Fighting radicalization in MauritaniaThe Mauritanian government, with the help of outside organizations, has been working to decrease radicalization in Mauritania since the early 2000s. While Islamic terrorist attacks have been effectively stopped, there are still concerns about the spread of extremist views throughout the nation as well as in the surrounding countries. Several Islamic extremist groups have bases in Mauritania, including Al-Qaeda. Fighting radicalization in Mauritania requires a multi-faceted approach that tackles the factors contributing to radicalization and proactively dissuades extremist views from being able to gain traction.

Factors Contributing to Radicalization

The common problems many impoverished countries face include high unemployment, food insecurity, violence and political turmoil, all of which cause great suffering. These issues can sometimes make individuals more likely to adopt extremist views.

In Mauritania, unemployment is high, particularly for the youth with approximately 18.6 percent of 15 to 24-year-olds unemployed. Combined with poverty and a disconnect from political and civic life, this creates a population of young people who feel disillusioned by the options available to them. These individuals may then look for alternative and sometimes extreme methods through which they can exhibit their frustrations.

A majority of the Islamic jihadists in Mauritania are middle or low-income people, the majority of whom are below the age of thirty. Underemployment and delinquency are two additional factors common in the experiences of these individuals.

Racism in Mauritania

Another contributing factor to radicalization in Mauritania is ethno-racial tension. Conflicts between Arab and black Africans go back as far as the 1960s with the government giving preference to the Arab population. For example, when Arab leaders gained control of the nation’s education system, they reformed the system according to their values and mostly excluded black Africans from administrative positions.

Black Africans are also excluded more generally from society. Even those who have assimilated to the Arab culture are more likely to be illiterate, viewed as second-class citizens and sometimes denied basic rights. In combination with the poverty that many black Africans face, these genuine grievances contribute to the appeal of extremist views.

Additionally, it is important to note that much of what Islamic extremists are protesting – authoritarianism, torture, corruption and Mauritania’s relationship with the West – are genuine grievances. While extremism is never tolerable, the presence of these significant problems will continue to create a context in which extremist ideas are considered attractive.

Fighting Radicalization in Mauritania

The government’s efforts to combat terrorism have included arrests, raids, strengthening border control, improving military and intelligence capabilities and cooperating with the United States. While this is an important part of reducing the threat of terrorism, it is also important to implement programs and policies intended to prevent radicalization in Mauritania.

In 2015, the Ministry of Youth and Sport and UNDP created the National Strategy for Youth and Sport to encourage youth participation in society as a method for preventing radicalization. A youth center in the city of Nouakchott began providing opportunities for young people to discuss the problems as well as their aspirations for the future. Young people also participate in educational programming that teaches them important skills for employment. Discussion forums hosted by the center help train young people to recognize and resist extremist rhetoric and give them the tools to engage in productive dialogue in their communities.

One high school student indicated that her goal is to become a surgeon, but without the support of the youth center, she wouldn’t be prepared for this level of education. Another student expressed the desire to become a teacher and noted that he was “struck by the ignorance that still exists in poor suburbs, and by the lack of teachers in rural areas.” His hope was to be able to help by teaching in those communities.

Another participant noted that being unemployed and religious, he had been “tempted in the past by extremist ideas because of intense frustration,” but the center steered him away from radicalization through training sessions and debates. Over time, he recognized that he had a place in society and began to feel less disillusioned. Centers like the one in Nouakchott are essential for preventing extremism amongst Mauritania’s youth by providing an opportunity to engage in dialogue as well as prepare for a successful future.

Moving Forward

UNDP is also working with the government to create other projects aimed at fighting radicalization in Mauritania. It is focused on tackling the root causes. Starting with the youth is important, but based on the contributions poverty and ethno-racial tensions play in promoting extremism, these issues also need to be addressed more fully in counter-terrorism efforts.

Moving forward, extremism needs to be more fully recognized as a product of poverty and inequality. Efforts to decrease radicalization in Mauritania, therefore, should focus on decreasing poverty more broadly as well as promoting human rights for all Mauritanians. Only through a multi-faceted approach that seeks to tackle the factors contributing to extremism in the nation will fighting radicalization in Mauritania become truly successful.

Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

St. Petersburg
On April 3, 2017, 14 people died and 64 were injured when an explosive device detonated in the St. Petersburg metro. The perpetrator, Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, who also died in the explosion, came to St. Petersburg in 2011 from Osh, Kyrgyzstan to work as a car mechanic. Upon reviewing Dzhalilov’s online record and talking with witnesses, Russia’s Federal Security Services found links to Islamist websites on his social media, as well as evidence that he had become withdrawn and quiet two months before his suicide bombing.

