ICSVE Panel Discussion featuring Jeff Schoep, Beyond Barriers TM Garret, CHANGE Molly Ellenberg, Research Fellow…
ICSVE Panel Discussion featuring
Jeff Schoep, Beyond Barriers
TM Garret, CHANGE
Daryl Davis, Author of Klan-Destine Relationships
Molly Ellenberg, ICSVE Research Fellow
Anne Speckhard, Director ICSVE
The event was held at 11am on May 5, 2021.
After the Capitol Hill riots the U.S. military and policing services have increasingly recognized the domestic threat of violent extremism from white supremacists. These same threats exist in different forms across Europe, the Balkans, in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but are often related to U.S. groups, giving them a transnational character as well. As the U.S. begins grappling with it domestic terrorism issues stemming from white supremacists it begs the question of where are the best points of intervention for preventing and intervening in the trajectory into violent extremism with white supremacists? What is needed to turn them back? What are the critical moments and factors for change? When and how do white supremacists seek help and what is needed and what fails to work? Who are the most credible messengers for prevention and who is most effective for intervention work? What is the role of formers in prevention and intervention and what is the role of professionals from police to prison and mental health workers? What needs to be addressed to exit a white supremacist group? These questions abound in the preventing and countering violent extremism [P/CVE] space. Criticisms of P/CVE over the last 20 years have focused on the mistakes that have been made in Muslim communities – securitizing and alienating vulnerable individuals rather than seeking to understand them and address real grievances that terrorist groups exploited. It is clear that white supremacist violent extremism poses a greater threat to American national security than any other type of violent extremism. How can we avoid the mistakes of the past and effectively intervene with those who have become radicalized to violent extremism?
Jeff Schoep and TM Garret are former white supremacists who have made it their purpose to pull others out of the same violent, toxic world that they left behind. Daryl Davis is a Black man who has spent decades meeting one-on-one with white supremacist leaders, becoming an expert on the Ku Klux Klan and pulling their members and leaders back out from racial hatred. Indeed, it was he who helped Jeff Schoep leave his longtime post as leader of the National Socialist Movement.
ICSVE director Dr. Anne Speckhard, Jeff, TM, and Daryl held a conversation regarding thinking about the best points in time, methods and practices for preventing and disrupting recruitment of and interventions for white supremacists.
Jeff Schoep is now after years of leading the National Socialist Movement, working as an international extremism consultant, human rights activist and public speaker. While working to remediate his past life, he has dedicated himself to promote peace building and, in this role, Jeff helps to educate communities and policy makers on the threat of white supremacism and how to effectively both counter and prevent violent extremism. From 1994 until early 2019 Jeff Schoep was the was the leader of the largest neo-Nazi organization in the United States, the National Socialist Movement (NSM). In early 2019, Jeff retired from the NSM and walked away from the white nationalist movement in its entirety. After wrestling with his conscience, over how to best set things right, Jeff realized that he could not just sit back while the world continues to burn in the flames of hatred. Instead of remaining silent, he decided to speak out and help others. It is now Jeff’s mission to be a positive, peaceful influence of change and understanding for all of humanity in these uncertain times. In January of 2020, Jeff Schoep founded Beyond Barriers, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people leave extremist organizations as well as providing support and connections to individuals and communities affected by extremism. Jeff now uses his past experience and insights to help combat and prevent violent extremism. In addition to public speaking, he also provides consulting services and leadership skills trainings.
TM Garret is a German-American Human Rights and Interfaith Activist. As a former Neo-Nazi and KKK leader, who left hate groups and extremist ideology behind in 2002, he now is a motivational speaker against hatred and Anti-Semitism. In 2016 he founded C.H.A.N.G.E, a non-profit organization engaging in community outreach programs, food drives, seminars, anti-racism campaigns, and anti-violence campaigns. In 2018 he founded the annually Memphis Peace Conference. TM Garret also works closely with the Simon Wiesenthal Center and has lectured at schools like Harvard, Dartmouth, Vanderbilt, Boston Law School, Hotchkiss and Pomona.
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 Davis 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. His 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.
