On 16-18 November, Noman Benotman attended a three-day international conference ‘Abandoning Terrorism: Organizational and Individual Experiences’ in Madrid, Spain. The event was organised by the Fundacion Ortega Maranon, and Benotman addressed the conference on the subject of “Why I distanced myself from the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group”.
Benotman discussed his own experiences as a militant, the development of al-Qa’ida, and the process de-radicalisation and disengagement from violence. He warned an audience of over a hundred and fifty policy-makers, academics, journalists, and diplomats that both terrorism and al-Qa’ ida are symptoms of a larger problem. This problem, he explained, is a cultural problem that is relevant to many Muslim-majority societies, and that radical, extreme, and violent ideas have taken on a life of their own without the need for organisations such as al-Qa’ida. Western policy-makers, he warned, should not ignore the next generation of Muslim youths or the ideology advanced by extremists. A question and answer session followed.