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 Заголовок сообщения: Situational Understanding on Violent Radicalization
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Situational Understanding on Violent Radicalization that Results in Terrorism. Two Graphic Models that Provide Clarity on the Topic
J Lorenzo-Pe

proposed1.jpg [ 95.46 КБ | Просмотров: 518 ]

Drakon-chart: Image16 (author): Flow chart (using DRAKON language and system dynamics approach).

The figure shows a complete and holistic proposed model which explains, in this layer, the whole process starting from a ‘normal citizen’ who will end becoming a ‘violent radical committing terrorist acts.

Albeit the whole process can be understood, each action box calls another diagram (inner layer) that explains in detail part of the process (subsystem).

por José Lorenzo-Pe...
Versión para impresiónVersión para impresión
GESI Analysis , 26/2018

Abstract: This paper seeks to delve into violent radicalization. Regarding all the possible questions about violent radicalization that ends in terrorism, this paper will focus on the “why” and the “how”.

First, the paper will examine the benefits of using graphic information backed by text as the preferred way to approach complex problems instead of relying exclusively on long text reports. Second, in chronological order, previous models explaining violent radicalization will be briefly analysed.

Third, two models of violent radicalization that end in terrorism will be proposed, leveraging new research while seeking to avoid the drawbacks of the previous works. These two models will maintain the positive aspects of previous works, discard the old and outdated aspects, and will add the most recent research tendencies. Therefore, the reader will find in this paper a complete explanation about how and why a person becomes a violent radical. However, in order to maintain a reasonable length, certain details have been left for another more in depth research paper. Accordingly, although the proposed models have several layers, this paper will focus on only the outer ones.

The paper shows the complexity of this problem. But complex does not imply impossible to solve. The paper will provide a comprehensive idea of the dynamics of the problem and will give the reader the opportunity to decide if the situational understanding acquired is sufficient. In the event he or she wants to progress deeper into the topic, the complete model offers consecutive inner layers that will provide the reader increased in depth knowledge. All the information discussed in this paper is soundly backed up by previous research, with nothing left to opinion.


1. Introduction

Violent radicalization that ends in terrorisms is an ‘Ill-structured problem’[1] which are complex, nonlinear, and dynamic. Among the three kinds of problems that decision-makers or commanders tackle, they are the most challenging to understand and solve.

Four points are important to success when handling violent radicalization matters since ill-structured problems have the abovementioned issues. First, a good problem-solving process and methodology to assist leaders in managing or solving those problems. Second, a set of tools that can be integrated into the problem-solving process (plan, prepare, execute and assess) and work finely within it. Third, to gain the necessary and sufficient situational understanding[2] in order to frame and decide correctly. Fourth, to develop comprehensive approaches.

2. Problem solving and the benefits of using graphic information

From Descartes to modern scholars and security agencies (defence and military, law enforcement agencies, other intelligence agencies), much has been written regarding the topic of problem-solving methods.[3] Generally speaking, solving problems always follows the same scheme:

Observation and positive identification of an unacceptable situation.
Frame the problem.
Understand the problem.
Visualize how to solve it (conceptualize).
Establish the ways (plan).
Provide means.
Solve (execute).
Assess achievement of the ends.
This scheme can be translated into the following diagram:

Image 1 (author): Solving problem general process as per US/NATO and EU defence and security forces.

Each different kind of problem requires its particular techniques and amount of effort to understand it. Understanding complex problems means comprehending the situation´s inner relationships. This implies that the comprehension is to be holistic; it is not enough to understand just a part of the problem. In trying to solve complex problems, the most apparent ‘solution’ may create more problems.

Violent radicalization that ends in terrorism is a complex problem that has multiple variables and trying to fix the whole problem by just acting on one part of it without taking into consideration the relationships and second and third order effects amongst its components is the perfect recipe for security failure (e.g. removing poppy fields in Afghanistan without providing an equally-lucrative or almost comparable alternative way of earning a living).

Long text reports are not the best option to frame, understand and establish the ways to achieve the desired end state for a complex problem with multiple roots that requires managing multiple operational variables to fix it. Trying to explain complex problems in a traditional way (long text reports) demands much more time and effort than using graphic information and judgement.

Image 2 (credits US Army): cognitive hierarchy as understood in several US and NATO doctrine publications.

Additionally, in long, large and complex projects, understanding what others have done is essential. People co-operate more efficiently if their area of expertise is easily understood by all others.

Long text reports do not stimulate collaborative/team work. The mandatory subject matter experts that are to manage all the specific areas of the complex problem will find the ‘data’ and ‘information’ isolated and linearly distributed along the text but not displayed altogether, which is problematic to establish relationships, which hampers a holistic approach. This leads to formulating a partial solution that results in policy failure.

