Our Team

As an international organization, our team represents over 15 nationalities. We are comprised of direct hires, secondees, non-resident fellows, expert consultants, outsourced professionals and interns. Since 2013, more than 60 interns from over 25 countries have joined us. The internship program ensures Hedayah is incorporating youth perspectives in advancing the efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism.

H.E. Dr. Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi


H.E. Dr. Ali Al Nuaimi is a Member of the UAE Federal National Council for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of the Defense Affairs, Interior & Foreign Affairs Committee at the
Council. Dr. Ali Al Nuaimi is a leading international expert on Extremism and Education. He has more than thirty years of outstanding academic and professional achievements in Government, Non-Government, and Private sectors within the United Arab Emirates and abroad.

As a pioneer of educational reform and policy in the UAE, Dr. Al Nuaimi served as the Chancellor of the United Arab Emirates University [UAEU] and the Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge [ADEKl in his capacity as a Member of the Executive Council of the Government of Abu Dhabi.

As a prominent advocate of Global Peace, Tolerance, and Coexistence, Dr. Al Nuaimi is currently serving as the first Chairman of the International Steering Board of Hedayah, The International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism based in Abu Dhabi. He also founded and currently Chairs the World Council of Muslim Communities and was the first Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Elders.

H.E. Ahmed Al Qasimi

Executive Director

H.E. Ahmed Al Qasimi was nominated as the Executive Director of Hedayah, the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism.

He brings significant public sector experience to this position, including almost a decade of service in the U.A.E. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, where he worked in a variety of settings prior to joining Hedayah. At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, H.E. Al Qasimi most recently served as the Deputy Director of International Security Cooperation from 2017 to 2019. He also served as an acting Council General in the UAE consulate in Houston Texas, and for several years at the UAE Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. In that capacity, he regularly engaged with the UN Security Council, and actively participated in debates related to UN Security Council as well as provide insights a key Security Council resolutions one of which was, Resolution 2178 on the flow of foreign terrorist fighters adopted at the Security Council by the President of the United States in 2014.

He was also heavily invested in discussions involving the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Counter Violent Extremism. Prior to this, Mr. Al Qasimi served as an analyst in the Ministry’s Policy Planning Department from 2010 to 2014, following peace and security issues regionally and globally. During his time in the Policy Planning department he led efforts with global stakeholders towards establishing the Syria Recovery Trust Fund, a multi-donor fund that was established to help rebuild Syria.

H.E. Al Qasimi’s current research interests include global violent extremism, terrorism, and strategies to prevent violent extremism in fragile states. He is particularly interested in understanding the threats and challenges posed by the online indoctrination of young people into violent extremist ideology.

He graduated from the American University of Sharjah with a B.A. in International Relations. He has a M.A. in Diplomacy and International Affairs from Zayed University in Abu Dhabi which he completed with Distinction, and has taken postgraduate courses at New York University’s College of Law in New York City, which he completed with honors. He was awarded a masters honors certificate from NYU's college of Law in New York. He is fluent in Arabic and English.

Ivo Veenkamp

Deputy Executive Director

Ivo Veenkamp is the co-founder and first Deputy Executive Director of Hedayah, The International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, since January 2013. He is responsible for the day-to-day lead of the organization.

Ivo has more than twenty-five years of experience at the crossroads of international, national and local strategy, policy and programming. He has been working on counterterrorism, countering violent extremism (CVE), social cohesion, and civic integration. Throughout his life Ivo has lived in the Netherlands, Indonesia, India and the United Arab Emirates. He has worked in government, the private sector and a multilateral organization.

Prior to joining Hedayah, Ivo was the Dutch Director for Counterterrorism Policy and Strategy reporting directly to the National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security for more than five years. In this capacity he was responsible for the development and implementation of the first National Counterterrorism strategy, Dutch counterterrorism- and CVE policy, and coordinating bilateral and multilateral cooperation (UN, EU, GCTF).

The past twelve years he was involved in strategic international stakeholder engagement and frequently acted as an expert speaker, moderator and representative at international conferences and meetings on CT and CVE.

Before this, Ivo was the Program Director for Modernizing Civic Integration Policy and the Project Director for the preparation of the Constitutional Reform of the Netherlands Antilles at the Ministry of Security and Justice. He was also the Head and Deputy Head of the Urban Policy Division and the Secretary of the Government Committee on Oversight/Inspection at the Ministry of the Interior. He started his career as a Management Consultant at the Government and Non-Profit group of KPMG Consulting. One of his last assignments was interim Chairman and Director of the Foundation for Youth Work of de city of Amsterdam.

Ivo was selected for the two-year Leadership Development Program of the Senior Executive Service of the Dutch government and joined the Senior Executive Service shortly after. When he started at Hedayah he had been a member of the Dutch Senior Executive Service for more than eight years.

Until summer 2018 he was an Associate Fellow for Counterterrorism and Extremism of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). Until mid-2019 he was also a member of the Steering Committee of the RESOLVE Network (Researching Solutions to Violent Extremism), a global consortium of researchers and research organizations on CVE.

Ivo has master degrees in both Political Science and Psychology (cum laude) from the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Abeer Makki

Executive Affairs Manager

Abeer Makki has served as the Executive Affairs Manager at the Executive Office of Hedayah since June 2019. In her current role, she is responsible for providing executive support to the senior leadership, liaise and coordinate with strategic stakeholders, and manage the Executive Office.

