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Thread: UK Counter-Terrorism (merged thread)

  1. #101
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    Default It's terrific Terfor: I think not

    Bill,

    You appear to take an optimistic view of this announcement, being nearer to the scene, with friends working at the "coalface", I fear it is "spin".

    There have been several government reviews of the counter-extremism strategy, often known as Prevent - within the wider CT strategy 'Operation Contest'; a couple of learned groups - including at least two parliamentary enquiries - and a number of other groups, some who have worked at the "coalface".

    The CNN report has little detail, nor have several UK newspapers and we are left with a No.10 Downing Street press briefing:
    The cabinet-level group, which will also bring in intelligence and police chiefs when needed, will focus on radical preachers who target potential recruits in jails, schools, colleges and mosques. It will monitor trends in radicalisation and tackle "poisonous narratives", No 10 said.

    The group, which is expected to meet within weeks, will include the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, the home secretary, Theresa May, the chancellor, George Osborne, other key cabinet ministers, the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, and Andrew Parker, the director general of MI5.

    It will be known as the tackling extremism and radicalisation task force (Terfor)...
    Link:http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2...ror-task-force

    A more conservative leaning paper has a little more, again with some choice headlines:
    We cannot allow a situation to continue where extremist clerics go around this country inciting young people to commit terrorist acts.
    We will do everything we can to stop it.
    Link:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...extremism.html

    Meantime there is political pressure building to re-introduce a piece of legislation on greater communications monitoring, known as the 'Snoopers Charter' to many and officially as the rather blandly titled Communications Data Bill:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...s-charter.html
    davidbfpo

  2. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Bill,

    You appear to take an optimistic view of this announcement, being nearer to the scene, with friends working at the "coalface", I fear it is "spin".

    There have been several government reviews of the counter-extremism strategy, often known as Prevent - within the wider CT strategy 'Operation Contest'; a couple of learned groups - including at least two parliamentary enquiries - and a number of other groups, some who have worked at the "coalface".

    The CNN report has little detail, nor have several UK newspapers and we are left with a No.10 Downing Street press briefing:

    Link:http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2...ror-task-force

    A more conservative leaning paper has a little more, again with some choice headlines:

    Link:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...extremism.html

    Meantime there is political pressure building to re-introduce a piece of legislation on greater communications monitoring, known as the 'Snoopers Charter' to many and officially as the rather blandly titled Communications Data Bill:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...s-charter.html
    Details on the Task Force are lacking, and I'm sure the far left and also well meaning citizens concerned about excessive state power will oppose it, but I suspect their voices are becoming a minority (at least during the emotional post attack period). There seems to be a growing anti-Islamist movement throughout much of Europe (UK, France, Greece, etc.), and I applaud those who oppose the Islamists. They think their entitled to push their hate rhetoric in our culture and push for sharia law, while simultaneously being protected by our laws (the ones they want to change). We need to view sharia as a sickness that has no place in our society and do whatever is necessary to purge it from our ranks. The Islamists are a real threat within our ranks, and sadly we generally know who they are but fail to act due to the prevailing philosophy of political correctness.

    I do worry that well founded opposition to Islamists will translate into a growing trend of hate crimes against Muslims who are not Islamists, which will simply make the problem worse, potentially pushing vulnerable and younger Muslims to consider Islamist views. It is a vicious cycle, but I read some where that the intent of the TF was to disrupt the Islamist narrative, which seems feasible compared to "countering" it. Disruption means targeting those who are promoting hate crimes and outlawing the use of public media to spread their disease. It may mean expelling hate speech promoters. In short it means the legal system will no longer tolerate it.

    Any rational western nation would out law and take offensive action against those within their nation that were openly promoting murder and pushing for sharia law. We made a choice hundreds of years ago not to be backwards, and we should let a few clowns threaten us because our legal system protects them. I think the greatest nature isn't the Islamists because they can be dealt with if we are willing to act, but the larger danger is the prevailing philosophy of political correctness that stifles common sense.

    I have a little hope because senior civilian leaders in the UK have identified Islamist rhetoric as a threat. I have a little hope because the backlash against Muslims may convince main stream Muslims to take action within their community to purge the Islamists, because ultimately they're the only ones who can.

