The Effect of Credible Voices on Radicalization Prevention

April 2017

In the years since September 11, 2001, there has been a surge of research inquiries into nearly every aspect of terrorism. This exploration focuses on the prevention aspect, analyzing the medium of credible voices, defined as: a religious official, based in a geographical location where extremism is prevalent, who is actively preaching against the thoughts and behaviors of extremist or terrorist organizations. Very little research on their efficacy has been conducted and this inquiry seeks to bridge the gap between academia and application. This inquiry will be studying credible voices against violent extremism under the paradigm of social movement theory and positing a research outline for future investigations. Using these theories to identify specific tactics undertaken by extremist organizations allows credible voices better and more targeted opportunities to counter the narrative, veering susceptible individuals away from the radicalization process. The target population consists of those in an extremism-prevalent geophysical location who are exposed to both extremist and counter-extremist material. Intensive interviewing techniques permit the research staff to identify particular tactics employed by the extremist movements, permitting more accurate counter-narrative targeting by credible voices. The benefits of this inquiry have long-lasting and far-reaching applications in the United States’ overall objective to disrupt, dismantle and defeat foreign terrorist organizations. Once credible voices have been verified to prevent radicalization, they can be established in any geographic region where a type of extremism can be identified (through replication studies). They can be used to prevent many varieties of extremist messaging, can collaborate with anyone from local organizations to the Federal Government, and even have the potential to develop a global network of credible voices.