“I asked these two [advisers to a government counterterrorism expert], ‘how did you get your jobs?’ and they say, ‘oh, we had the only qualification this person wanted...we knew nothing about terrorism.’” (from an interview with a terrorism expert, 2006)- qtd. in Stampnitzky 2011, 1.
The faulty and biased world of (Orthodox) terrorism studies. The NYPD’s “radicalization model” emerged out of a study field that has been criticized in the past of shoddy social scientific methods, the overuse of labels and stereotypes, and producing anti-Muslim narratives. What is especially noticeable about terrorism studies are that they do not calculate the effects of State (Western governments) practices and policies on such important things, like human rights. The ramifications of counter-terrorism policies on human rights on the part of State policies are never considered in terrorism studies.
The Dutch State (aka “the Netherlands”) is not innocent victim and Theo van Gogh murder appears to be used as an excuse for the Dutch State to embrace the repression of Muslims, as well as AIVD spying that probably has a chilling effect on Muslim participation in the social and political life of the country. The use of the “radicalization” label in the Netherlands is as it is in the NYPD, as short-hand for “dangerous Muslim” and provides mere suspicion to investigate without a crime having been committed (Center for Human Rights and Global Justice 2011, 43). In a manner of Pim Fortuyn, all Muslims are dangerous and Islam is a “violent ideology.” Orthodox terrorism studies views states, like the Netherlands (the Dutch State), as an innocent victim of terrorism (the Theo van Gogh murder) that should “meet challenges to its power.”
There have been a few observers that have rendered their critical judgments against (Orthodox) terrorism studies. The field of terrorism studies, which has blossomed after September 11, 2001, is void of especially study frameworks and standard social scientific practices. Studies of the discourse of Orthodox terrorism field show also show that the field, besides viewing states as innocent victims, extensively uses labeling, anti-Muslim narratives and the view that Islam is always violent and there is a threat anywhere there are Muslim immigrants. The most damming accusation is that Orthodox terrorism experts are often employed by governments, and findings by such experts cannot be trusted (Blakeley 2007, Jackson 2007, Weinberg and Eubank, 2008, Stampnitzky 2011).
“Islamic terrorism” discourse is, first, loaded with key terms, labels and assumptions are highly contestable and the discourse is based on simplifications and generalizations. The dominate narratives of “Islamist terrorism” in Orthodox terrorism and counter-terrorism studies are of a political and contestable nature. The ways in which “Islamic terrorism” is interpreted and socially constructed are an “existential threat” serves to justify various political and social policies in the social order in a state (Jackson 2007, 412, 425), like the Dutch State.
In his study of 300 works of “Islamist terrorism” discourses Richard Jackson (2007) found that there was an extensive use of various labels, including, but not limited to: “Islamist,” “jihadist,” “political Islam,” “the West,” “Salafis,” “radicalism,” “global jihadist movement.” The usage of these terms was often vaguely defined, if defined at all, and was highly flexible in deployment and categories. These labels are arranged in dualistic, oppositional pairs, such as “the West versus the Islamic world” and “democratic versus totalitarian” (400). Jackson finds that the discourse’s underlying assumption is that violence, contrast to Christianity, is inherent to Islam as Islam marks no difference between Church and State. The assumption also includes the notion that governance of Muslim nations includes State regulation of the public and private lives of Muslims and the connection between political Islam and violence. From these assumptions between Islam and violence springs the assumption that terrorism is directly linked to, and inspired from, extremist and fundamentalist forms of Islam. Many works appear to take an automatic link of “Islamist,” “Wahhabist” and “Salafist” directly to terrorism and political violence. These works often drew upon cultural stereotypes and long-running hostility toward Islam and Muslims in the mainstream media (403-404, 401).
