The Prevention of Terrorism and Rehabilitation of Terrorists: Some Preliminary Thoughts

by Bruce Hoffman

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This paper attempts to identify the factors that produce terrorists in order to arrive at ways of rehabilitating them and of preventing terrorism. It discusses the feelings of alienation--whether for social, economic, political, or psychological reasons--shared by terrorists, and the progression they follow from early, legal protest to acts of terrorism. Based on studies of terrorist prisoners in a number of countries--including Italy, Germany, and Turkey--which have concluded that in many cases it was a matter of chance whether the terrorist joined a left- or right-wing group, the author cautions that attempts at rehabilitation along strict ideological or political lines may be ineffective. The provision of employment opportunities, with the upward social mobility that accompany them may have some effect, but will rarely be enough. Except for those on the lowest social levels, ideas may well be the lever with which to move terrorists and potential terrorists away from terrorism.

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