by Magdalena von Drachenfels
On 22 May 2017, the suicide bomber Salman Abedi killed 22 people and injured many more after an Ariana Grande concert in the Manchester Arena. On 9 September 2017, the Manchester Arena was reopened with a benefit show labelled as a “We Are Manchester” concert. The concert’s aim was to raise money for a place of memorial for the victims of the attack. “We Are Manchester” is only one of the many peaceful responses to the attacks: In contrast to the heated debates on increasing security, they reveal different ways of standing together for a liberal and diverse society against the fear caused by terrorism.
by Francis Patrick O’Connor
On the 28th of July, a 26 year old man, Ahmad A. launched a knife attack in a supermarket in the Barmbek area of Hamburg, wounding four people and killing one. He fled the scene of the attack before being forcefully apprehended by some bystanders. The attacker, a rejected asylum seeker, was understood by the police to have been recently religiously radicalised. Hamburg’s Interior Minister Andy Grote explained that he was known to the police as an “Islamist but not a jihadist” and was suspected of having psychological problems. Prosecutors have asserted that he had no known connections with any organized radical network or group and that he had planned on dying as a martyr.
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.
by Erika Brady
The UK’s Counter-Terrorism strategy, known as CONTEST, is recognized as one of the most successful soft-focus strategies in the world, with an intended emphasis on community support and what have become known as ‘Prevent’ (or counter-extremism) measures. In all, there are four limbs to CONTEST: PREVENT, PROTECT, PURSUE and PREPARE. While there is much crossover between these areas, for example policing activities take place in all four limbs, each one has a specific focus with its own intrinsic goals. This article intends to provide an overview of CONTEST, and to explore the challenges of evaluating counter-terrorism strategies in general. In doing so, I intend to show that while robust and independent evaluation of CONTEST has not been undertaken from a quantitative approach, some level of evaluation has taken place and can be taken into consideration when moving forward with future analysis of the strategy.
by Oliver Saal
Germany’s political culture currently faces a shift to the right as anti-immigrant violence and attacks on refugee camps are on the brink of becoming a daily routine. The populist party Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) did achieve successes in every recent federal state election. Through their success politics gained a new political quality. Anti-immigrant groups such as PEGIDA in Dresden regularly mobilize hundreds and sometimes thousands of people. The increased number of refugees that came to Germany in 2015 is instrumentalized to fuel racism and to spread nationalist sentiments.
by Hakim Khatib
Here we go again. Recent terrorist attacks against another European capital city in less than a year continue to shake the core of world politics. It is worth to note that terrorist attacks are not only happening against European states, but also against other countries, most notably Turkey and Indonesia. Is it a clash of cultures, religions, or it is merely politics? How do we keep serving Daesh (Islamic State)?
by Alex Carter
The threat that the far right poses to civil society changes across time and space. In Britain this threat has generally been in the form of hate-crimes and public disorder, yet in the past two decades there has been a shift towards solo-actor terrorism. By examining far right groups in the UK in the post-war period this paper explores the drivers of this change; namely, how membership in extremist groups combined with the proliferation of far right networks created by the internet can create a pathway to radicalisation which ends in acts of terror.
by Daniel Koehler
Terror from the extreme right has again gained a wider public attention in 2011 with the devastating attacks carried out by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway and the detection of the right-wing terrorist cell called “National Socialist Underground” (NSU), which had committed ten murders, three bombings and a dozen bank robberies during more than a decade of time in Germany. In many Western countries violence motivated by racism, anti-government hate, anti-Semitism or other aspects of right-wing extremism, appears to be a regular part of criminal activities. Hate crime legislation and statistics vary strongly but show that next to high intense terrorist attacks such as 9/11, the attacks in London, Madrid or Paris, right-wing violence and terrorism is the most dangerous politically motivated threat. In the United States for example Perliger (2012) counted 4,420 right-wing terrorist incidents between 1990 and 2012 causing 670 fatalities and 3,053 injuries. In Germany official statistics counted 69 right-wing attacks between 1990 and 2015 causing 75 casualties, while civil society watchdogs count up to 184 deaths. In Russia some experts speak of approximately 450 right-wing motivated killings between 2004 and 2010. Nevertheless, this specific form of political violence remains largely under-researched and misunderstood as non-terroristic. In consequence the threat from the far right is continuously downplayed with severe consequences for victims and the internal security.
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 Hakim Khatib
Using religious frameworks in political contestation and mobilisation processes has become more eminent in recent decades spiralling an intricate debate on the conceptualisation and implementation of such references in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region The contradiction, it is argued, mainly lies in the compromising nature of politics and the relatively dogmatic nature of religion. Accentuated by inaccurate media coverage and primordial analytical frameworks, it has become tempting to see religion as responsible for conflicts and underachievement in the MENA region.
In the conventional sense, Islamic movements are often held responsible for incorporating religion in political processes. However, this is not always true as the nondemocratic states in the MENA region and elsewhere in the Muslim majority world had constantly attempted to control ideological power – Islamic religion and its organizations in this case – before Islamic movements even came to exist in the form we know today. The power struggle among political, yet conflicting actors over ideological power emerges from ideology’s distinctive form of social organization to legitimatize specific forms of authority and to solve contradictions in society.
by Hakim Khatib
The assassination of the man in charge of thousands of prosecutions including the controversial death sentences against Muslim Brotherhood followers paved the way for the incumbent Egyptian president for a one-time knockout against dissent once and for all.
Speaking at the military funeral of Hisham Barakat, the Prosecution General of Egypt killed in a car bomb on June 29, the President Abdulfattah Al-Sisi threatened to amend the laws to make them responsive to the implementation of justice. “Under such circumstances, courts are useless and so are laws,” said Al-Sisi promising to carry out any death or lifetime sentences against what he called “terrorists”.
Von Yassin Musharbash
Teil IX unserer Serie
zum „Islamischen Staat“
Last November, the media organisation of the „Islamic State“ (IS) published a video, the sole purpose of which was to prove that the „caliphate“ which the IS has established in June 2014 was in fact a proper state. The video highlighted a host of institutions in order to drive home the claim of real statehood, including examples like a working judiciary, a prison administration, a schooling system, and so on. At one point in the video, the IS claimed that it was also financially independent and had apt resources at its disposal, namely oil and gas.
However, while it is true that the IS controls a number of oil and gas fields in Syria as well as in Iraq, we have by now enough evidence to be rather sure that the economic base of the „caliphate“ is by no means sustainable.
By Yan St-Pierre
In 2014, two insurgency organisations stood out by their expansion, success and brutality: The Islamic State (IS) and Boko Haram (BH). The former emerged from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq and became a major actor in the Middle East, its influence reaching beyond the borders of its self-proclaimed “caliphate”, while the latter spread its violence throughout north-eastern Nigeria, spilling over into Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Because of their still growing success, many wonder about a possible partnership between IS and BH. To this I answer that there is a connection, but no partnership. Currently, any evidence suggesting a partnership is circumstantial at best.
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.