Prior to joining Hedayah, Makki served in a variety of top professional settings with a decade of successful experience in several high level executive roles that include Senior Specialist in Chairman's Office of the Department of Education and Knowledge in Abu Dhabi and Chairman's Office Manager at the Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi. Furthermore, Makki worked for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia [UN-ESCWA] in a variety of settings that include but not limited to Research Assistant and Team Assistant in the Economic Development Issues and Policies Division in ESCWA.

Jessie Francescon

Director of Dialogue and Communications

Jessie joined Hedayah as the U.S. secondee. She comes with years of international development, strategic communications, brand awareness and media relations experience. Jessie has developed communications and marketing strategies in collaboration with a diverse range of clients including governments, private sector businesses, NGOs, trade associations, nonprofits and donor community across Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Central and Southeast Asia.

Most recently, Jessie served as CNFA’s Director of Communications, an international development NGO focused on economic growth initiatives. She managed the communication activities, media relationships, digital presence, special events and branding for CNFA Corporate, CNFA Europe and CNFA Programs with a portfolio valued at +200 million. She frequently traveled to deliver training in branding, mass media campaigns and social media as well as develop programmatic intervention communication strategies, produce program videos and engage with local media. She also served as the Communications Committee Co-Chair for the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba and a member of the Public Affairs and Communications Committee for the International Fertilization Industry Association. Prior to her time at CNFA, Jessie was the Communications Manager for the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), a trade association representing 80% of North America’s steel industry.

Jessie holds a Master of Arts in Political Communication with a concentration in Public Diplomacy from The George Washington University and two Bachelor of Arts in Diplomacy & Foreign Affairs and Organizational Communications from Miami University. She also serves on the Board of Advisors for The Women’s Partnership Market - a social enterprise focused on accelerating avenues for income, skills, and dignity for female artisans worldwide.

Murat Uzunparmak

Director of Research and Analysis

Murat joined Hedayah as a secondee from the Government of Turkey. Prior to Hedayah, he worked as a District Governor and a Deputy Governor at the Turkish Ministry of Interior. Murat has governed seven different districts in Turkey and has fourteen years of professional experience.

He holds a Bachelors degree in Law from Ankara University and a Masters degree in Public Administration from the University of Van and is currently completing his thesis for a PhD in Public Administration from the University of Çanakkale.

Sara Sadaka

Director of Administration and Finance

Sara is currently the Director of the Department of Administration and Finance. She is a Human Resource (HR) professional with experience in both Lebanon and the U.A.E. Prior to joining Hedayah, Sara worked as a HR Manager in a local holding company in Abu Dhabi; where she was responsible of starting up a new department of HR. Her experience covered all aspects of the HR function such as HR Administration, Recruitment, Policies and Procedures, Talent Management, Counseling, Employee Relations, Organizational Development. Alongside her primary HR duties, she was responsible of operational and logistics duties in support to the Chairman.

She holds a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management and a Bachelor of Arts in Clinical Psychology from the Université Saint-Joseph in Beirut, Lebanon.

Thomson Hunter

Director of Capacity Building Programs

Thomson has been seconded to Hedayah from the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office since October 2016. His CVE-relevant experience includes working for the UK Home Office (Ministry of the Interior) on police community cohesion activities following inter-communal riots in the UK; helping share good practice amongst UK police forces as part of a joint civilian/police unit; and studying CVE academically (his Master’s is in Terrorism Studies, from the University of St. Andrews).

Thomson's CT experience, since 2003, is mainly in the protective security area - people, places, events, civil aviation - in the UK and abroad. He operated regionally from India for almost four years, and then from Singapore for more than three years, providing advice, and planning and leading capacity development activities in many Asian and Asia-Pacific countries. In 2012 he relocated to London, managing the small network of aviation security experts across Africa, Asia and Middle East and he led on the design and delivery of capacity development activities (training courses, mentoring, workshops, seminars and conferences) in those regions. During that period he was personally deployed in many countries, including: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, India, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, South Africa, Turkey, and the UAE.

Cristina Mattei

Program Manager, Capacity Building Programs

Cristina is a Program Manager within the Capacity Building Programs Department. Throughout her time in the organization, she has been working on the development and delivery of the Returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters Program in coordination with the Government of Tunisia among other related activities. She has expertise in youth radicalization and Families and CVE and since 2015 has been working on rehabilitation and reintegration practices. As part of the Capacity Building Programs team, Cristina is primarily involved in training curriculum development and has developed the internal Monitoring, Measurement & Evaluation framework in coordination with the Research & Analysis Department. Cristina is managing the CVE & Education Program and is actively researching to develop a curriculum for social workers, psychologists and educators.

Prior to joining Hedayah, Cristina worked in Brussels in a number of organizations to include Friends of Europe and the German Marshall Fund of the United States. She also worked in international security and defence and has been engaged in project management, advocacy and communication. Cristina has a Master’s degree in International and European studies from LUISS University and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Tuscia University.

