Taking an innovative approach to tackling radicalisation

King’s International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) was established in 2008 as the first global centre for knowledge and leadership to address radicalisation and political violence. It aims to educate and engage students, governments and the public in areas such as diplomacy, security policy, counter-terrorism and international conflict resolution.

The ICSR informs global debate, influences UK government policy, brings together leading experts, and produces world-class research on conflict. In 2009, it was the first organisation to raise the alarm about the radicalisation of young people on the internet, and in 2011 (after Anders Breivik’s terrorist attacks in Norway) the first to release a report on the growth of far-right organisations across Europe.

The centre is spearheading a proactive approach to radicalisation by interacting with foreign fighters where they are most engaged in the realm of social media. This includes analysing approximately two million tweets a month and managing a database with over 700 profiles on foreign fighter activity, which serves as the world’s largest repository for understanding jihadi behaviours and motivations at their source.

The efforts of a small number of researchers have produced a database of over 700 foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, which serves as the world’s largest repository for understanding jihadi behaviours and motivations at their source. Crucially, this is allowing researchers to establish direct contact with foreign fighters via text or the internet. By taking the time to listen and build trust, the ICSR’s team are breaking down boundaries piece by piece to identify those at risk of joining Daesh and monitor those returning home.

King’s staff are also called upon to advise intergovernmental governments and organisations, including the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisations (NATO) and the British Army. Professor Peter Neumann, the Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s, was the only academic called to appear on the panel of a special White House summit on violent extremism. Professor Neumann presented alongside United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, and Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, among others.

The Department of War Studies and ICSR contribute directly to the fight against terrorism and radicalisation. The work of King’s staff and students helps build global understanding of the nature of conflict and, in doing so, makes the world a safer place for our children and our children’s children.