Over the past year, we’ve been busy. We’ve provided input on an array of research projects. We’ve presented in the media over numerous outlets and platforms such as the New York Times, A&E, New Republic, Showtime, documentaries for television and big screen, podcasts and numerous other projects.
We’ve consulted on countering violent extremism (CVE) projects that range from the United States to South East Asia, that cover West Africa and MENA, and over across the Middle East and into Pakistan and Afghanistan. All of these endeavors have documented the utility and need for the lens the Parallel Networks philosophy provides.
Parallel Networks is pleased to announce the formal addition of Mitch D. Silber as our new Executive Director. Once head of the Intelligence Analysis of the NYPD, Mitch is now a professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and heads the Guardian Group, an intelligence and security-consulting firm.
Mitch’s addition will give PN a unique asset. For the first time, a counter-terrorism official will partner with a former jihadist and contribute to the CVE space. While at the NYPD, Mitch spent several years monitoring Revolution Muslim, the organization Jesse headed at the time.
Our founder, Jesse Morton has partnered with Mitch Silber on an array of interesting endeavors. Soon, a series of papers and articles will appear that will make a significant contribution as western governments shift toward waging a struggle against a ‘Virtual Caliphate.’ It is a partnership perhaps unlike any beforehand. Their collaboration will grant an insider’s perspective, from both the jihadi and law enforcement side of things.
Mitch will collaborate with PN staff on consultancy projects, as well as presentation and input for law enforcement agencies, the counter-terrorism community and CVE-oriented organizations.
Jesse is also helping the Institute for Strategic Dialogue expand its Anti-Violent Extremism Network in North America. This initiative is meant to facilitate the development of initiatives such one-on-one interventions for those radicalizing, programs that can help better assist those incarcerated for terror-related offenses, and the creation of a parallel network of ‘formers’ that can provide input to the public, counterterrorism professionals and policymakers.
He’s also returned to writing. He’s back to penning his memoir. He’s completed a screenplay, a star-crossed love story that occurs in the context of intersecting variants of violent extremism. He’s spearheading the writing of a cartoon geared at prevention and developing an array of proposals for future endeavors. These are but a few examples.
In the meantime, Juncal completed her PhD dissertation on the parallels between recruitment for ISIS and sex and human trafficking networks. The team at Parallel Networks is now applying those relevant findings to help answer questions about how we might deal with foreign fighter returnees and with deradicalization initiatives. She’s in conversation for applicability with the Spanish Embassy and is conducting further field research for upcoming initiatives.
We’re also pleased to announce our work with Tania Joya. Tania was married to John Georgelas (Yahya Al-Barhumi), the foremost American figure in ISIS. She travelled to Syria in 2013 with her family but left shortly after, fearing for her children and her unborn baby. Her story has been covered by numerous media outlets both in the U.S. such as Texas Monthly, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and in her native Britain The Times of London. She was featured in Graeme Wood’s “The Way of the Strangers: Encounters With the Islamic State,” and now serves on the Parallel Networks board where she will enhance her ability to fight and deter others from engaging with the ideology that once seduced her. She’s new to the arena but wants to utilize her story and the interest it has generated to expand her capacity to contribute in the CVE space and provide a powerful preventative narrative.
It has, however, been a painful process. We continue to work inwards, to heal ourselves, as we work outwards, and help heal others. With two ‘formers’ on the Board of Directors, you might say we have our own ongoing in-house deradicalization initiative. Thankfully, we have not been doing this all on our own. In particular The Alliance for Peacebuilding, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, and Dr. James Gordon with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine have kindly provided us with incommensurable support. Without their assistance, we likely wouldn’t still be here sustaining the struggle. We owe a special thanks to Mitch Silber, who headed the investigation of Jesse’s organization, Revolution Muslim, back in the day. Mitch has been crucial in continuing in our advancing understanding on how to eradicate Manichean ‘us vs. them’ worldviews, and in grasping the intersections of CVE and CT engagement.
Waging this fight has not been easy. Idealisms and passion often place one in economic hardship. Sometimes you need to muster sufficient strength just to wake up in the morning and keep going, to keep believing it can be achieved.
Most people don’t realize that we don’t get paid for media. We are consulted but never compensated. We often see our own ideas offered in open discussion implemented with someone else's funding, and often, in someone else’s name. Still, we continue to share ourselves because we believe in the cause. We try to act on principle because we believe that the struggle against extremism, against hate and hyperpolarization is the struggle of our generation, with grave implications for the world we’ll live in tomorrow and the world our children will inherit thereafter.
Many of you know how much time and energy we put into realizing this dream. Many of you know how hard it has been to keep hope alive, to even imagine it possible. Now, to grow and develop we have to humbly request that you support our cause financially, so we can expand and allocate more time into doing more. If CVE is to work, it will require grassroots involvement. If you kindly take the time to watch our video, you’ll see that there are different ways you can collaborate.
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Your donations will help allow us to wage the war against violent extremism, and they will make you part of that struggle. This issue affects every one of us, and we each have a responsibility and role to play in combating extremism. We would be honored were you to support and join our Parallel Network! Thank you!