Below are some of my ongoing research projects.


Preventing the Next Generation: Mapping the Pathways of Child Mobilization into VEOs

This 3-year program of research (started 1 January 2016), funded by the Minerva Initiative, and conducted in collaboration with Professor Mia Bloom, will identify the processes and pathways of children's mobilization into violent extremist organizations (VEOs). Specific cases will be developed using primary and secondary data from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel/Palestine, Syria and Somalia in conjunction with regional partners who will facilitate the collection of interview data by local social workers and mental health professionals. This project will generate an empirically validated model that can explain children's involvement in VEOs and, it is hoped, inform practice, policy, training and further research aimed at developing evidence-based interventions at multiple levels.


Understanding American Muslim Converts in the Context of Security and Society

This project, funded by the Minerva Initiative is a collaboration with colleagues at the University of Melbourne, Queensland University of Technology and Monash University. The project will run for three years (beginning 1 January 2016) and seeks to understand the scale of growth, causes and processes of Islamic conversion in America and to contextualize and understand the emerging trend for US converts to be statistically overrepresented for involvement in Islamic extremism and religiously motivated violence relative to those who are born as Muslim. Through such knowledge we seek to establish a clearer empirical understanding of Muslim converts in America which may improve social cohesion and interfaith dialogue between non-Muslim and Muslim Americans working together to strengthen global security. 


And these are some recently completed projects.


Across the Universe? A Comparative Analysis of Violent Radicalization Across Three Offender Types With Implications for Criminal Justice Training and Education

This project is supported by a grant from the National Institute of Justice. It is a collaboration with University College, London (Dr Paul Gill and Dr Noemie Bouhana). This award will produce a two-year program of research (January 2014-December 2015) to develop a series of studies comparing the behavioral underpinnings of three types of U.S.-based offenders since 1990: solo-terrorists, lone-actor terrorists, and individuals who engage in mass casualty violence but lack an ideological motivation. In particular this research program compares the developmental, antecedent behavioral and ideological factors that crystallize within the offender and are later expressed behaviorally via the offense itself. This program of research seeks to understand whether (dis)similarities are observable across these offender types and what the relevant implications are for law enforcement. To address these questions, the research program contains three sub-projects drawing on distinctive research methods. Each observation will be coded using a 180+ variable codebook previously developed in a Department of Homeland Security funded project. These sub-projects focus upon (a) a descriptive trend analysis of pre-crime commission behaviors in order to understand what behaviors occur commonly across these three offense types and which behaviors are increasing in extent longitudinally (b) a comparative analysis of between offender types to investigate whether distinct behavioral profiles are apparent and (c) a sequential analysis of the planning and execution of offenses using crime scripting methodologies. By providing empirically informed and practitioner-oriented research, the project will deliver an evidential basis for informing multiple facets of investigative practice both within and across offense and offender types.

 

The final report for the National Institute of Justice is available in full here


Evaluation of a Multi-Faceted, U.S. Community-Based Muslim-Led CVE Program

This project is supported by a grant from the National Institute of Justice (January 2014-December 2015) and represents a collaboration with colleagues at the University of Nevada Reno (Drs. Michael Williams and Professor William Evans) and responds to a need both to counter domestic terrorism, and to evaluate programs focused on countering such violent extremism. The proposed evaluation will be done in Montgomery County, MD, in collaboration with the community-based, Muslim-led CVE program (The World Organization for Resource Development and Education), the Montgomery County Department of Police, and the Montgomery County Office of Community Partnerships. The first phase of the project will use a multi-method evaluation design to a) understand recruitment and retention practices of participants in a multi-faceted, U.S. community-based, Muslim-led CVE program, b) identify the outcomes of participation in that program, c) assess and explore community knowledge of risk factors associated with radicalization, and individuals' natural inclinations in response to those factors, and d) identify barriers to individual help-seeking and community-law enforcement collaborations in a CVE context. What will emerge from this phase is a set of working theories that clarify the relationships among these four subcomponents and lead to enhanced CVE programming and implementation. The second phase will develop survey instruments designed to measure quantifiably each of the Phase I subcomponents. Additionally, formalized curricula (i.e., educational materials and a manual for law enforcement) will be developed regarding a) awareness of risk factors of radicalization and civic-minded responses to them, and b) training for law enforcement officers regarding ways to build effective collaborations with local Islamic communities. Additionally, the CVE program will adjust its recruitment practices, based on 'lessons learned' from Phase I. The final phase of the project will assess the effectiveness of the CVE programs' adjusted (i.e., Phase II) recruitment practices. Additionally, the CVE programs' outcomes will be tested by comparing participant involvement groups (i.e. those who have never participated vs. participated once vs. participated multiple times).

 

The final report for the National Institute of Justice is available in full here.


Identifying and Countering Early Risk Factors for Violent Extremism Among Somali Refugee Communities Resettled in North America

This project (led by Dr. Heidi Ellis of Harvard Medical School/Children's Hospital Boston) is supported by the US Department of Defense's Minerva Research Initiative. Somalis have been one of the largest refugee groups to arrive in the U.S. every year over the past decade. While the vast majority of these refugees have adapted peacefully to life in America, a group of young Somali-American refugees have been targeted for radicalization and recruitment. Some have returned to Somalia as part of the al-Shabaab terrorist organization. This three-year project seeks to establish a theoretical, evidence-based framework to inform the prevention of violent extremism among refugees by building a longitudinal study of Somali-American young adults. This project is conducted in collaboration with the Children’s Hospital Center for Refugee Trauma and Resilience, of the Children’s Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School. You can find more information here.