Expert Roundtable on “Developing an Effective Counter-Narrative Framework for Countering Violent Extremism (CVE)”

Expert Roundtable on “Developing an Effective Counter-Narrative Framework for Countering Violent Extremism (CVE)”

In June 2014, Muflehun participated in a one and a half day expert roundtable on “Developing an Effective Counter-Narrative Framework for Countering Violent Extremism (CVE)” organized by Hedayah and the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism—the Hague (ICCT).

The meeting included approximately 25 leading experts to examine the different requirements for an effective counter-narrative framework and provide recommendations on its implementation. The discussions used a background paper by Dr. Alex P. Schmid as a starting point to identify the challenges with existing governmental and non-governmental counter-narrative frameworks against Al-Qaeda’s violent extremist narrative, and to propose recommendations going forward.

Expert Roundtable On Developing An Effective Counter-Narrative Framework for CVE

Global Survivors Network Response to OBL death

Above all else, let’s make this a time of remembrance for those who have suffered at the hands of Al-Qaeda and its supporters.  Let us continue to speak truth to terror so that what happened to us, never happens again.”

Over the past few days, the world media has heavily covered the story of the death of Osama bin Laden, including the response of victims and survivors of various attacks.  While the event brought relief for some and closure for others, all those who are actively working towards countering violent extremism repeatedly remind us that the work is not done yet; the al-Qaeda network is not dead, and whereas Osama bin laden was the leader of Al-Qaeda central, the threats we face are not just from him. His followers, affiliates, partners, supporters, funders and people inspired by him are still determined to attack innocent civilians.

Several members of the GSN have been featured in the press and some of their responses are included below. More press coverage can be seen here.

Carie Lemack states:”Its not a day of celebration for me and my family;, its a day of remembrance. At the end of the day I’d like to focus on my mom and the nearly 3,000 others who were killed on September 11th and the thousands of others who’ve been killed at the hands of Al-Qaeda.  Their message and their story is one of hope and love and peace and that’s so much more powerful than Bin Laden’s message of hatred and violence.”

Ashraf Khaled states: “Our efforts must continue until we see a real end to this; it doesn’t depend on one person; they are a movement and they have a lot of followers. We have to fight this to the end.”

Scholars on the hill Series: Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah

Scholars on the hill Series: Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah


Muflehun held the second event of its “Scholars on the Hill Series” for government, academia and think tanks. The speaker was renowned scholar Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah (bio) and translation provided by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf . The topic discussed was  “Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism from a Theological Perspective.”

Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah talked about the Mardin conference in 2010 that focused on understanding and addressing Ibn Tahmiya’s fatwa that has been extensively used to support violence. The new Mardin Declaration and the Shaykh’s research highlighted that:

  • The categorization of countries into Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb is descriptive, and is not meant to be prescriptive
  • The constructs of Dar al Islam/Dar al Harb/Dar al Sulh are not relevant in today’s context of nation states
  • Various hate preachers and Al-Qaeda affiliates have quoted Ibn Tahmiya’s fatwa however they refer to an edition that has a typo such that their understanding of Ibn Tahmiya’s fatwa is flawed. Instead of “treating people” as per their own faith, they misread his work to read “kill people” of other faiths. When research was done on comparing the words of the fatwa across editions, it was discovered that older editions did not allow for killing, whereas a typo in an Egyptian edition that was less than 100 years old did so.
  • Jihad is misunderstood by violent extremists who fail to understand the conditions of armed combat

The new Mardin Declaration is considered such a threat that it has been attacked three times already by various spokesmen for Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, including mentioning Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah by name. Copies can be downloaded from the Mardin Fatwa website.

* Muflehun does not endorse any school of thought or scholar, and the speaker’s opinions are entirely his own.

Mohammed Junaid Babar- Donnie Brasco or Frank Lucas?

In 2004, Mohammed Junaid Babar was arrested for helping set up an al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan and logistical support. He pled guilty and cooperated with law enforcement agencies. Acting as a witness in indictments of ten more people in the US, UK and Canada, he was finally sentenced in December 2010 to time served (a mere 4 years 8 months), 10 years supervised probation and a $500 fine; he could have been sentenced up to 70 years.  Junaid Babar, who has expressed remorse for his prior actions, was actually released on bail some 2 years ago in 2008.

There are many unanswered questions around this case as most of the court documents are sealed.

Judge Marrero mentioned that Babar was cooperating with law enforcement before his 2004 arrest. Was Babar a Donnie Brasco, working undercover for law enforcement, to catch terrorists?

Alternatively, if reports about Operation Crevice and Hassan Butt by Shiv Malik and Jon Gilbert have any credibility, Babar was looking for a way out, while avoiding spending the rest of his life in jail for his al-Qaeda activities. Given his incarceration for almost 5 years it is more likely that this was a Frank Lucas style deal or a David-Headley-style-informant-operation (1) that actually worked. 

Are some of the 10 people that were indicted because of Babar’s testimony in the same boat as Niazi in the Monteilh/FBI fiasco in California, or were they all genuinely involved in terrorism? At least two of the accused have had all charges against them dropped.

Assuming that Babar was really a terrorist and not acting in an undercover capacity, does cooperating with law enforcement count as an expression of de-radicalization or is it merely a self-preservation tactic? Can a man who helped set up a training camp for al-Qaeda be de-radicalized because of fear of a 70 year sentence?

The questions swirling around Babar’s conduct and sentencing have been dealt with by the courts, and it seems they will remain unanswered for the rest. Even his lawyer had not seen all the documents and notes from the prosecution side related to his case as Babar pled guilty and there was no discovery needed! 


(1) In the David Headley case, he was a paid informant who actually got radicalized during his sting activities, and was involved in the Mumbai bombing. Even when reports of his radicalization were coming in, the law enforcement community gave him free rein  because they assumed that it was part of his cover.