This paper addresses the problem of language – specifically, the language that we use to define and describe certain types of terrorist activity – and how incorrect use of such language can compound the problem. It also uses language – specifically interpretations of the concept of jihad – as a backdrop to a discussion of radicalization, its linkages to extremist action, and possible mitigating strategies. This paper is intended to stimulate discussion around the need for a common language to describe terrorism adequately, along with a comprehensive understanding of the process of radicalization and the manner in which we may intervene.
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