The St. Petersburg attack brought Russia’s approach to counter-extremism to the spotlight. More than 2,000 Russians have gone off to fight for ISIS, making Russia the largest contributor of ISIS fighters. While some of these fighters harbor resentments dating back to ethnic wars in the 1990s, others saw ISIS as an opportunity to escape from poor economic opportunities and blatant discrimination at home.

History of Chaos

When the Soviet Union fell in 1991, Chechnya, a majority Muslim, southern region of Russia, descended into chaos. Boris Yeltsin, the first president of Russia, pushed for a decentralization of government but would not go as far as to legitimize Chechen separatists’ independence movement. Interethnic conflict engulfed the Caucasus region, with hundreds of thousands of Ingush people and Chechens fleeing from the destruction of their communities. This legacy of insurgency and violence is one of the main causes of radicalization in Russia, especially in the Northern Caucasus, which remains Russia’s most radicalized region even today.

Radical Islamists tend to be concentrated in cities with high concentrations of migrant workers, particularly in the oil-producing cities of Tyumen and Khanty-Mansiysk. In fact, close to 200,000 Chechens, Ingush and Dagestanis live in West Siberia.

Disenfranchisement

Labor migrants from Central Asia face xenophobia after arriving in Russia. In August 2016, one poll administered by the Levada Center found that 52 percent of Russians believe in a “Russia for ethnic Russians.” The same poll found that 39 percent of Russians feel that immigrants destroy Russian culture. Feeling out-of-place as a minority, these migrants seek community and protection in local mosques, breeding grounds for recruitment into radical Islamic groups. In fact, mosques are the main sites of recruitment, according to the Search for Common Good Organization.

Law enforcement and security agencies alienate Muslims by promulgating propaganda that belittles their beliefs. A Wilson Center report details how law enforcement officials in Russia plant drugs while searching the homes of Muslims, only to arrest and jail them later. Intimidated by state pressure, these Muslims seek recluse in the ranks of ISIS.

Social Media

In order to target and entice potential recruits, terrorist groups use social media and online forums. VKontakte, a popular Russian social media site, was the go-to for ISIS supporters and recruiters until the company began shutting down content that promoted the terrorist group in September 2014. To work around these restrictions, ISIS now uses its own Furat Media to disseminate propaganda.

Russia has implemented stringent counter-extremism laws, to the point that some critics worry about an invasion of piracy. A 2014 Extremism Law gave authorities the power to ban websites and social media accounts without a court order. In the span of 11 months, between February and December 2015, Russia banned 512 websites. Moreover, the 2016 Yarovaya Law forces digital providers to store clients’ data for a minimum of six months and make these records available to the Federal Security Services.

Financial Woes

Extremist groups recruit financially vulnerable migrants with promises of stable jobs and a network of support. More than 28 percent of interviewees in a survey by the Search for Common Ground organization said that the prospect of stable jobs and salaries attracted them to ISIS recruiters. This issue is compounded for undocumented migrants in Russia, who are much more vulnerable financially.

While the Russian government’s counter-extremism laws are harsh, its official rhetoric against its Muslim population, 11.7 percent according to the Pew Research Center, has the unintended consequence of promoting radicalization.

The time is now for Russia to consider more than just its censorship of extremist content. The country must, first and foremost, eradicate the root causes of radicalization, addressing state-sponsored discrimination, financial insecurity and minority rights.

– Mark Blekherman
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid Is a Matter of National Security
In February of 2018, the Trump administration released a budget proposal indicating deep 29 percent budget cuts to the state department and steady 13 percent increases to the defense department. These state department cuts materialize into $16.2 billion taken away from the previous $55.6 billion allocated in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. The Trump Administration justifies the cuts by stating that aid will remain in the accounts of “friends” of our future foreign policy decisions.

Ramifications of the 2018 Budget Proposal

Meanwhile, the proposed budget increases the amount of money spent on national defense by 13 percent, raising the $600 billion budget to nearly $690 billion. The increased defense budget will be used to completely update the United States’ nuclear arsenal and increase the amount of ground-based missile interceptors in Alaska working to address the increased threat of the Korean Peninsula.

Assessing nuclear threats is a fair concern and position for the United States government to take, however it should not come at the expense of drastically decreasing foreign aid. In truth, foreign aid is a matter of national security.

