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Just sharing – Walking away: The disengagement and de-radicalization of a violent right-wing extremist

Behavioral_Sciences_of_Terrorism_and_Political_Aggression_148_214_sClick here for original link.

John Horgan, Mary Beth Altier, Neil Shortland & Max Taylor (2017), “Walking away: the disengagement and de-radicalization of a violent right-wing extremist”, Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, Volume 9, Issue 2.


This article presents a case study of one individual’s trajectory through violent right-wing extremism in the USA. Drawing on an in-depth in-person interview conducted with ‘Sarah’, we trace the influences affecting the nature and extent of her involvement, engagement and disengagement. We focus on delineating the complexity of Sarah’s disengagement from violent extremism. Her account supports several claims in the literature. First, there is rarely any single cause associated with individual disengagement. Rather, the phenomenon is a dynamic process shaped by a multitude of interacting push/pull factors, sunk costs and the perceived availability of alternatives outside the group. Second, as this case illustrates, prison affords physical separation from the violent extremist group and with it, time to reflect which may be critical to sustaining disengagement. Third, this account illustrates how de-radicalization may be a long-term process, and may in some cases supersede rather than precede one’s exit, even where disillusionment precedes disengagement. Finally, Sarah’s case suggests the successful adoption of a new social role and sense of identity as a potentially important protective factor in reducing the risk of re-engagement.

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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