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 AlQasimi

Executive Director

H.E. Ahmed AlQasimi 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. AlQasimi 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, H.E. AlQasimi 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. AlQasimi’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.

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 Bachelor’s degree in Law from Ankara University and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Van and is currently completing his thesis for a Ph.D. 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.

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.

Hafedh Dridi

Program Manager, Dialogue and Communications

Hafedh is a seasoned strategic communication practitioner with a decade of experience in strategy development, program design and campaign management. Hafedh joined the team in September 2020 as Program Manager of the Dialogue and Communications Department in which he has the day to day lead of the activities and programs of the department.

Prior to joining Hedayah, Hafedh started his career in marketing with leading companies in advertising and Fast Moving Consumer Goods, where he learned communications best practices before moving to the public / private sector and assisting the Government of Tunisia in delivering effective P/CVE campaigns and messaging aimed at young people at risk.

In Iraq, Hafedh helped to establish the Iraqi Government Digital Service (GDS), a unit operating within the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office to establish the government’s brand online and to provide a platform for the government to undermine extremism narrative and communicate effectively with citizens.

During his career, Hafedh supported a number of strategic communications for governmental institutions, which includes the design of digital services and the delivery of behavioral change campaigns across the Middle East, North Africa, South East Europe and the Caucasus regions. Hafedh is a metrics-driven and highly adaptive professional who possesses excellent project management skills and a proven track record of strategic and operational campaigns management within a variety of settings.

Hafedh has a degree in Business administration with a major in marketing from the University of Management & Economic Sciences in Tunis. A recognized leader, he was the President of the Global Leader’s summit 2010 in Tunisia and held various leadership positions with AIESEC Tunisia from 2004 to 2010. Hafedh speaks fluent Arabic, French and English.

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 supports the Director in providing oversight for the Department’s programs, including the Counter-Narrative Library, non-resident Fellowship Program, and the annual International CVE Research Conference. Sara also currently leads Hedayah’s portfolio on CVE and education.

Sara has worked on various projects at Hedayah, including an app for Monitoring, Measurement, and Evaluation for CVE projects titled MASAR, and Hedayah’s framework for Monitoring, Measurement and Evaluation. She also led and contributed to the development of several collection of counter-narratives for the East and Horn of Africa, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and South East Asia regions. Sara led the Education for Preventing Violent Extremism (EPVE) Working Group under the World Leadership Alliance-Club de Madrid’s Education for Shared Societies initiative in 2018. Sara was 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 of their framework document, the Abu Dhabi Memorandum on Good Practices for Education, and CVE and follow-up Action Plan. Some of her recent publications include 'Blueprint of Rehabilitation and Reintegration Center: Guiding Principles for Rehabilitating and Reintegrating Returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters and their Family Members'; 'Violent Radicalisation & Far-Right Extremism in Europe'; 'P/CVE in Africa: The role of the mining sector'; and three How-To guides on 'Undermining Violent Extremist Narratives (East Africa, 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 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 the 'Blueprint of a Rehabilitation and Reintegration Center', '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. At Hedayah, Farangiz supports a number of department’s programs, such as the Annual International CVE Research Conference and MASAR. Farangiz is also providing oversight for the Radical Right Counter Narrative Collection and the Counter Extremism Hub, both projects are funded by EU STRIVE Global.

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’ responsibilities at Hedayah include the support for several programs within the Department including the Counter-Narrative Library, the Fellowship Program, and the Foreign Terrorist Fighters Catalogue.

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 Master’s dissertation at NPSIA was entitled “Radicalization to Violent Extremism: Progression of Canadian Muslim Converts Toward 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.

Daniela Bošnjak

Capacity Building Programs Intern

Daniela graduated from the University of Cambridge with a Bachelor’s degree in Politics and International Relations, specializing in Middle Eastern politics and conflict studies. She has since gained experience as an English teacher in Japan and trainee with the Department of International Trade at the British Embassy in Zagreb, Croatia. Most recently, Daniela completed an internship with the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs in Geneva, during which she published an article on the Biological Weapons Convention Meeting of States Parties and supported the Middle East WMD-free Zone Project at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research.

David Ludescher

Capacity Building Programs (STRIVE) Intern

David is currently enrolled in the final semester of his bachelor’s degree in International Relations at the University of Geneva. During his studies he opted for an interdisciplinary focus on political science, law, economics, and history. Last year, he wrote his thesis on the proliferation of the MS-13 in El Salvador, analyzing the push and pull factors leading the local youth to join the gang. He further had the possibility to go on exchange at UC Berkeley, where he enrolled in Peace and Conflict Studies and Middle Eastern studies and where his interest in topics relating to international security, terrorism, and CVE was further sparked. He plans to pursue this interest with a master’s degree related to these topics.

Holly Ratcliffe

Research and Analysis Intern

Holly is a Master of Public Administration and Master of Arts in International Security joint degree candidate at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. Before coming to Maxwell, Holly worked at Meridian International Center in Washington, DC, where she helped coordinate the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). Prior to joining Meridian, Holly lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she worked with the non-profits Creativity for Peace and the Santa Fe Council on International Relations. Holly earned her BA in International Affairs at George Washington University’s Elliott School. She focused in Middle Eastern affairs and Arabic, and studied abroad in both Amman, Jordan and Muscat, Oman. After graduating from Maxwell, Holly plans to pursue a career in international security, focusing on countering violent extremism at the grassroots level.

