By Michael Price
Investigators are still piecing together exactly what drove Salman Abedi, the suspected assailant in the recent concert bombing in Manchester, U.K., to kill 22 people and wound dozens more, but early indications suggest he had become a radicalized jihadist. How formerly harmless members of society go on to embrace violent extremist ideologies is a looming question in the world of counterterrorism, yet increasingly so is the problem of “deradicalization,” or convincing people to abandon an extremist mindset.
Worldwide, hundreds of deradicalization programs have sprung up. They typically consist of trained counselors either convincing the extremists their religious views aren’t founded in proper theology, treating the subject’s extremism as a mental health issue, or trying to nudge the extremist’s value system away from violence.
Despite their ubiquity, there’s been precious little effort spent evaluating whether these programs actually work, writes Daniel Koehler, director of the German Institute on Radicalization and De-radicalization Studies based in Stuttgart, in a commentary published today in Nature Human Behaviour. He discussed his work with Science, as well as the dangers of failing to establish deradicalization program standards. The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.