RAND's Kim Cragin, based in the D.C. office, gave testimony earlier this month to a Congressional panel. The title of Cragin's presentation: "Understanding Terrorist Motivations."
"First, how do individuals progress from articulating sympathy for al-Qaeda and associated movements to actively participating in terrorist activities?" Cragin said to the House Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment. "And second, what can we do about it?"
Cragin cited three phases of radicalization -- "availability," which includes family or peer influences, and disillusionment with government domestic and/or foreign policies; "recruitment and indoctrination," which takes the form of in-person follow-up conversation, particularly among "diaspora communities"; and a "commitment to action," which Cragin notes "has been the most difficult to isolate."
More Cragin: "So I am often asked, 'What motivates terrorism? Is it ideology, politics, or poverty?' And my answer is, 'Yes, all three, at least to varying degrees.'"
As for the second part of Cragin's testimony -- the "what can we do about it?" -- question, the answer isn't so simple. Cragin urges implementing de-radicalization programs prior to, say, U.S. citizens leaving for terrorist training camps abroad. She also cites the Religious Rehabilitation Group in Singapore as an approach to be emulated.
The complete transcript of the 9-page testimony is available as a free-of-charge .pdf download from this page.
More publications by Cragin are here.