The centre’s research project on radicalisation focuses on the micro-dynamic of violence in general and radicalization in particular.
Inspired by the recent turn in the study of political violence to the micro-level of analysis, our aim is to look into distinctive factors that shape cognitive radicalization; behavioral radicalization leading to joining extremist – jihadist, far-right or far-left – groups; committing acts of lone-wolf terrorism; and becoming foreign fighters of all denominations. Our Center also supports research aimed at unveiling individual and group behavior in the zones of armed conflict, from the effects of civilian victimization, to the causes of pro-insurgent support and violent mobilization, to insurgent strategies in various empirical settings. Drawing heavily on difficult-to-acquire first-hand data, our aim is to use bottom-up, empirically-rich, and theory-informed analysis to uncover the micro-dynamic of violence in armed groups; comprehend factors leading to individual radicalization, violent mobilization, de-radicalization, and disengagement; and work out policy recommendations with the ultimate aim of increasing our capability to cope with today’s key security challenges.
In the second half of the 1990s, the label “asymmetric” conflict rose to prominence among scholars and strategists, as a term for capturing the rising challenge that violent non-state actors posed to the liberal world order. However, the concept soon became a catch-phrase for a range of disparate phenomena, and other buzzwords arose to describe the threats of concern to decision-makers. Conceptual confusion beset the field. This article dissects the notion of asymmetric conflicts, and distinguishes between asymmetries involving differences in (1) status, (2) capabilities, or (3) strategies between belligerents. It argues that “asymmetric” conflicts can take numerous forms depending on the combination of differences present, and offers a blue-print for keeping track of the meaning of this concept in the hope of bringing greater precision to future debates.Detail
Disengagement from militant groups has often been related to individual level explanations like battle fatigue or desire to re-join family and friends. We seek to empirically examine which other factors, beyond individual level determinants, influenced disengagement processes among militants belonging to different types of Chechen militant organisations.Detail
Many scholars have suggested that organized violence in Chechnya has ended, and that Russia’s Chechenization policy and Ramzan Kadyrov’s presidency deserve the credit. We suggest that Putin has created a Frankenstein-like ruler over whom he risks losing control. As a result, the conflict only appears resolved, and we draw attention to both vertical and horizontal cracks in the foundation of Kadyrov’s rule that could lead to renewed violence. Vertically, the Chechen strongman and his growing clout in regional and federal politics have antagonized Russian siloviki. Horizontally, thousands of Chechens appear to be in a state of postponed blood feud toward Kadyrov, his clan, and the kadyrovtsy, his personal army. Backed by President Putin’s personal support, Kadyrov has put in motion a brutal machine of persecution over which some signs indicate he has lost control. Fear of extermination at the hands of the Kadyrov and his personal army has kept most prospective avengers at a bay. Once President Putin’s support wanes, locals will retaliate against Kadyrov and against Russian troops stationed in the republic, and Russian law enforcement circles will openly challenge Kadyrov’s rule. Putin’s support is only likely to wither if the costs of continued support (which grow with Kadyrov’s increasing independence) exceed the benefits (derived from an enforced peace). Either a renewed insurgency or ever more recalcitrant behavior would demonstrate a level of interest misalignment that could induce Putin to withdraw his support. Such a turn of events would render these horizontal and vertical cracks in the foundation of Kadyrov’s rule more noticeable and would likely to cause the frozen conflict in Chechnya to thaw, leading to a new civil war.Detail