Following from this is the assumption that ideological connections may be the precursor to more definite and practical interactions between these groups and organizations.
In other words, terrorist groups, whether representing different nationalistic and ideological persuasions, can also be linked by shared concerns, objectives and perceptions. The increase in the ease of communications and the Internet has also accelerated the possibly of these connections. This has highlighted the threat of domestic extremists and the possible connections between extremist groupings. There has also been a more directed contemporary focus on the underlying causative facets that motivate and precipitate terrorist actions, resulting in a growing realization that these underlying causative elements in extremist groups can be more important and possibly override national and regional differences.
Cyber-terrorism has become a particularly virulent and dangerous form of terrorism that is not restricted by any regional or international boundaries. Experts agree that this form of terrorism "… threatens the safety of millions of people across the globe; especially the vulnerability of military computer networks to casual hackers. Indeed, this form of terrorism could be more devastating than biological or chemical warfare" (Thackrah, 2004, p. 61). A study by Morgan also substantiates the importance of modern technologies in the planning of terrorist activates, especially with regard to organization and coordination.
… the major use of information technology has been as an aid for terrorists rather than as a target of their activity. The reported use of the internet and e-mail by al Qaeda to coordinate the strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon provides a dramatic example of this sort of coordination.
(Morgan, 2004, p.29)
In the light of the above definitions and discussion it becomes even more obvious that the deradicalization of the terrorist is closely linked to the understanding of the way in which modern terrorism functions and especially of the underlying causative facets that motivate and precipitate terrorist actions. There is a growing realization that only through a clear understanding of these primary and fundamental causes can the spectre of terrorism be practically reduced.
However, the question of the causative factors is complex and consists of a large range of interconnecting variables. The following is only a partial list of various possible causes of terrorism.
….government structures and exploitative economic systems; repression and discrimination; relative deprivation wherein a group sees its position in society slip in regard to other groups even if all groups are raising their standards of living; rapid change that disrupts the social and political systems; imperialism and colonialism; and disasters -- natural or otherwise -- that overwhelm the political society.
(Lutz & Lutz 2004, p. 16)
2.2. Radical Terrorism
The above discussion leads to an examination of the term "radical terrorism." The definitions of radical terrorism and of radicalism in general are congruent with the following line if thought. The radical terrorist is an individual who is prepare to go to extremes in obtain his or her objectives. These extremes are measured against the 'accepted' norms and standards of societal behaviour and it is often precisely these norms and standards that the terrorist perceives as being hypocritical and wishes to overcome.
Therefore in terms of this perception, the radical terrorist feels justified in taking extreme measures to make a political point or to assert his or her view of reality. As will be discussed in more detail in the following sections, an understanding of the point-of-view of the radical terrorist is vital in developing modes, methods and protocols, as well as formulating policies that are aimed at the deradicalization of the terrorist. The above points to a definition of deradicalization that must of necessity include the perspective of the radical terrorist if any progress towards deradicalization is to be made.
In other words, the most important aspect of developing methods of deradicalization would be to understand the perspectives, root causes and motives that have created the matrix of reason and emotion that motivates radical terrorist acts. One should not only refer to social causative factors but one should also consider the very real importance if ideological factors that need to be understood and addressed in the process of deradicalization.
Taking the above discussion into account one can begin to understand the process of deradicalization in terms of addressing the underlying issues and causative factors that inspire and motivate radicalism. In other words and more simply put, the reasons for radical actions must be addressed in such a way as to reduce the motivation for these acts.
In order to ascertain these reasons and motivations that constitute radical terrorism it is necessary to briefly discuss the term ' radical'. Ingram states that,
...'radicalisation' is defined as a process whereby an individual or collective increasingly adheres to a selectively literalist interpretation of an ideology, a response that is triggered and catalysed by a perception of crisis which, in its latter stages, can lead to the legitimisation and use of violence against a perceived Other.
Ingram isolates two important elements of radicalization; these are the perception of crisis and uncertainty, the breakdown of tradition and the presence of the Other (Ingram). These are considered the main drivers of radicalization and are further explained as follows: "...increasing adherence to a selectively literalist interpretation of an ideology, increasing perceptions of crisis, an increasing essentialisation and demonization of the Other, and an increasing legitimacy of and propensity towards militant violence" (Ingram). Therefore, it would be logical to assume that deradicalization would involve the reversal of these elements and the amelioration of aspects such as the perceptions and the threat of the Other. This leads to the concept of winning hearts and minds, which is central to deradicalization and which will be discussed in more detail below.
The central elements of radicalization, leading to an assessment of methods of deradicalization could therefore be discussed as follows. Alienation and marginalization have been shown in a number of studies to be a central conduit to the radicalisation of the individual ( Ingram). "...feelings of alienation and marginalization, typically rooted in conditions that are often unique to the 'modern experience', typify individuals and groups moving through the radicalisation (Ingram). This can be linked to concepts such as anomie. Importantly, Ingram noted that"...there is broad scholarly recognition that a fundamental change occurs in the individual and collective which may signal the legitimisation of violence and preparation for engagement "( Ingram). This is linked to what is termed a 'moral disengagement', which implies a deviance from the accepted norms and values of civilized society. This in turn leads to violent actions, although it is also true that radicalism always eventuates in violence. In this light the process of deradicalization would revolve offering the terrorist an alternative worldview which would reduce the sense of anomie and alienation and inculcate faith in the more democratic channels and means of attaining his or her objectives.
The common dictionary definition of deradicalize is to "... free from radical ideas, goals, or elements" ( Deradicalize: Dictionary. Com) Other definitions refer to aspects of deradicalization such as political and social normalization. A more useful definition from the Collins dictionary is "... The practice of encouraging those with extreme and violent religious or political ideologies to adopt more moderate views"(Deradicalization). However, this only touches the surface of the deeper meaning and reality of the term.
Effective deradicalization is a process that implies a "cognitive shift" or a fundamental change in the perspective and understanding of the terrorist (Fink and Hearne, 2008, p. i). The rationale behind this process is that these methods can result in a reduction of the threat of terrorism and are essential in global counterterrorism efforts. The reasoning here is that deradicalization methods and procedures eventually lead to the internal fragmentation of extremist radical groups and to the delegitimization of their ideological rhetoric and tactics (Fink and Hearne, 2008, p. i).
The need for deradicalization methods is underscored by the view of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, which emphasizes that radicalization is on the increase (Roots of Violent Radicalization, 2012). However, there is contention about the types of methods that are most effective and whether governments have gone far enough in establishing adequate protocols and policies, especially with regard to the use of the Internet as a platform for the proliferation of radical ideologies.
Taking the above discussion into account it becomes evident that there are a number of central aspects that should be considered in the process of deradicalization of the terrorist. These include the understanding of the underlying causative factors, as well as the manner in which the terrorist is radicalized to perceive the Other in terms of literal interpretation of ideology leading to the legitimacy of violent actions. Central as well is the perception of crisis and threat to tradition. These and other aspects must be addressed in the attempt to deradicalize the terrorist. In this regard the focus on many studies…