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Has counter-radicalisation failed?

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The recent unveiling of the identity of Islamic State (IS) fighter Mohammed Emwazi, otherwise known as ‘Jihadi John’, underlined once more the challenges facing UK authorities in their fight against radicalisation. 26 year-old Emwazi gained international notoriety for his role in the multiple beheadings of Western hostages which have then been disseminated by IS as part of their propaganda war via social media platforms.

Emwazi is a British citizen whose family migrated from Kuwait when he was six; he was raised in London and attended Westminster University to study computer information systems and business management. Inevitably, the spotlight has fallen on Westminster University and his former school Quintin Kynaston Academy as to whether he was radicalised in these institutions. In contrast, Cage, a human rights advocacy group which has lobbied on behalf of prisoners of the ‘War on Terror’, insist British intelligence service MI5 is in part responsible for his radicalisation given their treatment of him in the past six years.

Debates about the radicalisation of Emwazi reflect dominant political and scholarly explanations for why terrorism occurs in Western states. Since 9/11 and the advent of the ‘War on Terror’, policy makers have been preoccupied by the conundrum of Muslims born, raised or living within Western states who commit acts of terror. Therefore, since the launch of the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy ‘CONTEST’ in 2006, terrorism has been framed as the product of ‘radicalisation’. Warped interpretations of Islam and adopting an Islamist ideology feature as key characteristics of the radicalisation process. In response, successive UK governments have introduced a wide range of counter-radicalisation measures.

To this end, the ‘CONTEST’ strategy is composed of four strands: ‘Prevent’, ‘Pursue’, ‘Protect’ and ‘Prepare’. The ‘Prevent’ strand is concerned with countering radicalisation through the pre-emptory governance of Britain’s Muslims in order to shape their thoughts, values and behaviours so they do not become radicalised. Through its different iterations in 2006, 2009 and 2011, ‘Prevent’ policies have sought to intervene in Muslim communities in a number of ways in order to create ‘resilience’ against lure of radical narratives.

In the forthcoming Fairbrother Lecture at the University of Reading I discuss the conceptual underpinnings of counter-radicalisation measures from 2006-2015 and assess whether they have fulfilled the purpose for which they were intended. The pre-emptory logic of ‘Prevent’ is manifest in the breadth and scope of the counter-radicalisation practices that have been in place for the past decade. These practices cut across traditional counter-terrorism areas such as policing, criminal justice and intelligence gathering to include health, education and the regulation of the charity sector. Examples of ‘Prevent’ policies include the development of Muslim-specific ‘citizenship education’ for madrassas, reforms to mosque management, the ‘professionalisation’ of imams and the establishment of Islamic study circles.

While the notion of radicalisation remains central in UK counter-terrorism in the last decade, the way it has been understood and acted upon has undergone three distinct evolutions. These are:

  • 2006-2010: New Labour’s ‘multicultural’ approach
  • 2010-2014: The Conservative Party’s ‘muscular liberal’ approach
  • 2014-present: The Conservative Party and the ‘medieval’ approach

New Labour’s multicultural approach entailed engagement with Muslim communities and dialogue with organisations like the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). This was because radicalisation was understood to be the product of socio-economic disadvantage, misperceptions of UK foreign policy and the dislocation wrought to identities by globalisation. Prevent money was channelled into areas with high Muslim populations to fund a range of community projects. These were aimed at promoting social cohesion, promoting ‘moderate’ Muslim voices and creating leadership within Muslim communities.

After the election of the Conservative-led coalition 2010 many of New Labour’s multicultural assumptions were challenged. David Cameron did not conceive of radicalisation as the outcome of social and economic alienation. In his address at the Munich Security Conference in 2011, Cameron stated his belief that Islamist ideologies exist apropos of nothing. From this perspective, New Labour’s multicultural approach was thought to encourage implacable difference between Muslims and non-Muslims. Cameron argued for the uncompromising assertion of British values through the notion of ‘muscular liberalism’. Under the Conservative-led Coalition, the government ceased working with Muslim partners deemed to be illiberal and cut funding from a range of Prevent projects.

