S.B.: Our aim is, first of all, to increase the awareness of what radicalization is. There is no grand theory of radicalization. Radicalization is a process but it can take different shapes for different individuals.
In my opinion what is great about our platform is that we cover different kinds of radicalization different kinds of extremism.
We try to see the similarities and differences occurring between them. For example a big part of our job is to monitor in which ways Islamism and far-right extremism have increasingly big similarities.
Q. What kind of similarities are you talking about?
S.B.: Well first of all, the absence of shades, I personally wrote a lot about it. What I mean is that both jihadism and far-right extremism don’t see the shades. Anything that is not black or white is a problem. Everything that is not Dar al-Islam, will be Dar al-Harb,
There is no room for shades in a radical view. And this is true for far-right, historically the far-right,
I’m Italian, we can think of Fascism- and different kinds of fascism
Q: Who are the jihadi fighters?
S.B.: The latest United Nations figures say that around 40,000 people traveled from 110 countries to reach terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria.
Men and women, the overwhelming majority were men but not exclusively, from more than 100 countries.
As for the so-called returnees, returning foreign fighters, who are going back to Europe, there are no reliable figures or statistics.
What can be realistic to say is that a few hundred made their way back to Europe from different paths and with different journeys.
Q. Why do these people join jihadist groups?
S.B.: That is a million dollar question. As I mentioned before, there is no one single reason and there is no universal profile of a jihadist, let alone a radical, which is, let’s say, the step before.
There are push factors and pull factors. Push factors push them out from their society to join the organization and pull factors are factors that the jihadi group is able to offer people to attract them.
They range from financial incentives to the sense of group and the sense of belonging, from a sense of adventure to a true ideological commitment.
Q. What happens when these individuals go back to their countries?
S.B. That is a major issue. What I mean is that, there is no single ending.
There are dozens of western states, each of them have different policies.
Not only do policies vary according to the different countries, but also many of the European or, in general, Western countries still don’t have any effective policy that is ready for them because the so-called foreign fighters are an unprecedented phenomenon,
We did see this, for example, with Afghanistan, against the former Soviet Union.
But in the numbers, the speed, the diverse backgrounds of the fighters, this is largely an unprecedented phenomenon.