Counter-terrorism as crime prevention: A holistic approach

By Tore Bjørgo

Within democratic societies, counter-terrorism is almost exclusively about crime prevention. A broad and holistic approach to preventing terrorism can be based on nine preventive mechanisms: building normative barriers against terrorism, reducing radicalisation and recruitment, deterrence, disruption, incapacitation, protecting vulnerable targets, reducing benefits to terrorists, reducing harm, and facilitating disengagement from terrorism.

Counter-terrorist policies which are only based on a narrow range of repressive mechanisms and military measures tend to become overly heavy-handed, producing serious negative side effects which serve to enhance the problem rather than reducing it.

A more holistic approach, making use of the entire range of preventive mechanisms, may lighten the impact of the “hard” measures by relying more on the impact of the “softer” and more positive measures to build moral barriers, reduce recruitment, and facilitate exit from terrorist movements.

The article was published in Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression 8 (1)

Published Mar. 8, 2016 9:33 AM - Last modified Mar. 10, 2016 9:24 AM