Brussels attacks: how radicalization happens and who is at risk

Mar 29, 2016

Photo credit: EPA/Laurent Dubrule

By Frederic Lemieux

Two bombings in Brussels have killed dozens of people and injured over 100, only days after one of the Paris attackers was arrested in the city’s Molenbeek suburb. The Islamic State (ISIS) has reportedly claimed the attack.

As they recover from the shock of the attacks, people are asking why this happens, and who the people carrying out these suicide missions are.

That such attacks could be launched from inside a European country once again calls attention to a serious crisis: the radicalization of citizens outside the Middle East by extremist groups.

A willingness to embrace violence

The actions of the shooters like those in San Bernardino, Paris and very probably Brussels are difficult for most people to understand. But the work of scholars specializing in extremism can help us begin to unravel how people become radicalized to embrace political violence.

Security experts Alex Wilner and Claire-Jehanne Dubouloz define radicalization as a process during which an individual or group adopts increasingly extreme political, social or religious ideals and aspirations. The process involves rejecting or undermining the status quo or contemporary ideas and expressions of freedom of choice.

Newly radicalized people don’t just agree with the mission and the message of the group they are joining; they embrace the idea of using violence to induce change.

And some members of these groups become radical enough to actually get involved in violent operations personally.


Source: The Conversation

30 comments on “Brussels attacks: how radicalization happens and who is at risk

  • Why forget the most important parts? The way they worship is conducive to submitting to the will of the leader. The way some have been indoctrinated to hold Mohammad higher than everything, yes even Allah, makes them submit to the strongest leader figure. The simply fact Islam is not a religion of peace, but the religion’s holy books contains mostly a hate of those outside Islam and a desire to kill them.

    It isn’t the poor, the destitute, the uneducated who are potential Jihadi, but the privileged, well off and educated, primed to die for a silly book of bad ideas.



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  • GPzSilentwalker #1
    Mar 30, 2016 at 9:39 am

    It isn’t the poor, the destitute, the uneducated who are potential Jihadi, but the privileged, well off and educated, primed to die for a silly book of bad ideas.

    While you seem to right for some instances from developed countries, there is a new twist, showing that jihadi manipulators are not choosy about who they sacrifice for their evil cause! – especially in the poorer countries!

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/would-be-suicide-bombers-claim-to-be-girls-kidnapped-by-boko-haram-1459102328

    A pair of young female would-be suicide bombers set off an international investigation over the weekend, when they were arrested at a roadblock in Cameroon, one of them drugged and both insisting they were among the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped from the town of Chibok, Nigerian officials said.

    Friday’s arrest offered further testimony to how deeply involved young girls have become in West Africa’s conflict with the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency.

    On Sunday, Femi Adesina, a spokesman for Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said the government was dispatching two parents from Chibok to check whether the girls are their daughters.



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  • The problem, though, GPzSilentwalker, is that Brussels and Paris illustrated one of the most perplexing aspects of the process of radicalisation – namely that there is no obvious or close correlation between mainstream religion and the radicalisation process. In particular, there is no clear or widely accepted evidence to support the notion that religious people are more susceptible to radicalisation. Indeed, some of the evidence rather suggests the reverse could be true – that involvement in mainstream religion may act to ‘inoculate’ people to some degree against such susceptibility. This has been well-understood for years by academics, well-briefed politicians and members of security and intelligence groups around the world. Unfortunately, many people in the public marketplace believe the opposite, despite the considerable body of evidence.

    There is no clear correlation with anything much really. Not the level of education or economic background. Not the intelligence quotient. Not the mental health of individuals (one recent and well-reported study did suggest that people with a history of clinical depression may be statistically more vulnerable). Not religious background or activity, except in the broadest of cultural terms (jihadist terrorists are generally from a culturally Moslem background, for example. Hindu extremists are Hindus. Secular terrorists have often come form non-religious backgrounds). This is the problem. There are no obvious markers to help security forces identify the profile of those most at risk. Having said that, Paris and Brussels both suggest, anecdotally, that there could be a correlation between susceptibility to radicalisation and involvement in petty crime and drug abuse. Even that, though, is not clearly illustrated in the academic literature.



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  • Charles #3
    Mar 30, 2016 at 10:40 am

    Secular terrorists have often come form non-religious backgrounds). This is the problem.

