Comparing US and EU approaches to counter radicalisation


The possible presence of American and European fighters at the Westgate Mall attacks in Nairobi on the 21st of September have provided a stark and shocking illustration of the increasing threat from radicalisation and foreign fighters to western democracies.

On 25 September, EFD hosted a series of closed-door and public briefings where EU and US officials discussed their approaches to countering radicalisation and how to address this threat. The Ambassadors of Kenya and Somalia to the EU attended our closed-door briefing along with over 30 high-level EU and non-EU diplomats. Our briefing at the European Parliament, hosted by a German MEP, and our media briefing, were similarly well attended.

Keynote speaker Abdirizak Farah from the US Department of Homeland Security is one of the Department’s foremost experts on countering home-grown terrorism and extremism. He called for  greater trans-Atlantic co-operation and believes that briefings such as this that bring EU and US experts together informally are extremely valuable.

Another speaker, Francisca Bostyn, Adviser to the EU Counter-Terrorism Co-ordinator stressed the EU’s urgent need to counter radicalisation on the Internet, in particular. Among other things, she argued that the EU and US governments should work more with the private sector in the US, where the majority of Internet technology companies are based, to address this threat.

Alexander Alvaro, a German MEP encouraged US and EU policymakers to remember that political correctness will not help us to better understand or prevent radicalisation. He called on the EU and its citizens to stand up and show courage to address this pervasive threat.