Experience and Understanding
The Evidence speaks for itself!
We, (my wife Dr Angela Misra and I) set up The Unity Initiative in 2009 in our front room after I was asked by London Probation to help in the rehabilitation of Yasin Nassari.
The case was described as the most serious Terrorist (TACT) release to date and Yasin had refused to work with, in his words, “government funded uncle tom sellouts!”
Yasin was described as a well read Jihadist scholar who had ties to Abu Qatada and it was feared that he would propagate and convince those around him to quote “blow themselves up!”
Unlike most of the groups working in the deradicalisation field The Unity Initiative were not government core funded and infact from 2009 to 2015 we delivered 90% of our work for free, relying on my income coaching MMA Fighters at The Peacocks Gym and my wife's student loan.
Yassin’s intervention gave us a framework for good practice. I was given the keys to the local mosque, which also housed a boxing gym but more importantly allowed me to analyze and mitigate risk within the local community. This is especially important as factors for violent extremist behaviour and its validation are often situational rather than dispositional. The Unity Initiative also interacted with all of the public protection agencies involved in the case from Police to Probation both management and frontline and we were able to use the case to diagnose the the implicit biases that existed within the system and hence start a program of training staff members within these public protection agencies. These partnership frameworks were key to case success.
Yasin has been counter propagating against Extremism and risks his life daily, a decade on from our interventions in the same area that supplied IS with monsters like Mohammed Emwazi aka Jihadi John.
Since 2009 we have worked with over 200 extremists and their families from al Qaeda, Al Shabaab to ALM and IS returnees and have had the privilege of high profile formers who volunteer their efforts for the sake of humanity.
Our work has for the most part has been done behind the veil of the official secrets act. This has also made us liable to attack from those that have felt that our message of universalism threatened the status quo.
We have been victims of tabloid attacks that have taken advantage of our enforced silence to print lies.
I hope to present that work which we are able to here and demonstrate that remorse and rehabilitation can be achieved but only through a holistic methodology that negates de-humanisation.
CEO The Unity Initiative