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Summary of Yemen and Radicalisation Event in House of Commons, 25/4/19

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The Tactics Institute public seminar, at the House of Commons yesterday, focused on radicalisation and terrorism in the wake of the ongoing conflict in Yemen; the first of a series of discussions that aim to dissect and find solutions to the problem. The talk was aimed at creating new dialogue around identifying and remedying the issues that lead to young people becoming involved in deadly terrorist groups, such as ISIS and Al Qaida. Hopes for reducing these triggers were raised by sharing useful ideas and strategies on countering radicalisation during the event.

The discussion opened with The Tactics Institute’s Thomas Charles’s keynote: he explained the role of the Tactics Institute as it looks to establish a platform for open, respectful debate on counter terrorism and security. He talked about the Yemen war and the failure to date of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to secure a decisive victory.

Thomas also stressed the importance of openness as a route to find solutions as well as a moral imperative, given the tendency of state and non-state actors to use terrorist atrocities to consolidate and further their own power. He gave the examples of the Bush administration’s Patriot Act and invasion of Iraq that followed the 9/11 atrocity; the mission creep of both Saudi Arabia and the UAE in competing against each other for control in Yemen, despite being part of the same military coalition and the use of counter-terror legislation by the UK, which has not always been applied to achieve its stated aims.

The guest speakers were introduced: Wesam Amer an expert in social media, terrorism studies and radical movements and visiting researcher at Newcastle University; Tina Bencik, Prevent Officer at Kensington and Chelsea council, specialising in safeguarding; and Neil Denton, an independent community mediator and experienced practitioner in conflict transformation who has worked with communities and individuals around the world.


Dr. Wesam Amer (right) in the House of Commons on the role of social media in terrorism.  Image: Angel Lewis/T.I.

 

Dr. Wesam Amer spoke on a range of pertinent factors in Yemen that encourage radicalisation of young people via online networks including Facebook, Twitter and other high-speed delivery mobile platforms. He described the use of social media to attract young impressionable adolescents as a “Cyber Jihad” with its use graphic imagery and exaggeration. He highlighted the impact of the Inspire publication that is written in English and published by al Qaeda and stated: “…short wars change regimes and long wars change communities”, which he saw as the key to grasping the genesis of the problem.