Irene Belmonte

Program Manager, EU STRIVE Global Program

Irene is a Cooperation for Development professional with over ten years experience working on the ground with NGOs in several countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Prior to joining Hedayah, she worked in Sudan with Sudanese Red Crescent as Spanish Red Cross Delegate. She has extensive experience in program and project management, and managing public funds, in different thematic areas, such as women economic and political rights, rural development, education, health, gender violence prevention and gender mainstreaming.

Irene holds a B.Sc. in Sociology, a postgraduate Advanced Study Diploma in International Relations, a Diploma in Cooperation for Development, a Diploma in Conflict Prevention and Risk Management from Complutense University of Madrid and a Master’s degree in Human Resources Strategic Management from EOI Business School in Madrid, Spain.

Sara Zeiger

Program Manager, Research and Analysis

Sara joined the team in August 2012 and currently leads Hedayah’s portfolio on CVE and education. Sara is also currently a Non-Resident Fellow in International Relations and Counter-Terrorism for TRENDS Research & Advisory.

At Hedayah, Sara supports the Director in providing oversight for the Department’s programs, including the Counter-Narrative Library, non-resident Fellowship Program and annual International CVE Research Conference. Sara is currently leading the development of an App for Monitoring, Measurement and Evaluation for CVE projects titled MASAR as well as the development of a collection of counter-narratives for the East and Horn of Africa region. Sara is also the Co-Director of a NATO SPS Advanced Research Workshop grant on the role of women in CVE.

Sara was Hedayah’s liaison with the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) to support the development and drafting their framework document, the Abu Dhabi Memorandum on Good Practices for Education and CVE and follow-up Action Plan. Her recent publications include Violent Radicalisation and Far-Right Violent Extremism in Europe; Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in Africa: The Role of the Mining Sector, and two How-To guides on Undermining Violent Extremist Narratives (South East Asia & Middle East and North Africa).

Prior to joining Hedayah, Sara worked as a Research Assistant at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. She also served as a Head Teaching Fellow for the Harvard Extension School and was a Graduate Assistant at Boston University, conducting research on politics and society in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. Sara holds an M.A. in International Relations and Religion (concentrations: Security Studies and Islam) from Boston University, and graduated as valedictorian with a B.A. in Psychology and Religion from Ohio Northern University.

Suha Shalabieh

Finance and Grants Manager, Administration and Finance

Suha carries more than 15 years of experience in Finance, Administration; and Grants Management. Before joining Hedayah; Suha worked at several international NGOs on projects funded by the USAID, DRL , MEPI and the Dutch Embassy.

Suha holds a bachelor’s degree and High Diploma of Banking and Financial Sciences, specializing in both finance and accounting, from Yarmouk University in Jordan.

Joseph Gyte

Senior Program Associate, Capacity Building Programs

Prior to joining Hedayah, Joseph worked as a Terrorism Prevention Consultant at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. He has also worked in the Office of the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, in Brussels, and as a human rights researcher on the rehabilitation of torture victims, in the southern border provinces of Thailand.

He has experience working on full program cycles, including the design, implementation and analysis of capacity building activities and projects, at both the policy and frontline levels. Joseph’s educational background includes a Master’s degree in Terrorism Studies from St. Andrews University and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Cardiff University.

Jose Simon

Grant and Administration Officer, EU STRIVE Global Program

Jose is a Cooperation for Development and Humanitarian Aid professional with over fifteen years of experience working on the ground with NGOs in countries like Algeria, Sudan, Ethiopia or Haiti. Before joining Hedayah, he worked as an external consultant (working with Hedayah among other organizations) combining it with expertise missions as Red Cross Delegate in Sudan and Algeria. Previously he was the Head of Mission for the Spanish Red Cross in Sudan. He has extensive experience in program and project management, and managing public funds, in different thematic areas, such as food security and livelihoods, climate change, migrations, nutrition, health, water and sanitation, education, humanitarian aid or education for peace.

As a consultant, he has experience in capacity building on proposal writing, development of evaluations and research studies, as well as a training facilitator, mentoring and coaching.

Jose holds a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Art History from the University of León (Spain), and a postgraduate Advanced Study Diploma in Logical Framework Approach on International Cooperation Projects, from the Open University from Catalonia (Spain).

Julien Domergue

Junior Program Associate, Capacity Building Programs

Julien joined Hedayah in January 2020. Prior to Hedayah, Julien worked as an intern on women, peace and security issues at UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand. He also worked as a field researcher on the role of civil society in the democratization process in Malaysia.

Julien has experience working on the design, implementation and evaluation of capacity building projects on CVE, combatting human trafficking and improving women’s access to justice.

Julien’s educational background includes a Master’s degree in International Relations and International Security from Sciences Po Lille as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Political Sciences and Modern Languages from Sciences Po Lille and the University of Southampton.

Lilah El Sayed

Program Associate, Dialogue and Communications

Lilah joined Hedayah in February 2013 and has worked across several departments beginning by supporting the Executive Director Office in addition to all the translation work for the Center in her capacity as an Arabic-English legal translator - certified by the U.A.E Ministry of Justice. In November 2015, Lilah switched to the Department of Research and Analysis as a Research Associate and was managing Hedayah’s Counter-Narrative Library and FTFs Programs Catalogue. She transitioned to Research and Analysis as a Program Officer and in January 2020 transitioned to the Dialogue & Communications Department as a Program Officer.

