Is it possible to deradicalise terrorists?
The purpose of this paper is to explore the possibility that terrorists can be deradicalised. In the last entry of his book History’s Greatest Hits, Joseph Cummins (2007) describes the incident which has become known as 9/11: the attacks by al-Qaeda on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001. This was an event which would, in Cummin’s words, “… transform the world…” (p 308) dominating geo-political events to the present day. The question which has generated considerable discussion – in both academic circles as well as the public at large – is why a group of outwardly westernised individuals would do such an act. As the decade wore on and events evolved the fear of terrorism grow greater and greater. Australia has seen:
Terrorists according to Cary (2009, p 13) are “. . . determent to impose their will upon others. Unlike nation states . . . terrorists resort to violence as the first and final solution.” There is significant academic literature that describes the motivations of terrorism. In a survey of academic writings on terrorism, Schmid and Jongman found the following key elements:
- use of violence;
- symbolic choices of victim;
- performance by an organisation;
- advanced planning;
- operational seriality;
- an absence of moral restraint;
- political motivation; and
- the use of fear and anxiety. (Weimann, 2006, p 21)
- nationalist or separatist agendas;
- retaliation or revenge for real or perceived injury;
- protest government policy; and
- defend animal rights.