Radicalization and Safety and Security in the Balkans: An Ethnographic Study

Ardian Shajkovci, Walden University


Much of the academic discussion on the topic of radicalization and terrorism in the Balkans has been centered on the conditions and the processes by which individuals become radicalized and indoctrinated, even to a point of engaging in violence. Comparatively speaking, this ethnographic research addressed the factors that prompt Kosovo's Muslim extremists, a small number of them engaged in the conflict, to disengage from terrorist groups fighting in the Syrian and the Iraq conflict. Data were collected from 12 government officials with direct knowledge on the issue of disengagement from terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. Cognitive dissonance theory served as the theoretical framework for this ethnographic study, while the conceptual framework was built around social, psychological, and physical factors associated with disengagement from terrorism. Interviews served as primary methods of data collection. The content analysis technique was applied to identify emergent themes. The findings highlighted the crucial role of psychological and social factors in individuals' decision to abandon terrorist organizations engaged in the Iraq and the Syrian conflict. The findings also suggested that affecting ideological values of extremists or terrorist groups may not be sufficient. Recommendations include incorporating a combination of soft and hard power measures in addressing the issue of disengagement from terrorist groups. The findings generated from this study may inform the development of more efficient counter-radicalization and counterterrorism policies in Kosovo and the Balkans in general. The findings may also add value to the global literature on disengagement from terrorism.