Commentary

Google Social Net Brings Together Ex-Terrorists, Terror Victims

A new social network launched by Google Ideas in partnership with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue is targeting (perhaps that’s a poor choice of words) a very niche audience -- ex-terrorists and the former victims of terrorism. The network, www.AgainstViolentExtremism.org, is intended to fight terrorism by allowing interested parties to share information about preventing the growth of violent radicalism among young people.

In addition to ex-terrorists and former victims of terrorism, the network will include a range of people working against terrorism, including activists, policy-makers, law enforcement, and business people (terrorism is, after all, bad for business). The network was created following the Summit Against Violent Extremism, a conference on combating terror hosted by Google Ideas in Ireland in 2011, which included relatives of 9/11 victims and ex-IRA members.

So far the AVE network remains small, but it already counts among its membership 44 former terrorists, including ex-white supremacists from the U.S. and ex-Islamist terrorists from Indonesia, and 18 survivors. ISD, which manages the network, hopes to have over 500 members by the end of this year.

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One of the main features of the network is “projects” -- a section highlighting activist organizations that are working to prevent violent radicalism through a variety of means. Examples include Quilliam, founded by former Islamists, and the Pakistan Terrorism Survivors Network. Visitors can sort the organizations to see which projects are in need of support, facilitating charitable donations.

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