Lilah focuses on counter-messaging through strategic communications for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Her recent publications include her first co-authored Journal Article titled “Linkages as a Lens: An Exploration of Strategic Communications in P/CVE” published at “The Journal of Deradicalisation” in September 2019. Lilah was also a Co-editor and Contributing Author to Volume 144 of “NATO Science for Peace and Security Series - E: Human and Societal Dynamics” titled “Enhancing Women’s Roles in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE)” [ISBN print 978-1-61499-946-1 ISBN online 978-1-61499-947-8] (February 2019) and the co-editor and contributing author for “Contemporary P/CVE Research and Practice”. In addition, Lilah is the main author for “Undermining Violent Extremist Narratives in the Middle East and North Africa: A How-To Guide”, a 9-step framework for developing alternative and counter-narratives, available in English and Arabic and French is forthcoming.

From 2019-2020, Lilah has been supporting cross-departmental activities in Hedayah to include the development and delivery of CVE Training Curriculum – MENA edition, CVE Training Curriculum to raise awareness on collaborative CVE approaches among governments and civil societies, while better equipping them to prevent and counter violent extremism. She has led a Capacity-Building Workshop on Alternative and Counter-Narrative Development for Religious Leaders in Singapore. Lilah also supported the design and virtual delivery a CVE Toolkit for civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-traditional groups engaged in CVE in Kenya.

Prior to joining Hedayah, Lilah served as a military field interpreter providing optimal interpretation and translation support to the Military personnel especially female soldiers of U.A.E Armed Forces & Presidential Guard Command. Lilah conducted language training programs in Arabic and English at the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit #3, American University and U.S. Embassy in Cairo, and was contracted by the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, VA.

Lilah is currently pursuing her second Master’s Degree in “Religion, Politics and Citizenship” from University of Padua-University of Eastern Piedmont and her first MA is in “International Law, Diplomacy and International Relations” from Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi in 2016.

Lilah graduated with a Masters degree in “International Law, Diplomacy and International Relations” from Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi in 2016.

Iman Badwan

Senior Communications Officer, Dialogue and Communications

Iman initially joined the team as a Communications Intern in 2014 and was hired full time in 2015. Since then, she has managed the corporate communications initiatives and their implementation, which include Hedayah’s new website, social media outreach, and branding. As the in-house graphic designer, she also worked on creating the design and layouts of key Hedayah publications such as 'Undermining Violent Extremist Narratives: A How-To Guide' series and 'A Man’s World? Exploring the Role of Women in Countering Terrorism and CVE'. Iman also supports initiatives related to strategic communications and youth.

Prior to Hedayah, Iman worked as a Public Information intern with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and has communications experiences from various internships held at international organizations in Abu Dhabi, Florence, and New York.

She is currently pursuing an M.P.S in PR and Corporate Communications at Georgetown University and holds a B.A. in Psychology and Visual Arts (double major) from New York University Abu Dhabi as part of its inaugural class.

Farangiz Atamuradova

Research Associate, Research and Analysis

Farangiz joined Hedayah in February 2018. Prior to Hedayah, Farangiz worked at Delma Institute as a political analyst covering various regional issues. Her internship experiences include the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Royal United Services Institute.

Farangiz holds a Master of Letters in Terrorism Studies from the University of St. Andrews and a Bachelor of Arts in Politics with International Studies from the University of Warwick. The title of her Master’s dissertation was, Tajikistan: The Case of Religious Fundamentalism & Empowerment of Women as a Method to Counter Violent Religious Extremism and Radicalism.

Denis Suljic

Junior Research Associate, Research and Analysis

Denis joined Hedayah in August 2020. Before Hedayah, Denis worked for several departments in the Government of Canada as a project and policy analyst, including Global Affairs Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, Health Canada, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Shared Services Canada.

Denis received his Master's degree from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA), Carleton University, after completing his Honors Double Major degree in Political Science and Sociology at the University of Ottawa. Denis’s thesis project at NPSIA was entitled “Radicalization to Violent Extremism: Progression of Canadian Muslim Converts Toward Violent Extremism​.” For this project, Denis interviewed family and friends of Canadian ISIL fighters to understand the 'push' and 'pull' factors that drove Canadian Muslim converts to violent extremism.​

Elaine Ayson

Events and Administrative Coordinator, Administration and Finance

Elaine is an experienced administrative management professional with over 12 years of experience. She joined Hedayah as an Administrative Assistant to then become the Events and Administrative Coordinator. She manages all event logistics and operational administration, from planning to execution, such as conferences and workshops both held local and abroad, and high-level meetings hosted at Hedayah Center. She also supports the Deputy Executive Director of Hedayah.

Prior to Hedayah, she was a Team Administrator for Good Harbor Consulting, a Security Risk Management firm based in Abu Dhabi, UAE. She has also assisted the Go live MRO project management implementation of Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technology (ADAT) as an ERP Administrator. In 2009, her role expanded by joining a Renewable Energy firm, International Power GDF Suez as an Executive Assistant to the Regional Manager that includes project coordination through programs of the Renewable Energy Fund (REF).

Elaine graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from the Holy Angel University and has been a member of Junior Chamber International (Jaycees) since 2003. She is also pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice and Forensic Science at the California Coast University.

