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Censorship or saving grace? Academic Scholarship and Intelligence Vetting

Dr. Matthew Crosston

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A new article by The Moscow Times revealed a mixed reaction to supposed FSB ‘vetting’ of academic scholarship.

The Times, which has largely become a holding repository of intense criticism of the Russian government (and no, the irony of a media organization sharply critical of the government for infringing on media freedom has apparently not sunken in yet in Moscow), is clearly siding high on the indignation side of this issue: for the most part the article is a not-so-thinly veiled accusation of Russian intelligence services trying to basically return the country’s academic community to a Soviet-era intellectual censorship system. And while it is true there are examples of Russian academics unfortunately being subjected to investigation and even arrest, there are aspects to this story that are importantly irresponsible and propagandistic.

The past is no help to the Russian Federation in this case. Older generation academics indeed remember all too well a time when literally all academic scholarship had to be ‘approved’ by the KGB. The article that the Moscow Times took from the prestigious journal Nature highlighted how scientists today need to seek ‘permission’ from their home university’s First Department, an entity that supposedly exists in all Russian universities and is meant to be ‘closely associated’ with the FSB. It is at this point that even the Times article gets a bit confusing. Administration officials in the powerful Moscow State University admit that faculty meetings had taken place discussing the need to have original scholarship reviewed, but that this process has long been in place as a source for improving the standards of quality and citation rate and in no way is associated with the FSB. In addition, even at MSU, the vanguard of Russian academic institutions, the practice of First Department vetting seems to be selectively engaged, where certain departments are required to submit scholarship while other departments are not. It is not readily clear, to the Times, Nature, or the faculty of MSU, what decision-making process is involved to determine which departments receive scrutiny. And as one might expect in this situation, wherever there is confusion or ambiguity, there goes suspicion and dread. Given the history of Soviet censorship and contemporary worries about academic freedom, it is not entirely shocking that academic and media groups in Russia would profess concern about the insidiousness of the overall process. But I cannot help but see some less sinister possibilities that explain this situation.

Anyone affiliated with university administration, ANY university administration, is well-acquainted with what can only be called an interminable and seemingly illogical bureaucracy that often eludes the principles of rationality and sanity. The idea that a huge institution like Moscow State University might make decisions that are not standardized or universal, that do not apply to all departments across the board, and even perhaps make decisions that seem contradictory and inexplicable to its faculty, is so commonplace all over the academic globe that it is almost not worth mentioning. The essence of academic bureaucracy often seems to be about good intentions badly performed. The inconsistency of First Department application across Russian universities could and likely is easily explained by this frustrating intellectual reality all scholars face, regardless of a country’s specific history with censorship. But even this is minor compared to the larger issue not being properly discussed in the Times article: standard procedures of oversight on scholarship that deals with sensitive topics and materials.

The Nature journal understandably focuses on the hard sciences, but this issue falls on all academics, even students, who produce material that engage national security interests. The idealistic utopia that some academics proclaim should be the standard for intellectual engagement has ALWAYS been a myth: there is no country and no university where professors and advanced students can simply ‘write whatever they want and go talk to whomever they want whenever they want,’ especially at institutions that have either a connection to government or have persons under their employ or guidance who are also affiliated with government agencies. This is not about Russia slowly creeping back into some weird form of Soviet revanchism. This is about all countries. For example, my own program has had issues with this challenge as it concerns the analytical commentary endeavor, The Caspian Project: given that I run an International Security and Intelligence Studies Program in the United States, it is not outrageous to learn that some of my students are already employed or were formerly employed by the US government or American military. Every single student in my program that has had this affiliation and wanted to contribute to The Caspian Project has had to submit their work ahead of time to ‘vetting services,’ either in the US government or the military, to simply ascertain that no classified information was accessed in order to write the pieces and no secret information was revealed in the pieces themselves. In America, some have derisively referred to this as a ‘post-Snowden reflex,’ implying the United States Intelligence Community still stings from the embarrassment of the theft and release of thousands of classified documents by Edward Snowden. While there may be a small bit of truth to that, the reality is this process has always existed in America and will exist in any other country that considers itself important on the global stage and having significant national security secrets to maintain (ie, every single country on earth, quite frankly). What the derision and suspicion of articles like the one in Nature or the commentary provided by The Moscow Times fail to understand or recognize is just how easy it is to unknowingly violate national security laws in a given country. That is the aspect sorely needed within this debate and what I provide here.

