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Prisoner Responses to Terrorism: Online Radicalisation Proposal


There are a number of issues facing law enforcement and corrective services in developing effective de-radicalisation programs. Efforts at disengagement "should build on existing structures for crime prevention and rehabilitation" including the police, prison and probation services, schools, and social authorities, and also community actors including families, former extremists, and victims of extremist violence. Thus, in the logic of this framework, a social approach is required rather than the standard security angle largely employed.

There have also been calls for an increased focused on youth. As the issue currently stands:

"There is a challenge to understand youth, who, in the context of a number of different political and social circumstances, have identity issues and vulnerabilities that might lead them into a radicalisation process. Care must be taken not to demonize them, but to engage, build trust and resilience and provide alternatives... Local authorities, youth and social workers, prison staff and NGOs play an important role in prevention and in helping young people to leave extremist groups and reintegrating them into society (p. 5).

Many programs (largely in the Middle East and Southeast Asian) tackle indefinite detention and radicalisation on the assumption that extremists have been misled into following an erroneous interpretation of Islam. The focus falls on discussing and refuting militants' worldview through religious dialogue conducted by mainstream clerics. Some programs also assist ex-militants to reintegrate into society.

However, this focus on belief and ideology overlooks "affiliation" factors such as personal relationships, social networks, and the sense of community and belonging, which exert a strong influence over decisions to join terrorist organisations. Continued contact with trusted family members and friends can be equally influential in de-radicalising an individual as it rebuilds a more positive sense of belonging. This could easily be facilitated by technology such as Skype or Facetime, and would also assist with overall rehabilitation efforts.

Perhaps the most problematic issue is defining the notion of a "successful" de-radicalisation program. Ambiguity surrounds the effectiveness of these programs due to the fact that:
1) Success has not been unequivocally defined.
2) As the programs implemented are relatively recent, the long-term effectiveness is yet to be determined.
3) Information is suppressed by government sponsors of the programs and reliable statistics are scarce.
4) Recidivism rates and statistics are not completely accurate as these methods cannot take into account individuals disengaged yet not de-radicalised.


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