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Aug 26, 2014

'No credible threat' from the virus of radicalisation

Radicalisation of young Muslims can be stopped easily -- by not attacking Muslim countries. But Western governments persist in treating it as a kind of virus.


“The best defence against radicalisation is through well-informed and well-equipped families, communities and institutions,” the Prime Minister claimed this morning, announcing a package of over $60 million in measures targeting “young Australians being radicalised”.

Wrong, PM. The best defence against radicalisation is to avoid gratuitous military attacks on Muslim countries. Who says? Baroness Manningham-Buller:

“By 2003/2004 we were receiving an increasing number of leads to terrorist activity from within the UK and the — our involvement in Iraq radicalised, for want of a better word, a whole generation of young people, some British citizens — not a whole generation, a few among a generation — who were — saw our involvement in Iraq, on top of our involvement in Afghanistan, as being an attack on Islam… Of course, also we were dealing at that time with a number of young British citizens who went to Iraq to fight not with Her Majesty’s forces but against them …”

Manningham-Buller is better known as the former head of MI5, and that was her evidence to the Chilcott inquiry in 2010, in which she explained at length how the UK’s participation in the attack on Iraq substantially increased the threat of terrorism to Britons.

This “young jihadis” line from the government, in co-operation with News Corp tabloids, is another stage in its hyping of the terrorist threat of the Islamic State, which has proved a useful distraction from the government’s domestic problems. Not that the Abbott government is the only government doing this: the Obama administration has been guilty of the same wild hype, with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week declaring IS a greater threat than al-Qaeda and “beyond just a terrorist group“. Bear in mind, for the purposes of that comparison, that al-Qaeda was claimed during the 2000s to have access to weapons of mass destruction, while IS so far has concentrated on the terrorist theatre of individual beheadings and other gruesome forms of execution. That dissonance was reflected in the fact that, at the same time that Hagel was claiming IS a bigger threat than al-Qaeda, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were saying it posed “no specific or credible threat” to the United States. But for the purposes of the War on Terror, there must always be a bigger threat looming.

“Radicalisation is not some random event … but a coherent response by (mostly) young Muslim men to the perception that Western governments are at war with Islamic countries.”

Abbott’s version of “radicalisation” is the same as that memorably articulated by ASIO head David Irvine, in which radicalisation is seen as a kind of virus that might infect one if one’s security hygiene is poor, rather than a specific and, from the point of view of the individual radicalised, entirely rational response to external events. In 2011, Irvine argued that the internet was the vector for radicalisation-as-virus, saying: “The rampant use of the internet, the democratisation of communication, has resulted in new and effective means for individuals to propagate and absorb unfettered ideas and information and to be radicalised – literally, in their lounge rooms.” Irvine’s conception of radicalisation was that of a disease that could strike anywhere, anytime, even in that safe domestic space of the lounge room, unless one took steps to prevent it — with the implication that Muslims were particularly susceptible to being infected. The funding provided by Abbott today is similarly based on this approach, with funding primarily directed to law enforcement agencies to “monitor” and “disrupt” vectors of radicalisation like returned foreign fighters and extremist groups.

As Manningham-Butler explained, however, radicalisation is not some random event like contracting meningitis, but a coherent response by (mostly) young Muslim men to the perception that Western governments are at war with Islamic countries. The hyping of the threat of IS — which serves to maximise the transgressive appeal of the militants, and transgressive appeal is one of the most powerful marketing tools when it comes to young people — and increased Western military intervention directed at IS is likely to simply renew the cycle of radicalisation. That cycle resulted in Britons carrying out terrorist bombings in the UK and British men fighting against their own country in Iraq.

The question continues to be: are Western governments making the same mistakes as a decade ago in ignorance, or are they doing it deliberately, knowing full well they perpetuate the War on Terror in doing so?


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26 thoughts on “‘No credible threat’ from the virus of radicalisation

  1. rhwombat

    ‘But the old m[e]n would not so, but slew his son,
    And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

  2. David Hand

    It’s oh so fashionable to blame the west for radicalised Jihadists. It’s all our fault by invading Iraq. I note that there is no effort to explore whether or not this is a correlation rather than a causal relationship. In fact the headline directly links the cause – invading Muslim countries – with the effect – radicalised jihadists.

    Manningham-Butler seems to have got her chronology mixed up. The west was blissfully coasting into the 21st century thinking all was generally sweet in the post cold war world when 9/11 happened. Then the west invaded muslim countries. In that order, stupid.

  3. samquigley

    Way to history, David Hand. Isn’t it weird how Al-Qaeda imagined those Iraqi sanctions and the US’s extended military presence in Saudi Arabia and its unquestioning support of Israel, though.

