The Radicalization of Diasporas and Terrorism

A Joint Conference by the RAND Corporation and the Center for Security Studies, ETH Zurich

by Bruce Hoffman, William Rosenau, Andrew J. Curiel, Doron Zimmermann


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Over the past two years, certain Diaspora communities, frustrated with a perceived war against the Muslim world, have turned against their adopted homelands, targeting the government and its people by supporting terrorist attacks against Western countries through recruitment, fundraising, and training. Critical issues include incidents that prove these communities will indeed attack their adopted homelands; that recruits come from converts to Islam, first-generation migrants disaffected with their new society, and second-generation failed assimilations; that Diasporas create financial lifelines to propagandize, recruit, raise funds, procure weapons, and that they lobby their adopted governments to pressure the government of their country of origin. Second- and third-generation immigrants who oppose their home governments represent adversaries almost impossible to profile. Many share a growing sense of aggrievement and frustration with a perceived war against the Muslim world by the West, fueled by events in Iraq, Palestine, and the Balkans. The challenge is to identify emerging threats in Diaspora communities, but to avoid alienating these groups and becoming forced to follow only reactive policies with regard to this growing threat.

The research in this conference proceeding was conducted within the Intelligence Policy Center (IPC) of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD). NSRD conducts research and analysis for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Commands, the defense agencies, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Intelligence Community, allied foreign governments, and foundations. The conference was cosponsored by the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich, a Swiss academic center of competence that specializes in research, teaching, and information services in the fields of international relations and security policy.

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