A former Islamist extremist who supported al-Qaeda and exhorted others to follow Osama bin Laden has joined George Washington University as a research fellow.
Jesse Morton, who was born in Pennsylvania and said he became a Muslim at age 20 after reading “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” while in prison for a drug offense, argues that he can offer an insider’s perspective on Islamist radicalization — and how to counter that threat.
Morton is the first former extremist in the United States to join an academic program, Lorenzo Vidino, director of GW’s Program on Extremism, said, although there are some working similar capacities in Europe.
The article goes on to note that Mr. Morton will be working at GWU's off-campus think tank (launched June 2015 to study both violent and non-violent extremism) and he will not be interacting with students.
Interestingly, the article does not even mention the think tank's name, which is the Center for Cyber & Homeland Security (CCHS). Mr. Morton's think tank biography can be found here; he is listed as a research fellow.
Here is an interview with Lorenzo Vidino, the think tank's director, who discusses the hiring of Mr. Morton.
CCHS is believed to be the first think tank to hire a former Islamic extremist.
Among those on CCHS's board of directors include Michael Chertoff (former Secretary of Homeland Security), Cathy Lanier (Chief of DC police), and Tom Ridge (former Secretary of Homeland Security).