Precipitants and Facilitators of Terrorist Disengagement: A comparative study of Italy, Spain, Germany and the UK
How should democracies respond to terrorism? What should a process of disengagement look like? Can any lessons be drawn from past European experiences? Having answers to these questions would be of great help to both practitioners and scholars interested in the disbandment of home-grown terrorist groups. Preventing processes of radicalization and, if at all possible, enabling the reverse process of de-radicalization has increasingly become a priority objective of several EU member states. And yet, there is a curious gap in the literature with respect to the precipitants and facilitators of terrorist disengagement. This paper provides an analysis of how four European states – Italy, Spain, Germany and the UK - have fought groups employing political violence and terrorism, and what lessons can be learned from these experiences that can be applied toward future counterterrorism campaigns. The disbandment of two ethno nationalist groups - the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) - and two revolutionary groups - the Red Army Faction (RAF) and the Red Brigades (RB) – will be examined in order to unpack the counterterrorism toolbox.