The rise of IS has ushered in a new era of UK counter-terrorism which can be thought of as the ‘medieval’ phase. IS has attracted anything from 500 to 2000 British Muslims to parts of Iraq and Syria. The spectacularly gruesome nature of the actions of IS, an organisation described as too extreme for al-Qaeda, has shaped governmental responses. The UK foreign secretary Phillip Hammond has argued that the Treason Act of 1351 should be resurrected to deal with chose who pledge allegiance to IS. More concretely, the Counter Terrorism and Security bill (CTS), passed in February outlines plans to remove British citizenship from suspected IS fighters, extend the power of TPIMs (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measure) and make Prevent a statutory obligation for all public sector organisations, including universities.

Two important conclusions can be drawn from analysing UK counter-terrorism since 2006. First, counter-radicalisation as a form of governance which relies on dialogue with Muslim partners has ceased. The resort to measures which rely solely on punishment, exclusions and the suspension of civil liberties signals the failure of the rationale and practice of counterradicalisation. According to Baroness Sayeeda Warsi this approach is part of a policy of deliberate disengagement with Muslim groups favoured by some in the Conservative cabinet.

Secondly, the impact of the ‘medieval’ phase on civil liberties cannot be underestimated. The CTS bill requires public sector workers to spy on students, patients and even nursery children. The push to enforce poorly defined ‘British values’ and ambiguously understood ‘extremism’ narrows space for questioning and dissenting against government policy. These issues raise serious questions about whether counter-terrorism policies which reduce dialogue and further alienate Muslims are making the UK any safer. They also beg the question whether the defence of the ‘British way of life’ is best served by forfeiting the right to liberty, equality and justice.

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How a U.S. Colony Works: The Case of Germany

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On 15 July 2022, Britain’s Reuters news agency headlined “70% of Germans back Ukraine despite high energy prices, survey shows”, and reported that “Some 70% of those polled backed Germany’s support for Ukraine, … found the survey conducted between July 12-14 by broadcaster ZDF.” ZDF is funded by the German Government — German taxpayers. 

Germany’s AfD Party is one of the two Parties in Germany that are less than enthusiastically backing Germany’s anti-Russia position, the other such Party being “Die Linke” or “The Left” Party, which is Germany’s only socialist democratic Party, despite West Germany’s “Social Democratic Party” calling itself “democratic socialist” while being neither. 

The AfD Party issued a press release, on 25 August 2022, “Stephan Brandner: Skandalöse „Politische Filter“ beeinflussen NDR-Berichterstattung” or “Stephan Brandner: Scandalous ‘political filters’ influence NDR reporting.” It reported that Mr. Brandner, who is an AfD Member of the German Parliament, said that

After the self-service affair about the now hated RBB director Schlesinger, reminiscent of feudal structures, an online magazine now reports that employees on North German radio complain about ‘political filters’ from their superiors. According to the report …, public service broadcasting executives act like ‘ministerial press officers’. … 

As an AfD politician I am not surprised. After all, ARD and ZDF only report on the AfD with a ‘political filter’ and, for example, no longer invite AfD politicians to talk shows. … Compulsory contributions [by taxpayers, to ‘public broadcasting’] should be abolished.

Mr. Brandner provided no evidence for any of his allegations. (That’s the way politics is in a dictatorship. How can the public vote intelligently if they are routinely accepting allegations that are being made without supplying documentation? That’s a dictatorship by lies and liars, and no democracy-capable public would accept it. In science, what is not documented to be true is assumed to be false — not assumed to be true. A democratic country operates on the basis of science, not on the basis of faith.)

However, this doesn’t mean that Mr. Brandner’s allegations there are necessarily false. One reason why they could very well be true is that there are six Parties in Germany, and the current governing coalition consists of the three that take the hardest line against Russia, and for America, and for the post-2014, U.S.coup, anti-Russian, Ukrainian Government. The ruling coalition, those three Parties, are called the “traffic-light coalition”, and include the rabidly neoconservative (or pro-U.S.-empire) anti-Russian Green Party, plus the U.S. Democratic Party-allied so-called “Social Democratic Party,” plus the rabidly libertarian or “neoliberal” (pro-free-market, anti-regulation, and generally U.S.-Republican-Party-allied) Free Democratic Party; and they EXCLUDE (or give the red light to, and prevent from participating in the Government) the three least-anti-Russian Parties, which are The Left Party (the authentic democratic socialists, or progressives, ideologically opposed to any imperialism), the AfD Party (nationalists), and the U.S.-Republican-Party-allied CDU/CSU Christian Democratic and Christian Social Union Party. 