    “Secular terrorists” (ie. those with no particular religious affiliation – such as animal rights fanatics) almost invariably perpetrate terrorism in the name of religion-like ideologies.
    I cannot recall ANY example of terrorism carried out in the name of atheism!

    Not religious background or activity, except in the broadest of cultural terms (jihadist terrorists are generally from a culturally Moslem background, for example. Hindu extremists are Hindus.

    Denial of the religious connection would appear to be an example of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy!

    The Irish “troubles” were Protestant V Catholic.
    The crusades were Christian V Muslim!

    Quite clearly this huge crowd is religiously motivated:-

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/03/obscene-praise-for-the-pakistani-muslim-who-murdered-a-blasphemer/

    as are the Hindu gangs who murder in the name of defending cows!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2015/11/hindu-cattle-patrols-in-india-seek-to-protect-cows-from-beef-eaters/
    The recent violence began in September, when an angry Hindu mob broke down a door and dragged a 50-year-old Muslim man from his home outside New Delhi, following rumors that he had eaten beef. The mob then kicked him and beat him with bricks until he died. When the police sent the meat stored in his refrigerator for forensic testing, it turned out to be goat.



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  • I’m not denying religious connections with some violent and terrorist movements. I’m stating that the broad sweep of professional research into radicalisation has failed to demonstrate a convincing and statistically significant correlation between religious participation and susceptibility to radicalisation, and has struggled to find any other significant correlations. This is widely accepted in the academic literature and is a real problem for our security and intelligence services.

    Atheists do not generally consider atheism to be an ideology. Some ideologies are, however, atheistic. There have been many non-religious violent and terrorist organisations in recent decades, including the Mau Mau, the Baader Meinhof Gang, the Red Brigades in Italy, the Sandinistas, ETA and the Tamil Tigers. Some of these groups are associated with far-left politics and ideology and are deeply antithetical to religion. Others exhibit an extreme nationalist agenda, sometimes accompanied by a cultural association with a religion.

    The IRA is an Irish paramilitary terrorist organisation aligned to the Sinn Féin (‘We by Ourselves’) nationalists. It is identified culturally with Catholicism, but their agenda has always been secular and nationalist, not religious. Likewise the PLO (again, nationalist) is often identified culturally with Islam, but has always represented Christian and non-religious Palestinians as well. Like the IRA, it is a secular, not a religious, organisation. It is rather respectable these days, but back in the 1970s it was one of the most feared global terrorist organisations around. All those hijackings and murders. Remember Munich in 1972? It is etched into my memory. That was a PLO faction called Black September. Those guys were not jihadists. They owed more to Che Guevara than Mohammad.

    Like most westerners, I’d never heard of jihadism (or even ‘fundamentalism’) until some point in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Modern jihadist extremism is largely the product of well-funded export of Wahhabism from the Arabian peninsular from the 1960s onwards, the geo-political ambitions and eventual collapse of the USSR and the ongoing political and military interventionism of the USA and other western democracies in the middle east. Wahhabist and Salafist jihadism now dominates the agenda, especially since 9/11, but it wasn’t always so and, importantly, it won’t always be so. Terrorists are not necessarily religious and religion is not convincingly correlated to radicalisation. We need to get real about how radicalisation works if we are to have any hope of combatting it, whatever form it takes. Paris and Brussels serve to underline this point, given the background of so many of the people who took part in those attacks.



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  • Charles #5
    Mar 30, 2016 at 1:03 pm
    .
    I’m not denying religious connections with some violent and terrorist movements. I’m stating that the broad sweep of professional research into radicalisation has failed to demonstrate a convincing and statistically significant correlation between religious participation and susceptibility to radicalisation, and has struggled to find any other significant correlations.

    I find little problem in finding examples of religion related radicalism or conflict.

    Such groups are usually branched off as extreme sects or organisations associated with major religions. The problem is with tribalistic support for them by those mainstream organisations wearing the same religious badges.

    This is widely accepted in the academic literature and is a real problem for our security and intelligence services.

    I think that this is only among theological academics using the filters of “faith-vision”.

    http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/nov/18/religious-extremism-main-cause-of-terrorism-according-to-report

    Since 2001 religious extremism has overtaken national separatism to become the main driver of terrorist attacks around the world, according to the Global Terrorism Index

    Historians have abundant evidence of the involvement of religions in sectarian wars and abuses! – I found some links in a matter of minutes in my previous post!

    The IRA is an Irish paramilitary terrorist organisation aligned to the Sinn Féin (‘We by Ourselves’) nationalists. It is identified culturally with Catholicism, but their agenda has always been secular and nationalist, not religious.

    This is nonsense! The IRA was always in support of the Irish Catholic theocracy which dominated the politics of the South until very recently, covered up child abuse, and still has its doctrinaire grip on issues like contraception.



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  • I think you are all missing the main catalyst for radicalisation. It is the incredibly effective worldwide indoctrination system that Islam has developed. It is a brilliantly conceived management system which enforces strict discipline over all Moslems and which is strictly “policed” by the daily rituals that have to be followed (prayers 5 times a day etc, visits to Mecca once in a lifetime etc). Failure to BE SEEN to be demonstrating ones commitment to the faith results in immediate peer pressure and ostracism (or even death in extreme situations). Parents do not dare to steer children away from the indoctrination because of the ostracism that the children will face.
    As ISIS repeatedly states, all Moslems have been taught the Quaranic IMPERATIVE that infidels must be killed. ALL Moslems know this and fortunately the majority do not apply it literally. The general Moslem response to ISIS type atrocities though always seems to be relatively muted and the reason is simply that all Moslems know that ISIS is just showing commitment to Quaranic teachings, so, while they do not openly support ISIS, they also do not oppose it very strongly. The Moslems that I know were in full agreement that the Charlie Hebdo journalists deserved to be killed. I have yet to see any significant Moslem opposition to the Fatwa against Salmon Rushdie. Until pressure is put on Moslems across the world to reform the Quran and remove all brutal anti social imperatives in it, the incredibly effective Islamic faith management system that is based on the Quran wil continue to provide complete justfication and rationalisation for the murder of infidels by those who wish to demonstrate the intensity of their commitment to Islam….without much opposition from other Moslems.
    (as an aside, the insanity of the UK government in encouraging “faith schools” which provide a fertile childhood endoctrination opportunity, is quite inexplicable)



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  • Further to Charles’ comments at #3 and #5, Foreign Policy had a very interesting article on this topic recently – a translated reprint of an article that appeared in Le Monde after the Paris attacks last November.

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/01/07/frances-oedipal-islamist-complex-charlie-hebdo-islamic-state-isis/

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting religion is not a factor. It clearly is – at the very least, it provides a justifying (sic) and rewarding narrative. But human behaviour is generally more complex than black-and-white answers would tend to suggest, and the very fact that jihadism is a relatively recent phenomenon in its current form and is not embraced by the majority of Muslims must also suggest that Islam is a necessary but not necessarily sufficient cause. Given the scale of the horror, it would not be responsible to dismiss out of hand research that shows there may be other factors involved in radicalization.



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  • I can’t edit my last comment, but I wanted to add to the last sentence:

    Given the scale of the horror, it would not be responsible to dismiss out of hand research that shows there may be other factors involved in radicalization, since those factors may point to preventative actions that could be taken.



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  • @Richard01 “I think you are all missing the main catalyst for radicalisation. It is the incredibly effective worldwide indoctrination system that Islam has developed. It is a brilliantly conceived management system which enforces strict discipline over all Moslems and which is strictly “policed” by the daily rituals that have to be followed (prayers 5 times a day etc, visits to Mecca once in a lifetime etc). Failure to BE SEEN to be demonstrating ones commitment to the faith results in immediate peer pressure and ostracism (or even death in extreme situations). Parents do not dare to steer children away from the indoctrination because of the ostracism that the children will face.”

    Exactly right!!



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  • Marco #8
    Mar 30, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    But human behaviour is generally more complex than black-and-white answers would tend to suggest, and the very fact that jihadism is a relatively recent phenomenon in its current form and is not embraced by the majority of Muslims must also suggest that Islam is a necessary but not necessarily sufficient cause.

