Mothers and Perpetrators

Manchester  Dec 2012

Leicester Dec 2012

London Dec 2012

New Players, New Strategies:

Mothers take a stand!

"I wish they could feel their parents' pain and see how the parents will suffer and struggle for the rest of their lives." Bouthaina, Mother of Ahmed, a suicide bomber

In the process of understanding radicalization, SAVE met with mothers of perpetrators or attempted perpetrators: from India to Nigeria and Pakistan to Palestine and from England to Northern Ireland; we met mothers whose sons and daughters have attempted to commit acts of violent extremism and those whose sons were successful in their mission taking others with them. Over the last two years we had many conversations with these mothers, collecting data, recording their testimonies and building relationships for the SAVE movement. Many of them are in denial and defensive, but over time, we feel that a small group has emerged: those who want to speak up and are ready to take a stand. They stand by their children, but they are strong enough not to stand by their intentions or actions of violent extremism.

The outcome of these breakthrough efforts is a short documentary film Your Mother, featuring the stories of three women who bravely speak out so that others may learn from their experiences and avoid the traps they could not. They share their painful feelings of failure as they put the pieces together of their child's downward spiral into radicalization. Their message resonates in particular with mothers and families who are struggling to protect their children and maintain the strong relationships which might keep children safe even in similar critical situations.

The Your Mother film is a unique audiovisual tool for promoting awareness and dialogue in communities at risk. The accompanying film pack contains discussion guidelines to sensitize and encourage family members, particularly mothers, to fulfill their potential and take an active role in safeguarding their families and communities against violent extremist ideologies.

The idea of developing the incredible potential of mothers and civil society as an 'ally' in the home is an entirely new angle in counter-terrorism efforts. Women have proved they can lead, but actively including women as serious players in the security arena is another challenge ahead of us. Times of crisis are often times of opportunity. We at SAVE know that this is the time for alternatives-women at the heart of their families and communities are ready to meet global challenges at the local level. A mother who is able to read early warning signs of radicalization in her family members is a major asset in advancing effective early-prevention mechanisms.

SAVE had the unique opportunity to introduce the Your Mother film nine priority police regions in the UK at a series of train-the-trainer workshops that included both professionals and volunteers working in prevention, de-radicalization and law enforcement services. The interactive workshops introduced the concept of the SAVE movement as well as techniques for creating safe spaces for dialogue and energizing women's leadership potential. Police officers in particular were delighted to have a tool to reach women, who are often inadequately addressed in their usual frameworks. There was great group spirit of enthusiasm and collaboration!

We are happy to say that the outreach is continually rippling and most importantly we see that SAVE's innovative approach and philosophy to invest in women as a powerful security force is working and welcome on the ground - exciting prospects!


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