The containment of Islamic radicalism is a vital security concern that requires the engagement and nurturing of politically moderate Islamic counter-discourse networks. While there is a substantial literature on radical discourse systems, little is known of moderate alternatives. This project will employ a comparative, transdisciplinary methodology to fill this gap. We will identify and map networks of counter-radical discourse and the ideas, leaders, institutions, informal social networks and media upon which they are built. The project focuses on three culturally, historically and linguistically distinct regions: Southeast Asia, West Africa and Western Europe, where radical movements are active but in which they are not yet politically or religiously dominant and there are contesting radical and moderate networks. We will determine what, if any, elements of counter-radical discourse transcend these distinctions, how global discourse is influential at the local level and how known opposition to the religious dimensions of radical Islam are employed in local level discourse. We seek to discover if and how notions of democracy, nationalism, pluralism, freedom of religion, human and womens rights figure in these discourse systems. The project will employ a complementary matrix of research methods. By integrating human and signal intelligence gathering techniques, i.e., qualitative and quantitative methods from the social sciences with novel web-mining and mapping technologies, to deliver an empirically based multidimensional portrait of the networks and points of linkage among counter-radical and moderate discourses. The multi-disciplinary research model we will employ will further deliver an analytical tool that models networks of Muslim counter-radical ideas, leaders and institutions, measures their influence, and documents phase shifts. The U.S. has long understood that discrediting radical groups requires joining the debate about the future of Islam, but it lacks the credibility to do so. Moderate Muslim groups do have this credibility, making them key allies. Yet the U.S. has never known exactly how to identify moderates and especially those with local credibility. This project offers a solution to that problem by describing the networks, affiliations, and theologies/ideologies that distinguish counter-radical groups. It will also provide the tools necessary to distinguish between opponents and potential allies in the event of armed conflict, and it will aid in planning for humanitarian intervention in regions prone to natural disasters.
|Effective start/end date||4/1/09 → 5/31/14|
- DOD-NAVY: Office of Naval Research (ONR): $5,918,813.00