START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
1,280,723 people care about Politics

Organizations Use Therapy to Curb Terrorism Before It Starts

Organizations Use Therapy to Curb Terrorism Before It Starts

In the years since the 9/11 attacks in the United States, counterterrorism experts have had to change their approach to dealing with potential terrorism. Radicalism within Islam had been on the rise for decades prior and has only flourished since. The roots lie within a centuries-old ideological conflict within the religion, with a small minority turning to a more militant and violent expression of the faith. The West has long treated the threats as coming from within Muslim countries. More recently, however, Western governments have now been faced with a new threat: homegrown radicalization.

Believing that radicalism is a staged process beginning with sympathetic feelings towards violent acts, a recent study by Queen Mary University has led researchers in an unexpected direction. The study released in March surveyed more than 600 men and women living in London and Bradford of South Asian Muslim heritage. They measured their sympathy to 16 different acts that are widely considered terrorism, including such things as suicide bombs.

They found that the younger, more educated, and higher-income participants were more likely to express sympathy for violent acts. While a very small portion (about two percent) of those surveyed expressed sympathies, the characteristics of those that did were very surprising. It has been believed that inequality issues were a big cause of homegrown terrorism and these findings seem to refute that. Other stereotypes, including families that didn’t speak English at home or those suffering from depression were actually less likely to support violence.

The study is the latest an ongoing effort to inform early intervention strategies to help stop terrorists before they are created. Most efforts have focused on de-radicalization after capture. This approach has been taken not just with those attracted to the extremes of Islam, but with those who have left other violent organizations such as neo-Nazi groups.

The goal now is to stop radicalization before it starts.

In Germany, a national hotline is paid for and run by the government to help families worried about friends and relatives turning to radical Islam. Desperate family members go to extremes to try to stop a loved one from joining a group or fighting in a conflict. Often, however, families are too late, finding out that their loved one has gone to join “the fight” after leaving a note, never to be seen alive again. Since the hotline was established two years ago, they have received over 900 calls. Families are referred to four organizations within the country that handle individual cases.

Demand is huge and resources are limited. Europe has been at the forefront of preventive rehab for radicalization, with initiatives that include school and job counseling. Another program called Wegweiser, which means signpost in German, was started by Kemal Bozay, the son of a Turkish immigrant in the German city of Bochum. The organization has centers in three cities, and works with the large Islamic communities to prevent radicalization among teenagers. Social workers intervene on soccer fields and playgrounds when they see recruiters trying to talk to the kids. The workers offer solutions to steer them away from fundamentalism.

The one consistent thing amount those that are radicalized is the search for alternatives to their current situation.

The British study and those that have been working with radicalized teens have found a common thread of feeling isolated and a need to define who they are. Many of the extreme versions of Islam often appeal to the children and grandchildren of Muslim immigrants because of the simple black and white answers to life’s problems, and a sense of purpose. The normal angst of being a teenager, including anger and the tendency to not take any injustice lightly, make them vulnerable to recruitment efforts that offer a sense of belonging and community.

For the same reasons some teens turn to drugs, these teens turn to fundamentalism.

It’s with this in mind that groups like Wegwieser are finding such a demand for their services. They are trying to help stop these disaffected youth from making decisions that will forever alter – if not end – their life. There is plenty of opportunity for them to pursue their misguided version of faith and justice. The conflict in Syria is estimated to have had more than 12,000 foreigners involved since the conflict began in 2011. Now Europe is bracing for the return of these well trained rebel fighters to Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

This is why Kemal Bozay, founder of Wegwieser, has decided to focus on a pre-emptive strategy. By working with the community and the families to heal their troubled youth, they hope to prevent their destruction. As he points out, “So far, as a society we’ve only reacted when it was too late.”

Read more: , , , , , , ,

Photo via Thinkstock

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it


+ add your own
11:30PM PDT on Jul 27, 2014

Every little bit helps. Thanks for sharing.

8:20PM PDT on Jul 25, 2014

TY for this important article!

6:37AM PDT on Jul 25, 2014

Be forever in paradis with Allah………

and thats different from Being in heaven for eternity with the Christian God how??

The problem isnt teaching them about etirnity its in teaching them how to live while they are here.

7:26AM PDT on Jul 24, 2014

Why do we call it being 'radicalized'?

It is terrorist training on the young and vulnerable.

Let's get the wording right!

In the UK we are having all sorts of problems with 'hate preachers' in the Muslim faith, who are 'grooming' these youngsters into believing they'll be for ever in paradise with Allah.



Read more:

7:00PM PDT on Jul 22, 2014

They also will insure the requirement of women to obtain permission from husbands for daily freedoms; beating of disobedient woman and girls; execution of homosexuals; engagement of polygamy and forced child marriages; the testimony of four male witnesses to prove rape; honor killings of those, principally women, who have dishonored the family; death to apostate Muslims who chose to leave Islam; inferior status of non-Muslims, and capital punishment for those “slander.

6:49PM PDT on Jul 22, 2014

Obama and his pukes say these radical Gitmo islamic radicals, if released into their home country (unlikely) will never go to Northern Iraq to help behead the head of every Christian family that does not leave their home of 2000 years, or convert to islam. over 1 million Christians have been exiled from Iraq,

5:21PM PDT on Jul 22, 2014

Sure, because therapy works. For therapists it does,
You're nothing but a study-object, their research ends up being used by totalitarian regimes or institutes, against you.
We need therapists to tell people only compassion works? But they lack that quality! How else can you be living (more than) well of the misery of others?

1:05PM PDT on Jul 22, 2014

Thank you

2:24AM PDT on Jul 22, 2014

interesting article, thanks

4:45AM PDT on Jul 21, 2014

The right way instead of using violence

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

We need to stop sending our young and poor to fight wars for the corporations to profit. If we must…

It is Christmas so what's the fuss about? Don't like it don't look. I have no objections to other religions…

meet our writers

Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
ads keep care2 free

more from causes

Animal Welfare

Causes Canada

Causes UK


Civil Rights


Endangered Wildlife

Environment & Wildlife

Global Development

Global Warming

Health Policy

Human Rights

LGBT rights


Real Food

Trailblazers For Good

Women's Rights

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.