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Individual Disengagement from Al Qa'ida-Influenced Terrorist Groups: A Rapid Evidence Assessment to Inform Policy and Practice in Preventing Terrorism

NCJ Number
Emma Disley; Kristin Weed; Anais Reding; Lindsay Clutterbuck; Richard Warnes
Date Published
November 2011
137 pages
This Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) focuses on terrorism which arises from the Al Qa'ida ideology or Al Qa'ida affiliates'ideology.
Findings suggest that disillusionment is a commonly cited reason for disengagement from all kinds of terrorist groups. Reportedly, individuals can be disillusioned with the way that the group operates, the ideology of the group, the behavior of the leader, or the rules of the group. Also suggested are that ties to family and friends outside the group and changing personal priorities may be associated with the process of disengagement from terrorist groups. However, while social bonds to family outside the group can act as 'pull' factors to exit, group membership is commonly built upon family and friendship ties that are a barrier to exit, thereby reinforcing continued membership. The best practices in de-radicalization interventions include: focusing on both ideology and behavior; engaging on matters of religion and theology, by involving clerics or imams who have credibility with program participants and with whom individuals can build a relationship; tailoring interventions to different kinds of terrorist groups and including the group's beliefs, practices, and the political context in which they operate; attempting to limit isolation of the individual, preferably through family involvement; and providing financial incentives and support to individual members and their families. Tables, references, and appendixes