The mad, mad, mad, mad search for a “radicalization model.” At the same time, terrorism studies is in a mad, mad search for a “radicalization model” that appears to demonize faithful Muslims, especially faithful Muslims with various political opinions and world views. To the NYPD’s “radicalization model,” being a Muslim already marks the Muslim as a deviant and a criminal. As a result of this mad search for a “radicalization model” by a field with faulty scientific methods, this field is adapting the NYPD’s “radicalization model” – and this is why we have anybody who is “Muslim” being investigated by police intelligence without a grain of evidence the “Muslim” is actually involved in criminal activity. Radicalization models exist, and they don’t demonize any religious faith or political viewpoint, but stick to violent criminal behavior only.
Anthony Richards (2010) is his study of the UK’s “Prevent” program found that the term “radicalization,” which implies threat, can be used to describe behavior and beliefs that have nothing to do with violence and terrorism. Richards questions the utility of “radicalization” as a focus of responses to terrorism, as establishing what the term means have become confused and convoluted, and no real clarity exists to the meaning of “radicalization” (144). Richards then asks: Who then are the “radicalized? Are they just people who engage in violent acts – or people who understand why some might want to commit violent acts? Richards noted a survey that was given by the UK Office of Security and Counter-terrorism that included focus groups and interviews with British Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Somali individuals and found that while they rejected the means carried out by the terrorists, they sympathized with causes of injustices and oppression of Muslims as espoused by terrorists and felt that they had legitimate grievances.
Are these people “radicalized?” Do people that believe that Islam is incompatible with democracy radicalized? Or people who believe that sharia law would be good for the UK, are they radicalized? Richards questions the focus of the term “radicalized” on what people think and believe, and not on behavior, especially violent behavior (144-145). While Richards believes that the root causes of terrorism should be understood, the focus on broad and opaque notions of “radicalization” lends to confused and convoluted responses (146).
The term “radicalization” and its anti-Muslim definitions are also causing problems in the US. Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (2011) describes how the use of the NYPD’s “radicalization model” has become “popularized” and innocent, legally protected activities, like “growing a beard, wearing Islamic clothing” as “self identification,” along with cultural practices and political beliefs as “radicalization.” From this discriminatory definition, the government can and is taking actions against individuals without any evidence of criminal activity (42). We also know that, coupled with the use of biased, anti-Muslim materials that are used in law enforcement training, Orthodox terrorism studies and its mad, mad, mad, mad, search for a “radicalization model” are behind the targeting of innocent Muslims for nothing more than being Muslim. This is the abusive powers of states and their patrons in the Orthodox studies field.
The government’s targeting of the Muslim community in law enforcement operations also implicates the right to freedom of opinion and expression when individuals are subjected to greater scrutiny because of the particular political opinions they express. Anti-radicalization policies and resultant law enforcement practices—coupled with the general climate of Islamophobia they foment—also have an indirect chilling effect on freedom of expression and religion in the Muslim community more broadly (Center for Human Rights and Global Justice 2011, 43-44).
The Orthodox terrorism studies field cares little about human rights, religious freedom and free expression in liberal democracies, and such practices in liberal democracies are perhaps counterproductive and get in the way of “finding jihadists.” To the Orthodox terrorism studies field, it is as if we all live in states where freedoms, like religious freedom, don’t exist. Since “finding jihadists” (if any exist at all) is the only worthy goal of the State, we have the acceptance of the NYPD’s “radicalization model” by members of this field. The State (especially Western governments) must come to the place of setting the rights and liberties outside of protection just to find perhaps a few or no “dangerous jihadists?” Yes, the NYPD has done exactly that with its massive spy program. This is not freedom and liberty – it is tyranny – and the NYPD is an anti-American policing organization that is openly flaunting American values. The ramifications of bringing anti-Muslim terrorism studies into policies and the search for a “radicalization model” that fits only Muslims has now manifested itself in the NYPD’s spying program.