Graphic information has been already processed, analysed, synthetized, compared and gone under a process of induction and deduction to finally be displayed in a friendly way. In this sense, graphic information is time saving and can display ‘understanding’. Some graphic solutions can combine both mathematical strictness and ergonomics (making something exhausting and boring, like long text comprehension, more easy and comfortable to process).

Among disciplines that use graphic information, there is one especially interesting for our purpose: System dynamics.[4] System dynamics was precisely developed to frame, understand, and discuss complex issues. The analysis and approach is done in a comprehensive manner in search of understanding its structure, the interconnections between all its components, and how changes in whatever of its constituent parts will affect the whole system.

A system can be broken up into smaller systems or even parts but the key point of system dynamics is understanding how all the objects in a system interact with one another. The system dynamics approach allows one to consider second and third order effects, to study the centre of gravity of the constituent parts, and to study the centre of gravity of the whole system.

Image 3 (author): A system can be broke into small systems and components. Even whether or not the user does not know how a sub-system works, he can identify inputs-outputs and relations.

Image 4 (author): displayed in a different and more familiar way than previous figure, a system of systems. Each sub-system (e.g.: variables of the operational environment) has its relationships, actors, functions, tensions and also can be used to study centres of gravity.[5]

It is not the main purpose of this paper to make an in-depth explanation of the advantages of using graphic information. However, it recognizes that (in both civilian and military decision-making) different techniques have been developed that employ and display graphic information to tackle complex problems. These include, for example, mind maps[6], flowcharts, decision support matrices with colour codes, influence diagrams, and the common operational pictures that are utilized at tactical or operational operations centres.

3. Radicalization and violent radicalization

Since the first attempts by government (legislative, executive, and judiciary branches), security agencies, and academics to define the terms ‘radicalization’, ‘violent radicalization’ and ‘extremism’, there has been a lot of evolution and improvement. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of confusion regarding these topics.[7]

‘Radicalism’ is a sufficiently large conceptual category and needs to be used with caution. In this concept there is room for both violent and non-violent people (who do not represent a problem in and of themselves). Violent radicalization is definitively a problem since the monopoly on violence (the legitimate use of physical force) falls in the Governments and not in the individuals.

Image 5 (author): Radicalism conceptual category.

‘Violent radicalization’ is frequently associated with radical interpretations of Islam, which is wrong. It is important to understand that violent radicalization could be found in almost every field of life, e.g. economics (anti-establishment, etc.), politics (left wing, right-wing, supremacists, etc.), cultural (sports-hooligans, segregationists, etc.), religion, etc.

In this paper ‘violent radicalization’ will be understood as:[8]

«Dynamic, reversible, gradual and individual process that leads a person to adopt very different (which may end up being extreme) beliefs and/or goals compared with those of the surrounding environment. During this process, the violence, in any of its meanings (physical, moral, terrorism, etc.) is legitimated as mean to achieve the end. The process concludes when, whether by adaptation of conduct or beliefs, the subject has the conviction and will to commit violent acts».

Violent radicalization falls into other scientific disciplines like psychology, law, international relations, politics, sociology, etc. If we desire success in combating it, different subject matter experts need to be employed to help address the problem. Any approach with regard to violent radicalization has to be comprehensive not only because of its multiple dimensions regarding scientific disciplines but also principally because the actors, factors, relations and tensions that make up the system are interconnected and changes in any of its constituent parts will affect the whole system.

Besides the abovementioned, violent radicalization requires not only a comprehensive approach but also should be analyzed and addressed at different levels: macro, meso and micro.[9]

4. Previous models about violent radicalization

There are many models of the radicalization process that ends in terrorism.[10] The main drawbacks of these models are:

To consider only the «cognitive way» as the only one to become a violent radical. In short, the «cognitive way» starts by exposition to a discourse that justifies and glorifies violence, then the individual internalizes the arguments provided by that discourse and finally changes behaviour.
On the other hand, the «behavioural way» goes through an individual’s exposure to violence. For different mechanisms and reasons the individual starts committing violent actions, then the subject justifies his own violent actions, and finally the person internalizes and assimilates violent discourse and changes his/her ideas.

In this sense (it will be discussed later), to consider only one of the two possible ways means to have addressed only half part of the problem.

To be designed for a specific kind of radicalization, which means it is difficult to use as general rule or for other types of violent radicalization.
Not to be scalable. The models provide general information but if you want more details or a complete explanation there is no option; you are obliged to go to the text.
To have limited the construction of the model to only one level of analysis (generally micro-level), without taking into account other levels such as macro and meso-level.

