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Discussion Questions: What are the primary behavioral and psychological factors associated with why someone would disengage from terrorism? Also, summarize the effectiveness of de-radicalization programs covered by the required readings by either Zahid or Pettinger. 

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1.  There are numerous factors for disengaging from terrorism. Becoming radicalized is a long process and you cannot just reverse the steps and become de-radicalized. Based on research by Dr. Schimid, the International Peace Institute (IPI) reported that terrorist had individual pull factors that steered them away from terrorism (Schimid, 2013, p.44). Personal trauma or the loss of a comrade or family member weighed heavily on the list of factors. Regardless of what you are fighting for, to experience loss during battle can be very traumatic. It can separate you from reality, dissocialize you, or point you in a new direction.

       Another key factor is simply coming to realization that you do not want to continue down a certain path. Some want to have a family or the overall leadership is not what it once was, these things lead to disengaging an individual from terrorism (Schimid, 2013).  This feeling kind of snaps someone back to reality, not instantly, but through therapy and time. De-radicalization programs can go one of two ways. The program could focus on the individual de-radicalization of an individual, centering on psychological and religious counseling to produce a change in mind. Alternatively, collective de-radicalization focuses on political negotiations to obtain a change in behavior (Schimid, 2013, p.41). Some prisons have reported success in using re-radicalization programs, from Western countries to the Middle East. However, the International Peace Institute (IPI) created reports originating from eight Muslim-majority countries. Based off the reports, some ‘good practices’ and ‘preliminary lessons’ were learned, but de-radicalization programs still remain in its infancy stage (Schimid, 2013, p.41).

       The issue with finding out if these programs are successful ties directly to the prisoners themselves. In order to get out of prison, many terrorist learn to “talk the talk” (Korade, 2008). If they must conform to what the prison requires them to, they will do exactly that, however, it does not de-radicalize the prisoner. Based off reports from the Center of Terrorism Law in Texas, 30-40 percent of inmates go right back criminal behavior (Schimid, 2013, p.43). I think de-radicalization is extremely important to rehabilitating someone back to society, however, the world has struggle with creating a blueprint to do so. This is primarily because terrorism, as it is heinous in nature, it is the minority compared to crime in the United States. The process of de-radicalization will remain a trial and error type of system until higher and more consistent success rates emerge.

2.  We often hear people say “anything that’s worth fighting doesn’t come easy”. In my opinion de-radicalizing someone is something that is worth fighting for. Of course we all wish that we lived in a society that radicalization of violent individuals wasn’t an issue, but unfortunately that is not the case. After reading this week’s lesson I have learned that there is a process of de-radicalization and that there are people that was once radicalized that is no longer radicalized. Radicalization takes time and effort, however de-radicalization might be harder than radicalization. There certain things that need to happen in order for someone to disengage himself or herself from a violent terrorist organization. Author, Zahid stated, “de-radicalization pertains to bring in a change in people’s attitudes and beliefs entailed in justifying the radical and violent ideologies” (Zahid, 2016). Someone that no longer have the urge to be apart of a violent group or organization might a have change or heart, the way that they value their life or others might lead to de-radicalization. Something as simple as having a child born into the family might also make someone disengage themselves from terrorist’s activities. The way they view their organization may also cause someone to want to disengage. Lastly, looking at their current lifestyle and being able to see right from wrong could potentially want someone to de-radicalized themselves. Essentially a person that becomes de-radicalized has a sense of a second chance at life, without being negatively influenced by others. Throughout the world countries have implemented programs to help individuals de-radicalized or counter radicalization. Many countries have dumped up to millions of dollars into the their de-radicalization programs. Some programs have produce success stories and others not so much. These programs are fairly new and there isn’t much data to really tell if the programs are truly effective. There isn’t a way to ensure that someone that was once radicalized but had a change of heart stayed on that path once he or she became de-radicalized.  

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