The art of deradicalizing

Radicalizing today's youth is a worldwide epidemic.  From online chat rooms, university professors, and extremist prison imams to far-left and far-right political and religious organizations, parents are losing their young teens at an unprecedented rate. 

The radicalization process is defined by the adoption of an extreme political, social, or religious ideology to reject the status quo for an extreme view of the world.  During the course of my work, I spoke with bereaved parents who lost their children to ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other terrorist organizations who wished that they had understood this process before they watched their child's radical behavior changes.

This week, I introduced the Arian Lev Institute to experts attending the Annual Counter Terrorism World Conference at Reichmann University in Israel, where new deradicalization methods were discussed.  For over 14 years, Arian Lev has worked with over 8,000 people to free their subconscious minds from destructive conditioning. 

Lev stated that "only 5% of our thoughts, feelings and choices are made consciously."  The other 95% are controlled by the subconscious — a deep abstract area we don't have control over, according to Lev.

The brain activates itself, reacting and operating according to an individual web of conditionings based on memories stored in the subconscious.  Lev discussed "22 obstructive conditionings that hinder growth and prevent renewal and progress."  It is these conditionings that create blocks between true desires and the ability to manifest them.  Extremist recruiters use this technique against prospective recruits to reel them into their web of destruction. 

Feisal, an ISIS recruiter, met Alex, an American Sunday school teacher, in an online chat room, and they became "friends."  Trained recruiters understand how to manipulate the subconscious by finding the triggers and weaknesses of each individual recruit.  As Alex entered the deep subconscious realm of radicalization, undercover FBI agents intercepted her tweets and warned her and her grandmother about the danger of the ISIS recruiter.  At this point, Alex's emotional ties with Feisal were so strong that she was unable to let him go.  She had become so isolated and dependent on him that her emotional conditioning controlled her.  The known deradicalization techniques that the FBI employed were able to assist Alex.  This is the point where Lev's conditioning could have changed Alex's subconscious mind with new and positive experiences.  But it was too late, and Alex disappeared.  Her whereabouts are unknown.

It is best to stop radicalization before it happens, but once it has taken hold, deradicalization techniques must be implemented.  Currently, there are thousands of jihadis who will be released from American prisons, returning into American society.  There are no programs to be implemented to change the radical mindset of prisoners before they finish their sentences.  To make matters worse, American prisons are known for deep radicalization by other prisoners and radical imams.  Inmates are a captive audience for extremist ideologies.  They have been given no opportunity to change their viewpoints, given their surroundings in prison. 

Melvin Bledsoe lost his son, Carlos, who was recruited to kill the infidel and is now serving a life sentence in a Tennessee prison.  Melvin told me, "If I had some understanding of radicalization before my son Carlos was manipulated and brainwashed by his professor, I might have been able to stop him from killing.  I might have saved a man's life."

It is time to demand that known terrorists undergo some type of process before they re-enter American society to repeat the same atrocities that put them into prison in the first place.  The innocent American has the right to some semblance of safety and security. 

Valerie Greenfeld is the author of Backyard Jihad: How Parents Can Detect the Invisible Threat of Radicalization.  Reach her at

Image: Isis.

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