How Could a Terrorist be De-Radicalised?

Luke Bertram


This article addresses the potential to de-radicalize a terrorist, and if so how could this be achieved? The article also outlines the distinction between de-radicalization, counter-radicalization and disengagement. In order to understand the potential of de-radicalization techniques, research examines the factors that might lead to initial radicalization. The strategy of some state-based de-radicalization programs, particularly the Saudi Arabian de-radicalization program are examined and the importance of unique tailoring in these programs is identified. The relevance of ideology and life skill training within de-radicalization programs is also examined. The extensive impact that information communication technology has had on radicalization is also addressed and following on, the potential for de-radicalization and counter-radicalization through information communication platforms is also discussed. The importance of an accurate and appropriately delivered counter-narrative message is examined and the value of such a counter-narrative is discussed in terms of it possibly planting the seed of question in a terrorist, which may eventually support the terrorist questioning of terrorist group ideology. Highly relevant to the future de-radicalization of an ‘in organisation’ terrorist is the issue of how states might manage the potential return of terrorists who are known to be overseas and whether the best solution is or is not to prevent the terrorist from returning to a home-country, which is examined within. It could be presumed that a terrorist who is returning to a home-country may face some term of incarceration, as an extension of this issue that states must address, the effect that incarceration might have on a terrorist is also examined. The discussions in this article are relevant to policy-makers, de-radicalization program designers and security sector actors. 


Radicalization; De-Radicalization; Counter-Radicalization; Self-De-Radicalization; Foreign Fighters

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