From Michael Haines : quite an amazing speaker and experience

08:33:21 From GLOBAL COUNTER TERRORISM COUNCIL . : Thanks Anne for making GCTC part of this important meeting

08:33:34 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard : so true get to the ignorance to cure the fear and therefore the hate. Education and exposure

08:34:42 From Michael Haines : agree completely

08:35:10 From GLOBAL COUNTER TERRORISM COUNCIL . : And Molly U too

08:35:19 From Michael Haines : wonderful

08:35:27 From Karina Iskandarova : Great speaker! Thank you for sharing this great story

08:35:38 From Alison.Watts1 : Fascinating story! Thank you Daryl!

08:35:43 From Saad Shaheed : Thank you Mr Davis for sharing your experience!

08:35:58 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard : Daryl is going to have a new book out soon about these issues!

08:36:00 From Sandra Moyer : Daryl, you’re awesome.

08:38:41 From MailletteN : thank you so much for this info. 

08:48:15 From Karina Iskandarova : Great approach- promoting a different narrative utilizing their own means of communication! Excellent thought process Jesse

08:49:11 From Dr. Lisa McConnell : Jesse, you’re incredible. I love the systemic-holistic approach. 

08:49:22 From Justin Feltman : What was the name of this initiative?

08:49:24 From Naama Kates : Yes, it’s brilliant

08:49:33 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard : Light Upon Light

08:50:00 From Pallavi : Always a pleasure to hear about the amazing work Jesse is doing!

08:50:10 From Sandra Moyer : Each part of the Light Upon Light approach is listed at lightuponlight.online

08:50:29 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard : (in reference to Jesse’s comment of the CVE “experts” are the cool kids in the cafeteria:I guess we are out with the smokers and potheads 🙂

08:51:47 From MailletteN : Very well said. Yes both extremes are saying the same thing, just from a different approach

08:51:57 From Tannuva : great insights!

08:52:45 From Michael Haines : very very interesting

08:54:02 From Michael Haines : agreed

08:54:10 From MailletteN : Soooo well said. Yessss!

08:54:32 From Placido (Dino) Silipigni : Great testimony. First time for me to listen in. It is precisely on the network that I am very interested in. In fact I believe that a lot, in general, is done at the individual level and that the systemic approach (based on partnerships rather than simple coordination) is not easily understood or, even less, applied.

08:54:49 From Michael Haines : superb thanks

08:55:12 From Naama Kates : Amen— thank you, Jesse!

08:55:29 From Ali inizi : Great, I really like it, very very interesting

08:55:57 From Ibitoye Olukosi : Great analysis

08:59:37 From Peta : I feel that Jessie’s approach is excellent for the current US and some European countries, but as someone who has spent the better part of the last 15yrs operating in the Middle East I don’t believe it would be the solution in that region. I will say that I agree 1000% with his comments about academics and sideline practitioners who just chase grant money and write essays.. which is why I’m the biggest advocate of the ISCVE, Anne and her team have been on the ground since day one!

09:00:49 From Michael Haines : excellent

09:01:09 From Mirna El Masri : super interesting

09:01:16 From Dr. Lisa McConnell : I’m intrigued by Ryan’s statement of always knowing deep down that what he was doing was wrong. Ryan, would you state that is a reality for most of the extremists you encountered? 

09:01:22 From Ibitoye Olukosi : I will be happy to the link to the video

09:02:12 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard : thank you Peta!

09:03:29 From Ibitoye Olukosi : I will be happy to get the link of the last video. Thank you. @Prof. Anne

09:03:49 From Jesse Morton : Good point Peta. Localized context is crucial. Our ecosystemic model is based on our work in the English-language. While we collaborate on projects around the world, we adjust the methodologies and do not do cookie cutter applications. Thanks!