Foreign Aid is a Matter of National Security

While it may not appear obvious at first, foreign aid is known and regarded by many U.S. military officials as beneficial to United States foreign policy and national security. To illustrate, in 2017-retired General Mike Mullen and retired Admiral James Jones wrote a piece explaining the hands-on benefits they saw foreign aid bring in leading American troops.

Both officials explain that military power alone cannot prevent despair within vulnerable countries from turning into outbursts of violence and instability. Robust foreign aid should not be looked upon as a no-strings-attached giveaway to the poorest nations in the world, but rather as stability enhancement to places most susceptible to radical influence.

Threat of Extremism

The generals explain that countries with limited social hope and foreign assistance are the most prone to radicalization that materializes into extremism. Terror organizations like Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, Boko Haram and ISIS take root in countries with common characteristics — instability and poor governance. These terror cells bring about a sense of social support that citizens do not believe their public officials and service programs will be able to provide them.

The former military officials further explain that Congress can, and should, fully fund the International Affairs Budget, as the funding leads to active approaches from the U.S. government, non-government organizations and in-country support to provide services that meet citizens’ basic needs.

Foreign Aid and the Military

Moreover, foreign aid goes hand-in-hand with a strong military. Without support after a strong U.S. military presence, countries can remain unstable and vulnerable to extremist influence. Therefore, foreign aid creates proactive conflict-prevention strategies which are far less expensive in resources and expended lives than reactionary use of United States Armed Forces.

In 2013, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis bluntly summarized the words of the retired officials and explains why foreign aid is a matter of national security: “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately. So I think it’s a cost benefit ratio. The more that we put into the State Department’s diplomacy, hopefully the less we have to put into a military budget…”

Diplomacy is ultimately less expensive than the wars that a lack of diplomacy brings about. While a strong military is considerably important in 2018 and beyond, cutting foreign aid to increase military spending weakens our strength as a nation, a role model and peacekeeper.

The words of these military officials should be kept in mind in future policy decisions so as to clearly explain why foreign aid is a matter of national security.

– Daniel Levy
Photo: Unsplash

poverty's role in terrorism
There seems to be a close connection between poverty and terrorism. In fact, many argue that poverty breeds terrorism. Even if it does not do so in a direct manner, one only needs to look closer to find the intricate ties between poverty and terrorism. Poverty’s role in terrorism becomes clearer when viewed through the lens of interconnectedness that unravels and unpacks the consequences of poverty. For instance, poverty often deprives people of an adequate education and can lead to marginalization in society, both of which can result in extremist beliefs among impoverished people. These 10 facts about poverty’s role in terrorism make the connection clearer.

10 Facts About Poverty’s Role in Terrorism

  1. The world’s most dangerous nations are also among the poorest. For instance, the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) in 2012 revealed that lower-middle-income countries accounted for seven of the 10 countries most affected by terrorism. Nations such as Iraq, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, which were among the 10 most dangerous countries, also struggle with rampant poverty.
  2. Poverty often deprives people of the ability to obtain an adequate education, and a lack of education leaves many people vulnerable to negative influences. Oftentimes, children from low income or extremely poor families only able to receive an education at madrassas or religious schools, which are targeted by violent extremists looking to indoctrinate and recruit innocent youngsters. Additionally, the top ten most dangerous countries in the 2012 GTI consisted of nations with high illiteracy rates.
  3. Impoverished people often grow up in marginalized and poor areas, which are overlooked by the government. A deep sense of marginalization can lead such people to engage in terrorist activities.
  4. Poverty often goes hand-in-hand with poor governance in a nation. In fact, sometimes poor governance continues the cycle of poverty. Poor people in such nations often feel marginalized not only because of their status but also the hopelessness that comes with the justified mistrust in their government. As a result, they might join groups that promote extremist actions in order to feel like they are being heard and their needs are being considered.
  5. Feelings of deprivation that are caused by being unemployed or the fear of unemployment can lead to extremist thoughts in people, thereby inviting them to engage in terrorist activities. For instance, a 2005 study found a significant positive correlation between state-level unemployment and the incidence of right-wing extremist crimes.
  6. Poor healthcare or lack of access to healthcare is very common in poor countries. In fact, most of the 10 most dangerous countries in the 2012 GTI are also among the places where the most people die from preventable diseases.
  7. More than the lack of material resources, the feeling that an individual cannot make meaningful life choices to alter their living conditions can also lead some to engage in desperate acts. Poverty strips people of their dignity, opportunities and meaningful choices.
  8. Terrorist groups’ community development activities demonstrate a link between insurgency and extreme poverty. For instance, Hamas spends most of its resources providing social, cultural, welfare and educational activities for the Palestinian people, and the Taliban built madrassas to offer free education to poor children in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  9. Even among those living in first world countries, a propensity toward terrorism has been found in groups that live below the poverty line. For instance, according to a 2008 Census Bureau study, American Somalis, 82 percent of whom live near or below the poverty line, are the largest group traveling to fight with jihadist groups abroad.
  10. World leaders agree that poverty is linked to terrorism. For instance, in reference to budget cuts, Secretary of Defense James Mattis famously said, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately.”

