Radicalisation is an issue that affects some individuals in our society, with people becoming self-radicalised or radicalised by manipulation from others. There are certain risk factors which may contribute to a person becoming radicalised and many pathways into extremist behaviour which contribute to the process of terrorism, (Neumann 2013).1 This essay defines what radicalisation is and the pathways which may contribute to the process of individuals taking the step towards extremist behaviour and acts of terrorism. It will discuss the most commonly thought views of pathways to terrorism to prevent future extremist ideologies being implanted in individual’s mind-sets. As people react very differently to situations and teachings from their life experiences, certain circumstances may be hard to change these ideologies, (Sedgwick 2010).2 This essay has found that risk factors contribute more to individuals becoming extremists than actual teachings and indoctrination processes, (Lynch, Mason & Rodriguez 2015).3 However, this may also be a good thing as these people tend to implement behaviours which nurture and protect them, so incorporating new experiences for these at-risk individuals may stop the indoctrination of future terrorist.
Radicalisation is a growing trend in the contemporary world. It incorporates the process through which groups or individuals embrace extreme social, economic, or political ideas, against the norms of their society.4 Radicalisation makes people forego their cultural and religious norms to adopt new ones that result in the transformation of their beliefs and behaviour. Radicalisation is defined by Wilner & Dubouloz (2010)5 as “the process of adopting an extremist belief system, including the willingness to use, support, or facilitate violence.” The British Government (2008) states that radicalization6 is “the process by which people come to support terrorism and violent extremism and to participate in terrorist groups.” Radicalisation operates in various pathways and results in the diversification of people’s values. Neumann (2013) found this process establishes ideas that are extremist ideologies and undermine the current state of a nation, with a view to change the ideas of a given society.7
In the event of radicalisation, two forms can be used which include both violent and non-violent means. Neumann (2013) distinguishes between cognitive radicalisation which emphasizes extremist beliefs and behavioral radicalisation that encourages extremist behavior, finding not all cognitive beliefs contribute to extremist behaviour. Radicalisation uses multiple ways to achieve its objectives of people becoming extremists. Neuman (2013) cites Moghadam’s staircase model, McCauley and Moskalenko’s pyramid model and Baran’s conveyor belt model which are similar in their view to radicalisation as a pathway to extremism.8 This progress over time through ideologies and indoctrination of at risk individuals, thus, contributing to extremist ideologies. As with all these models Neumann (2013) believes that previous life experiences and the cognitive radicalisation of individuals, are steps of the process to changing the person from a cognitive to a behavioural extremist due to their own thought patterns and experiences.9
Bousquet (2012) views political ideas that are anti-democratic values and ideologies that oppose society’s core values. Additionally, the actions individuals use to achieve their political ideas or aims such as indiscriminate killing of members of an opposing society. Bousquet (2012) discusses a clear distinction between cognitive radicalisation and violent extremism or behavioral radicalisation.10 Neumann (2013) cites the primary issue is how the radical and non-radical groups of people can blend in the society.11 Bousquet (2012) found radicals influence their targets which does not support their ideas by extreme violence, and once they accomplish it, the non-radicals will have no choice except to follow the radical’s beliefs to satisfy their needs.12
Radicalisation brings about outcomes that are formed by the thoughts in a society that the people in that society desire change within themselves or even out of the progressive changes that the society or individuals have experience, (Heath-Kelly 2017).13 Radicalisation can either take the course of being violent or nonviolent. However, violence is often a preferred method. Through radicalization, people begin to change the nature of society and the government significantly. McGilloway, Ghosh, & Bhui (2015) say some people may use violence, terror, and fear as a way of changing their respective society, as much as radicalization is supported by the right of every person to express their view, it becomes a significant concern to all the stakeholders including the families and the community at large when one shows this in a violent way.14
The process of radicalization is unique to an individual or group, and therefore the security agencies that are involved in counterterrorism believe it is a complicated process that involve various pathways through which it operates. Importantly, various factors cause radicalisation. Primarily, radicalisation may occur because of social pressure, whereby an individual joins a particular group to bring change to the nation with radical activist movements (Pruyt & Kwakkel 2014).15 They engage in violent protests where they kill people, destroy properties, and spread hate. Additionally, the need for revenge can cause radicalization whereby one may mobilise a gang targeting a specific person who had persecuted them. Altogether, radicalisation of people causes new norms and behaviours that are against other social and religious principles. Chiefly, radicalisation can be either violent or peaceful. However, regardless of its form, it results in the change of one’s status quo. Radicalisation operates in various pathways and result in the diversification of people’s values.
