Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 05/2011

Transforming Terrorists: Examining International Efforts to Address Violent Extremism

Naureen Chowdhury Fink, Hamed El-Said

May 2011

International Peace Institute


Efforts to promote “deradicalization,” or to rehabilitate detainees charged with terrorism-related offenses, have taken multiple forms in a wide range of countries, often as part of broader counterradicalization strategies that seek to prevent the adoption of violent extremist ideologies or behaviors in the first place. Some are more formal rehabilitation programs, with well-defined agendas, institutional structures, and a dedicated full-time staff, while others are a looser combination of social and political initiatives. Programs vary in their objectives, their criteria for participation, and the kinds of benefits and incentives they might offer. The cumulative lessons learned from several states’ experiences in dealing with violent extremist groups are of growing interest to countries now facing similar challenges.