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In light of growing threats from Islamist radicalization and violent extremism around the world, this paper aims to shed some light on current ‘soft’ approaches to counter-terrorism. The distinguishing feature of these ‘soft’ approaches is that they are designed to win the hearts and minds of radicalizing or radicalized individuals by employing non-coercive methods. While acknowledging the importance of counter-radicalization efforts, this paper will mostly focus on explaining and evaluating deradicalization programs.
The first section will define the concepts of radicalization, counter-radicalization, and deradicalization before continuing on to address the range of factors and drivers that make up such programs. The second section will provide a survey of current models of de-radicalization. The third section will outline the various criticisms and perceived problems of deradicalization programs. The fourth section will provide a number of case studies.
The purpose of these will be to provide a sample of different approaches and varying levels of success of programs that have been undertaken in Europe and the Middle East. The paper will conclude with a summary of the main findings.