Jessica gives a presentation at the 2011 TEDx Amsterdam Women Conference. She reveals a revolutionary idea with the potential to transform counterterrorism. The project is aimed at amplifying the voices of former terrorists who have left their terrorist organizations.
A cadre of young Somali-American men are getting indoctrinated in the belief that it’s okay to attack people who disagree with you
More than 67 people have died at Nairobi’s Westgate Mall this past week in an attack attributed to a terrorist group that most Americans had never heard of, despite the fact that authorities have confirmed that several Americans, possibly from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, were among the attackers. Although al-Shabab is a radical Islamist terrorist group whose aim is to impose a strict interpretation of Sharia law on Somalia, it poses a legitimate threat to the United States.
Al-Shabab is both a symptom of Somalia’s state failures — factionalized elites, human-rights violations, and human flight—and a cause. Until two years ago, the group controlled Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu; and until a year ago, it controlled the vital port of Kismayo as well. In April 2013, in his yearly worldwide threat assessment, the Director of National Intelligence described al-Shabab as “largely in retreat.” Many consider the most recent attack on an unprotected shopping mall a sign of the group’s desperation.
Read Jessica’s article on Time Ideas: We Need to Worry About Somali Terrorists in the U.S.
Jessica presents “Talking to Terrorists” at the 2013 annual GRID two-day summit in Stockholm. In the talk, she describes how she has met terrorists with Kalashnikovs in Pakistan, interviewed neo-Nazis in America and Sweden, and visited the homes of terrorist leaders in Indonesia. But it was only after she faced her own suppressed trauma that she understood why she was more afraid to meet the victims than the terrorists themselves.