Quitting Violent Extremism: Motivations for Disengagement
Gillah, Roland A.
- Among the thousands of young men flocking to violent groups across the Middle East, there are a number of individuals who have willingly chosen to quit fighting. Using firsthand accounts from fighters who left groups such as the GIA, Hizb ut-Tahrir, Hamas, Al Qaeda, and the Gama‘a Islamiyya, this Senior Honors Thesis examines four distinct questions. Firstly, it lays out the common processes of di... read moresengagement from violent groups among the different accounts, highlighting that fighters leave groups first and foremost to protect themselves or those they care about. Secondly, it addresses the key motivations for disengagement, specifically that the primary reasons are existential, that the secondary reasons tend towards frustration with their groups, and that their tertiary reasons are rooted in guilt. Thirdly, the thesis examines common triggers among the different individuals, and finally the thesis looks at the question of ideology: whether a complete change of beliefs (de-radicalization) is necessary for a fighter to choose to end violent behavior (disengagement) and quit a group.read less