These 10 facts about poverty’s role in terrorism demonstrate that a lack of access to basic necessities can make people desperate enough to engage in terrorist activities. Hopefully, acknowledging poverty as one of the root causes of terrorism will help people find ways to eradicate it altogether.

– Mehruba Chowdhury

Photo: Flickr

How the U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to MaliA landlocked country in West Africa, Mali gained its independence from France in 1960. It is the eighth largest country in Africa and its population currently consists of 18 million people. As one of the world’s younger nations, Mali still faces many challenges, from the effects of heavy rainfalls and floods to human rights violations such as terrorism and trafficking. In order to overcome these challenges, Mali needs foreign aid. However, there are many ways that the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Mali.

Since its inception as an independent country, Mali has maintained diplomatic relations with the U.S. Over the years, the foreign aid Mali received from the U.S. has helped it to foster democracy and reduce poverty in the country. For instance, conflict in the country since 2012 has resulted in displacement, and food insecurity still remains an issue in Mali. Due to the foreign aid it received through USAID, Mali has been able to improve the availability of food and basic services, which led to the return of 60,200 displaced people to their areas of origin. Additionally, aid through USAID/OFDA helps improve access to emergency healthcare, protection services, safe drinking water and sanitation infrastructure in Mali.

 

Eradication of Extremism

Similarly, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Mali since it is committed to the eradication of extremism. Extremism negatively impacts every nation including the U.S., and the focus on Mali is crucial, as it has been called the deadliest country for U.N. peacekeepers. Extremist groups have carried out violent attacks in the country, and most of the recruits associated with such groups explained that their actions were not affected by their religious beliefs. In fact, they expressed the anger they felt due to the longstanding neglect of their communities, which led them to seek a sense of community in extremist groups. In order to eradicate extremism, the USAID has taken some key steps.

Utilizing locally-informed assessment and analysis, USAID has focused on “youth empowerment, social and economic inclusion, media and messaging, improving local governance, reconciliation and conflict mitigation.” The USAID tailors its activities to meet specific threat levels, the political environment and other material needs of each community, especially focusing on groups that need more assistance, such as at-risk young men. Armed bandits and extremists still occupy northern Mali, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of the country. Poor governance and extreme poverty contribute to the rise of extremist groups, which is why many of the USAID activities focus on improving these areas.

For instance, in order to stop the spread of extremism and foster development, USAID and Mali have jointly taken a different approach than previous ones that concentrated more on individual projects. USAID and Mali will target the country’s institutional weaknesses while contributing to ending extreme poverty, and the projected $600 million in investments for fiscal years 2016-2010 will focus on four key objectives:

  • Stabilization of Conflict-Affected Areas Reinforced (transition)
  • Public Trust in Government Improved (governance)
  • Adaptive Capacity of Vulnerable Communities and Households Improved (resilience)
  • Socio-Economic Well-Being Advanced (prosperity)

Combating Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is another serious issue in the country. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Mali because it is committed to fighting human trafficking globally, and Mali is a source, transit and destination country for women, men and children subjected to forced sex and labor trafficking. The government of Mali does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking. Hence, the aid it receives from the U.S. makes a considerable difference. For example, foreign aid from the U.S. through the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons provides not only crucial training and technical assistance, but also child protection compact partnerships, emergency victim assistance and research projects that focus on innovative ways to combat human trafficking.

In short, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Mali because the latter is facing some dangerous challenges that the U.S. has committed to eradicating. By working together with Mali, the U.S. could help put an end to the violence that is caused by extremism and human trafficking.

– Mehruba Chowdhury

Photo: Flickr


Genocide is the deliberate killing of a large group of people, usually based on their ethnicity. Although most well-known genocides are in the past, they still occur today. Less-developed countries with high poverty rates are particularly prone to genocidal attacks launched by corrupt governments or terrorist groups. According to George Mason University professor Gregory H. Stanton, the stages of genocide are nonlinear, predictable and preventable. There are ten stages of genocide, and each stage can be stopped if preventive measures are taken.

