Counter-terrorism, changing our practises

How should we face radicalization?

The way that the issue of radicalisation is currently being tackled is outdated and counterproductive. Vice-counsellor of the University of Oxford, Louise Richardson, holds similar views, as she has said that radical views should not be banned, but rather they should be challenged. She argues for inviting those who espouse radical ideas into universities so that their views might be challenged (Espinoza 2016). Likewise, the government must draw the distinction between radical opinions and those which encourage or espouse violent action.

The actual counter-terrorism framework does not mention the difference between violent and non-violent forms of radicalization. Richards (2012) proposes that successful counter terrorism must include it. This aims to demonstrate how the counter-radicalization policy is based on inoperable definitions and methods. Recent evolutions in academia set a convincing tool to understand radicalization: the countering violent extremism (CVE). Khalil and Zheuten (2016) provide guidance for its better implementation. it is essential to understand the “relevance of social networks, ‘radical’ mentors, revenge-seeking, the pursuit of status, and a host of other motivating and enabling factors” (Khalil, Zheuten 2016: vi). In the CVE framework, two kinds of agents are identified:

“Violent Extremism (VE) perpetrators: These individuals are involved in the creation of ideologically or politically motivated violence to varying degrees, (…) ; in certain cases they may be driven primarily by economic incentives, fear of repercussions as a consequence of their non-compliance, and so on

VE supporters: This group supports ideologically or politically motivated violence but does not directly contribute to its creation, and as such they can be said to ‘free-ride’ on the efforts of perpetrators. (Khalil, Zheuten 2016: 5).”

The framework has been updated with a three pillars approach:

“Structural motivators. These include repression, corruption, unemployment, inequality, discrimination, a history of hostility between identity groups, external state interventions in the affairs of other nations, and so on.

Individual incentives. These include a sense of purpose (generated through acting in accordance with perceived ideological tenets), adventure, belonging, acceptance, status, material enticements, fear of repercussions by VE entities, expected rewards in the afterlife, and so on (see Figure 2).

Enabling factors. These include the presence of radical mentors (including religious leaders and individuals from social networks, among others), access to radical online communities, social networks with VE associations, access to weaponry or other relevant items, a comparative lack of state presence, an absence of familial support, and so on. (Khalil, Zheuten 2016: 9)”

By pointing the complexity of the radicalisation process and how it may be violent and/or non-violent, Khalil and Zheuten (2016) provide a strong criticism to the actual framework.

How is counter-terrorism deficient in the fight against ‘foreign terrorism’?

We have found that the counter insurgency nature of the count terrorism policy is its main problem. David Miller and Rizwaan Sabir (2007) argue that counter insurgency while facing IRA institutionalized practices in the British security apparatus.Lamber (2008) pointed out how past practises were reproduced to tackle the modern terrorist threat. For Pantanzis and Pemberton (2009), this is reflected by “symbolic injustices promulgated in the name of the ‘war on terror ’that have disproportionately impacted on Muslims (2009: 660)”. Wilkinson refers to the demand for a strong and quick executive power to tackle the terrorist threat which might naturally appear in the close aftermath of an attack. However, the acquired increasing powers of the executives are affecting the relationship among the state branches and seriously damaging the basic structure of the liberal state (Laura K Daunohue, 2008; 3).Scott Poynting and David Whyte (2012) offer the following lens to understand modern counter-terrorism: what if counter-terror methods were a form of state terror. States always depicted themselves as “victims and never (as) the perpetrators of “terrorism” (2012:1)”. This questions the real nature of counter-terrorism and invites us to ask whether it was “deployed for another purpose- or a range of other purposes (2012:2)”. Spalek and MacDonald (2009) explore the value oriented principle in PREVENT. The focus on shared values presents Muslim’s identity as potentially anti-social (2009: 131), implying their negative impact on society’s cohesion.