Brandner raised an important question, without providing any evidence regarding its solution. But here are some relevant facts, regarding the extent to which Germany’s Government tolerates corruption (which includes corruptness of a Government and of its ‘news’-media):

On 14 December 2021, I did an analysis comparing the anti-corruption laws in three nations, and headlined “Political Corruption in U.S., Germany, and Russia”. I concluded that 

Although this is a very incomplete indicator of a country’s corruptness, it does present the U.S. in a very favorable light, and present Germany (11 out of 12 “No”s [meaning no law against corruption]) as being rather astoundingly corrupt. Russia is midway between those two, perhaps because after Yeltsin’s abominable rule, Putin cleaned up Russia’s Government, but a lot of that job still remains undone, even after 21 years.

Germany’s Government was more shaped by Truman than perhaps any in the world except America’s own Government. But, from the present indicator, America’s vassal nations would appear to be even more corrupt than the imperial center, the U.S., itself, is — at least insofar as their political campaign-finance laws (“what’s written in black and white” in the lawbooks) are concerned.

Here was the summary, specifically regarding Germany:

Following here will be answers that are solidly grounded in the written laws of each of these three countries (though not necessarily reflecting how those laws are enforced — or not), regarding the 12 most clearly important questions that were studied. I present those dozen questions in the order that seems to me to provide the clearest sequence in order for the reader to interpret them, not in the order that was employed by the source:

GERMANY

“8. Is there a ban on anonymous donations to candidates?” “There are no explicit provisions regarding donations to candidates.”

“2. Is there a ban on donations from foreign interests to candidates?” “There are no explicit provisions regarding donations to candidates.”

“18. Is there a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a candidate?” “There are no explicit provisions regarding donations to candidates.”

“10. Is there a ban on donations from corporations with government contracts to candidates?” “There are no explicit provisions regarding donations to candidates.”

“4. Is there a ban on corporate donations to candidates?” “There are no explicit provisions regarding donations to candidates.”

“6. Is there a ban on donations from Trade Unions to candidates?” “There are no explicit provisions regarding donations to candidates.”

“5. Is there a ban on donations from Trade Unions to political parties?” “There are [is] no explicit … ban on donations from Trade Unions to political parties”

“3. Is there a ban on corporate donations to political parties?” “Ban on donation from corporate bodies, but accepted if it is a business enterprise, of whose shares more than 50 per cent of shares are owned by Germans …”

“9. Is there a ban on donations from corporations with government contracts to political parties?” “No.”

“14. Is there a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a political party during a non-election specific period?” “No.”

“16. Is there a limit on the amount a donor can contribute to a political party during an election?” “No.”

“27. Are there provisions requiring donations to go through the banking system?” “No.”

Consequently, Brandner’s allegations might be expected to be true, simply because Germany, especially after the U.S. Government blew up the Russian gas pipelines to Germany and yet Germany’s Government continues to be a U.S. vassal-nation, despite that U.S. act of war against both Germany and Russia. This indicates Germany’s Government to be extremely corrupt, willing to ditch its own population in order to please its U.S. masters.

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Europe’s former imperial countries are now desperate U.S. colonies

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nord stream

India is no longer a colony of the UK, but Germany and other European countries have become — now quite obviously — colonies of the United States, and their economies will be financially bled by the world-bestriding U.S. imperialist center, just like the UK and other European nations had previously (and infamously) exploited India and its other colonies.

The U.S. Government’s having blown-up the Nord Stream gas pipelines from Russia to Europe — after years of efforts to sabotage them more subtly by other, more ‘diplomatic’ (but less permanent), means — will leave Europe permanently forced to pay vastly higher rates to America and other liquefied natural gas (LNG) suppliers, and no longer with even a hope of receiving the far less-expensive Russian gas, which, until recently, fueled so many European firms to international competitiveness. Now, there’s no longer even a hope for Europe to avoid sliding into the usual model of colonies, as being banana republics, of one sort or another.

