Learning from former perpetrators and survivors of violent extremism

Violent extremism is a challenge faced by every geography and demographic, and across many ideologies: extreme right- or left-wing, nationalist, and religious, among others. While some who join violent groups stay in them for life, many if not most eventually leave. Given their credibility and unusual personal stories, survivors and 'formers' — former extremists who have publicly or privately renounced violence — are valuable sources of experience who can help reduce tension and conflict in their local communities.

From research and findings that emerged at the Summit Against Violent Extremism, hosted by Google Ideas, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Tribeca Film Institute in March 2011, it was clear that technology has a huge potential to provide solutions for counter-radicalization. At the summit more than 80 survivors and 'formers' — former violent extremists ranging from inner-city gang members and right-wing militants, to violent nationalists and religious extremists — came together with more than 100 other attendees, including non-profit organizations, academia, technology companies, government, media and the private sector.