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OPINION                                                                   MAY 12, 2023  |    The Indian Eye 10

          Towards an Epistemic Understanding of

             Radicalism, Extremism and Terrorism

              The firm adherence to any belief system or religion by its followers is fraught with the danger of

                               engendering fanaticism, bigotry and xenophobia in that community


              he once-vaunted Global War
              on Terror (GWOT) and even
        Tthe  ongoing  Global  Pro-
        gramme on Preventing and Counter-
        ing Violent Extremism (PCVE) have
        often been criticized for being mis-
        nomers, as some commentators aver
        that it is untenable to wage campaigns
        against abstract nouns like terrorism
        and extremism, particularly in the
        absence of any internationally recog-
        nized definition of such terms.
            The lack of international consen-
        sus over some of these fundamental
        terms of references severely impairs
        well-intentioned global counter-ter-
        rorism (CT) operations and some-
        times even puts the effectiveness, if
        not legitimacy of several Counter
        Violent Extremism and Terrorism
        (CVET) campaigns to question.
        Terms associated with terrorism such
        as violent extremism, radicalism, or
        fundamentalism, are often used indis-
        criminately and at times interchange-
        ably, not just in the popular media but   Terrorism refers, on the one hand, to a doctrine about the presumed effectiveness of a special form or tactic of fear-generating,
        even in academic literature. Often                                     coercive political violence (File photo)
        fundamentalists and non-violent radi-
        cals are equated with terrorists, which
        leads to legal complications. The per-  nstein:                     “in favor of extreme and complete po-  indoctrination and recruitment tech-
        sistence of such conceptual confusion   In-groups are the groups to which   litical or social change”. The etymo-  niques of left-wing extremists. The us-
        impedes the development of effective   individuals both belong and psycho-  logical origin of the word ‘radical’ lies   age became more dubiously popular
        CVET operations and programmes    logically identify, while out-groups   in the Latin word ‘radix’, which means   as left-wing extremism spread across
        that need precise matrices to deter-  are those to which individuals do not   ‘the root’. In the domain of politics   the globe by the 1960s. However, in
        mine the threat and achieve quantifi-  belong or identify. Categorizations   and international relations, radicals   the 2000s, the term was used for jihad-
        able outcomes.                    based on ingroup–outgroup distinc-  refer to those groups of people who   ist ensnarement of impressionable
            The firm adherence to any belief   tions have a profound impact on so-  seem to bring about deep-rooted and   minds into the terrorist ranks.
        system or religion by its followers is   cial interactions, including aspects of   fundamental changes to the existing   In  simple  terms,  radicalization
        fraught with the danger of engender-  prejudice, reward allocation, stereo-  socio-political ideology and institu-  is the transformative process that
        ing fanaticism, bigotry and xenopho-  typing, and group conflict.   tions. Thus, radicals wish to bring   a law-abiding citizen of a state or a
        bia in that community. In the modern   Additionally, religious fundamen-  about a new socio-political order by   member of society undergoes to be-
        age, religious zealotry has reacted   talism, racial supremacism, as found in   uprooting the existing one.  come  a  person  who  starts  accepting
        mainly to the rise of modern science   the ideologies of Fascism and Nazism;   For instance, Islamists call for   principles and actions of violent ex-
        and secular philosophy and a technol-  national and sub-national insurgen-  throwing off Western governance sys-  tremism and terrorism.
        ogy-driven lifestyle.             cies, and  revolutionary  political  ide-  tems in Muslim countries and intro-  According to a report from the
            Fundamentalism can be defined   ologies such as Anarchism and Com-  ducing a highly purist form of Shariah   United  Nations  Office  of  Counter
        as a strict and literal interpretation   munism, serve as ideological drivers   rule as they claim was implemented by   Terrorism:
        of religious scriptures, dogmas, or   for violent extremism and terrorism.  the Prophet and subsequently by the       The notion of ‘radicalization’
        practices and a staunch adherence to   In the domain of counter-terror-  Four Pious Caliphs (the Rashidun).  is generally used [by some States] to
        irreducible  beliefs  or  ‘fundamentals.   ism, the terms radicalism and radical-  The word ‘radicalization’ has   convey the idea of a process through
        In addition, there is great emphasis   ization are commonly used and often   been derived from the word radical-  which an individual adopts an in-
        on distinguishing one’s in-group and   misunderstood.  The  Oxford  Dictio-  ism  and  is  said  to  have  first  gained   creasingly extremist set of beliefs and
        out-group. According to Michael Ber-  nary  succinctly  defines  radicalism  as   currency in the 1930s to refer to the   Continued on next page... >>

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