Terrorism and natural disasters are among the most significant problems every nation has to face daily and search for ways to mitigate or eliminate such occurrences. Both politically and sociologically, terrorism poses a massive threat to the current status quo, international relations and modern infrastructures. Therefore, to prevent terrorist attacks effectively, government agencies at all levels join to counter the threat with community engagement, diplomatic efforts, and law enforcement. Certain logistical difficulties emerge across the implementation of this approach, as legal empowerment and coordination of multiple incarceration centers would require massive infrastructural preparations.
Identifying and Targeting Vulnerable Groups of Society
There are several approaches to counter-terrorism which every government utilizes. The first approach is focused on identifying and targeting vulnerable groups of society. Multiple factors are at play when determining the level of an individual’s vulnerability to extremist ideology. Younger demographics are particularly susceptible to the dangerous effects of radicalization. Structural factors, such as disadvantaged socioeconomic background and first-hand experience with targeted marginalization, increase the likelihood of a person being recruited. On an individual level, psychologists claim that personal loneliness, family tensions and radical lifestyle changes increase the likelihood that a person might be radicalized by an extremist organization.
Even those with extreme beliefs do not become involved in extremism in the majority of cases, but a variety of circumstances can enhance and affect extremist behavior. These variables must be considered to create an awareness of and recognition of risk factors and those that build resilience and protect individuals from extremist behavior. Overall, children and young teenagers are one of the most vulnerable demographics when it comes to recruitment. Since their worldview is still forming, extremist organizations might easily take advantage to better enforce the ideology they are promoting.
It’s crucial to emphasize that children who are exposed to these conditions or who display these behaviors aren’t always radicalized; they might be symptoms of alcohol or drug abuse, family disintegration, domestic violence, bullying, or other issues. As a result, caution should be used while evaluating these variables in order to prevent incorrectly labeling or stigmatizing people Professionals that have come into touch with vulnerable people must be able to spot them.
Violent extremist organizations vary from over 35,000 militants within the Islamic State to the few hundred soldiers affiliated with the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in Pakistan (Darden). As a result of identifying and deterring people from joining such extremist organizations, the US government can focus its resources on the areas where they will be most effective. Local situations and danger elements must decide the shape and content of targeted programming.
Collaboration with Local Governments and Civil Society Organizations
At the local level, the government could consider empowering community-based groups by educating combatting terrorism and violence. Furthermore, the partnerships between communities, civil society actors, local government, and law enforcement are often volatile and depend on individual case scenarios and interpersonal relationships. Grassroots groups, youth organizations, and women-led organizations all play important roles in maintaining peace and stability in their communities.
Collaboration with local governments and civil society organizations is another method to prevent terrorism while monitoring government accountability. Several factors contribute to political violence in different parts of the world, including mistrust of governments, abuses of fundamental rights, and elite impunity. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), more than 70 percent of voluntary recruits in Africa were ultimately motivated to join a violent extremist group due to government action, such as “the killing or arrest of a family member or friend” (Darden). The goal of development programs should be to address governance challenges sustainably by strengthening the capacities of local actors within government and civil society.
Engagement with civil society, in particular, has been referred to as the missing piece in the United Nations’ approach to terrorism. When properly equipped and educated, civil society organizations might be invaluable partners to the official police forces during the investigation. Civil society groups require not just financial resources but also technical and organizational access and expertise to execute successful counterterrorism and violent extremism programming. Any organized counter-terrorist action would therefore need massive economic and technical support from the official law enforcement units. With terrorism shifting more and more to online space, a reasonable degree of technical literacy is expected of the participants and volunteers.
Boosting Economic Growth and Entrepreneurship
Economic growth and entrepreneurship can assist in mitigating the structural roots of violent extremism. Economic limitations continue to influence support for and participation in violent extremism in many settings. Former Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan asserted that “the seeds of flawed ideology are borne from the absence of economic security” (Darden). In Afghanistan, two-thirds of the population is under 25, which means that such young people need to be provided with more financial opportunities (Darden). Many young people join extremist or criminal organizations for better income opportunities. Economic interventions such as appropriate vocational training and small-business assistance can potentially lessen economic instability and support for violent extremism.
Darden, J. T. (2019). Development assistance and counterterrorism. American Enterprise Institute. Web.
Moss, K. (2019) Learn to live with it: The necessary, but insufficient, state counterterrorism approach. Georgetown Security Studies Review, 7(2), 35-41. Web.
Sylves, R. T. (2019). Disaster policy and politics: Emergency management and homeland security. CQ press. Web.