Ebook: Home-Grown Terrorism
This book is part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Series - E: Human and Societal Dynamics and is based upon the presentations of a NATO Research Workshop by the same title. There are many recent examples of terrorist acts committed by radicalised Europeans with an immigrant heritage: in 2004 the Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was assassinated, by a Dutch citizen from Morocco origins, because he produced a movie portraying Islam in an unconventional manner. The same year in the United Kingdom, the police foiled a potential terrorist attack and arrested eight men, all of whom were British citizens of Pakistani descent. Why some individuals with a migrant background become radicalised? Issues about marginalisation, societal exclusion, lack of integration, feelings of isolation, powerlessness and humiliation are all part of the problem. No amount of military or other coercive action will, in itself, do the trick of countering terrorism effectively without remedial action based upon a thorough knowledge of the underlying processes involved. This book is meant to be a small but significant step in that direction. With this purpose, it gathers the views of a wide range of multidisciplinary experts about how to prevent home grown terrorism and what strategies should be developed to hinder its development. It includes recommendations on how to counteract processes that provide a fertile subsoil for terrorism to develop, how to interfere in the recruitment of potential terrorists and specific research recommendations, with a special focus on young Muslims in Europe. This publication is of interest to all international relations and security and defence specialists, with a special relevance to those involved in the study of terrorism as a global threat.
This book is largely based upon presentations at the NATO-sponsored Advanced Research Workshop #982912 entitled “Indigenous Terrorism: Understanding and Addressing the Root Causes of Radicalisation among Groups with an Immigrant Heritage in Europe”, held March 7–9th 2008 in Budapest, Hungary. Most chapters are expanded and updated versions of the best part of these presentations. The inclusion of the chapter by Vera Kattermann is entirely serendipitous. She sent me (TMP) a paper on research she had done in South Africa on the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She wanted my opinion, and reading it I felt it fitted in very nicely with the theme of this book as it so happened that it reached me at the very time I was editing some of its chapters. It is not coincidental that the book's title has changed from “Indigenous” to “Home-grown” terrorism. It symbolises the fact that it is addressed to a readership much wider than the audience of the workshop consisting of experts of some kind or another. It is based upon the premise that instead of dealing with good and evil, it is essential to understand the social and psychological processes underlying acts of terrorism. Further, we are well aware of the fact that enemy images usually mirror one another, so that the terrorists we may regard as evil return the ‘compliment’ . The parallel is further enhanced by the notion that in modern societies the state is endowed with sacredness, as if it stated “ours is the true God”. Thus, the same claim by another denies, as Kahn  hypothesises, the self-transcending truth of the nation, so one proves the truth of one's faith by murdering the other, who is subscribing to another God claiming universal validity. Hopefully, a crucial difference between ‘them’ and ‘us’ in more open societies is that we are aware of this parallel and are in a position to include it in our calculus.
No amount of military or other coercive action will, in itself, do the trick of countering terrorism effectively without remedial action based upon a thorough knowledge of the underlying processes involved. This book is meant to be a small but significant step in that direction.
Lately, indigenous or “home-grown” terrorism has moved to the forefront as the number one security threat in NATO countries. In the course of combating terrorism the aim of counteracting it will vary and should be informed by careful research on the topic. This volume will focus on understanding, and acting on, the societal mechanisms fostering the development of terrorism at the interface of the immigrant subcultures and their segments, on the one hand, and the host societies and their segments, on the other. Thus, a central aim will be to identify hot spots, understand the process of how a part of the immigrant population becomes radicalised not only in terms of its relationship to the host society, but also in terms of tensions between generations within its fold. In addition to looking at the problems short-term, longer-term aspects will also be considered. Feedback loops between terrorist acts and counter-terrorist measures will also be addressed, with a view to include this aspect in the calculus. Our database on terrorism is currently quite small, and on this narrower topic it is even more limited. One of the practical difficulties in prevention has something to do with the prediction of rare events, which lead to tragic results. You may want to make sure that you will catch all perpetrators-to-be. However, you can only do this at the cost of having an unacceptable number of false positives. If you do that, even irrespectively of moral considerations, you further alienate populations that are already alienated enough as it is. This, in turn, may facilitate the recruitment of future terrorists. There are no hard-and-fast rules for calibration, but one needs to include in the calculus the impact of any action taken on the population with immigrant heritage.
