Peacebuilding through economic development – Countering the IS/ISIS Narrative

UK-US-Flag IS/ISIS and its ilk promise a better society for current and future generations through its narrative of change   under its Caliphate. Individuals at the sharp end are desperate for social change and will buy into whosoever promises a better future state for them and their family. President Obama and PM Cameron both talk about a generational struggle against extremism, yet we do little to empower the marginalised working poor to build a better future for themselves, their family and their community.

It is not only the West that is embroiled in a generational struggle against a poisonous brand of Islamic extremism, the front line in this struggle is in the East (in the Middle East, in Africa and in South Asia) where this poisonous narrative has taken deep roots.

The things we take for granted in developed economies; governance, regulations, access to institutions, resources both public and private to guide us and assist us, be it starting up small business or awareness of our rights. These privileges and safety nets are non-existent at the sharp end in conflict affected developing economies.  The citizens of these developing countries are not oblivious to the fact that it is the role of the state to provide such services and the state’s inability to do so has them seeking governmental and social transformation, individuals the world over chase the opportunity to build a better life/future for themselves, their family and community. People the world over want a life of prosperity, progress and peace not jihad, but the lack of a progressive transformation has given IS/ISIS an opportunity to exploit with a false hope of a better future under their Caliphate. 

What is required is for us to engage with the ‘at risk’ populous and course correct the social transformation that is already in motion. A small team with limited resources at Peace Through Prosperity has been engaged with marginalised individuals to empower them to build a better future for themselves, their family and communities; giving them the confidence of being the catalyst for transformation of their ecosystem. The team is achieving phenomenal results; the aim is to ensure IS/ISIS and its ilk have fewer and fewer individuals to radicalise both at home and abroad.

GoFundMe2 Peace Through Prosperity engages with marginalised and alienated individuals to ensure they have good reason to turn their backs on radicalisation and violent extremism, to condemn such acts rather than glorify them and their perpetrators. Just as IS is able to exploit moments when we let our guard down we avail the opportunities in the ecosystem to alienate IS/ISIS in its own environment from the indigenous population. It is peacebuilding through economic / enterprise development at the grass roots.

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Stopping an Un-Islamic State… an alternative approach 

unbent and unbroken Great Britain Friday the 26th 2015, 9th of Ramadhan, monsters we have come to know as IS struck across three countries – Tunisia, France and Kuwait – Britain could have been on the list (God Forbid) if not for our intelligence services or the lack of intelligence on IS member, Junaid Hussain’s part (Hallelujah for the lack of grey cells in his genetic makeup).
 
Whilst many were quick to blame the security and intelligence services in letting down their guards none so far have questioned the prevalent approach employed to counter the spread of extremism.

 

In Kuwait, a suicide bomber flew in from Saudi Arabia and carried out an attack on a mosque killing 27 people within hours of landing in Kuwait city (an impossible feat without an extensive local support network). In Tunisia, a lone gunman killed 38+ tourists at a seaside resort most of them Britons (once again not possible without an extensive local support network creating violent extremists out of  disenfranchised youth). In France, a Frenchman was beheaded by a Frenchman (an Algerian or Moroccan lone wolf radicalised either at home or in North Africa). The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attacks in Tunisia and Kuwait whilst the French terrorist’s affiliation is yet to be determined.
 
 
Each of these attacks demonstrated systemic planning and radicalisation of indigenous individuals Sousse PREVENT RADICALISATION ISIS ISLAMIC STATE by IS. It is time we seriously considered an alternative approach to ensure IS and its ilk have fewer and fewer individuals to radicalise both at home and abroad. It is time to win hearts and minds at the grassroots, to engage with marginalised and alienated individuals to ensure they have good reasons to turn their backs on radicalisation and violent extremism, to condemn such acts rather than glorify them and their perpetrators. Just as IS is able to exploit moments when we let our guard down we must exploit the opportunities before us to alienate IS in its own environment from the indigenous population.

 

We did not get peace in Northern Ireland because the terrorists wanted peace! we got peace because the indigenous population got sick of the cycle of violence which had no gain for either side in sight, the populous was convinced of the loose-loose outcome of the status quo. People the world over want a life of prosperity, progress and peace not jihad.

 

The only way to end this cycle of violence is for governments to invest on empowering the local indigenous population be it uneducated marginalised street merchants that may provide an extensive support infrastructure or disenfranchised graduates who are willing and able fodder for attacks on home soil and abroad. 
 
This is a common sense approach, IS is entrenched and playing the long game, they are building a state out of chaos and we too must play the long game if we are to ensure these monsters can never carve out a nation state from the chaos in the Levant and North Africa.
 
Generational-social-transformation Countering IS radicalisation at an individual level in Africa and Asia is less than the cost of a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG), it costs US$470 over a 10 month period to transform an individual at risk of radicalisation in a marginalised neighbourhood both materially and psychologically, to take them from someone who may condone violent extremism as a means for social transformation to someone who condemns it and has other means to transform themselves, their family and community. It costs US$500 to purchase an RPG grenade and a shed load more for the RAF bombs Mr Cameron wants to drop on Syria and Iraq.
 
