Reasons why terrorists turn away from their groups

Terrorism has been a nightmare for many due to its terrific consequences that lead to massive deaths and enormous destruction of property. Modern terrorism began during the French revolution and since then the world has experienced several terrorist attacks. From the Madrid train bombing in 2004 to the 2005 London bombing. Several reasons such as economic benefits and religion motivate terrorists to join terrorist groups. However, after working with the terrorists for some time, some of them opt to quit.

There are several reasons why terrorists opt to leave terrorist groups. First, disagreement with leaders or members of the group. Sometimes people executing terrorist acts disagree, for instance, an interview conducted among members of the ethno-nationalist terrorist organization revealed that some members left the group because they were in disagreement with some of the tactics that the leaders adopted. They also did not agree with the internal functioning of the group.

Secondly, one may not be content with their daily tasks. Given that the work that terrorists engage in requires a lot of mental and physical activity. The enthusiasm fades away and terrorist gets discontented with their daily tasks. Also, serious injuries during attacks may contribute to a person leaving a terrorist group. This is because they are unable to accomplish their daily tasks.

Burnouts contribute to terrorists turning away from terrorist groups. Too much work gets the body and the mind of a terrorist extremely tired leading to dissatisfaction with the job. De-radicalization also contributes to some terrorists quitting terrorism. De-radicalization involves eliminating beliefs in violent extremism. For instance, in religious-based terrorism. De-radicalization involves teaching new beliefs and narratives that counter the ones that are causing violent terrorist attacks. The terrorists also leave these groups because they are no longer affiliated with the religious group.

Disengagement from terrorist groups is not only caused by personal reasons but also structural and organizational reasons. Some terrorists quit these groups because they are no longer interested in committing crimes. When a person is arrested and imprisoned for some time. They are separated from these terrorist groups. This creates time for them to reflect and some people opt to quit executing criminal attacks once they leave prison.

Disengagement of individuals from terrorist groups is majorly caused by several reasons. Some of these include; de-radicalization programs, burnouts, disagreements and discontent with daily tasks. The government and policymakers should not only focus on de-radicalization programs. They should also look into ways to ensure the effective adoption of the terrorists who have turned away from terrorism into society.


Altier, M.B., Thoroughgood, C.N. and Horgan, J.G., 2014. Turning away from terrorism: Lessons from psychology, sociology, and criminology. Journal of Peace Research, 51(5), pp.647-661.

Oots, K.L., 1989. Organizational perspectives on the formation and disintegration of terrorist groups. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 12(3), pp.139-152.

Cronin, A.K., 2006. How al-Qaida ends: The decline and demise of terrorist groups. International Security, 31(1), pp.7-48.

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