Walking Away from Terrorism: Accounts of Disengagement from Radical and Extremist Movements, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Walking Away from Terrorism

Accounts of Disengagement from Radical and Extremist Movements, 1st Edition

By John G. Horgan


188 pages

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pub: 2009-05-11
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This accessible new book looks at how and why individuals leave terrorist movements, and considers the lessons and implications that emerge from this process.

Focusing on the tipping points for disengagement from groups such as Al Qaeda, the IRA and the UVF, this volume is informed by the dramatic and sometimes extraordinary accounts that the terrorists themselves offered to the author about why they left terrorism behind.

The book examines three major issues:

  • what we currently know about de-radicalisation and disengagement
  • how discussions with terrorists about their experiences of disengagement can show how exit routes come about, and how they then fare as ‘ex-terrorists’ away from the structures that protected them
  • what the implications of these findings are for law-enforcement officers, policy-makers and civil society on a global scale.

Concluding with a series of thought-provoking yet controversial suggestions for future efforts at controlling terrorist behaviour, Walking Away From Terrorism provides an comprehensive introduction to disengagement and de-radicalisation and offers policymakers a series of considerations for the development of counter-radicalization and de-radicalisation processes.

This book will be essential reading for students of terrorism and political violence, war and conflict studies, security studies and political psychology.

John Horgan is Director of the International Center for the Study of Terrorism at the Pennsylvania State University. He is one of the world's leading experts on terrorist psychology, and has authored over 50 publications in this field; recent books include the The Psychology of Terrorism (Routledge 2005) and Leaving Terrorism Behind (co-edited, Routledge 2008)


'John Horgan’s contribution is immense …This is a must-read book for any person who wishes to understand the complex psychological processes that influence terrorists behavior and especially what makes terrorists relinquish violence.’ - Ariel Merari, Department of Psychology, Tel Aviv University

'Walking Away from Terrorism presents a thoughtfully argued and carefully documented examination of why individuals decide to leave radical and extremist movements—an issue that has been largely neglected by researchers.' - Gary LaFree, Director, START Center, University of Maryland

'Why do individuals stop being terrorists? Drawing from fascinating personal interviews, psychologist John Horgan answers this question, demolishing myths and replacing them with real stories about real people…A superb book, packed with welcome insights.’ - Audrey Cronin, US National War College

‘John Horgan`s meticulous research breaks new ground . His acute understanding of the complex factors that can lead to disillusion and withdrawal from terrorism makes this book an indispensable source for academics and the security professionals.’ - Paul Wilkinson, University of St Andrews

"An important overview of how and why individuals are likely to leave terrorist movements, as well as the lessons and implications that emerge from this process." - Joshua Sinai, ‘Terrorism Bookshelf: Top 150 Books on Terrorism and Counterterrorism’, Perspectives on Terrorism, Vol. 6, No. 2 (2012)

Table of Contents

Foreword Preface: A Personal Reflection on Fieldwork 1. Qualities Are Not Causes 2. How, When and Why Terrorism Ends 3. "Prison was a good thing" 4. "I volunteered" 5. "There is no conscious decision" 6. "A step too far" 7. "They were once my people" 8. "I don’t believe in integration" 9. Conclusions Bibliography

About the Author

Dr. John Horgan is Director of the International Center for the Study of Terrorism at Penn State University

About the Series

Political Violence

This book series contains sober, thoughtful and authoritative academic accounts of terrorism and political violence. Its aim is to produce a useful taxonomy of terror and violence through comparative and historical analysis in both national and international spheres. Each book discusses origins, organisational dynamics and outcomes of particular forms and expressions of political violence.

Founding Editor: David Rapoport

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Law Enforcement
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Terrorism