Individual disengagement from Al Qa'ida-influenced terrorist groups

Individual disengagement from Al Qa'ida-influenced terrorist groups: A Rapid Evidence Assessment to inform policy and practice in preventing terrorism

Emma Disley
Kristin Weed
Anaïs Reding
Lindsay Clutterbuck
Richard Warnes
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 135
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/j.ctt3fh1z2
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  • Book Info
    Individual disengagement from Al Qa'ida-influenced terrorist groups
    Book Description:

    This project reviewed available evidence on factors associated with exit from violent extremist groups and the effectiveness of interventions to encourage individuals to leave such groups, to inform the UK counterterrorism strategy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-7953-4
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[ii])
  2. Preface
    (pp. i-i)
    Emma Disley
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ii-ii)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  5. List of tables
    (pp. v-v)
  6. Summary
    (pp. vi-x)

    In order to inform policy and practice in relation to preventing terrorism in the UK, the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT) in the UK Home Office commissioned a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) of the available literature on the factors associated with leaving terrorist groups, and the effectiveness of interventions that might encourage individuals to leave such groups.

    As agreed with the Home Office OSCT, this REA focuses upon terrorism which arises from the Al Qa’ida ideology or Al Qa’ida affiliates’ ideology. In this REA the term ‘terrorist group’ is used to refer to these particular groups.

    Due to the...

  7. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    The Government’s counter-terrorism strategy has a preventative strand that aims to stop individuals supporting terrorism.

    Research in the field of Al Qa’ida-influenced terrorism (and terrorism generally) has focused on the role of individual radicalisation and the social and psychological factors behind such radicalisation. Very little academic research has been completed into the factors leading individuals to desist and disengage from Al Qa’ida-influenced terrorist groups, or indeed into interventions designed to draw an individual away from such terrorism.

    This report, prepared for the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT) in the UK Home Office, presents the findings of a Rapid Evidence...

  8. CHAPTER 2 Factors associated with leaving Al Qa’ida-influenced terrorist groups
    (pp. 11-20)

    This chapter presents the findings of the Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) into the factors associated with leaving Al Qa’ida-influenced terrorist groups and interventions designed to encourage exit from such groups.

    Among those writing in this field there is a wide range of terminology used to indicate ‘leaving’, including disengagement, de-radicalisation and desistance. Horgan (2009b, p 152) makes the following distinctions: de-radicalisation is the “social and psychological process whereby an individual’s commitment to and involvement in violent radicalisation is reduced to the extent that they are no longer at risk of involvement in violent activity”; disengagement from terrorism is a process...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Exploring the basis for comparison between Al Qa’ida-influenced terrorist groups and other groups
    (pp. 21-26)

    In commissioning the second Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) into the factors associated with leaving street gangs, religious cults, right-wing extremist groups and organised crime groups, the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT) wanted to identify lessons from these areas of literature that might bolster the evidence base underlying policy and practice in preventing Al Qa’ida-influenced terrorism.

    This chapter discusses the similarities and differences between these groups and Al Qa’idainfluenced terrorist groups in order to inform assessments of whether there are transferable lessons for the ‘Prevent’ element of the UK counter-terrorism agenda.

    Definitions of the different groups included in the secondary...

  10. CHAPTER 4 Factors associated with leaving street gangs, religious cults, right-wing extremist groups and organised crime groups
    (pp. 27-38)

    This chapter synthesises the literature reviewed in the Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) into the factors associated with leaving street gangs, religious cults, right-wing extremist groups and organised crime groups. It may be helpful to refer to Table 10, Table 11, Table 12 and Table 13 in Appendix B, which summarise the methodology and quality assessment of each source mentioned in this chapter.

    The social factors associated with exit that may be relevant for Al Qa’ida-influenced terrorism are the following:

    positive social ties;

    maturing, family and employment.

    In his high-quality, ethnographic study of gangs in Chicago and Los Angeles in the...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Interventions that encourage individuals to leave street gangs, religious cults, right-wing extremist groups and organised crime groups
    (pp. 39-46)

    It is only in relation to street gangs and right-wing extremist groups that the Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) has identified any evaluations of the effectiveness of interventions. Very little literature on potentially transferable interventions could be found for religious colts, and in relation to organised crime the REA could not find any sources that described interventions designed to encourage exit.

    The REA did find literature on how to encourage former members of organised crime groups to testify against the group. Such programmes are considered by some to provide an ‘exit strategy’ for career criminals and help them to establish a...

  12. CHAPTER 6 Summary of lessons learned for preventing Al Qa’ida-influenced terrorism
    (pp. 47-52)

    This Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) has reviewed the available literature on the factors involved in exit from Al Qa’ida-influenced terrorist groups, street gangs, religious cults, right-wing extremist groups and organised crime groups. This chapter summarises the conclusions that can be drawn from this literature, which might be relevant to the ‘Prevent’ strand of the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy. The researchers acknowledge that there may be relevant lessons from research into, for example, other terrorist groups and desistance from crime, which were not within the scope of this REA.

    This REA has highlighted some factors associated with leaving terrorist groups, which might...

  13. References
    (pp. 55-65)
  14. Appendix A: Rapid Evidence Assessment methodology
    (pp. 67-76)
  15. Appendix B: Characterising the quantity and quality of evidence
    (pp. 77-90)
  16. Appendix C: List of excluded sources
    (pp. 91-104)
  17. Appendix D: List of sources not available
    (pp. 105-106)
  18. Appendix E: List of de-radicalisation programmes
    (pp. 107-112)
  19. Appendix F: List of accounts of disengagement from Qa’ida-influenced terrorism
    (pp. 113-113)
  20. Appendix G: List of programmes to encourage exit from right-wing extremist groups
    (pp. 114-118)
  21. Appendix H: List of programmes to encourage exit from street gangs
    (pp. 119-123)