Jihadists require new members to keep their movement going. To do this, they target people who are vulnerable to their radicalization. Additionally, they use several tools to achieve their radicalization process. This essay discusses the approaches and tools used to convince the youth to join jihadists.
One of the elements used to induce impressionable young men to join jihadism is taking advantage of the individual or group grievance. Individual grievance means that the jihadists exploit individuals seeking revenge for wrongs committed by people such as soldiers of specific countries. The infliction triggers different reactions, and some people during such periods become susceptible to joining jihad. In group grievances, individuals perceive any harm done to a specific group to which they belong or are affiliated. It accounts for the highest level of radicalization when the members feel that they need to seek revenge on behalf of their group. A grievance as an element to radicalize youths has been used in the invasion to a country or the presence of foreign troops in a region thus becoming the greatest driver of suicide bombings.
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Another element of radicalization of the road is the slippery slope. This gradual radicalization process through different activities reduces the social circle of the individuals, narrows their thinking, and in some instances, even incites them to violence. The aforementioned process results in people developing known as ‘the True Believer’ syndrome (Ou, 2016). The individual in question can take part in different activities, including providing aid for the terrorist groups and even commit violent acts. One more element of radicalization is isolation which enables radical thinking since it gives the members who are persuasive to set a definition of the agenda of the group disproportionally (Mauro, 2016). When an individual has access only to one group, the latter can have a huge influence on him/her since any disagreements with the group would mean the lack of this social gathering and the amenities provided. According to Vidino (2010), Islamic groups living in the West are the most vulnerable to this form of radicalization. They are in isolation due to the language barrier that they face, occasional discrimination, and cultural differences.
Currently, the Internet is widely used to recruit people to follow jihadism. Jihadists use the network to spread their propaganda to youths who are its major users. According to the Department of Homeland Security (2009), different websites are used to lure youths through games and colorful cartoons. Additionally, DHS suggests that by the use of the Internet, a user can self-radicalize. Another method used to recruit new jihadists is observed in isolated groups. Groups in isolation such as Muslims in the West are recruited through their meetings in mosques. Some of the mosques are considered radical since they promote radical ideologies, which serve as a platform to get new jihadists. Radicalization in mosques apart from Muslims who feel isolated is noticed in Muslims who come from a model religious background. When these people are exposed to persuasive and charismatic radical preachers, they end up becoming jihadists. Moreover, the method to create new jihadists has been experienced in prisons. When jihadists serve their prison sentences, they can persuade some of the prisoners to their cause, teach them the Quran, and radicalize them in the process.
Therefore, jihadists are using modern strategies to recruit newer members. The Internet, prisons, and radical mosques are some of the methods of radicalization. Different elements are used to lure newer recruits, including the grievance and the slippery slope.
Attacks After 9/11
After 9/11, some attacks have occurred that have been significant to the US. They have outlined different strategies used by terrorists. The study of the foiled and the completed attacks shows the form that terrorism has taken nowadays. This essay discusses the attacks after 9/11 and their similarities.
One of the attacks after 9/11 happened is the Beltway Sniper Attacks carried out by John Allen Muhammad and a Lee Boyd Malvo, a teenager who accompanied him during the shootings (Garcia, 2015). The terrorist act occurred in Washington and resulted in ten people been killed, including an FBI analyst. The attacks were conducted in October 2002 in a timespan of three weeks. Another attack after 9/11 was the Boston City Marathon bombing in which two brothers, namely Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, using pressure-cooker bombs killed three people and injured 200 people (Garcia, 2015). The event occurred on 15th April 2013. According to investigations, the brothers learned how to create bombs through the Internet by reading an online magazine of a Yemeni group affiliated to Al-Qaeda. In Fort Hood, a U.S. Army Major who was also a psychiatrist known as Nidal Hassan went on a shooting rampage and killed thirty people on November 5, 2009 (Garcia, 2015). He wrote an appeal and sent it to the Fox News in which he renounced his American citizenship and referred to himself as a ‘Soldier of Allah.’
