What makes a terrorist stop being a terrorist?

Published in 'The Conversation', 18 November, 2014

By John Horgan


“Feet first”. That’s how one terrorist leader told recruits was the only way out. It makes sense. Allowing members to just walk away wouldn’t be good for the group’s image.

And yet - at the same time as Islamic State parades its European jihadis in shocking beheading videos and continues to recruit aggressively around the world - terrorists do disengage all the time. Some quietly disappear. Others go public, telling their stories on TV or in autobiographies. They embrace their new identity as an “ex-“ or “former” to warn others of the dangers of involvement.

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