It has now been five years since the events of the “Arab Spring,” and initial optimism about lasting democratic reforms and an era of lessened tensions has been replaced by fear and skepticism. Many countries are now experiencing greater instability and violence than before. The vestiges of Al Qaeda in Iraq have morphed into the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (or the Levant)—ISIS or ISIL, sweeping through Iraq and Syria and leaving behind much death and destruction. The growth of violent extremism initiated by Al Qaeda and its radical interpretation of the Islamic ideology is continuing. ISIL’s deft manipulation of social media to compel and mobilize individuals to act out violently is both remarkable and frightening.
Joint Chiefs of Staff White Paper on Social and Cognitive Neuroscience Underpinnings of ISIL Behavior
This White Paper makes a significant contribution to the study of terrorist behavior in general and ISIL behavior in particular. Unique in this work is the melding of neuroscientific considerations about the basic structures and functions of the brain with social and cultural influences in order to provide a holistic insight into the motivations for terrorist behaviors. Importantly, this paper also explores the relationship between the narratives that support terrorist behavior and the neuro-cognitive processes that contribute to those behaviors. That relationship is accurately portrayed as symbiotic in the sense that one can only truly understand seemingly aberrant behavior if one understands the continuous ebb and flow of chemical and cultural influences that are manifested in an individual’s actions.
Netherlands National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism Global Jihadism and Radicalization Analysis
This report looks in greater depth at the phenomenon of global jihadism and how it manifests itself in the Netherlands. It addresses the question of what global jihadism actually involves and what factors have led to its current revival. We must try to understand jihadism and the form it takes in the Netherlands: an understanding of this phenomenon, and of its underlying processes and motives, is a vital prerequisite for devising an appropriate approach. This analysis therefore starts with the ideology behind jihadism. It will also reflect on the process of radicalisation that occurs before a person embraces extremist views. After all, in order to intervene effectively to halt radicalisation it is important to understand the potential appeal of extremist ideas and why some people are susceptible to them.