Countering Extremism

Mitigating the threat from—and strengthening resilience to—violent extremism is a multifaceted commitment that requires all the tools at our disposal: diplomatic, development, data, and defense. Well-versed in operating alongside complementary diplomatic and defense initiatives, DAI addresses violent extremism on multiple fronts, bringing to this task our full suite of expertise in good governance, job creation, community development, post-conflict stabilization, rule of law, citizen security, public financial management, trade and customs, and social development.

Our integrated approach builds the capacity of national governments, civil society, the private sector, and communities to become full partners with international actors in combating extremist ideologies. And while there is no “silver bullet” solution to the challenge of violent extremism, we know that exerting pressure on the recruitment, operations, and financing of terror organizations yields results:

Disrupting recruitment: The key to disrupting extremist groups’ ability to recruit is addressing the underlying disillusionment and disenfranchisement on which they feed—in turn exacerbated by weak or corrupt government, unemployment, citizen insecurity, poor service delivery, and a sense of helplessness—while providing an alternative vision of a better future through positive engagement in vulnerable communities. In Kenya and Pakistan, for example, DAI is implementing U.S.- and U.K.-funded programming that addresses citizen grievances by engaging people in improving their own communities, creating job opportunities—particularly for at-risk youth—and reducing government corruption and mismanagement.

Reducing areas of operations: International and regional military forces have significantly degraded terrorist networks such as ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and Al Shabab by eliminating their ability to operate freely in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, and the Kenya-Somali border. Key to the long-term success of these efforts was understanding that military operations alone were not sufficient; once an area was cleared of terrorist operations, holding it depended on investing in those communities to improve local governance, generate employment, and upgrade social services. DAI has worked around the world—from Afghanistan to Iraq to Pakistan to Somalia—to implement post-conflict stabilization programs that reduce potential areas of operations for these groups.

Preventing illicit financing: Terror groups are often financed through the same criminal financial networks used by drug lords, human traffickers, illicit weapons dealers, and money launderers. One of the most effective ways of disabling these networks is by improving public financial management, particularly through improved tax and customs regimes and improved banking regulation, because criminals often exploit weak country systems. Modernized financial systems also generate data on the movement of money, goods, and people, which supports improved intelligence. In Jordan, the Philippines, and El Salvador, DAI created national taxpayer and customs databases that led directly to the identification and disruption of smuggling and criminal financing operations.

Our Experts


Sean Caselli-Mechael is the New Business Manager for the Center for Secure and Stable States.

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Jeremy “Jez” Haslam is an international development and crisis response specialist with more than 17 years of experience delivering programs in countries facing complex emergencies, conflict, or political transition.

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Since 1996, Rebecca Lawrence has planned and implemented more than a dozen large-scale development programs, and contributed to the design or management of at least 20 others.

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Skye Perske is focused on ensuring excellence in DAI programming, thought leadership in countering violent extremism (CVE), and new business activities.

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David Pottebaum has more than 27 years of technical and managerial experience focusing on institutional and organizational development, public administration transparency and accountability, policy reform, and rural agricultural development.

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Patricia Sturgess has a unique background that combines more than 13 years of experience in the private, public and voluntary sectors, with expertise in livelihoods, aid management, international relations and security, and political analysis.

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Our Projects


Afghanistan—Musharikat

Musharikat supports USAID Afghanistan’s investments in women’s rights groups and activists.

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Afghanistan—Strong Hubs for Afghan Hope and Resilience (SHAHAR)

SHAHAR is helping create well-governed, fiscally sustainable Afghan municipalities capable of meeting the needs of growing urban populations.

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Kenya—NiWajibu Wetu (NIWETU)

The Kenya Ni Wajibu Wetu (NIWETU) program was launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development to reduce violent extremism among at-risk individuals and communities in hotspots in Kenya.

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Nigeria—State Partnership for Accountable, Responsive, and Capable Government (SPARC); Accountable, Responsive, and Capable Government(ARC)

The Accountable, Responsive, and Capable Government (ARC) programme supports the Nigerian government in more effectively managing resources and providing more responsive and accountable services to its citizens.

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Pakistan—Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governance Program (KPG)

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governance Program (KPG) assists the provincial government and civil society organizations to improve local government service and better serve citizens.

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