Less than one year after launching several successful campaigns in the United States, including their notable #CEPDigitalDisruption via Twitter, the Counter Extremism Project officially launched its European counterpart on Monday (CEP Europe) in Brussels.
Former United States Senator and Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman, who serves as an advisory board member for CEP, spoke with Breitbart News on the phone ahead of the anticipated European launch, for which he was present on Monday.
“I’m very proud of what CEP has done since we’ve started in New York last September, and to be involved in both disrupting some financing to support terrorist groups as well as waging a digital disruption,” Lieberman said. He described the social media landscape as complicated and multi-centric, noting that while extremist groups are using social media to spread their vitriol, these operators can be witting or unwitting enablers of Islamic extremism.
CEP will also establish offices in Berlin, and they anticipate several more throughout Europe, including in London and Paris, in the coming months. The Brussels launch was ideal, as it is the capital of the European Union.
They will now be able to wage a double-pronged campaign to counter extremist recruitment messaging and disrupt extremist digital media strategies. The rise of extremism throughout the Middle East has undoubtedly spilled over into the western world, manifesting itself with the rise in terrorist attacks in the United Staes and Europe through use of social media, which Islamic radicals use to advance their insidious cause.
— CEP (@FightExtremism) June 29, 2015
“Part of what CEP has tried to do in the last several months is confront social media networks like Twitter with that reality and pressure them to do whatever they can do to stop these hate mongers.” Just one facet of their approach to thwarting the spread of radicalism in the western world is CEP’s plan “to work with ‘anti-extremist’ groups within the European Muslim community,” Lieberman said.
Former U.S. Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend serves as CEP’s president. Founder of the European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) Roberta Bonazzi will be heading CEP Europe’s office in Brussels.
Since CEP launched in the United States in September of 2014, it has initiated several campaigns with notable results, including:
- Establishing the #CEPDigitalDisruption campaign, which pressured Twitter to remove hundreds of extremist accounts and change its policies regarding the posting of violent content.
- Disrupting the financial underpinnings of extremist groups. The government of Gambia, following a CEP investigation, ordered U.S. sanctioned Hezbollah funder Husayn Tajideen to cease all of his business activities there and leave the country.
- Persuading Western Union and DHL to sever reported links to terror-financing entities and prevent these entities from misusing reputable businesses.
- Building an extensive research database on extremist groups, their leaders, and their networks of support, and advocating for targeted legislation aimed at those who misuse social media to provide “material support” and financing to terrorists.