I published this book review in 2013 in the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF). Both books are relevant to understand and clarify concepts and processes related to radicalization, extremism, and terrorism. I suggest the lecture of both for those interested in these processes in the wake of the Paris attacks.
George Joffé, ed., Islamist Radicalisation in Europe and the Middle East: Reassessing the Causes of Terrorism , London and New York: IB Tauris, 2013.
Anne Speckhard, Talking to Terrorists: Understanding the Psycho-social Motivations of Militant Jihadi Terrorists, Mass Hostage Takers, Suicide Bombers and “Martyrs” , McLean: Advances Press, 2012.
Why and under what circumstances do individuals, groups or larger parts of societies radicalise? What are the drivers of extremism? Why do some individuals and groups engage in terrorism? Are today’s radicals tomorrow’s terrorists? The two volumes addressed here provide important insights in answer to these questions. Although they have rather different approaches, both share features that make them remarkable within current debates about radicalisation, extremism and terrorism, i.e. (1) a clear understanding of the differences among concepts and how to approach them; (2) a non-deterministic vision of the origins and nature of radicalism that rejects generalisations; and (3) an analysis of radicalisation(s), extremism(s), and terrorism(s) as context-bound processes that are both multiple and diverse, and that rely on a series of interactions of internal and external drivers.
The whole text can be accessed in the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF).