How Deradicalization Impacts Terrorist Groups

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15th Feb 2019 Security Reference this

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How can the intelligence community use deradicalization to impact the effectiveness of Hezbollah?

The intelligence community is vital to building cohesive infrastructure and peaceful societies.  A deradicalization program via a mixture of elements described herein center on ideological and religious education that challenge the effectiveness of Hezbollah.  Groups that pose a significant threat include Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Al-Shabaab, Hezbollah, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).  Hezbollah is unique in that they are one of the most well developed social and community supported networks, and an official member of an organized government, i.e., Lebanese Government via “overwhelming/evolved success as a global terrorist or Shi’a defense organization and subsequent politi­cal power in the Lebanese political system through its use of social services” (Love, 2010, p. 1).

Leveraging a deradicalization program is simply one of several innovative approaches to counterterrorism.  Hezbollah is a well-funded terrorist network founded on social services.  Impacting Hezbollah requires a multi-pronged approach.  The Joint Special Operations University Report (2010) states,

Hezbollah’s organizational structure, funding sources, and social service achievements provide a systemic understanding of how the organization morphed from a resistance movement into a stateless government that leverages charity to meet the needs of the neglected, oppressed, and marginalized. (p. 14)

The intelligence community must recognize the reasons for radicalization while simultaneously identifying requisite funding sources before executing a deradicalization program.  A diplomatic approach depends “on preemptive intelligence gathering, the rule of law, cooperation with the media, and promotion of domestic security” (Munoz & Crosston, 2015, p. 24).

The Collins Dictionary defines deradicalization as “the practice of encouraging individuals with extreme and violent religious or political ideologies to adopt views that are more moderate” (n.d.).  Johnston (2009) found key distinctions between disengagement and deradicalization.

Disengagement occurs when an individual or a group no longer engages in violence or the individual no longer participates in the violent activities of the group.  Deradicalization occurs when a group or an individual no longer believes in a violent ideology. (p. 9)

Understanding and appreciating the differences between disengagement and deradicalization is one-step towards the intelligence community deradicalizing Hezbollah.

Deradicalization in prisons is one of only a few methods or techniques likely capable of reversing the Hezbollah radicalization process.  Diplomacy in conjunction with deradicalization may effectively counteract Hezbollah’s engagement with the Lebanese Government.  Regardless of approach, a successful deradicalization program consists of counselors, legal scholars, law enforcement officers, and members of the intelligence community.  Establishing success is not easy; there is no one size fits all as political context situates each program.

The majority of individual deradicalization programs reside in prisons and include a holistic multi-agency approach.  Intelligence gathering, education, family support, and led by social services are the four common pillars that support a successful deradicalization program.  According to Price (2017), Deradicalization programs at a minimum consist of:

  • Trained counselors capable of convincing extremists’ that terrorist activity is unfounded in a religious context.
  • Convince extremists that their individual views are unfounded in a religious context.
  • Treat extremists’ mental health.
  • Extract extremists’ value system as a form of violence.

Hezbollah, similar to other groups, appeals to educated and non-educated unemployed individuals.  This vulnerability causes individuals to identify with radical ideology.  Deradicalization includes vocational training, religious counseling, psychological counseling, or creative art therapy.  Vocational training is an element leveraged for incarcerated individuals to provide a path forward following release.  The educational focus could vary and harness ideological specificity.  Although education would only be a portion of a full deradicalization program, as a fundamental program principle, programs can be successful.

Credible mentors previously radicalized liaise with prisoners throughout their incarceration.  Mentors establish a rapport with prisoners, as prisons are “ideal locations for the implementation of deradicalization programs due to the measures of control in a prison setting” (Johnston, 2009, p. 1).  The established relationship between mentor and prisoner allows incarcerated individuals to be honest and communicate their religious or political beliefs.  Open communication is necessary for deradicalization to occur, as imprisonment becomes a cell that facilitates radicalization.

Hezbollah holds 14 seats in the Lebanese Parliament, providing Hezbollah with significant international legitimacy (Philippone, 2008).  Hezbollah’s enormous social service effort consistently outperforms the Lebanese government’s social programs.  As such, focus shifts towards commitment and sustainment of an individual’s success via one’s family and job beyond release.  The intelligence community and collaborative partners support for family members care for incarcerated individuals help increase inclusion, thus deterring individuals from returning to the terrorist organization to fulfill previous needs.

As an example, the Official Irish Republican Army previously leveraged diplomacy via “building a nonviolent and class-based alliance between Protestant and Catholic working classes in Northern Ireland to undermine partition” (Henriksen, 2008, p. 23).  If diplomacy is unsuccessful, A Practitioner’s Way Forward describes influence and impact of overt public patron-client relationships, i.e., Iran supplies Hezbollah with funds, weapons, and the status that comes with the formal recognition by a powerful state.  “Hezbollah reciprocates through its allegiance to Iran’s state ideology, and its public support for Iranian policy objectives, which extends Tehran’s influence into the Levant” (Brannan, Darken, & Strindberg, 2014, p. 75).

