Counter Conversations Initiative

ISD’s Counter Conversations facilitates interventions between former extremists and people at risk of being radicalised online.

Violent extremists increasingly use peer-to-peer messaging to engage potential recruits on social media. ISD’s Counter Conversations Initiative uses a similar approach to dissuade and disengage extremist sympathisers online

Using digital tools which utilise publicly available information, we map and locate users expressing extremist sentiment online. Our intervention providers then engage identified individuals in constructive, personalised online conversations, offering a positive alternative and deterring them from joining violent extremist groups.

Our intervention providers consist of former extremists, survivors of extremist violence and counsellors. The former extremists and survivors who initiate these conversations are drawn from our Against Violent Extremism (AVE) network – the largest network of former extremists and survivors of extremism in the world. These individuals have the credibility and insight needed to carry out these highly sensitive conversations with radicalised individuals online.

By combining the latest digital mapping with our established human networks, these interventions can have a significant impact in preventing extremism.

ISD’s interventions team

Rashad Ali
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Rashad Ali

Resident Senior Fellow

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Rashad Ali
Rashad Ali

Resident Senior Fellow

Rashad Ali is a counter terrorism practitioner. He works on deradicalisation initiatives alongside Prisons, Probation Services, Police and community groups. He is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD). He was formerly a national leadership member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, the revolutionary Islamist organisation. He has been actively involved in undermining its extreme ideology and perversion of Muslim faith since his departure. He is classically trained in Islamic theology and jurisprudence and Modern studies in Islam. He studied at al-Azhar University, Cairo, and the Markfield Institute. As a researcher he has given testimony and contributed submissions to the Home Affairs Select Committee on Radicalisation, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Intelligence and has briefed the London Mayor's office on Counter Terrorism. He is the author of: ' Islam, Shariah and the Far Right' published by Demoqratiya journal; 'A Guide to Refuting Jihadism' published by HJS and EFD; a chapter analyizing Hizb ut Tahrir ideology and strategy, and more recently 'Blasphemy and Free Speech - Hebdo and reactions to the incidents in Paris', for the ISD. He has been consulted by think tanks and governments in Germany, Denmark, the EU and the US. He works across Europe. He is an external lecturer for Derby University’s Master Class courses on Radicalisation and Counter Terrorism. He has written for The Observer, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Times, Dissent Magazine, Birlingske in Denmark, Conservative Home, and given commentary for Newsnight, BBC News. He was a researcher and Assistant Producer for BBC's flagship Panorama documentary show.
Moustafa Ayad
Moustafa Ayad

Deputy Director, Technology, Communications, and Education

Milo Comerford
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Milo Comerford

Senior Manager, Policy & Research

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Milo Comerford
Milo Comerford

Senior Manager, Policy & Research

Milo Comerford is Senior Manager, Policy, leading ISD’s work developing innovative research approaches and policy responses to Islamist extremism. Milo regularly briefs senior decision makers around the world on the challenge posed by extremist ideologies, and advises governments and international agencies on building effective strategies for countering extremism. His writing and research features frequently in international media, including the Guardian, CNN, Wall Street Journal, Sunday Times, Spectator, and New Statesman, and he has made recent broadcast appearances on BBC News, Sky News and Al Jazeera. Milo was previously Senior Analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, where he led major research projects on jihadi propaganda, religious counter narratives to extremism and the transnational far right. He holds a BA (Hons) in Philosophy and Theology from the University of Oxford, and has previously worked on a global education programme, building open-mindedness and resilience to extremism in young people across 30 countries.
Jacob Davey
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Jacob Davey

Senior Research Manager, Far Right & Hate Crime

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Jacob Davey
Jacob Davey

Senior Research Manager, Far Right & Hate Crime

Jacob Davey is a Research Manager at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue where he leads on research into the far-right. His research focuses on the role of digital communications in inter-communal conflict, internet culture, online hate speech and the international far-right. In addition to this he has led a number of projects piloting novel models for identifying extremist conversation online as well as interventions to counter this phenomenon. He has advised national and local policymakers on right-wing extremism, including the Home Affairs Select Committee, and has lead trainings with frontline practitioners on the mobilisation strategies of extremist groups. He has provided commentary on extremism-related issues in a number of platforms including The Guardian, The Independent, and The BBC, and also sits as a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right.