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Al Qa'ida-influenced Radicalisation: A Rapid Evidence Assessment Guided by Situational Action Theory

NCJ Number
Noemie Bouhana Dr.; Per-Olof H. Wikstrom Prof.
Date Published
November 2011
113 pages
This report presents the findings of a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) on Al Qa'ida-influenced radicalization (AQIR).
Findings reveal no distinctive vulnerability profiles which predict who is at risk of radicalization. Some patterns of attributes or characteristics observed in the background of radicalized individuals may be markers indicative of the processes at work in AQIR. Age is a consistent marker with 15- to 35-year-olds most predominant. No specific factors seem to distinguish moral and cognitive vulnerability to radicalization; however, there is a strong suggestion that commitment to a conventional moral framework renders people less susceptible, if not immune, to the influence of radicalizing settings. Conversely, a weak commitment to a conventional moral framework renders them vulnerable to that influence. Many radicalized individuals are described as having experienced a turning point or event that contributed to a loss of human or social capital, and in turn led to their moral and/or cognitive vulnerability to radicalization. Who is at risk of exposure and who will be radicalized is determined by the location of radicalizing settings. Membership of a social network containing one or more radicalized members, or containing a member connected in some way to one or more radicalizing settings , is one of the main factors linked to exposure to radicalizing influence. The Internet does not appear to play a significant role in AQIR, because technology presents obstacles to the formation of intimate bonds found more in settings where personal attachments play a prominent role in AQIR. Radicalized settings are characterized by socializing practices, such as moral teachings, which support terrorist violence; a lack of effective monitoring of the behaviors that go in the setting; and opportunities for attachments to radicalizing agents. Little is known about why radicalizing settings emerge in certain places at certain times. Tables, figures, references, and appendixes