The Monash Radicalisation Project is divided into 4 Streams
Stream 1: Psychological causes of radicalisation
Stream 1 is led by a team of organisational, clinical and forensic psychologists. The primary purpose of this Stream is to understand the psychological aspects of radicalisation, counter-radicalisation and de-radicalisation, focusing on Australia. The Stream will identify the personal, contextual, sociological, political, and economic factors that provoke radical attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours. Furthermore, it will explore the factors that facilitate disengagement from radical movements and that instil more adaptive attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours.
This Stream will comprise some unique features, distinct from many other studies into the psychological determinants of radicalisation and de-radicalisation. These features include the application of theories that integrate the neuro-physiological, cognitive, affective, social, and organizational factors that determine shifts in identity. Consideration will be given to events and features that are unique to the Australian context but could affect these underlying determinants of radicalisation and de-radicalisation. This Stream will make use of interviews, new primary source material, quantitative surveys, comparisons with control groups and other approaches.
Stream 2: International comparative research
Stream 2 compares patterns of violent extremist radicalisation, and initiatives in de-radicalisation and counter-radicalisation, in Australia, Europe and the UK, North America, the Horn of Africa and Southeast Asia. Existing open source literature on radicalisation, home-grown terrorism, counter-radicalisation and de-radicalisation will be reviewed, along with relevant primary source documents and online material.
Stream 2 researchers will also conduct a limited range of interviews with activists, community members, practitioners and expert researchers in Australia and abroad. The primary focus will be al-Qaeda-inspired ‘jihadist’ movements (including Jemaah Islamiah (JI), al-Shabab and Fatah al-Islam), with a secondary focus on globalized ethno-nationalist movements such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) before them.
The chief concern of this comparative research lies with individuals, groups and movements that have been, or are likely to become, active in Australia. A key focus is Southeast Asian based movements such as JI and spinoff groups. Even if such groups fail to re-establish a significant presence in Australia the importance of Southeast Asia to Australia, the large number of Australians living in and visiting the region, mean that ‘jihadist’ terrorism in Southeast Asia threatens Australian citizens and Australian interests. Consequently the dynamics of radicalisation and counter-radicalisation involving JI in Southeast Asia, in particular in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, need to be carefully examined.
It is important to study the activities and ideas of globalised ethno-nationalist violent movements such as the IRA and LTTE both because of what this can teach us about the processes of radicalisation, disengagement and de-radicalisation and because of the inevitability that globalised ethno-nationalist violent movements will be at least as serious a presence in Australian society as such groups have been in the past.
Together with transnational movements the Australian social environment itself needs to be the subject of global comparative research. Stream 2 researchers will examine whether issues of alienation and cultural exclusion, which have been cited as important contributors to radicalisation in the UK and Europe, are applicable in Australian contexts.
Finally, Stream 2 researchers will examine all current de-radicalisation programs dealing with ‘jihadist’ extremism, including initiatives in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Canada, the US and Australia.
Stream 3: Radicalisation within the Victorian prison system
Stream 3 research will be based on a first-hand examination of Victoria’s prison system and has three core aims.
The first aim is to examine the experiences of prisoners convicted of terrorism and related offences with a view to assessing the effects of the prison environment/experience on their beliefs and behaviour; and identifying the extent and manner in which they attempted to radicalise/recruit others whilst in prison, if at all.
The second aim is to identify the extent and nature of in-prison radicalisation in the Victorian prison network (ie. the radicalisation of prisoners, whose beliefs and behaviour may have altered since being imprisoned). This will include an assessment of the drivers of this radicalisation. If possible, this will also attempt to identify the extent to which these radical views have survived the prison environment post-release. While the focus will remain on ‘jihadism’, there is the possibility that we will examine other forms of in-prison radicalisation.
The third aim is to identify the nature and extent of conversion to Islam among prisoners within the Victorian prison network. This will include an assessment of the extent to which this conversion may act as an inhibitor or facilitator of radicalisation. We will also attempt to identify the extent to which this conversion has survived the prison environment post-release.
Stream 4: Biographical database
Stream 4 is focussed on the design, construction and maintenance of a biographical database on Australian and other Western countries’ home-grown terrorists, for comparative analysis. The database’s contents and focus are innovative. Most existing terrorism databases are incident specific – recording only the nature, location and timing of the incident and the individual or group responsible. Our database will contain information on individuals’ backgrounds, detail about the evolution of relationships between these individuals and various groups, and other social, political, economic and cultural circumstances that are relevant to their radicalisation. The database will cover both Australian and international examples of radicalisation.
The biographical approach is not about trying to create a terrorist profile. Current studies worldwide are unanimous in finding that there is no single social, economic or ethnic profile of people who carry out violence in the name of radical ideologies. Rather, maintaining qualitative and quantitative information on a range of terrorists allows for the rigorous evaluation of competing explanations of the causes of radicalisation. Without detailed information on people who have undergone processes of radicalisation, an informed understanding of radicalisation is impossible.