Elisa Orofino, Understanding Radical Groups and Radical Youth in the West Understanding Radical Groups and Radical Youth in the West: A Literature Review

Elisa Orofino
Home-grown terrorism has become an issue several Western states have to deal with. London 7/7 and -more recently -Paris 2015 have highlighted the need to better explore a new enemy from within, i.e. the "home-grown terrorists". How shocking and frustrating it can appear, terrorism is a complex phenomenon, which can be regarded as the outburst of a multi-factor process known as radicalization. Radicalization was boldly defined by Neumann as "what happens before the bomb goes off" (Neumann 2008:
more » ... ff" (Neumann 2008: 4), stressing its pivotal role as a necessary landmark towards any form of extremism. Although all radicals do not become terrorists, all terrorists were previously radicalized. Therefore, it is not possible to understand terrorism without having a good understanding of radicalization. Nowadays, radicalization has become a frequent word in the media considering also the growing presence of radical Islamist movements in the West, attracting a growing number of Muslim youth. The scenario of these groups is very broad ranging from the violent Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to the intellectual Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT). In this panorama, one question remains quite unanswered, i.e. why should young people born and educated in the West turn to radical Islamist movements? This article aims at exploring this issue by reviewing the literature up-to-date to investigate the catalysts for young Muslims' radicalization in Western states. In order to provide a clear picture of the discourse, I will focus on two broad categories, i.e. the "emotional factors" and the "environmental factors". Furthermore, I will take into consideration the Constructivist approach to better explore the relationship between radical groups and their members as well as the groups' capacity to create meaning and identities.