Molly Ellenberg is a research fellow at ICSVE. Molly is a doctoral student at the University of Maryland. She holds an M.A. in Forensic Psychology from The George Washington University and a B.S. in Psychology with a Specialization in Clinical Psychology from UC San Diego. At ICSVE, she is working on coding and analyzing the data from ICSVE’s qualitative research interviews of ISIS and al Shabaab terrorists, as well as members of far right, white supremacist, and conspiracy theory groups; running Facebook campaigns to disrupt ISIS’s and al Shabaab’s online and face-to-face recruitment and developing and giving trainings for use with the Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative Project videos. Molly has presented original research at the International Summit on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma, the GCTC International Counter Terrorism Conference, UC San Diego Research Conferences, and for security professionals in the European Union. She is also an inaugural member of the UNAOC’s first youth consultation for preventing violent extremism through sport. Her research has also been published in Psychological Inquiry, Global Security: Health, Science and Policy, AJOB Neuroscience, Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma, the Journal of Strategic Security, the Journal of Human Security, Bidhaan: An International Journal of Somali Studies, and the International Studies Journal. Her previous research experiences include positions at Stanford University, UC San Diego, and the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland.
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 in-depth psychologically interviewed over 250 ISIS defectors, returnees and prisoners as well as 16 al Shabaab cadres (and also interviewed their family members as well as ideologues) 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 250 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. Since 2020 she has also launched the ICSVE Escape Hate Counter Narrative Project interviewing 25 white supremacists and members of hate groups developing counternarratives from their interviews as well. 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. She is a sought after counterterrorism expert and has consulted to NATO, OSCE, the EU Commission and EU Parliament, European and other foreign governments and to the U.S. Senate & House, Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, Health & Human Services, CIA, and FBI and appeared on CNN, BBC, NPR, Fox News, MSNBC, CTV, CBC and in Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, London Times and many other publications. She regularly writes a column for Homeland Security Today and speaks and publishes on the topics of the psychology of radicalization and terrorism and is the author of several books, including Talking to Terrorists, Bride of ISIS, Undercover Jihadi and ISIS Defectors: Inside Stories of the Terrorist Caliphate. Her research has also been published in Global Security: Health, Science and Policy, Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, Journal of African Security, Journal of Strategic Security, the Journal of Human Security, Bidhaan: An International Journal of Somali Studies, Journal for Deradicalization, Perspectives on Terrorism and the International Studies Journal to name a few. Her academic publications are found here: https://georgetown.academia.edu/AnneSpeckhardWebsite: and on the ICSVE website http://www.icsve.org Follow @AnneSpeckhard
This is the eighteenth discussion in this series of panels discussing ISIS Foreign Fighters and terrorist rehabilitation. The previous panels can be found at the following links:
10:58:39 From Rogelio Castro to Everyone : Good morning everyone!
11:01:38 From Harjit Sandhu to Everyone : Greetings from Rome!
11:02:05 From ICSVE – Molly Ellenberg to Everyone : You can watch our previous events and read the chat logs here: https://www.icsve.org/news/icsve-events/
11:02:33 From ICSVE – Molly Ellenberg to Everyone : Here is ICSVE’s YouTube channel, where you can view all of our counter narrative videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCumpEsozixbl-PyKw12hmnw
11:02:58 From ICSVE – Molly Ellenberg to Everyone : Here is the website for Beyond Barriers: https://beyondbarriersusa.org/
Here is the website for CHANGE: https://bethechange.help/
Here is Daryl’s website: https://www.daryldavis.com/
11:04:49 From ICSVE – Molly Ellenberg to Everyone : Here is the link to Breaking the ISIS Brand on ICSVE’s website: https://www.icsve.org/project/breaking-the-isis-brand/
11:11:04 From mariamtokhadze to Everyone : Good luck Molly!!!
11:11:41 From Naseer Rana to Everyone : Is there evidence that white supremists use police and FBI to access power either individually or in an organized manner
11:11:44 From Sarah Darer to Everyone : Have you had Deeyah Khan to speak yet? Her documentary was amazing. I showed it to my students last semester and had really fantastic discussions.
11:12:44 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : great idea on Deeyah!
11:12:48 From TM Garret to Everyone : yes police has been recruited overseas (Germany)
11:13:09 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : yes Jeff can talk about how these groups recruited military and police for their training and discipline
11:19:49 From Herman Cohen to Everyone : From Hank Cohen: Is it accurate to say that rightwing extremism in the U.S. today is essentially cultural? Is there a direct line between Obama and Trump?
