Muflehun Presents at UN Conference on Human Rights of Victims of Terrorism

Muflehun Presents at UN Conference on Human Rights of Victims of Terrorism

HK-talk1Muflehun spoke on Feb 11 on the role on the role of victims and survivors of terrorism in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PVE & CVE) at the UN Conference on the Human Rights of Victims of Terrorism organized by the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) and the United Nations Counter-terrorism Implementation Taskforce (CTITF) Working Group on Supporting and Highlighting Victims of Terrorism.

Executive Director Humera Khan highlighted the potential roles of victims in PVE and CVE beyond counter-narratives and the need to protect their rights without instrumentalizing them.

The conference gathered experts from civil society, academia, regional and international organisations, to focus on how States can strengthen their national legislation, procedures and practices, based on the report on the “Framework Principles for Securing the Human rights of Victim of Terrorism” (A/HRC/20/14) by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

Video archive is available from UN WebTV  and starts at 2:03:26.

UN Security Council CTC Special Meeting & CTED Technical Sessions on Preventing Abuse of ICT

UN Security Council CTC Special Meeting & CTED Technical Sessions on Preventing Abuse of ICT

UN CTC panelMuflehun Executive Director Humera Khan joined the technology panel at the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) Special Meeting on Preventing terrorists from exploiting the Internet and social media to recruit terrorists and incite terrorist acts, while respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. Facebook, Twitter, Weibo and Microsoft joined as co-panelists to discuss public-private collaboration for #reclaimingtheweb.

Muflehun also joined a panel on “Use of ICT for Counter-Messaging” at the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) Technical Sessions to talk about lessons learned for meta-narratives against violent extremism.

At the end, Ms Khan joined CTED Executive Director Jean-Paul Laborde for an informal press briefing.

UN Event information: UN CTC event info

Video coverage of event from UN TV available here:

CTED Technical Sessions: Preventing Terrorists from Exploiting the Internet and Social Media (Part 2)

CTC Special Meeting: Preventing Terrorists from Exploiting the Internet and Social Media (Part 3)– (starts at 1:51:06)

Press Briefing: Jean-Paul Laborde (CTED) and Humera Khan (Muflehun) on Terrorism Online – Media Stakeout (17 December 2015)

GCTF – OSCE International Workshop on “Advancing Women’s Roles in Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism”

GCTF – OSCE International Workshop on “Advancing Women’s Roles in Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism”

In October 2014, Muflehun Executive Director represented the organization at the GCTF-OSCE International Conference on Advancing the Role of Women in CVERLT in Vienna, Austria.

This international workshop is part of a joint initiative of the OSCE Transnational Threats Department and the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), supported by Germany, Turkey and the United States of America.

The purpose of the workshop was to promote gender-sensitive strategies, policies and measures to counter violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism.

It was aimed at senior government officials. A previous workshop held on 13-14 May 2014 in Istanbul was organized for civil society practitioners.

On the basis of the two workshops, a draft good practices document will be elaborated for possible adoption by the GCTF.

Ms Khan spoke on a panel on “Building Partnerships with Civil Society Organizations to Advance Women’s Roles in Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism.”

She started by offering a conceptualization of CVE, definitions and a CVE framework and shared examples from Muflehun’s CVE training and interventions with youth, families, imams, and law enforcement in the United States.

Importantly, CVE is neither diplomacy nor development work. In this context, partnerships with civil society present a number of advantages and limitations. They can engage with issues, groups, and individuals of interest, which public authorities might not be able to on their own; provide contextual knowledge; help bypass community gatekeepers; benefit from on-the-grounds legitimacy and existing networks of contacts and influence; and act as force-multipliers.

On the other hand, these partnerships often face limited financial resources; government funding can undermine partners’ legitimacy; civil society actors lack of awareness of national security threats; legacies of mistrust and sometime antagonism need to be overcome to rebuild relationships; international, national and local interests and priorities need to be reconciled; there is a need to acknowledge grievances for genuine counter-narratives; partners can be critical of governments and their action; and women should be better involved in CVE without securitizing women-led efforts.