  4. Ian Brown

    “Then the west invaded muslim countries. In that order, stupid.”

    Putting aside the fact that Iraq was clearly the wrong country to invade (no hindsight required) you seem to be unaware that the major motivation of Al Quaeda in the run up to 9/11 was the stationing of US forces in Saudi Arabia during and subsequent to the first Gulf War (infidels in the home of the Prophet). Or the scholarship generally linking terrorism to military occupation – see http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/10/18/it_s_the_occupation_stupid

    It is not Manning-Butler who is stupid …

  5. Dennis Bauer

    Mr Hand the Muslims where very good people as President Reagan said, Google it, http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=3d1_1374168674 there is plenty on the net to read about it, they were good people when we were fighting the Communists, and really it is caused to a great extent by the first world war. It is just a continuation of the 1914/1918 Great War, but if your like my tory mate Rossco you wont believe any of this, you more than likely pass it off as nonsense.

  6. klewso

    We have little to fear more than fear-mongers.

  7. Deborah Richards

    “… radicalisation is not some random event like contracting meningitis, but a coherent response by (mostly) young Muslim men to the perception that Western governments are at war with Islamic countries.”..
    This is true but also reading the Facebook and twitter entries of young Australian Muslims,there is also a strong perception that western countries do not accept their Muslim minority citizens, and in a sense are at war with them

  8. Kevin Herbert

    ‘Radicalisation of young Muslims can be stopped easily — by not attacking Muslim countries”.

    How straightforward it is…and yet not said in public by any western government toady of the US.

    PS: there’s no such organisation as Al Quaeda, which is a confection of the CIA.

  9. Bill Hilliger

    Of course, …security is a growth industry requiring ever more $$$, no questions asked. Easy to justify just identify an enemy, nowadays its misguided jihadists. Security garners votes when votes are difficult to come by, etc.

    Communism is old hat, no longer an immediate enemy, we now trade with them. No, not Russia, they have a trade embargo on Australia worth about $1 billion mostly primary produce that went pffftt. Barnaby Joyce was sent to China to try and divert / save the loss. No success there, otherwise Tony of Team Murdoch would have been crowing about it.

    Then again, maybe the enemy is within, the attitude of our politicians past and present, to wit: solicited involvement by deputy sheriff you know who …Iraq and Afghanistan may have had something to do with the current state in the middle east and furthermore radicalisation of Muslim youth.

  10. Marilyn Shepherd

    The dimwits in the Murdoch rags even claim that shiíte hazara are joining radical sunni gangs. Seriously stupid people.

  11. Duncan Gilbey

    We’ve always been at war with Eastasia…

  12. rhwombat

    Hand has to be a Poe, or a Murdorc. No one sentient is willingly that publicly stupid and reactionary.

  13. Djbekka

    It’s easier to build a nationalist consensus, to sell intrusions on civil liberties, and to build up a military force if there is an enemy. Banging the threat drum is easier than building a peaceful multicultural community and consensual policies of health, education and welfare.

  14. Neutral

    Recall when Mick Keelty the then AFP Commissioner stated the bleeding obvious that there was an increased likelihood of terrorism in Australia due to our involvement in Iraq?

    Howard wasn’t concerned that he was gambling with Australian lives so Bush could bathe him in a neoconic glow as the man of steel. A wartime PM looks good yeah…

    What Howard was concerned about though was the fact that the AFP stated the bleeding obvious and more direly any polling/focusGroup reaction to the bleeding obvious.

    So he sooled his Chief of Staff Sinodinos onto Keelty who then meekly ‘qualified’ his statement shortly after.

    Howard went onto lose his seat to a ‘sheila from the ABC’. Keelty captured the sim card terrorist Mohamed Haneef and Sinodinos has gone into hiding with Eddie Obied.

    This time around: same conga line different sphincters…

  15. David Hand

    According to Newspoll, “77% of voters would support new laws that require people travelling to particular countries to prove they have not been in contact with any terrorist groups.”

    Think of it. All those stupid people ignoring the wisdom of Manningham-Buller. It’s dang awkward really. Those 77% could return the government!! There’s just too few of you in the telephone box that houses the far left “It’s all the west’s fault” brigade.

    OMG!! It’s all Murdoch’s fault!!

