The Pedagogy of Violent Extremism

by Ygnacio Flores (Author)
Monographs XXII, 174 Pages
Series: Violence Studies, Volume 4


The Pedagogy of Violent Extremism is the first critical analysis of violent extremism via the lens of pedagogical development that considers the nation as an all-encompassing learning environment. Presented through a critical perspective on violent extremism resulting from hegemonic provocation, Flores gives a voice to important social issues that are largely being ignored in contemporary society. Poignantly highlighted is how racism, immigration and other mismanaged social issues are creating the foundation for increased violence in America – by both government and non-government actors. Primarily based on the mismanagement of the demographic shift in the nation, a social imbalance between a Euro–Christian-based right and a growing minority population that are starting to clash violently as each side has resigned to taking action in the absence of a national government that can truly represent Americans across a multiethnic and multicultural construct.
This is the perfect book for courses on violence studies and terrorism at secondary through graduate level studies. Its prose is designed to serve the purpose of academicians as well as the lay reader. The Pedagogy of Violent Extremism uses an interdisciplinary framework to explore how people learn to hate, and subsequently choose to use violent extremism. Flores enlightens the reader by challenging conventional perspectives on violence and terrorism in America. While portraying an America that will experience more violent extremism in the future, Flores provides many open doors for American leaders and the public at large that can lead to a reduction in future incidents of violent extremism.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Table of Figures
  • Preface
  • Book 1: Pedagogy Reframed
  • Paulo Freire’s Critical Pedagogy
  • Phenomenology of Violent Extremism
  • Theory of Hegemonically Provoked Violent Extremism
  • Hegemonic Oppression
  • Banking Hegemony: Analysis of American Strategy on Preventing Violent Extremism
  • Discovering how to Hate
  • Banking American Hegemony: The Global Area
  • Banking American Hegemony: The Domestic Area
  • Violent Extremism Supports Regime Continuity
  • Folktales, Heroes and Violence
  • Min Erhabi?
  • Evolution of the Terrorist Training Curriculum
  • Book 2: The Face of America’s Third Civilization
  • Mismanaging America’s Demographic Shift and the Rise of Violent Extremism
  • Overview
  • Violent Extremism in Response to a Demographic Shift
  • The Faces of American Civilizations
  • Faith, Conversion, and Fundamentalism
  • Diaspora and Tribalism
  • Rise of Homegrown Violent Extremism in America
  • Enriching America’s Third Civilization
  • The Internet and Violent Extremism
  • Conclusions: The Calculus of Convergent Variables in Creating Homegrown Terrorism
  • Book 3: Homegrown Violent Extremism as an IED
  • Part I—U.S. Immigration Policy
  • Background
  • Effects of Immigration
  • Acculturation
  • Failure to Assimilate
  • Immigrant Power
  • Part II—Anti-immigration Attitudes
  • The Right: Anti-immigrationism
  • The Left: Proimmigrationism
  • Analysis of Threats Now and in the Future
  • Inferences
  • Part III—Immigration and Religious Intolerance
  • Overview
  • Homegrown Terrorism as Violent Extremism
  • Islamic Extremists
  • Christian Extremists
  • Fearing Change
  • The Decay of Religious Tolerance
  • The Future of Extreme Violence
  • Book 4: Advance and Transfer
  • Naval Shiphandling and Violent Extremism
  • The Farsighted: Voices of Thunder
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • Index
  • Series Index

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First and foremost, let me be clear that I have spent twenty-seven years proudly serving in the U.S. Navy as an enlisted and commissioned officer, specializing in law enforcement, physical security, antiterrorism, and force protection. Following my military service are ten years of working in higher education, educating and training men and women to serve in law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services. I am a proud American who has put his life on the line many times, and would do so again without hesitation. While The Pedagogy of Violent Extremism introduces many controversial ideas, these viewpoints are not necessarily mine; however, they represent thematic perspectives of what I discovered through extensive research. While I introduce ideas intended for provoking thought, many discussions within this book create dialogue in sensitive areas, are poignant philosophies that strike a nerve—even in me, as I try to remain unbiased—nevertheless, the sentiments captured in my analysis do exist.

