The #Formers films aim to tell the stories of four former extremists in their own words. These include a mixture of both former ‘Islamist’ as well as former ‘far-right’ violent extremists.

Journeys Why people join violent extremist groups

This ten minute film harnesses the key insights and talking points from the four formers and two community activists into a broader discussion piece. Incorporating the voices of Yasmin, Shahid, Sammy and Nigel alongside community advocate Faizal and Yazidi activist Rozin we try to provide a deeper understanding of the impact global extremism and terrorism can have on local realities.

It asks challenging questions:

How can communities better tackle extremism and how can we build partnerships with all grassroots voices so that they are heard?

How can we better weave their voices alongside State and policing decision makers so that communities can be at the heart of practical solutions moving forward?

We are optimistic for a future based on genuine and transparent partnership work.

Our aim is to start the difficult conversations so we can better understand the path in and out of violence, and its impact.

This project was crowdfunded by 92 amazing people. The films follow on from our previous research on Former extremists and their families, although the individuals involved are different.

Nigel The Leader

“Kill or be killed”. Nigel, based in London, became a leading far-right activist from the age of 16. He joined the National Front in 1982 and, during the 1990s, was a national council member for Combat 18. He is now active in combating extremism. Is it enough to say that he has changed? What does his story about how he joined the National Front tell us about combating violent extremism today?

Yasmin The Recruiter

We were passionate about helping women. We wanted to create a revolution. We wanted to make history”. Yasmin, who is originally from Derby, was a member of the banned group Al Muhajiroun from 1996 to 2000. Her role was to recruit other women to join the extremist organisation in their aim to create a State. She now works to dissuade young people from joining extremist groups.

Shahid The Believer

Shahid was part of the Lynx street gang in the 80s. In the 90s he travelled to Bosnia as an aid worker, but after seeing the people’s plight joined the foreign fighters brigade of the Bosnian Army. He subsequently travelled to Afghanistan and Kashmir. In 1998, he was arrested and tortured into signing a false confession in Yemen and sentenced to 5 years in prison on charges of conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks. Released in 2003, he is now active in combating racism, extremism and gang activity.

Sammy The Accidental

Before going to Syria? We didn’t talk about fighting, we only talked about helping people.” Sammy, a 23 year old German national, converted to Islam and decided to travel to Syria in 2014 with his friend, believing it was the best way to practise his faith and help other Muslims. He was in Syria for 2 ½ months. Once he arrived there he was told he had to fight, which he refused. Against all odds he escaped, and after being held in prison in Syria, Turkey and Germany, he is now being assisted by a deradicalisation organisation.

Formers Report

The UK focused report

Full report  

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Thanks to our 92 supporters

ConnectFutures would like to thank all 92 of our amazing crowdfunder sponsors without whom this film could not have been made

Pav Dhande
Gemma Rocyn Jones
Hannah Wallace
Shaista chishty
Map Patel
Nazir Lasania
Anna Remi
Sara L
Neil Smith
Andrew Shaver
Cordelia Osewa-Ediae
Aisha Iqbal
Amena Rawat
Eugenie Teasley
William Lilley
Sara B
Mano Hashmi
Huda J
Rahma Timer
Andreana D
Sahar Rezazadeh
Rebecca Johnson
Fabio Appolonio
Awais Ali
Candida Barbato
B Lambert
R Chiu
Stuart Griffiths

G Coombes
SM Jones
Steve Hewitt
Wendy Arnold
Kolsuma Ali
Becky TM
Yusuf Khan
Tina SK
Ferwa J
Bob Calver
Muhd A
H Mohamed
Lizzie MC
Abeda Mulla
Rascal Maker
Lionel DP
John G
Lynn D

9/11: The Al Qaeda attacks on New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon in Washington on 11th September 2001, which triggered President George W Bush’s ‘War on Terror’ and the  wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

7/7: The co-ordinated bomb attacks on London by four young British men in the name of Al Qaeda, on 7th July 2005, which killed 52 people.

Al Qaeda: Terrorist group founded in 1988 by Osama Bin Laden, which committed the 9/11 attacks.

Islamic State (Daesh/IS/ISIS/ISIL): Terrorist group formed after the fall of Saddam Hussain in Iraq and the civil war in Syria. It is the most prominent recruiter of Westerners to its mission to establish its own state.

CONTEST & the ‘4 Ps’: The British Government’s Counter Terrorism strategy initiated in 2006, revised in 2011, consisting of 4 strands: Prepare, Protect, Prevent and Pursue.

Prevent: Aiming to stop (prevent) individuals from supporting terrorism or becoming terrorists.