Lynch , Mason, & Rodriguez, (2015) found that facilitators of the radicalisation process to violent extremism were connections to other violent extremists in their social network, self-identity problems, violent extremist belief systems, extremist views on the internet and societal and personal grievances.16 These tend to vary in the type of belief system adopted. The process by which individuals are radicalized to violent extremism, attempt to simplify a very complex process, which differ in terms of whom they cover. Such as all types of violent extremists or just specific ideologies, how radicalization unfold in defined stages or in a less ordered manner, and the risk factors which help facilitate an individual’s pathway to toward participating in extremist violence. Lynch, Mason & Rodriguez (2015) found potential risk factors such as identity conflict, status and belonging, previous trauma, having grievances against a society, or exposure to violent extremist belief systems are some of the main risk factors associated with action pathways into terrorist activity.17 These individualised and differing risk factors makes identifying and stopping extremist activity before an act of terrorism is completed, very difficult to stop. Because the pathway to extremism and violence is so complex and individualised, agencies have difficulty in finding programs suitable to stop extreme radicalisation in society.
Radical jihadist movements have become popular across the western world with home-grown and lone wolf activities from radicalised believers cause major terrorism events. Neumann (2006) discusses primary factors for radicalisation include alienation, racism and frustration among individual’s facing challenges.18 Alternatively, Kleinmann (2012) found when individuals feel alienated they look for ways to rebel, the feeling of victimisation is a driving force behind people becoming radicals, this in turn gives them autonomy and a feeling of belonging.19 Similarly, extremists engage in acts of terrorism and jihad because they are looking for recognition and identity in the western world. Research indicates that as people try to look for a sense of belonging and identity, they become vulnerable to radical activities, young people are more influenced to join radicals group, compared to their citizen parents because they are struggling with ego and belonging issues in their adopted country, duelling cultures coupled with freedom creates uncertainty (Phares 2014).20 This may have the effect of influencing others in their immediate group or social setting.
Additionally, another trigger is the wars waged against the Middle East countries and Muslim zones. The wars have led to a thirst for revenge by extremists, as a result, influential leaders incite violent radicalisation through teachings and moulding identities. However, Hashmi (2012) found risk factors need to be present for the racialisation to change from cognitive beliefs to behavioural actions and the individuals’ justification of an extreme terrorist attack.21 Tibi (2014) states propaganda influences large numbers of at risk individuals to fight, believing in a greater cause and will be rewarded by their community. The myth heightens the radicalization process and convinces at risk individuals to join.22
The pathways to radicalisation and extremist behaviours have been found to be very complex in nature and difficult to identify and rectify. In conclusion, it is evident that radicalization has various pathways. Primarily, radicalization makes people adopt extreme behaviours that undermines their social, religious, and political norms. They cause chaos in the nation in an effort of influencing the government to conform to the people’s grievances. Moreover, radicalisation arises as a result of personal victimisation. However, regardless of the pathway to radicalisation, it results in the change of individual behaviour. Neumann (2006) found radicalisations have been associated with adverse impacts on society, and it has led to conflicts and wars in an attempt to silence the radicals because they cause significant harm to the nations.23 Radicalisation impacts are shaped by the views of a given society. In the event of radicalisation, two forms can be used which include both violent and non-violent means. Radicalization uses multiple ways to achieve its objectives. The primary issue is how the radical and non-radical groups of people can blend in the society. The radicals influence and target those which do not support their ideologies. Future studies need to be done on how we can identify and contain future action extremist pathways so that there is peaceful coexistence without the fear of terror. It is critical to note that nations should take a practical role in identifying and eradicating the radicalisation of individuals caused by extremists.