I have explored terrorism in its many constructs for over thirty years. Besides reading the books of the leading experts on terrorism like Brian Michael Jenkins (2010; 2011; 2014) and Bruce Hoffman (2006; 2007; 2013), I also sought out the voices of those who spoke for changes that countered mainstream Western society with violence. There was Carlos Marighella and his Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla (1969/2008), William Powell’s The ← xiii | xiv → Anarchist Cookbook (1971), Che Guevara’s The Motorcycle Diaries (1995/2003) and Guerrilla Warfare (1961/2012), and Andrew Macdonald’s The Turner Diaries (1978/1996). Later, there was the Al Qaeda Training Manual (2000) and speeches of Usama bin Laden (Lawrence, 2005), Ayman al-Zawahiri (Mansfield, 2006), and Anwar al-Awlaki (Sloan & Al-Ashanti, 2011). Understanding the latest wave of terrorism caused a resurgence of reflection and a return to the writings of Seyyid Qutb (1953/2000; 1991; 2005), Thomas Edward Lawrence (1922/2011), David Galula (1964/2001), and Mao Tse Tung (2012).

Western academia kept pace with the changing nature of terrorism as Jessica Stern (2000), Mia Bloom (2005), Reza Aslan (2009), and Fareed Zakaria (2013) added to the knowledge domain of terrorism. New to contemporary terrorism was the introduction of a Middle Eastern voice through Al Jazeera. Perspectives on terrorism now had a serious opinion that was not supportive of the Western hegemony many terrorists were fighting. Protecting America within its borders became a priority that had tentacles reaching into every social, political, market, and religious practice around the world. This effort coined the term homeland security (9/11 Commission, 2004). While protecting America, on paper, at least, the idea of homeland security (Bush, 2007) and its global reach became a raison d’être for escalating the use of extreme violence in confronting America and its allies as the War on Terrorism entered a quagmire murkier than that of the Vietnam War. New to American planning was the idea of America being a theater of war. Learning how to protect the homeland entered the undefined space between defense and security. Law enforcement and the Department of Defense never worked as closely as they have since homeland security became a priority mission for America. Unfortunately, America learned too late that terrorism was to become part of the American landscape (9/11 Commission, 2004).

After the 1983 bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, military leaders developed a Department of Defense wide system to protect its personnel and bases overseas. The protective structure became the force protection system. Other than forces stationed overseas, there was little attention given to force protection by civilians in America. During this period, the violence of terrorism was viewed as an “over there” phenomenon. This changed on September 11, 2001 when America experienced multiple attacks by Al Qaeda terrorists using passenger airplanes as the delivery system for violence.

Al Qaeda changed the paradigm on using extreme violence as part of terrorism (German, 2007). In response, the War on Terrorism (Carafano, Bucci & Zukerman, 2012) resulted in America invading Afghanistan and later Iraq. ← xiv | xv → The killing of Usama bin Laden in 2011 did not result in a victory over terrorism as Al Qaeda continued to attack their enemies (Habeck, 2012). As many in the Western world thought America was winning the War on Terrorism, a new threat rose in the Levant. Though American leaders initially disregarded the threat posed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as he sought to establish an Islamic state in territory that spanned parts of Syria and Iraq, al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate in 2014 under the name of the Islamic State (Dassanayake, 2015).

The Islamic State, shunned by Al Qaeda for its extreme use of violence, set a new bar for violent extremism through its signature use of recording the beheadings of its victims, mass killings, and the execution of a Jordanian pilot by resurrecting the act of auto-da-fé as a punishment (Rose, 2014; Warrick, 2015). The idea of a quick victory over the Islamic State is an idea only a fool would still believe as al-Baghdadi manages to expand his territory, terror, and violence.

Along with the rise of violence introduced by Al Qaeda and perfected by the Islamic State, came the escalation of individual actors using violent extremism to support terrorist causes or make a distinct statement to their society (Rose, 2014; Didymus, 2015). Distinctive among those supporting terrorist causes, particularly those with Islamic-based extractions was the emigration of Westerners to the terrorist wars overseas (Straziuso, Forliti & Watson, 2012), especially those fighting for the Islamic State (Coughlin, 2014). The concept of Westerners fighting for the Islamic State became an inconceivable idea to leaders, parents, and friends in Europe and America (Zalikind, 2015).

Adding to the tapestry of violent extremism is the increase of what many (Jenkins; 2011; Jenkins, Liepman & Willis, 2014) have called the lone wolf actors—though not always associated with terrorism (Ziv, 2014; Blinder, 2016)—that orchestrate acts of extreme violence with plans to kill as many people as possible before being captured or killed themselves. This trend caused many in America to ask questions of why people like Nidal Hasan (Kenber, 2013), Aaron Alexis (Hermann & Marimow, 2013), Elliot Rodger (Wolf, 2015), James Holmes (Takeda, 2015), One Goh (Fraley, 2015), John Zawahiri (Serrano, Blankstein & Gerber, 2013), Adam Lanza (Ziv, 2014), Dylann Roof (Blinder, 2016), Chris Mercer (Healy & Lovett, 2015), and others chose to use extreme violence to relate a message to society.

