Online De-Radicalization? Countering Violent Extremist Narratives: Message, Messenger and Media Strategy

Is “online de-radicalization” possible? Given the two growing phenomena of “online radicalization” and “behavioral/ideological/organizational de-radicalization,” this article outlines a broad strategy for countering the narratives of violent extremists. It argues that an effective counter-narrative should be built on three pillars. The first is an effective comprehensive message that dismantles and counter-argues against every dimension of the extremist narrative, namely the theological, political, historical, instrumental and sociopsychological dimensions. The second pillar is the messengers. The article argues that for the first time in the history of Jihadism a “critical mass” of former militants, who rebelled not only against the current behaviour of their former colleagues but also against the ideology supporting it, has come into existence. This “critical mass” can constitute the core of credible messengers, especially the few de-radicalized individuals and groups that still maintain influence and respect among vulnerable communities. The third pillar is the dissemination and attraction strategy of the counter-narratives(s) which focuses on the role of the media. The author of the article outlines a broad framework, which is a part of a UN-sponsored, comprehensive research project on countering the extremists narrative.

Tags: CVE, Narratives, Radicalisation