Strategic communications and foreign fighters (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1139)



Identify examples of counter-radicalisation strategic communications projects in conflict-affected and nearby states aimed at preventing young people from becoming foreign fighters. Present the lessons learned emerging from these projects and evaluations of them.


There is limited coverage of strategic communications programmes specifically aiming to prevent the recruitment of citizens who travel to conflict zones to become foreign fighters. There is relatively more coverage of strategic communications with respect to broader counter-radicalisation or countering violent extremism (CVE) approaches, but there are few case studies and rigorous evaluations.

Strategic communication efforts have increased greatly in recent years, but relatively few details are available in the public domain. The majority of case studies in the literature are from the US and in Europe, with limited detail on programmes in conflict-affected and nearby states.

These often focus on measures to prevent the recruitment and travel of citizens from European countries as foreign fighters, rather than citizens of conflict-affected or nearby countries. A few case studies were found in conflict-affected or nearby countries where foreign fighters are known to have originated. These are based on descriptive accounts of the activities, with little or no substantial evaluation.

The recommendations and lessons learned in the literature appear mainly to be based on counter-radicalisation activities based in or funded by the US or Europe. In many cases, the recommendations made are normative, or based on expert opinions.


Shivit Bakrania. Strategic communications and foreign fighters (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1139). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2014) 11 pp.

Strategic communications and foreign fighters (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1139)

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