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Hamed El-Said investigates Counter-de-Rad programmes in Muslim majority and Muslim minority states. This multifaceted book provides a new approach to evaluate Counter-de-Rad Programmes and develops a holistic framework which will allow policy-makers and practitioners to design and effectively implement and assess such programmes in the future.



1. Introduction

Organized terrorism remains a major threat facing many communities of the world. Despite the fact that more than a decade has passed since 9/11, which instigated a long and ongoing first-world ‘war on terror’, there are no signs that terrorism is receding. On the contrary, the most recent developments not only suggest that terrorism remains a large problem, but that it will be so for some time to come. For example, Christopher Stevens, the former American Ambassador in Libya, along with three other American diplomats, was brutally assassinated in September 2012 by a radical Libyan salafist group, some of whom were allegedly disengaged under a de-radicalization program initiated and supervised personally by Saif Dine al-Islam. In Arab countries that have recently experienced a regime change as a result of the outbreak of the Arab Spring almost two years ago (Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt), this has been associated with the rise of radical salafist movements in these countries. The outbreak of fighting in Syria has apparently attracted thousands of Ansar radical fighters (an offspring of al-Qaeda) to the country who are now dominating the core fighting units of the so-called ‘Free Syrian Army’. The war in Syria has also attracted several hundred Muslim citizens living in Western democratic states, such as Australia.
Hamed El-Said

2. Counter-de-Rad: Setting the Framework

The self-evident failure of the propagandist ‘war on terror’, which garnered an unprecedented kinetic global response, has led to a ‘renewed interest in how and why terrorism ends’ (Horgan and Braddock, 2010, 267). This renewed interest in the question of what leads an individual or group to leave terrorism has been encouraged and motivated by the emergence and/or implementation of some innovative approaches, mostly by and in Muslim-majority states. These approaches carry different names and terminologies but are generally known in the West, for lack of better terminology, as counter radicalization and de-radicalization programs (Counter-de-Rad).
Hamed El-Said

3. Radicalization in a Western Context: The Case of Australia

Before the end of the 20th century, violent extremism (VEm), or terrorism as we know it today, was virtually non-existent in Australia. This is despite the fact that Australia, in the mid-1970s, opened its doors to immigrants from Muslim states and developed a sizeable Muslim community by the end of the century. Its open-door migrant policy was associated with a policy of multiculturalism, which aimed at facilitating the integration of minorities into Australian society and maintaining social harmony. This was to be achieved by protecting the culture of all individuals living in Australia, guaranteeing social justice and equality of opportunities for all, and effective development and utilization of skills and talents of all Australians (The Australian Government, 2013). Initially multiculturalism bred, or was concomitant with, peace at the societal level, free from the kind of political violence that plagued many Western counterparts in Europe and North America. Some commentators went as far as arguing that Australia produced ‘great[er] settler immigrant societies … more successful immigrant societies than those of Europe in the modern era … [and] that our settlement practices are superior to that of Europe’ (Sheridan, 2011). At the official level, VEm did not figure among the number of potential non-military threats to Australia listed in the 1997 Foreign and Trade Policy White Paper.
Hamed El-Said

4. Counter Radicalization and De-radicalization in Western Democracies: The Case of Australia

Following the emergence of some serious Violent Extremist activities and individuals during the first decade of the 21st century (see the previous chapter for more detail), the Australian government promoted modest de-radicalization and counter radicalization procedures. The literature has paid little attention to how the Australian government actually responded to the rise of Violent Extremism (VEm), including the rise of ‘home-grown’ terrorism in particular. This is not only because these efforts remained nascent, but also because the Australian government felt uncomfortable publicizing them for fear of undermining them. This chapter fills an important gap in the literature by focusing entirely on Australia’s response to the emergence of VEm in its territory.
Hamed El-Said

5. Mauritania: From Toleration to Violent Islam

For a long time Mauritania has been disregarded by the media and international community. The country was hardly mentioned or received much attention in international relations. This is partly due to the limited resources (such as oil) that Mauritania possesses, and partly due to the fact that Mauritania has ‘always espoused a more tolerant brand of Islam’, spearheaded by historical, religious and social factors that prevented the kind of radical thoughts preached by al-Qaeda and like-minded organizations from finding roots in the country (Choplin, 2008). Even when some Mauritanian individuals joined the Mujahideen against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s and later joined the al-Qaeda organization, they proved less extremist in their views than many other of their colleagues from different nationalities. The late Abu Hafs Al-Muritani, for instance, an al-Qaeda religious cleric, ‘warned Bin Laden not to disobey Mullah Omar and to cease military activity outside Afghanistan’, arguing that ‘what was necessary at the time was not jihad on a global level but the rebuilding of Afghanistan’ (quoted in IICT, 2011, p. 8).
Hamed El-Said

