The Foreign Correspondents' Club of the UAE (FCC) welcomed British counter-terrorism expert, William Baldet, on Wednesday for a talk and discussion of 'Deradicalizing Islamic & Far-Right Extremists: Lessons from the UK'.
The talk was the latest in a series of events held by the Foreign Correspondents' Club and was attended by international and domestic journalists, academics, diplomats and government officials.
The talk saw Baldet begin by analysing recent reports of the so called 'demise' of ISIS, particularly in light of the recent death of their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He reminded the audience of the tactics they've used to attract foreign fighters and the resilience of their violent extremist ideology, which demands us to remain vigilant against their continued threat.
He went on to compare and contrast ISIS with Al-Qaeda, characterising the latter as seeking to avoid publicity and rebuild their operations and network outside of the spotlight. He pointed to their previous activities in Yemen, using it as a base for gathering strength. Despite successful Emirati operations against the group having considerably reduced their ability, he argued that Al-Qaeda and its ideology still provide a potent threat to global security.
Baldet also spoke of his experience working on deradicalisation in the UK and the unique challenges that posed. He also spoke of how non-violent Islamist groups often build the ideological 'platform' for violent groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
Baldet is an Adviser and Coordinator of the UK Government's anti-radicalisation PREVENT programme, which aims to understand and implement strategies for preventing far-right and Islamist extremism. In addition to this he is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right, as well as teaching counter-extremism and deradicalisation at the University of Leicester.
The FCC was launched earlier this year and functions as a social centre and media hub for UAE journalists. The club aims to create an atmosphere conducive to intellectual debate, cultural exchange and become an important resource for journalists. The club's facilities include a conference room with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, translation room, meeting rooms, a public lounge and office units.