International Journal of Coercion, Abuse, and Manipulation (IJCAM)

Vol. 3 (2022). Published July 30, 2022. 

DOI: 10.54208/1000/003/005

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Synergy Between Cults and Terror Groups: A Systematic Review of Recruitment Processes

Darin J. Challacombe 


Previous research has shown that religious organizations are more similar to terror or violent extremist organizations than they are dissimilar (Banisadr, 2009; Centner, 2003; Levine, 1999). Individuals who join both usually have similar characteristics. Because contemporary researchers have focused more on terror groups than on cults, the archival knowledge from cult survivors and years of cult research has not been adequately illuminated as a guide for terror studies. The current literature review attempts to remedy this gap. Using the PRISMA methodology (Moher et al., 2009), I examine the literature of religious-cult recruitment, terror-organization recruitment, and radicalization, to illuminate the multiple confluences between them. Just as cults and terror organizations are similar in many other aspects, they also tend to follow similar recruitment patterns. Understanding cult recruitment can be useful to terror researchers.