Youth Deradicalization Project


In September 2005 the RAND Initiative for Middle Eastern Youth (IMEY) held a conference entitled A Future for the Young: Options for Helping Middle Eastern Youth Escape the Trap of Radicalization. The main objective of the meeting was to address the issue of why young people are drawn to fringe movements and/or to delinquent, self-destructive behavior. Experts on a wide-ranging set of such behaviors found many parallels in the social, personal and community circumstances of young people who become involved in street gangs, right wing extremism, jihadist cells and other related anti-social, high risk enterprises.

Learn more about the conference and its findings

The conference also highlighted research findings on how to prevent such involvement in the first place, and how to disengage members of such groups once they have joined. A series of presentations and working groups brought together the skill sets of prominent academics from a range of disciplines - from government officials to NGO leaders. One of the primary conclusions developed as a result of the meeting was that to overcome the problem of radicalization, youth must be credibly engaged in productive alternatives. Participants therefore suggested holding a similar meeting aimed at developing a capacity-building effort for youth in the region. Fulfilling this recommendation, the second Future for the Young conference is scheduled for March 15 - 18, 2007, in Doha Qatar.

IMEY is developing an online discussion forum to act as a continuation of the 2005 conference in Washington, D.C., and a precursor to the 2007 conference in Doha. Along with an email newsletter it will serve as a networking and capacity building resource for those involved with our project. The forum will be password protected; to participate in it, or to receive our email newsletter, please send relevant academic information to Kristen Cordell (

2005 Conference Presentees:

Tore Bjørgo, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and Norwegian Police University College. Reducing Recruitment and Promoting Disengagement from Extremist Groups: The Case of Racist Sub-Cultures.

Petter Nesser, Norwegian Defense Institute. Profiles of Jihadist Terrorists in Europe.

Sharon Curcio, Military Intelligence Technician. The Dark Side of Jihad: How Young Men Detained at Guantanamo Assess their Experiences.

John Horgan, University of St. Andrews, Scotland. Psychological Factors Related to Disengaging from Terrorism: Some Preliminary Assumptions and Assertions.

Paul Dercon, AIVD. Dawa to Jihad: New Developments in Dutch Policy.

Cheryl Benard, RAND. Cybermullahs and the Jihad – Radical Websites Fostering Estrangement and Hostility among Diaspora Muslims .

Ed O’Connell, RAND

Cheryl Benard, RAND. The Myth of Martyrdom: Young People and the Insurgency in Iraq.

Jonathan Powers, War Kids Relief Project, Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation.

Mounzer Fatfat, Ministry of the Interior, Iraq. Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation.

Michael Taarnby, Ministry of Justice, Denmark. Yemen’s Committee for Dialogue: the Relativity of a Counter Terrorism Success.

Aida B. Balsano, Tufts University, Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development. The Role of Developmental Assets and Youth Engagement in Promoting Positive Development Among Youth.

Susie Kay, Hoop Dreams. Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund.

Michael D. Wiatrowski, National Center for Education Statistics. Discussion leader: Working Groups 1 and 2.

2007 Conference Participants:

If you are part of a group interested in participating in A Future for the Young: Engaging and Involving Middle Eastern Youth, our 2007 Youth Deradicalization Conference in Doha, Qatar, please contact Kristen Cordell (

Discussion Board

Participants of the 2005 conference, and those registered for the 2007 conference, are encouraged to participate in a private online discussion forum.