Many interviewed reported having second thoughts, or becoming disillusioned, even while still involved in extremist groups, or even during the radicalization process. Parents and relatives often knew that they were heading down a dangerous path but failed to act.
There is no consistent global approach to countering violent extremism, and sometimes programs are misused by governments for greater repression.
New research suggests trauma, adversity and mental health problems are prominent among jihadis and radicalization is an emotional process.
Islamist terrorist groups have committed significantly higher casualty attacks when weighed against all terror groups, but not more than non-Islamist religious terror groups, who were the deadliest.
“We can offer more accurate explanations of why people become involved in jihadi terrorism by recognizing their religious motivations in conjunction with others,” researcher notes.
This rapid change means things aren’t as secure as they should be, and a range of hostile forces are quick to exploit weaknesses in new ways.
They share the basic objective of establishing a state for the Ummah – the pious Muslim community – based on their strict Islamic principles.
Closing doors runs the risk of creating factions of left-behind extremists that may escape any meaningful oversight, argues researcher.
IS started systematically encouraging lone actor attacks in the West in 2016. Sometimes communication was controlled, and credit claimed centrally.
The more that a terrorist organization becomes known for criminal actions, the harder it can be to retain legitimacy in the eyes of their followers.