Impacts of Prevent strategies on populations
Thursday June 20, 13.45 - 15.15
Session 2, Auditorium 3, Eilert Sundt building
Chair: Art Kendall
- The Suspect Community: A Product of the Prevention of Terrorism Acts or a Creation from Conflict? - Emma Ylitalo-James
- Alienation or cooperation? British Muslims' reactions to counter-terrorism mobilization - Sadi Shanaah
- About face: Community responses to digital reporting of terrorism concerns in Australia and the UK - Michele Grossman and Paul Thomas
- In the Capillaries of Society?: The Community police officer about obtaining information in alleged cases of violent extremism among youth - Annemarie van de Weert and Quirine Eijkman
The Suspect Community: A Product of the Prevention of Terrorism Acts or a Creation from Conflict?
Emma Ylitalo-James, Cranfield University, UK Defense Academy
The ‘suspect community’ theory, first introduced by Paddy Hillyard, claims that the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1974 was responsible in its operation for producing discrimination against the communities of the North and Republic of Ireland during the Northern Ireland conflict. This theory has subsequently been applied to Muslim communities in the UK in the wake of terrorism from Muslim extremist factions. It is also part of proposals toward changes in counter terrorism legislation and strategy.
This paper presents an alternative theory on suspect communities, arguing that a suspect community is formed at the initiation of conflict and not in response to legislation. In this alternative framework, the initiation of conflict and the reactions of opposing factions, combined with public outgroup perceptions of threat, create the suspect community. This alternative theory draws on psychosocial theories, including group perception of threat, social and group identity theory and out-group paranoia.
The paper considers some of the potential policy implications of this alternative framework and how some existing models – such as contact hypothesis (Allport, 1954) and interdependence theory (Aronson, 1979) – can be used to potentially reduce radicalisation at a community level and also reduce public bias in counterterrorism.
Alienation or cooperation? British Muslims' reactions to counter-terrorism mobilization
Sadi Shanaah, Aarhus University, Denmark
The dominant academic narrative portrays Muslim minorities as alienated by counter-terrorism policies and consequently little willing to cooperate with authorities by actively challenging Islamist extremism. This article reassess and nuances the “alienation narrative” by drawing on extensive data from the UK, including three nationally representative surveys of British Muslims and forty-two interviews with a range of Muslim organizational representatives and counter-extremism activists.
It concludes that the majority of British Muslims does not show signs of alienation in terms of trust in authorities and attitudes to counter-terrorism policies. Moreover, the vast majority seems to be willing to engage in various counter-extremism actions. However, this article also shows that attempts to exclusively responsibilise Muslims for counter-terrorism can make some of them disengage and others frustrated. Future research should employ large-N correlational and experimental designs and focus on the impact of counter-terrorism policies on specific sub-groups within the Muslim communities as well as on dissecting the often implied relationship between alienation and willingness to engage in counter-extremism.
About face: community responses to digital reporting of terrorism concerns in Australia and the UK
Michele Grossman, Deakin University, Australia, and Professor Paul Thomas, University of Huddersfield
Digital media’s capacity to enable development, promotion and sharing of intelligence and violence-prevention mechanisms between authorities and publics has arguably created new opportunities for early, preventative interventions in counter-terrorism practice.
One question arising is whether the digital world offers new opportunities for increasing the likelihood of reporting to authorities on concerns about those potentially or already involved in violent extremism, particularly when people are reporting on an ‘intimate’ (family or close friends). Digital reporting mechanisms would seem to offer advantages compared to telephone or face to face reporting, including speed, flexibility and confidentiality.
However, recent studies on community reporting thresholds for those contemplating reporting in both Australia and the UK suggests that digital reporting modes are the least preferred method of coming forward to share concerns with authorities, largely based on concerns about trust, traceability, accountability, locus of control and reporting impacts. Instead, face to face reporting mechanisms are significantly more likely to result in the sharing of information with authorities.
This in turn raises deeper questions about how we understand the dynamics of gathering human intelligence and data both as practitioners and as researchers in the age of big data when developing approaches to countering violent extremism.
In the Capillaries of Society ?: The Community police officer about obtaining information in alleged cases of violent extremism among youth
Annemarie van de Weert and Quirine Eijkman, Utrecht University of Applied
In the course of previous years counterterrorism has started to focus more on
anticipating the threat of terrorism. The aim is to discover radicalization processes
towards violent extremism at an early stage. The focus here is on identifying deviant
behavior and ideas that justify or mandate violent action. The policy thought is to deal
with law enforcement in anticipation: aimed at 'preventing' instead of 'persecuting'.
The local police in particular have an essential role to play in this early-detection setup.
Because of their position in the neighborhood they can obtain information in
alleged cases of violent extremism. Since 2005 the Netherlands is one of the
forerunners in the use of this policy vision.