U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Understanding Pathways To And Away From Violent Radicalization Among Resettled Somali Refugees

NCJ Number
B. Heidi Ellis; Colleen Bixby; Alisa Miller; George Sideridis
Date Published
July 2016
39 pages
This study examined pathways to behavioral outcomes among Somali immigrants in the United States and Canada, so as to determine why some are more open to violent extremism while others with similar backgrounds become involved in gangs or crime or have resilient outcomes.
Overall, the majority of study participants were placed into behavioral categories that were neither engaged in violence nor open to violent extremism. The largest proportion of participants was civically engaged and did not support or engage in violence. Overall, the study determined that there was no single pathway to openness to violent extremism, and neither was there a single type of individual most vulnerable to being open to violent extremism. This suggests that any efforts to prevent violent extremism must consider various ways to reach diverse youth, recognizing that the drivers of radicalization for different youth may differ. A strong sense of attachment to one's country of resettlement (United States or Canada) was associated with less openness to violent extremism. Further longitudinal research may clarify to what degree adverse experiences, such as trauma and marginalization, create a context of greater risk for vulnerability to violent extremism. A promising trend observed in the study is that radical beliefs may be relatively transient within this population, tending to lessen over time. The people less likely to change their radical beliefs tended to be civically unengaged, which may mean they are difficult to reach through community outreach programs or other civic programs. Further research is needed to better understand who is in this group and the type of prevention efforts that could best reach them. Study methods and statistical analysis are described in detail. 5 figures, 4 tables, and 43 references