July 13, 2022
9:00 am - 5:00 pm


Hybrid Conference
Zoom Webinar & Middle East Institute
1761 N St NW , District of Columbia 20036 (Map)

In a joint collaboration, the Middle East Institute and the London-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR) are convening two major international conferences this summer—one in London (June 16-17) and one in Washington (July 13)—to discuss the ISIS detainee dilemma in Syria and to explore potential pathways towards its resolution. 

Over three years ago, Islamic State’s territorial project in Syria and Iraq was dealt its final defeat in al-Baghouz. While the terrorist group’s insurgency in the region remains largely contained, one single and largely unaddressed issue is worsening by the day, threatening to guarantee an eventual resurgence. As of mid-2022, more than 60,000 men, women and children—most with some level of past association with ISIS—remain in makeshift detention and squalid camps in Syria. Thousands are Western citizens. This is an increasingly unsustainable security and humanitarian crisis, and progress on resolving it has moved painfully slowly, if at all.

Conference Agenda 

9:15am - 10:15am
Session I: Keynote Address & Discussion

Timothy Betts 
Coordinator for Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State and U.S Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS

Eric Schmitt, discussant
Senior Correspondent, New York Times 


10:30am - 11:30am 
Session II: Confronting an Evolving Threat from Islamic State: European Perspectives

Conrad Mueller 
First Secretary, Middle East and North Africa, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany 

Quentin Lopinot
Counselor for Strategic Affairs, Embassy of France 

Carla Thomas 
Head of Middle East and North Africa, Embassy of the United Kingdom 

Missy Ryan, moderator
Reporter covering diplomacy and national security, The Washington Post


11:45am - 12:45pm 
Session III: Keynote Address & Discussion

Andrew Plitt 
Assistant Administrator for the Middle East, USAID 

Katie Bo Lillis, discussant 
National Security Correspondent, CNN

1:30pm - 2:30pm 
Session IV: The Unsustainability of Camps and Prisons: How Things Need to Change

Sahar Atrache
Senior Advocate for the Middle East, Refugees International

Sonia Khush
Syria Response Director, Save the Children 

Letta Tayler 
Associate Director and Counterterrorism Lead, Human Rights Watch

Fabrizio Carboni 
Regional Director, Middle East, International Committee of the Red Cross

Elizabeth Hagedorn, moderator
State Department Correspondent, Al-Monitor


2:45pm - 3:30pm 
Session V: Keynote Address & Discussion 

Dana Stroul
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East, U.S. Department of Defense

Lara Seligman, discussant
Defense Reporter, Politico

3:45pm - 4:15pm 
Session VI: Fireside Chat on the Biden Administration’s Counter-ISIS Strategy in the Middle East

Joshua Geltzer
Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Homeland Security Advisor, National Security Council, The White House

Peter Bergen, discussant
Vice President for Global Studies, New America; CNN National Security Analyst

4:15pm - 5:00pm
Session VII: The Detainee Dilemma: Charting a Path Forward

Charles Lister
Senior Fellow, Director of Syria and Countering Terrorism and Extremism Programs, Middle East Institute

Shiraz Maher
Director, International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation 

Mona Yacoubian, discussant
Senior Advisor to the Vice President of Middle East & Africa, USIP