Counter-narrative is messaging that offers an alternative view to extremist recruitment and propaganda. The effort comes in response to recruiting efforts by extremist groups, who employ simplified narratives aimed at reducing political complexity, highlighting perceived societal grievances, and rallying potential members to demonize specific faith-groups, races, ethnicities, and cultures. ISIS and al-Qaeda, for example, pedal narratives of victimization, martyrdom, and the notion that the West is at war with Islam to nurture resentment and encourage individuals to take up extremist causes. Neo-Nazi organizations similarly employ narratives centered on victimization, and may also exploit perceived grievances centered on class and race to recruit new members and gain political momentum.

Activists working to undermine extremist narratives deploy counter-narrative messages in response, in an effort to contradict extremist messaging and dissuade potential recruits. Examples of counter-narratives may include point-by-point takedowns of extremist arguments, personal stories told by former extremists, lectures and sermons denouncing violence, and multimedia campaigns created by individual activists and organizations.

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Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On October 4, 2017, suspected ISIS fighters ambushed a military vehicle convoy outside the village of Tongo Tongo in Tillabéri, Niger. Five Nigeriens, four U.S. soldiers, and at least 21 militants were killed. The attack also left eight Nigeriens and two American troops wounded.   

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