categoria | Diritti umani, Famiglia e Minori, Terrorismo, Vittimologia

VAN UFFELEN Anneleen Southeast Asia: The role of women in the prevention of Islamist radicalization and violent extremism

Inserito il 10 febbraio 2018 da Maria Rosa DOMINICI

Il ruolo delle donne nella prevenzione alla radicalizzazione islamica e alla violenza estremista
di Anneleen VAN UFFELEN ,
mia imprevista e salvifica interprete a Vienna durante il mio intervento del 26 maggio 2017 alle ALLE NAZIONI UNITE nella 26° SESSIONE del CCPCJ ,alla quale va ancora tutta la mia riconoscenza
Maria Rosa Dominici
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Southeast Asia: The role of women in the prevention of

Islamist radicalization and violent extremism

Authors:

1st VAN UFFELEN Anneleen, PARIS LODRON UNIVERSITÄT SALZBURG

2st WALDEN Anna-Valentina, LANCASTER UNIVERSITY

Agency: UNITED NATIONS OFFICE OF DRUGS AND CRIME (UNODC)

Mentors: SOLONGO, Dolgor, UNODC

Counsels: BATWARE, Billy; HOFFMANN, Roman
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1srRtNXG3bSSHiaQBImkz5F8K9U9P_NVP/view?usp=sharing,QUESTO è IL LINK X POTER LEGGERE TUTTO L’INTERESSANTISSIMO DOCUMENTO

January 2018
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Abstract

In Southeast Asia, Islamist radicalization is mainly rooted in ethno-nationalist grounds and

presents an enduring threat to security and safety, as well as socio-economic, political and societal

development Indonesia and Malaysia are most affected by Islamic radicalization and recruitment

of radical Islamists and will therefore serve as practical examples in this research. To a large

extent, this is based mainly on historical and political developments. In the fight against

radicalization, the Malaysian government chooses to approach the challenges mainly with hard

measures on the security level. This strict monitoring makes it challenging for civil society to

actively engage in the efforts. The combination of soft and hard measures in Indonesia and the

involvement of civil society functions as exemplary case study to other Southeast Asian countries.

The importance of a gendered perspective in policies and strategies aimed at preventing

radicalization and violent extremism, especially through increased involvement of women, is still

not sufficiently considered in Southeast Asia. There is a great potential for female engagement in

the fight against radical or violent extremist behavior. Society continues to be organized around

patriarchal structures; yet, women play a key role within their families when it comes to shaping

norms and traditions and it was found that gender equality decreases domestic terrorism.

CONTENT

Abstract……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….1

Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..2

1. Radicalization and violent extremism ……………………………………………………………………………….3

Insights into the region of Southeast Asia……………………………………………………………………………3

The process of radicalization……………………………………………………………………………………………….3

2. The gender perspective …………………………………………………………………………………………………….7

Main drivers, causes and risk factors for Islamist radicalization and violent extremism……….9

3. Expert Interviews……………………………………………………………………………………………………………10

4. Main findings………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….16

5. Policy recommendations…………………………………………………………………………………………………19

6. Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………22

7. Appendix………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..28

Islamist Radicalization ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….28
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Introduction

We live in turbulent times: natural catastrophes, crises, conflicts, people and even societies face

existential fear. In the past years, this fear has been augmented with the anxiety of unforeseeable

destruction caused by deadly terrorist attacks. The public lives with the constant concern that an

attack can be carried out anywhere and at any time, which increases the general vulnerability and

exposure of people worldwide. Terrorism is undisputedly one of the biggest and most pressing

global issues, as is radicalization of individuals and groups and their willingness to resort to

violent extremist behavior. The root causes for terrorist activities are manifold and are often

based on strong religious beliefs or political identification. The line between religious zeal and

radical behavior is oftentimes blurry. Radicalization often starts by generating extreme beliefs that

justify violence and is one of the possible pathways into terrorism involvement (Borum 2011:7-

36). It must be perceived as a circular process, whereby the participation increases connectedness

with the activist network. This evolution will be further elaborated and represented graphically in

this paper. Similarly, violent extremism cannot be down to the ground described as an ideological

or social phenomenon but is a part of the process of radicalization and extremist behavior. The

term “violent” stresses out the physical violence of the extremist or radical individual.

To understand how civil society, NGOs, the government or justice institutions can intervene in

the process of radicalization and thereby prevent radical behavior and often subsequent violent

extremism or terrorism, this research first focuses on describing the process of radicalization,

before stressing different methods of prevention. This process is to be understood as highly

individual to each person. Yet, there are several factors that do play an important role (Gursky

2017:70). Southeast Asia has one the highest Muslim populations in the world. The country of

Indonesia is not only one of the most populated countries, but also the one with the largest

Muslim population in the world. This fact alone justifies taking a deeper analytical look at the

root causes of Islamic radicalization in the region, while putting a special focus on Indonesia and

Malaysia, since both countries are particularly affected by radical Islamist tendencies and the

recruitment of radical Islamists. To a large extent, this is based on historical and political

developments, such as fighters with Southeast Asian roots returning from the civil war in

Afghanistan and reintegrating their societies of origin. The importance of a gendered perspective

in policies and strategies aimed at preventing radicalization and violent extremism, especially

through increased involvement of women, is still not sufficiently considered in Southeast Asia.

