Second D.Rad Study analyses trends of radicalisation through three hotspots representing violent extremism in Finland

Our second D.Rad study on Finland focuses on three hotspots of violent extremism: a school shooting in 2007, a deadly assault by a neo-Nazi in 2016, and a radical Islamist knife attack in 2017. The main objective of the report is to scrutinise these specific, pivotal moments that represent a culmination of general radicalisation trends and provide meaningful insights into their rise and expansion. Analysing these hotspots shows how the interpretation of violence is political and value-laden choice, although not always a conscious one.

As part of the D.Rad horizon project (De-Radicalisation in Europe and Beyond: Detect, Resolve, Reintegrate) we write reports regarding topics such as radicalisation and polarisation in Finland. D.Rad is a comparative study that aims to identify the actors, networks, and wider social contexts driving radicalisation, particularly among young people in urban and peri-urban areas. 

The second country report Trends of Radicalisation in Finland focuses on the specificities of political, economic and cultural development and tensions that structure a given region (in this case, Finland) as radicalisation must not be understood in a socio-historical vacuum. This is done by analysing three specific hotspots that still speak to processes of radicalisation today. Investigation of the hotspots was focused on general trends that led to these specific situations. In viewing these trends, we focused on macro, meso, and micro circumstances of the violent acts, outlined the climate that facilitated them, and situated them on the injustice-grievance-alienation-polarisation (I-GAP) spectrum. 

The I-GAP spectrum used to assess the hotspots is a constructivist method of multifaceted assessment that allows the motives driving radicalisation to be traced. The motives are identified from the point of view of the individuals involved in the hotspot, based on manifestos, interviews and other statements the perpetrators have made. For each hotspot, we examined four aspects of radicalisation that motivated individuals to engage in violent extremism: The method grounds the hotspots in perceptions of injustice which led to grievance, alienation and polarisation (I-GAP), and finally culminated in the violent act. We combined the actor-oriented perspective of the I-GAP spectrum with contextual information on the Finnish cases. 

The three hotspots, a school shooting in Jokela in 2007, an assault by a member of neo-Nazi organisation Nordic Resistance Movement in 2016, and a radical Islamist knife attack in Turku in 2017, represent wider violent phenomena in Finnish society. Each perpetrator of violent attacks analysed were young men, and violent masculinity and misogyny played a central part in their ideology or motivation. In the case of Nordic Resistance Movement, violent masculinity and militant brotherhood were a strong part of the organisation culture and ideology. The Jokela perpetrator had misogynistic ideas and portrayed violent masculinity online. The Turku attacker claimed in court that misogyny was a central motive in his violence.  Although the Turku stabber and the Jokela school shooter can both be interpreted as lone actors in the sense that they did not have a clear background organisation, even they did not act completely on their own. Even when the individual is radicalised not through active recruitment or by participation in an organisation in a traditional sense, but through consuming (mostly online) extremist material, it is important to note that they are not alone; they are very much part of communities online. 

What is labelled political violence or terrorism varies. Despite the school shooter claiming his actions as political terrorism, the shooting was largely discussed in the frame of bullying and mental health problems. In comparison, the other two cases were more readily interpreted as political violence and to many were a wakeup call to the existence of political violence in Finland. Analysing these hotspots shows how the interpretation of violence is a political and value-laden choice, although not always a conscious one.  

You can find the whole report on Finland here and other countries’ reports here

Upcoming reports: 
De-radicalisation and integration legal and policy framework  
Cultural drivers of radicalisation