Academics who do not have familiarity with or exposure to working with the government often have a ‘Hollywoodized’ vision of national security and what it means for information to be Top Secret and classified. The old American Supreme Court adage in the 1970s about pornography (what is porn? I’ll know it when I see it) does not apply here, though most academics unwisely think it does. Unfortunately, the process of classification and designation of Top Secret is not intuitively logical or easily surmised. An academic can easily be working on materials or topics that seem far-removed from issues of national security and yet the conclusions and originality devised from said sources end up pushing the work incredibly close if not beyond the standards under which the government works and is beholden to. This is why preemptive vetting is a much safer process for the academic: failing to get that formal approval exposes the scholar in question to the accusations seen in the Times article. It is not a question of how many times the material has been discussed in public or whether or not it has been published previously. The Times uses that fact to show the unjustness of the system, intimating that something was first ‘fine’ because it was presented previously and then later on the academic falls under the thumb of FSB suspicion. In my world, here in the United States, this is an area where it is most assuredly not better to ‘ask forgiveness rather than seek permission.’ Too many academics working in important areas of national security, whether directly or indirectly, cannot be so cavalier: put simply, asking forgiveness does not usually go over so well when dealing with a country’s intelligence community. I know for a fact that is the case for America. There is no reason it would be any different for the Russian Federation. The fact that information can go unnoticed at first just means it is a failure of bureaucracy, which is why academics in every country are usually charged with the responsibility of seeking the vetting themselves. Host governments are basically de facto admitting they do not believe in the efficacy of their own bureaucratic institutions. And rightly so.

This is what leads us to the final important point about academics in general: while on the whole wonderfully engaged and purely intentioned when tackling new scholarship, our naiveté as a group can get a bit overwhelming. When tackling scholarship that clearly cannot touch in any way national security interests, this trait can be endearing if also eccentric. When researching issues that do matter to national security, this trait makes us dangerous to ourselves. In such a way the existence of a First Department at a university (an organ that does not exist in American universities and thus makes the still required vetting process more labyrinthine and unknowable for scholars and students alike) can potentially speed up what no doubt will always be an excruciating example of bureaucracy run amok. But dealing with an inefficient, illogical, and sometimes inexplicable bureaucratic organ ahead of time is far superior to dealing with the unemotional, ruthless, and cutting professionalism of your country’s law enforcement. This reality should be considered when we read articles like the one in the Times. Is this censorship rearing its ugly head back into the world of the academy or is this a saving grace helping academics avoid their own worst habits? Bureaucracy can indeed often be dumb. But that doesn’t always automatically mean it is also a demon.

Dr. Matthew Crosston is Executive Vice Chairman of ModernDiplomacy.eu. He is Senior Doctoral Faculty in the School of Security and Global Studies at the American Military University and was just named the future Co-Editor of the seminal International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence. His work is catalogued at: https://brown.academia.edu/ProfMatthewCrosston/Analytics

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India’s Nuclear Imperilment

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Recently, a uranium smuggling racket was busted by the Kolkata police with one kilogramme of radioactive material. According to the reports, smugglers were trying to sell uranium, which has a market value of INR 30 million ($440,000).

The theft of highly sensitive material especially uranium is frequently happening in India.In November 1994, Meghalaya Police seized 2.5 kg of uranium from a gang of four smugglers in the Domiasiat region. Police in the Indian state of West Bengal in June 1998, arrested an opposition politician who they say was carrying more than 100 kilograms of uranium. In July 1998, the CBI unearthed a major racket in theft of uranium in Tamil Nadu, with the seizure of over eight kg of the nuclear material. In August 2001, Police in the Indian state of West Bengal arrested two men with more than 200 grams of semi-processed uranium. In December 2006, a container packed with radioactive material was stolen from a fortified research facility in eastern India.

Similarly, in February 2008 the police seized 4 kg of uranium in Supaul district along the Indo-Nepal border.Police in the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya said in September 2008 that they have arrested five people on charges of smuggling uranium ore.In December 2009, the Navi Mumbai Crime Branch arrested three people for illegal possession of 5 kg of depleted uranium.Around 9 kg of radioactive uranium, a banned material, was seized from two persons in Thane, in December 2016.

