The purpose of this project is to enhance current efforts to prevent the exploitation of bio-scientists working in, or originating from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), by terrorists or other violent non-state actors (VNSAs). This will be done by applying insights from cutting-edge research on counter-radicalization, de-radicalization and disengagement to reduce the susceptibility of bio-scientists to radical narratives. It is expected that the findings of this project will have the potential to be generalized and applied to scientists working in all CBRN-relevant technical fields.
The project will involve an interdisciplinary collaboration between a research team led by eminent social psychologists Dr. Arie Kruglanski and Dr. Michele Gelfand, and START's Unconventional Weapons and Technology Program. This approach is based on a data-supported theoretical model of the ingredients of radicalization and de-radicalization (including motivational, ideological, and social components that work in combination). These ingredients can define diverse paths to radicalization that can be identified (and counteracted) only by taking the specific context and circumstances into account.
This project’s activities include:
- Assessing the specific socio-cultural vulnerabilities of the scientific community in a particular domain in one or more countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to exploitation by terrorists and other VNSAs.
- Identifying relevant insights from START's broader studies of de-radicalization and counter-radicalization that might address these vulnerabilities.
- Investigating the extent to which these insights require modification in the specific context of MENA CBRN scientists.
- Applying these insights to bolster and supplement existing awareness and resilience programs conducted through CTR in the country/countries in question.