It might seem hard to believe but, according to psychological science, even the most hardened jihadists can be de-radicalized.
“Many antique collectors unwillingly support terrorists like Islamic State, ” Michel van Rijn, one of the most successful smugglers of antique artifacts in the past century, told German broadcaster Das Erste this month.
Last week British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond said the struggle against Islamic State was “effectively Iraq’s last chance as nation state.”
At first sight, it seems that Israel is just as preoccupied with the rise of Islamic State as anyone else. Israeli media report diligently on the extremist group’s assault on the Kurdish town of Kobani and run at least a story every few days on its atrocities. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu references Islamic State frequently, as do other Israeli ministers. And the stories of two Palestinian citizens of Israel who died fighting for the group have been recently featured in the press.
It is easy to look to religion for an explanation of why young men — and some women — become radicalized. But it is psychology, not theology, that offers the best tools for understanding radicalization — and how best to undo it.
It might seem counter-intuitive to think that attacking the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, would damage Iran or Shi’ite interests in the Middle East. After all, Iran shares the West’s concerns about the radical Sunni group and is in a tacit alliance with the United States when it comes to defeating their common enemy. And yet, Iran fears it might end up being the loser in this battle.
As the Western world confronts the threat posed by the Islamic State, many officials are pushing for stricter measures to be put in place to protect the United States from home-bound jihadists carrying U.S. passports.
What should the West’s military policy be toward Islamic State?
Most observers fall into two camps. Some point to the sorry history of Western intervention in the Middle East and argue the job of combating the Islamic State should be left to local powers.
As the UN Security Council tackles the entity claiming to be “Islamic State,” and President Barack Obama invokes global Muslim responsibility, many ask whether people of Muslim heritage do enough to counter extremism.
This must be what perpetual war looks like.
In a Pentagon briefing yesterday, Army Lieutenant General Bill Mayville called the cruise missiles and bombs flung at targets in Syria "the beginning of a credible and sustainable persistent campaign." How long will the campaign last? "I would think of it in terms of years," Mayville responded.