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There is no particular personality profile to characterise those drawn
to violent extremism. Rather, a variety of factors are at play in
violence-promoting radicalisation. The concept of violence-promoting
radicalisation refers here to the process by which a person or group
comes to promote the use of unlawful violence for political purposes.
The promotion of unlawful violence for political purposes can be expressed in various ways, e.g. by verbally encouraging others to carry out acts of violence or attacks, by providing logistical support and funding to terrorist groups, or by plotting, preparing or carrying out terrorist attacks. Violence-promoting radicalisation does not necessarily lead to terrorism but may lead to other serious acts of violence and unlawful pressure.
Violence-promoting radicalisation has a long history in various religious and cultural contexts. Generally, there are three main driving forces behind violence-promoting radicalisation: perceived injustices or insults, which may be substantiated; exposure to a violence-promoting ideology that points out injustices, explains their cause and states what should be done about them; and finally, a social context in which the ideology is internalised. Even in cases of individuals radicalising in relatively isolated environments, the perception of being in a social context is almost always present. The relative importance of and the way these three driving forces combine is unique to each individual. Some individuals join violence-promoting groups because they seek excitement and a sense of community. Others are more interested in the ideology. Yet others end up in violence-promoting groups because members of their families or people in their social circles already belong to such groups. Sometimes, charismatic leaders propel radicalisation through their teachings and mentorship. In other instances, established terrorist networks try to recruit individuals. Often however, there is no clear leader and individuals radicalise each other. It is not uncommon for radicalisation to occur through social contacts, as well as through lectures and propaganda. The importance of ideology varies from individual to individual. Ideology could inspire or intensify individuals’ intent to take part in terrorism and could also serve to legitimise acts of violence that may have other causes.