The first step in an effective countering violent extremism (CVE) strategy is to develop a detailed and nuanced understanding of the relevant communities. Building on a research project completed for Public Safety Canada—which examined the impact of overseas conflicts on Syrian, Afghan, Somali, and Tamil communities in Canada— this paper identifies key insights about the country’s diaspora communities. Serious attempts to address violent extremism begin by accepting the reality that future attacks are as likely to come from within societies as abroad. Diaspora communities can be a country’s greatest asset in combating violent extremism. Strengthening the social capital of these communities is the most promising and cost-effective means to counter the threat of radicalization. This requires a serious commitment to research, dialogue, and law enforcement strategies that promote engagement instead of confrontation.
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