1 Neumann, Peter R. 2013. “The Trouble with Radicalization.” International Affairs 89 (4):873-893. doi: 10.1111/1468-2346.12049.
2 Mark Sedgwick (2010) The Concept of Radicalization as a Source of Confusion, Terrorism and Political Violence, 22:4, 479-494, DOI: 10.1080/09546553.2010.491009
3 Lynch, Loretta. E, and Karol V Mason, and Nancy Rodriguez. 2015.”Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Lessons Learned From Canada, the U.K. and the U.S”. National Institute of Justice, 1-30 www.NIIJ.gov
4 Neumann, Peter R. 2013. “The Trouble with Radicalization.” International Affairs 89 (4):873-893. doi: 10.1111/1468-2346.12049.
5Wilner, Alex S., and Claire-Jehanne Dubouloz. “Homegrown terrorism and transformative learning: an interdisciplinary approach to understanding radicalization.” Global Change, Peace & Security 22, no. 1. (2010): 33-51.
6 Behavioural Science Operational Briefing Note: Understanding radicalization and violent extremism in the UK. Report BSU 02/2008. Retrieved at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/aug/20/uksecurity.terrorism1
7 Neumann, Peter R. 2013. “The Trouble with Radicalization.” International Affairs 89 (4):873-893. doi: 10.1111/1468-2346.12049.
8 Sedgwick, Mark. “The Concept of Radicalization as a Source of Confusion, Terrorism and Political Violence”2010:, 22:4, 479-494, DOI: 10.1080/09546553.2010.491009.
9 Neumann, Peter R. 2013. “The Trouble with Radicalization.” International Affairs 89 (4):873-893. doi: 10.1111/1468-2346.12049.
10 Bousquet, Antoine. “Complexity theory and the war on terror: understanding the self-organizing dynamics of leaderless jihad.” Journal of International Relations and Development 15, no. 3 (2012): 345-369.
11 Neumann, Peter R. “The Trouble with Radicalization.” International Affairs 89 (4) (2013):873-893. doi: 10.1111/1468-2346.12049.
12 Bousquet, Antoine. “Complexity theory and the war on terror: understanding the self-organizing dynamics of leaderless jihad.” Journal of International Relations and Development 15, no. 3 (2012): 345-369.
13 Heath-Kelly, C. (2017). The geography of pre-criminal space: epidemiological imaginations of radicalisation risk in the UK Prevent Strategy, 2007–2017. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 1-23.
14 McGilloway, A., Ghosh, P., & Bhui, K. (2015). A systematic review of pathways to and processes associated with radicalization and extremism amongst Muslims in Western societies. International Review of Psychiatry, 27(1), 39-50.
15 Pruyt, E., & Kwakkel, J. H. (2014). Radicalization under deep uncertainty: A multi-model exploration of activism, extremism, and terrorism. System Dynamics Review (Wiley), 30(1/2), 1-28. doi:10.1002/sdr.1510
16 Lynch, Loretta. E, and Karol V Mason, and Nancy Rodriguez. 2015.”Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Lessons Learned From Canada, the U.K. and the U.S”. National Institute of Justice, 1-30 www.NIIJ.gov
17 Lynch, Loretta. E, and Karol V Mason, and Nancy Rodriguez. 2015.”Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Lessons Learned From Canada, the U.K. and the U.S”. National Institute of Justice, 1-30 www.NIIJ.gov
18 Peter R. Neumann (2006) Europe’s Jihadist Dilemma, Survival, 48:2, 71-84, DOI: 10.1080/00396330600765518
19 Scott Matthew Kleinmann (2012) Radicalization of Homegrown Sunni Militants in the United States: Comparing Converts and Non-Converts, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 35:4, 278-297, DOI: 10.1080/1057610X.2012.656299
20 Phares, Walid. Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against America. St. Martin’s Press, 2014.
21 Hashmi, Sohail H., ed. Just wars, holy wars, and Jihads: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim encounters and exchanges. Oxford University Press, 2012.
22 Tibi, Bassam. Political Islam, world politics and Europe: from jihadist to institutional Islamism. Routledge, 2014.
23 Neumann, Peter R. “Europe’s jihadist dilemma.” Survival 48, no. 2 (2006): 71-84.