  16. Dan B

    Bernard Keane, you are an idiot. Do some research, thorough research on radical Islam and qualify this article, you tit.
    Radical Islam is not a byproduct of Western Nations attacking Muslim Nations. Radical Islam is a byproduct of radical Islam, fermented by pathetically selective media that focusses entirely on making excuses for something that started in the 700th century and will continue to do so until you and I are long forgotten.
    Muslims are the greatest victims of radical Islam. Radical Islamists don’t care who you are, what colour you are, where you come from, you you pray to; if you don’t follow their individual interpretations of Islam you’re fair game. Historical data supports this theory from Islam’s inception. You should read about it sometime.
    The only mistake the West makes is doing what other Muslim Nations should be doing – helping their fellow Muslims. Where are the Saudi’s, the Qatari’s, the Kuwaiti’s etc. when it comes time to face Islamic extremism? They have no intention of helping fight this cancer so the West is forced to intervene. And you guptoids from the press just can’t wait to demonise them as soon as they do it.
    Radical Islam is a virus, and it has grown since forever. And since it’s the West who (stupidly, but ethically) want to cut it out of society for good, perhaps you should think harder about which side you’re on. Because your current trajectory is only going to lead you, and the world, to more and more bloodshed.

  17. CML

    @ Dan B – Isn’t Bernard saying that we should not get involved in these Muslim religious wars in the first place? If so, what is wrong with that? You seem to say that the West is stupid to get involved because this ‘war’ has no end, so I don’t understand your point.
    My interpretation of what you write is that nothing will stop extremist Islam, since these disputes/wars have been going on since the 7th century. That’s fine, but I would like them to conduct their uncivilised behaviour in Muslim countries, NOT Australia or any other western nation.
    Which begs the question: With the best will in the world, can Muslims ever be successfully settled/integrated into western society? I have my doubts.

  18. Sailor

    Thanks for the link, Ian Brown #4.

    Forget David Hand. Not that [IMHO] he seems to be a bad bloke, it’s just that he too often seems incapable of critical thought and shows all the myopia of the committed rightard.

    Of course, he’s welcome to his opinion, but jeez, some semblance of contact with [non-cherry-picked] facts would help his train of thought a heap. As a committed member of the Liberal Party, I feel he could conceivably do a lot to stop their front bench deserving the epithet “Lieberals”.

    Dan B #15: Your comments exactly describe the activities of, for exsmple, the Inquisition, and persecution of Jews, and terror about witches.

    It does appear that Islam is at the same stage as the RC church was back in those centuries; there is a difference of just over 600 years in the development “trajectory” of the two brands of faith. Scholars of comparative religion would make more comprehensive comments, I am sure.

  19. Dan B

    I’m not saying the West is stupid for getting involved because it has no end. I am saying, amongst other things that the West stupidly, but ethically embarks on military interventions because other Muslim countries, specifically neighbouring Muslim countries refuse to do it themselves. If not us, then who? We could get into the political for’s and against, but the fact is, real people are being slaughtered by these maniacs because of a subverted ideology that has less to do with Western intervention and more to do with what they believe their God has instructed them to do. And whether we intervene or not, Islamic fundamentalism will eventually arrive on our shores because that is the doctrine of jihad – establish an Islamic Caliphate through global conquest.
    Bernard’s opening statement “Radicalisation of young Muslims can be stopped easily — by not attacking Muslim countries” suggests not only does he not want to combat Islamic extremism, but that he would rather just curl up with a nice book and imagine it’s not real. Well it is. And like a virus that is not treated, it is festering and getting bigger, and bigger.
    Western intervention is not THE reason for the proliferation of radical Islam. But how about we start making Middle Eastern countries accountable for the proliferation of radical Islam, that is spreading beyond their borders to Western countries? I have a fair idea why, and this is where we start to enter the political spectrum.
    Society as a whole needs to understand that it is through no one’s fault that radical Islam is spreading. It is a doctrine that has been pushed throughout the ages and ignored because it’s “too frightening” to speak out against it. It is real, and it needs unabashed attention now, today – now.
    As to your final question, I really don’t know. It would take an enormous, united effort to make this happen. But then you have the agenda’s of media and Government et al who go and f*ck things up. But wouldn’t it be nice..?

  20. David Hand

    I am so over this elitist inner urban wank fest that blames Western governments for all the world’s ills.

    It’s infantile.

    And rightly ignored by most adults who vote.

  21. klewso

    As handy a weapon of mass demonization as it is, I’m not too sure anyone is asserting this (or anything else) is all the West’s fault?
    I think it’s more the fault of all-round malfeasance and mishandling of situations by myopic miscreants on all sides – often looking after their own self-interest before the greater?
    [I reckon intransigence and zealotry (of any sort be it religious – including the interpretation of “Christianity” – political or any other) anywhere can be a sure recipe for conflict and disaster if not handled thoughtfully and with eminent foresight?]
    There’s always been human conflict in the Middle East – since before “The Good Samaritan’s” time?
    [As there has in any region – “Terra Nullius”, the Native Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa. Antarctica’s been pretty peaceful…. is there a pattern there…?]
    Personally, I don’t think the West’s (with their superior military accoutrements) meddling in the Middle East – playing favourites – for the good of their oil industry – has helped? In fact I think it’s probably exacerbated and even inflamed the situation?
    ….. I can’t help thinking that – even when I’m crutching hoggets – and even though I realise I’m obviously not Right?

