Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States Issues First Report

9/11 ground zero with building in the background

The Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States, convened in April 2018 by the United States Institute of Peace, has released its first report on the spread of extremism in fragile states, located primarily in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, and the Sahel. Titled “Beyond the Homeland: Protecting America from Extremism in Fragile States,” this interim report answers the 9/11 Commission’s call for the United States to adopt a preventive national security strategy in combating violent extremist groups. Given the pervasive nature of these groups, the report suggests working towards strengthening fragile states so as to “mitigate the conditions that enable extremist ideologies to take root, spread, and thrive.”

The report offers the following key points:

  • The strategic environment has changed. This requires a new strategy for dealing with extremism, not only mitigating its damage, but also addressing its underlying causes.
  • Fragile states are no longer mere safe havens, but instead are the battlefields on which violent extremists hope to secure their political and ideological objectives.
  • Global and regional powers are expanding their influence in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, and the Sahel, making the strategic environment in those regions more challenging.
  • Terrorists still aspire to strike the United States, but the dangers of extremism to the United States now extend beyond the homeland.
  • As extremism mutates and spreads, the resulting chaos and conflict drain U.S. power, weaken our allies, and provide openings for our adversaries.

The report concludes with a proposal for a comprehensive preventative strategy that will target both the conditions and the actors that fuel violent extremism; focus on alleviating real and perceived injustice; foster political inclusion; curb the spread and appeal of extremist ideology; and contain the spread of extremist groups. Furthermore, the report calls for a greater unity of U.S. efforts, as well as stronger international collaboration, in order to “maximize the impact of diplomacy, development, and defense.”

The Task Force is scheduled to release a detailed strategic plan in early 2019.

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