Stages of radicalisation

Radicalisation, the chain of intervention

Stage 1: The beginning of radicalisation

Stage 1: The beginning of radicalisation

There is no clear profile of the typical jihadist. Often it is not known why a young person starts to become interested in jihadist propaganda. Radicalisation usually begins subtly, as the following ‒ fictitious ‒ case illustrates:

M is 17 years old. He has failed in his apprenticeship and his girlfriend has left him. He is feeling alone, misunderstood and increasingly excluded from society. He withdraws more and more, and spends a lot of time on the internet. He starts questioning the meaning of life and searches for answers.

This initial phase is decisive for the further course of events. M’s crisis must not be allowed to go unnoticed; all sections of society need to tackle the challenge. Who recognises his susceptibility to extremist ideology? Who can offer him an alternative solution to his problems? This is the stage when potential radicalisation can be nipped in the bud.


Stage 2: Coming to the attention of the Federal Intelligence Service

Stage 2: Coming to the attention of the Federal Intelligence Service

M becomes increasingly radicalised. He reads jihadist propaganda and is active on social networks. He posts IS-friendly comments and expresses his admiration for those fighting in Syria or carrying out terrorist attacks. The Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) takes note of M and begins to monitor his activities.

If M were a foreigner the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) and the cantonal migration authorities could provide valuable information on his radicalisation.


Stage 3: Police intervention and inquiries

Stage 3: Police intervention and inquiries

The Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) has evidence that M is planning a criminal act, or that he could carry one out, or that he has already done so. The FIS passes on this information to fedpol, who begins initial police inquiries.
Fedpol also receives information from other Swiss or international agencies, obtained from their own police proceedings or investigations.


Stage 4a: Criminal proceedings and charges

Stage 4a: Criminal proceedings and charges

Fedpol has gathered sufficient evidence against the suspect M. The Office of the Attorney General opens criminal proceedings against him.


Phase 4b: Conviction

Phase 4b: Conviction

The criminal charges brought by the Attorney General’s Office against M lead to a conviction by the Federal Criminal Court. M may appeal to the Federal Supreme Court.  
Federal Criminal Court
Federal Supreme Court


Stage 5: Enforcement of sentence

Stage 5: Enforcement of sentence

M has been convicted and serves his (remaining) sentence in a Swiss prison.


Stage 6: After completion of sentence

Stage 6: After completion of sentence

M has completed his sentence and is a free man. But what are his inner convictions? Does he still believe in the jihadist cause and its propaganda? Is he still a threat? Or has he renounced his former convictions and accepted Western values? Does he want to be resocialised?

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Last modification 17.01.2018

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