- Ahmad Shah MohibiFounder/President
- Michael R. SherwinSenior Advisor
- Suleman OzerenDirector of Counter-Terrorism (MENA)
- John WilsonDirector of Domestic Terrorism Program
- Kristyn HartwykAdvisor
- Gerard JohansenResearch Fellow, Counter-Terrorism
- Caitlyn RyanResearch Fellow
- Tim O’SheaAdvisor, Rise to Peace
- Simone MatassaResearch Fellow
- Kate KleinleAdvisor, Rise to Peace
- Carola AngelinoCounter-Terrorism Research Fellow
- Ben MaloufResearch Analyst - MENA
- Nick WebbResearch Fellow
- Meghan RahillRESEARCH FELLOW
- Danielle BodenActive Intelligence Intern
- Kelly W.Research Fellow
- Kyle MyattResearch Fellow
- Alex SerebrinaCounter-Terrorism Research - MENA
- JulieAnn SickellActive Intelligence Intern
- Matthew TyrisCounter Terrorism Researcher
- Habiba AhmedActive Intelligence Intern
- Nakeshia DiopCounter-Terrorism Research Intern
- Zaina DkaidekCounter-Terrorism Research Intern
- Shailene PimentelResearch Fellow
Ahmad Shah Mohibi is the founder of Rise to Peace, a U.S. 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization focused on empowering peace, education, and tolerance to prevent terrorism and extremism around the world by engaging with local partners in affected communities, as well as those in positions who can facilitate change. Ahmad brings personal experience, expert insight and vast knowledge to all his endeavors. His childhood in Afghanistan was shaped by the fraught geopolitical period between the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the ascendency of the Taliban. He and his family experienced violence and displacement contemporaneous to the instability intrinsic to countries struggling to counter the scourge of terrorism. At the age of 15, he decisively left school and pursued an opportunity to assist the United States military as a translator and later as an advisor with the Department of State, where he assisted in the handover of detainees affiliated with numerous terrorist networks (Al-Qaeda, Haqqani Network, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Taliban) from US custody to Afghan authorities.
After years on the ground in Afghanistan, Ahmad relocated to the United States in 2012. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and Political Science from George Mason University as well as a Master of Arts in International Policy and Practice from George Washington University. Ahmad founded the non-profit organization Rise to Peace; an initiative focused on education and research to overcome the violence characteristic of terrorism and violent extremism. Using his collective and personal knowledge, he is often found presenting at conferences, offering analysis on discussion panels and authoring investigative reports.
Michael R. Sherwin
Michael R. Sherwin, an Assistant United States Attorney with the U. S. Department of Justice, has extensive experience in national security investigations and counterterrorism cases. Prior to becoming a federal prosecutor, Michael was an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy, where he served throughout the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Dr. Suleyman Ozeren is the Director of Counter-Terrorism for Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Dr. Ozeren is an adjunct faculty and a research scholar at George Mason University. He formerly served as the President of the Global Policy and Strategy Institute and the Director of the International Center for Terrorism and Transnational Crime (UTSAM) in Turkey. He also served as a faculty member at different universities. Dr. Ozeren received his M.S. degree in Criminal Justice and a Ph.D. degree in Information Science from the University of North Texas.
His research interests include terrorism & counterterrorism, countering violent extremism (CVE), conflict resolution, the Kurdish issue, and forced migration. In his research, he examined four terrorist organizations: ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK). He also conducted research in Europe, focusing on diaspora radicalization. Part of his research included interviewing convicted terrorists and disintegrated and de-radicalized individuals.
John Patrick Wilson serves as the Director of the Domestic Counter-Terrorism Program. John started with Rise to Peace as a Research Fellow, concentrating in counter-terrorism and counter-violent extremism. John’s experience outside of Rise to Peace includes work as a law enforcement officer, as well as various roles in corporate risk management, security, and political research. John completed his first graduate degree in Homeland Security, where he concentrated in Counter-Terrorism Studies. His capstone project pertained to the Islamic State’s intelligence apparatus, the Emni, and their capabilities to conduct intelligence tradecraft both at their peak and in their current state. Upon completion of his first graduate degree, he began his second graduate level degree in Strategic Intelligence & Analysis, which he is still pursuing.
Kristyn Hartwyk is an international professional who currently works at a leading international development institution in Washington, D.C., while simultaneously pursuing her Master’s in International Development Studies at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Kristyn is heavily invested in conflict and development, education development and preventing violent extremism. Her qualitative and quantitative analytic skills are unparalleled and she has an undeniable gift for grant and proposal writing. Kristyn has written detailed, concise feasibility analyses, business canvas models and financial projects for Rise to Peace that has led to successful award competitions and grant money. She has a love of culture and diversity, and a strong passion for the well-being of humanity.
Caitlyn Ryan received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College where she majored in Asian
Languages & Civilizations with a focus in Mandarin Chinese and U.S.-China relations. She is currently
pursuing a Master of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts Lowell concentrating in
International Security and Counter-Terrorism studies. She is also working as a research assistant at
UMass, working with her professor of terrorism studies to build a database of organized criminal
networks around the world. As a Rise to Peace Research Fellow, she hopes to expand her knowledge of
domestic counter-terrorism trends and hopes to learn strategies aimed at undermining the
Tim O’Shea is a student at Georgetown University Law Center, and serves as a an advisor to Rise To Peace’s database team. Tim previously served as R2P’s Database & Intelligence Manager, when he designed, built, and oversaw the Active Intelligence Database (AID) and Undercovered Attacks Database (UAD). He graduated summa cum laude from George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government with a BA in Government and International Politics
Simone Matassa is currently studying at the Technological University of Dublin in Ireland where she conducts research on the Western media’s representation of Islamic state terrorism. This research aims to show the significance of sensationalising certain terrorist attacks in the media and the effects of such on the general public and for terrorist organizations. Prior to this, she completed her Undergraduate Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology at The National University of Ireland where she carried out research on religious extremism and the social/psychological motivations of terrorism.