Without a doubt, there is a great potential for female engagement in the fight against radical or

violent extremist behavior. Society continues to be organized around patriarchal structures; even

though women play a key role within their families when it comes to shaping norms and

traditions. The role that women play in the prevention of radicalization and violent extremism

lies at the core of this research, as the entire population can be only approached with gendered

policies. In patriarchal societies, the capabilities of women often remain untapped.

This paper highlights how gendered approaches can be used to develop more successful

prevention methods and strategies to ideally reach out to every individual in the process of

radicalization and prevent them from further radicalizing. To fully make use of this potential, it

was decided to base the research on the following question: “What is the role of women in the

prevention of radicalization and violent extremism in Southeast Asia?”. On this backdrop, the

research objective of this paper is to highlight the key role women and girls play in the prevention

of radicalization and violent extremism and to provide clear policy recommendations, as well as

best practice examples that can be promoted in United Nations Member States and implemented

with the practical and technical assistance of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
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(UNODC).

The theoretical part provides a definition of the terms radicalization and violent extremism, as

well as an overview of how the process of radicalization is taking place, what role polarization

plays in the process, which persons are probable to fall prey to radical ideologies and behavior,

while ensuring that the gender perspective is always taken into consideration. Furthermore, the

difference between prevention of radicalization and deradicalization is described by defining the

‘point of no return’. Qualitative interviews with experts on the topic and region were conducted

as to compare academic findings with practical and on-site facts. In the conclusion, which

includes policy recommendations, potential new prevention strategies and methods are

highlighted. Thereby, the role of civil society, public institutions and the justice sector are

especially emphasized.

1. Radicalization and violent extremism

A common misconception implies that radicalization and violent extremism are stagnant

conditions that an individual finds him/herself in. Yet, it is of paramount importance to

understand both as ongoing processes. The term radicalization can refer to ideologies that

oppose to a society’s core values and principles, such as democracy and human rights.

Meanwhile, the term can relate to methods through which actors aim to reach their goals

(Neumann 2010:12). The term radicalization is at present mainly used in the context of Islamist

terrorist groups, even if radicalized individuals can be identified in all ideologic backgrounds Each

ideological group has different triggers and motivations, but he common factor of those

individuals displaying violent behavior through the means of extremist or terrorist methods is

their perceived conception of personal or ideological fulfillment. That is the exact reason why it is

of importance to concentrate on one group of radicalized people instead of lumping them

together (Neumann 2017:32-34).

Insights into the region of Southeast Asia

Despite having faced Muslim separatist conflicts for decades, the region of Southeast Asia with

both its secular and Islamic governments is often brought forward as a representative model of

progressive Islam. Nevertheless, multiple terror attacks with manifold motives and characters

were perpetrated in the region in the past. It is important to distinguish between nations, groups

and grievances in Southeast Asia, because they generate a complex patchwork and there is no

general pattern to be singled out. Each country in the region faces different challenges and has

unique features, but numerous interconnections and similarities are found within them. Ethno- nationalist conflicts for instance are oftentimes misused in Indonesia and Malaysia to gather

support for radical Islamism from Muslim minorities outside of this geographical area. While

conflicts in Thailand and the Philippines are somewhat dominant in the Southeast Asian region

and media coverage, they are the least societies to be influenced by jihadist ideology. Conflicts in

the Philippines and Thailand, where Islam is a minority faith, are also driven by ethno-nationalist

motives, but there are more Islamic connections to radicalization in Malaysia and Indonesia

according to Helfstein (2015:4-6).

The process of radicalization

As stated beforehand, radicalization must be perceived as a circular process, whereby the

participation increases connectedness with the radical network. In return, the ideological

socialization is strengthened, and an ideological identity is being formed. The process will either

be restrained or encouraged by biographical availability, meaning that people with alternative

priorities such as family and professional activities are more improbable to be caught in such a
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vicious circle (Mc Adam 1986:64-90). It often begins by generating extreme beliefs that justify

violence and is one of the possible pathways into terrorism involvement (Borum 2011:7-36). To

be considered a violent extremist/ radicalist, an individual must first be radical/extreme, to

ultimately act in a violent way for its beliefs (Helfstein 2012:1-5).