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Another terror attack on the U.S. soil is the shootings in Chattanooga military recruiting center and a U.S. Navy Reserve Center on July 16, 2015 (Garcia, 2015). The shootings were carried out by Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez in a drive-by who is Kuwaiti by birth, a Jordanian citizen naturalized in the US. The investigators of this case state that this terrorist has previously searched the Internet for materials of whether martyrdom would lead to the forgiveness of his sins which included drinking and being in debt. A deeper analysis of the attacks shows several similarities between them. First, the using of the Internet has been noticed in some cases to be at the center of the attacks, in particular, the users learned how to create bombs from content provided from the terrorist groups’ websites. For example, to carry out the Boston Marathon bombing, the terrorists first learned how to create the bomb from the website of a group affiliated to Al-Qaeda.
Additionally, in the Chattanooga shootings, the terrorist used the Internet to learn about martyrdom. Apart from the Internet, another similarity observed in the attacks after 9/11 is the aspect of lone-wolf terrorism (Costa-Roberts, 2015). In most cases, the terrorists acted alone or were helped by one other person. By acting alone or in a small group, less intelligence about the attack can be collected. Therefore, it has been one of the trends taken up by terrorists. Moreover, the majority of people committing the terrorist acts held opposing ideologies or their religion has been used as a base to hold the radical ideologies. The government has been carrying out counter-terrorism; consequently, some of the efforts have borne fruits; for example, the actions against a botched car bomb attack by the FBI in Portland. On November 26, 2010, Mohamed Osman Muhamud who was a Somali-American student tried to set off a car bomb during a Christmas tree lighting. However, the terrorist was unaware that he was part of an ongoing FBI operation to counter terrorism. The bomb that was used by the student was a fake one; and he believed that he was working with a group of jihadists who happened to be FBI agents.
From the attacks committed after 9/11, it has been noted that terrorists are now relying on a form of terrorism known as lone-wolf terrorism. Therefore, this newer strategy should be combated by the government to ensure that terrorism is completely defeated or mitigated.
Policies to Counter-Terrorism
International terrorism affects the US in different ways. The government therefore has a role in developing policies that serve as counter-terrorism. Since terrorism is a global matter, the government should work with other state authorities to intensify the fight against the terrorism at the international level. Thus, the policies to counter terrorism should be developed.
The United States should develop foreign policies for countries that radicalize people to attack the US. One of the policies that can be implemented for the countries that radicalize people to attack the United States is to completely remove any form of funding, grants, or support given to the mentioned country by the US. The US provides support to countries in the form of foreign military assistance, economic assistance, humanitarian aid, and bilateral development aid among others.
Furthermore, in the development of the foreign policies related to military and non-military assistance, the government can add a clause that does not offer any form of assistance to countries that radicalize people to attack the US. This step can ensure that countries are playing a role in radicalization, and fearing lack of any aid, they will tend to stop any forms of radicalization among their citizens. Additionally, the US is a superpower; therefore, it has the capability to influence the decisions of other powerful countries. The government can cooperate with other mighty nations and its allies to withdraw the support of nations that radicalize people to carry out terror attacks. It would mean that fewer countries would want to be regarded as radicalizing ones.
