Radicalization, disengagement, and deradicalization are high-value subjects for anyone interested in the human behaviour aspect of counterterrorism. An understanding of an individual’s progression from an aspirational to an operational stage is fundamental to national security work.
Radicalization, disengagement, and deradicalization are relatively new topics of study, emerging largely from the post-9/11 threat environment. The impression that radicalization was an exclusively Islamic phenomenon – and the increased scrutiny of Muslim communities – led to a lack of trust in government and law enforcement. Vulnerable and marginalized communities adopted a siege mentality which impeded counter-radicalization efforts in the belief it would demonize Islam, reinforcing negative stereotypes.
The need for a proper understanding of these subjects is even more important with respect to the rise of other types of violent extremism, particularly domestic radicalization. This has challenged the view that radicalization was an exclusively foreign-inspired threat.
Appreciating that this process transcends communities and religion is the overarching theme of this session. The session reaffirms the role of ideology, grievance, peer networks, and other psychosocial factors that animate these adverse behaviors.