Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
GET UPDATES FROM Senator Mobina Jaffer
 

The Difference Between Radicalization and Terrorism

Posted: 07/12/2013 5:25 pm

What is radicalization? A 2009 report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) defines it as "the process by which individuals -- usually young people -- are introduced to an overtly ideological message and belief system that encourages movement from moderate, mainstream beliefs towards extreme views." However, radicalization does not always lead to violence. As the RCMP notes, "a radical is a person who wishes to effect fundamental political, economic or social change, or change from the ground up." That means the word "radical" should not necessarily be seen as a pejorative term. It can refer to a diverse range of people who are working hard for legitimate causes in their communities. Therefore, it is important not to equate radicalism with terrorism.

Needless to say, radicalism becomes problematic when it is leads to acts of violence, such as terrorism. Examples of violent radicalism in Canada include the FLQ bombings and kidnappings in the 1960s/1970s, the 1984 Air India Bombing, and the attempted 2006 plot by the "Toronto 18" (though only 11 were convicted on terrorism charges). Evidently, some groups reject the use of peaceful means to achieve their ideological objectives, and that is what separates them from other radicals.

Many theories have been put forth to explain why certain individuals become radicalized to the point where they are willing to commit violence. Psychoanalytic and cognitive theories focus on individual motivations. For instance, a person may perceive terrorism as the most rational choice to achieve a particular goal. A member of a minority who has low-self esteem and feels excluded may use terrorism to affirm his or her ethnic or religious identity. Other individuals may resort to violence simply because they are attracted to thrill and excitement. However, as American neurologist Jeff Victeroff notes, most of these theories are based on unfounded speculation due to the lack of empirical evidence on psychological traits of terrorists.

A study by Scott Matthew Kleinmann -- a scholar from King's College in London -- found that the majority of homegrown Sunni militants in the U.S. were radicalized through group-level socialization. After studying a sample of 83 radicalized Sunni militants, Kleinmann concluded that radicalization mostly results from "recruitment by movements or radical friends and family members." Conversely, mass-level factors, such as perceived injustices against Islam, generally play a minor role in radicalization.

Loading Slideshow...
  • John Nuttall

    John Nuttall is shown in this undated photo. Nuttall, 38, and his partner, Amanda Korody, were arrested on Monday and charged with three counts each in relation to an alleged plot to detonate bombs at the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Canada Day, as thousands celebrated the national holiday.

  • Exterior View Of House

    The exterior of a home that had the basement apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • Front Door Of Basement Suite

    An exterior view of the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody is shown in Surrey, B.C.

  • Bathroom

    The bathroom counter is seen inside the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • Kitchen

    A man walks through the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • Kitchen

    Bottles of methadone are seen on the kitchen counter in the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • Living Room

    The apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody is shown in Surrey, B.C.

  • Living Room

    A photogrpaher shoots pictures inside the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • Bedroom

    Money and a poster are pinned on a wall in the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • Bedroom

    Inside the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • Bedroom

    A photographer shoots pictures inside the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • Bedroom

    Inside the apartment of alleged terror suspects John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in Surrey, B.C.

  • RCMP Chief Supt. Wayne Rideout looks at a photograph of pressure cookers that RCMP say two people intended to use as explosive devices, during a news conference to announce terrorism charges in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday July 2, 2013. The charges are in connection to an alleged Al-Qaeda-inspired plot to explode a bomb at the B.C. Legislature on Canada Day.

  • An improvised explosive device (IED) created with a pressure cooker filled with rusted nails is shown in an RCMP handout photo released to media, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Mounties say they've arrested two Canadian-born suspects with an "al-Qaida ideology" in connection with an alleged plot to blow up the British Columbia legislature on Canada Day.

  • Contents (nuts, bolts, nails and washers) and other materials for the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are shown in an RCMP handout photo released to media, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Mounties say they've arrested two Canadian-born suspects with an "al-Qaida ideology" in connection with an alleged plot to blow up the British Columbia legislature on Canada Day.

  • Three pressure cookers to be used as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are shown in an RCMP handout photo released to media, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Mounties say they've arrested two Canadian-born suspects with an "al-Qaida ideology" in connection with an alleged plot to blow up the British Columbia legislature on Canada Day.

  • Security guards watch over the legislature grounds in Victoria, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Mounties say they've arrested two Canadian-born suspects with an "al-Qaida ideology" in connection with an alleged plot to blow up the British Columbia legislature on Canada Day.

  • An exterior view of the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. Mounties say two people with "al-Qaida ideology" planned to blow up the British Columbia legislature on a national holiday.

  • <strong>NEXT: Twitter Reacts</strong>

  • <strong>NEXT: Home-Made Bombs</strong>

 

Follow Senator Mobina Jaffer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@senjaffer

FOLLOW CANADA POLITICS