  3. #103
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    Default It'a beyond one religion

    For some reason, certain cities and nations serve as relatively good safe havens in the intellectual and monetary sense. It goes beyond a Londoniston phenomenon--IM non-British opinion, which may be incorrect--and can be found in past movements such as the Khalistan movement, support for the Tamil Tigers (although the US and Canada played important parts too).

    This is a long described phenomenon and isn't new, radicals have often found an ideological home in Western cities. Human rights laws that are tolerate of radical immigrant speech, immigration policies, there are even murmurings in some immigrant communities that as long as the rhetoric is directed outward toward historic "enemies" of the UK, it's okay to say whatever you want. We pay tribute in our generous policies, you keep the violence going in a different direction.

    And for reasons that are unclear to me, some human rights activists and native-born become bonded emotionally to one group over another in overseas conflicts which are more complicated than any narrative presented by any one side.

    Others, of course, are paid and there is an entire industry of cultivation of scholars and journalists and writers. It's not for any one issue, it seems to flare up in periods of time more for one ideology than another, but the generic phenomenon seems similar.

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    Default From another comment of mine on a different thread

    I had suggested in the past either here or at another blog (Abu M) that we study the Punjab insurgency or the Khalistan or similar South Asian movements as a better mental model than 19th century colonial wars and in the manner of Dave Maxwell's recent article on UW.
    1. Immigrant diaspora (Mackinley's Insurgent Archipelagos).
    2. National and regional movements mixed in with ideological movements, some supported by national intelligence agencies.
    3. Lobbying of western officials.
    4. Cultivating Western scholars.
    5. International banking and black globalization in combination as sources of funding.
    6. Sophisticated use of the visual arts and contemporary communications (from television to the internet over time).
    7. And so on.

    PS: You can find newspaper reports of Brussels human rights officials being threatened when the official attempts to look into human rights abuses on both sides of a contentious issue, in this way nations can attempt to manipulate the appearances of insurgencies. This happens in a relatively benign fashion (diplomats yelling at each other or threatening to withhold business contracts behind doors) or in a more nefarious fashion.
    Last edited by Madhu; 05-27-2013 at 01:41 PM. Reason: Added PS

  5. #105
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    Default Bad policy aids and abets radical speech

    There is a tendency for officials in the UK (and it happens in Canada and the US too) to "outsource" (Praveen Swami's phrase) dealing with immigrant communities to community liaisons which perverts the complicated diaspora community and its attitudes.

    I have started to see it here in the US, newspaper reporters will interview some "Hindu American" activist on some made up issue ("Salena Gomez wore a bindi and perverted our traditional culture!") and present it as representative of some community. I bet 99.999999999 percent of "Hindu Americans" don't know who the freak show activist is but some well-meaning but clueless reporter will pass it off as an issue and the whole ball gets rolling from this nonsense.

    I'm seeing different rhetoric in my own community related to a different immigration pattern and this is somehow being passed off as representative of a whole complicated group of people.

    So, this is probably what happened over the years in the UK, and no thanks to the national government, elected officials pandering to the louder activists within a larger immigrant population, and the Foreign Office or whatever buckling under to pressure from nations that are traditional allies or Commonwealth countries or whatever.

    A complicated phenomenon, not typical to just one nation. Sunlight is the best disinfectant for this phenom, IMO.

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    Madhu,

    I think it all comes down to identity and people in the end want their narratives to be simple. What amazes me is how quickly we bond with a group and assume a group identity for even a short period of time and throw rationale out the window as we get got up in the group dynamics. Others, like many home grown Islamists, especially those who were agnostic or Christian and then converted to Islam were searching for a group they could establish an identity with. Examples include the Hari Krisnas, the Jone's Town Cult, Aum Shinrikyo, devil worshiping cults, and the Islamist cult(s).

    Something is missing in people's lives and for some reason joining this groups gives their life meaning. I listed what we generally consider undesirable groups above, but their seems to be little difference between people who decide to become professional soldiers, policemen, join Doctor's without Borders, or join the priest hood. We assume the norms of these groups because we want to belong. In many cases these group identities are healthy for our society instead of threatening.