09:03:58 From ICSVE – Molly Ellenberg : Here is the link to Ryan’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-GnWFkt6l0

09:04:18 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard : Ryan’s video is here please use it if you can to fight hate. https://youtu.be/x-GnWFkt6l0

09:04:22 From Ibitoye Olukosi : Received with thanks.

09:07:36 From Roger Kluck : I tried to log on to lightonlight.online – my virus protection says it is an identified unsafe page and blocks it – you need to clean up its vulnerabilities.

09:07:57 From Michael Haines : I fully believe that the empowerment of youth, education of our youth is the key to fighting all extremism

09:08:29 From Alison.Watts1 : wow! what a great film. great respect to you for turning your life around. Thank you – this film will be so useful to educate some of our young people.

09:08:52 From Michael Haines : My Global Acts of Unity mainly visits schools and we see such success with our youth

Anne Speckhard after the event: Michael we’d love to learn more about that!

09:09:05 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard : thank you Allison, Ryan is so warm, honest and awesome!

09:09:46 From Anne : Re “lightonlight.online” page — same issue – I get the mesj. “unsafe” page and cannot access it. 

09:09:46 From Karina Iskandarova : What do we do though with the case of older people who are white supremacists and don’t seem eager to change their perspective?

09:09:59 From Karina Iskandarova : By the way great story and video Ryan!

09:10:26 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard : Good point Karina, the man that radicalized Ryan was older and these older men play upon losses youth have in their lives.  Negative role models!

09:11:03 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard : Thanks for the feedback on the webpage, we’ll figure it out.

09:11:05 From Karina Iskandarova : Unfortunately we have so many of Neo-nazi groups in Greece

Anne Speckhard after the event: Good news! Karina agrees to help us translate into Greek and we will run some campaigns in Greece as well with this video and others.

09:11:14 From Peta : education of our youths teachers and mentors is the key to empowering our youth. Good role models and listening, not just lecturing youth teaches youth that they have a voice. it’s the mentoring that guides that voice…

09:11:27 From Anne : Karina’s question is very important.  Also, certain people hate others or take their own disappointments and hurts out against others perceived to be getting preferential treatment.  “Why should they get something and not me?”  Meeting other folks does not dissipate those feelings. 

09:11:31 From Karina Iskandarova : And I have talked with several of their members-seem real a lost cause-attacking you in every sentence you make

09:11:48 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard : so true Peta, and these are people who are very real, genuine and role models just by their actions of caring and listening.

09:11:50 From MailletteN : To Ryan:   Do you think your military time specifically  re-enforced and pushed further the anger you had been feeling since childhood. But it switched its focus to diversities instead of your father?

09:12:34 From Karina Iskandarova : Yeah, the classic scape-goat theory- the others’ fault for our own grievances

09:15:39 From Michael Haines : well done

09:15:53 From Jesse Morton : on lightuponlinght.online?

09:16:07 From Karina Iskandarova : I am Greek

09:16:26 From Michael Haines : question for Ryan and Jesse can you recommend any books on countering extremism?

09:17:02 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard : Sorry Karina I wasn’t sure if you are in Greece or not

09:17:14 From Karina Iskandarova : No worries, at the moment I live in Maine, USA

09:18:08 From Vladimir Kačanovski : Hi everyone !

09:19:33 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard : Hi Vladimir, sorry you got the link late

09:19:50 From Angie : That seems to come up a lot: The deep need for a sense of belonging/ brotherhood/sisterhood…

09:19:53 From Vladimir Kačanovski : It’s ok, I’m here .

09:20:13 From Jesse Morton : some books: 

09:20:24 From Peta : acceptance, such a powerful and unfortunate motivation..

09:20:33 From Dr. Lisa McConnell : Excellent point – it makes me wonder how we can drive policy to support the family. How can we incentivize positive family relations – support marriage and the critical roles of a father and mother. 

09:20:33 From Michael Haines : very very true

09:20:45 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard : This has been so powerful,  the link for the recording of this event will be sent around to everyone later today. I hope you can share it around so more people will hear these amazing men.

