Prevent Radicalization to Violence

Why and How People Radicalize to Violence in Canada?

Radicalization to violence is not a phenomenon that uniquely affects individuals of any particular background, culture or religion. The socio-economic circumstances, levels of education, experiences of marginalization, and religious affiliations of individuals who have radicalized to violence in Canada are extremely diverse. Nonetheless, a number of factors can influence an individual’s path to radicalization to violence. These can be specific to the individual or can be based in their immediate surroundings, or in society at large. In all cases, however, the justification for the use of violence is tied to some form of extremist ideology or belief system. Any one factor on its own is not typically enough to motivate an individual to commit violence. Generally, numerous factors interact to propel individuals towards radicalization to violence.

These may include:

Social Networks: Close friends and family can influence an individual’s interest in an extremist ideology that calls for violence. Online communities can exert a similar influence.

Grievances: Some individuals become so preoccupied with a social injustice—real or perceived—that they join an extremist group that promises to challenge it through violence. These grievances can range from feeling personally discriminated against to perceived injustices occurring abroad.
Vulnerabilities: In some cases, individuals may be seeking to escape from or solve personal problems (e.g. poor family relationships, debt, etc.)

Sense of Belonging: Similar to joining criminal gangs, joining violent extremist groups or causes can make individuals feel like they are part of a group.

Inclination Towards Violence: Some individuals are simply attracted to violence, while others are drawn to the perceived heroic roles promised to those who join violent extremist or terrorist groups.

What is Radicalisation?

“Dynamic process whereby an individual increasingly accepts and supports violent extremism. The reasons behind this process can be ideological, political, religious, social, economic or personal.” [30] “Process involving significant change in an individual’s or group’s orienting beliefs and motivations. Through processes of radicalisation some people will come to assume an extremist viewpoint, wherein they are willing to countenance or enact violence in pursuit of their goals.” [30]

Radicalization is a process by which an individual or a group gradually adopts extreme positions or ideologies that are opposed to the status quo and challenge mainstream ideas.

Radicalization to violence is the process by which individuals and groups adopt an ideology and/or belief system that justifies the use of violence in order to advance their cause.

RCMP NSCI — “Radicalization — A Guide for the Perplexed — June 2009”
Radicalization is a critical subset of the terrorist threat. The RCMP defines radicalization as the process by which individuals—usually young people—are introduced to an overtly ideological message and belief system that encourages movement from moderate, mainstream beliefs towards extreme views. While radical thinking is by no means problematic in itself, it becomes a threat to national security when Canadian citizens or residents espouse or engage in violence or direct action as a means of promoting political, ideological or religious extremism. Sometimes referred to as “homegrown terrorism,” this process of radicalization is more correctly referred to as domestic radicalization leading to terrorist violence. The nuances of this definition are critical. The English word “radical” comes from the Latin radis, or “root.” Its connotation (as in the word “radish”) is of being buried in the ground, rooted, fundamental. So a radical is a person who wishes to effect fundamental political, economic or social change, or change from the ground up.