Strategic Studies Summit: Forward Thinking, Working Group Roster “ Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Violent Extremists” , Strategic Studies Network (SSN), 2012 Annual Plenary, 03-06 November, 2012, Bangkok, Thailand,
From reconciliation to reintegration.
The Moroccan Case
Professor / Senior Researcher
Center of the Study and Research
in Social Sciences -Rabat- Morocco
Rehabilitation and reintegration is to help someone return to normal life by providing education, training, and therapy. Unless an extremist is rehabilitated before his release from custody, he is likely to pose a security threat to the government and a societal threat to the community upon his return. He needs to be ideologically and theologically rehabilitated. The goal is to discover whether rehabilitative forms of counter ideology can be used against extremists to prevent them from committing acts of violence. The question of reintegration and rehabilitation of extremist is linked to identity conflict: conflict between individual identity and belonging group identity. Rehabilitation is also a task of relative frustration, irritation and abhorrence. All this feelings depends on subjectivities process based on social contrast. Rehabilitation, social reintegration cannot be considered out of context of their precursor, extremism and radicalisation. There has been much written on radicalisation, much of which implicitly refers to identity in general and social identity in particular (Barelle, 2010 :3) .
The basic hypothesis aims to discover whether rehabilitative forms of counter ideology can be used against extremists in order to deradicalise them and prevent them from committing acts of violence. The question of reintegration and rehabilitation of extremist is tied to identity conflict: conflict between individual identity and belonging group identity. . All this feelings depends on subjectivities process based on social contrast. The research questions can be as follows:
- How does a person shift their sense of self, their identity, so they can become a psychological citizen of a community again particularly if they have previously rejected the civic society (or its governing system) to the point of judging that some if not all members of that community deserve to die?
- How do members of extremist collectives disengage from the group; and how, if at all, do they reintegrate with mainstream society?
- What is their experience of this enormous identity shift?
- What factors promote or encumber reintegration?
Theory of rehabilitation and reintegration.
Extremism is a complex process, it needs a holistic approach who take into account ensuring psychological, social, political, ideological factors. The basic argument is that social identity mechanisms implicated in extremism may also constitute a significant and essential component of disengagement, deradicalisation and reintegration – both as a cause and as a consequence. Social identity is a term used in social psychology to refer to that sense of self and purpose that people derive from feeling that they belong to a meaningful social group (Brewer, 2001; Brown, 2000; Hogg, 1992; Oakes, 1987; Taylor & Moghaddam, 1987; Turner, 1991). The Social Identity Model of the Development of Collective Hate (Reicher, Haslam, & Rath, 2008) is strongly based in social identity theory.
Based on the role of social identity in extremism, it is a reasonable proposition that social identity plays a role in the process of rehabilitation. Any useful model of disengagement will need to attempt an explanation of “why‟, as well as a description of “how‟, a person leaves violent extremism behind. Rehabilitation is a process where a person reverses their ideology, rejects violent methods, and becomes more accepting of a pluralist society (Ashour, 2009 : 5).
In social identity terms this is about how the person no longer strongly identifies with the extreme group, has increased acceptance (or decreased rejection) of what were formerly hated out-groups. Following that a distinction is made between “behavioural disengagement” and “psychological disengagement”. Behavioural disengagement refer to reducing or ceasing physical involvement in violent or radical activities; and the term psychological disengagement refer to a shift in attitude or belief (Horgan, 2009b; Horgan & Braddock, 2010).
Rehabilitation is used by some to mean psychological rehabilitation, and therefore may not even feature in a process of behavioural reintegration. This definition highlights the possibility that many former extremists may cease violent or anti-social behaviour, but still hold strongly anti social ideas and political. An understanding of reintegration is only just emerging, and relatively little consideration has been given to social reintegration of former violent extremists by mean of comprehensive study of the process of “role exit” from a wide range of social roles and identities.
