There is no one intervention mechanism to the question of countering violent extremism and terrorism as it depends on the specific dynamics that need to be addressed in relation to the cause agents and enabling factors. However, one way of countering and preventing terrorism is by addressing beliefs that justify violence. Approaching it from this angle will not only help change the mindset of individuals who may be susceptible to terrorist ideology but also gives them a chance to develop identities in which these beliefs are not central.
Terrorist groups have been known to use a variety of religious texts to justify violence. For instance, the Al Shabaab, a terrorist group in Somalia, has continually interpreted verses in the Quran and Hadith to endorse violent actions and made the teachings of the Quran on violence and war a topic of vigorous debate. They cherry-pick verses that they believe support their unlawful and illegal cause, alternatively, they intentionally misinterpret the Quran’s meaning and instill these misguided ideologies in the minds of its members and recruits. For example, they use verses that discuss warfare and fighting to justify their killings and violent acts towards non-muslims who they term “kafirs”. They further legitimize these actions by claiming that they are acting in defense of Islam or in retaliation for the perceived wrong of the West and its supporters and allies against Muslims around the world.
Counter-terrorism approaches need to integrate mechanisms of changing the mindset of individuals vulnerable to terrorist ideology and radicalisation through education, public awareness campaigns, and other forms of outreach. The already established false beliefs weaponised by terrorists should be addressed to create a more positive and peaceful image of Islam, which can help to counter the negative stereotype often associated with religion.
The world needs to understand that just as terrorist groups have weaponised the Quran and religious scriptures, the same materials can be used to prevent and counter-terrorism. There needs to be a universal understanding that The Quran promotes peace and understanding between people of different faiths and backgrounds. It teaches that all human beings are equal in the eyes of God and that violence is never justified. It encourages dialogue and debate between people of different opinions encouraging constructive ways of discussing differences and coming to a resolution that way rather than through violence. The Quran promotes religious tolerance and respect for all religions. It teaches that all religions are valid and that violence in the name of religion is never justified. It rejects extremism in all forms and teaches that moderation is the key to a successful and peaceful life. Finally, the Quran condemns violence in all forms and teaches that it is never justified, no matter what the circumstances may be.