Causes of violent extremism

The following factors have been identified from research into violent groupings around the world. They indicate an increased likelihood of individuals deciding to involve themselves in a specific campaign of violence: The existence of a grievance or perceived injustice by a sub-group of the population. Age and gender (terrorist acts are generally committed by young males aged 15 to 25). Past family involvement with, or support for, the movement. Community support for the insurgent group, or high status associated with membership of the group. Coercion or conscription into the movement. Eventual membership as a result of an incremental process of increasing acts of insurgence. Vengeance as the individual feels a need to hit back and right wrongs. To become a member of an armed group there must be an organisation that the individual has the opportunity to join, and that wants his or her membership. (Based on Ferguson, Burgess and Hollywood (2008)) What is noticeable from this list is that religion is not included as having a direct causal relationship with violence. It has been suggested that religious ideology may have more to do with binding a group of people together. Ultimately, focusing on a small range of factors such as religious ideology or mental health does not enable us to explain why some people get involved in violent extremism. Many experts agree that there is no single pathway to violent extremism. It may be more productive to focus on asking how violence becomes legitimate in the mind of the perpetrator and, more importantly, to explore the political circumstances and the kinds of political narratives which are required for violence to be seen as legitimate.

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