Prevention policies and rehabilitation interventions can only be successful if we understand how and why people leaving violent and extreme groups. Extremist rehabilitation is based on the theory that mere punishment through imprisonment is not enough to permanently reform and facilitate their re-integration into society upon release. Particularly for the extremist detainees, the ideological debate or religious counselling sessions are a very important component of the rehabilitation program. For that, the field work can be achieved in the frame work of interactive cultural anthropology: representative and focussed approach that emphasizes on the socio-cultural context by using tools and instruments such as:
- Participatory observation
- Qualitative semi-structured interviews
- Group discussions
- Engaging in ideological discussions,
- Offering avenues for reintegration,
- Using family and peers as alternative networks of support to replace the milieu of extremism.
- Building rapport and trust,
- Using goal oriented communication,
- Developing models of identity
By skilful approaches and interviews, it is possible to map the detainees’ ideological, theological, and intellectual makeup, as well as his orientations and inclinations. After discerning the terrorist narrative that prompted him to cross the line, the factors that radicalised him to hate, conceive, plan, prepare, and attack can be identified. Extricating the negative thoughts and replacing them with realistic thoughts is a more humanitarian approach. Making terrorist rehabilitation mandated by law will have other benefits. It will reduce humiliation, abuse, and torture, routine in most detention facilities and penitentiaries. This model visually highlights that radicalisation (and deradicalisation) is actually an interactive process that involves an “other” – in the form of the society/community that the person is pulling away from.
From reconciliation to reintegration : the Moroccan Case
Rehabilitation is a holistic program. For rehabilitation to work, community engagement is as important as the modes of rehabilitation (religious, social, ...). The most crucial partnership is that between government and community. As communities produce extremists, the participation of the community in the fight against extremism is essential. Law enforcement, intelligence and the military can help, but ultimately the community must defeat extremism. Without community participation, where the religious and other secular leaders take the lead, no program can succeed. There should be synergy where the government works with the community elite to create an environment hostile and unfriendly to extremists.
The first step for Morocco in the process of rehabilitation and reintegration was the creation of the Equity and Reconciliation Committee. The ratification by King Mohammad VI on 6 November 2003 of the recommendation issued by the Human Rights Advisory Council to establish an equity and reconciliation committee constituted a significant transformation in the official approach of the Moroccan human rights issue.
Established in 2004 by King Mohammad VI, the Equity and Reconciliation Committee (ERC) worked over a period of 18 months and delivered a report which reflects the Moroccan State’s willingness to reconsider its attitude towards human rights issues in their political and legal dimensions. These considerations placed the Authorities in front of a real challenge that made them look for another approach to the treatment of those tensions and the capacity to steer them according to very accurate calculations (see Bennis, 2006:1) .
This becomes even more significant with the repercussions of the Casablanca attacks that placed the Authorities, along with the other actors, in front of the necessity to intervene in order to redefine the priorities linked to the human rights field in Morocco. After the events, critics rose around the lack of justice in the trials against the members of the Djihad Salafi movement and the loopholes in the anti-terrorism law (Bennis 2006: 3).
What’s the place of rehabilitation and reintegration in the state programs and policy? There’s a royal absolve “3afw malaki” process like in the case of the salafi jihadi leaders as Hassan Kattani, Mohammed Abdwahhab Rafiki and Omar Hadouchi. After this event, the salafi cheikh decide to amend and revise their ideologies and reintegrate the civil society from civil organisation or association also by founding political party. This withdrawal was also occasioned by the new position of the Islamic party PJD at the head of Moroccan government. This ideological change have become few years before and has generate in 2012 the Moroccan reform movement « الحركة المغربية للإصلاح”.
Implicit in that ideological change is the distinction between cognitive and behavioural components (Horgan, 2009b; Horgan & Braddock, 2010). Horgan uses the term “behavioural disengagement” to refer to reducing or ceasing physical involvement in violent or radical activities; and the term “psychological disengagement” to refer to a shift in attitude or belief. However, an understanding of deradicalisation is only just emerging, and relatively little consideration has been given to social reintegration of former violent extremists (Bjorgo & Horgan, 2009: 1). Deradicalisation cannot be assumed to simply be the reverse of radicalisation (Horgan, 2009b; Moghaddam, 2010). This principle has also been well established in a comprehensive study of the process of “role exit” from a wide range of social roles and identities (Ebaugh, 1988:181).
