Countering Jihadi Radicals and Foreign Fighters in the United States and France: Très Similaire
Keywords:Radicalization in the United States and France, Foreign Fighters
This article analyzes and compares French and U.S. domestic responses to Jihadi radicalization, placing particular attention on the similarities between the two. In view of the political and cultural differences between the United States and France, the parallels between U.S. and French approaches to homegrown Jihadi radicalization are remarkable. Both countries got off to a late start when formulating counterradicalization strategies. While the underlying reasons (related to, inter alia, the notion of American exceptionalism and the French version of secularism) for this differ, the U.S. introduced its first counterradicalization strategy in 2011, followed by France in 2014. More important, so-called “soft” measures (including phone hotlines, dialogues and workshops, vocational training, targeted interventions, or counseling and exit programs), adopted by most Western democracies in an effort to prevent vulnerable individuals from radicalizing and reintegrate foreign fighters and others who have become infected with the Jihadi virus, have taken a back seat to “hard” security measures (including surveillance, arrests, and prosecutions) in the two countries. These findings have important implications for policymakers. Understanding what responses have been formulated, and also why, can facilitate international cooperation and provide useful insights on the characteristics, strengths, as well as limits of U.S. and French approaches to Jihadi radicals and foreign fighters.
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