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Inkblot is an awareness campaign centered around the vulnerabilities to violent extremism and extremist recruitment, which follows a similar radicalization process regardless of ideology or creed. Our campaign, which acknowledges the differences present between extremist ideologies, also discusses the need for a nuanced approach when addressing the various threat each poses. We believe, despite the differences existing amongst them, extremist ideologies are underscored by a radicalization process that plays on certain overlapping vulnerabilities; furthermore, the indoctrination of a clear ideology tends to appears at a later stage of the radicalization process.
People usually imagine radicalization as a distant problem that happens only to specific communities or types of people. Yet oftentimes, these conceptualizations are not only restrictive in nature but also are predicated on a certain set of assumptions or stereotypes about who becomes a terrorist. Inkblot, however, seeks to move the discussion of radicalization in a more informative and accurate direction in a way that does not confine the radicalization process to an intellectual or academic space. Radicalization is a problem we all face: everyone has a part to play, and anyone can be at risk.
Understanding the radicalization process goes a long way toward protecting your community – and your loved ones – from the dangers inherent in violent extremism. If you better comprehend how the radicalization process works, then you are better equipped to be on the lookout for behavior that may indicate that an individual is considering violent activity. What’s more is that you are also better equipped to help this person in a manner that is both productive and sensitive to the situation.
Because Inkblot seeks to educate the peers, friends, and family members of at-risk individuals about the radicalization process, we are partnered with the non-profit organization Parents For Peace. We hope to expand their reach to include friends and siblings, as they are better situated to recognize warning signs and better positioned to intervene and ask for help. In educating people about the warning signs that may characterize the radicalization process, we also hope to provide advice as well as tangible, usable tools for civic-minded individuals who wish to personally engage with and dissuade at-risk individuals from turning toward violence. Overarchingly, this activist “toolkit” relates to the broader concepts that comprise the backbone of our campaign. These include, but are not limited to: the risk factors and psychological processes of radicalization; the various forms of violent extremist ideology (of which there are many!); and the variety of propaganda promulgated by extremist groups in America as well as those throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
Practically, Inkblot is involved in several different avenues to achieve these goals. These include events hosted at Boston University; photo campaigns that work in conjunction with these events; our hands-on, activist toolkit; and videos, infographics, and animated clips addressing and personifying the different aspects of radicalization. We have also engaged with two former extremists, Mubin Shaikh and Arno Michaelis, who have graciously provided us with their own personal insights into the radicalization process. On April 28th, both former extremists will be participating in our seminal event to be held at the auditorium of the Boston University Law School – a panel and question-and-answer session entitled “Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why: A Dialogue with Mubin Shaikh and Arno Michaelis.”
It is our fervent and sincere hope that you will find something in our project that resonates with you and prompts you to join our efforts. You can, of course, become involved regardless of whether or not your understanding of radicalization is informed by prior personal experience or simply academic background knowledge – this is the point of our project, after all. As you look through the different parts of our website, please keep in mind that countering violent extremism does not have to be a task that solely belongs to federal and government authorities.
It can start with you.
 John Horgan, “What Makes a Terrorist Stop Being a Terrorist?” Journal for Deradicalization, no. 1 (2014), 1-4.