Adopting an extremist worldview, which many mainstream societies find repugnant, and one that seems to consider committing violence as a means of bringing about political and societal change, is what is meant by radicalization. Many countries throughout the world are being impacted by the threat of terrorism brought on by the growth in radicalization. The challenge of identifying and halting terrorist groups’ radicalization is one that the security agencies and the governments must undertake with great vigor. Individual or group grievances, having a prior network, the prevalence of ideological themes and narratives, the presence of support structures and permissive settings, are all traits that predispose people to being radicalized. Network traits are quite effective at predicting the likelihood that someone may get radicalized. It also has some limits in explaining radicalization.
The presence of network system has a great advantage in recruiting people into radicalization since it is capable of reaching out a vast audience. An individual tends to join violent groups most especially when they have a friend or family members belonging to the movement (Mullins & Hafez, 2015). It helps in predicting the process of radicalization since the radicals will find a favorable recruitment environment in the preexistent networks like faith-based and educational institutions and the social movements. The extent of a strong network with other radicals can help in explaining radicalization since people will end up having shared ideas and believes that will trigger them into being members of a particular group.
It can also be predictable if a person is having a close connection with family or friend known to be part of a violent group and most especially when they are meeting in certain places previously identified to be recruiting joints. The networks facilitate members into being radicals by linking individuals sharing common beliefs thus creating a collective identity (Mullins & Hafez, 2015). It is easier to predict the intent of radicalization by identifying members who are having a collective identity or shared unity with persons suspected to be radicals. The characteristics will quickly help the governments and the social groups to identify people with the intent of radicalization since they will have high trust with the other radicals.
The social networks also play a significant role in motivating persons to be radicalized. It is cheap to detect the individuals with this intent since there is no transportation logistics and the relevant persons can easily access the sites from different locations within the globe. The social media companies help in predicting the intent of radicalization since they have terms of service policies that state that they do not condone organized criminal activities or terrorist activities. Thus, they can help in predicting a person posting information implying that they intend to be radicals.
A significant limitation with the predictions of radicalization through the social network is that the radicals use the dark and deep web that is a difficult area to monitor. The internet architecture has hidden storage sites and file repositories where persons interested can share their ideas on how to be radicalized. The hidden layers are usually unknown to the public. Therefore, it can be difficult for the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to detect. The radical groups tend to adopt more significant vigilance against the law enforcement agencies activities, and they develop innovative security measures to protect their information from infiltration.
Another limitation with this characteristic is that people can be having close relationships with friends and families suspected to be members of the violent group with no intention of being radicals. Thus, it is challenging to speculate merely that a person plans to be radical because they are relating to people belonging to those groups. It can also be challenging to infringe on people’s personal lives with the aim of investigating whether their close relations with family and friends predict the intent of being radicalized.
Mullins, C., & Hafez, M. (2015). The radicalization puzzle: a theoretical synthesis of empirical approaches to homegrown extremism. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism.