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 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.
Tina Bencik explained her role as a Prevent officer and provided an in-depth description of Prevent’s methods as part of the government’s policy to reduce radicalisation in local schools and communities and to support those who may feel pressured into these positions. She explained the studies and the methods Prevent officers have identified that can be used to tackle radicalisation: employment, mentoring and challenging long-held beliefs. She explained the vulnerability of children and young people and the way extremist and terrorist groups can promise attractive lifestyle changes for people. She also explained that in Syria and Iraq, many of the promises of a dignified life to those traveling to fight with ISIS failed to materialise.
Neil Denton, the final speaker, provided passionate, solution-based, insight into the topic. His knowledge on conflict solution complimented the other speakers’ points as he focused on the need to approach the potential radicalised community members with curiosity rather than judgement. His approach was warmly appreciated by attendees, his words outlined an approach free of discrimination and aimed towards creating deeper understanding in order to achieve tangible results.
Q & A
As the meeting wrapped up, audience members asked questions regarding the content of the discussion, all of them stating the need for more open public debate on the issues.
Questions were asked about the impact of state terrorism as well as al Qaeda-style terror; whether terrorism really is a major problem in Yemen; whether Prevent is achieving tangible results in the UK, and when there is an ongoing situation of aggressor and victim, is dialogue really possible.
The event opened the way for further in-depth looks into extremist groups that threaten to saturate young minds into radicalisation on the back of international crises such as the Yemen conflict. The Tactics Institute looks forward to hosting more events in the future.
The next public discussion on Radicalisation, War and Terrorism will be announced on the Tactics Institute’s website soon.
For more information, please contact Tactics Institute for Security and Counter Terrorism at email@example.com