In this regard, the phenomenon of polarization plays an important role in the process of

radicalization and in understanding with which strategy to intervene in it and when. By describing

polarization as “us-them thinking”, Bart Brandsma visualizes that this way of thinking exists on

the micro-level as well as on the macro-level. The difference between a conflict and polarization

is that in a conflict, both players are known and can be identified, whereas in polarization any

individual can decide whether to be part of a specific group. While everyone is usually part of a

polarized group without even realizing it, the greatest challenge is to identify the key players

within those said groups (Brandsma 2017:13-25). An acceleration in polarization can be

prompted by trigger events or catalyzed and facilitated by different factors as mass media

channels, social media, fake news or so-called information bubbles. When seeking to prevent

radicalization, it is necessary to begin by comprehending the prevention of individuals drifting

towards an extreme polarization (Lenos, Keltjens & van de Donk 6 July 2017:1-4).

“[…]extremist ideology is defined here as the set of justifications that legitimizes an in-group,

which is primarily expressed through texts, including both the written and spoken word.” (Berger

April 2017:7) Usually, the out-group is defined simply by all people that are not part of the in- group, as visualized in the following graphic. The following graph shows the different steps in the

process of identity construction of an individual getting radicalized. The first step on the pathway

of radicalization which can be seen on the top left, is polarization.

(Berger 2017:56)
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As can be seen above, preventing and decreasing polarization can understood as key strategy to

create the conditions needed for the prevention of radicalization (Lenos, Keltjens & van de Donk

6 July 2017:1-4). Radicalization-related behavior can be differentiated in three stages, during

which distinctive signs will be apparent, depending on the type of radicalization. In the case of

religious radicalization in the first stage, the person is probable to experience a strong desire to

share the newly gained knowledge with family and friends. Fixation and energy-bursts are

common signs for this stage. Politically radicalized individuals often show completely opposite

signs, as this form of radicalization is often based on rejecting the mainstream cultures. In this

regard, politically radicalized people will tend to isolate themselves and dissociate from society.

While going through the second stage, individuals display behavioral changes as depression and

frustration, accompanied by a hostile fixation on details and decreasing acceptance for differing

opinions. Individuals often show signs of sleep deprivation, anxiety, nervousness, nutritional

disturbances and concentration problems. During the later stages, affected individuals shift to a

calmer, harmonized and happier behavior, because they believe in having found the perfect

solution for their problem (Köhler 2016:78-79). Radicalization always happens gradually and

there are perennial episodes of doubt (Khosrokhavar 2017:109).

To better understand the different ways of radicalization and define the fine line between an

activist and a radicalized individual, it is important to distinguish between high-risk/cost and low- risk/cost activism. The term “cost” hereafter used stands for the investment of time, money and

energy required of a person actively involved in radical behavior. The term “risk” points out the

anticipated dangers, e.g. social, legal, physical, financial and so forth, that people face by engaging

in activism (Mc Adam 1986:67). It is necessary to differentiate between high-risk/cost and low- risk/cost activism because only high-risk/cost activists run the risk of becoming active

participants of movements/ recruits (Mc Adam 1986:71-89). Low-cost activism is the first stage

of radicalization, whereas the decision to commit high-cost activism marks the second stage of

radicalization-related behavior. The following figure visualizes the gradual process of

radicalization and the interplay of different causes:

(Mc Adam 1986, 69)
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Yet again, the factors influencing the radicalization process are highly personal and the above- mentioned graph is non-exhaustive. These days, biographical availability for example can be also

replaced by Internet research and relationships built online, which is quite a new phenomenon

thanks to the easy accessibility of the world wide web. Recently, new trends in the process of

radicalization emerged, such as the importance of the Internet and social media in self- radicalization and recruitment (Khosrokhavar 2017:57-62). This is one of the predominant causes

why the phenomenon of so-called “lone wolves” and very small groups of radicalized people has

become such a pressing issue (Neumann 2017:160-216). “Lone wolves” are individuals who act

alone in perpetrating an attack but are influenced by a community or a group. Another

widespread phenomenon through the easy access to the Internet are self-radicalized individuals

who choose the path of radicalization personally, oftentimes influenced by content they read

online, in books or other material highly controlled by radical groups (Khosrokhavar 2017:109).

Consequently, jihadists tend to opt less for advertising their ideology in mosques but are focusing

more on bonding in a virtual world (Khosrokhavar 2017:58-69).

Isolation, a predominant factor that can be found online just as in prisons, has a significant effect

on the process of radicalization. It can notably shorten the above-mentioned steps in the process

or even make people skip certain steps as to speed up the operation. Prisons in all periods of

history have been thriving places for radicalization and recruitment. Detainees have much time at

hand to reflect their past and possible future, oftentimes looking for a fresh start. Prisons are

undoubtedly places of vulnerability, since politically motivated offenders driven by a desire to

defy authorities and prisoners tend to look for protection and religion to rely on morally.