As national governments, the EU, and NATO are struggling with the problem of home-grown terrorism it becomes imperative for a common policy to be formulated and implemented. In order to come up with an appropriate response we need to understand the underlying forces, their weak links, and countervailing forces. Given a careful analysis, policies can be formulated regarding disrupting co-operation between terrorist groups as well as identifying future trouble spots with a view of prevention on the societal, group, and individual levels. It is also vitally important to understand the mode of operation of the terrorist groups, and keeping the time frame in mind (short-as against longer-term effects of counter-measures). Specifically, one needs to make sure that short-term considerations do not override long-term ones. It is our hope that this volume will contribute to advancing our understanding of indigenous terrorism to a significant extent.
While European terrorism has been around for a long time, its actions were nation-specific, and nationality-specific. In the UK they were Irish, in Spain Basque nationalists. Before, the number of groups involved in them was small. The main ones were the Baader-Meinhof Gang, or RAF in Germany 1968–1977, the IRA in Northern Ireland with “The Troubles” from 1968 through to the 1990s, the Basque ETA, also from 1968 through to 2006 and the Nov 17th Greek terrorist group reformulated in 2009 as the Revolutionary Struggle. (As of this writing there is no violence either in Northern Ireland or in either Spanish or French Basque country, and the German RAF no longer exists, however the Greek anarchists continue unabated.) There was an international aspect with these groups as well in their training. However, much of the violence, and the attendant anxiety, were nation-specific. Are there any lessons to be learnt from the success in dealing with them?
With much of the present-day terrorism in Europe, the international aspect is very much in focus, and therefore the anxiety generated by a terrorist act is also considerably more likely to jump borders. In addition, the terrorists belong to different ethnic groups: they were largely of Moroccan descent in Spain, and of Pakistani background in the UK, although Greek terrorists are still Greek. The unifying force among militant jihadis is no longer ethnicity, it is the Muslim umma (community). For this type of terrorism the problem may well be more intractable. A wise person once said that you may be able to reach a viable compromise even on such difficult matters as sharing scarce water supplies, but how do you reach a compromise on who the True God is?
This book will focus on the radicalisation of first to third generation immigrants in Europe into violent belief systems compatible with the use of the most extreme form of violence. This makes them easy targets for recruitment as terrorists. The second focus will be on the process of recruitment itself, what facilitates it and what may counteract it. The third focus will be on the problem of integration, with particular reference to the relationship of young people with an immigrant heritage to society as a whole. Why are young immigrants in Europe more radicalised than those of the US or of Australia?
European countries have always defined themselves as nation-states with an identity based on real or mythical descent, where there is really no room for immigrants unless they assimilate completely. How does this contribute to radicalisation? Is there anything we can learn from immigration countries like the USA or Australia in relation to this? Another respect in which we can learn from them is that they did not develop long-term immigrant ghettoes like Londonistan. What did they do right? Has South Africa some lessons to teach us? Answering these questions may help us in doing a better job at prevention.
Europe has a serious problem that can be resolved if individuals and groups believe that they can deal with their grievances (discrimination, religious intolerance, exclusion, etc.) effectively through peaceful political means. This objective has been achieved in all three cases mentioned before, with the RAF as well as with the IRA and the ETA. On the other hand, the present situation will only worsen if social relations with migrant communities continue to deteriorate, thus contributing to the social alienation and marginalisation of entire groups. This is an ideal breeding ground for angry young people to become easy prey for recruitment as global terrorists. As mentioned before, we need to keep in mind that measures to increase security in the here-and-now may alienate the very population we would like to steer towards de-radicalisation.
