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Thursday, April 24, 2008
The Defectors
Their first salvo is hardly revolutionary, but those launching the Quilliam Foundation say it will be much more than just a talk shop. Quilliam is the first of its kind, a think-tank run by former extremists, ‘defectors’ from Islamist thinking who insist they will stand up to terrorists by blowing apart their ideology. Watch Paula Newton's report.

“We really are rocking the boat, this is the first time you’ve had Muslim voices coming up and saying ‘we’ve got problems,’ says Ed Husain, one of the directors of this new think-tank. He adds, “Within the Muslim community thus far there’s been a denial, there’s no problem guys.”

For those caught up in modern day terror, denial is not an option. Rachel North survived the train blast on the Piccadilly line in London in July 2005. She says that almost three years later she is still in search of answers that may only come from those once so inspired by terror.

“You start to see that what you’re dealing with has solutions it’s not a black and white situation where fear and panic and hysteria about terror rules,” says North. “You’re actually dealing with people at the end of the day, people you can communicate with,” she adds.

One of those people is now Maajid Nawaz, another Quilliam director who used to recruit extremists all over Europe. He says he will now methodically, patiently debunk what he calls the ‘Islamist lie’.

“We’ve done this because for the first time a counter-extremism think tank has been established by former Islamists to critique the ideology, to critique Islamism and that voice can only come from Muslims because we’ve developed a theological and political critique of this ideology and in a nutshell what I’d say is we’re deciding to fight back with ideas,” he says as he strolls through the London university where he used to conduct much of his extremist recruiting.

Why does any of this matter? I put that question to Nawaz and asked him will any of his efforts really make us any safer?

“Definitely it makes us safer because terrorism grows out of Islamism, Islamist inspired terrorism is a phrase I use because it grows out of those who share the same ideology. The Al-Qaeda world view came from somewhere.”

By Paula Newton, CNN’s International Security Correspondent.
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