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Can an ISIS Terrorist be Rehabilitated?

Can an ISIS Terrorist be Rehabilitated?

Date and time: June 10, 2020, 11 am to 12:30 pm Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4)

Register here.

Join ICSVE director Dr. Anne Speckhard and a team of expert practitioners to discuss rehabilitating and reintegrating terrorists.

Have you ever wondered if an ISIS terrorist, or anyone imprisoned under terrorism charges can be successfully rehabilitated and reintegrated into society? It’s an important question concerning the potential repatriation of ISIS men, women and children currently detained in Iraq and Syria. Of the approximately 45,000 foreign fighters that streamed into Syria, many who ultimately joined ISIS, many have been killed, while others have made their way home. Meanwhile, 2000 foreign fighters and thousands more ISIS women and children are currently imprisoned by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in overcrowded conditions while disease, including the COVID-19 pandemic, threatens and Turkey continues to destabilize the area trying to oust the SDF from the territory.

What will happen if the prisoners escape or if countries decide they must take them home, as Finland recently did with its ISIS women and children housed in Camp al Hol?

Countries differ in their response to international pressure for repatriations, sometimes arguing on behalf of returning the women, and children at least, as the SDF struggles with not enough prisons, understaffing, regional instability, prison riots and the repeated escapes by detainees as occurred when over 200 ISIS detainees escaped during the Turkish invasion of SDF territory in Fall 2019.

Whether any of these 2000 FTFs and the thousands more women and children will make their way back home is still an unanswered question and if they do, then the question becomes: Can a former ISIS member ever be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society?

If so, what does it take to turn him or her away from one of the most lethal terrorist groups and ideologies of the century? What is terrorist disengagement and how does it differ from deradicalization? How can we ensure that terrorists who return home can both face justice and after paying for their crimes at some point safely re-enter society? What are the key elements of a successful rehabilitation and repatriation program?

Join ICSVE director Dr. Anne Speckhard and a team of experts, each of whom have helped to put together and actually carried out programs designed to rehabilitate terrorists. Each of the experts will discuss these questions, their work and present a case of successful rehabilitation of a prisoner under terrorism charges. Bring your questions and prepare for a lively discussion!

Mr. Redouan Safdi, from Belgium is a Muslim counselor at the prison in Hasselt which is a prison designated for terrorist offenders. He is also imam at a mosque in Koersel, Belgium.

Moussa Hassan al Diaw, from Austria is the Founder and Chairman of DERAD Austria. He serves as an assignee and contractual partner of the Federal Ministry of Justice in Austria for deradicalization and prevention in prisons, interventions and training concerning jihadism and political Salafism. He has served as a consultant on religious extremism for the Chancellor of the State Brandenburg in Germany, as a teacher at the University of Education Linz, University Krems, and University Onasbruck, and as a trainer for police officers in Germany and Austria. He teaches at the University of Vienna and has published two scientific studies of extremists in Austria, one looking returnees and those who wanted to travel to ISIS and another looking at female extremists in Austria.

Oomar Molbocus is a therapist and behavioral interventionist from the United Kingdom. A former member of Hizb in Mauritius and Al Muhajiroun, he is now a CVE specialist at the West London Initiative with expertise in community engagement, counter- and alternative-narratives, disengagement, and early prevention.

Yasmin Mulbocus, a BSc (Hons) Criminology/Sociology, currently works as a freelance caseworker tackling child sexual exploitation, domestic violence and violent extremism. Due to her previous background both as a survivor of child abuse and a former Al Muhajiroun female recruiter from 1996 to 2000, she works in conjunction with third sector organizations such as Inter-Diversity Ltd as well as the local authorities as a freelance caseworker/interventionist/associate education engagement mentor. She is now completing her MSc in Terrorism and Political Violence.

Dr. Anne Speckhard, Director of ICSVE has in-depth interviewed over 700 terrorists and their close associates, family members and hostages if they have been suicide bombers (and already dead) from various parts of the Middle East, North Africa, Russia, Europe and the Balkans. Most recently she in-depth interviewed 239 ISIS prisoners, returnees and defectors. In 2007 she designed the psychological and Islamic challenge portions of what became the Detainee Rehabilitation Program to be applied to 23,000 detainees and 800 juveniles held by the U.S. forces in Iraq. She has consulted and conducted research regarding terrorism in prisons around the world. Dr. Speckhard will moderate the panel.

The panel will each speak briefly and questions will be most welcome with a lively discussion to ensue! Questions can be posed using the Zoom chat feature or by Twitter to @ICSVE.

This is the second discussion in this series of panels discussing ISIS Foreign Fighters. The first panel, Issues of ISIS Prisoners and Repatriations in a Time of COVID, has been recorded and can be watched here.

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