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  • Writer's pictureChinenye Nnamani

Is Deradicalization of Terrorists Enough?

Over the years countries have always fought against insecurity, and measures have been put in place for counterterrorism in the world to ensure peace and security of lives and properties. Amongst such counterterrorism measures is Deradicalisation. Deradicalization programs are efforts put in put in place towards ensuring the peaceful transition of individuals and groups away from violent extremism. It is equally said to be the divorcing process of one voluntarily from their extremist views. Deradicalization programs are said to be soft counter-terrorism measures as it aims to undo the process of radicalization which the individual underwent to become a terrorist to make the individual socially fit to return to society by providing them with a stable support network, probing their original reasons for their initial radicalization disposition, cutting off their relation with extremism, etc. terrorists have been rampaging the Nigerian state for years destroying lives and properties, displacing thousands of people, costing the states both human and capital resources in the fight against insurgents yet terrorism is still on the rise.

As most countries of the world are now adopting soft power approaches to counterterrorism due to the understanding that ideological wars go beyond the use of arms and military force in curbing, the Nigerian government under the Goodluck Ebele Administration made the first attempt at adopting a non-militant approach in dealing with the conflict region; it negotiated with the leaders of the terrorists to developed a framework for amnesty and disarmament but this was not successful. Another framework was set up with the name “Countering Violent Extremism” which used the code name National Security Corridor to tackle the root -causes of recruitment into Boko Haram and rehabilitate defectors from the group. The Buhari Administration set up Operation Safe Corridor, as a de-radicalization program. This initiative was first proposed at the Nigerian National Security Council in 2015. The deradicalization program is for both men, women, and children with two different camps: a camp in Mallam Sidi, Gombe state which is for the male while the Bulumkutu Rehabilitation center in Maiduguri, Borno state for Women and children, but more emphasis would be placed on the male deradicalization program. This program is an intergovernmental program aimed at rehabilitating low-risk repentant Boko Haramists. This program allows men who are eligible to participate in the program which entails several weeks of religious reorient action and re-education, psychosocial support, and vocational training in a military-based facility in Gombe state.

Since repentant terrorists or those who have been captured by the security operatives who are profiled to be low risk are currently undergoing the deradicalization process. The deradicalization process entails psychotherapy, art therapy, and even psychospiritual counseling where their extremist Islamic views are broken down by the Imans through the teaching of and provision of a more acceptable and accommodating interpretation of Islamic texts and values. So, one can say that the process has strong koranic undertones. The process equally provides the participants with opportunities to acquire entrepreneurial skills and the reason for this is that they will have a ready skill set to be productive when they are released into the community.


  • The deradicalization program has been said to be very impractical, the argument is that the radicalization exposure that the insurgents have been subjected to was built up over time and it is something that would be dealt with in under six months.

  • The stigmatization and the suspicion that deradicalized terrorists face can lead to RECIDIVISM. This is because man is a social being if he feels rejected by the community oftentimes one may be pushed to return to the group

  • Many people have accused the government of being insensitive to the plight of those who have suffered terribly at the hands of terrorists. Their stance is that their lives are no longer the same, with no home, no means of sustenance, and the loss of loved ones, and amidst all these, they have received little help from the government. While the government is welcoming the repentant terrorists and even training them to ensure that they can fend for themselves. This argument now begs the question of who is the victim. Those whose lives were destroyed or those who contributed to the destruction of their lives.

  • Another challenge that the program is facing comes from the four pillars of the UN global counterterrorism strategy which stresses the addressing of the conditions which made it favorable for terrorism to spread, measures to prevent and fight terrorism, and finally measures to build state capacity to curb terrorism.

  • Another criticism against this program is that the program is taking place during the active conflict. The reason is that it heightens the risk of secondary displacement in the case of recidivism hence the reason deradicalization should be a post-conflict effort.

  • The program lacks preemptive strategies. This program lay more emphasis on the deradicalization of terrorism and provides no framework for ensuring that non-terrorists are recruited.

  • The environmental factors like insecurity, porous borders, socio-economic conditions, etc. that created a favorable environment for terrorism to strive have not been addressed.

  • The program is shrouded in secrecy and non-disclosure and this lack of transparency undermines the opportunities for those who have participated in the program to be reintegrated.


There is a need to pay attention to context

The socio-economic conditions on the ground that gave rise to terrorism need to be addressed. The program should be woven around the conditions which are prevalent in the communities and climate in which they operate.

Need for effective and efficient improved aftercare in the program. There should be measures put in place to ensure follow-up or monitoring of deradicalized persons who are reintegrated back into society as this can prevent chances of recidivism.

The program should be community inclusive and have a framework for reconciliation and forgiveness. Communities should be enlightened on the importance of the program and the need for them to reconcile and accept them into society and the possible fallouts if they are hostile and stigmatized.

There is a need for enhanced clarity and detailed or strategic communication. The government needs to create open and comprehensive communication with society on the importance of rehabilitation, reintegration, the leniency of victims' rights, socio-economic reconstruction even psycho-sociological sessions for both repentant terrorists and also for the victims.

The government should equally endeavor that the victims are receiving adequate support at the start of a new life; this goes to say that agencies set up in ensuring support for the victims of terrorism should be revamped to provide prompt service delivery.

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