On 18th March 2009 Quilliam Director Maajid Nawaz spoke at the global “Sovereign Challenge” conference organized by the US’s United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in Florida, USA.
The event was attended by ambassadors, former intelligence heads, diplomats and military officials, but primarily by the world’s military attaches serving in embassies in Washington DC. The aim of the conference was to move the debate beyond the use of hard power in counter terrorism efforts and to start looking at counter-radicalization strategies. Maajid Nawaz spoke after Peter Bergen, and before a senior Saudi Interior Ministry official named Dr Saad al-Jabri, who oversees the Saudi de-radicalization programme.
Maajid spoke about the need to move beyond focusing on violent attacks to look at the ideology of Islamism itself, and how it is misleading to believe that by stopping the violence we have dealt with the problem. Maajid also distinguished between Islam and Islamism and stated the need to develop programmes that help people understand the difference between the various strands of Muslims who are not Islamists, such as conservative Muslims and their denominations, and between Islamists. He also spoke about the solution not being a purely military or police one, but (in addition to the necessary legal precautions) countries need to start viewing this as an ideological struggle.