While material inducements like reduced prison sentence, housing, vehicles, etc. are appealing, deradicalization programs that rely predominantly on these inducements are the least successful.  According to a Global Counterterrorism Forum memorandum, “although terrorists should be appropriately punished, the criminal justice system should provide for their deradicalization and reintegration into society” (n.d., p. 2).

A deradicalization process cannot follow a set script, nor can it be the same for all individuals going through it.  Success depends on the availability of adequate funding, reform within the prison structure, incorporation of cultural norms, provision of monetary support to families of detainees, and follow through with after-care programs (Johnston, 2009, p. 61).  This approach consists of a rehabilitation-focused deradicalization.

An effective deradicalization program for Hezbollah incorporates aforementioned elements before, during, and after incarceration for societal integration.  Such a diplomatic method “builds on victories achieved over the short, medium, and long-term, designed to wear down the resolve of the enemy and to develop fully functional societies with an actively included citizenry” (Munoz, 2015, p. 24).  Deradicalization programs must be unique to a group’s strengths and weakness, and the intelligence community must be able to adapt and make changes as necessary to prevent recidivism.

References

Brannan, D., Darken, K., & Strindberg, A. (2014). A practitioner’s way forward. Salinas, CA: Agile Press.

Definition of ‘deradicalization’. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2018, from https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/deradicalization

Global Counterterrorism Forum. (n.d.). Retrieved on April 14, 2018, from https://www.thegctf.org/Portals/1/Documents/Framework%20Documents/A/GCTF-Rome-Memorandum-ENG.pdf

Henriksen, T. (2008). What Really Happened in Northern Ireland’s Counterinsurgency: Revision Revelation. Joint Special Operations University Report. Retrieved from https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=692814

Johnston, A. (2009).  Assessing the effectiveness of deradicalization programs on islamist extremists. (Master’s thesis). Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA. Retrieved from https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=29447

Love, J. (2010, June). Hezbollah: Social services as a source of power. Joint Special Operations University Report. Retrieved from https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/2010/1006_jsou-report-10-5.pdf

Munoz, M. J., & Crosston, M. (2015). Diplomatic Counterterrorist Deterrence. Air & Space Power Journal, 29(4), 15-26. Retrieved from http://www.airuniversity.af.mil/Portals/10/ASPJ/journals/Volume-29_Issue-4/F-Munzo_Crosston.pdf

Philippone, D. (2008). Hezbollah: The network and its support systems. (Master’s thesis). Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA. Retrieved from http://www.dtic.mil/docs/citations/ADA483483

Price, M. (2017, May 26). Can terrorists be deradicalized. Science. Retrieved from http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/05/can-terrorists-be-deradicalized

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to impact the effectiveness of Hezbollah?

The intelligence community is vital to building cohesive infrastructure and peaceful societies. A deradicalization program via a mixture of elements described herein center on ideological and religious education that challenge the effectiveness of Hezbollah. Groups that pose a significant threat include Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Al-Shabaab, Hezbollah, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Hezbollah is unique in that they are one of the most well developed social and community supported networks, and an official member of an organized government, i.e., Lebanese Government via “overwhelming/evolved success as a global terrorist or Shi’a defense organization and subsequent political power in the Lebanese political system through its use of social services” (Love, 2010, p. 1).

Leveraging a deradicalization program is simply one of several innovative approaches to counterterrorism. Hezbollah is a well-funded terrorist network founded on social services. Impacting Hezbollah requires a multi-pronged approach. The Joint Special Operations University Report (2010) states,

Hezbollah’s organizational structure, funding sources, and social service achievements provide a systemic understanding of how the organization morphed from a resistance movement into a stateless government that leverages charity to meet the needs of the neglected, oppressed, and marginalized. (p. 14)

The intelligence community must recognize the reasons for radicalization while simultaneously identifying requisite funding sources before executing a deradicalization program. A diplomatic approach depends “on preemptive intelligence gathering, the rule of law, cooperation with the media, and promotion of domestic security” (Munoz & Crosston, 2015, p. 24).

The Collins Dictionary defines deradicalization as “the practice of encouraging individuals with extreme and violent religious or political ideologies to adopt views that are more moderate” (n.d.). Johnston (2009) found key distinctions between disengagement and deradicalization.

Disengagement occurs when an individual or a group no longer engages in violence or the individual no longer participates in the violent activities of the group. Deradicalization occurs when a group or an individual no longer believes in a violent ideology. (p. 9)

Understanding and appreciating the differences between disengagement and deradicalization is one-step towards the intelligence community deradicalizing Hezbollah.

Deradicalization in prisons is one of only a few methods or techniques likely capable of reversing the Hezbollah radicalization process. Diplomacy in conjunction with deradicalization may effectively counteract Hezbollah’s engagement with the Lebanese Government. Regardless of approach, a successful deradicalization program consists of counselors, legal scholars, law enforcement officers, and members of the intelligence community. Establishing success is not easy; there is no one size fits all as political context situates each program.

