Paper

Countering Radicalization in Refugee Camps: How Education Can Help Defeat AQAP

May 31, 2011

By: Francisco Martin-Rayo

Radicalization is especially relevant in crisis situations (and the camps that are created to house those displaced) because it can create space for terrorist networks to operate and stage attacks against governments or civilians. In addition, a highly radicalized refugee population can provide a cadre of ideal volunteers for a terrorist organization, as they are more vulnerable than traditional populations, typically come from a violent environment, and have fewer opportunities for personal advancement, thus making a terrorist organization more attractive.  The existing literature on radicalization in crisis situations typically identifies three drivers of radicalization: the existence or pervasiveness of an Islamic education; the ability to find gainful employment; and the ability to have freedom of movement (encampment vs. open camp policies). This paper indicates that all three of these characteristics are secondary reasons for radicalization, and that access to a well-rounded education is a powerful enough factor on its own to overcome these obstacles and significantly reduce radicalization and terrorist recruitment in crisis situations.

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For Academic Citation: Martin-Rayo, Francisco. "Countering Radicalization in Refugee Camps: How Education Can Help Defeat AQAP." Working Paper, The Dubai Initiative, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, June 2011.