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Benevolent Radicalization: An Antidote to Terrorism


perspectives-on-terrorism-10-5Journal abstract

Most political activism occurs within social norms and the democratic consensus, but a minority mobilize in a consciously perilous manner. When this is premised upon sacred values, one may be said to be behaviorally radicalized. Within this radicalized fringe, some stay within social norms but take them to an extreme level of self-sacrifice. This may involve risking one’s life to benefit others in an objectively and consistently pro-social manner. This is referred to as aid-in-extremis, a specific form of active bystandership. A recent example includes British Muslims engaged in non-sectarian humanitarian aid for besieged civilians in Daesh controlled territory. In my thesis, these people are categorized as benevolently radicalized; they were Positive Deviants who adhere to a conditioned victim-centric prognosis. Others made a clear break and depart from the norm. This entails violence or tacit support thereof as part of their response - such as those British Muslims who joined Daesh. These people are categorized as malevolently radicalized: their deviance is overall anti-social and they adhere to a conditioned perpetrator-centric prognosis. The paradox is, both cohorts stem from the same domestic sentiment pool and use the same sacred values to undergird their morally opposed behaviors. What seems to determine the prognostic vector is how these sacred values are interpreted and this alludes to the importance of frames. Recognizing that frames are learned and that both groups are in competition for similar people, governments may proactively prevent Jihadist recruitment and sideline their narratives by buttressing the benevolently radicalized, bolstering their numbers and ensuring that their prognostic is perceived as the main moral anchor. This counter-engagement is presented as a relevant and impactful, strengths-based alternative which can constructively channel moral outrage and fulfill needs - yet it is only posited to appeal to particular type of (pre-)Jihadist activists.

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