Fadi Hamad

IT Administrator, Administration and Finance

Fadi has worked as an IT Administrator in several companies in the Middle East, including Aramex and RTS prior to joining Hedayah. Fadi has over ten years of experience and has worked in areas that include Networking, Microsoft Platforms, Servers, IP Networks, and other IT Infrastructures.

Fadi received a B.E degree in computer engineering from Near East University, Cyprus, in 2007.

Masabo Djailani

Logistics Coordinator, Administration and Finance

Masabo is responsible for managing day-to-day logistics within Hedayah, in addition to coordinating logistical operations and administration during Hedayah activities and conference.

In 2009, Masabo began working at ARTE CASA, located in Dubai-UAE as a procurement executive. He worked closely on all Procurement jobs, including placing orders and overseeing logistics. Since joining ARTE CASA he has gradually handled most of the procurement tasks and have gained experience in contacting suppliers while inquiring and placing the orders.

Masabo spent ten years completing his education in Al-Azhar Al-Sharif in Egypt. While at Al-Azhar, Masabo completed Arabic, Islamic studies and social studies graduating with a B.A. in the Department of Social Work and Community Development.

Chidimma Chime


Chidimma is a finance professional with over six years of Experience in financial management and record keeping. Before joining Hedayah, she worked at several international NGOs on projects funded by the USAID, DFID, European Union and Global fund. She has also consulted for local NGOs on the use of QuickBooks Accounting Software.

Chidimma holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Nigeria and is currently pursuing a certificate at the Association of Certified Charted Accountants, UK.

Nadine Slim

Finance and Grants Officer

Nadine joined Hedayah in March 2020 and has been supporting the Administration and Finance team since then. She previously worked in the private sector and later shifted to the non-profit sector. Prior to joining Hedayah, Nadine was working as a Senior Regional Finance Officer with an international organization for several years on projects funded by the EU, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Islamic Development Bank and Al Nouri Charity.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Saint Joseph University of Beirut. Nadine is currently pursuing an MBA degree at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik in Beirut as well as a Masters degree in Digital Management at the ESSCA School of Management.

Melia Summers

Research and Analysis Intern

Melia is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies with a minor in Arabic at New York University in Abu Dhabi. Her current research focus is on U.S. basing policy in the Gulf. Melia interned for Hedayah in the Fall of 2019 and is eager to continue to support the Research and Analysis Department in the development and evaluation of Hedayah’s CVE programs.

She currently serves in a volunteer capacity as the Special Projects Officer for a New York-based start-up, Military Veterans in Journalism, that serves to support media industry training for America’s veterans. For post-graduation, she aims to enlist in the U.S. Armed Services.

Sophie Drake

Research and Analysis Intern

Sophie is a graduate of Oxford University and the London School of Economics and Politics Science. With a BA in Theology and an MSc in Social Anthropology, Sophie specialized in Islamic theology and Political Islam.

Sophie has worked for a number of international think tanks and NGOs in the areas of human security, with a focus on counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism. She previously worked in a public relations capacity at the Embassy of Afghanistan in London. Most recently, Sophie has worked on a joint publication assessing the global security landscape post Covid-19.

Tala Kassassir

Dialogue and Communications Intern

Tala recently completed a Master's degree in Intelligence and International Security at King's College London with a focus on Strategic Communications. Previously, she held internships in the risk analysis practice at GardaWorld in Dubai, a private security company, and in the Energy Policy and Security Program at the Issam Fares Institute of Public Policy and International Affairs, a Beirut-based think tank.

Tala attended Wake Forest University in North Carolina before graduating from the American University of Beirut with a Bachelor's degree in Political Studies. During her undergraduate years, Tala worked as an editorial intern at Forbes Middle East in Dubai and as a production assistant on fashion, film, and music ventures in Beirut.

Yagmur Unal

Communications Intern

Yagmur is a rising senior double majoring in Social Research and Public Policy and Film and New Media at New York University Abu Dhabi. She has also recently completed a minor in Business of Media and Entertainment. Originally from Turkey, Yagmur truly enjoys the international experience Abu Dhabi has provided her with, and she commits to give back to the broader Abu Dhabi community with her work. Throughout the last few years, she has taken leadership roles in various volunteering projects aiming to promote social integration of migrant women in Abu Dhabi. In her free time, she likes to watch movies, walk and write.

Her previous work experience includes working in the entertainment industry in the fields of administration, producing, marketing and graphic design in Abu Dhabi, New York and Istanbul. She wishes to pursue a career in communications and design after graduating from university.

Adrian Shtuni

Senior Research Fellow

Adrian Shtuni, CEO of Shtuni Consulting LLC, is a Washington D.C.-based foreign policy, security, and strategic communications specialist. He consults for government agencies, academic institutions, international organizations, and private consulting firms in the United States, Europe, and Asia on preventing and countering violent extremism, counterterrorism, political risk, countering foreign propaganda and disinformation, and other transnational threats.

Adrian holds a Master of Science in International Relations and Security from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He has previously held positions with the United Nations, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and various private consulting firms. He has authored numerous studies on drivers and dynamics of violent extremism, the rehabilitation and reintegration of returning foreign fighters and their family members, the role of civil society in P/CVE, community oriented policing for P/CVE, the nexus between organized crime and terrorism, countering violent extremist propaganda online, institutional reform and capacity building in post-conflict environments, etc.