Key principles for effective multi-sector engagement include: clearly defining sub-objectives and pursuing different approaches; ensuring all stakeholders share a common understanding, such as the difference
between CVE-relevant and specific actions; and developing relationships across the board, at all levels of civil society and government, and including within civil society and government.

For more information on the topic, see links below:

“The Power of Social Media in Combating Terrorism” at GovSec

“The Power of Social Media in Combating Terrorism” at GovSec

Muflehun Executive Director Humera Khan joined Lieutenant General Francis H. Kearney, III, Former Deputy Director, Strategic Operational Planning at the National Counter-Terrorism Center, on a panel about “The Power of Social Media in Combating Terrorism” at the Government Security Conference and Expo 2012 (GovSec 2012).

Other panelists included Gerald Gahima, Former Deputy Chief Justice to the Rwanda Supreme Court and David Peck, with 30 years of law enforcement experience. The panel was part of the “Counter Terrorism: Domestic and International” track of GovSec 2012 and moderated by Colonel (ret’d) Bob Peck of Partners International Foundation.

Ferhani and Mamdouh- Hate Crime or Terrorism?

The recent arrest of Mohamed Mamdouh and Ahmed Ferhani on charges of plotting to attack a New York synagogue has received much media attention, not because of the crime being planned, but because the FBI NY JTTF opted to not be involved in the case. There is much speculation about the politics of the FBI/NY JTTF/NYPD working relationship, and anonymous law enforcement sources have suggested that the case will not hold up to terrorism charges in federal courts.

This speculation is extremely interesting because of the FBI’s definitions of international and domestic terrorism (excerpts below taken from .

FBI definitions

There is no single, universally accepted, definition of terrorism. Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85).
The FBI further describes terrorism as either domestic or international, depending on the origin, base, and objectives of the terrorist organization. For the purpose of this report, the FBI will use the following definitions:

  • Domestic terrorism is the unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States or Puerto Rico without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives.
  • International terrorism involves violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any state, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or any state. These acts appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping. International terrorist acts occur outside the United States or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to coerce or intimidate, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum.

It is important to note that terrorism by definition requires “furtherance of political or social objectives”. This means hate crimes (like anti-Semitic attacks, plans to bomb synagogues/churches/mosques) or attacks by clinically crazy people are not considered terrorist acts; they get prosecuted under hate crimes and various other criminal statutes instead, and carry softer sentences than anything related to terrorism. The meager information released about the case so far, along with the FBI/JTTF (in)actions raise the possibility that these two individuals were driven by sheer hate, and not terrorism. This would make it similar to the Sandlin Mathews Smith case, where the suspect was not charged with terrorism even though he had bombed a Florida mosque in 2010.

The second aspect of note is its completely domestic nature; there does not appear to be any foreign influence in this particular case. If there had been inspiration or involvement with any foreign organization, like the Shabab, Al Qaeda (central) or any of the Al-Qaeda affiliate/partner networks, the international terrorism statutes could/would have been applied.

A detail to remember is that this incident should not be considered a “lone wolf” terrorism case as it involved two individuals, even if they are not affiliated with any groups. Parallels are also drawn to Faisal Shahzad (Times Square bomber) however he too was not a lone wolf; whereas he implemented the bombing attempt by himself, he was actually affiliated with TTP who were part of the training, planning and funding of the operation (a true lone wolf case is the Unabomber).

The case of the make-up salesman/aspiring model Ferhani and taxi dispatcher Mamdouh on state terrorism charges (rather than federal), has the potential to dissolve into an entrapment case about terrorism because the perpetrators are Muslim and it involves the NYPD, rather than being treated as a hate crime like the Sandlin Smith case. Once again, we will have to wait and see what plays out.

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.”