Jeremy Waxman

Research and Analysis Intern

Jeremy is a senior at the University of Michigan majoring in Middle East and North African Studies and International Studies with a concentration in international security norms and cooperation with a minor in quantitative methods for social science. He is interested in the intersection between international development and post-conflict nations. He previously interned at the International Legal foundation where he focused on cross-cultural communication and nation building. He helped develop capacity building programs which strengthened the rule of law and created public defense systems in countries like Afghanistan, Tunisia, and Myanmar which defended indigent clients. He also interned at the Miami Public defender's office where he contributed to the defense of those unable to pay for private council in the American Judicial system. He is excited to work at Hedayah to further explore the integration of previous terror combatants into a globalized society and identify the push and pull factors that contribute to one’s radicalization.

Lucia Santabarbara

Capacity Building Programs Intern

Lucia graduated with an M.A. in International Relations and Diplomatic Affairs at the University of Bologna, Italy. During her studies, she deepened her knowledge in topics of international security with a particular focus on Counter-Terrorism’s field. She spent her second year of her Master’s Degree in Israel at IDC Herzliya, where she enrolled in the program “Counter-Terrorism and Homeland Security”. During her time there, she worked as Research Assistant at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, where she acquired more professional knowledge and developed analytical and critical capabilities in this field of interest. Afterwards, she decided to apply for the Capacity Building Program Internship at Hedayah, because she wanted to leverage her knowledge about countering violent extremism (CVE), with a particular focus on how to build the capacity of state and nonstate actors to challenge radicalization and recruitment to violent extremism, while keeping the respect of human rights and international law.

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.

Vivi Zhu

Communications Intern

Vivi is a junior from NYUAD double majoring in Art & Art History and Film & New Media. Through her artistic talents, she wants to promote values and causes such as human rights, education, and equality. She is an aspiring documentary filmmaker and photographer. She is also passionate about human-centered design. She deeply believes in how creativity can be used for social changes.

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 Ph.D. in Politics and International Relations from the University of Exeter in 2016. He has an 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 Ph.D. 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 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.

Greg Barton

Senior Research Fellow

Greg is a Research Professor in Global Islamic Politics in the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI), Deakin University where, since August 2015, he has led research on Islam and civil society, democratisation, and countering violent extremism. From 2007 to 2015 he was the Herb Feith Professor at Monash University where he led research on radicalisation in the Global Terrorism Research Centre (GTReC). He taught at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu from 2006 to 2007, and at Deakin University from 1992 to 2006. He is a Senior Fellow with the UAE-based Hedayah Center in Abu Dhabi working on CVE. Greg is one of Australia’s leading scholars of both modern Indonesia and of terrorism and countering violent extremism and has near-native fluency in Indonesian/Malay.

Greg also has a general interest in security studies and human security and a particular interest in countering violent extremism. He continues to research the offshoots of Jemaah Islamiyah, al-Qaeda, ISIS, and related radical Islamist movements in Southeast Asia and has been involved in teaching counter-terrorism courses at the Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies (APCSS) in Honolulu and with other institutions and agencies, including for the Australian Federal Police, Victoria Police, the Counter Terrorism branch in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Countering Violent Extremism Centre in the Attorney General’s Department (now in the Department of Home Affairs). He is often invited by government agencies in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia to teach workshops on violent extremism and terrorism. Since 2016 Greg has been leading the Home Affairs’ Southeast Asian Network of Civil Society Organisations working together against extremism.

At ADI Deakin Greg is a key researcher and leader in both the Addressing Violent Extremism and Radicalisation to Terrorism (AVERT) network and in the Centre for Resilient and Inclusive Societies (CRIS) where is engaged in research into hate and hateful extremism and the interactions between hateful extremism and violent extremism, both in Australia and in Southeast Asia.

Together with the Director of GTReC, A/Prof Peter Lentini, he led a large ARC Linkage research project examining violent extremist radicalization and counter radicalization. He has just commenced work on a new ARC Discovery Grant funded project (under the leadership of Prof Doug Ezzy, UTas) ARC entitled: Religious diversity in Australia: Maintaining social cohesion and preventing violence. Since 1997 he has held a further five ARC research grants studying Islam and politics in Indonesia.

Over the past 30 years, he has undertaken extensive research on Indonesia politics and society, especially of the role of Islam as both a constructive and a disruptive force. He has been active in the inter-faith dialogue initiatives and has a deep commitment to building an understanding of Islam and Muslim society. The central axis of his research interests is the way in which religious thought, individual believers, and religious communities respond to modernity and to the modern nation-state. He also has a strong general interest in international relations and comparative international politics. Since 2004 he has made a comparative study of progressive Islamic thought in Turkey and Indonesia with particular reference to Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah in Indonesia and the transnational Hizmet movement inspired by Turkey’s Fethullah Gulen.

His research Interests include: Islam, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Violent and Hateful Extremism, Radicalisation and Democratisation.

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 a 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 Ph.D. 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 the 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 several 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 November 1977 in Egypt, is working as a Lecturer at the SISD "Section of Islamic Studies in German" Al-Azhar University in Cairo and as a 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 has studied Islamic Studies at the faculty of languages and translation in al-Azhar University between 1995 and 2000 and was conferred the Ph.D. degree in comparative religion sciences, University of Münster/Germany.

He is interested in the interreligious Dialog and took/still takes part at various conferences and meetings in this field on the community and international levels. He coordinates two academic exchange programs of Students with the University of Freiburg and Erlangen (Germany), which means that he conducts a kind of intercultural Dialogue 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 a Member of the research project “Dynamic of the tradition. The relationship between Figh and theology “Beziehung 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 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.

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.

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 Ph.D. 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 Grenoble.

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 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 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 Master’s degree in Strategic and Defence Studies (2005) from the University of Malaya, Malaysia.

His main areas of research include 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.

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's level in the fields of International Security and Modern Warfare at the University of Malaya.


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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