Preventing Terrorism and Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism: A Community-Policing Approach

2.2.1. What Is Terrorist Radicalization?
The first challenge to tackling VERLT successfully lies in the elusiveness
of the concept. The possible motivations, ideas and other factors that might
drive an individual towards VERLT are various and complex, and no single
factor is necessary or sufficient to account for terrorist radicalization. There
is no single profile of individuals who have become involved with terrorism,
and presumptions based on past or current individual cases are, therefore,
extremely limited in their applicability. Broad profiles built on stereotypical
assumptions based on religion, “race”, ethnicity, sex, or socio-economic status
are not only discriminatory, but also ineffective.21
Radicalization is not a threat to society if it is not connected to violence or
other unlawful acts, such as incitement to hatred, as legally defined in compliance
with international human rights law. Radicalization can actually be
a force for beneficial change. For instance, the political and human rights
advocates who were instrumental in the abolition of slavery, and those who
championed universal suffrage were at one time considered to be radical, as
they stood in opposition to the prevailing views in their societies.
Terrorist radicalization is a process whereby an individual comes to accept
terrorist violence as a possible, perhaps even legitimate, course of action.
This may eventually, but not necessarily, lead this person to advocate, act in
support of, or engage in terrorism. There is, however, no clear-cut pathway
towards terrorism. Terrorist radicalization may occur in a great variety of
circumstances in different ways and at different speeds. Each case of terrorist
radicalization and recruitment for terrorism results from the unique intersection
of an enabling environment with the personal circumstances and psychology
of a given man or woman.