11:22:58 From Michael Haines to Everyone : My apologies for being late in
11:23:37 From Sarah Darer to Everyone : Daryl, that’s exactly what my Republican state reps said when I asked them to speak out about Islamophic billboard at our local train station, and a deeply antisemitic mailer sent out by a CT Republican candidate
11:24:02 From Sarah Darer to Everyone : “Better off ignoring them.”
11:24:43 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : Silence in the face of racism, totalitarianism, evil is being part of it.
11:26:31 From Harjit Sandhu to Everyone : Well said @Sarah Darer and @Anne Speckhard.
11:28:01 From Michael Haines to Everyone : well said Daryl
11:29:19 From Harjit Sandhu to Everyone : Great way to express it, Daryl. Impressive!
11:39:06 From Michael Haines to Everyone : agreed we need to unite against extremism
11:39:13 From Michael Haines to Everyone : Thank you Daryl
11:39:26 From jacobien to Everyone : Thank you Daryl for this great moving speech
11:39:39 From Harjit Sandhu to Everyone : Well done Daryl.
11:40:19 From Sarah Darer to Everyone : Thank you, Daryl.
11:44:06 From Sarah Darer to Everyone : TM, as a Jewish woman, I’ve asked that question about Germany for my entire life. I didn’t understand till 2015 and after, when I saw so many of my “nice” neighbors willing to turn a blind eye to hate because they wanted their tax cuts and it wasn’t affecting them.
11:44:07 From Alexandra Morgan Woodward to Everyone : Hi all, a sincere ‘thank you’ for being here today. I have two questions on disengagement:
1.) Is it more difficult to disengage extremists in rural locations?
2.) Are there any regional differences to how you approach disengagement practices?
11:45:27 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : Our Escape Hate counter narrative videos are all listed on www.Escapehate.org and our get help page lists the groups that are available for help including of course Beyond Barriers and Change
11:48:39 From Jeremy Levine to Everyone : Totally agree with Daryl’s cancer analogy and not being able to ignore it like you would a school bully. But my question is given a lot of the events that have occured over the last 5-6 years like the Charleston church shooting, Charlottesville, synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, and groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers at the capitol riot, have we reached a point in this country where even if we wanted to ignore all of this we can’t and should we be concerned that some people and groups now seem to feel very comfortable acting so out in the open
11:53:36 From Sarah Darer to Everyone : Daryl: Do you have any advice or strategies for approaching people with curiosity to discuss their views? The day of Biden’s inauguration, a guy in my neighborhood flew the Stars and Stripes upside down. He also flies a US Navy flag, so has military experience. I really wanted to knock on his door at ask him about why he was doing it. But my husband thought I was crazy and going to get myself killed so I didn’t. I still want to understand though.
11:53:38 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : so true jeremy too much polarization and legitimizing white supremacy these days and reciprocal radicalization, these are societal issues we need to address.
11:56:42 From Michael Haines to Everyone : Thank you for your story and your journey TM
11:57:37 From jacobien to Everyone : thank you also TM, it sounded like a very lonely road you have taken.
11:57:38 From Harjit Sandhu to Everyone : @Sarah Darer, in my country flying the national flag upside down will attract criminal charges- “dishonor of national flag and symbols”. Is there no such provision in USA?
11:59:21 From Harjit Sandhu to Everyone : The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 is an Act of the Parliament of India which prohibits the desecration of or insult to the country’s national symbols, including the National Flag, the constitution, the National Anthem and map of India including contempt of Indian constitution.
11:59:22 From Sarah Darer to Everyone : The US flag code reads: The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property. So he obviously was upset about Biden’s inauguration.
12:04:27 From Jeremy Levine to Everyone : When reaching out to people and establishing dialogue with people from different groups, is there a difference or is there a different level of difficulty talking to a Klansman vs a National Socialist or any other group?
12:05:23 From Roger Kluck – Projects for a Civil Society to Everyone : Please forgive a little organizational promotion. But feel there is something missing in the intervention discussions.