    This is not correct!
    Jihadism has been long established in history, in a minority Muslim sect, and was not “embraced by the majority of Muslims” even in its early days!

    http://www.historynet.com/holy-terror-the-rise-of-the-order-of-assassins.htm

    During the Crusades, the Muslim sect known as the Assassins tamed more powerful enemies using a shocking means: murder

    For almost two centuries, from 1090 until 1273, the Order of Assassins played a singular and sinister role in the Middle East. A small Shiite sect more properly known as the Nizari Ismailis, the Assassins were relatively few, geographically dispersed, and despised as heretics by both the Sunni Muslim majority and even by most other Shiites. By conventional standards, the Assassins should have been no match for the superior conventional military power of any of their many enemies. But near the end of the 11th century, the charismatic and ruthless Hasan-i Sabbah forged this small, persecuted sect into one of the most lethally effective terrorist groups the world has ever known. Even the most powerful and carefully guarded rulers of the age—the Abbasid and Fatimid caliphs, the sultans and viziers of the Great Seljuk and Ayyubid empires, the princes of the Crusader states, and emirs who ruled important cities like Damascus, Homs, and Mosul—lived in dread of the chameleonlike Assassin agents. Known as a fida’i (one who risks his life voluntarily, from the Arabic word for “sacrifice”; the plural in Arabic is fidaiyn, or the present-day fedayeen), such an agent might spend months or even years stalking and infiltrating an enemy of his faith before plunging a dagger into the victim’s chest, often in a very public place. Perhaps most terrifying, the Assassins chose not only a close and personal manner of killing but performed it implacably, refusing to flee afterward and appearing to welcome their own swift death.



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  • Alan #11

    Then let me put it differently.

    Since all Muslims have Islam in common but not all Muslims become jihadists, society needs to explore why some – a minority – become radicalized. The texts, after all, are the same for all. And they are undoubtedly full of horrors, but what is it that, in a minority of followers, turns appalling words into appalling acts?

    As Charles has pointed out, and as the link I posted above also suggests, there seem to be – in some cases, at least – other factors involved too.

    If that is the case, then simply insisting that it’s Islam, Islam and nothing but Islam will result in opportunities for preventing radicalization being missed.

    At the very least, such research should not be dismissed out of hand simply because we dislike Islam.



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  • Marco #12
    Mar 30, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    as the link I posted above also suggests, there seem to be – in some cases, at least – other factors involved too.

    There are undoubtedly other factors too (such as foreign funding and arming of terrorists, or the rebelliousness of teenage mentality), but Islamic indoctrination of attitudes which images “infidels” as sub-human, and enforcement of subservience to Islamic beliefs, are undoubtedly core issues.

    If that is the case, then simply insisting that it’s Islam, Islam and nothing but Islam will result in opportunities for preventing radicalization being missed.

    I don’t think that anyone is claiming that there are no other factors involved, but the teachings of Islam are what the fundamentalists are carrying out to the letter, while the “moderates” are fudging!
    It should be no surprise that in those strongly indoctrinated, the abuses advocated in the Quran, can be triggered to come to the surface!

    The history link I put at #11, has a lot of detail, much of which is parallel to the modern situation, showing history repeats itself!



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  • “Terrorist” can and often is used to describe non-religious activists, usually using violence; for instance, Mandela and the Irgun were certainly so described. But what seem, nearly always, to have a strong religious component now are suicide attacks – and there, I suppose, the structure is obvious: the reward of Paradise and many virgins or equivalents in a guaranteed afterlife. There have been other kinds of suicide activists but at this point in time I think Most have religious glory as their motivation.



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  • Further to the remarks by Alan4discussion above, and in response to the head-in-the-sand position displayed in his posts #8 and #12, I would suggest Marco acquaints himself with the ideology of the enormously influential islamist ‘thinker’ Abul Ala Maududi, whose propagation of the ideals of political islam and global ‘jihad’ are very relevant to what has been happening – not just recently but for many years. Let’s just understand exactly what we are dealing with. Writing back in 1927 – that’s right Marco, 1927 – he declared :
    “Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam, regardless of the country or the nation which rules it. The purpose of Islam is to set up a state on the basis of its own ideology and programme, regardless of which nation assumes the role of the standard-bearer of Islam or the rule of which nation is undermined in the process of the establishment of an ideological Islamic State. Islam requires the earth—not just a portion, but the whole planet …. because the entire mankind should benefit from the ideology and welfare programme [of Islam] … Towards this end, Islam wishes to press into service all forces which can bring about a revolution and a composite term for the use of all these forces is ‘Jihad’. …. the objective of the Islamic ‘ jihād’ is to eliminate the rule of an un-Islamic system and establish in its stead an Islamic system of state rule.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abul_A'la_Maududi



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  • There is a huge body of research papers, reports and books on the subject of radicalisation. It is daunting to try to get to grips with the subject. Government reports and similar documents can provide an accessible overview of current research and thinking. They also provide insight into the information that informs policy making. I’m from the UK, so here is a small sample of the material that drives discussion in this country.