4.1. Wiktorowitcz (2004)

Wiktorowitcz uses in his model the analogy of a funnel to display the fact that there are a lot of people under the same stimuli but only a few become radicals. He introduces the fact that there must be exogenous conditions to initiate the process, giving some important and supported clues about WHY a person becomes a violent radical. Another interesting point of this model is that it considers the existence of factors that can catalyse the process, like member activism.

Image 6 (as quoted in Schmid 2013:23): Wiktorowitcz model.

Some caveats about this model are:

Only the cognitive way has been considered.
The model is the product of a case study that uses al-Muhajiroun as the only source, which methodologically implies some issues making it difficult to ‘export’ it to other types of violent radicalization, which may or may not follow the same rules.
In the same sense as the previous point, this model is tied to religion. However, violent radicalization is not only a matter of religion.
Finally, it does not explain properly the self-radicalization itself or the existence of lone-wolves.

Image 7 (author): Moghaddam staircase to terrorism model.

On one hand, this model is interesting because the terrorist act is seen as a process that can be bidirectional. It also gives some clues about the psychological steps that one subject may follow to commit to executing acts of terrorism.

On the other hand, the model has some limitations:

The approach is only psychological. There are no other scientific disciplines involved.
The model is ideas-centric and does not consider behaviour as a possible route to extremism.
It is not a formal model. This point is very important because this is a very cited and depicted model, yet hardly anyone who quotes it specifies, as the author clarified, that:
«The model is intended to provide a general framework within which to organize current psychological knowledge and to help direct future research and policy; it is not intended as a formal model to be tested against alternatives».[11]

4.3 UK Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) model (2007), in response to the previous Labour government’s Prevent Strategy, which was launched in 2007.[12]

This model uses a pyramid to indicate a proportional approach to defining those who break the law. In particular, it highlights that only a few subjects achieve the apex, providing a strong case for a general rule that amongst the majority of people under the same stimuli, only a few become violent radicals.

The model distinguishes four tiers related to personnel. The character of the people in each of these tiers is linked to the approach of the government, which somehow distinguishes the initiatives among the macro, meso and micro levels. There is also an interesting point highlighted, a thin red line differentiating the ones who ‘actively break the law’ from the others.

The weaknesses of the model is that it mixes ‘extremism’ with ‘violent radicalization’ and also it does not explain HOW and/or WHY a subject ascends from one tier to other.

Image 8 (author): UK ACPO model.

4.4 The New York Police Department, NYPD’s four-stage radicalization process (2007).

This model was developed after studying in-depth 11 terror acts committed by Al Qaida-influenced violent radicals, which ties the model to a specific type of violent radicalism and therefore could compromise it methodologically to represent a more generic violent radicalization process.

While the authors state that process can be abandoned at any stage, only some clues about this option are given. The graphic model (image 9) does not provide much information itself, although the report contains a lot of evidence with respect to the underlying factors of violent radicalization.

Image 9 (author): NYPD model.

4.5. Marc Sageman’s four-stage process (2004, 2007)

Although Sageman performed a wider analysis, his model is also Al Qaida related and ideas-centric which provides the same problems as previous models. However, the model introduced two important ideas to explain why only a few become violent radicals. First, the ‘moral outrage’; a perception and feeling that make a difference among those who are in the process. Second, ‘specific interpretation of the world’; radicals see the world differently than the average person, which points that the radicalization is a ‘relative concept’[13].

Image 10 (author): Marc Sageman’s four-stage process.

4.6. Taarnby’s eight-stage process (2005)

Taarnby proposes a model (although not a graphic one) of recruitment with eight stages (one of them being the process of radicalization). The model, as stated by the author, is only an example and it is based on the:

«available background information about the members of the Hamburg cell»[14]

Image 11 (author): Taarnby’s eight-stage process.

Due to the fact that the model uses the Hamburg cell as the only case study, it is difficult to use it for other types of violent radicalization. This model is, in a way, an evolution of the Sageman´s four stage process. The model does not detail specifically what the ‘process of radicalization’ is but an interesting point is how the ending point is framed (as stated, ‘going operational’). This emphasizes how what was just ‘an individual’ in the beginning of the process has by the end of the process become ‘a threat’ that can put at risk persons, assets or values.

4.7. Pretch´s model of the process of radicalization – from conversion to terrorism (2007).

Pretch conducted a broad quantity of research to present his model.[15] He maintained the four traditional stages but enriched them. He provided some important hints about motivations, triggers and catalysts. The model is not actually graphic and was presented, in his original work, as a table, intending to express a timeline with the four phases of the violent radicalization process.