    I don't know what the fix is for radicalization, because I don't understand the problem, or even if human nature should be considered a problem we need to fix? I do think once those who have taken this path are identified and those who reach out to spread this group identity need to be removed. All complex psychological and sociological factors aside, the simple fact remains is they remain a threat to our society.

    Why do so many skinny American white kids who are for the most spoiled brats embrace gangsta rap and walk around like an intercity black kid in a gang? What identity are they trying to embrace (often comical to watch)? Equally important what identity are they trying to break away from and why? Why do some people assume a violent attitude towards fans of an opposing sports team when they go watch a game (soccer, basketball, etc.)?

    I can't answer any of these questions, but with my primal instincts I can recognize a threat, and Islamists fall into that category. They need to be neutralized as they're identified, and while I don't dismiss the need to address underlying causes, I don't think we understand the underlying causes, so until we do we need to do what we can to protect our people.

  7. #107
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    We all just need to keep in mind that why a movement exists is a strategic and political question; whereas why any individual joins or supports a movement is a tactical and personal question. I often see those questions conflated as one and the same.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    We all just need to keep in mind that why a movement exists is a strategic and political question; whereas why any individual joins or supports a movement is a tactical and personal question. I often see those questions conflated as one and the same.
    Not everyone is a Che or Ho, many are just looking for a group to address some psychological need.

  9. #109
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    Exactly, and of Che and Ho, Ho was an insurgent, while Che was got into the UW business. Ho fully understood the high conditions of insurgency across the many diverse people of Vietnam, their shared desired to have a self-determined future free from foreign intervention, be it French, US, Chinese or Russian. Che, on the other hand got into the UW business and died virtually alone in the South American jungle attempting to start an insurgency where the revolutionary pressure had already been relieved a few years earlier by a nationalist movement.

    You sell the sizzle but you buy the steak. Che got so caught up in selling his own brand of sizzle he never bothered to check to see if anyone was hungry. Most in the US are too focused on the sizzle of various ideologies as well. Better we focused on how we too often contribute to "the steak."
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Bob, if that isn't a twist on words to sell your model, then I have never seen one . My point was simply not every actor is motivated by politics, and in many cases few are, they are motivated more by peer pressure, or a desire to belong to something that will define them.

    Quite simply one size doesn't fit all, and some kid in the UK or the U.S. that grew up in a Christian family then converts to Islam and later becomes an Islamist doesn't mean it is a failure of government. That is the politically correct myth that ties our hands behind our backs while we allow criminals (Obama is right, by definition most of these lone wolves are not terrorists, they don't have a real political agenda, they're just angry at the world and want their 10 minutes of fame and hope they'll get to see 72 virgins) space to operate because we're wondering what "we" did wrong and what we need to do to fix our government, because obviously it is at fault. Using this logic, then kids become drug addicts because government failed, people join loony tune fringe groups like the Hari Krisnas, the Jone's Town cult, and Aum Shinrikyo, or name your anarchist group because government has failed, and the list goes on and on. I don't buy it. In some cases bad government can set conditions that lead to an insurgency, but isn't what we're talking about when we address radicalization of lone wolves in the West. Generally losers that are looking for identity.

  11. #111
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    My point was simply not every actor is motivated by politics, and in many cases few are, they are motivated more by peer pressure, or a desire to belong to something that will define them.
    Nothing I said conflicts with this viewpoint, in fact I support it. That is why I separate the movement and its reason for existing from the motivations of the various individuals who opt to join or support such a movement.

    The reasons for the movements are indeed political, as they are illegal challenges to some system of governance. The individuals, as you point out, join for many reasons.

    We tend to conflate the two, and I think that leads to flawed thinking.

    I have never suggested that "one size fits all"; but do believe that just as Clausewitz offers a broad, universal framework for thinking about warfare (external, violent political competition between two or more distinct systems of "Government-People-Army" working to exercise their will over the other; so too is there a fundamental commonality to internal, illegal, political competition. Why any individual voluteers to go off and fight in either type is personal to them as an individual, and largely unrelated to the larger dymanic at work.

    I also think we do tremendous damage when we attempt to make Clausewitz apply to every form of conflict. (and yes, I realize statements like that will draw out those dedicated to the belief that Clausewitz does indeed apply to all forms of war). I also think Clausewitz applies to all forms of "war" - I just don't think that internal conflicts, regardless of how "war-like" fit into that genius/species of conflict. Attempting to force Clauswitzian logic to work in internal conflicts is, IMO, one of the major reasons why states are so bad are resolving the same. Good solution, but wrong problem.

