The Guardian newspaper (Thursday 21st August 2008) claims a Front Page Exclusive story with three articles and a bloated 350Kb .pdf image scan of a single page:
Exclusive: Sophisticated analysis says there is no single pathway to violent extremism
Why has the Americanism "Explainer" crept in to The Guardian ?
N.B. this is only a 350 Kb .pdf image scan of the the front page of the Restricted research document, not, as you ight have expected, the full document itself. This provides only a few paragraphs more than the 30Kb jpg graphics file used to illustrate the first article. (which shows the top half of the report's front page)
There are no claims about the provenance of this document, except for the phrase:
according to a classified internal research document on radicalisation seen by the Guardian.
To our suspicious minds, this makes it more likely to be a cynical bit of Whitehall propaganda spin and media briefing, rather than a principled leak by a courageous whistleblower.
Will this briefing be used to help to justify secret snooping and surveillance on millions of innocent people's travel and communications, no matter how expensive, inefficient, inept and disastrously error prone, this is likely to be ?
One Obvious Question not mentioned in the "Key Points" or in The Guardian's articles, is to what extent "radicalisation" is influenced by the cockups and mistakes whereby heavy handed or inept Police and Security Agency actions, which sweep up innocent or neutral or marginal terrorism supporters, and who refuse to promptly admit, publicly apologise and make generous financial compensation for their mistakes, contributes to the conversion of these people and their relatives, into more extreme supporters or into actual terrorists, exactly as used to happen in Northern Ireland.
Behavioral Science Unit Operational Briefing Note:
Understanding radicalisation and violent extremism in the UK
Report No. 02/2008
12 June 2008
- The report presents original research and academic perspectives on radicalisation
- Individuals who become involved in violent extremism in the UK have varied characteristics and backgrounds and are, on the whole, demographically unremarkable.
Demographically exactly like the Police and Military forces and the Security Service then, if all the promises about "Equality" and "Diversity" are true.
- However, many such individuals have vulnerabilities in their background that make them potentially susceptible to radicalising influences.
- Key vulnerabilities include: experiences on migration to the UK,
Presumably "experiences on migration to the UK" is code for "racial or religious discrimination" and the heartless, faceless petty bureaucracy inflicted on immigrants by the Government.
involvement in criminality; travel overseas;
It is terribly easy to see how such a phrase as "travel overseas" , which, in the depths of the document, which will not get read in detail, probably actually means "travel to the Pakistan" etc. becomes filtered and summarised and glossed out of its original context, until the bureaucrats come up with a "counter-terrorism" policy of trying to snoop on all travel anywhere overseas.
failure to achieve; and religious naivety.
Exactly like the same sort of people who have, in the past, joined revolutionary movements, death cults or religious sects like Communism, Aum Shin Rykyo, the Branch Davidians, the Moonies, the Mormons, etc. etc.
- Other people, in particular peers and charismatic individuals from local communities, are the most significant radicalising influences.
Hence the 'let's snoop on Local Communities" plans - see Hazel Blears and Sergeant Flanderka - "tension monitoring" i.e. snooping on local communities"
- various forms of media (including internet material) can also be influential in radicalisation. however, in most cases personal interaction is essential to draw individuals into violent extremist networks.
- Once involved in an extremist network, powerful social psychological processes serve to bind individuals to the group.
Exactly like the esprit du corp in elite special forces military, police or intelligence agency units, or in criminal street gangs.
- Despite this, individuals can and do leave such networks.
Surely there has been lots of sociological and psychological studies of former cultists, football hooligans, street gangs etc. ?
- The implications of this research for PREVENT activity are discussed
PREVENT is the peculiar management speak jargon which is meant to be a "strand" of the Government's Counter-terrorism Strategy. This has always been the most excruciatingly inept part of the strategy. Apparently visits by Nu Labour Home Secretaries and Secretaries of State for Communities, and various propaganda roadshows, are meant to magically convert out of touch local Muslim "community leaders" into people who will identify vulnerable "yoofs" and steer them back onto the path of conformity and lawful behaviour.
The claims made in this report summary and in The Guardian's articles need to be taken with a pinch of salt, since the study group appears to be perhaps only 300 individuals, most of whom, cannot be hardcore convicted terrorists, since there are simply not that many of them, and it seems likely that most of them will have refused to cooperate with the researchers.
Unless the Government makes the actual research figures available, the failure by MI5 to identify anything especially striking about the demographics, could and should be interpreted as showing that they are no better at identifying people who are vulnerable to extremist radicalisation , than simply making random guesses.
Are they deluding themselves that snooping activity can actually accurately predict individual future human behaviour ? There certainly seem to some Police technocrats in dangerous positions of power, who are deluding themselves that this might be possible - see ACPO spokesman: Eugenics and kiddy printing - incompetence or spin ?
This means that all the millions of pounds being poured into snooping on "communities" and trying to "strengthen" them, is a waste of money, and will only succeed in alienating innocent people and may actually helpi to radicalise some of them.
Remember the early resignation of Professor Rod Morgan, the chairman of the Home Office quango, the Youth Justice Board, whose final report was critical of the Government's policies in January 2007 ? This showed that the main factor in whether or not a vulnerable youth was likely to become a hardened recidivist criminal, was the extent of contact with the Police and Justice systems which had been inflicted on them.
Why will the Labour Government's Anti-Radicalision efforts, conducted by exactly the same people, using exactly the same snooping and "intervention" techniques, be any more successful than against Youth Crime ?