We need to understand the details of how and why Europe is such a fertile ground for radicalisation. Who is interested in joining, who joins, exactly what makes them join, what may help people in backing out from joining terrorist groups? We need to learn what we can do to destroy or interfere with the functioning of the terrorist networks, and intervene so as to counteract their so far successful methods in stirring up popular support for their cause in Europe, as well as find a practicable way to interfere with their recruitment significantly. We also need to understand their methods of communication better, especially their use of the Internet for recruitment and communication.
Although money transfer is also a major problem as much of the financial support comes from Europe, we will focus primarily on the psycho-social-political aspects of why individuals join, support and take part in such groups and what can be done about it.
The spelling is either British or American, depending on the author. Also, different authors use different transliterations of words originally written in another alphabet: their transliterations are accepted, but in the index the terms are uniform. Not all contributions are such that references are appropriate, especially with a highly sensitive subject matter such as Peter Probst's contribution.
The need for the workshop emerged in the aftermath of major terrorist attacks, first in Madrid on 11th March, 2004, then in London on 7th July, 2005. Anne Speckhard and I attended a stimulating conference on terrorism in the autumn of 2005, but both of us felt that while its content was excellent, its group dynamics were such that the synergy so important in such meetings did not develop. Anne then asked me why I did not organise one in Budapest, and I said yes to her, on the condition that she help me with it. The gestation period was considerably longer than that of an elephant, but it worked out very well in the end. The topic was determined by the fact that in contradistinction to the disastrous attack on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001, both in Spain and in London it was clear that, although some of the inspiration may have come from abroad, the perpetrators were citizens or residents of Spain and the UK respectively, and the organisation itself was local. Therefore, there was/is an urgent need to understand what accounts for young people of immigrant heritage turning to terrorism.
In inviting people to this conference we made an effort to include specialists and generalists, women and men, academics and ‘applied’ people, representatives of different countries, cultures, religious orientation, and disciplines. We do believe that the synergy of people from various backgrounds is hard to beat.
Although there is some overlap in content and purpose, the chapters fall into three categories:
Section 1: Terrorism and/or radicalisation in special areas and populations.
• Latefa Belarouci deals with the difficult situation with the North African community in France.
• Laila Bokhari presents findings on pathways of radicalisation possibly leading to terrorism in Pakistan.
• Berto Jongman describes the complex situation in Holland.
• Robert Lambert discusses dilemmas in dealing with Salafi and Islamist communities in London.
• Sherifa Zuhur deals in some detail with strategies of the New Jihad.
Section 2: Emergence and Organisation of terrorism.
• David Mandel presents findings on a distinction between instigators and perpetrators.
• Reuven Paz offers data on the use of the Internet to spread virulent Jihadi ideology and to acquire recruits for terrorism.
• Peter Probst writes about the specifics of the dangers Radical Islam and its political warfare present.
• Yoram Schweitzer deals with the influence of Al-Quaeda on local and global Jihad.
• Anne Speckhard focuses on the psychological vulnerabilities of those recruited into jihadi militancy, how these groups proliferate their ideology, gain recruits and social support for their cause.
Section 3: The societal subsoil nurturing intolerant militancy and terrorism, as against measures and processes nurturing tolerance.
• Evelin Lindner emphasizes the role of acts and cycles of humiliation in engendering rage and terrorism.
• Elena Mustakova-Possardt maintains that terrorism may, in part, represent a dysfunctional response of communal fundamentalists to an impersonal Western culture.
• Thomas Pick tells us that Europe manages its immigration poorly, not taking sufficient account of the culture clash between immigrant sub-cultures and society-at-large.
• Tom Pyszczynski shows that under life threat the response tends to be decreased tolerance and increased aggression towards the enemy other.
• Vera Kattermann focuses on religious aspects of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.
In addition to providing an analytical view of the field, most contributors also have some suggestions as to what could be done to ameliorate the situation.
 Pick, Thomas M. (1993): Enemy Images. In: Third Bratislava Symposium on Politics and History. Bratislava: European Cultural Foundation.
