The Rise of Radicalization: Is the U.S. Government Failing to Counter International and Domestic Terrorism?

July 05, 2015

Testimony
Testimony by CFR fellows and experts before Congress.

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United States

Terrorism and Counterterrorism

In her testimony before the House Committe on Homeland Security, Farah Pandith argues that through innovation, the United States can destroy extremists' ability to recruit young Muslims.

Students revise for a Koran verbal recital exam in one of the Al-Azhar institutes in Cairo, Egypt.

Top takeaways are:

  • "Although extremism is not a new threat, it has infected every region of the globe and continues to morph, taking on different forms in different places. Yet the result is always the same: massive loss of life, destruction of modern cities and ancient sites, the seizure of territory, the erasure of existing borders, the targeted culling of minorities, the destabilization of entire regions, and the eradication of human rights."
  • "The extremists are outpacing and outmaneuvering us in the ideological space. To stop them, we must take courageous and intelligent action, applying known methods and deploying all of our tools, both hard and soft power."
  • "Since 9/11, Muslim youth have experienced a profound identity crisis unlike any in modern history. They have craved answers, seeking purpose and belonging." 
  • "At the moment, we are rightfully concerned about the potential of radicalized youth returning from battlefields to conduct terrorist actions. But in addition to the short-term impacts on public safety, we should be concerned about the long-term ability of battle-hardened extremists to build new terrorist networks at home and extend existing ones by preying on youth."
  • "Fortunately for us, the extremists possess a hidden vulnerability. Credible voices—those liked and trusted by Muslim youth—can win youth over with narratives that counter extremist messages. Who are these credible voices? They are not those of the United States government. No government on earth—ours or any other—is credible among Muslim youth. Like any other kids on the planet, Muslim youth listen to their peers, are persuaded by popular ideas, and are passionate about belonging to something that seems real to them. To prevent recruitment of new terrorists, we must find new, innovative ways of boosting credible voices, helping them to drown out the extremists in the global marketplace of ideas."
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