India is operating a plutonium production reactor, Dhruva, and a uranium enrichment facility that are not subject to IAEA safeguards. India’s buildup of South Asia’s largest military complex of nuclear centrifuges and atomic-research laboratories is somehow threatening efforts related to nuclear security and safety. These facilities will ultimately give India the ability to make more large-yield nuclear arms & hydrogen bombs. The international task force on the prevention of nuclear terrorism is of the view that the possibility of nuclear terrorism is increasing keeping in mind the rapid nuclear development by India. Whereas, U.S. officials and experts are of the view that India’s nuclear explosive materials are vulnerable to theft.

Contemporary Indian internal situation is worsening day by day because of the intolerance and extremism. Likewise, India has more than 65 active terrorist groups operating in different states including the location of nuclear installations. These terrorists may possibly gain access to nuclear materials and use them against civilian and military installations. In January 2016, we have seen a controversial Pathankot Airbase attack, which also shows that Indian intelligence had badly failed to provide true information about terrorist networks.

Nuclear facilities must be guarded closely and the people who are working in these facilities must maintain secrecy. However, in India, nuclear facilities are guarded by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and CISF guard admitted that security at the installations needs more enhancements. Mysterious deaths of Indian nuclear scientists is a matter of concern as some were reported suicide and some were murdered. The possibility of nuclear secrecy gets out in the hands of terrorists cannot be ignored.

The Naxalites – India’s Maoists from the Communist Party often target the police and military bases. Though most terrifying revelation was by the EU report that seven Indian companies were involved in funding to ISIS for making bombs. Previously Indian companies were involved in illicit nuclear trade with Iran, Iraq and Libya. So the situation will be a lot worst if the Indian companies provide any chemical, biological or the nuclear material to ISIS

Several of these incidents clearly indicate the failure of the Indian nuclear security agencies. Thus the focus of mainstream media and Western governments should be the Indian nuclear program’s flawed security, expansion and rapidly increasing nuclear weapons technology.

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Know the psychology of ISIL

Sajad Abedi

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In my opinion, the “ISIS phenomenon” is not new; it distinguishes the factors of this group; for example, the audience of the world’s television networks is watching films that ISIS itself publishes. They have internet sites that send their films and photos to the world. On the other hand, the region is full of journalists because both the Syria war is underway and the Middle East regional issues are so important, so journalists can cover the moment.

In addition, the strategic importance of the Iraqi state and its oil resources was due to the fact that ISIS had its first attacks on oil and refineries, but it was effective in triggering their actions, but the thing that shook the world more than anything else, A pattern of behavior that the group represented during the capture of places; films from ISILs that were showing them on the road and checking cars, while carrying laptops with names of those who worked with the government, or any kind of their thoughts It was different from the ideology of ISIL.

The members of the group matched the driver identification card with the list of these names, and if their names were on this list, they would have been executed without trial!

These films spread throughout the world, and the wonder of the whole world prompted which ideology and religion could be, according to which, people were allowed to kill someone by merely naming and without trial, killing someone along the road and rejoicing.

The problem is that the members of this group, other than themselves, do not know the rest of the people as religious and religious, so they assume any violence and murder as loyal to their religious ideology, while many Muslims around the world, especially their classroom, are astonished at these actions and never do such acts godly and on the basis of religion and hate them.

Is Isis a Terrorist?

“Terror” means the creation of horror and fear. In fact, terror means the use of unexpected, shocking and unlawful violence against civilians to force a state or a society to accept demands based on an ideology.

But what does a terrorist want from a psychological point of view, what happens in society and what is his goal? They create psychological phenomena in society, through which they pressure the people and civilians to push them on to governments, and ultimately, to reach the demands of that group. The psychological phenomena that are caused by terrorist movements and their news in people are horror, discomfort and turmoil, unrest and restlessness, pessimism, anxiety and anxiety, anger, grief and tragedy.

Most importantly, the combination of all these unpleasant feelings is causing a lot of confusion, discomfort and insecurity inside people. But what makes the assassination possible? It is clear that those who do such behaviors do not consider themselves brutal or inhumane, and they have the absolute right to do such acts.

In recent years, investigations have been carried out on those who have had extreme behaviors. One of the most important and best investigated was Dr. Wagdey Luzza at the University of Cantabria on the terrorism of religious groups such as al-Qaeda, with the Middle East approach, and the results could be extended to ISIS. According to the study, it turned out that in the West, most of those joining these groups are men aged 17 to 23, usually from middle-class families with relatively high academic and academic achievements in modern science with academic degrees.

But the results of the 1999 study also revealed that those who carry out terrorist acts in their own countries are people with low and unemployed education who have been roughly dropped out of the text of the community, and themselves have separated themselves from the context of society.