 Kahn, Paul W. (2008): Sacred Violence: Torture, Terror, and Sovereignty. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press.
Thomas M. Pick, August 2009, Budapest, Hungary
Anne Speckhard, August 2009, Athens, Greece Prague
Beatrice Jacuch, August 2009, Czech Republic
Many young French citizens with Maghreb roots but born and raised in France have been involved in rioting and in terrorist acts. They grow up in crowded outer suburbs and attend secular schools. Although they live in the French society they felt excluded, and never integrated with the majority population. With the dilemma of French and Muslim as mutually exclusive categories and full Frenchness denied to them, the outcome for many of them is being successfully recruited into embracing Islamism and often in its extremist variant. This is unlikely to change unless these young people are offered a viable alternative: integration in terms of equal opportunity.
The aim of this chapter is to review some of the issues relevant to radicalisation towards violent extremism and terrorism. Section I is based on both the author's own research and on findings by colleagues within the field of radicalisation and conflict, and sets the background for an ongoing discussion of the issues at stake. The findings are based on research mostly in Muslim majority countries or in Europe among Muslim populations. A serious part of the research conducted by the author is based on fieldwork in Pakistan, and a separate section is devoted to this context (Section II). Finally, Section III tries to identify some practical steps forwards and some policy recommendations.
Since 9/11 the Netherlands has experienced a number of traumatic terrorist incidents that shocked and polarised society. The incidents triggered a wave of investigations and studies by journalists, academics, government, NGOs and think tanks, which has resulted in an extensive body of knowledge on radicalisation leading to terrorism. In 2003 the Dutch government reformed its counterterrorism structure, which resulted in the appointment of a National Coordinator for Counterterrorism tasked with the coordination of Dutch CT-policy. The Hofstad-group was a group emerging from the Moroccan community in the Netherlands and engaged in terrorist activities. Members were arrested and convicted to long prison sentences. While the current terrorist threat is still significant (one level below critical) the threat has gradually shifted from homegrown groups to the danger of groups that may come from abroad. Salafist jihadi groups use the video Fitna produced by MP Geert Wilders in their argumentation to justify attacks directed against Dutch interests. Partly as a result of an extensive awareness campaign the popular concern about terrorism has diminished and the feeling of security among the general public has improved. In general Dutch society remains peaceful with a far lower level of political violence than most other European countries. Over the last three years there have been no terrorist incidents with a Salafist jihadi background and in 2008 only four suspects were arrested.
The paper highlights the paradoxical position of certain Salafi and Islamist communities in London who have consistently demonstrated skill, courage and commitment in countering al-Qaida propaganda and recruitment activity while simultaneously facing ill-founded criticism from other Muslim communities and secular political lobbyists for creating the conditions that gave rise to the al-Qaida phenomena. In doing so the paper makes comparisons between Salafi and Islamist communities living in London during an ongoing terrorist campaign by al-Qaida and Jewish and Irish Catholic communities living in London during earlier terrorist campaigns against the UK's capital city. In each instance community policing is shown to have a crucial role to play in terms of reassurance for minority faith communities and the prevention of terrorism. However, the intersection between community policing and counter-terrorism is shown to produce tensions that may weaken minority community confidence in policing and thereby reduce pro-active community support for counter-terrorism measures. A London policing initiative is shown to have developed pro-active counter-terrorism partnerships with Salafi and Islamist community groups of a pioneering nature. In consequence that policing initiative has been accused of appeasing extremism by the same critics who conflate Salafis and Islamists with an urgent terrorist threat to London.
This chapter examines the motivating themes and strategies of several Islamist groups. In contrast to the literature on global jihad, it focuses on groups with local grievances and issues in a concentrated manner. First of all, there is al-Qa'ida fi Jazirat al-Arabiyya, a self-declared AQ affiliate. It carried out acts of terrorism against foreigners in Saudi Arabia but not elsewhere, its main grievance being the Saudi government's links to the US and the role of foreign oil companies. The links between the groups are loose and often opportunistic. In addition, there has been recruitment throughout the region to Iraq where the classic theme of resistance against the foreign occupiers unified recruits from many sources with other totally different actors. It also examines the effectiveness of a Saudi program aimed at deradicalization.
