Once a Jihadist, Always a Jihadist? A Deradicalization Program Seen from the Inside Focus stratégique, No. 102 bis, February 2021
France has traditionally taken a security-based approach to the fight against terror. It was a latecomer to the field of radicalization prevention and the establishment of disengagement programs aimed at jihadists. It only started to think seriously about the issue in 2013 and its first attempts involved certain irregularities.
For that reason, deradicalization suffers from a persistent bad reputation in France. The disengagement and reintegration programs established since 2016—RIVE from 2016 until 2018 and PAIRS, which started in 2018 and is still running—have operated behind closed doors. Discreetness was preferred to overcommunication. This study—the result of a long-term field survey of the staff, participants, and partners of PAIRS—opens the black box of disengagement methods. It offers a nuanced assessment of these initiatives, which, after four years of operations, have produced reassuring results: among the dozens of terrorist offenders who have participated in RIVE and PAIRS in open custody, none have reoffended.
This publication is also available in French: "Djihadistes un jour, djihadistes toujours ? Un programme de déradicalisation vu de l'intérieur"