Although arrests and a proposed Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designation worked in dismantling the Atomwaffen Division (AWD), the immediate rebranding of the group under a new name undermines the success of the law enforcement response.
countering violent extremism
No single factor explains why people withdraw from high-risk activism or political violence; disengagement typically happens because of growing disagreements over time as opposed to singular triggering events.
The turn from the GWOT to CVE, with its focus on prevention, broadened the monitoring mandate of security agencies, enabling them to apply tactics based on the assumption that anyone (but mostly the most traditionally marginalized) can be a potential “terrorist” or “extremist,” thereby justifying surveillance, intelligence gathering, and other civil rights violations of so-called suspects.
Violence prevention policy-making must start from an understanding of the lived experience of communities most affected by the GWOT in order to not be complicit in harmful and structurally racist policies.
“Violent extremism” must be reconsidered from the standpoint of local women, rather than from a “narrow, Western-centric, and male-dominated” perspective—a move that reveals, in the context of Iraq and Syria, the inclusion under that label of violence attributed not only to Salafi-Jihadist groups but also to government forces, “government-affiliated militias,” and patriarchy.