Publications

The Counter-narrative Handbook

The Counter-narrative Handbook
Henry Tuck and Tanya Silverman, June 2016

Given the proliferation of violent extremist content online in recent years, developing effective counter-narratives – messages that offer a positive alternative to extremist propaganda, or deconstruct or delegitimise extremist narratives and challenge extremist ideologies – is an increasingly necessary alternative to online censorship.

This Handbook, funded by Public Safety Canada through the Kanishka Project, was created to help anyone looking to proactively respond to extremist propaganda with counter-narrative campaigns, and is intended as a beginner’s guide for those with little or no previous experience of counter-narrative campaigning. It takes readers through the main stages of creating, launching and evaluating an effective counter-narrative campaign. It can also be used alongside ISD’s freely available online Counter-narrative Toolkit, which can be found at www.counternarratives.org

Lone Actor Terrorism: Analysis Paper

Clare Ellis, Raffaello Pantucci, Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn, Edwin Bakker, Benoît Gomis, Simon Palombi and Melanie Smith, February 2016

A systematic analysis of lone-actor terrorists reveals considerable variation in terms of individual characteristics, methodologies, motivations and indicators of violent intent.

Lone Actor Terrorism: Policy Paper 4: – ‘Leakage’ and Interaction with Authorities

Clare Ellis and Raffaello Pantucci, February 2016

This fourth policy paper of the Countering Lone-Actor Terrorism series examines how lone-actor terrorists reveal their intent to commit attacks and recommends a targeted approach based on the characteristics and motivations of the specific threat.

Lone Actor Terrorism: Policy Paper 3 – Motivations, Political Engagement and Online Activity

Melanie Smith, Sabine Barton and Jonathan Birdwell, February 2016

This policy paper makes three key recommendations to European governments and global social media companies based on data collected during the Countering Lone-Actor Terrorism project undertaken by a consortium of partners (RUSI, Chatham House, Leiden University and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue). This research brought to light the significant threat posed by right-wing lone-actor terrorism, as well as the need to continue infiltration and monitoring of violent extremist groups. The paper also recommends that social media companies continue to improve user-based reporting systems to expedite responses in potential cases of lone-actor terrorism.

Lone Actor Terrorism: Policy Paper 2 – Attack Methodology and Logistics

http://www.strategicdialogue.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/CLAT_Policy-Paper-Chatham-House.pdf
Simon Palombi and Benoît Gomis, February 2016

This second policy paper of the Countering Lone-Actor Terrorism series examines the key variables relating to attack methodology and logistics, and suggests policy recommendations based on the analysis.

Lone Actor Terrorism: Policy Paper 1 – Personal Characteristics of Lone-Actor Terrorists

Prof. Dr. Edwin Bakker and Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn, February 2016

This policy paper emphasises the importance of focusing on different subgroups and of benchmarking in order to accurately interpret results. Likewise, they underline the necessity of lowering barriers to mental health services, as well as multi-agency cooperation.

Lone Actor Terrorism: Database Workshop Paper

Sebastien Feve and Kelsey Bjornsgaard

This paper is the third publication in the Countering Lone-Actor Terrorism (CLAT) project. This paper examines the second workshop of the CLAT Consortium, hosted by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue in March 2015, which discussed the development of the project database (based on the definition of lone-actor terrorism agreed at the first workshop) and some of the underlying principles that would inform data collection and retention.

Lone Actor Terrorism: Definitional Workshop Paper

Edwin Bakker and Jeanine de Roy van Zuijdewijn, December 2015

The first step in assessing the nature and scale of the threat posed by lone-actor terrorism in Europe is the establishment of a working definition of the term.

Lone Actor Terrorism: Literature Review

Raffaello Pantucci, Clare Ellis and Lorien Chaplais, December 2015

Lone-actor terrorism is not a new phenomenon; however, research suggests the threat is increasing as pressure from security services forces a tactical adaptation and groups call on those who share their ideology to act alone without direction or support.