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One of the reasons that in some countries, people are radicalized to attack the US is the feel that the latter has been sidelining them or has been invading their countries. In such cases, the US can develop international relations with the country in question to know of their views on issues such as invasion. For countries that feel sidelined, the US can implement the policies meant to bring the relations between the two countries to a good place. The US can work on mending fences with such a country and being a stakeholder to solve the issues that enable radicalization to occur. The US should pay attention to the grievances and factors local to the communities that enable radicalization to take place. Grievances enable people to be exploited and become the victims of radicalization. By taking part in solving the issue of grievance, the number of people most likely to get radicalized reduces. The grievance should be addressed in a peaceful manner, and cases when military action is undertaken in such countries should be the last option. In addition, the government should foster good governance in such countries, improve the education of people, curb cases of corruption, and provide health and other social amenities. Each of the aforementioned measures are essentioal in reducing the chances of a country radicalizing people to conduct attacks on the US homeland. Such steps should be used especially in areas with high risk of radicalization. Since different countries can be performing radicalization due to different reasons, the strategies and programs developed should match the country’s needs. Empowering the country in question can assist in ensuring that radicalization does not occur. However, the U.S. government cannot be able to implement such policies alone. Other non-traditional actors need to be involved in this process, including non-governmental organizations, public and private partnerships, and different foundations since such agents are most likely to appeal to a country and the community at large.
Thus, the government should develop policies to counter the terrorism. First, it should stop any form of funding and grants for countries that condone radicalization. Additionally, it can help to fight against the elements of radicalization in that country, which is essential when countering terrorism.
Radicalization is the main way used to recruit newer members to terrorism. Different strategies can be effective in reducing or completely curbing radicalization. Through this process, different people come to accept and use violence for any political or religious gains. Several strategies should be implemented to prevent radicalization. There are two forms of radicalization, namely behavioral radicalism and cognitive radicalism. Cognitive radicalism refers to a situation in which an individual believes that violence is justified. On the other hand, behavioral radicalism occurs when someone wants and moves to commit violence (Neumann, 2013). There are many reasons that eventually lead an individual to commit crimes ranging from poverty and personal grievances to different forms of seeking thrills and be part of a group. Counter-radicalization strategies are different non-coercive practices that are used to dissuade different people or groups from being violent and to stop the recruitment of new members (Newark, 2016). Counter-radicalization strategies can be divided into three parts, namely those that prevent radicalization, those that pull individuals from violent terrorist groups, and those that bring formerly violent individuals back to the society. One of the strategies that can be used to stop radicalization is rehabilitating people who have been radicalized into terrorism.
Radicalization in most cases focuses on individuals who have a weak religious background in Islam. This rehabilitation strategy is premised on the idea that extremists in Islam have been deceived into misinterpreting this religion. This strategy focuses on removing this version of Islam and replacing it with the official representation of the faith. It can be performed through counseling and obtaining the help from religious leaders. Additionally, different law enforcement agencies can develop a department meant to conduct community outreach programs. This step can be effective in reducing instances of radicalization in cities and towns. It mainly prevents the isolation of Muslims that might occur hence reduces any chances of radicalization due to isolation. Moreover, for the people that are recruited due to individual issues such as poverty, different programs can be created by the government to stem such societal issues. It can be done through encouraging and funding different youth programs, giving training to the youths, and having initiatives for those in school to participate in order to ensure mentorship while still young. Through such a program, different members of the society are included, in particular parents, teachers, health professionals, and religious leaders among others. Children who are suspected of being at risk of radicalization can be helped mentally by the health professionals and spiritually by the religious leaders. The family and friends can offer support to the individual through the entire process. Such an initiative encourages the members of the community to interact with each other thus reducing any chances of stigmatization or isolation.
Apart from the de-radicalization strategies that mostly act in a country, the governments of different countries should offer support to each other and share guidance on how best to uproot radicalization. Strong governments should support the strategies created by weaker countries through different programs such as sharing intelligence or even the provision of financial support. Successful de-radicalization initiatives in the countries that are mostly affected by radicalization would also mean a success to the US since most radicalized people eventually want to attack it in some way.
In conclusion, terrorism is a global issue that should be intensely observed to prevent violent behaviors in the future. To completely curb terrorism, radicalization should be stopped or mitigated. In developing strategies to stop radicalization, different organizations and governments involved should study its cause as well as the process. Thereafter, these steps can be tailor-made to suit each location which would help in combating terrorism.