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Rehabilitating the Terrorists?: Challenges in Assessing the Effectiveness of De-radicalization Programs


Terrorism and Political ViolenceJournal abstract

Renewed interest on how and why terrorism ends has emerged in parallel with increased visibility of some new and innovative approaches to counterterrorism. These are collectively known, whether for good or bad, as “de-radicalization programs.” However, and despite their popularity, data surrounding even the most basic of facts about these programs remains limited. This article presents an overview of the results of a one-year pilot study of select de-radicalization programs and investigates critical issues surrounding assessment of their effectiveness and outcomes. We argue that Multi Attribute Utility Technology (MAUT) may offer promise for future empirical assessment of what we prefer to designate “terrorism risk reduction initiatives.” Perhaps less obviously, and until more data surrounding the efficacy of such initiatives becomes available, MAUT may also provide a conceptual basis for planning, evaluating, and guiding the development of future such initiatives and may have the unanticipated consequence of facilitating progress by encouraging greater exploration of efforts to change behavior from other contexts.

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