    House of Commons Home Affairs Committee: Roots of violent radicalisation

    Home Office: Understanding vulnerability and resilience in individuals to the influence of Al Qa’ida violent extremism

    Youth Justice Board: Preventing Religious Radicalisation and Violent Extremism; A Systematic Review of the Research Evidence

    A Decade Lost; Rethinking Radicalisation and Extremism



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  • I’m not really sure what the issue is of understanding why not all Muslims become extremists or even worse, concluding that this somehow shows that religion isn’t the root cause (the Ben Affleck stance).

    If you measure a particular quality of any population of things, either objects or people, it will exist on a Bell Curve or Normal Distribution curve. Weight, height, susceptibility to radicalisation, it makes little difference. Most of the sample will cluster about the mean and outliers will exist at the extremes. Inflict religious views on a population that try to make them terrorists and only a minority will succumb to such pressure. Now what causes a particular person to be one of these outliers is a different and more complex matter but it’s the religious pressure that drives the conversion.

    That isn’t of course to say that those who decide to kill others for their religion wouldn’t find some other cause to kill for if the religion didn’t exist but that’s too hypothetical to warrant much consideration. Maybe there is, or will be one day, a stamp collecting cult that seeks to spread its message with suicide bombs but I think it unlikely. What is certain though is that religions create an “us and them” environment, the “them” frequently become demonised and objects of hatred much as the ideology armed forces try to instill in their soldiers re the enemy, and it’s only one further step to getting people to kill the “them”.

    Religions have had thousands of years practice at creating this “us and them” environment and finding ways to brainwash the flock and keep them faithful. It should be no surprise that they are very good at it. Obey everything we say and go to heaven or disobey, or even question things too deeply, and go to hell and burn for eternity. The carrot and stick that drives nearly every religion.

    Most people have an inner moral base that precludes them from killing others or even, in the main, hurting others, but the outliers will always exist and yes perhaps they’ll find another cause to kill for if their religion didn’t exist but that’s no reason not to get rid of the religion, or to place the blame squarely at its feet.

    Muslim terrorists are not just random nasty people. They are religious terrorists who have been converted, and perverted, by a religion that preaches death to its opponents.



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  • Charles #16
    Mar 30, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    House of Commons Home Affairs Committee: Roots of violent radicalisation

    Having looked at this first link, it appears to out of date, and is focussed mainly on radical UK organisations which show minimal activity.

    In the pages I looked at (from the many), there is a notable absence of references to Al Quaida, ISIS, the Taliban, or BokoHaram, or imported radicalisation from the global trend I pointed out at #6.

    (@#6 – Since 2001 religious extremism has overtaken national separatism to become the main driver of terrorist attacks around the world, according to the Global Terrorism Index)
    The historical model I posted @#11, should give an insight into Islamic cults’ terrorist methods!



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  • Islam has been keeping up jihad for the last 1400 years; (The crusades were a bump in the road) how else do you explain the fact that it is present from the Fillipines to Marocco and everything in between (Except Israel). Basically, it is a power structure with a “religion” bolted on since the days of mohammed. They found it remarkably easy to convert people to islam when threatening to cut their heads off. Islam has always been a conquering ideologue, and still is. Their method has also been the same for the past 1400 years: kill, rape and torture plus a variety of sexual aberrations are the symptons of a barbaric society of the 6th century, which is being perpetuated to this very day. Islam has not seen any enlightment of any kind, except for a brief period in the 9th century under the rule of Harun al Hashid. These days, certainly in Brussels and Paris, muslims are regarded as backward and stupid people (Which they are through their systemic inbreeding; just the ticket for the imams), and are vulnerable to indoctrination by their “betters”. The change (If ever) will have to come from enlightened muslims who will criticise the koran and it’s barbaric fashions, and move towards a secular society. So far, terrorist attacks are celebrated (If not whole-heartedly) by muslim society, and only when these attacks are ridiculed by their own breathren, will they cease.
    And yes, the attackers come from all layers of muslim society, but they all have a number of reasons for doing so: at gunpoint, indoctrination at a massadra/internet, blackmail etc. They are a gullible people, (Who are being exploited by their imams) who have no place in the modern secular society.



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  • Marco #9
    Mar 30, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Given the scale of the horror, it would not be responsible to dismiss out of hand research that shows there may be other factors involved in radicalization, since those factors may point to preventative actions that could be taken.