    (Visual graphic for a little humor on those who belive fervantly that CvC applies, and only fails when we just don't commit fully to the solution)
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Bob's World; 05-28-2013 at 01:28 PM.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  12. #112
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    Agreed

  13. #113
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Hammer, rapier and careful thought

    One CT dilemma well put (in part) BY Jamie Bartlett, of Demos:
    .. the crunch question that in counter-terrorism: how do you discern between the (fairly many) individuals that hold illiberal, extreme ideas that we permit in a liberal democracy and the (very few) individuals that hold the same ideas, but are also willing to act on them violently. After a lot of painstaking research, I found there is no single answer, no single pathway of radicalisation, no obvious predictive flashing signs that the police or intelligence agencies can reliably and consistently look out for. Such randomness is uncomfortable, but it's true nonetheless.
    Link:http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jami...b_3343310.html

    Marc Sageman chimes in, in the same e-paper:
    So what advice would he give the British government? "The priority for the government right now is.. to study what's happening on the ground, as opposed to just giving out soundbites.. stop being brainwashed by this notion of 'radicalisation'. There is no such thing. Some people when they're young acquire extreme views; many of them just grow out of them. Do not overreact - you'll just create worse problems."
    Link:http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013...n_3342206.html
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    One CT dilemma well put (in part) BY Jamie Bartlett, of Demos:

    Link:http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jami...b_3343310.html

    Marc Sageman chimes in, in the same e-paper:

    Link:http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013...n_3342206.html
    I like Sageman, I think his research has been validated repeatedly unlike our so called COIN experts. However, he doesn't offer a rationale solution for mitigating the threat of homegrown extremists. I agree over reacting will make the problem worse, but also believe that failure of government to act will compel elements of the population to act and they will definitely over react and target all Muslims. I see little wrong with targeting those who promote the hate speech. I don't know, but I haven't seen any reports that Anwar Awlaki gained greater importance after we killed him. Actually it appears the opposite has happened.

    A lot of quotes in Sageman's article are worth noting, but will note a couple here.

    "The notion that there is any serious process called 'radicalisation', or indoctrination, is really a mistake. What you have is some young people acquiring some extreme ideas - but it's a similar process to acquiring any type of ideas. It often begins with discussions with a friend."
    This seems to be true in some cases, especially in the West, but the Talibs in Pakistan underwent an extensive radicalization process in the various Madrassas close to the Afghanistan border.

    Sageman disagrees: foreign policy is a major factor. "If you listen to the video of that guy, Michael Adebolajo, he very much says it is because of the [Afghan] war. At what point are you going to start listening to the perpetrators who tell you why they're doing this? The same applies to the videos of the 7/7 bombers. At some point you have to be grounded in reality."
    I agree our foreign policy that is played out on the 24/7 news cycle and interpreted in multiple ways on the internet provides something these lone wolves and small groups use to justify their behavior. After 10 plus years of overt war we are providing ample supporting fires for the radicals to exploit. Some wars are best fought quietly in the shadows, which is the direction the President seems to be taking us, but against considerable opposition.

    As for Muslims being asked to apologise for, or condemn, terrorist acts supposedly committed 'in the name of Islam', Sageman is scathing: "Does your Conservative Party have to apologise each time the [far right] does something nasty? You're asking the same thing of the Muslim population."
    Good find, I just wish he would address the other reality, which is our reality, not just the Muslim reality.

  15. #115
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    Default I wasn't implying a root causes argument

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Madhu,

    I think it all comes down to identity and people in the end want their narratives to be simple. What amazes me is how quickly we bond with a group and assume a group identity for even a short period of time and throw rationale out the window as we get got up in the group dynamics. Others, like many home grown Islamists, especially those who were agnostic or Christian and then converted to Islam were searching for a group they could establish an identity with. Examples include the Hari Krisnas, the Jone's Town Cult, Aum Shinrikyo, devil worshiping cults, and the Islamist cult(s).

