A working paper by Peter K. Waldman, Real Instituto Elcano.
In recent years the focus of terrorism research has shifted onto the terrorists themselves, and onto militant Islamists in the West in particular. We owe to these studies much knowledge and insight into the process in which average young males can be transformed into individuals willing to kill innocent people. Nevertheless, from a more analytical point of view, there is a lack of a theoretical framework linking these different pieces of knowledge to each other –not an overarching general theory but what Merton would have called a middle-range theory to shed light on the strange phenomenon of ‘homegrown’ terrorism in the West–. The thesis of this working paper is that the concepts of exile and/or diaspora radicalism can be helpful in this context.
In the first section I explain what the term ‘diaspora’ means and why radicalisation is one way of coping with the diaspora situation. The two following sections look more closely at this idea by showing under which circumstances radicalisation is likely and by developing a typology of the different kinds of radical diasporas. In the final section, the process of religious radicalisation is analysed in greater depth, with a special focus on the Muslims in the West.