Whilst we invest in ever more sophisticated surveillance technologies and infringe even more individual rights to keep ourselves and our society safe why not invest in the ‘right’ programs at the other end too and see what results social transformation bear upon our security at home.
 
The results of a pilot project targeting 214 marginalised individuals from seven radicalised neighbourhoods in Karachi, Pakistan proves that the alternative approach works. Providing marginalised individuals the tools and skills to take charge of their future, become financially independent has a direct relationship with their view of the world as their enemy, their view of licit and illicit vehicles for social transformation. 
You can read all about it here and if you agree with this alternative approach perhaps you can poke your MP or Congressman/woman to wake up to the fact that security of our towns and cities begins abroad… with Agile designed and delivered programs that are low cost and deliver immediate and lasting impact on the individuals, their family and community. 
….….
The program referred to in the post above is run by Peace Through Prosperity a charity co-founded by the author to address violent extremism. You can learn more about the charity and its work here;
Peace Through Prosperity is a community funded organisation, do your part in helping them do theirs; you can donate here via Paypal or directly to their bank account;
Account name: Peace Through Prosperity
Bank: HSBC Plc
Sort-code: 40-15-05
Account #: 223-410-93
….….
 

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Got your back Roshan Deen

ROshan_Deen_Haripur_2012 In the summer of 2012 whilst surveying entrepreneurs of circumstance in Haripur in Northern Pakistan I met a street cobbler named Roshan Deen,  he sat on a make shift plank upon an open sewage line, amongst all that darkness Roshan Deen’s attitude was brighter than any star in the Milky Way! one of the most content and joyous people I have ever met, sheer defiance in the face of his circumstances.  The experience lead to much introspection and questioning of my own machinery of want.

A little over a year later Peace Through Prosperity has re-visited Haripur and as of last week completed the mini-MBA program designed to help and assist entrepreneurs of circumstance like Roshan Deen to grow their businesses and build a better future for themselves and their families.

roshan deen 2013

A year on and Roshan Deen’s defiance has been beaten and his spirit broken, he has lost his spot, his health and his mojo!  it pains to learn and see such human spirit undone before us. All is not lost, Roshan Deen participated in our mini MBA program and I am confident team PTP over the coming few months will help Roshan Deen and the many others we are engaging with turn their fortunes around where they have taken a downward turn and help others find flight.

Roshan Deen we got your back…

roshan deen

Roshan Deen was the face of our 2012 Christmas, Eid and New Year Campaign.

@BringPTP  Follow, Like, Support – Do your part and help us do ours.

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Opportunism

A New Day Valley of Ait Ami

“…violent extremism is neither constrained by international borders nor limited to any single ideology. Groups and individuals inspired by a range of religious, political, or other ideological beliefs have promoted and used violence against the homeland.” Department of Homeland Security

Humble opinion… it is too inwardly looking by definition to be effective.

It should be about ‘our homeland’ not ‘the homeland’… (that’d be planet Earth ignoramus).  Recognise our community is global. (its been 50 years since he had a dream! and it was colourful ignoramus) Think of the many not the few. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Gain altitude in your view. Recognise the marginalised as such. Stop viewing the marginalised as alien threats that need to be neutralised.

Prevent. (and I don’t mean PREVENT – though well meaning our gov has botched up its implementation) Prevent radicalisation and you would not need to counter violent extremism or counter terrorism.

Preventing radicalisation has to be neither constrained by international borders nor limited to any single ideology.” Peace Through Prosperity

Prevent radicalisation by enabling the marginalised to have a fair shot at achieving prosperity to the best of their abilities in their own environment.  Do not try to fix what is not broken, help them improve upon what they have.

We started Peace Through Prosperity a little over a year ago to to do just that: Prevent radicalisation. We are not into countering violent extremism or counter terrorism because countering it means we let the opportunity to prevent it slip.

Its about how you view them and hence they you.

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The beacons of Gondor

riders_of_Rohan Following much debate at Peace Through Prosperity we agreed on the principle for launching the Peace Ambassadors Program, and it goes like this:

“We believe engaging marginalised individuals would be easier if the funding was generated from real people with a common goal of preserving and bettering global civil society as a community…. this would maintain our neutrality from any government’s policies and help us maintain a position of trust amongst our target audience.
To expand and do more, reach more and fix what is broken across the globe we need more likeminded people on board helping us spread the word through social media, helping us generate funds to keep the projects going and helping us build a better society for all the inhabitants of the third rock.”

It is built upon our belief in the spirit of the community, the community of the third rock.

Will it work? many moons in and still struggling to raise the total required funds for the Haripur project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa I am sceptical, having said that I  believe we need our independence to engage with our target audience, it is critical for developing the level of trust we need to be able to have the conversations we do. We need friends not masters to help us prevent radicalisation.

Its a huge gamble. Will individuals or groups of individuals come to the aid of a distant community that Peace Through Prosperity is engaging with? a community sieged in their stand against a great evil.

The beacons of Gondor are lit.

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