A widely accepted viewpoint among terrorism experts and counter-terrorism practitioners is that terrorism depends on the radicalization of its instigators and perpetrators. This chapter examines various definitions of radicalization with a view toward formulating a working definition that may be of use to terrorism scholars and counter-terrorism practitioners. It is concluded that the current usage of the term radicalization is problematic for the productive social scientific analysis of the motivational bases of socio-political violence since the term is relative, subjective, and value-laden. A new working definition of the term is provided.
The credibility of information obtained from open sources has always been a problematic issue for intelligence and security communities and their analysts. The same was with many academic researchers, especially in military or security issues. Modern global Jihad is primarily a doctrinal development that requires legitimacy on the part of clerics and scholars, in the form of interpretations, rulings, and preaching. It embodies the Islamists' struggle to revive the Islamic civilization through global united solidarity and brotherhood on the one hand, and the demonization of whoever the current version of the eternal enemy is, on the other. Most importantly, however, this process takes place on the public forum. Since we deal with movements and groups that are persecuted everywhere, and since they have no access to formal media, the Internet is their only alternative, and they use it in the most efficient way they can. Most importantly, these groups are above all targeting their own societies and not Western regimes and their citizens. The Internet may be used to intimidate the Western public, knowing the audiences' wide exposure to the global media and the huge effect that exposure has upon the sense of security in the West. Global Jihad must use open indoctrination in order to sustain and broaden its audience in general, and its younger generations in particular. Open indoctrination is incompatible with disinformation. Therefore, even though we should be selective and careful in our selection of which information on Jihadi web sites we follow, once we have established the authenticity of a Jihadi web site, we can be reasonably certain that the words we read from their lips are credible. The long Jihad, which the West—and indeed much of the world—is currently facing, uses the Internet to provide both Jihadists and the rest of the world a wide spectrum of diversified information. Western intelligence and security analysts can learn a great deal about modern Jihad by reading the lips of Jihadi clerics, scholars, operatives, commanders, leaders, as well as the response of their growing audience. Improving their ability to do so, and above all in the original language must be a priority.
For the foreseeable future, the prime internal security threat to the United States will most probably be radical Islam in a multitude of forms and guises, using a broad array of tactics and strategies that fall under the rubric of Political Warfare. According to documents entered into evidence in the recent government's prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation in Dallas, Texas, the American branch of the Muslim Brotherhood has for some 40 years engaged in a sophisticated campaign of subversion and political action designed to promote the radical Islamist agenda, eviscerate government capabilities to uncover and dismantle terrorist cells and support mechanisms, coupled with a sophisticated covert campaign to influence American decision making at the highest levels. They have waged an unrelenting campaign of Political Warfare which has capitalized on the American government's failure to recognize the scope and extent of their Political Action activities which have been promoted through a variety of seemingly independent and benign front groups, charities, media outlets and agents-of-influence, as well as through the exploitation of the gullible and well meaning individuals that the Communists used to describe as “useful idiots.”
Over the last two decades, AQ's worldview has led it to evolve, and to enshrine as a core capacity, the ability to induce significant numbers of Muslims, particularly youths, to adhere to its extremist path and doctrine. This has effectively rendered Bin Laden's organization into one of the foremost actors on the international terrorist stage. After a brief introduction, then, this article will explore AQ's radicalization doctrine and the manner in which it is being prosecuted. The article will close with a brief overview of the methods requisite to contain and defeat AQ's subversive campaign.
In recent years European countries have been both the targets of, and launch pads for militant jihadi attacks. This chapter focuses on the individual psycho-social vulnerabilities of those recruited into such groups, the groups themselves, their social support, and the ideologies that fuel them. It addresses the discrimination and marginalization issues facing European Muslims of immigrant descent in Europe and proposes that the lack of equal opportunity on multifarious societal arenas is one of the main factors in the creation of individual vulnerabilities that can lead to radicalization along with the recruitment strategies and ideologies that play upon these vulnerabilities. The chapter also discusses ways to counteract the effects of all this.