The majority of individual deradicalization programs reside in prisons and include a holistic multi-agency approach. Intelligence gathering, education, family support, and led by social services are the four common pillars that support a successful deradicalization program. According to Price (2017), Deradicalization programs at a minimum consist of:

  • Trained counselors capable of convincing extremists’ that terrorist activity is unfounded in a religious context.
  • Convince extremists that their individual views are unfounded in a religious context.
  • Treat extremists’ mental health.
  • Extract extremists’ value system as a form of violence.

Hezbollah, similar to other groups, appeals to educated and non-educated unemployed individuals. This vulnerability causes individuals to identify with radical ideology. Deradicalization includes vocational training, religious counseling, psychological counseling, or creative art therapy. Vocational training is an element leveraged for incarcerated individuals to provide a path forward following release. The educational focus could vary and harness ideological specificity. Although education would only be a portion of a full deradicalization program, as a fundamental program principle, programs can be successful.

Credible mentors previously radicalized liaise with prisoners throughout their incarceration. Mentors establish a rapport with prisoners, as prisons are “ideal locations for the implementation of deradicalization programs due to the measures of control in a prison setting” (Johnston, 2009, p. 1). The established relationship between mentor and prisoner allows incarcerated individuals to be honest and communicate their religious or political beliefs. Open communication is necessary for deradicalization to occur, as imprisonment becomes a cell that facilitates radicalization.

Hezbollah holds 14 seats in the Lebanese Parliament, providing Hezbollah with significant international legitimacy (Philippone, 2008). Hezbollah’s enormous social service effort consistently outperforms the Lebanese government’s social programs. As such, focus shifts towards commitment and sustainment of an individual’s success via one’s family and job beyond release. The intelligence community and collaborative partners support for family members care for incarcerated individuals help increase inclusion, thus deterring individuals from returning to the terrorist organization to fulfill previous needs.

As an example, the Official Irish Republican Army previously leveraged diplomacy via “building a nonviolent and class-based alliance between Protestant and Catholic working classes in Northern Ireland to undermine partition” (Henriksen, 2008, p. 23). If diplomacy is unsuccessful, A Practitioner’s Way Forward describes influence and impact of overt public patron-client relationships, i.e., Iran supplies Hezbollah with funds, weapons, and the status that comes with the formal recognition by a powerful state. “Hezbollah reciprocates through its allegiance to Iran’s state ideology, and its public support for Iranian policy objectives, which extends Tehran’s influence into the Levant” (Brannan, Darken, & Strindberg, 2014, p. 75).

While material inducements like reduced prison sentence, housing, vehicles, etc. are appealing, deradicalization programs that rely predominantly on these inducements are the least successful. According to a Global Counterterrorism Forum memorandum, “although terrorists should be appropriately punished, the criminal justice system should provide for their deradicalization and reintegration into society” (n.d., p. 2).

A deradicalization process cannot follow a set script, nor can it be the same for all individuals going through it. Success depends on the availability of adequate funding, reform within the prison structure, incorporation of cultural norms, provision of monetary support to families of detainees, and follow through with after-care programs (Johnston, 2009, p. 61). This approach consists of a rehabilitation-focused deradicalization.

An effective deradicalization program for Hezbollah incorporates aforementioned elements before, during, and after incarceration for societal integration. Such a diplomatic method “builds on victories achieved over the short, medium, and long-term, designed to wear down the resolve of the enemy and to develop fully functional societies with an actively included citizenry” (Munoz, 2015, p. 24). Deradicalization programs must be unique to a group’s strengths and weakness, and the intelligence community must be able to adapt and make changes as necessary to prevent recidivism.

References

Brannan, D., Darken, K., & Strindberg, A. (2014). A practitioner’s way forward. Salinas, CA: Agile Press.

Definition of ‘deradicalization’. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2018, from https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/deradicalization

Global Counterterrorism Forum. (n.d.). Retrieved on April 14, 2018, from https://www.thegctf.org/Portals/1/Documents/Framework%20Documents/A/GCTF-Rome-Memorandum-ENG.pdf

Henriksen, T. (2008). What Really Happened in Northern Ireland’s Counterinsurgency: Revision Revelation. Joint Special Operations University Report. Retrieved from https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=692814

Johnston, A. (2009). Assessing the effectiveness of deradicalization programs on islamist extremists. (Master’s thesis). Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA. Retrieved from https://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=29447

Love, J. (2010, June). Hezbollah: Social services as a source of power. Joint Special Operations University Report. Retrieved from https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/2010/1006_jsou-report-10-5.pdf

Munoz, M. J., & Crosston, M. (2015). Diplomatic Counterterrorist Deterrence. Air & Space Power Journal, 29(4), 15-26. Retrieved from http://www.airuniversity.af.mil/Portals/10/ASPJ/journals/Volume-29_Issue-4/F-Munzo_Crosston.pdf

Philippone, D. (2008). Hezbollah: The network and its support systems. (Master’s thesis). Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA. Retrieved from http://www.dtic.mil/docs/citations/ADA483483

Price, M. (2017, May 26). Can terrorists be deradicalized. Science. Retrieved from http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/05/can-terrorists-be-deradicalized

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