The leaders of these radical and radical religious groups, on average 15 years older than the followers and other members of the group, are about 40 years old, have a great deal of affection and influence, are able to inspire the respect of their followers and their own self, Their ideology, in such a way that they can influence others, have intrinsically an influential personality, inspire others, encourage in the best possible way, usually do not fear death and are professors of death. Of course, in the leaders of these groups, there are people who, incidentally, completely escape death while encouraging others to die in the ideology.

Those who are attracted to groups like ISIS are abnormal?

There is no consensus on this. Some studies show that many of these people have personality disorders. Some even suffer from major psychiatric disorders. But the most important point of the personality that can be mentioned is that they have grown up in a family or a community that has created a feeling of self-sufficiency and humiliation.

These people have never been taken seriously and they feel that they are not first class citizens and their rights are different from the rights of other citizens. They feel like they are not treated to others. One of the most prominent examples of this situation may be seen in the behavior of Arab people living in the suburbs of Paris over the past 2-3 years. They were born in Paris and had a French passport, but their sense of belonging and attachment to the French community was not formed, which caused disturbances in Paris, which caused a lot of damage.

After that, the French government has just realized that it cannot continue to discriminate, and must provide grounds for joining these people to French culture while respecting Arab and Islamic culture in order not to face such rebellion and chaos.

Another aspect of the personality of the members of such groups is that they do not have personality independence and they need to follow someone else with a higher appeal. They have no self-confidence and can only feel confident within an ideology, that is, ideology with rough behaviors so that nobody dares to stand in front of them.

People who lack the sense of empathy and sympathy with others, and they are not basically born of a child of conscience, suffered a severe damage to their self-image from a childhood, which is said to be bad in their family and society, they are a bad people, their religion is not worthless. , Have a brutal nationality, and they are constantly seeking to abandon their anger, and one of the best ways to do this is to join groups that can be abused by membership and violent behavior.

Members of these groups are pessimistic about the world around them and the world, and sometimes have a lot of mental employment, for example, under the control of a very violent parent or violent and punitive rule. Groups like ISIS will be able to empower them. People with such characteristics are so influenced and influenced by a kind of hypnosis that their contacts with the facts are discontinued and their perceptions of facts are confused.

One of the things that the leaders of these groups do well is brainwashing, that is, brainwashing ideological issues in the name of reality in the whole universe, and assuring them that the truth is what their leaders say.

Another group of researchers, according to their studies, has concluded that members of the terrorist groups do not have an abnormal character at all; many of them naturally, educated and highly adhered to their ideology, and are even willing to sacrifice their lives for their ideology. In fact, these people, through sacrificing their lives, feel useful, sacrificed and sacrificed and are proud to be in this way, which ultimately leads to a great name in this world and a fortune-telling to come place for them.

In my opinion, naturally, both groups of these people are seen in groups like ISIL, and perhaps we should look at their behavior in order to find out the reality. I believe that what distinguishes natural people from abnormal is the degree of conscientiousness.

Those who believe in devotion and sacrifice and honesty are surely not willing to surrender their captive family members without trial, roadside, and in front of their eyes.

Unfortunately, due to the actions and actions of the ISIS group, it seems that most of its members have an abnormal character and their thoughts are immortal and primitive. They are usually accustomed to learning to look very straightforward. The example of this is the declaration of the caliphate for the whole world from an area in Iraq and the burning of European citizens’ passports to show that they are universal and do not think nationally! These people believe that they have established a government and a caliphate for the whole world, all of which shows their simplicity.

They see phenomena as absolute black or white, or good or bad. They see the world divided into two categories: the helpless rich, the exploited, and the poor, are miserable, and this means thinking all or nothing. Their beliefs are based on the rejection of the thoughts of others, rather than certain beliefs, and they consider all the rights to themselves. Moreover, they believe that their thinking for all ages and for all people and all the conditions is right, so they want to persuade everyone to force their ideology and if anyone opposes it, they seek to hurt him. Clearly, the analytical system of these groups is weak because the training that they have seen in their schools is more based on memory rather than analysis.