Moreover, prisons are often overcrowded and in combination with a shortage of staff it becomes

hard to monitor the eventual emergence of radical groups or to identify radicalized individuals

(Neumann 2010:25-37).

‘Jihadi tourism’ is another way violent extremists manage to get in touch with people on a local

level, namely by traveling to their home country from a war zone and meeting up with possible

recruits before returning to combat. Another factor to consider in the radicalization process is the

phenomenon of returning foreign fighters. In the future, societies will increasingly face the

problem of foreign fighters returning to their home country where they will share their

experience with like-minded individuals, speed up the process of radicalization of other

individuals or manage to attract people who, under normal circumstances, would not have been

driven to the cause. Even though, according to Gursky (2017:105-129), only 10% of all returning

foreign fighters pose a threat to homeland security, the influence they could have on others

cannot be ignored.

At this point, it seems important to insist that most people disposing of radical beliefs and

justifying violence are improbable to conduct terrorist attacks or take violent action (Borum

2011:30). A high level of radicalization does not necessarily equal violent behavior. Violent

radical ideologies, in continuation, erase or deny alternative definitions of the ideology’s core

values and concept. The dilemma with violent radical ideology is that non-violent solutions start

to disappear altogether from the set of possible solutions to the problem. If individuals see the

increasing urgency to act and the alternatives to the radical ideology as two vectors who will cross

at a point where no non-radical alternatives are left, that is the exact point where deradicalization

starts and prevention possibilities stop (Köhler 2016:74-76).
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(Köhler 2016:79)

“Non-violent solutions have been declared ineffective or useless and are not adequate to the

perceived importance of the problem anymore. Slowly (or sometimes rather quickly) reaching

that critical point is the ‘time bomb effect’- a mechanism underlying every form of radicalization.

If these processes do not lead to violence, the individual’s (or group’s) ideology is not in direct, or

is only in modest, contract with the mainstream political culture and surrounding ideology.”

(Köhler 2016:76).

It is impossible to define where the radicalization process exactly starts and where it ends; just as

it is disputable whether there can even be an end to it and how the ‘final product’ of a completed

radicalization circle presents itself. In this regard, it is necessary to first define the parameters of

what is considered “moderate” and “radical” in a specific society at any given moment.

Something that might be considered extreme in one society, may be understood as the societal

norm in another society’s context (Neumann 2017:28-31).

The presented research will mainly focus on the prevention of Islamist radicalization, especially in

the context of the so-called “Islamic State” (also referred to as IS/ISIS/ISIL/Daesh) and the key

role of women and girls in the prevention of radical and/or violent behavior. Following the

proclamation of the so-called “caliphate” in the summer of 2014, Daesh has attracted a

significantly high number of women (Neumann 2017:206-207). As of now, ISIS actively tries to

attract women with a specifically gendered approach (Musial 2016/17:44-80). This fact is indeed

highly relevant in the research, since Islamist terrorist organizations didn’t openly display such an

interest in consciously involving women within their structure before. While in the years prior the

proclamation of the “caliphate” only 15% of the radicalized individuals joining Daesh were

women, the number rose to 40% in the year 2015 alone (Neumann 2017:197-216). Consequently,

this new reality bears the growing risk of women radicalizing other individuals – female and male.

2. The gender perspective

While a considerable amount of research has been conducted on the radicalization process of

male terrorists, reliable information and knowledge about the very specific role of women in the

prevention and countering of violent extremism and terrorism is still deficient, which is, however,

crucial to the development of tailored and gendered strategies aiming at building resilience against

extremist violence. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP 2015:5) points out that a “gender- aware countering violent extremism program recognizes the differential impacts of violent

extremist messaging for women and men. It seeks to analyze how traditional stereotypes,

attitudes and behaviors affect women and men and how they may inadvertently encourage

violent extremism.” Accepting a solely binary theory of women as either victims, perpetrators or

preventers of violent extremist acts is treacherous and fails to point out the important
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4_UNODC_final paper 2018-02-04.pdf
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proseguite la lettura cliccando sul link riportato all’inizio, è una ricerca ed un lavoro interessantissimo e ringrazio Annelin e le sue colleghe x avermi concesso di pubblicarlo
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psicologa,psicoterapeuta vittimologa,membro dell'Accademia Teatina delle Scienze,della New York Academy ofSciences,dell'International Ass. of Juvenile and Family Court Magistrates,della Società Italiana di Vittimologia,della W.S.V.,dell'Ass.internazionale di Studi Medico Psico Religiosi.,docente di seminari di sessuologia, criminologia e vittimologia in università Italiane e straniere,esperta per progetti Daphne su tratta di minori e sfruttamento sessuale,creatrice del progetto Psicantropos,autrice di varie pubblicazioni,si occupa di minori e reati ad essi connessi da 40 anni.

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