The #Formers films aim to tell the stories of four former extremists in their own words. These include a mixture of both former ‘Islamist’ as well as former ‘far-right’ violent extremists.
Journeys – Why people join violent extremist groups
This ten minute film harnesses the key insights and talking points from the four formers and two community activists into a broader discussion piece. Incorporating the voices of Yasmin, Shahid, Sammy and Nigel alongside community advocate Faizal and Yazidi activist Rozin we try to provide a deeper understanding of the impact global extremism and terrorism can have on local realities. It asks challenging questions: how can communities better tackle extremism and how can we build partnerships with all grassroots voices so that they are heard? How can we better weave their voices alongside State and policing decision makers so that communities can be at the heart of practical solutions moving forward? We are optimistic for a future based on genuine and transparent partnership work.
Our aim is to start the difficult conversations so we can better understand the path in and out of violence, and its impact.
This project was crowdfunded by 92 amazing people. The films follow on from our previous research on Former extremists and their families, although the individuals involved are different.
Nigel – The Leader
“Kill or be killed”. Nigel, based in London, became a leading far-right activist from the age of 16. He joined the National Front in 1982 and, during the 1990s, was a national council member for Combat 18. He is now active in combating extremism. Is it enough to say that he has changed? What does his story about how he joined the National Front tell us about combating violent extremism today?
Yasmin – The Recruiter
“We were passionate about helping women. We wanted to create a revolution. We wanted to make history”. Yasmin, who is originally from Derby, was a member of the banned group Al Muhajiroun from 1996 to 2000. Her role was to recruit other women to join the extremist organisation in their aim to create a State. She now works to dissuade young people from joining extremist groups.
Shahid – The Believer
Shahid was part of the Lynx street gang in the 80s. In the 90s he travelled to Bosnia as an aid worker, but after seeing the people’s plight joined the foreign fighters brigade of the Bosnian Army. He subsequently travelled to Afghanistan and Kashmir. In 1998, he was arrested and tortured into signing a false confession in Yemen and sentenced to 5 years in prison on charges of conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks. Released in 2003, he is now active in combating racism, extremism and gang activity.
Sammy – The Accidental
“Before going to Syria? We didn’t talk about fighting, we only talked about helping people.” Sammy, a 23 year old German national, converted to Islam and decided to travel to Syria in 2014 with his friend, believing it was the best way to practise his faith and help other Muslims. He was in Syria for 2 ½ months. Once he arrived there he was told he had to fight, which he refused. Against all odds he escaped, and after being held in prison in Syria, Turkey and Germany, he is now being assisted by a deradicalisation organisation.
For use by schools, colleges and community groups. If you would like to show the films in an eduational setting, the following resource could be used to facilitate a classroom discussion in a safe space. In addition, it could fit in with curriculum work to further discuss notions of “extremism”,”violent extremism”, and “radicalisation” as well as citizenship.
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Thanks to our 92 supporters
ConnectFutures would like to thank all 92 of our amazing crowdfunder sponsors without whom this film could not have been made
Gemma Rocyn Jones