As a Counter-Terrorism Research Fellow with Rise to Peace, Simone will be focusing on women in extremism in order to highlight how women become involved in terrorism and to create a comparison between the processes of radicalization for women versus men. The issues surrounding women in extremism are particularly under-researched and she hopes through her work at Rise to Peace to help shed light on this complex dynamic and create something that could help educate people on the factors that may lead a person to become more susceptible to joining a terrorist organization.
Carola Angelino is currently working on my M.sc. thesis in Terrorism and Political Violence at Kingston University London. The study will investigate the process of radicalization of Muslim inmates incarcerated in UK prisons, to find out what are the mechanisms behind the choice of following a path that may eventually lead to an act of violence. In 2017, she graduated in International Sciences, Development and Cooperation at the University of Turin, Italy. At Rise to Peace, Carola is a Counter-Terrorism Research Fellow supporting the “Women and Extremism” program. Through this opportunity, she hopes to deeply examine an issue that is often neglected or underestimated. Extremism between women can be the result of a background and a set of choices extremely different from those of men. Her ultimate goal is to find out what are the narratives behind a woman’s choice to follow extremist views, going beyond the stereotypes related to this gender. She strongly believes it is important to give them a voice to provide more efficient tools to governments and policymakers in the counter-terrorism field.
Nick Webb recently graduated from George Mason University with a degree in Global Affairs, a minor in Middle Eastern Studies, and a concentration in Global Governance. At Rise to Peace, he is a Research Fellow, where he is focused on the Peace Talks in Afghanistan. He focuses on the weekly critical moments of these talks to secure a legitimate government and peace in the country. Nick updates the Rise to Peace Facebook page with articles with up to date information on the peace talks. He hopes that though his writings there can be a better understanding of the region, as well as a way forward to counter terrorism and to create peace. Nick has also served as an intern for Congressman Gerry Connolly in Washington D.C, where he worked closely with the Foreign Affairs liaison. He has also studied at Sciences Po in Reims, France and obtained a certificate in International Relations and Security.
Kyle Myatt is a graduate student at Arizona State University. He is pursuing a Master of Arts in
Global Security, focusing on how technology is changing both war and conflict. Kyle graduated
from Campbell University in 2013 with a BA in Criminal Justice Administration. Along with
being enrolled at ASU, Kyle works in the criminal justice field providing forensic support
services to law enforcement agencies located in Raleigh, NC. His research interests include:
counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency, transnational security, and intelligence analysis. Working
with Rise to Peace, Kyle hopes to gain knowledge and experience he can apply towards a career
in the intelligence field.
JulieAnn Sickell is currently a Junior at George Mason University majoring in Global Affairs with a concentration in Global Governance and minor in Chinese. She is a part of Mason’s Global Politics Fellowship, Honors College, and Admissions team. JulieAnn’s interests include security policy, U.S.-China relations, and humanitarian work. At Rise to Peace, Julie contributes to the maintenance of the Active Intelligence Database and writes blog posts.
Matthew Tyris graduated from York College of Pennsylvania in 2017 with a degree in International Relations. Throughout his college career, Mathew found an interest in terrorism and cyberspace. This led to him to conduct analysis on topics such as terrorism recruitment strategies and a study on international law in cyberspace. He involved in York Colleges National Model United Nations Team in New York City.
After graduating from York College of Pennsylvania Mathew decided to work for City Year AmeriCorps in Philadelphia. At City Year I assisted at-risk youth in subjects such as math, literacy, and Social Emotional Learning for over 1700 hours. I found the greatest sense of satisfaction when I was just talking with them, answering their questions and allowing them to speak their mind and expand their thoughts. This is why Rise to Peace’s mission to educate youth resonated with me so deeply, and was one of the many reasons I applied for the position.
Mathew works as a Counter Terrorism Researcher with Rise to Peace, focusing on Digital Extremism.The position will allow Mathew to research two topics of interest, terrorism, and cyberspace. “During my time here I plan to showcase the issue of digital extremism and share insight pertaining to propaganda and recruitment strategies through cyberspace”, Said Mathew.
Habiba is an Honors College junior at George Mason University majoring in Government and minoring in Intelligence Analysis. Her research interests include international security, terrorism, U.S nuclear doctrine, and trade relations. Before joining Rise to Peace, she was an intern with First Ask, a nonprofit focused on electing more women into office. She is also a member of the nationally ranked George Mason policy debate team as well as a consultant at the George Mason Communication Center. At R2P, she hopes to further explore counter-terrorism strategies with a focus on the Middle East.
Zaina Dkaidek is a recent graduate from Richmond the American International University in London with a B.A. Currently, she is pursuing an MSc in Security Studies at the University of College London. Her main area of research includes political violence in the Middle East, counter-radicalisation, and digital extremism. She is hopeful that through her work with Rise to Peace will help her further understand the radicalisation process and the different steps that can be taken to prevent it. With this knowledge, she would like to help develop programmes in the future to intervene in the early stages.