Discuss Why Some Diaspora Populations Are at Risk of Radicalization
Although several of these projects are ongoing, important findings regarding the potential risk factors and indicators associated with engaging — or attempting to engage — in terrorism have begun to emerge.
However, there is a link between ill-health and terrorism; individuals living in war zones commonly experience post-traumatic stress disorder, ‘survivor’s guilt’, and bereavement of close friends or families. For some, such traumatic life-events are factors leading to committing terrorist acts.6 Symptoms of guilt, anxiety, grief, and a need for vengeance, combined with a strong religious belief of a better afterlife in which they will rejoin lost loved ones, explains some terrorist acts. However, while individual illness may be a contributory factor in an individual becoming radicalised, terrorist activity cannot be explained by a simplistic model of individual illness. Rather than mental illness, for some, identity issues play a pivotal role in the radicalisation process, with a need for belonging, purpose, and meaning cited as significant motivators to join terrorist groups. People experiencing major life transitions appear to be much more at risk of becoming radicalised, particularly young people still going through psychological development and identity-based changes.8 Such transitions might include individuals having to adapt to major educational and/or residential changes. It is argued that such a life stage will make some, who are already vulnerable, open to recruitment to extremist groups through the social identity conferred from new ways of thinking, different experiences, and an ideological view on world events which resonates with the individual.
Yet the concept should not be abused. Not every migratory movement or migrant colony can be called a diaspora. If, for example, pensioners from northern Germany decide to spend the rest of their lives in the pleasant southern German region of Bavaria, they might form a group but they do not form a diaspora (Smith, Anthony, 1971).
Many share a growing sense of aggrievement and frustration with a perceived war against the Muslim world by the West, fueled by events in Iraq, Palestine, and the Balkans. The challenge is to identify emerging threats in Diaspora communities, but to avoid alienating these groups and becoming forced to follow only reactive policies with regard to this growing threat.
Smith, Anthony (1971), Theories of Nationalism, London.
Tietze, Nikola (2001), Islamische Identitäten: Formen muslimischer Religiösität junger Männer in Deutschland und Frankreich, Hamburg.
Toynbee, Arnold (1949), Studien zur Weltgeschichte: Wachstum und Zerfall der Zivilisationen, Hamburg.
Waldmann, Peter (2005), ‘The Radical Community: A Comparative Analysis of the Social Background of ETA, IRA, and Hizbollah’, Sociologus, vol. 55, p. 239-57.