One to One Online Interventions – A Pilot CVE Methodology

Ross Frenett and Moli Dow, September 2015

This report outlines the results of the One to One pilot programme undertaken by ISD in partnership with Curtin University and members of the global Against Violent Extremism (AVE) Network. The project aimed to test the viability of an approach based on directly messaging those openly expressing extremist sentiment online and seeking to dissuade them following that path. This report details the results of the pilot programme, outlines lessons learned and invites other organisations to critique these results.

‘Till Martyrdom Do Us Part’ Gender and the ISIS Phenomenon

Erin Marie Saltman & Melanie Smith, May 2015

Representing the second instalment of ISD’s Women and Extremism (WaE) programme, this report explores the phenomenon of Western females travelling to Syria and Iraq in support of ISIS. It first elaborates upon the motivations for these women and girls to migrate, explores some of the diverse range of profiles that have been monitored, and clarifies the role that they are likely to encompass once arriving in ISIS-held territory. Additionally, the report aims to elucidate how current government prevention and de-radicalisation infrastructure may be adapted to deal with this trend.

Blasphemy, Charlie Hebdo, and the Freedom of Belief and Expression

Rashad Ali, February 2015

This briefing paper discusses the reactions to the horrific events that unfolded in Paris in January 2015, with the murders of a group of journalists, a police officer, and members of the Jewish community. Responses have ranged from the slogan ‘Je suis Charlie’ to those highlighting the Muslim victims of terror, to those defending the right to get offended and react, but not violence. So what is blasphemous and insulting about these cartoons? Why has such an extreme perspective on speech been used to explicitly justify murder and acts of terror in the minds of the perpetrators? Rashad Ali discusses the inconsistencies and contradictions in terrorist and extremist interpretations of Islam and blasphemy, and demonstrates the need to highlight the ideological flaws in their narrative.

The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

Becoming Mulan? Female Western Migrants to ISIS

Carolyn Hoyle, Alexandra Bradford & Ross Frenett, January 2015

Launching ISD’s Women and Extremism (WAE) programme, this report focuses on those women that have travelled from the West to ISIS held territory in support of the terrorist organisation. The first in a series of reports, this research draws on our database of known female migrants to ISIS and analyses their reasons for joining the group, the threat they pose and how to stem the flow of women joining ISIS.

Western Foreign Fighters: Innovations in Responding to the Threat


Rachel Briggs OBE & Tanya Silverman, December 2014

The security threat posed by so-called ‘foreign fighters’ is an ever-present fear of Western Governments. The departure of European and North American nationals to war zones to participate in conflict or terrorism-related activities presents a number of potential and serious threats.

This paper argues that Western Governments in particular need to expand their efforts to develop measures to effectively counter the foreign fighter phenomenon. Existing legal and policing measures should be supplemented by (a) building resilience to extremist propaganda, both online and offline; (b) prevention of travel through interventions; and (c) reducing the risk represented by radicalised individuals upon their return and providing support for their parents, families and wider communities.

Old Threat, New Approach: Tackling the Far Right Across Europe


Old Threat, New Approach
Vidhya Ramalingam, March 2014

From 2012 to 2014, ISD and the Swedish Ministry of Justice partnered on a pan-European project to enhance understanding of what works in preventing and countering far-right extremism in 10 countries (Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovak Republic, Sweden, the UK).

Over the course of the two-year project, the partnership carried out research and country visits to identify measures taken by civil society and at the policy level. This report is the second in a series of publications to share the key challenges, and lessons learned about what works in tackling far-right extremism.

On the Front Line: A guide to countering far-right extremism


Vidhya Ramalingam, March 2014

From 2012 to 2014, ISD and the Swedish Ministry of Justice partnered on a pan-European project to enhance understanding of what works in preventing and countering far-right extremism in 10 countries (Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovak Republic, Sweden, the UK).

It has developed a package of resources which include the above policy report, Old Threat, New Approach: Tackling the Far Right Across Europe, as well as The FREE Initiative – Far-Right Extremism in Europe, an online resource which aims to inspire and connect those tackling the far right and showcase best practices.