A project recently launched by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism aligns closely with CdM´s work in this area. Breaking the ISIS Brand-The ISIS Defectors Interviews Project aims to delegitimize ISIS messaging by ¨flooding the internet¨ with narratives that counter the group´s recruitment efforts. The project makes use of one-on-one interviews with ISIS defectors who explicitly denounce the group´s mission. ICSVE staff interviewed 43 defected militants from Syria, Western Europe, Central Asia, and the Balkans as part of this project.
The firsthand accounts collected by the ICSVE are powerful testimony of utter fear and disillusionment. They include descriptions of the group´s savage practices towards innocent women and captives, stories which often bring the young defectors to tears. Interviewees also reject ISIS´s claims to a divine mission in the name of Islam, one of the group`s most powerful recruitment tools. When asked what he would say to the children of the world attracted to ISIS, one boy states, ¨This organization is not Muslim. They are the infidels.¨ Another boy, in response to the same question, responds, ¨It is not an Islamic State, that is what I would tell you. They say you are going to go to Paradise, but none of it is true.¨
Clips of these interviews have been focus tested with successful results in Central Asia, the Balkans, Western Europe, Jordan, and the US. ICVSE staff members are currently testing them on social media among ISIS endorsers for ¨prevention and intervention purposes.¨
Club de Madrid applauds the ICSVE´s efforts to counter ISIS propaganda and delegitimize its dangerous recruitment practices.
Club de Madrid´s program Preventing Violent Extremism: Leaders Telling a Different Story seeks to combat extremist messaging by promoting positive counter-narratives and strengthening civil society in vulnerable areas. Drawing on the expertise of policymakers, media personnel, and academic experts, the PVE program is an effort to strengthen fragile societies in order to diminish the influence of extremist recruitment efforts. Club de Madrid supports the work of all civil society organizations attempting to prevent and counter the spread of violent extremism.