I work a program that is extremely effective at producing the transformative moment – the moment when people realize they no longer want to live this life. We get that transformation in a weekend, far faster than the slow doubt creation, erosion, and education of one-on-one counseling. And we do this in groups of 15 to 20 with about 2/3ds making the jump before the workshops close. . It is of course important that programs like those run by formers are in place to help these people once they decide they’re ready. I urge sequencing of producing the transformative moment, then engagement with formers to discuss the realities of transitioning. The program works as well on prevention as it does on late intervention.
12:05:25 From Roger Kluck – Projects for a Civil Society to Everyone : Given the size and scope of the problem, one-on-one efforts are in my opinion too slow. Moving groups through and then making one-on-one assistance available after the transformative moment, is I feel far more productive.
From 16 years of working in prisons, I know scores of former white supremacists, as well as 100’s if not 1,000s of those transforming out of gang life or violence. The program has a 45-year history working in over 60 countries – in prisons, schools, refugee camps and more – all the major recruiting grounds. We moved over 500,000 people through this work. These include child soldiers in Liberia and Colombia. It includes Maoist guerrillas in Nepal. It includes fighters from Boko Haram and al Shabab. It includes community building with Hutu and Tutsis in Rwanda. We have about 5,000 facilitators across the U.S. and 10,000 around the world.
12:06:05 From Roger Kluck – Projects for a Civil Society to Everyone : The program is the Alternatives to Violence Project. While starting as an antiviolence program, it learned quickly that the most effective way to combat violence was to build self-esteem, empathy, connection, trust, and trauma recovery – along with equipping them with conflict transformation skills. It is done through a peer-to-peer, facilitated experiential process. This means the participants generate their own transformation, which is of course essential. It is not didactic harangues or lectures. The solutions come from being guided through an intense emotional process.
We do a lot of what TM talks of – mixing groups – forcing interactions with those you hate, etc. and guiding discussions to find shared values and experiences.
As Ann mentioned counseling gives and hour here and there, and spends time catching up and recapping so that a significant portion of each hours is establishing the setting again and then closing. We do a crafted 24-hour trip that builds continually.
12:06:08 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : that’s a great point Roger. Groups can be very powerful and reach more. As Jeff said there is no one approach
12:06:20 From Roger Kluck – Projects for a Civil Society to Everyone : We can accomplish in 24 hours what takes a year to get to in counseling.
You can contact me via: [email protected]
12:07:19 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : Thanks Roger, experiences can be transformative.
12:07:42 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : As Daryl would certainly say as well.
12:08:52 From Harjit Sandhu to Everyone : Excellent note, Roger.
12:09:56 From Ivan Humble to Everyone : love and respect to all speakers and thanks Anne for a great informative event.
Dialogue is key!
12:10:22 From jacobien to Everyone : tanks Jeff for you story and explanation; I am learning a lot today!
12:10:46 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : You are so welcome Ivan, you know alot about all of this too!
12:10:47 From Sarah Darer to Everyone : There’s a fascinating documentary called Keep Quiet, about Csanad Szgedi, a Hungarian neoNazi, who found out his grandmother wasn’t just Jewish, but had survived Auschwitz. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4789160/
12:12:25 From jacobien to Everyone : Thank you Sarah
12:15:40 From Roger Kluck – Projects for a Civil Society to Everyone : Another thought about groups – it gives a role to those who want to do something, but are not formers or professionals. Learning to be a facilitator takes just 80 hours or so, and mentoring on a team.
12:16:27 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : True, we need more training for people to do good work like Daryl does in addition to his musician life.
12:17:30 From Joe Bock to Everyone : Thank you for that story Daryl!
12:18:34 From Morgan Poyant to Everyone : This was fantastic- thank you so much to all! (Have to drop for COVID-times baby care!)
12:20:14 From Harjit Sandhu to Everyone : Hats off to you Daryl!
12:20:43 From Sarah Darer to Everyone : That is brilliant, Daryl!
12:21:02 From Roger Kluck – Projects for a Civil Society to Everyone : LOL. Perfect Daryl.
12:21:51 From Moe to Everyone : Love that story
12:22:47 From simoveromaya to Everyone : I remember I wrote my MA dissertation on Dialogue and its role at the soft end of the conflict resolution spectrum or something like that. I had to dig the issue later trying to work for something related to what some of you are doing. I love talking to people I could talk to a young thug in my district, the Pope. I could have learned to find the strength to talk to neo nazis (in specific contexts for sure, no in street demonstrations).