The outcomes are politics of exception and unease. They focus on constructed existential threats and legitimising exceptional political moves which have a significant impact on public policies. In order to reflect the following observations, we would like to quote Home Secretary David Blunkett, who on October 15 2001, argued in the House of Commons that “there is a compelling need for more effective powers to exclude and remove suspected terrorists from our country”. He argues that it can be achieved through an “emergency terrorism Bill” and other “extradition measures”. After, Blunkett, received a response from a member of Parliament for West Dorset, Mr. Oliver Letwin who stated that:

We share the Government’s view that legislation is required to increase the effectiveness of our counter-terrorist enforcement. However, does the Home Secretary agree that, too often in the past, over-hasty legislation has proved inoperable in practice? (…) Is he aware that we will resist using the emergency legislation as a means of addressing problems of law enforcement outside the field of terrorism? We are delighted that the Home Secretary accepts that the duty of Parliament in a crisis of the kind that we now face is to maintain a careful balance between public safety and individual freedom. (…) In the light of the Chahalcase, the Singh and Singh case and other jurisprudence associated with the European convention on human rights and the Human Rights Act, does the Home Secretary accept that such removal of dangerous individuals poses a significant legislative problem? Does he accept that the internment or indefinite detention powers that he signalled in his statement today may not provide a workable means of avoiding that problem? Will he confirm the view taken by his predecessor that Parliament can legislate to alter the effect of the Human Rights Act?

Mr. Oliver Letwin accurately points the contradiction between counter-terrorism legislation and human rights’ respect. Measures such as indefinite detention are a grave infringement of the rights of freedom. For Abbas (2016), for example, the following breach reflects Europe’s declining liberal values. For him, 9/11 was a breaking point, when multiculturalism appeared as a failure. Thus, the sack of agreement on the needed multicultural nature of western societies has emerged which therefore, leads to an increasing mistrust towards globalization. This progressively promotes anger and violence towards minorities. A new type of racism emerges from the increasing anti-immigration movement and suspicious policies towards Muslims. This in turn, nourishes division within national communities and raises concerns about coherent national future.

Governing through community involvement: Politics of Unease and PREVENT

Spalek (2010) described Britain’s government over communities as ‘community policing’. It is oriented toward defined goals and objectives and relies upon policing and operations within communities. Success is only possible when “trust between community members and police officers is an essential component of community policing” (2010: 793). Trust-building guarantees “long-term interaction (…) that is required for sensitive partnership work to take place, for contingent trust to be built into implicit trust (2010:789)”. Francesco Ragazzi (2016: 724) from Pari’s school and following DiderBigo’s sociological lens, questioned Spalek’s reading on community policing. Instead of controlling minorities, government govern through a ‘policed multiculturalism’, “understood as the recognition and the management of diversity through a security perspective” (2016:724). These practices have direct influences on how Muslims perceive themselves and how they are perceived by society (2016:725). Spalek and McDonald (2009) already pointed the impacts of Muslims’ involvement in the prevention of terror (2009:123). O’Toole et al. (2015) suggests that Prevent is much more contested. However, while being criticized, it remains the driving measure of the “politics of unease” about Muslims in British Society’ (2015: 15).

We interviewed Barrister Laurie Power on how Prevent might reflect these politics of unease. We report:

PREVENT is an old fashion way of keeping the lead on communities, keeping them marginalized. They do not prevent terrorism. You are not going to find a terrorist wearing a hijab. It is the criminalization of a community to keep safe the wider pubic. And it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Some stories, like girls going to Syria, would legitimize the pursue of PREVENT. But, really, how many people are real risks? The real problem is not people inside. It is the destabilization of the Middle East. And by PREVNT, you alienate communities. You make them feel that they are not part of the British community because they can be stopped on the basis they are Muslims, black or not British. You just produce a generation of angry young British Muslim people who felt they were victimized because they were Muslims. And every Muslim will tell you that the vast majority of Muslims, like the vast majority of Jews, Christians and Sikhs are law abiding peaceful who just want to practice their religion in peace. There is a huge aspect of islamophobia created by the media and government, who haven’t tackled and questioned fear. We give them the power to question and undermine young British Muslim people.

This emphasizes that popular altitude and the current approach to fighting terrorism is the biggest source of insecurity, Brexit or no Brexit, this is what ought to change the UK and all its citizens. Thus, the government should seriously reconsider to improve its security and counter-radicalization measures. The attitudes and current approach to fighting terrorism is the biggest source of insecurity. This is what we ought to change to keep the UK and all its citizens safe.



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