What is and isn’t terrorism in Orthodox terrorism studies. The State, like the Dutch state, must place Muslims outside of the protections of human rights and free expression that are defended for other groups, like PVVers and Volkskrant. Hate speech and “threatening speech” are vigorously prosecuted in the Netherlands when the speakers are Muslims or Leftists. At the same time, Geert Wilders is acquitted from his charges for abusing his notoriety and media access to spread myths about Muslims and creating societal hostility through the use of war talk that may have played a part in the terrorist attacks in Norway last July.
Just as Hofstadgroep has never been studies as a street gang and branded a “terrorist organization,” we can learn what a state like the Dutch State regards as “terrorism.” We can also note that the worst terrorist-type event on Dutch soil since the September 11 attacks on the US was NOT the Theo van Gogh murder – but the Queen’s Day 2009 attack in Apeldoorn by Karst Tates (a suspected right wing radical) against a bus carrying the royal family. This attack is nowhere on the radar screen of terrorism studies “experts and researchers.” So – what is “terrorism,” like “radicalization,” is confined to Muslims – and this view is biased and discriminatory, and has no place in security and law enforcement in liberal democracies. There should be NO adaption of the NYPD model by police and security forces of liberal democracies that defend religious freedom and expression for ALL its members – and the usage of the NYPD model by democratic societies must be prohibited.
Ethnic registration for the Netherlands by other means. A warning to the Dutch: We now see that the Dutch Justice Ministry’s Ivo Opstelten wants the NYPD model for the Netherlands. This could mean just police organization, but it could include the “Demographic Unit.” We should remember that Geert Wilders (the puppet master in the Dutch state) wanted and ethnic registration program. Here is the quote from the Netherlands Embassy to the US:
While in New York City, the Minister will meet NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly and the New York Port Authority to focus on policing techniques and countering violent extremism. The organization of the NYPD will also be of interest to the Minister. In the Netherlands, the police are now organized by region. Under Minister Opstelten, the police will become an integrated national police force reporting to one police commissioner, a construct that will be similar to the NYPD model.
It seems that Geert Wilders will get his ethnic registration by other means…and I, for one, am keeping a fixed eye on the Dutch State and its abuses.
Blakeley, Ruth. 2007. Bringing the State back into Terrorism Studies. European Consortium for Political Research. 6(3), 228-253.
Burke, Anthony . 2008. The end of terrorism studies. Critical Studies on Terrorism. Vol. 1, No. 1, (April), 37–49.
Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. 2011. Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the ‘Homegrown Threat’ in the United States. New York: NYU School of Law. Located at http://www.chrgj.org/publications/targetedentrappedtranslations.html accessed on March 9, 2012.
Franks, Jason. Rethinking the Roots of Terrorism: Orthodox Terrorism Theory and Beyond. October 10, 2005. http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/intrel/media/Franks_rethinking_roots_terrorism.pdf
Jackson, Richard. 2007. Constructing Enemies: ‘Islamic Terrorism’ in Political and Academic Discourse. Government and Opposition, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 394–426.
Jackson, Richard. 2008. The Ghosts of State Terror: Knowledge, Politics and Terrorism Studies. http://www.humansecuritygateway.com/documents/ISA_theghostsofstateterror.pdf
Jackson, Richard, Eamon Murphy and Scott Poynting, eds. 2008. Contemporary state terrorism: Theory and practices. Routledge: New York, NY.
Richards, Anthony. 2010. The problem with ‘radicalization’: the remit of ‘Prevent’ and the need to refocus on terrorism in the UK. International Affairs 87:1, 143–152.
Stampnitzky, Lisa. 2011. Disciplining an Unruly Field: Terrorism Experts and Theories of Scientific/Intellectual Production. Qual Sociol. 34:1–19.
Weinberg, Leonard and William Eubank. 2008. Problems with the critical studies approach to the study of terrorism. Critical Studies on Terrorism. Vol. 1, No. 2, (August), 185–195.
Questioning Dutch and American uses of Muslim "Radicalization"