Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Deradicalizing Islamist Extremists

Deradicalizing Islamist Extremists

Angel Rabasa
Stacie L. Pettyjohn
Jeremy J. Ghez
Christopher Boucek
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 242
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Deradicalizing Islamist Extremists
    Book Description:

    Measures to prevent vulnerable individuals from radicalizing and to rehabilitate those who have already embraced Islamist extremism have been implemented in several Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, and European countries. This monograph describes and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of these programs and proposes steps that can be taken to promote and accelerate deradicalization processes.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-5117-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Disengagement and Deradicalization
    (pp. 1-32)

    Considerable effort has been devoted to understanding the process of violent Islamist radicalization, but far less research has explored the equally important process of deradicalization—how individuals or groups abandon extremist groups and ideologies. This is not simply an academic question. Many nations are struggling to determine whether extremists in their custody can be rehabilitated and safely released, or whether they will return to violence and therefore must be held indefinitely.

    The literature on radicalization and deradicalization suffers from a lack of agreement on how some important terms should be defined.¹ Therefore, we seek to clearly define key concepts to...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Survey of Deradicalization Programs
    (pp. 33-44)

    In the past decade, a number of states have established programs to counter radical Islamism and encourage imprisoned militant Islamists to disengage and deradicalize. Nearly all of these programs claim to have been successful and boast startlingly low rates of recidivism among the ex-militants who have been released back into society. According to the government of Saudi Arabia, its deradicalization program has succeeded in rehabilitating 80 percent of the militants targeted. Moreover, only 5 percent of the freed Saudi detainees have been rearrested.¹ Similarly, as of June 2008, the U.S.-run Iraqi deradicalization program claims that, of the 10,000 prisoners released...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Middle Eastern Programs
    (pp. 45-90)

    In the aftermath of 9/11, both Saudi Arabia and Yemen launched rehabilitation programs for Islamist militants and terrorism suspects. While both programs sought, in theory, to accomplish the same goal, in reality, they were very different in approach, motivation, and results generated. The Saudi Counseling Program sought to reduce the likelihood that participants would return to active militancy through religious discussion, extensive social support, and implicit family obligation. It also aimed to short-circuit the radicalization process within a detainee’s family. The Yemeni Committee for Dialogue—which predated the Saudi program—was designed to release detainees for reasons of political expediency...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Southeast Asian Programs
    (pp. 91-120)

    For the most part, Southeast Asian programs aim to rehabilitate extremists associated with the regional Islamist terrorist organization JI, a secretive network established in 1993 by two Indonesian clerics exiled in Malaysia, Abdullah Sungkar and Abu Bakar Ba’asyir. The group is an exclusive, closely knit community with roots in the Darul Islam insurgency of the late 1940s and 1950s in Indonesia. The group has a radical Salafist ideology and culture and seeks to establish a pan-Islamic state in Southeast Asia through armed struggle. Like other extremist Islamist groups, JI adheres to the concepts oftakfir(heretification of other Muslims),hijra...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE European Approaches
    (pp. 121-156)

    Europe has become a main theater of Islamist terrorism, with the dramatic terrorist events in Madrid and London only the tip of the iceberg. With the exceptions of the July 7, 2005, bombings in London and the March 11, 2004, Madrid train bombings, numerous masscasualty terrorist attacks have been prevented in Europe. There have also been plans to assassinate political leaders and other figures of public life in a number of European countries. One of these succeeded: the public murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in Amsterdam in November 2004. Europe has also been a launching pad for attacks...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Collective Deradicalization
    (pp. 157-180)

    One of the most important developments in the ongoing ideological competition between violent extremist and mainstream interpretations of Islam is that a number of militant Islamist organizations have renounced violence and the ideology that motivated their armed struggle. In August 2009, LIFG issued itsCorrective Studies in Understanding Jihad, Accountability and the Judgment of People. The document was a stunning reversal for the LIFG, which was a founding member of the Arab Afghan jihadist movement that emerged during the Afghan war against the Soviets, as well as a long-standing partner of al-Qaeda.¹

    Despite the group’s militant pedigree, LIFG’s new manifesto...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Implications and Recommendations
    (pp. 181-194)

    There is emerging consensus among analysts and practitioners that to defeat the threat posed by Islamist extremism and terrorism, there is a need to go beyond security and intelligence approaches; it is necessary to take proactive measures to prevent vulnerable individuals from radicalizing and to rehabilitate those who have already embraced extremism. This broader conception of counter-radicalization is manifested in the counter- and deradicalization programs of a number of Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, and European countries.

    A key question is whether the objective of these programs is the disengagement or the deradicalization of militants. Disengagement entails a change in behavior...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 195-214)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 215-215)