Finally, I emphasize that the formation of ISIS and its groups is the result of being repelled and humiliated by the family and society. Therefore, if any country wants a phenomenon like ISIS not to emerge, one must understand that it is necessary to respect the rights of citizenship and religion of the people

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Radicalisation of Youth in Indonesia and Counteractions

Abhishek Mohanty

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There is a generic proverb that youth are the upcoming leaders of future. But in reality, they are the leaders of contemporary times. Indonesia, with approximately 266 million population, in which almost 25% of the population is occupied by youth falling below the age of 25. Shaping this group for influencing present and future discourses of Indonesia is very important. But this young generation is ghastly being motivated towards radicalism on several pretexts, primarily politically and religiously. One of the several factors is due to identity crisis which is invoked internally by society and externally by subtle indoctrination through mainstream and social media.

There is an increasing consciousness in Indonesia that terror organisations are encouraging youths to join their ranks. This endangerment was clear since 2009 when Indonesian media telecasted a video of an 18-year old preparing himself for suicide bombing at the Hotel Marriott. The video disclosed the serene account about sacrificing one’s life for the sake of religion. The Indonesian media had unconcealed in front of the whole nation that for some of Indonesian youth, it was their responsibility to wage Jihad against infidels in the form of terrorist acts. Indonesian public found it embarrassing to digest this at that time.

But now, a worrying number of Indonesian youth have been exposed to radical political and religious orientation. Approximately 39% of university students have confessed their support to radical organisations. Fifteen provinces of Indonesia now have a “high risk” categorisation. Their students are an easy prey for radical organisations.A related narrative is also going on in Indonesian high schools. Nearly60% of extracurricular Islamic studies students are ready to engage in fierce jihad. This has caused an alarming situation in Indonesia as it is clearly visible that radical radical elements of the society have infiltrated the minds of Indonesian youth.

One of the earliest radical preachers in Indonesia is the Rohani Islam movement, which upsurged after the fall of Suharto’s autocratic regime. It has promoted radical interpretations of Islams to Indonesian youths through evening classes. Rohani apologists are now the most radical section of people in Indonesian society. Around 40% of the supporters backed to transform Indonesia into an Islamic State under a caliphate. The Rohani Islam movement comes under the purview of the Ministry for Education. But there have been negligible attempts to probe or reorient the Rohani Islam movement.

Another renowned radical organisation Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) has also been radicalising Indonesian youth since the last three years. It was established in 2015, as a result of amalgamation of more than a dozen Indonesian terrorist outfits to strengthen the influence of ISIS in Indonesia, with Aman Abdurrahman, who recently was sentenced to death for his involvement in terrorist attacks, as it’s de facto supremo. According to Indonesian authorities, the family of suicide bombers which recently perpetrated the terrorist attacks in Surabaya had strong connections with JAD. The radical organisation also runs unauthorised boarding schools study groups for Indonesian youth. It has been also alleged by Indonesian authorities that students and teachers from these schools have travelled to Iraq and Syria for training purposes.

With the issue of radicalism gaining momentum in Indonesia, several NGOs have stepped up to counter the influence of radicalism in the Indonesian society. They have carried out majority of the initiatives on deradicalisation of youths. The Wahid Foundation, like for example, visits high schools which are soft targets of radicalisation. Their activists teach lessons on subjects like peace, religious tolerance, multiculturalism and pluralism. The Jakarta-settled NGO Maarif Institute organises an annual camp youth camp to assist youth in countering the influence of radicalism. Its also organises visits to Catholic churches and Buddhist temple to promote inter-faith cooperation and has partnered with Google to host workshops on ways to combat baneful online propaganda.

The radicalization of Indonesian youth is now a major concern for the government, as inflammatory thoughts now easily move through cultures and borders with one touch, more precisely with just tapping tweet or post. There is an urgent need for maximising government initiatives towards youth related policies. Such as, there are very less public investments in youth related national programmes to tap their prolific assets. Recently, President Widodo has announced new policies to forbid youth from coming under the influence of radical views. For developing a robust framework of youth deradicalisation involves modifications in policies, societies and families.

Indonesia’s youth deradicalisation initiatives will be more complex and intriguing in the coming times. Albeit Indonesia is the best model of a multicultural, religious tolerant Muslim-majority secular democracy, still a lot has to be done in developing an environment among the youth that is free from any kind of radical orientations. One aspect can be encouraging ambitious youth leadership. Interactive sessions by senior educators won’t appeal the youth as much when compared with passionate youth leaders.

Radicalism is often a harbinger to terrorism and concentrating on radicalism signals to get rid of terrorism at the nascent stage, before it is too late for non-coercive tactics. Triumphing over radicalism will in the end not be reckoned by military actions but by encouraging non-military policies that tones up the institutional support of human development in the country.

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