In October 2012, a group of former Salafi and some human rights activists had organised a preparatory meeting for the creation of the national authority for revision and integration «"الهيئة الوطنية للمراجعة والإدماج. This step can be seen as some kind of sui generis rehabilitation and it is the start of what we can call a process by Default Rehabilitation : the Dialogue Approach to rooting out violent extremism is operating de facto.These mechanisms include social identification with a group, social comparison between your “in-group” and their “out-group”, with accompanying group based bias, hatred and denigration (Hogg, 1992; Oakes, 1987; Taylor & Moghaddam, 1987; Turner, 1991).
We must also mention that Morocco have initiated since 2005 a national program for the rehabilitation of Imams (Tovahri, 2008), predicators (they are not extremists) in order that they inscribe in the cultural and democratic opening of the country. The rehabilitation consists on studies and formation to achieve qualification of imams and develop their knowledge of the religion and some skills like communication, tolerance and interaction with people. The imams have the duty to contribute and participate to the stability of the state, they have the task to ensure spiritual security.
The same strategy was adopted by Algeria, the program of rehabilitation of imams aims was based on local history and national values. In Tunisia, there’s a little difference because of the chaos who offers the opportunity to some extremist groups to consign their own imams in some mosque. That’s why the ministry of religious affairs have published on 6 march 2012 a press release conforming that only a ministry of religious affairs have the right, the authority to nominate, to dismiss or to change the imams. In North Africa namely the Maghreb, the facing of extremism must not be only and exclusively the duty and the task of imams, it’s must be an inclusive strategy involving all the component of the society: politic, cultural, media, religious and civil actors.
Practices and lessons learned from case studies.
The significance of social connections and networks have been long recognised by criminologists and sociologists as extremely important in supporting a non-offender „citizen‟ lifestyle (Burchfield & Mingus, 2008 : 356). A social identity perspective holds that there is more to this than merely the practical support provided by a supportive social network; that it is related to social identity transitions and the sense of social inclusion people feel if they can identify with some aspects of the wider community of which they are now a part. If not, they are far more likely to drift back to a group they feel they belong to, even if this means criminal or extremist association.
Prevention policies and disengagement interventions can only be successful if we understand how and why people leaving violent and extreme groups. Rehabilitation should become a complementary strategy in the ongoing policy against extremism. Still in an experimental phase, extremist rehabilitation requires visionary leadership, government-community partnership, and a well-resourced specialist program of dedicated and trained staff. Extremist rehabilitation is based on the theory that mere punishment through imprisonment is not enough to permanently reform and facilitate their re-integration into society upon release. Particularly for the Islamist, the ideological debate or religious counselling sessions are a very important component of the rehabilitation program.
In recent counterterrorism efforts, several states have embarked on a new approach to the problem of countering radicalization of imprisoned extremists. Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Singapore have all implemented ideological-based deradicalization programs that attempt to change the ideologies held by these extremists and eventually allow for their release from prison and reintegration into normal society. Each country has approached the deradicalization process in a different way. Six general lessons emerge from the case of Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Indonesia:
ü adequate funding,
ü reform within the prison structure,
ü use of knowledgeable and well-respected Islamic clerics,
ü incorporation of cultural norms,
ü provision of monetary,
ü support to families of detainees, and
ü follow through with after-care programs
This broader conception of counterterrorism is manifested in the counter- and deradicalization programs of a number of Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, and European countries. A key question is whether the objective of these programs should be disengagement or deradicalization of militants. Disengagement entails a change in behavior (i.e., refraining from violence and withdrawing from a radical organization) but not necessarily a change in beliefs. A person could exit a radical organization and refrain from violence but nevertheless retain a radical worldview. Deradicalization is the process of changing an individual's belief system, rejecting the extremist ideology, and embracing mainstream values.
In a study of 185 personal narratives of significant identity change, Ebaugh (1988) identified four central themes common across a wide range of normal and extreme role changes (for example, leaving criminal lives, marriages, jobs, groups, gangs, prostitution, religion, ideologies, etc). These themes are very similar to ex-IRA and Islamist extremists interviewed by John Horgan (Horgan, 2008, 2009a, 2009b, 2009c; Horgan & Braddock, 2010), with a dominant emphasis on identity. Ebaugh‟s themes include a sense of dissatisfaction with the person‟s current identity, seeking or being open to an alternative identity/role, the presence of certain factors or incident to trigger a decision or action to leave or change, and the opportunity to create a new identity for themselves. These findings mirror the well documented experiences of former cult members (Bjorgo & Horgan, 2009; Lalich & Tobias, 1994), and former right wing extremists (Bjorgo, 1995 and 2009,), and is beginning to be seen in some Islamist deradicalisation programs.
In Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Egypt the deradicalisation process takes place in prison where Islamists are invited to take part in the rehabilitation process. If they repent their former actions and reform their attitudes on religion and violence they are offered a reduced sentence or freedom, unless they have killed (Taarnby, 2005 and Boucek 2008). The Egyptian case differs greatly from other deradicalisation processes as the reversal of ideology was self imposed by group leadership and the behavioural and ideological revision was not an individual process. Though the members of the groups had to agree with the decision to renounce violence and change previous ideas it was an organisational deradicalisation process; the group reversed its policies on the use of violence and developed a new system of thought (Johnson, 2009).
A recurrent theme in the commentary about violent Islamist rehabilitation programs the lack of transparency around outcomes, as well as a lack of reliable measures and definitions (Horgan & Braddock, 2010: 273). Most of the programs aim to achieve deradicalisation, but according to experts, could only be said to achieve disengagement at best (Horgan, 2009c; Horgan & Braddock, 2010:280). The two most comprehensive Islamist extremists rehabilitation programs are in Saudi Arabia and Singapore (Boucek, 2008; Horgan & Braddock, 2010).
Rehabilitation and reintegration requires engaging the beneficiary on all its facets. A successful program must recognise all modes of rehabilitation (Gunaratna, 2011). Within each mode of rehabilitation, there are various styles. The four principal modes of rehabilitation are: religious rehabilitation; psychological rehabilitation; social rehabilitation; and vocational rehabilitation
To conclude, though the rehabilitation and reintegration of extremists may be possible in Morocco by the implementation and their addressing local issues that may breed radicalisation is unlikely to be identical to that of other countries. The examination of two deradicalisation processes, Egypt and Yemen, has helped to determine whether deradicalisation is possible in secular societies and thus whether the use of counter ideological strategies of counter terrorism can be successful in persuading Islamist extremists and jihadi to disengage.
Different areas are likely to have different causes of extremism and thus deradicalisation programmes must be moulded to individual regions. The intention is to recognise that the traditional legal and military counter extremism frameworks are insufficient to minimise the threat and thus a different tactic is necessary. Further, it is asserted that radical ideology should be the main focus of a multi dimensional counter extremist campaign. Conclusions drawn include the assertion that deradicalisation may be possible if a number of elements that include debate / dialogue approaches to contesting ideology, programmes being led by religious clerics, islamic scholars or former islamistsandholistic reintegration schemes.
Successful rehabilitation and reintegration requires the continuous study of the evolving extremist narrative and ideology as well as their perceived and real grievances and aspirations. Constant training and education of the professional and support staff at the rehabilitation and reintegration centre is essential. While the reverse of radicalisation in custody is reconciliation, rehabilitation and reintegration, the reverse of radicalisation outside detention is community engagement.
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 An effective working definition of radicalisation is that is it a “social and psychological process of incrementally experienced commitment to extremist political or religious ideology” (Horgan, 2009c : 152). It is important not to restrict any such definition to one form of ideology, to acknowledge that radicalisation is a process (not an outcome), and, as is the case explicitly in Lentini’s (2008: 9) definition of radicalisation, to recognise that radicals wish to transform the existing social order, using methods that are extreme, anti-social and illegal.
 In social identity terms this is about how the person no longer strongly identifies with the extreme group, has increased acceptance (or decreased rejection) of what were formerly hated out-groups, and has shifted towards the individual (personal) end of the interpersonal interaction continuum, with a reconsideration of who is afforded membership of the “human identity” group (Ashour, op.cit).
 See the paper of Kate Barelle p.14 : http://arts.monash.edu.au/radicalisation/conferences-and-events/conference-2010/--downloads/disengagement-from-violent-extremism-kb.pdf
 Vocational rehabilitationrefersto reintegration of the detainees and inmates through the development of skills and educational attainment. This mode of rehabilitation imparts necessary skills for a job, a useful skills to detainees and inmates upon release.