The need for a national deradicalisation program in Afghanistan


  • Johnnie Auld


Afghanistan, Radicalization, Deradicalization


The lack of deradicalisation programs in Afghanistan has potential to prolong the violence and turmoil in the country for decades. With years of conflict, multiple forms of government, high unemployment, high levels of poverty, and a constant influx of Western cultural norms and media fighting against the traditionalist Afghan culture strongly embedded in a conservative reading of Islam, Afghanistan is a breeding ground for radicalism. Youth are susceptible to an environment that causes radicalism and nurtures it, and with the ever-present national conflict, this radicalisation has an outlet in the form of insurgency and terrorism. Groups like the Taliban have easily recruited and radicalised individuals using religion as a justification for their violence. Deradicalisation in Afghanistan is an under researched topic and an underfunded pursuit. With no national deradicalisation strategy it is left to international actors and local organisations to engage in these programs. More must be done to engage with those who have become radicalised and those in high-risk zones in order to help secure the long-term future of Afghanistan. 

 I will discuss how Afghanistan is a breeding ground for radicalisation of individuals due to Afghanistan’s violent, hostile environment with high rates of poverty, high unemployment and distrust toward the authorities. I will then discuss how religion is used a justification by extremist groups for individuals to commit violent acts and how the increasingly precarious security situation in the country means a sound national deradicalisation program is essential. I conclude that any deradicalisation efforts undertaken by the Afghan government so far are piecemeal and inadequate to deal with the on-going problems present in the country and that lessons must be learnt from programs in other Islamic countries that have successfully deradicalised violent extremist groups.  

Author Biography

Johnnie Auld

Johnnie Auld has experience conducting in-depth research in Afghanistan and other conflict zones. His main areas of focus are ethnic conflict, the notion of identity, conflict prevention and radicalisation.


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