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USC Price leaders talk extremism with South, Central Asian officials

Participants include leaders of community groups from countries where terrorists have been active over the years

CREATE, SCI partner to discuss violent extremism with South, Central Asian officials
Erroll Southers, second from right, discusses terrorism with researchers from USC CREATE and the Safe Communities Institute. (Photo/Deirdre Flanagan)

The USC Price School of Public Policy’s Safe Communities Institute and the USC Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events collaborated to host 11 representatives from nine countries across South and Central Asia to discuss violent extremism.

Participants included government officials and leaders of community groups from many countries where terrorists have been active over the years: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Tajikistan. The Sept. 28 event was arranged through the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program.

“This particular group was really different than almost any other we’ve had because these are countries that have a long history, steeped in terrorism and an abundance of experience dealing with extremist groups,” said Erroll Southers, director of homegrown violent extremism studies at SCI. “I was elated that they were able to come here and talk to us. They represent countries we will likely never visit, and the fact that they’re here seeking information and willing to share their experiences with us, is priceless.”

Earlier this year, Southers gave presentations on homegrown violent extremism to two other delegations arranged by the International Visitor Leadership Program — one to members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the other to Iraqi officials and community leaders.

Creating an overview

Joining Southers and SCI Director Frank Quiambao to speak at the event were the leaders of CREATE. Director Detlof von Winterfeldt gave an overview of the center, Director of Research Isaac Maya explained some of CREATE’s research and Associate Director of Education Gisele Ragusa discussed the professional education programs.

Southers mentioned that the representative from Maldives, Superintendent of Police Ahmed Shuhad, expressed interest in sending some of his staff to USC next summer to participate in SCI’s first Executive Leadership Program.

It was interesting to find out what it looks like on the ground in some of these countries.

Detlof von Winterfeldt

“It was interesting to find out what it looks like on the ground in some of these countries,” von Winterfeldt said. “I gathered from some of the questions that they would like to develop closer relationships and information exchange, so we’ll try to figure out how to facilitate that and maybe develop some projects with them.”

Sardorbek Abdukhalilov from the Jalalabad Human Rights Organization in Kyrgyzstan agreed that there was a good working relationship established to promote future exchanges.

“I believe the experience we obtained here will lead us to understand the issue of violent extremism from a different perspective,” Abdukhalilov said. “The implementation of research findings is a real problem in my country, and I was struck here that you have professors who have worked in law enforcement and know the field of which they speak.”

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