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jihad/terror, just sharing, perspective, radicalisation / counter-radicalisation

Radicalisation in the Diaspora: Why Muslims in the West Attack Their Host Countries (WP) – Elcano

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[1] 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.


About Muhammad Haniff Hassan

Muhammad Haniff Bin Hassan is a Fellow. He holds a PhD and M.Sc. in Strategic Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (previously known as the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies), Nanyang Technological University. He received his early education in Aljunied Islamic School. He then continued his tertiary education at the Faculty of Islamic Studies, National University of Malaysia, with honours in Syar`iah and Civil law. Mr. Haniff is also active in social activities as a member of the Islamic Religious Council Appeal Board, HSBC Insurance Islamic Advisory Board from 2000 to 2014, Association of Islamic Religious Teachers and Scholars of Singapore (PERGAS) and Management Committee of Al-Irsyad Islamic School. He writes extensively in Berita Harian (a local Malay newspaper) and has also published articles in The Straits Times. He has published six books in his name, co-authored a monograph and helped publish two books for PERGAS and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore. His personal website in Malay is at


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