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Radicalisation and terrorism

In the last decade, countering radicalisation that turns to terrorism has become an issue of particular concern for many European governments. It has reached new dramatic dimensions with the violent attacks in Paris from 2015. The current situation in Syria and Iraq and the emergence of the so-called Islamic State have led to new security threats especially concerning EU citizens joining the ranks of ISIS as foreign fighters. Another worrying trend for many countries in Europe is right-wing extremism which also has seen a resurgence in recent years. In response to terrorist attacks on European soil , many ‘softer’ policies were rolled out, especially in older EU member states. Instead of focusing exclusively on the immediate prevention of terrorist attacks, these policies aim at identifying and reversing the radicalisation process which often precedes the use of violence. This implies identifying and addressing root causes and drivers for radicalisation instead of focusing on enforcing control over its manifestations.

Yet, in many European states decision-makers lack the appropriate evidence to guide policy actions. More empirical evidence is needed on why, when and how individuals and groups are recruited in extremist organisations and under what conditions some of these individuals come to engage in violent acts. This is not an easy task as there is no single root cause of terrorism.

Developing working mechanisms in preventing and countering radicalisation is a long process that requires tailor-made instruments for recognising, monitoring and evaluating certain risk signs early on. This calls for the involvement of a wide range of public sector bodies and civil society, as well as having in place a supporting institutional infrastructure to enable multi-agency cooperation and community engagement.

Recognising the challenges that phenomena of radicalisation and terrorism pose before European societies, CSD works on developing effective methods to monitor radicalisation processes and identify risk groups in Southeast Europe.



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Members of the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) Center for Excellence visit the Center for the Study of Democracy
Radicalisation is a complex phenomenon that requires holistic policy approaches to prevention, involving a multitude of state and non-state actors. Тhe key role of frontline practitioners in prevention has been increasingly recognized at national and EU levels. The Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) brings together practitioners from around Europe who work daily with people who have already been radicalised, or who are vulnerable to radicalisation. more »
What Comes After the Islamic State: Implications for Europe
The current situation in Syria and Iraq and the emergence of the so-called Islamic State (IS) have created new security threats globally and in Europe. Since its rise as a new actor on the Islamist extremist scene, IS has become infamous for its exceptionally cruel tactics in territories it controls but also for organising and/or inspiring numerous terrorist acts far from its official borders, including in Europe and the US. Recently, the international military campaign against IS has been intensifying and the latter has suffered territorial loses. more »


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Situational Assessment of Extremist Trends
Violent extremism is one of the major challenges Europe is currently facing. The threat is both external as well as internal as indicated by the rise in home-grown Islamist terrorists, as well as of nationalistic and anti-immigrant movements and far-right aggression. An accurate picture of the spread, nature and trends in the extremist and terrorist activity and actors is paramount to formulating strategic policy approaches and effectively allocating available resources. This publication provides a methodological framework for the establishment of a viable mechanism for monitoring and assessment of the state and developments over time in extremist acts and actors on the national level. more »
CSD Policy Brief No. 68: Monitoring Radicalisation and Extremism
Over the last decade, radicalisation and extremism have become issues of particular concern for Europe. New risks of Islamist and far-right radicalisation have impelled the introduction of policies, the effects of which are only now being evaluated. As radicalisation that risks escalating into violence is more amenable to prevention than repression, having the capacity to detect early warning signs and trace the spread of extremist activity over time is critical. more »
Monitoring Radicalisation: A Framework for Risk Indicators
Radicalisation processes impacting on disaffected and indoctrinated persons and the later involvement of some of them in acts of terrorism are of growing concern for European citizens, their governments and the wider international community. Addressing this threat requires effective prevention policies which some EU member states have been proactive in developing. Effective policies need reliable diagnostic tools designed to identify individuals and groups who might pose a threat. more »
Radicalisation in Bulgaria: Threats and Trends
The phenomena of radicalisation today develop and change at high speed, with their extreme forms manifested globally. The destructive dimensions of (violent) Islamist or right-wing radicalisation have become dramatically visible in Europe posing serious challenges to European societies at large. more »

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