6. Singapore: Crisis of Identity, Shared Values And Religious Rehabilitation

Despite its impressive economic development, Singapore has not been immune against the threat of violent extremism (VEm). In January 2001 and August 2002 respectively, 13 and 21 members of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the most dangerous, militant and al-Qaeda-affiliated regional group, were arrested. The 34 JI members were arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) introduced by the imperial power (United Kingdom) to deal with the Communist threat. They were charged with an attempt to carry out a series of terrorist attacks against several local installations and foreign targets in Singapore, including water supplies, a train station and vessels belonging to the American navy in Singapore.1 The 2001 and 2002 arrests ‘exposed the most serious direct threat posed by any terrorist organisation to Singapore’s security since the days of the Communist Party of Malaya’ (Bin Kader, 2007, 2009). The Singaporean government responded to the threat of VEm by introducing what has been described as ‘one of the most advanced’ and ‘successfully initiated’ ‘Religious Rehabilitation Programmes’ in East Asia (Jerard, 2009, p. 95).
Hamed El-Said

7. Sudan: De-radicalization and Counter Radicalization in a Radicalizing Environment

Sitting at the crucial crossroads of the Arab peninsula, northern Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, Sudan is strategically important. Its stability will have far-reaching consequences not only for the African continent, but also for the United States and Western Europe, as many radical extremists might use Sudan for training, planning and attacking Western targets. The country remains one of the poorest in the Arab world, with a history of volatile narration, including decades of civil war, military coups, religious and ethnic persecutions, and alleged genocide, all of which have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, displaced millions and torn the country apart economically, politically and ethnically. In the 1990s, Sudan’s name became associated with terrorism, training, supporting and ‘harbouring’ terrorists and terrorist organizations (Waller, 2011). In 2011, Sudan was split into two countries (North and South), both of which remain economically the poorest in their region, unreconciled, unstable, volatile and vulnerable to terrorism, inbound and outbound. Worse, they exist in a region where ‘sub-state terrorism is already endemic in Africa’ (Arya, 2009).
Hamed El-Said

8. From Militarization to Democratization: The Transformation of Turkey’s Counter Terrorism Strategy (CTS)

Turkey is both historically and geopolitically one of the most important countries in the region. Not only was its capital regarded as the birth place of one of the most enduring empires (the Ottoman Empire) in the history of the world, but also its geographic location at the intersection between Europe and Asia confers a special geopolitical significance. Throughout history, Turkey became a major centre for trade and migration from and to the region. Turkey, notwithstanding its past religious authority, is also secular as it became the first Islamic state to officially relinquish the Islamic caliphate in the early 1920s and to embark on a process of Westernization, secularization, industrialization and democratization. Such rapid and large transformations have inevitably been associated with a rise in violent extremism (VEm) in the country. To be sure, Turkey has long struggled with the phenomenon of violent extremism whose roots go back to the 1880 first Kurdish rebellion. V Em, however, evolved and endured in Turkey. Today, VEm represents one of the salient features of the Turkish political system, influencing not only the country’s social fabric but also its international relations. The Turkish prime minister has recently ‘defined terrorism as the biggest obstacle’ before the political, economic and democratic development of Turkey (JTW, 2010).
Hamed El-Said

9. Concluding Remarks

This book analysed the counter radicalization and de-radicalization policies designed and implemented by five United Nations Member States, three of which are Muslim-majority states (Mauritania, Turkey and Sudan) and two Muslim-minority, Western states (Australia and Singapore). All of these countries have one thing in common: at some point over the past decade, they all suffered from the threat of VEm. Some continue to do so more than others. All of them have introduced processes, measures and policies to deal with this threat. They differ however in their resources, population size and demographic mix, level of development, geographical locations, history, legal systems, culture, belief systems and values, and time of implementing Counter-de-Rad policies. They are, in other words, countries that faced a similar threat and designed what are perceived to be similar policies which the literature lumps together as counter radicalization and de-radicalization (Counter-de-Rad) policies, but which have different outcomes. Studying such a mix of countries offers one of the most effective ways to derive lessons regarding the conditions conducive to success/failure of these policies, identifying best practices, and even moving forward with the current impasse regarding how best to evaluate and assess Counter-de-Rad policies, as later analysis will demonstrate. A few points are in order here.
Hamed El-Said


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