Policing 'Radicalization'

76 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2013 Last revised: 7 Aug 2014

See all articles by Amna A. Akbar

Amna A. Akbar

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Date Written: June 20, 2013


Since 2006, the federal government has embraced radicalization theory as the framework for understanding the threat of terrorism. Radicalization theory correlates religiosity and politicization in Muslims with potential for terrorism. In turn, government counter-radicalization programs incentivize government to monitor and influence religious and political cultures in Muslim communities.

This Article is the first to examine how counter-radicalization now defines national security policing. Counter-radicalization places political and religious cultures of Muslim communities at the center of the counter-terrorism project. Constitutional doctrine and post-9/11 rules for law enforcement intelligence gathering facilitate broad monitoring absent suspicion of criminal activity. The permissive legal frameworks, combined with counter-radicalization commitments, have transformed political and religious ideologies and practices into ready targets for law enforcement scrutiny, and with profound, underappreciated impacts.

The Article provides a brief history and a critique of law enforcement’s embrace of radicalization. With a focus on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Police Department, the Article then identifies the core techniques of policing radicalization: mapping, informants, voluntary or pretext interviews, community engagement, and Internet monitoring. Finally, the Article analyzes how these techniques are deployed in such a way that stigmatizes Muslim religious and political cultures and geographies, and produces fundamental tension between law enforcement and Muslim communities, Muslim and American identities.

Keywords: national security, policing, criminal law, criminal procedure, FBI, NYPD, radicalization, counter-radicalization, terrorism, intelligence gathering

JEL Classification: K14, K4, K40, K42

Suggested Citation

Akbar, Amna A., Policing 'Radicalization' (June 20, 2013). Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 210, UC Irvine School of Law, Law Review Vol. 3, No. 4, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2282659 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2282659

Amna A. Akbar (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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