Amaryllis Fox is a writer, a peace activist and a former CIA Clandestine Service officer.
She recently sat down with Al Jazeera's AJ+ to discuss what she's learned from working undercover in counterterrorism for nearly a decade.
Her takeaway? Listen to your enemy.
"If I learned one lesson from my time with the CIA, it is this: Everybody believes they are the good guy," Fox said in a video shared by AJ+ on Facebook Monday.
When it comes to the Islamic State militant group, Fox says the public conversation is "more oversimplified than ever" and encompasses stories "manufactured" by a small minority of powerful people who remain in power by "convincing the rest of us to keep killing each other."
She believes understanding comes with listening.
"The only real way to disarm your enemy is to listen to them," she said. "If you hear them out, if you're brave enough to really listen to their story, you can see that more often than not you might've made some of the same choices if you'd lived their life instead of yours."