Beware of Branding Someone a Terrorist: Local Professionals on Person-Specific Interventions to Counter Extremism


  • Quirine Eijkman PhD. Chair Research Group Access2Justice, Centre for Social Innovation (KSI), HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht / Senior-Researcher Security & the Rule of Law, Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA) Leiden University, The Netherlands
  • Josien Roodnat Josien Roodnat, MSc, Researcher, Senze.


Integrated Counter Terrorism Approach, Person-Specific Intervention, Violent Extremism Programmes, Local Professionals, Prevention, Effect


This article is about the effect of local tailored interventions to counter (violent) extremism, and therefore contributes to the academic and policy debates. It focusses on local, professional perspectives on person-specific interventions utilising a Dutch case study as the basis. The interventions are part of the wider-ranging counter terrorism policy that entails (local) measures that are deployed in relation to designated high-risk individuals and groups. By reviewing policy documents and conducting semi-structured interviews, the exploratory study concludes that the key factors for a hand-tailored intervention are a solid network, expert knowledge to assess potential signs of extremist ideology, an awareness of not having too many concurrent measures, good inter-institutional cooperation and information-sharing. The professionals involved felt that person-specific interventions have contributed to reducing the threat of religious extremism in the Netherlands. Nonetheless, municipal officials and security agents emphasised the importance of setting realistic goals and a focus on preventive rather than repressive measures. Furthermore, despite the central role that municipal actors play, they run up against problems such as cooperation within the security and care sector. National entities appear to emphasize information-gathering and monitoring more than community-focused cooperation. Thereby questioning whether, on the national level, local professionals are perceived as playing a key role in dealing with extremism.


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