Ten Stages of Genocide

  1. Classification: Human beings tend to distinguish people into “us and them” at many levels. People can be categorized by their ethnicity, nationality, race or religion. Societies with mixed categories, such as Burundi and Rwanda, are at greater risk of genocide. This early stage can be prevented by establishing institutions that integrate identities and promote tolerance.
  1. Symbolization: Names and symbols are assigned to classified people. They are defined by specific terms, color or dress. Without dehumanization, symbolization does not necessarily result in genocide. Political institutions can ban group marking and hate symbols, but these bans must be supported by popular culture enforcement. Denying symbolization can also be powerful.
  1. Discrimination: A dominant group of people denies the rights of other groups. The powerless group may be deprived of citizenship, civil rights or voting rights. Combatting discrimination requires full political empowerment and citizenship rights for all groups of people. Discrimination on any basis can be outlawed, and individuals can retain the right to appeal if their rights are violated.
  1. Dehumanization: A group of people denies the humanity of another group. One group is regarded as less than human—or even alien—to the society. To prevent dehumanization, hate speech and hate crimes can be outlawed, leaders who incite genocide can have their movement restricted.
  1. Organization: Genocide requires organization and is typically orchestrated by the state. States often use militias, but organization may be informal or decentralized. This stage can be averted by outlawing membership in genocidal militias, banning genocidal leaders from international travel and imposing arms embargos on countries involved in genocide.
  1. Polarization: Extremists may further divide groups by forbidding intermarriage and social interaction. Hate groups may also broadcast polarizing propaganda. This can be curbed by protecting moderate leaders, assisting human rights groups and seizing extremist assets.
  1. Preparation: Plans are made for genocidal killing where leaders propose the a solution to the problem of the targeted group. Leaders disguise genocide as self-defense and may refer to it as “counter-terrorism,” “ethnic cleansing” or “purification.” This stage can be halted by imposing arms embargos and commissions to enforce them; this includes prosecution of incitement and conspiracy to commit genocide, both of which are crimes under Article Three of the Genocide Convention.
  1. Persecution: Targeted groups are identified and separated from the population. Victims may be segregated into ghettos or deported to concentration camps. They are deliberately deprived of resources such as food and water, and their human rights are systematically abused. Genocidal massacres commence. A Genocide Emergency may be declared at this stage, whereby armed international intervention and humanitarian assistance should be provided.
  1. Extermination: Mass extermination begins and quickly becomes “genocide.” At this advanced stage, only rapid and intense intervention can prevent genocide. Refugee escape corridors and safe areas can be established.
  1. Denial: Denial lasts throughout and follows genocide as perpetrators attempt to destroy any evidence that indicates a genocide occurred. Denial can be combatted through legal punishment of perpetrators and education in schools and the media.

Genocide Watch has three levels of Genocide Alerts: Genocide Watch is declared when early warning signs indicate potential persecution, Genocide Warning is called when massacres occur and genocide is imminent, and Genocide Emergency is declared when genocide is underway.

There are currently eight Genocide Emergencies declared to be occurring around the world. Understanding the stages of genocide can prevent further genocidal massacres.

– Carolyn Gibson

Photo: Flickr

Social InclusionNearly 15,000 foreign jihadists have moved to join the IS effort, according to a recent United Nations estimate. The actions taken by extremist groups have had devastating effects all over the world. Initiatives, global collaborative efforts and legislative conquests have been directed at minimizing tragedies by stopping them at their source. Experts argue that social inclusion can help thwart violent extremism.

The World Leadership Alliance Club de Madrid, in partnership with several democratic institutions, including the U.S Department of State, meets regularly to discuss global issues and methods of conciliation.

In October 2015, the Madrid Agenda arose from the conversations. The document describes how basal involvement in combination with an engaged society, including local religious and community leaders, youths, families and women is one of the best ways to prevent extremism. The agenda created a 10-point framework based on hundreds of voices that spoke out against recurring themes that give rise to violent extremism in various countries.

The framework focuses heavily on social inclusion. Despite direct causal links between poverty and extremism, combating economic hardship is a moral imperative: “Where systematic exclusion creates injustice, humiliation and unfair treatment, it can produce a toxic mix that allows violent extremism to flourish,” the address explains.