    It would however be a mistake to allow other peripheral factors to distract from the core issues of Muslims (particularly young Muslims), being indoctrinated to follow authoritarian leaders!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-35928089

    Police Scotland is to investigate alleged links between two prominent Muslim leaders and a banned sectarian group in Pakistan.

    A BBC investigation has found that Sabir Ali, head of religious events at Glasgow Central Mosque, was president of Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP).

    This is a political party now proscribed by the Home Office.

    Links to the group have also been made to Hafiz Abdul Hamid from the Polwarth Mosque in Edinburgh.

    Glasgow Central Mosque said it would not remove Mr Ali from his role until the links were proved.

    Whereas any reputable organisation, would suspend someone in such a key role, while an investigation (which should have been conducted earlier as part of management responsibility), was carried out!

    But it said it condemned terrorism of any kind

    Which looks like theistic double talk, in a dichotomy which tries to separate image from actions!

    The (SSP) group and its armed off-shoot, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), have accepted responsibility for deadly sectarian attacks against Shia Muslims and other religious minorities in Pakistan.

    It has links to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and was banned by the Home Office in 2001 – and in Pakistan one year later.

    An official UK government document describes the group’s purpose: “The aim of both SSP and LeJ is to transform Pakistan by violent means into a Sunni state under the total control of Sharia law.

    “Another objective is to have all Shia declared Kafirs [non-believers] and to participate in the destruction of other religions, notably Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism.”

    The BBC has obtained copies of the group’s in-house magazine, Khalifat-e-Rashida, spanning the years both before and after its proscription.

    They show that both the men in Scotland used their mosques to hold events in SSP’s honour and further its teachings.



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  • Arkrid #17

    I agree with much of what you have written, but must take issue with this:

    Muslim terrorists are not just random nasty people. They are religious terrorists who have been converted, and perverted, by a religion that preaches death to its opponents.

    This is precisely the claim that is under scrutiny and for which the evidence seems to be insufficient. Indeed, the evidence of the French analysis I linked to earlier doesn’t uniformly point to religious Muslims becoming radicalized to jihadist Islam, but to disaffected, largely religion-indifferent youth with a history of petty crime, unemployment, mental health issues and/or drug abuse being attracted to jihadist Islam because of the opportunities it provides for indulging their violent fantasies and hitting back at a society they resent. Pop ‘disaffected youth and violence in history’ into Google, and you will find that it is far from being a recent phenomenon, or one that only relates to jihadism.

    Islam does preach death to its opponents, and jihadism exploits these horrendous texts in the Koran. Clearly, Islam is a factor. Clearly, there have been waves of Islamic violence for as long as there has been Islam. Any explanation that excludes Islam is going to fail. I am not seeking to let Islam off the hook. Not only do I believe its claims to be nonsense, same as any religion, but it is worse than other religions in lending itself so neatly to acts of barbarism. And in the current climate, it is the blue touchpaper. (So there’s no need for people to go on posting about how horrible and violent Islam has been at regular intervals in the past and ISIS et al are being now. I know. We all know. )

    The question that needs to be answered is, what is fuelling the current wave of violence under the banner of Islam? And the evidence points to a complex picture that of course includes Islam but isn’t adequately described by “It’s all down to Islam”.

    I worry about the tyranny of the discontinuous mind (to use Richard Dawkins’s own phrase) that is always on display when this subject is discussed. The insistence on a black and white answer, that anyone deviating from the “It’s all Islam’s fault” line must be claiming that none of it is Islam’s fault. No doubt some people do claim that. There are also people who will defend any and all religion against any accusation made against it, which is equally ridiculous. But many are simply trying to bring some nuance and evidence-based thinking into the discussion.

    Charles has shared a number of links now. We are not purely reliant on our instinctive assumptions here, there is research available to help inform our conclusions. And very fortunately, that is pointing to a range of factors and not just religious ones.

    Why fortunately? Because it means there are things we as a society can be doing to try to prevent – or at least, significantly reduce – the amount of radicalization going on. If the answer really were “It’s all down to Islam” we’d be stuffed because, whatever the fantasies of some religion-haters, religion’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

    But there are steps we as a society could take to help create a more positive life experience for young people. To increase the number of options and support open to them in the hopes of reducing the helplessness and hopelessness and alienation that many of them feel.