  22. rhwombat

    Poor One-Hand – forced to flounce outside the Rupertverse. I bet he doesn’t stick it.

  23. Dennis Bauer

    Thank you klewso comments like yours keep me sane.

  24. Neutral

    If an Australian goes to Jihadistan to commit jihad by all means cancel passports/revoke citizenship. Don’t let them back into the country/lock ’em up. Make appropriate laws and deal with them accordingly.

    However perverting the law from the presumption of innocence to the presumption of guilt would closely align us with Communists, Fascists, The Taliban, ISIS, Columbian Drug Lords and every other extremist. It wouldn’t be the thin edge of the wedge – it would be broad, blunt and very unsubtle. It would undermine the basis of the legal freedom we currently enjoy in The West. It would be treasonus to The West to open the door for future extremists to have their way with us down the track.

    Further, assuming that every Australian is guilty and required to prove their innocence which forms the ideology behind the data retention proposals is not some fictional Orwellian plot. It will become Orwellian fact if it gets up. Talk about an identity crisis. Do we want to be communists? More likely fascists but who can tell?

    However, by implementing the very simple policy of not invading a country on the other side of the planet that does not pose a threat to Australia would take away any excuse a jihadist would have to harm us. The ADF is what it’s name says – the Australian DEFENCE Force. Any criminal acts that do occur can be dealt with as crimes have always been dealt with.

    I didn’t have a problem with going after Al Qaeda and their Taliban hosts after 9/11 (my wife lost a friend and work colleague on Flight 93). They declared war on The West and The West fought back. Fair enough. However, protagonists for the Project for a New American Century took over and neocon hubris led to Iraq while leaving Afghanistan unfinished. In the end both were a failure – look at them now. Mission Accomplished Indeed!

    The blame lies squarely with Bush, Blair and Howard. A muppet for the extreme right, a leftie poodle and a bloke who reckoned regime change was not a good enough reason to go to war but went anyway and then thanked our troops for ‘properly liberating an oppressed people’.

    That they happen to be from The West is only relevant to the hornets that came out of the nest when The West poked it. They have unnecessarily increased the risk to our lives in The West, our shared conservative values in The West and our lifestyles in The West. They are traitors to The West.

    Yet there are still old grognards out there going at it, defending it and trying to propagate it. Having not learnt the first time around they want to prove again that the old stupidity/insanity cliché still holds true.

    I appreciate and value what The West has given me through no thing other than fortuitously being born here. I do not appreciate extremists of any kind undermining that for selfish ideological reasons.

    The only wankers in this debate are the Mission Accomplishers who seek to destroy The West from within under the ruse of protecting it from without.

  25. CML

    Dan B – Thank you for your reply. I now understand where you are coming from, but don’t fully agree with your take on it all. IMHO other Muslim countries in the Middle East and elsewhere do not get involved in sorting out the extremists because they are usually on one or other side of the argument. And in the final analysis, they are ALL Muslims, who are far more likely to support an Islamic Caliphate than not.
    I am not suggesting that all Muslims agree with the methods used by the Islamists, but the mere fact that they do nothing to stop this abomination leaves the whole of Islam with some serious questions to answer.
    I think the old adage applies – we (Australians) can’t save the whole world, so we need a bit of reality therapy here. To that extent, I think Bernard is correct to suggest we should not get involved in a ‘war’ which has nothing to do with us, and history would suggest, is unlikely to have a satisfactory outcome.
    In other words, it is a religious war of sorts, and that, in and of itself, makes the whole business irrational!

  26. AR

    Surely our Jesuitically tutored Beloathed Leaderpuppet must know that it is impossible to prove a negative, it was their fall back position when antitheists dissed the god delusion – “prove god doesn’t exist”. Prove you weren’t a jihadist over yonder. More likely he & the Greatest Legal Mind in the known Multiverse, His Honour Utegate know this, they just don’t give a pinch of the proverbial.
    Does anyone remember how the Drug Menance led to similar civil rights encroachments, massive legislative growth and enforcement empires in the 60s.
    Plus ca bloody change.
    Islamists are, by definition,a ‘self excluding group’ as the vast majority of muslim citizens throughout the West demonstrate.
    Long overdue as Islam is for a Reformation -it is unlikel to happen whilst under threat. Check out how Henry VIIIs little lust peccadilloes left the Continent priest ridden for centuries after the Enlightenment.


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