Adrian's work has been published by the National Defense University in Washington D.C., the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, IHS Jane's in the UK, etc. He also develops P/CVE training curriculums, delivers capacity building programs in various languages, implements country and regional P/CVE projects in cooperation with local partners, and regularly provides commentary to media outlets in the U.S. and various European countries on foreign policy and security issues.

Edward Lemon

Associate Research Fellow

Edward Lemon is Assistant Professor of Eurasian Studies at the Daniel Morgan Graduate School, Washington DC.

Between 2018 and 2019, Dr. Lemon was a Global Fellow at the Wilson Center. Before joining Daniel Morgan Graduate School in 2018, he was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Political Science, Columbia University in the City of New York.

Dr. Lemon’s current research interests include the threat of violent extremism and terrorism in Central Asia, with a particular focus on governance and religious freedom. His research has been published in Democratization, Central Asian Affairs, Caucasus Survey, The RUSI Journal, Central Asian Affairs, Review of Middle Eastern Studies, Foreign Affairs and Journal of Democracy. He is the editor of Critical Approaches to Security in Central Asia (Routledge, 2018).

Dr. Lemon is a regular commentator on security issues in Central Asia. His views have featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Times, Radio Free Europe, Vice News, Reuters, the Associated Press and Foreign Policy, and the BBC. He regularly briefs government officials and has presented his research at the Department of Defense, State Department, Chatham House, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Royal United Services Institute. He was recently lead research consultant on the USAID-funded project “Central Asia Secure and Stable Societies,” managing the design and implementation of a mixed methods, multi-country study that examined the drivers of violent extremism in Central Asia.

He received his PhD in Politics and International Relations from the University of Exeter in 2016. He has a MLitt in Middle Eastern and Central Asian Security Studies from the University of St Andrews which he completed with Distinction, and a B.A. in War Studies from King’s College London, which he completed with honors. He speaks Russian, Tajik and English.

Göktuğ Sönmez

Senior Research Fellow

Asst. Prof. Dr. Göktuğ Sönmez got his bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Bilkent University, his Master’s degree in International Relations from London School of Economic (LSE), and his PhD in Politics and International Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

His research areas are Radicalization and De-Radicalization, Violent Extremism, Counterterrorism and Non-State Armed Actors. He is the director of Security Studies at ORSAM and teaches at Necmettin Erbakan University, International Relations Department. He teaches courses mainly on the Middle Eastern politics, political history, terrorism and counterterrorism and Turkish foreign policy.

He published many academic and non-academic pieces in national and international journals, comments on radicalization and terrorism-related topics as well as Turkish foreign policy on several media outlets, directed radicalization-related projects funded by various domestic and international actors, attended many national and international meetings and conferences primarily on radicalization and violent extremism, and occasionally write op-eds for newspapers.

Jocelyn Bélanger

Associate Research Fellow

Jocelyn Bélanger is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at New York University Abu Dhabi. He earned his master's degree and doctorate in Social Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park.

He is the author of over 50 peer-reviewed publications and has received several awards including the APA Dissertation Research Award, the APS rising star early-career award, the Milton Dean Havron Social Sciences Award, and the Guy Bégin Award for the Best Research Paper in Social Psychology. He is the author of “The Three Pillars of Radicalization: Needs, Narratives, and Network.” His work seeks to understand why, and under which circumstances, individuals are willing to sacrifice their lives for a cause, and focuses on developing psychological interventions to reverse the process of radicalization to promote harmonious intergroup relations.

In 2015, he was appointed by the City of Montreal to create the first de-radicalization center in North America to tackle homegrown terrorism.

Lorenzo Vidino

Senior Research Fellow

Dr. Lorenzo Vidino is the Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. An expert on Islamism in Europe and North America, his research over the past 20 years has focused on the mobilization dynamics of jihadist networks in the West; governmental counter-radicalization policies; and the activities of Muslim Brotherhood-inspired organizations in the West.

A native of Italy who holds American citizenship, Lorenzo earned a law degree from the University of Milan Law School and a doctorate in international relations from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He has held positions at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the RAND Corporation, and the Center for Security Studies (ETH Zurich).

The author of several books and numerous articles, Lorenzo's most prominent work is The New Muslim Brotherhood in the West, a book published in 2010 by Columbia University Press, with an Arabic edition released the following year by the Al Mesbar Studies and Research Center. The book offers a comparative study of Islamist organizing in various Western countries as well as the wide-ranging public policy responses by Western leaders. His most recent book, The Closed Circle: Joining and Leaving the Muslim Brotherhood in the West, offers an unprecedented inside view into how one of the world's most influential Islamist groups operates, and how some individuals made the difficult decision to leave.

Lorenzo has testified before the U.S. Congress and other parliaments; advised law enforcement officials around the world; and taught at universities in the U.S. and Europe. He regularly provides commentary to diverse media outlets (including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, PBS, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, BBC, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya...) and is a columnist for the Italian daily La Stampa. In 2016, he was appointed by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi as Coordinator of the National Commission on Jihadist Radicalization.

