by Milena Uhlmann
Terrorism isn’t new to the country; in its history, France has experienced a significant number of attacks. In 1995, the GIA-affiliated terrorist network of which Khaled Kelkal was part conducted several attacks, as did the Al Qaida-affiliated gang de Roubaix one year later; but until Mohammed Merah’s murders in 2012 in Toulouse and Montauban, terrorist attacks were treated as political violence in the context of anti-colonial struggles or connected to other kinds of violent conflicts abroad, such as the Bosnian War, rather than as religiously inspired or connected to social, societal and/or political issues within the country, or as some sort of atypical pathology. Terrorist perpetrators, their networks and milieus were met with repressive instruments – a wider angle of analysis which would have allowed to tackle the threat from a more holistic perspective had not been incorporated in a counter-terrorism policy design.
von Rüdiger Lohlker
Wird von Terrorismusbekämpfung gesprochen, ist der Fokus auf nationale Problemlösungen gerichtet. Bei modernen Formen des Terrorismus handelt es sich zumeist um transnationale Phänomene, denen auch transnational begegnet werden muss. Zwei Beispiele zeigen die Probleme, die aus einer nationalen Beschränkung entstehen.
by Fabien Merz
Since 2013, the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) has warned of a heightened threat emanating from jihadi terrorism in Switzerland. According to FIS’s assessment, the threat has continuously risen since then and reached a new high in 2016. This is a new situation for a country that has, since the two attacks conducted by Palestinian groups targeting an El Al airplane in Kloten in 1969 and the bombing of a Swissair machine in 1970, remained largely unscathed by terrorism. This has remained true even in the decade after 9/11 when a wave of jihadi terrorism inspired and often directed by al-Qaeda struck urban centers in Europe and elsewhere on multiple occasions.
A few reasons are usually named why Switzerland has been less affected by jihadist terrorism than other European countries. Most notably, its foreign policy informed by neutrality that made Switzerland less likely to become a deliberate target of jihadi groups as well as the country’s low levels of domestic radicalization. Indeed, a study conducted by ETH Zürich in 2013 found that Switzerland has been less touched by jihadist radicalization than other European countries. This, the study argued, was due to a number of factors. Firstly, the absence of “infecting clusters”, i.e. a jihadist mosque or a network of committed jihadists operating on its soil. Secondly, Switzerland’s ability to provide a good degree of social, economic and cultural integration to most Muslims living in Switzerland. Thirdly, the fact that 80-90% of the Swiss Muslim population trace their roots back to the Balkans and Turkey and that they often practice a tolerant and apolitical form of Islam thereby makes them more impermeable to radicalization. Finally, Swiss neutrality and the foreign policy resulting from it also plays a role by not giving any reasons of resentment to most Swiss Muslims.
by Philipp Holtmann
A short while ago, an interested reader inquired about one of my articles on the topic of jihad and terrorism. I am thankful for the inspiring question. The reader asked me to clarify why there seems to be no difference between terrorism and jihad nowadays, and why this boundary has disappeared in debates by many people in the social media and in other places.
By Guido Steinberg
Since 2003, several organizations in the Arab world swore allegiance to Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaida and became part of what was been called “al-Qaeda’s affiliate network”. The emergence of al-Qaeda groups in Saudi Arabia 2003, Iraq 2004, Algeria 2007 and Yemen 2009 convinced many supporters and enemies that there was a truly global network of jihadist groups at work, commanded and controlled by the al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan.
However, the reality was a lot more complicated. Far from being subordinate to Osama Bin Laden and Aiman al-Zawahiri, these organizations were not willing to submit to al-Qaeda command and control. Their relationship with “al-Qaeda central” was rather an alliance between independent partners of different strength. Although the al-Qaeda leadership sometimes influenced decisions taken by the regional groupings, there are numerous examples of “affiliates” ignoring its advice even regarding strategic issues.
By Andreas Armborst
One element within US counter-terrorism strategies is “reducing terrorist group cohesion”, as the think tank RAND recommends in one of its reports. The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (CTC) puts these recommendations into actions. Reports like ”Cracks in the Foundation” or ”Dysfunction and Decline” vividly depict the internal disagreement and disunity between al-Qaeda central (AQ) and its regional affiliates, most of all AQ in Iraq (AQI). Albeit these reports are drafted by pundits and certainly provide meaningful and often rare insights into the inner life of the global jihadi movement, they also serve another purpose: to deliberately amplify the very same trend they describe: disunity.