09:21:12 From Michael Haines : yep been there Ryan

09:21:19 From Jesse Morton : True Believer – Eric Hoffer, Extremism J.M Berger, American Zealots by Arie Perlinger, The Muslims are Coming by Arun Kundunani and American Swastika by Pete Sime, Et al. 

09:21:19 From MailletteN : Thank you for your answer. This opens my eyes!

09:21:36 From Karina Iskandarova : Do we have also female speakers who might have been former members of an extremist organization or wives/relatives of former members?

09:21:48 From Michael Haines : thanks Jesse

09:22:18 From Jesse Morton : On a wide and up-to-date persecpective – Countering Violent Extremism and Terrorism – edited by Stefanie vonHlatky 

09:22:34 From Jesse Morton : yes we have several females and they will be part of an upcoming webinar

09:22:41 From Michael Haines : thanks again

09:24:05 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard : you are so welcome.

09:24:19 From Anne : Jesse Morton: Thank you for the books. Is there time to hear from you and Anne Speckhard on what your partnership will do and what it means for work going forward? 

Anne Speckhard after the event: Maybe not today but you will hear from us 🙂

09:24:51 From Jesse Morton : We will have several more webinars to keep followers of our work up-to-date

09:25:10 From Tannuva : Professor Stefanie vonHlatky has done some amazing work!

09:25:18 From Michael Haines : Jesse drop me a line sometime and we can chat

09:25:21 From Jesse Morton : also happy to speak to small collectives, organizations, P/CVE orgs an anyone on specific components of the work we are doing and intend to do

09:25:26 From Jesse Morton : sure Michael

09:25:38 From Jesse Morton : anyone can reach out to me at [email protected]

09:25:58 From Michael Haines : Sorry folks I am having to go. It has been once again fantastc

09:26:06 From Sandra Moyer-Parallel Networks : For those having issues with the security of lightuponlight.online, you may have a better chance manually using https://lightuponlight.online

09:26:10 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard : most welcome happy you could be here

09:26:15 From Ryan Lo’Ree : ryanlo’[email protected]

09:27:10 From Peta : Daryl, such a strong and very unfortunate truth…..

09:27:44 From Ryan Lo’Ree : If anyone wants to speak more after the webinar you can reach me at the email above. I appreciate all of you listening today. I love all of you. Have a wonderful day or night wherever you are.

09:28:14 From Anne : Sandra Moyer– that address got me there — thanks so much

09:28:36 From Sandra Moyer-Parallel Networks : Of course!  Glad I could help!

09:29:15 From Ryan Lo’Ree : 2004

09:30:09 From Anne : OMG — Daryl Davis, I believe you, but I cannot believe these men, political leaders, presidents, etc., were in the Klan.  OMG. What a shock, a very unpleasant shock. Thank you for this information. 

09:30:11 From Pallavi : Very well said Daryl. This holds true across the world.

09:30:57 From Alison.Watts1 : Thank you so much – so enlightening! Can’t wait for the next one! 

09:30:58 From Mirna El Masri : Thank you so much, all of you!!

09:30:59 From mauriciomanzolli : Congratulations all! Thank you for the opportunity, I could learn a lot! I hope meet all of you again soon.

09:31:00 From Tannuva : thank you all!

09:31:00 From Johnny Howorth : Amazing job everyone.

09:31:00 From Anne : Anne Speckhard, Daryl Davis, Jesse MOrton, Ryan Lo’Ree:  THANK YOU so very, very much for your work and your stories.  This was phenomenal. 

09:31:01 From Placido (Dino) Silipigni : Thanks a lot everybody.

09:31:01 From Justin Feltman : Thank you for continuing to run these!

Anne Speckhard after the event: Thank you all for coming. I was so moved by today’s event showcasing our approach and our view of seeing the humanity in all human beings.  I hope you will share the video recording link around.  Best,  Anne

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