    This is why I worry about the knee-jerk dismissal of the kind of evidence that’s been quoted in favour of the “Nah, it’s all down to Islam” response. Because ignoring the evidence that points to other factors and focusing purely on hatred of Islam will mean that we fail to take the steps we need to take to address the problem. And we also risk creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by alienating even moderate Muslims and leaving them open to persuasion by the jihadists that it really is a battle between Them and Us.

    We need to follow our own principles here and give more weight to evidence than to our instinctive assumptions.

    Cue the repeated declarations of how ugly Islam is now and has been in the past, the quibbling excuses not to take the evidence in the links seriously, the repeated assertions that it’s all down to religion really, the picking on something trivial to quibble with in order to avoid engaging with the main argument, and the “Oh look, here’s a moderate Muslim who became more religious and went over to the jihadis.”

    I’ll leave you all to it.



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  • Marco #22
    Mar 31, 2016 at 7:35 am

    Arkrid #17 – I agree with much of what you have written, but must take issue with this:

    Muslim terrorists are not just random nasty people. They are religious terrorists who have been converted, and perverted, by a religion that preaches death to its opponents.

    This is precisely the claim that is under scrutiny and for which the evidence seems to be insufficient.

    The evidence is in plain sight for those those who are prepared to look, as I pointed out in #21.

    The problem is, that the tribalistic nature of religions, means that parents trust their children to terrorist recruiting Imams, in a similar way to Catholic parents trusting their children to abusive priests.
    They just can’t cut through their indoctrinated “nicey view of their religion”, to ask the key questions and take action to address the issues of rogue spiritual leaders!
    Pretending that mosques are not being used as recruiting bases for terrorist organisations, is just self-delusion!



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  • Pretending that mosques are not being used as recruiting bases for terrorist organisations, is just self-delusion!

    I have made no such claim.
    Are you really so unable to handle nuance in a discussion?

    I should have added, ‘distorting what I have written, ignoring all qualifying phrases, and putting words in my mouth’ to the final paragraph of my last post.

    It really is very tedious and makes discussion pointless.



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  • Marco #24
    Mar 31, 2016 at 8:26 am

    Pretending that mosques are not being used as recruiting bases for terrorist organisations, is just self-delusion!

    I have made no such claim.
    Are you really so unable to handle nuance in a discussion?

    The second paragraph in #23 is commenting on the evidence of the link and the denial by some that this is a key element.

    @22 – This is why I worry about the knee-jerk dismissal of the kind of evidence that’s been quoted in favour of the “Nah, it’s all down to Islam” response. Because ignoring the evidence that points to other factors and focusing purely on hatred of Islam will mean that we fail to take the steps we need to take to address the problem.

    As I pointed out @#13 (I don’t think that anyone is claiming that there are no other factors involved, but the teachings of Islam are what the fundamentalists are carrying out to the letter, while the “moderates” are fudging!)
    The indoctrination by pro-terrorist religious authority figures, on-line, in mosques, and in madrassas IS the key element, with the unwillingness of enough moderates to stand up to the extremists. and have them removed from the centre of communities where they are interacting with the local youth.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/12108953/David-Cameron-pledges-to-stop-Ofsted-inspectors-raiding-Sunday-schools-and-Scouts-meetings.html

    Schools inspectors will not be allowed to raid Sunday schools, Scouts’ meetings or Christian summer camps, David Cameron has promised MPs.

    On Wednesday MPs will debate the plans in Parliament. Up to 20 Tory MPs will also meet with Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw, and Nicky Morgan, the Education secretary, to express concerns that new powers to crack down on extremists will be used to regulate Christian groups. such as teach that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

    Last week Sir Michael said his inspectors would use powers intended to crack down on Muslim madrassas run by extremists to regulate Christian Sunday schools.

    But last week Sir Michael caused consternation among Christian Tory MPs when he said he would use the powers to send Ofsted inspectors into Sunday schools.

    He told a radio phone-in: “We need to know if a Sunday school is being run. Is it registered? Is it being run properly by people that have been through proper safeguarding checks.

    Yep! OFSTED could see that those police clearance checks on people working with children were properly being put in place, to avoid abusive priests and others having contact with children!

    “And if that is done, then we are happy with that, and we will only go in when we feel that there is a need to do so.”

    Sir Gerald, a former Tory defence minister who called for Sir Michael to be sacked over the comments, welcomed Mr Cameron’s intervention.

    Yep! Those mindless knee jerk “not in MY religion” reactions, can obstruct the operating of properly regulated service!

