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Activity title

Preventing and countering radicalisation to violence

Activity Reference

HFM-278

Panel

Human Factors and Medicine

Security Classification

PUBLIC RELEASE

Status

Active

Activity type

RTG

Start date

2017

End date

2020

Keywords

EXTREMISM, FOREIGN TERRORIST FIGHTERS, INFLUENCE, INTEGRATION, INTERVENTION, ONLINE, PREVENTION, RADICALISATION, RECONCILLIATION, RECRUITMENT, REHABILITATION, SOCIAL MEDIA, TERRORISM

Background

In recent years, terrorist organisations such as Al Qaeda (AQ) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have been notably successful in recruiting young Western citizens, male and female, in order to support their cause; whether by providing funds, IT and other expertise from afar, by traveling abroad to assist with logistics, attack planning and so on, or even to fight in conflicts against the West, local authorities and populations, and occupying territories. The latter are referred to here as ‘Western Foreign Terrorist Fighters’ (WFTFs), and recently, WFTFs have been involved in planning, facilitating, engineering, and/or conducting terrorist attacks across Europe, as well as in Canada, the US and Australia. It is apparent that whilst some WFTF recruits have become disillusioned and come to regret their involvement with these organisations, others present a serious ongoing threat to NATO alliance and Western democracies. As such, a better understanding is needed of what can be done to prevent and counter the appeal of terrorist organisations to potential WFTFs and the risks that these individuals pose to their home countries and to armed forces overseas. A related and very current issue is that extremist organisations such as ISIL have mastered the use of social media, in an often sophisticated manner, to provoke emotions, grievances, a hatred for the West, and a perceived sense of allegiance with alienated others. Understanding how extremist organisations are using social media and other methods to appeal to and recruit young Westerners, and also as a means to achieve terror goals, can help us to determine how these efforts might be prevented and countered. The present TAP proposes a Research Task Group (RTG) that comprises representatives from a range of countries interested in responding to the threat of WFTFs, who will collaborate to gather, collate, share and provide a critical review of the available relevant literature. This will be captured in a central database that can be accessed by representatives of those organisations seeking to defeat the very serious risk that WFTFs pose to the security of armed forces and local citizens, in their homeland and overseas. An Advanced Research Workshop is also proposed in order to facilitate the development of the database and critical analysis of literature to be included in this by drawing upon experts in this new and developing field.

Objectives

It is proposed that an RTG is formed in order to (a) collaborate to identify, collate, share and provide a critical review of existing literature on the topics stated in the Terms of Reference, and (b) hold a NATO Science for Peace Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) in order to access expert opinions of this activity. Aims: • To develop a database that captures the information referred to above. • To summarise activities, findings and recommendations in a short technical report.

Topics

1) How extremist organisations use social media and other methods to appeal to and recruit potential WTFTs, but also as a means to achieve terror goals. 2) Evidence-based approaches that may be effective in preventing and/or countering the recruitment of WFTFs. 3) Approaches that facilitate reconciliation, rehabilitation and reintegration in to society for those who return to their home country from foreign insurgencies. 4) Approaches to improve social resilience to radicalization that include cross-cultural sensitivity training/ awareness to avoid and overcome stigmatization and demonization of specific groups (e.g. for prevention of anti-Muslim attitudes).

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