I agree it is possible to talk with individuals and find a way to talk. Dialogue is always possible (well, may be not or not so easy actually with some people). But when extremists are in a group, that is impossible. it is like with football hooligans, people just want to act though hard core etc. I live in a city in Germany and in a very multicultural district in which there are lots of racist attacks…….not easy. and yes I am an Antifa, sure I am, an active one in the sense that I always try to stand against racism, injustice, homophobia etc. But sorry, when people use
12:23:46 From Kris Garrity to Everyone : In your exit work in the US, how do you address our societal structures, laws, and hegemonic norms of white supremacy and whiteness? How do you understand the disproportionate roles of the state in the work of exiting from violent militant groups who are (overt) white supremacists compared to groups like Da’esh. My questions are about power dynamics inherent in this work and larger society.
12:24:19 From simoveromaya to Everyone : But sorry, when people use the argument “antifa are like nazis” then I freak out. I mean Antifa in general fight against racism prejudice and for example they would defend immigrants and refugees Roma or homeless people etc. from racists attacks. Nazis and fascists would throw refugees in the sea or attack them (better when alone you know strong against the weak). too many people (so called less radicals and usually those who do nothing expect watching news and may be read newspapers) tend to put more radical people in the same basket. but it does not make any sense. what do you think?
12:25:21 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : Kris you are so right that we need to address societal issues as well, when youth suffer abuse, discrimination, marginalization don’t have opportunities, these groups will be able to recruit.
12:26:37 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : Simoveromaya I don’t think anyone is saying Antifa is like Nazis but that those in white supremacism fear that if you leave you become communist or Antifa as in the violent or extreme leftist side.
12:27:47 From Kris Garrity to Everyone : @Anne, yes. And who is afforded sympathy for having sympathy trauma. Who is afforded compassionate, non-punitive healing and opportunities for transformative justice. And who is not.
12:28:40 From Kris Garrity to Everyone : sympathy for having *childhood trauma
12:28:45 From Jeremy Levine to Everyone : How much do groups in the United States interact with similar groups in Europe and feed off one another and does that make it more difficult to establish dialogue and reason with people in these groups when in today’s world they can communicate with anyone in the world and find propaganda anywehre on the internet
12:28:47 From Sarah Darer to Everyone : The 2009 Report from DHS was right when it warned of radicalization of military personnel coming back from Iraq/Afghanistan, but unfortunately it was suppressed because of politics.
12:29:10 From Erica Kaster to Everyone : my internet went out and I lost the helpful info in the chat. would someone mind saving and sharing?
12:29:13 From Harjit Sandhu to Everyone : Excellent session, Anne. Thanks for organizing it.
12:29:21 From simoveromaya to Everyone : sure. this ooinion ususally comes from people who consider themselbes like “moderates” or how to put it may be theu do not have a strong political opinion…..stating al extremism are bad. but it depends which ideology you propagate or believe in that is my point. thanks
12:29:35 From ICSVE – Anne Speckhard to Everyone : it will be saved and sent to everyone after the event
12:29:37 From simoveromaya to Everyone : this opinion i wanted to write
12:29:59 From Erica Kaster to Everyone : thanks
12:30:28 From Sarah Darer to Everyone : Thanks, this was so helpful!
12:30:44 From TM Garret to Everyone : for more questions contact me at [email protected]
12:30:45 From Mouhanad Kanou to Everyone : ”Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” – MLK
12:30:53 From Mouhanad Kanou to Everyone : Thank you very much
12:30:53 From Balbir Sohal to Everyone : Really stimulating session thanks to all
12:30:59 From Porus Dadabhoy to Everyone : Excellent thanks Porus
12:31:47 From Candice Hansmeyer to Everyone : Many thanks!
12:31:52 From Claudie to Everyone : Excellent thanks !!!
12:31:54 From Katie Schwipps to Everyone : Thank you!
12:32:02 From Johnny Howorth to Everyone : Amazing discussion – thanks for organising, Anne!
12:32:06 From Joe Bock to Everyone : Thanks Anne!