Linda Bishai and Lauren Van Metre

Why Violent Extremism Still Spreads

Just Security


Since 2001, the international community has spent enormous intellectual and political capital debating and negotiating the definition of violent extremism to design effective strategies and programs. Despite an array of efforts to identify and prevent lone wolf actors, counter the influence of extremist narratives, and conduct military operations against armed terrorist groups, violent extremism continues to spread. The reason is that the international community and vulnerable countries are focused on the symptoms and not the key source of the problem, now identified in multiple studies: state predation and marginalization that drives desperate citizens to look for alternatives. For some, the most readily available choice is support for and membership in violent extremist groups.