For nearly ten years the Colombian government has systematically debriefed men and women who have left the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and other violent extremist organizations. Today, the Colombian government maintains a database of more than 15,000 digitized interview transcripts—the largest of its kind in the world. With the proper enhancements and analysis, the database can provide critical insights into topics such as extremist recruitment, motivation, information operations, intelligence activities, leadership, and tactical and operational adaptation and innovation. Although Colombia's political violence is unique in many respects, further research using the database contributes to our understanding of the dynamics of insurgency in other regions. Ultimately, this research could enhance efforts to prevent recruitment into, and encourage current members to exit from violent non-state groups, such as gangs, terrorist groups, militias, and drug trafficking organizations.
Why They Join, Why They Fight, and Why They Leave: Learning From Colombia's Database of Demobilized Militants
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