Disengagement, deradicalisation, and recidivism

Thursday June 20, 13.45 - 15.15

Session 2, Auditorium 4, Eilert Sundt building

Chair: Tore Bjørgo

Paper presenters:

  • Christopher Wright: Jihadi Recidivism
  • Andrew Silke: Why is reoffending by former terrorist prisoners so low? Developing a model to explain terrorist reconviction rates
  • Cátia Carvalho: Psychosocial processes and strategies behind Islamic deradicalisation – A scoping review
  • Uzair Ahmed: Rejection, Radicalization, and Disengagement: - The Case of Norwegian Muslim Men


Much Ado About Something? Jihadi Recidivism in the US Post-9/11

Christopher J. Wright, Austin Peay State University

In the US, hundreds of people have been successfully prosecuted in various terrorism related cases.  Each year, dozens are released and with the peak prosecutions being reached in 2015, dozens more will continue to be released for the foreseeable future.  Much has been written about the potential threat these would-be jihadists pose to society.  So far most studies have contemplated theoretical problems, used anecdotal evidence, or were qualitative in nature.  Little quantitative research has been done on just how dangerous convicted jihadists pose to society. 

Is the political and ideological nature of their crimes sufficiently different from more mundane crimes that they pose a different risk of repeat offense?  Is commitment to the cause sufficiently deep that they pose a greater danger of repeat offense?  Or do they pose less of a risk?  This paper uses quantitative data on all those convicted of offenses related to Salaafi jihadi terrorism in the US and who have completed their prison terms and compares them to several control groups to assess their recidivism risk.

Why is reoffending by former terrorist prisoners so low? Developing a model to explain terrorist reconviction rates

Andrew Silke, Cranfield University

Contrary to general expectation, the reconviction rates for released terrorist prisoners are surprisingly low compared to the rates seen for non-terrorist prisoners. Available statistics suggest that this lower level of reconviction applies across a wide range of countries and different terrorist movements and groups. This paper provides a review of some of these relevant statistics and then draws on face-to-face interviews with 28 current and former terrorist prisoners in the UK to explore the potential reform and disengagement processes experienced by these prisoners and what might be distinctive compared to non-terrorist prisoners. A model is proposed which highlights a range of factors which can help explain the lower levels of reconviction generally seen with terrorist prisoners. Some potential implications in terms of current thinking around the crime-terror nexus, the foreign fighter threat and prison deradicalisation are highlighted.

Psychosocial processes and strategies behind Islamic deradicalisation – A scoping review

Cátia Carvalho, University of Porto, Isabel R. Pinto, University of Porto, Luís Azevedo, University of Porto, Alexandre Guerreiro, University of Lisbon, Mariana Barbosa, Catholic University of Portugal, Marta Pinto, University of Porto

Presenter: Cátia Carvalho, University of Porto

Deradicalisation and disengagement from violence is an under-researched field, in need of exploration and scientific scrutiny about the main strategies and outcomes, that may lead to effective results. To better understand what deradicalisation measures have been implemented so far, on one hand, and what gaps and research needs have arisen on the other, we conducted a scoping review.

We propose to map, analyse and critically appraise knowledge produced on Islamic deradicalisation, to understand what are the main programs, strategies, actors involved, and to systematize results to inform policy-makers, scientific community and professionals about strategic decisions to approach the phenomenon. This review included all types of published and unpublished studies and opinion articles produced until September 2018, following Arksey and O’Malley’s (2005) methodology.

The results point to lack of information, lack of monitoring of ex-radicals, need for better evaluation and assessment of effectiveness, adaptation to particular cases and cultures. Moreover, programs are essentially focused on disengagement from violence instead on deradicalisation (this is an ongoing review and the full results will be ready during February).

The main conclusions will be presented in an Evidence Map, to identify gaps and future research needs related to this topic.

Rejection, Radicalization, and Disengagement: - The Case of Norwegian Muslim Men

Uzair Ahmed, University of Oslo

Based on ethnographical fieldwork – participatory observation, field conversations, and 110 in-depth interviews –  amongst Norwegian Muslim men this study investigates the role of socialization in radicalization towards, engagement with, rejection of, and disengagement from an extreme frame (legitimation or support for violence or use of violence by non-state actors). Building on an abductive approach, which includes insights from previous research examining the role of socialization in identity (frame) construction, I have identified how six forms of socialization occur and influence Norwegian Muslim Men: pre-socialization, socialization with outgroups, socialization with the in-group, imagined socialization, isolation and, last multiple socialization. Tentative findings suggest that extremism are about whom you do not know and whom you know. I find that participants who experience multiple socialization are more likely to go through a radicalization process and engage with an extreme frame as they are isolated from contradicting ideas and opportunities. Similarly, the research suggests that rejection, and disengagement may be more likely amongst those participants who do not experience multiple socialization or whose multiple socialization is interrupted since they then are exposed to other world views (frames) that present new opportunities.

Published Apr. 23, 2019 1:21 PM - Last modified June 12, 2019 10:36 AM