Martine Zeuthen

Associate Research Fellow

Martine Zeuthen, who is based in Kenya, focuses on extremism and radicalization, countering violent extremism, program management and research methodology. She is Senior Research Fellow in the National Security Studies program at RUSI and set up RUSI’s operation in East Africa.

Prior to working for RUSI she worked in a consulting firm specializing in data collection and evaluation of CVE related programs in conflict affected states. Martine lived and worked in Syria during the first years of her career. She is a Danish anthropologist (BA and MSc) and currently studying a PhD in Crime and Security Studies at UCL.

Martine is leading the CVE work in East Africa. She led the ‘Strengthening Resilience to Violent Extremism in the Horn of Africa’ (STRIVE) program and the follow on, STRIVE II as well as many other research-based CVE projects. Martine is responsible for designing and overseeing implementation and research of all RUSI’s CVE work in the region, which involves managing a highly complex network of stakeholders including law enforcement, government ministries, civil society, religious groups and research organizations.

More recently Martine has in an independent capacity worked on disengagement in the Kenyan prisons and currently she provides M&E and research support to a disengagement program in Somalia.

Martine supports a number of organizations with input on P/CVE and is currently serving as a member of the reference group for Life and Peace Institute as well as a member of an International Consensus Guidelines Committee managed by the Canadian Practitioners Network for the Prevention of Radicalisation and Extremist Violence (CPN-PREV). Recently Martine became a member of the Danish Researchers Network specializing in extremism and radicalization.

Mohammed Abdel Rahem

Senior Research Fellow

Dr. Mohammed Abdel Rahem was born in Noövember 1977 in Egypt, is working as Lecturer at the SISD "Section of Islamic Studies in German" Al-Azhar University in Cairo and as Member of the Al-Azhar interfaith Center. He is the former Director of Al-Azhar Observer in Foreign Languages and coordinator of its German Department since December. Dr. Abdel Rahem have studied the Islamic Studies at the faculty of languages and translation in al-azhar University between 1995 and 2000 and was conferred the PhD degree in comparative religion sciences, University of Münster/Germany.

He is interested in the interreligious Dialog and took/still takes apart at various conferences and meetings in this field on the community and international Level. He coordinates tow academic exchange programs of Students with the University of Freiburg and Erlangen (Germany), what means that he conducts a kind of intercultural Dialog between Muslims and European Students.

Dr. Abdel Rahem published some Books and articles about human rights in Islam and Christianity in Arabic and German languages, for example his book about “Religionsfreiheit im Nahen Osten: Islam und Christentum im Vergleich, 2014 (the Freedom of Faith in the Middle East: A Comparative Study between Islam and Christianity), and Rationalität in der islamischen Theologie 2018 (Rationality in the Islamic Theology). He is now Member at the research project “Dynamic of the tradition. The relationship between Figh and theologyBeziehung zwischen Recht und Theologie” at the University of Erlangen, Germany.

Noah Tucker

Associate Research Fellow

Noah Tucker is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council Eurasia Center and program associate at George Washington University's Elliot School of International Affairs Central Asia Program. He was previously Executive Editor for the Not in Our Name film and television series, the first region-wide project designed to prevent violent extremism in Central Asia through community dialogues in areas most directly affected by recruiting to Syria.

Noah has worked as a consultant on multiple collaborative projects for government, academic and international organizations to identify the way social and religious groups affect political and security outcomes in Central Asia and Afghanistan. Recent publications include “Terrorism without a God: Reconsidering Radicalization and Counter-Radicalization Models in Central Asia” (GWU Central Asia Program September 2019). Noah has worked on Central Asian issues since 2002—specializing in religion, national identity, ethnic conflict and social media—and received an MA from Harvard in Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies in 2008. He has spent some six years living and working in in the region, primarily in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and speaks Russian and Uzbek.

Orla Lynch

Senior Research Fellow

Dr. Orla Lynch is currently a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Asc. Dean of Graduates Studies at University College Cork, Ireland. Until 2015 she was Director of Teaching and a Lecturer in Terrorism Studies at CSTPV at the University of St. Andrews.

Orla’s background is in International Security Studies and Applied Psychology; her primary training is as a social psychologist. Orla is a Senior fellow with Hedayah, Abu Dhabi and a Board member of RAN, Europe. She is also a RESOLVE Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, an Anniversary Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence and an Academic Advisor for WAVE Trauma Centre Belfast. Orla’s current research focuses on victimization and political violence in relation to the direct victims of violence, but also the broader psycho-social impact of victimization and the perpetrator-victim complex.

Orla has also examined the notion of suspect communities in relation to the impact of counter terrorism measures on Muslim youth communities. Orla was until recently the principal investigator on a multisite EU funded project that looks at the importance of notions of victimization for former perpetrators of political violence and the role of both former perpetrators and victims in ongoing peace initiatives.

Orla was also previously PI on another EU funded project looking at the needs of victims of terrorism. To date, as PI, Orla has secured €1.4 million in EU research funding, and over two hundred thousand in IRCHSS, SRF and Enterprise Ireland funding. Orla research interests lie in individual and group desistance from political violence, including issues related to deradicalization, the role of grand narratives in justifying involvement in violence and psychosocial understandings of the transitions from violence to peace.