Why do young people who grew up in Europe kill innocent citizens in suicide attacks? In her paper, the author makes a link between the deep structure of terrorism and genocide, and offers humiliation as an explanation for both – feelings of humiliation, which carry the potential to lead to acts of humiliation and cycles of humiliation. Current historic times are characterised by two historically novel trends, first, rapidly increasing global interdependence, and second, a growing impact of the human rights message. Furthermore, new research indicates that one can feel as humiliated on behalf of victims one identifies with, as if one were to suffer this pain oneself, a phenomenon that is magnified when media give access to the suffering of people in far-flung places. Human rights ideals also compound this effect because humiliation represents the core violation of the human rights ideal of equality in dignity for all human beings. In the context of globalisation and human rights, therefore, humiliating people no longer produces humble underlings but risks fostering angry ‘terrorists,’ who have yet to realise that equal rights and dignity for all can only be attained by non-humiliating means. The Nelson-Mandela path out of humiliation, namely his strategy of embarking on proactive constructive social change instead of re-active cycles of humiliation, requires the nurturing, locally and globally, of a social and societal climate of mature differentiation, embedded into respect for the equality in dignity of all.
This author examines terrorism as a dysfunctional response of individuals from a communal and fundamentalist religious cultural background to the developmental crisis of the self in the context of the globalizing influences of an individualistic and highly secular Western culture. It offers a developmental framework for addressing these global tensions. The chapter suggests the need for a systemic approach to the cultivation of critical moral consciousness and the overcoming of ideologization, through opening a dialogue and collaboration among a wide range of cultural and religious groups in relieving the anxieties of the global transition, and articulating a coherent vision of social health, which integrates meaningfully collectivist values into democratic societies.
Two variables hypothesized to be relevant to the radicalisation of immigrants are examined. The first one is the degree to which the host society makes them feel welcome and helps them fill a role in society-at-large, which facilitates their integration. A comparison is offered between European societies on the one hand, and long-standing immigration countries such as the US, Australia, and Canada on the other hand. It is argued that a significant ingredient is that the latter do not define themselves as nation-states, and, on the whole, define belonging to the nation as independent of descent. The second variable is the fit between the culture of origin of the immigrant and that of the host country. It has been shown that adjustment is a function of that fit. In individualistic countries, people with an allocentric orientation tend to be poorly adjusted, whereas the reverse is true in collectivist countries, where the ones with an idiocentric orientation are at a disadvantage. This has implications for people from an Islamic background coming to a nation with a Western culture.
Although many plans for peace in the Middle East have been proposed over the years, none have seriously considered the psychological needs that promote conflict and violence, and thus, far none have been successful. This chapter uses Terror Management Theory, which is a general theory of the role of culture and self-esteem in providing psychological security, to shed light on forces that motivate and perpetuate the ongoing cycle of violence in this region. From this perspective, threats to one's cultural worldviews and self-esteem promote violence because they undermine the ability of these psychological entities to provide the protection from anxiety that is needed for psychological well-being and effective functioning. Consequently, people disparage and lash out at those who threaten their worldviews and self-esteem. Research exploring the role of worldviews and self-esteem in providing security and the impact of threats to this security in promoting violence is reviewed, with special emphasis on the operation of these processes in promoting support for violence against perceived enemies in Israel, Iran, and the United States. This analysis also suggests factors that reduce support for violence; research demonstrating the impact of activating compassionate religious values, a sense of shared humanity, close interpersonal attachments, and removing the association between lofty values and violence is discussed.
The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission have become famous for its innovative approach in dealing with past collective trauma. The article looks at the religious discourse used in the context of the public hearings. It can serve as an inspiring example for understanding the possible impact of religion in political processes. Strong points and drawbacks of the use of the reconciliation discourse during the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are discussed and analyzed from a psychoanalytical point of view.