Growing up Muslim-American in post 9/11 New York, Saif Zihiri has dedicated himself to studying both extremist movements and government response towards extremism. While a student at Macaulay Honors at CUNY Hunter College, he worked with the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, tracking terror events happening in Somalia and Afghanistan. Under the Southern Poverty Law Center, he monitored domestic extremists and their connections to government officials. Working with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, he studied the Federal Government’s activities in the name of countering violent extremism (CVE). Graduating in May 2019 with a double major in Religion and Political Science, as well as a certificate in Human Rights, he wrote two separate theses. Through the Religion program, he wrote on the preaching strategies of the more aggressive camps of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. Through the Human Rights program he wrote on the anti-Muslim bias of the Federal Government’s CVE program.
After graduating, Saif spent a summer in Accra, Ghana with the West Africa Centre for Counter-Extremism, where he wrote on the importance of centering human rights within national security and helped the organization track terror events happening throughout West Africa. As a New York City Urban Fellow, Saif currently works for the New York City Police Department, where he conducts research on issues ranging from youth diversion strategies to internal use-of-force policies. Saif enjoys exploring antique shops and is an avid photographer of political activities in the city.