RCMP NSCI — “
Radicalization — A Guide for the Perplexed —
Radicalization is a critical subset o the terrorist threat. Te RCMP denesradicalization as the process by which individuals — usually young people — areintroduced to an overtly ideological message and belie system that encouragesmovement rom moderate, mainstream belies towards extreme views. While radicalthinking is by no means problematic in itsel, it becomes a threat to national security when Canadian citizens or residents espouse or engage in violence or direct actionas a means o promoting political, ideological or religious extremism. Sometimesreerred to as “homegrown terrorism,” this process o radicalization is more correctly reerred to as domestic radicalization leading to terrorist violence.Te nuances o this denition are critical. Te English word “radical” comes romthe Latin
, or “root.” Its connotation (as in the word “radish”) is o being buriedin the ground, rooted, undamental. So a radical is a person who wishes to eectundamental political, economic or social change, or change rom the ground up.
Is Radicalization Bad?
As stated in the RCMP denition, radical thinking is not necessarily problematic.Most progress has been an outcome o some orm o radicalization and the mindsetthat accompanies it. Martin Luther King was considered a radical, as were a host o other people that we now view as important and entirely legitimate historical gures,rom Moses, Mohammed and Jesus to Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Gloria Steinem.In some cases, even violent radicals have later been deemed to be acting in the nameo causes that were just. John Brown, the 19th century American abolitionist is anexample o such an individual. All o us have views and opinions that others would dene as radical, i not extreme.Radical thought and action does not necessarily translate into terrorism. In act,radicals can play a highly positive role, both in their communities and in the largerpolitical context (although admittedly this role is oten only acknowledged ater theact). Again, radical views only become a problem when they are used to promote orcondone violence or other orms o extremist behavior, including terrorism.
What is Radicalization?