Deradicalizing Islamist extremists may be even more important than getting them to simply disengage from terrorist activities, according to a new RAND Corporation study that examines counter-radicalization programs in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Europe.
Although there has been much research about the radicalization and recruitment of Islamist extremists, there has been little study until recently about how one deradicalizes those who have been recruited into the Islamist extremist movement.
A key question is whether the objective of counter-radicalization programs should be disengagement (a change in behavior) or deradicalization (a change in beliefs) of militants. A unique challenge posed by militant Islamist groups is that their ideology is rooted in a major world religion, Islam.
The RAND study indentifies and analyzes the processes through which militants leave Islamist extreme groups, assesses the effectiveness of deradicalization programs and summarizes the policies that could help to promote and accelerate the processes of deradicalization.