    Something is missing in people's lives and for some reason joining this groups gives their life meaning. I listed what we generally consider undesirable groups above, but their seems to be little difference between people who decide to become professional soldiers, policemen, join Doctor's without Borders, or join the priest hood. We assume the norms of these groups because we want to belong. In many cases these group identities are healthy for our society instead of threatening.

    I don't know what the fix is for radicalization, because I don't understand the problem, or even if human nature should be considered a problem we need to fix? I do think once those who have taken this path are identified and those who reach out to spread this group identity need to be removed. All complex psychological and sociological factors aside, the simple fact remains is they remain a threat to our society.

    Why do so many skinny American white kids who are for the most spoiled brats embrace gangsta rap and walk around like an intercity black kid in a gang? What identity are they trying to embrace (often comical to watch)? Equally important what identity are they trying to break away from and why? Why do some people assume a violent attitude towards fans of an opposing sports team when they go watch a game (soccer, basketball, etc.)?

    I can't answer any of these questions, but with my primal instincts I can recognize a threat, and Islamists fall into that category. They need to be neutralized as they're identified, and while I don't dismiss the need to address underlying causes, I don't think we understand the underlying causes, so until we do we need to do what we can to protect our people.
    I was trying to think of ways to disrupt threats in my previous comments.

    There is more than one conversation going on around here, one is about the home grown radical threat to the UK, and then there is the UK safe haven phenomenon that supports violence and disorder overseas, in symbiosis with the complicated nature of global travel and the rest of it.

    When tallying costs, the two are sometimes looked at separately but maybe they shouldn't be?

    Sageman confuses me, I guess I was using radicalization in a different way than a formal indoctrination, I was thinking more along the lines of what he was saying, it's kind of a milieu and the peer group and people talking to each other, as he puts it. So, I'm not sure what he is saying?

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    Default On Sageman

    Some people when they're young acquire extreme views; many of them just grow out of them.
    I guess I wonder if certain social environments make it more likely to acquire extreme views so that if most grow out of it, it also makes it likely that a few more will stay with it.

    What about this article?

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/...-a-901959.html

    I don't know how to interpret what Sageman is saying along with the information in the der Spiegel article?

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    Upon further pondering on the topic last night, I think Sageman makes some good points in a limited context, but failed to address mass radicalization in the Madrassas that created the Taliban and mass radicalization in Cambodia that created the Khmer Rouge. Complex topic, so it is important not to jump to conclusions on this.

  18. #118
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    Default Race, class, ethnicity and Islam: a London cocktail

    Giving some context to help understand the Woolwich murder, a short RUSI comment by an academic, Professor Jonathan Githens-Mazer. The full title, then sub-title being:
    Why Woolwich Matters: The South London Angle. The vivid and disgusting images witnessed in Woolwich come not necessarily from the pages of Al-Qa'ida's Inspire magazine, but out of rap videos shot in South-East London. Here is an environment that combines urban disaffection with perceived certainties from Islam.
    Link:http://www.rusi.org/analysis/comment.../#.UaiyJ5UTNhB

    What struck me on my first reading was how similar the scene was to known "hot spots" for AQ recruiting, for example a couple of towns in Morocco:http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/25/ma...2&oref=slogin& . Secondly how little outsiders understand what is occurring beyond their desks and journey to work.

    There are several related threads on radicalisation (generally) and in the UK, in particular 'My Brother the Bomber':http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=3096
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-02-2013 at 09:41 PM. Reason: add links
    davidbfpo

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    Default New Immigrant Communities in South London...

    South London is also changing in other ways. Looking at just one shifting demographic, it is home to an increasing South and Central American community. Their culture* is decidedly different from that of the radical islamists - and even the more moderate portions of the Muslim community, for that matter - and it will be interesting to see how this confrontation will work itself out. There are other fault lines that will challenge jihadism. It could be that the very multi-culturalism which some see as the problem with respect to radicalisation and terrorism will serve as a bulwark against it.



    [*Eg, there is a clothing shop on the Old Kent Road near the Tesco (in London, that is a meaningful geographical designation, fyi) that also deals in women's lingerie. In the front window is an ad for a thong corset, view from the rear. It is defiantly not modest.]

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    Video from PJTV on this subject..... has some harsh language in places but it is all part of the facts of what happened.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6c_dinY3fM

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