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Understanding terminology

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It may help to develop a deeper understanding and more clarification of the words and phrases used when discussing extremism and its related topics.

Understanding the terminology surrounding terrorism and extremism
Here you’ll find a list of some commonly used terms surrounding the subjects of extremism and radicalisation along with a short explanation of each.

usually refers to activity aimed at a group of people intended to dissuade them from engaging in terrorism-related activity.

usually refers to activity aimed at a person who supports terrorism and in some cases has engaged in terrorist related activity, which is intended to effect cognitive and/or behavioural change leading to a new outlook on terrorism and/or disengagement from it.

disengagement is the process whereby an individual ceases to be involved in terrorism.
is vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also include in our definition of extremism calls for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas.
far-right politics or extreme-right politics are right-wing politics to the right of the mainstream centre right on the traditional left-right spectrum. They often involve a focus on tradition as opposed to policies and customs that are regarded as reflective of modernism.

is a set of beliefs. An ideologue is a proponent as well as an adherent of an ideology.

an insurgent is an individual who fights against a government or an occupying force with the aim of overthrowing it.
are projects intended to divert people who are being drawn into terrorist activity. Interventions can include mentoring, counselling, theological support, encouraging civic engagement, developing support networks (family and peer structures) or providing mainstream services (education, employment, health, finance or housing).


is a philosophy which, in the broadest sense, promotes the application of Islamic values to modern government. There are no commonly agreed definitions of ‘Islamism’ and ‘Islamist’, and groups or individuals described as Islamist often have very different aims and views about how those aims might be realised.
Some militant Islamists would endorse violence or terrorism to achieve their aims. Many Islamists do not.

prevention means reducing or eliminating the risk of individuals becoming involved in terrorism. Prevent involves the identification and referral of those susceptible to violent extremism into appropriate interventions. These interventions aim to divert the susceptible from embarking down the path to radicalisation.
refers to the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and forms of extremism leading to terrorism.

a radicaliser is an individual who encourages others to develop or adopt beliefs and views supportive of terrorism and forms of extremism leading to terrorism.
include literature or videos that are used by radicalisers to encourage or reinforce individuals to adopt a violent ideology. Some of this material may explicitly encourage violence. Other materials may take no avowed position on violence but make claims to which violence is subsequently presented as the only solution.

resilience means the capability of people, groups and communities to rebut and reject proponents of terrorism and the ideology they promote.
is the process of protecting vulnerable people, whether from crime, other forms of abuse or from being drawn into terrorism-related activity.
The term single narrative is sometimes used to refer to the particular interpretation of religion, history and politics that is associated with Al Qa’ida and like-minded groups. The narrative connects ‘grievances’ at a local and/or global level, reinforces the portrayal of Muslims as victims of Western injustice and thereby purports to legitimise terrorism. It combines fact, fiction, emotion and religion and manipulates discontent about local and international issues. The single narrative is also sometimes known as the Al Qa’ida Narrative, the Grand Narrative or the Global Extremist Narrative.


the current UK definition of terrorism is given in the Terrorism Act 2000 (TACT 2000). In summary this defines terrorism as an action that endangers or causes serious violence to a person/people; causes serious damage to property; or seriously interferes or disrupts an electronic system. The use or threat must be designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public and is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.
describes the condition of being capable of being injured, difficult to defend, open to moral or ideological attack. Within Prevent, the word describes factors and characteristics associated with being susceptible to radicalisation.
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