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Tactics Institute report says combatting social exclusion should be at the heart of counter-terrorism policy

 

A new report by the Tactics Institute for Security and Counter-Terrorism, focusing on Southeastern Europe, says effective counter-terrorism policy must combat social exclusion rather than fuelling it with divisive discourse. The report looks specifically into Islamic Radicalisation, as a formative process, its impact, and the role of external funding.

 

“We should be asking under what conditions people with little to lose anywhere can be a security concern everywhere – how social exclusion can be weaponised,” says Prof Tatyana Dronzina, Lecturer in Political Science, St. Kliment Ohridski at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria.

The report, called ‘Social Exclusion and Radicalisation in the Balkans: Bankrolling Salafi Radicalisation’ will be launched on the 26th November 2019 at a roundtable event co-hosted by Claudiu Manda MEP, S&D Group, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

 

Thomas Charles, Director of the Tactics Institute, says:

 

“From ISIS to al-Qaeda, a specific brand of Salafi and Wahhabi Islam is ultimately state-sponsored – from countries like Saudi Arabia or the UAE – but from state-agency to individual agency there is a wide gulf to bridge. For security analysts, it is necessary to pursue a line of inquiry that sheds light on the pool of people that are radicalised, their communities as well as their personal circumstances.”

 

Charles notes that there is a transnational cashflow that originates from the UAE and KSA that has been bankrolling Salafi ideology and radicalisation from Western Europe to the Balkans. “This ideology spreads like fire among the so-called ‘left behind,’ filling the vacuum of an absent state.”

 

Significant findings from the report include:

 

  • The radicalisation of parts of the Roma population in the Balkans, who are recent converts to Islam. This radicalisation is a direct result of social exclusion.
  • Waves of Syrian refugees into Europe has created a polarised discourse in existing populations, resulting in an either/or dilemma for European Muslims.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Despite trends towards radicalisation, Muslim communities in Europe and the world remain complex, diverse and well-integrated.
  • Policy needs to counter polarising and exclusionary discourse emanating from factions that advocate a retreat behind national borders if it hopes to create a successful counter-terrorist strategy.

 

Says Felipe Pathé Duarte, geopolitical analyst and Assistant Professor at the Higher Institute of Police Sciences and Homeland Security (Lisbon):

“In Europe, there is an inevitable process that leads us to see the path to violent extremism (in the form of terrorism). This process is translated into three successive stages: social exclusion, resentment and radicalisation.

“It is urgent to develop more effective measures to counteract the first stage, which generates all the others. If in some cases we have arrived too late, in others we are still on time. We can act in certain traditionally excluded populations – which are in verge for radicalisation and violent extremism inspired by Salafist and/or Wahhabi communities – such as the Roma population of the Western Balkans.”

Brigadier General (BG), Metodi Hadji-Janev, a security analyst and an associate professor at the Military Academy General Mihailo Apostolski – Skopje, says:

 

“The bottom line is this: Salafi and Wahabbi Islam are domesticated by communities that do not feel stakeholders in what we call ‘the rule of law.’ A state that does not tackle social or economic exclusion often does not have the cultural capital required to fight terrorism effectively. That is not about being politically correct; this is about knowing that good faith is like trust. We must earn it.”

In security terms, BG Hadji-Janve notes that “the unregulated flow of capital from the UAE, the KSA, and Bahrain that has been going on since the 1980s needs to be held check; charity is one thing; but there needs to be accountability because the link between Salafism and extremism is documented and indisputable.”