Some drawbacks to this model are that although it is presented in graphic mode the model is pure text, so it is necessary to read it all to understand the whole process. Curiously, although he delinked radicalization from religion in its definition,[16] the model is bounded to one religion, which makes it less easily applicable or characterized with other violent radicalization (e.g. left/right wing violent radicals). Besides there is limited space for lone wolf action, a common threat at present, because the model considers training and indoctrination an integral part of the process, inclusive of travel to other places.

4.8. McCauley and Moskalenko (2008). Mechanisms of political radicalization: pathways toward terrorism

McCauley and Moskalenko refused to draft a diagram. They realized, in accordance with research, that violent radicalization is a complex process where:

«[M]ultiple and diverse pathways leading individuals and groups to radicalisation and terrorism» (2008: 429).

Both authors went deep into an important question: how do individuals move from the base of the pyramid to the apex, based on the previous ACPO model? What specific factors contribute to this movement? What is really important and key in this question is that it considers how the same stimuli only served to transform a few to become violent radicals.

Instead of presenting a diagram that explained HOW and WHY a subject went through the process of violent radicalization, they simply presented the mechanisms of political radicalization.[17] A remarkable aspect of their work was to point out that it is possible to not only radicalize individuals but large groups of people as well. They also identified different ways of radicalization which they grouped into three sets.

Image 13 (McCauley and Moskalenko 2008:418): Original table, mechanisms of political radicalization.

4.9. Doosje and Wolf matrix (2010)

In 2010 Doosje and Wolf made amendments to Moghaddam´s (2005) model. The authors enriched the staircase model and filled up a matrix with:

Important social psychological factors at each stage.
Signals, indications of radicalization.
Implications for de-radicalization programs
Key-figures who can play a role in intervention on each level of the radicalization process

4.10. Doosje, Moghaddam, Kruglanski, de Wolf, Mann and Feddes (2016).

Doosje et al presented this graphic model of radicalization in 2016.

Image 14 (Doosje, De Wolf, Mann and Feddes 2016:80): The (de)radicalization process and its determinants.

Some strong points of the model are:

A clear depiction of the reversibility of the process and also the analysis of the three levels (micro, meso, and macro).
Identified the aspect of resilience as key to the process in both radicalization and de-radicalization.
The model is person-centric. This does not disregard the possibility of radicalizing groups, but it does explain the fact that only «few radicals venture to terrorism»[18].
On the contrary, the main limitations of the model are:

The definition of ‘radicalization’[19] which is confused with ‘violent radicalization’ and could lead to serious legal issues.[20]
Another weakness of this model is that it only considers the «congnitive way» that starts by exposure to a discourse that justifies and glorifies violence. The individual then internalizes the arguments provided by that discourse and subsequently changes their behaviour.
Phase two indicates that a natural step in the process is that the person joins or belongs to a violent radical group. However, all violent radicals do not necessarily join a radical group formally. Because of that, the model fails to provide an explanation about two small but important groups (sometimes they may be the same set), namely ‘lone wolves’ or the ‘self-radicalized'.
The model is not scalable. It lacks sufficient layering to explain inner dynamics.

4.11. Peco’s Systemic Model (2014)

Peco proposes a model that can explain a wide range «of observed phenomena, accommodate apparent exceptions, and obtain testable consequences»[21].

In comparison to the previous models, Peco´s model has a lot of advantages. For example:

It uses a systemic approach (sees the problem as a whole).
Considers radicalization not only as a matter of ideas but also as behavioural learning.
The model is scalable (in a limited fashion, but at least Peco´s work recognizes two layers) and provides additional details if the reader/decision-maker requires more in depth explanations (e.g. how the the subject ascends his/her level of radicalization).
Contemplates the topic as a process and provides important clues about the aspect of reinforcing ideas/behaviour, which had been previously discussed as ‘resilience’ in the Doosje et al model.
On the other hand, the model has some drawbacks:

The flowchart can be difficult to follow and methodologically some points need to be addressed (e.g. no ways out). A better graphic design would be better.
It is difficult to explain the issue of ‘lone-wolves’ or ‘self-radicalized’ individuals with this model.
It does not give any explanation about WHY the subject is radicalized.
Although it is a holistic approach, it only considers one level: the micro. The meso and macro-level are not reflected on the diagram. This lack results in little room to address radicalization as a response/reaction when a group of citizens finds itself in an internal conflict with the dominant state/ruler.[22]

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