Do arrests (and killings) deter violent extremism? A comparative analysis

Michael Wolfowicz*, Esther Salama

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is an ever-growing body of evidence that suggests that there exists a significant degree of overlap between violent extremism (VE) and ordinary crime, both at the conceptual level and in terms of patterns and predictors. Countries differ considerably in their approaches to countering violent extremism (CVE). Yet, at least in the west, one common feature is the criminal justice system, whose role is essentially the same for VE as it is for other forms of crime. Despite this, there is little quantitative research on policing and criminal justice system effects on VE. Among the few studies that do exist, most focus on single countries, and examine long observation periods. Our analysis compares two key democratic countries that have received less attention, Canada and Sweden, and finds evidence of heterogeneous effects and patterns concerning how arrests impact the risk of future VE. This suggests that studies focusing on single contexts may have limited generalizability and that current wisdom concerning deterrence-backlash effects is more limited than previously thought.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalBehavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Counter violent extremism
  • arrests
  • criminal justice system
  • series hazard models
  • terrorism


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