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Phyllis Muema, executive director of the Kenya Community Support Center, talked about countering the violent extremism in Kenya in her presentation “The Role of Civil Societies in Countering Radicalization and Terrorism” July 22 during the Program on Terrorism and Security Studies (PTSS) at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. (Marshall Center photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Carrie Fox)

By GCMC Public Affairs Office

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (July 25, 2016) – Civil society’s role in defeating terrorism and counter terror financing were the topics taught July 22 during the Program on Terrorism and Security Studies (PTSS) at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.

Phyllis Muema, executive director of the Kenya Community Support Center (KECOSCE), talked about countering the violent extremism in Kenya in her presentation “The Role of Civil Societies in Countering Radicalization and Terrorism.”

She first gave a background on the Kenya Community Support Centre, which was established in 2006 and is registered as a national non-government organization (NGO) in Kenya.

“Our vision is a peaceful, democratic and progressive society. We have worked with diverse groups and communities to strengthen community resilience to violent extremism and terrorism from 2009 to date,” said Muema, who added that the center is a response to safe-guard their county and protect their future.

She then talked about the violent extreme threat in Kenya and how KECOSCE tries to intervene. She said that more than 13 million of Kenya’s population are youth and roughly, 70 percent of Kenya’s working-age youth are unemployed. There are high levels of radicalization and execution of terrorist attacks - 630 killed since 2012 – and increasing insecurity. Kenya is listed as number eight of high-terror threat in Africa and 40 globally on travel advisories – 618 cases, 80 in 2015.

“These conditions are conducive to spread of violent extremism,” Muema said.

Muema listed institutions, communities and groups, ideology and individuals as the center’s intervention of this violent extreme threat in Kenya.

She talked about how the center regularly identifies youth at risk of radicalization and recruitment, consistent psychological and social support and mentoring, online monitoring of hate and radicalization content and reporting it, regular engagement with key religious leaders, and hosting radicalization awareness forums.

At the end of her presentation, Muema made some recommendations on moving forward such as that the security and radicalization-prevention communities need to cooperate even more, and civil society and local communities should be the first line of defense against violent extremism. She also recommended that government and civil society work together to strengthen moderate voices among religious communities and that special attention should be paid on countering extremist messages in social media.

Professor James Wither, Marshall Center’s professor of National Security Studies, presents “The Financing of Terrorism” July 22 during the Program on Terrorism and Security Studies (PTSS) at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.

Wither talked about why terrorists need money, the sources of terrorist finance, countering terrorist finance measures, terrorist finance case studies and assessment, and countering terrorist finance challenges.

He said that the estimated cost of terrorist operations for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks was $450,000. The estimated cost for the bombing at the Boston Marathon in 2005 was $600.

Wither listed several possible sources of terrorist financing such as state sponsorship, the Hezbollah for example, extortion such as revolutionary tax, private donations, bank robbery, drugs and weapons smuggling, gold mining, kidnapping and charitable donations.

As a four-week resident program, PTSS supports the Marshall Center's increasing emphasis on transnational threats and challenges.

More PTSS 16-12 photos can be found on the Marshall Center Photo Gallery.