It was so natural for Russia to be Europe’s main energy-supplier, because Russia is a part of Europe, on the same continent as the other European nations, and therefore could pipeline its energy to them, and Russia had a surfeit of energy while the other European nations had a surfeit of need for it. That’s the way international capitalism is supposed to function, but imperialistic capitalism is instead international fascism, and it survives and grows only by exploiting other nations. From now on, the European nations, other than Russia, will, for at least a long time (because those giant gas-pipelines have been destroyed) be paying the world’s highest prices for energy (containerized and shipped, instead of simply pipelined), and buying much of it from Europe’s imperial center, which is increasingly recognizable now as being Europe’s real enemy: America. They will be paying tribute to the emperor — the billionaires who control the USA. These are the puppet-masters behind “the free world” (as their ‘news’-media refer to it), which is actually the new international-fascist empire. As Barack Obama called it, America is “the one indisensable nation,” which means that all other nations (in this case, the ones in Europe) are “dispensable.” Now, these former imperial nations will finally get a taste of what it’s like to be a “dispensable nation.” 

Here are some of the key U.S. operatives in Europe, who managed this situation, for the U.S. owners — brought this situation about (before Joe Biden’s agents ultimately just pulled the plug on the whole operation):

Boris Johnson, Olaf Schulz, Annalena Baerbock, Robert Habeck, Ursula von der Leyen, Josep Borrell, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Jens Stoltenberg, Emmanuel Macron, Mario Draghi — and, of course, behind the scenes, the billionaires who funded those leaders’ political careers (via political donations, plus those billionaires’ news-media and their other mass-public-opinion-forming organizations). These key agents will no doubt be paid well, in their retirements, regardless of what the public might think of them after their ‘service to the public’ is over.

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Exporting Religious Hatred to England

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A mob vandalised a Hindu temple in UK's Leicester. Twitter

Not a place hitting the main news channels often, Leicester is a small town of 250,000 inhabitants about a hundred miles north of London and 40 miles east of Birmingham the UK’s second largest city.

But an imported ideology is now the cause of religious violence that has profoundly affected Leicester’s ethnic community of South Asians.  This Hindutva ideology represents a belief in the transcendence of Hinduism and its culture.

Leicester prides itself as a city of tolerance and diversity where different religions and races all live together in relative harmony — a sort of ‘live and let live and mind your own business’ philosophy that had worked until recently.  But under the surface simmering tensions burst forth recently.  The trigger was a South Asia Cup cricket match between Indian and Pakistan held in Dubai and won by India.

Couple Hindutva with India’s win and groups of Hindu young men were keen to demonstrate their might, and did so on isolated young Muslims.  The latter then formed their own groups ready for revenge.

Where were the police one might ask.  Well, a couple of beaten up Asian teenagers did not register as exhibiting anything more than random teenage violence.  They were slow to react and did not discuss the ominous truth of religion as the prime mover behind the violence.

Civic leaders on both sides are now trying to quell the attacks.  But the damage has been done and the seeds of ill-feeling have been sown within the community meaning Hindus vis-a-vis Muslims and vice versa. 

India’s per capita GDP is higher than for Pakistan or Bangladesh, the two countries bordering it, which together constitute the subcontinent.  Thus the three countries are similar culturally.  The next question to ask is why then is India hugging the bottom on the 2020 World Happiness Report, next to ill-fated war-torn places like Yemen.  India is ranked 144 while its rival and neighbor Pakistan, although lower in per capita GDP, ranks a shocking (for India) 66.  Bangladesh also ranks much higher than India at 107, despite its devastating floods and typhoons.

Perhaps the answer lies in the pervasive hate that is the currency of the ruling BJP (Bharatia Janata Party), a currency spent liberally during general elections to the detriment of the Congress Party, which has stood for a secular India since independence.

But hate yields more votes as BJP leaders Norendra Modi and Amit Shah know well.  After all, they came to power via the destruction of the historic nearly five century old Babri Mosque, built on a Hindu holy site in an effort to ally Hindus by an astute Babur, the Mughal whose hold on India, just wrested from the Muslim Pathan kings, was still weak.  It worked for Babur then; its destruction worked for the BJP in the 21st century

Has India become more civilized since? 

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