The 10 Madrid Goals Summarized
The Madrid Agenda counseled for accountable and transparent governments that advocate for the rights of all citizens. There is an emphasis on equal access to opportunity and meaningful employment for qualified citizens.

Local leaders are motivated to act as peaceful role models for the disenfranchised and be conduits of communication and adjudicators on a regional level.

The goals similarly promote peaceful and meaningful modes of free expression without repercussion, giving agency to silenced and oppressed voices.

Involving Social Media
Gilles de Kerchove has been the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator for the past 10 years. In a 2017 interview, the coordinator proposed an initiative that would block IS propaganda that aims to reach and recruit thousands of potential jihadists.

In the wake of the Brussels terrorist attacks, Kerchove mentioned issues of social discrimination and questioning identity. He admits that these injustices often lead to radicalization. Socially polarized individuals often seek out sympathetic companionship and a sense of belonging. What quicker way to find like-minded people than through the Internet?

Kerchove mentioned the collaborative efforts major social media companies have already taken to more efficiently remove and prevent the sharing of illegal content. They have also engaged social responsibility with the empowerment of moderate voices via the Civil Society Empowerment Program.

Digital evidence also plays a major role in securing convictions against extremist recruitment. With more compliance and support of social media apps and means, digital evidence will facilitate the incrimination of recruiters more effectively.

A Hopeful Future
A nation is much like the human body; they are both capable of great things. The body automatically fights pathogens, heals wounds and endures extreme pressures; a well-run nation can fight poverty, ameliorate social inclusion and endure tragedy.

When we get sick, we visit the doctor. We may be prescribed medication or a regimen designed to heal the body and eliminate the ailment. Our first question is not “what can we amputate or lobotomize?” Instead, we ask “where is it coming from, how can we fix it?” In a country, when a source of pain and illness is identified, the best way to fix the problem is by the same means. The strategies outlined by the aformentioned groups aim to do just that.

Sloan Bousselaire

Photo: Flickr

Four major socioeconomic factors correlate significantly with the cultivation of extremism in developing nations: youth unemployment, militarization, levels of criminality, access to weapons and corruption.

These factors strengthen the four drivers of radicalization that arise in developed countries: historic conflict, corruption, acceptance of human rights and the marginalization of groups.

Two major categories of socioeconomic conditions that lead to extremism include relative deprivation and general corruption. These ideas largely capture the four elements that are common among both developing and developed nations where radicalization is most common.

Relative Deprivation
Relative deprivation is the discrepancy between individuals’ expectations of justice and the state and an opposing reality and is a precursor to radicalization.

Kartika Bhatia and Hafez Ghanem argue that unemployment and underemployment can increase the likelihood of violent extremism, explaining the positive relationship between relative deprivation and radicalization. Furthermore, those with secondary educations who are unemployed or underemployed have the highest risk of becoming radicalized.

The Global Terrorism Index discloses that those who move to Syria to become an ISIL foreign fighter experience relative deprivation in that they typically have high educations but low incomes.

Corruption
According to the Global Terrorism Index, acts of terror between 1989 and 2014, “93 percent of all terrorist attacks occurred in countries with state-sponsored terror including extra-judicial deaths, torture and imprisonment without trial” versus only 0.5 percent of countries not experiencing political terror suffering from internal terrorist acts.

Poor socioeconomic conditions like widespread poverty can lead to political instability that reinforces antidemocratic values and the disenfranchisement of citizens. This reciprocal relationship between poor socioeconomic circumstances and corruption negatively influence one another, both factors swelling each other’s occurrence.

The report also notes that “when group grievances against the state are high, and the opportunity cost of joining a rebellion is low, groups are most likely to form”.

Today and the Future
Despite it all, there is good news. In 2016, the number of terrorist attacks and deaths from the attacks have both declined by 10 percent.

A decrease in the number of instances is significant and certainly good news. But getting to the root of what is causing radicalization is the best strategy to ameliorate the socioeconomic conditions that lead to extremism in general.

The creation of anti-corruption measures is being enforced globally. The United Nations Convention Against Corruption recognizes the destructive effects that corruption has on citizens. Postulating corruption as a global issue, the convention proposes a set of regulations that fights to eliminate corruption both before and after it occurs.

Matthew Murray, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, takes the position that freedom from official corruption is a human right and international law should reflect that.

The legal advocacy of recognizing corruption as a crime against human rights is a fundamental step toward global initiatives that will combat corruption preying on vulnerable nations.

Sloan Bousselaire

Photo: Flickr