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Discussion Questions: Compare and contrast at least two counter-radicalization program. What are the similarities and differences between them? Which particular counter or de-radicalization program do you think is or would be the most effective when employed in North America for those already radicalized?
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1. Two very interesting deradicalization or rehabilitation programs were described in this week’s readings, the Minnesota Terrorism Disengagement and Deradicalization Program (Kaplan, 2019) and the Sri Lankan program for working with former Tamil Tigers (Souris & Singh, 2018). The primary reason that these two programs stand out was their use of reeducation and reintroduction back into society. Both of the programs focus on addressing the root causes that led to an individual being drawn to an extreme ideology. The programs work to help the individual to fill the void, left by the extremist ideology or removal from organization, with career training, community involvement, and even help with rebuilding personal relationships.
Both of the deradicalization programs focus on reintegrating the individual back into society but they differ in their approach to determining the cause of the radicalization. In Sri Lanka, the government is working to correct the societal issues that led an entire population of its citizens to an extremist, anti-governmental cause, and eventually civil war. The program focuses on the societal shift from imprisonment back into society. Experts have acknowledged that avoiding reintegration back into the extremist organization is easier in this case because the Tigers have been eliminated (Souris & Singh, 2018).
Minnesota’s program is similar to Sri Lanka’s but it uses societal reintegration and deradicalization as a counter offer to jail time. The program works to find the root causes of extremists’ radicalization but it is able to keep the individual on the correct path by using the threat of imprisonment (Kaplan, 2019). This style of a program seems highly affective for a North American style extremist because it helps remove them from the societal factors that led to their removal from normal society. It also has a forcing function to hold them accountable for their actions, which are being monitored.
2. In Minnesota there is a program which was recently developed to de-radicalize terrorists. This program operates under the umbrella of supervised release for convicted terrorists with aims to counsel and de radicalize them through psychological, emotional, and religious counseling (Kaplan, 2019). This program is the first in the United States to actually address the issues regarding de-radicalization. Other countries also have similar types of programs and one of the more successful programs was developed in Germany. The program termed EXIT, began in 1989 and had put out a number of successful cases. This program is specifically for helping at the psychological and emotional level and making the individual look at a different manner of thinking (n.a., 2022). Both of these programs examine the psychological backgrounds of the individuals and work at find the originating point of the extremist behavior. However, the US program seeks reintegration as the end goal, but the Germany program mainly focuses on changing the behavior and that’s where the assistance ends.
Changing people’s minds is not an easy task especially when there is a deeply rooted cultural and religious purpose for their violent actions. I think that there is going to be a lot of trial and error in a de-radicalization program because there is no single model or mold which will fit everyone. I think both of these programs do have merit, but I feel that the reintegration model currently being used in the US is the better option. By focusing on reintegration, it allows for an opportunity to change the behavior pattern as opposed to letting the individual’s thought and behavior patterns grow into more of the same. It can be a risk letting those who are committed terrorists out into the general public, but as long as there was a effective supervision and very specific ground rules laid out with consequences for breaking those rules, it could be a possible option for de-radicalizing terrorists.