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The intersection of Counter-Terrorism Academia and Policy Making

uctzaes23 March 2018

The following link contains a Scientific Report for the Home Office (2011), authored by Dr. Noémie Bouhana & Professor Per-Olof H. Wilkström on Al-Qaida-influenced radicalisation (AQIR) is exemplar of how academia can collaborate with policy to implement improvement to counter-terrorism and (in this case) counter-radicalisation. Below is a summary of the key findings adapted from the report.

The report is a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA), meaning that it provides a concise look at the causes of AQIR and the way to counter it. It inspects which individuals are vulnerable to environmental features that encourage radicalisation, how social and self-selection can lead individuals to radicalise in said environments and how such environments come to be.

The main findings of the report suggest that the evidence base on how AQIR emerges is weak, but that a substantial knowledge base can be built around pre-existing foundations. Additionally, the specific problem can in fact be addressed, with elements that collaboratively lead to radicalisation being identified as exposure, emergence, vulnerability to selection and vulnerability to moral change. The notion of a vulnerability ‘profile’ is rejected, while singular vulnerability factors are acknowledged [such as Age, Moral and Cognitive vulnerability, personal preference (self-selection), social selection and membership to a social network containing one or more radicalised members].

The report identified the significance of emergence of radicalisation settings as being central to the radicalisation process. Such settings are characterised by:

  • social practices
  • a lack of effective monitoring
  • opportunities for attachments to radicalising agents

Still, the report states that little is known on how and why radicalisation settings emerge in certain places at certain times, but the following factors are likely to influence the process:

  • Systematic factors (low levels of collective efficacy and community cohesion, residential segregation and intergenerational gaps)
  • Media
  • Radicalising narratives

Aspects identified in the report can be related to effective counter-radicalisation strategies, such as the Crawley Awareness Training program, where the intergenerational gap is addressed through training courses to professionals that come into regular contact with individuals who potentially exhibit vulnerabilities to radicalisation. With the aforementioned in mind, it would not be a leap to suggest policy makers begin to incorporate such findings on the process of radicalisation to relevant policies.

Al Qa’ida influenced radicalisation: A rapid evidence assessment guided by Situational Action Theory