Notable in the coverage of these killings is how the Islamic faith became a focal point as a cause of the violence while Christianity’s role in the violence largely escaped attention as a casual factor. These mass killings also caused security professionals and academia to question the definition of terrorism as ← xv | xvi → contemporary violent extremism did not fit the previous concepts of terrorism (Burke, 2016). Terrorism, as the term du jour became pedestrian as many insignificant acts, like a child drawing a picture of a gun (Thompson, 2010) falls into the realm of terrorism—complete with arrests and judicial proceedings. Conversely, the tendency to align terrorism with Islam missed labeling many acts committed by Americans as criminal acts instead of terrorism (Shapira, 2010; Sonner 2014; Ziv, 2014). Therefore, I approach this book with the view that terrorism as defined by the end of the previous century, has outlived its past defining factors and been superseded by violent extremism—a concept that looks at the outcomes, or intended outcomes of acts committed.

A significant challenge I encountered while exploring violent extremism was how to approach a serious study of the phenomenon. Reiterating past perspectives only adds to the numerous volumes on terrorism that do not explore the deep causal factors of violent extremism. While pundits on terrorism point to alienation, disenfranchisement, and cultural divides as causes of violence, their analysis does not go deep enough into the social foundations and constructs that foster and nurture the ability of a person to commit acts of violent extremism. I recognized the call for an innovative approach to understanding violent extremism. The current construct of terrorism, as used in the West, has long nurtured hate against America since the end of the Second World War. While professing democratic growth in the Third World, we have seen the effects of a cradle to grave process in which American values have the unintended consequences of teaching people to hate Westernization—much like the West African terrorist group, Boko Haram, whose very name translates to a version of Against Western Learning (Sergie & Johnson, (2015). Therefore, I decided to reframe Paulo Freire’s educational approach immortalized in his seminal book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970/2000; Jackson, 2007), to show how the current challenges of violent extremism are the pedagogical product of—often unintentionally—America’s foreign and domestic policies.

This book is the result of my purposeful focus on the relationship between violent extremism and the perceived mismanagement of the demographic shift in America. In 2014, I enrolled in the Masters in Professional Studies in Homeland Security program at Pennsylvania State University with the intent of exploring violent extremism in America. I had been studying terrorism and violence in various universities since at least 1995. Books 2 and 3 are the product of research I conducted as part of fulfilling the requirements for my master’s degree. Yet, I was missing a framework to introduce the basic model I had in my mind concerning the similarity between the fire triangle and my ← xvi | xvii → theory of hegemonically provoked violent extremism. While working with my mentee, Marielena Hernandez, the subject of Paulo Freire came up. Through our dialogue on social justice, I knew that I had found a framework for completing my analysis of violent extremism. Freire’s works led me to other works on critical thinking as well as revisiting the writings of revolutionary and freedom seeking authors long past. I found in their collective voice a warning for violent extremism if the hegemonic powers of their days continued to rule as imperialists. Unfortunately, their messages received little attention outside small circles of critical thinkers. Among my research, I also came upon Noam Chomsky (2003/2004; 2007), someone I had ignored while serving in the military. What surprised me was the ease of coupling the discoveries I made in my analysis with the warnings they have provided for over forty years.

Combining the conjectural approaches gained from holding advanced degrees in education, business, international relations, and homeland security, I use Freire’s critical pedagogy (1970/2000) to go beyond the classroom learning environment (Roberts, 2007) to illuminate the deep roots of how people learn to use violent extremism in the larger classroom that is the world. Where banking education (Freire, 1970/2000) kept many oppressed people in a place where the oppressors could maintain control of their society by educating a population to learn their roles according to the oppressor established norms and mores (Zorn, 2001; Schroeter, 2013), I use the idea of banking to represent a systemic mechanism (Machiavelli, 2008) operating on a global scale to maintain hegemonic power. Banking hegemony, however, is failing to control unequivocally the global population as those resisting hegemonic authority are joining the Islamic State or committing acts of violent extremism against Western targets, including objectives in America. My intention is not to posit a one-size-fits-all approach to ending violent extremism; that is an unattainable goal for anyone. Though it is possible to kill an individual, it is impossible to kill an ideology. Much as Freire’s educational reforms have not solved the issue of poor education (Gonzalez, 2013) or oppression, the Pedagogy of Violent Extremism will not solve the many forms of terrorism that exist in our complex world.