Her recent books include Applying Psychology:
- The Case of Terrorism and Political Violence (Blackwell with Carmel Joyce)
- Victims and Perpetrators of Terrorism: Exploring Identities, Roles and Narratives (Ed. Routledge, London)
- Victims of Terrorism, a comparative and interdisciplinary study (Ed. Palgrave, London)
- International Perspectives on Terrorist Victimisation: An interdisciplinary approach (Ed. Routledge London).

Stuart Macdonald

Senior Research Fellow

Stuart Macdonald is Professor of Law at Swansea University, U.K. Stuart’s research interests lie in criminal law and counterterrorism, in particular terrorists’ use of the internet. His most recent work has examined violent jihadist narratives, their dissemination via social media, and legal and policy responses. Prior to this, his work focused on cyberterrorism, examining definitional issues, threat assessment and questions of response. He has published widely on these topics, including the (co-edited) books Islamic State’s Online Activity and Responses (CRC Press, 2019), Lessons from P/CVE Research: Innovative Methods, Challenges, and Good Practices (Hedayah, 2019), Terrorists' Use of the Internet: Assessment and Response (IOS Press, 2017), Violent Extremism Online: New Perspectives on Terrorism and the Internet (Routledge, 2016), Terrorism Online: Politics, Law and Technology (Routledge, 2015) and Cyberterrorism: Understanding, Assessment and Response (Springer, 2014).

Stuart is Director of Swansea University’s Cyber Threats Research Centre (CYTREC) and a Co-Director of its EPSRC-funded £7.6m CHERISH Digital Economy Centre and £7.5m EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Enhancing Human Interactions and Collaborations with Data and Intelligence Driven Systems. He is also the lead organiser of the biennial #TASMConf (Terrorism and Social Media Conference) and co-ordinates the University’s contribution to the Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET). Stuart is a member of the Steering Committee of EUROPOL’s Advisory Network on Terrorism and Propaganda and a member of the editorial board of Studies in Conflict & Terrorism.

Stuart completed his BA in Law (First Class honours) at the University of Cambridge (2000) and his PhD in Law at the University of Southampton (2005). He has held visiting scholarships at Columbia University (2007), the University of Sydney (2011), the Université de Grenobl

Thomas Koruth Samuel

Senior Research Fellow

Thomas Koruth Samuel is at present the Regional Consultant for Terrorism Prevention with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). He is focusing on Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism and his chief areas of interest is in Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia in particular, and the Southeast Asia region in general. He was also a consultant for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 2019 on the subject of utilizing education in countering violent extremism.

Prior to his this, he was the Director of the Digital Strategic Communications Division (DSCD) with the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT), which is under the purview of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia. He started off as a volunteer Health Officer for World Vision East Timor in 2003 and then moved to the Research and Publications division in SEARCCT in 2004. He served as the division’s director from 2010 to 2016 before assuming the position with the DSCD. He has an honours degree in Biomedical Technology (2000) and a Masters degree in Strategic and Defence Studies (2005) from the University of Malaya, Malaysia.

His main areas of research includes Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), the role education in P/CVE, the role of law enforcement and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in P/CVE, the narratives of the terrorists and the subsequent counter-narratives, the radicalization process, strategic communications and youth involvement in terrorism. He is also very interested in mediation, conflict resolution and ‘spoiler management’ during times of conflict. He lectures frequently on counter-terrorism and international security and has delivered lectures and briefings in Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, China, Cambodia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Germany, Japan, Laos, Nepal, Maldives, The Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States. Besides delivering papers, he has been a resource person at numerous conferences and workshops for nation-states, International Organizations (IOs), and UN bodies and has facilitated and conducted workshops for the UNODC in the Philippines and Thailand. He has also represented Malaysia and led delegations as an officer for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was awarded the Excellence Service Award by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia in 2009, 2011 and 2014.

He has been interviewed on radio and written several articles, papers and monographs. The monographs that he has written include Aviation Security in Malaysia (2008); Reaching the Youth: Countering the Terrorist Narrative (2012); Radicalisation in Southeast Asia: A Selected Case Study of Daesh in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines (2016); Don’t-Lah Wei: A Peer-to-Peer Resource Guide on Ensuring Your Kawan Never Becomes a Terrorist (2018); and Undergraduate Radicalisation in Selected Countries in Southeast Asia: A Comparative Quantitative Analysis on the Perception of Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism among Undergraduates in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. (2018).
At the national level, he was appointed in 2018 as an adviser for the Prevention of Violent Extremism and Transborder Studies – Special Interest Group, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK). In 2019, he was appointed as an Industry Advisory Panel (IAP) Member for the International Relations Programme for the Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU). He has also taught at the Masters level in the fields of International Security and Modern Warfare in University Malaya.

At the international level, he was appointed in 2014 as a Senior Fellow with the International Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism (Hedayah Centre) based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). In 2018, he was appointed as a member of the Commonwealth Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Cadre of Experts. He can be reached at thomas.samuel@un.org OR conflict_analysis@yahoo.com


With our expertise, we tackle the threat of violent extremism on all levels from supporting governments in developing their national CVE strategies to engaging with CVE actors on the ground.

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Through its four main departments, Hedayah develops and delivers a series of interrelated programs that help accomplish its mission.

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We are always keen on collaborating with various partners around the world who can complement our initiatives and aid with the challenges of countering violent extremism.

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