The world today is facing an increasingly sophisticated terrorist threat that is transnational, decentralized, and dynamic. Terrorists in one country are now able to inspire, recruit, and radicalize individuals in other countries to commit terrorist acts either where they live, or to travel abroad to become foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs). These same FTFs can then travel home or to a third country to commit further acts of terrorism. Meanwhile, domestic terrorists and home grown violent extremists continue to constitute threats in their own right, with some adopting techniques used by transnational terrorists or even seeking to affiliate with them. While criminal justice and security methods aimed at imprisoning convicted terrorists will continue to feature uppermost in counterterrorism efforts, there is a growing recognition that a broader approach is needed to address these complex challenges of radicalization and recruitment, one involving a wider range of interventions to address these issues. This more expansive approach is one that can be applied across the full life cycle of radicalization to violence, from preventing susceptible individuals from being attracted to the ideologies promoted by terrorist groups, to intervening with individuals who are on the path to radicalization to violence, to the rehabilitation and reintegration back into society of some of those already radicalized individuals.
In order to provide stakeholders effective responses for any stage of the radicalization to violence process, the GCTF launched a new “Initiative to Address the Life Cycle of Radicalization to Violence” (“Lifecycle Initiative”) in September 2015. The Initiative consolidates and builds upon existing GCTF good practices and recommendations regarding key countering violent extremism (CVE) topics, such as community policing, the role of education in CVE, the importance of partnerships with local communities, and the role of rehabilitation and reintegration in dealing with violent extremists.
The “Lifecycle Initiative” supplements the existing GCTF good practices by developing new doctrine in critical, but previously unaddressed areas – such as alternatives to prosecution – and to expand previous doctrine on issues where additional granularity was needed (for example, outlining the types of legal regimes that are necessary to establish rehabilitation and reintegration programs). It includes additional guidance produced by the Abu-Dhabi-based Hedayah Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism and the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) in Valletta, Malta. The result is a comprehensive “toolkit” of non-binding good practices and practical recommendations that stakeholders can use to address the full range of challenges in their own communities. It will soon include a web-based forum where practitioners can seek and offer each other advice on their specific problems, and eventually will be available in a mobile “app” version.