Quilliam International is pleased to announce that we are launching our latest report out of our US offices, titled “In and out of Extremism USA: A case study on the deradicalization process of the youngest individual to be indicted on terror charges in the United States.”
The report highlights the journey in and out of extremism of Mohammed Hassan Khalid, who returned home from prison a little over a year ago, and who is the youngest person in U.S. history indicted on terror-related charges. Mohammed’s charges were further unique in that he pleaded guilty in May 2012 to conspiracy to provide material assistance to terrorists and his role in an online plot – in conjunction with Colleen LaRose, aka “Jihad Jane” – to kill the Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who had drawn the prophet Muhammad on the body of a dog.
The United States currently has no official program in place for the rehabilitation and deradicalisation of jihadist fighters. Quilliam North America, which was launched last year, decided to take on this task ourselves and have since been dedicated to creating the research, expertise, and data to fill this gap in deradicalisation knowledge ourselves.
While recent focus has been on the hundreds of ISIS fighters now returning back home, less attention has been given to the around 200 al-Qa’ida fighters who are gradually coming out on parole and will need to be registered into effective and results-driven rehabilitation and deradicaliation programs. These programs will also be critical for newer ISIS fighters who are pre-crime, meaning they have been radicalized but have not yet committed a crime for them to be put through the prison system.
Mohammad Hassan Khalid’s role served to be critical in a growing and ever evolving al-Qa’ida at the time, who sought English language speakers to aide in their recruitment and to spread their message. In the case of Mohammed, his linguistic skills in both Urdu and English along with his expertise in the encrypted online extremist portals and propaganda sphere became critical and useful to garner new support and aide individuals down a pathway to radicalization, mobilization and violent extremism.
After his arrest, like others who have been arrested who were former al-Qa’ida or ISIS sympathizers and followers, Mohammed was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and depression further showing the need to address the role mental health plays along with other factors in the reasons why people join extremist groups.
Since being released from prison and after initial contact with us while he was in prison, Quilliam International, the world’s first counter extremist organization composed of former extremists themselves and subject matter experts on terrorism intervention and prevention, has had the opportunity to work with Mohammed on his journey in and out extremism. His experiences and lessons learned have been captured in this report in which Mohammed expresses his experience via a first-hand testimony of events that impacted him and played a crucial role in his radicalization process and eventual mobilization to act.
His views, sentiments and feelings are vital as local, state, national and international actors are seeking real ways to address the needs of individuals in the pre and post period of incarceration. The answers and solutions aren’t easy and require continued nuanced and surgical approaches that are tailored and personal. To further amplify this point, in this report, Quilliam also highlights real, tangible options in addressing this rising issue of extremism and what to do in the immediate aftermath whether it be al-Qa’ida or the so called Islamic State.
Author and Executive Director Quilliam US, Muhammad Fraser-Rahim, Ph.D. said:
“From being on the inside of the US government previously as a counterterrorism analyst working to tract, disrupt, and deter individuals going down the extremist pathway for over a decade and now on the outside finding practitioner-based and evidence-based approaches to combat extremism, the struggle doesn’t stop. I am more convinced now than ever before that individualized, tailored and personal attention is more vital than ever to address the various pathways of individuals lured by the pull of extremism. My experience working directly one on one with Mohammed Khalid in the US and our efforts globally has led me to believe that there is hope and possibility for individuals to live healthy and productive lives on their road to rehabilitation.”
The report can be downloaded for FREE here.
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