Flawed view that radicalised individuals are 'delusional'

Ever since the threat of terrorism rose from the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militant group, it has been commonly emphasised that it is incorrect to put the blame for terrorist attacks on all Muslims.

While that is true, the same emphasis, however, does not seem to have been placed on how we view the radicalised or, more specifically, their way of thinking.

It seems to be a common belief that those who choose to take on radicalised views are psychologically disturbed, for if not, they would not have been "delusional" enough to have such extreme views.

However, the commentary by the mother whose radicalised son Rasheed was killed in an air raid (My son, the radicalised militant; July 10) proves these to be misconceptions. It reminds us of how close the risk of radicalism is to our own lives.

Radicalism is a threat to anyone, and only through the ability to think clearly would one be able to make his or her own decision to follow extremist views.

It is wrong to assume that one breaks all ties with one's past when one becomes radicalised.

In Rasheed's case, we can see how gradual the process of radicalisation is, leaving him with only minor behavioural changes, which were deemed insignificant, and little clear evidence of radicalisation for his loved ones to pick up.

As every bit of change can be inconspicuous from the outside, piecing every clue together to discover if anyone close to us has fallen victim to radicalisation is no easy feat.

This is precisely because people who choose to harbour extremist views are not that much different from us in their psychological abilities.

Hence, there is a need for us to know how to look out for even the subtlest changes in behaviour which could indicate radicalisation.

To suggest that we should cultivate a greater understanding of the mindset of the radicalised is not to say that we condone their way of thinking, but rather that we should further analyse it so that we would have a greater sense of vigilance all round.

Andrea Dunn Wan Yee (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2017, with the headline 'Flawed view that radicalised individuals are 'delusional''. Print Edition | Subscribe