An issue I encountered while exploring violent extremism is many pundits take an, us against them perspective. In Pedagogy of Violent Extremism, it is not my intention to declare either side is right or wrong in its ideology, what I am illustrating are the factors leading to violent extremism, regardless of the motive. Framing violent extremism from a singular ideological perspective would not be responsible as it blinds the academic outcomes of ← xvii | xviii → research. Politically, policy blinded by unbending ideology runs the risk of regime extinction. This is why America has not been successful in its War on Terrorism. Currently, American leaders foresee its victory over terrorism by attaining a replica of their sovereignty throughout the developing world.

I expect my perspective on violent extremism to receive criticism or to be ignored by some pundits because my stance on the casual factors of violence is on the fringe of normally accepted literature on security studies, a viewpoint in which the metric for jus ad bellum favors American interests. I hold that researchers and professionals need to listen to and understand the voices and sentiments of all the actors involved in the phenomenon of violent extremism. My hope is that this book will spark in the reader the ability to think about violent extremism critically. Critical thinking among all the actors on the stage of violent extremism can serve as a starting point for developing change in a society that will reduce the use of violence in the future.

The Pedagogy of Violent Extremism is meant for a wide body of readers. I found this approach the best to discuss an important topic in a critical manner that draws from several disciplines; critical theory, human and security studies, anthropology, sociology, political science, international relations, and violence studies to name a few.

While conducting research I was not surprised to discover that my conclusions on the mismanagement of the demographic shift taking place in America, and throughout the world, was at the crux of violent extremism. I found intellectuals other than Freire (1970/2000) whose warnings failed, in my opinion, to gain notice over the years. They were Edward Said (1978/1994), like Freire (1970/2000), Frantz Fanon (1952/2008; 1961/2004), Noam Chomsky (2003), and Henry Giroux (2014)—all validated what I developed in my mind over the previous decades of working to keep the American public safe. I see the possibility of countering violent extremism, but the response must contain an unprejudiced consideration of all the factors that cause and prevent violent extremism.


9/11 Commission. (2004). The 9/11 commission report; Final report to the national commission on terrorist attacks upon the United States. Harrisonburg: W.W. Norton & Company.

Al Qaeda Terrorist Training Manual (AQTM). (2000). (UK/BM-2 Translation, May) Manchester: UK/BM2. ← xviii | xix →

Aslan, R. (2009). How to win a cosmic war: God, globalization and the end of the war on terror. New York: Random House.

Blinder, A. (2016, May 24). Death penalty is sought for Dylann Roof in Charleston church killings. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/25/us/dylann-roof-will-face-federal-death-penalty-in-charleston-church-killings.html.

Bloom, M. (2005). Dying to kill: The allure of suicide terror. New York: Columbia University Press.

Burke, J. (2016, February 25). How the changing media is changing terrorism. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/25/how-changing-media-changing-terrorism.

Bush, G. W. (2007). National Strategy for Homeland Security (NSHS). Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

Carafano, J., Bucci, S., & Zukerman, J. (2012, April 25). Fifty terror plots foiled since 9/11: The homegrown threat and the long war on terrorism. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/04/fifty-terror-plots-foiled-since-9-11-the-homegrown-threat-and-the-long-war-on-terrorism.

Chomsky, N. (2003/2004). Hegemony or survival: America’s quest for global dominance. New York: Henry Holt.

Chomsky, N. (2007). Interventions. San Francisco: City Lights Books.

Coughlin, C. (2014, November 5). How social media is helping Islamic State to spread its poison. The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/11208796/How-social-media-is-helping-Islamic-State-to-spread-its-poison.html.


XXII, 174
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2017 (September)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2017. XXI, 174 pp.

Biographical notes

Ygnacio Flores (Author)

Ygnacio V. Flores is Dean of Public Safety and Interim Dean of Business at Rio Hondo College, where he oversees academics as well as the police, fire, and wildland fire academies and a regional homeland security training center. Flores is a retired Naval officer and former senior non-commissioned officer specializing in law enforcement, physical security, antiterrorism and force protection. He holds an EdD from the University of Southern California, an executive MBA from Pepperdine University, an MPS in Homeland Security from Pennsylvania State University, an MA in international relations from the University of San Diego, and is a graduate of the Navy War College’s Command and Staff program. Flores has published articles in journals and industry magazines on law enforcement, fire services, and homeland security.


Title: The Pedagogy of Violent Extremism
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