    He said: “I welcome the Prime Minister’s clear statement which flatly contradicts last week’s dangerous comments by Sir Michael Wilshaw.*

    OOoo! OFSTED checking on proper regulation of who has access to children!! – Dangerous!!!!! – It could be very embarrassing to Paedophiles and bigots!

    “However, there remains the risk that Government officials will have the power to define what constitutes ‘hateful and extremist views that undermine British values’.

    “Some inspectors already appear to take the view that traditional church teaching that marriage can only be between a man and a woman is contrary to ‘British values’.”

    Apparently teaching hateful discrimination against people in legal relationships, is really OK by Tories, providing that it wears a Christian badge and not a Muslim one!

    Religion IS a key part of the problem, with Muslims making parity claims and playing the victims – with some credibility when Christians claim immunity!!



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  • I have written before about how I believe I was targeted for radicalisation on YouTube after I posted a couple of videos there. The videos that were sent to my account showed muslims being shot and mistreated. The music was nationalistic religious sounding like (I have no idea what they were saying though). The music and the images were meant to give me a sense of injustice and to be truthful, they did. It is only my age and experience that made me question my feelings. The injustice is still there but my reaction is subject to knowing the complicated situation.

    Young muslim men, in particular, grow up in tight communities in the UK (I will only speak about the UK here but the situation is much the same world wide for all minority groups and I will add British and American to that because they form communities in their adopted countries also and isolate themselves and don’t really integrate). Men being allowed more freedom than the women, lead a double life neither of which they really fit into. The good muslim or the partying Brit. Some of these suicide bombers have been shown to know very little about their religion. I have had friends from a Pakistani background who seem to have no choice but to pick one or the other and in their twenties make that choice. I found they get into a frame of mind in which they feel they have found all the answers.

    There is a pattern but its abstract. On another thread, (Why We Believe In God(s), pg 76) the question starts with the statement, ““Several areas trigger our emotional responses. Harm and unfairness are the first;”. Make what you will of the video below. (Warning!!! Disturbing)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOssjm7vxCI



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  • @ Marco #22 et al : “But there are steps we as a society could take to help create a more positive life experience for young people. ”

    I seem to remember Bin Laden was a Saudi millionaire, his side-kick Ayman al-Zawahiri an eye surgeon, and numerous other islamic murderers (not ‘terrorists’ – I prefer calling a spade a spade) have been graduate-level males with every option of a civilised life available to them. Fascists may recruit for convenience from the criminal underclass – this was after all the standard career path into the SS in the 1930s – but coddling disaffected youth will not derail a jihadi wagon with 1400 years of history behind it..



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  • 29
    fadeordraw says:

    One of the disturbing reflections in his book, A Season in Hell: My 130 Days in the Sahara with al Qaeda, John Fowler concludes that there was no possible discussion or negotiation with his captors because, with their fanatical beliefs, all they wanted to do was to die. This would doubtless apply to suicide bombers. How do people come to believe in the transitory nature of earthly existence, such that it can be readily disregarded, and a more rewarding after-death existence? Well, one answer might be the continuing, general acceptance of mythical understandings of existence and in mythical afterlives; that is, religious belief, the belief in religious stories, and reinforcing religious practices. From there, it would not be difficult for a few fanatics or for fanatical movements to periodically emerge.

    In the cases of IS, al Qaeda and the likes, I agree that we need to examine the Salafi movement/Wahhabism. Indeed, in today’s Globe and Mail, there’s an opinion piece re: “jihad factories”, associating Wahhabism and the theocracy of Saudi Arabia.



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  • fadeordraw #29
    Mar 31, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    In the cases of IS, al Qaeda and the likes, I agree that we need to examine the Salafi movement/Wahhabism. Indeed, in today’s Globe and Mail, there’s an opinion piece re: “jihad factories”, associating Wahhabism and the theocracy of Saudi Arabia.

    Saudi Arabia, while sponsoring Wahhabi rebels in Syria, has done nothing to help with the consequent refugee crisis, and has the cheek to off to sponsor mosques to spread its poison in Germany!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/09/10/refugee-crisis-richard-dawkins-saudi-arabia-mosques-in-germany_n_8115492.html

    Richard Dawkins has lambasted Saudi Arabia’s “sick” offer to build 200 mosques for refugees in Germany, as the Gulf state still refuses to shelter those fleeing war-stricken Syria.



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