Islamist Radicalisation in Europe: An Occupational Change Process

Islamist Radicalisation in Europe: An Occupational Change Process

Islamist Radicalisation in Europe: An Occupational Change Process

Islamist Radicalisation in Europe: An Occupational Change Process

Synopsis

This book examines the Islamist radicalisation process in Europe, developing a new theoretical model based on an empirical study of the evolution of Islamist radicals in their social environment. The approach of this book is to examine how, and under what conditions, people choose to radicalise.

Excerpt

Islamist radicalisation in Europe has become an issue of top concern in recent years. Strategists, political scientists, but also writers from a series of other academic fields, from anthropology to psychology and economics have discovered it as a promising and fruitful area to search for novelty in explanation and method in description. Security strategies of both European nations and the EU as a whole deal with the terrorist threat, but also more and more with what has been labelled ‘homegrown’ terrorism, radicalisation and recruitment; the radicalisation and recruitment of usually young Muslims or converts, second or third generation Europeans on the verge of waging the jihad, abroad and on the continent. If during the three years after 9/11 Europe could deny or ignore the development of jihadi networks on its territory and their potential to inflict damage and loss of life, the Madrid attacks in 2004, followed by those in London a year later brought the chilling awareness that ‘there is a problem’. Suddenly, from one issue among many, Islamist terrorism and radicalisation soared up the agenda of priorities and, more than that, a sense of urgency emerged to map out and address the threat ‘in our midst’. It is perhaps this sense of urgency that has led to a substantial amount of resources and ideas being invested in slick accounts of the situation, with little data and loose connections to theory, and to equally quickly drafted policy initiatives – broad and ambitious, yet with little focus on the individuals of concern, namely radicals, not mosques and not communities.

It has become almost a cliché to begin terror writings with the memory of the three great attacks on the West, 9/11, 3/11 and 7/7. It is perhaps a comfortable anchor for emotion, drama and surprise in the readership. What these dates and the memories and shock attached to them also show, however, is the great potential for mass killings to influence, arrest and perhaps even lead political agendas. It is not necessarily about the number of deaths. As an often mentioned parabola, by any statistical calculation the probability of dying in a car accident is significantly higher than that of dying in a terrorist attack. It is about the theatre of spectacular action, the amount of destruction and, indeed, the human loss at a single blow. These images remained in the collective mind and drive votes and drive politics to ‘do something about it’. In fact, were it not for them, for the consequences of Islamist terrorism, we would not have much debate about . . .

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