Posts Tagged ‘far right’

And another new piece, again for the Telegraph this time looking at the wave of terror incidents around the world over the past days. Also spoke to the National press agency wire and Handelsblatt about the incidents.

This worldwide day of terror shows that in the age of globalisation, nowhere is safe

turkey-shooter

Ankara, Berlin, Zurich, New York. In these cities on Tuesday four scattered but brutal events illustrated the diffuse and confusing nature of the terrorist threat we now face.

The murder of a diplomat, the driving of a truck into a crowd at a Christmas market, a shooting at a mosque and the conviction of an attempted mass murderer of Muslims in New York will all have different consequences and they involve very different groups and ideologies. Yet they are all part of the same phenomenon, both predictable and confusing at the same time. Together they show how acts of terror on random civilians now appear to have no borders, with events in far flung lands tied inextricably to our daily lives at home.

All four events are in their own ways forseeable. Anger has been building for some time across the Middle East over the siege of Aleppo, and Russia has quite clearly put itself at the forefront of supporting the Assad regime in crushing the rebellion. Such action always has consequences, especially when it is accompanied by a daily digest of civilian misery. Armed groups fighting on the ground in Syria – including the former Jabhat al-Nusra, whose slogan the Turkish assassin is reported to have shouted – they have shown they have the ability to launch asymmetric attacks behind the front lines too.

Even if the attacker only proves to have limited connections to such groups, it is not surprising that the anger stirred up by the Syrian war, only exacerbated by the apparent inability of anyone to protect its civilian population, would boil over into a lone attack. The Russian Ambassador in Turkey is, unfortunately, an obvious and relatively unfortunately soft target for such people to strike.

The full details of what has gone on in Germany and Zurich, meanwhile, are uncertain at the time of writing. What appears to be latest vehicle attack on a crowd of civilians – this time in Berlin – does not as yet have any clear attribution. But it comes after a history of such incidents, both brutally murderous like the incident in Nice in July 2016 and a series prior that were seen in the United States and in France around Christmas 2014. The idea of using a vehicle is one that has been championed by both Isil and al Qaeda (though it was rejected by the group’s leader Osama bin Laden as mass murder rather than considered terrorism); its simple horror makes it appealing. The shooting at the mosque also remains without attribution, though the choice of target suggests some grander motive than mere murder.

Finally comes a quieter but perhaps just as significant event. The sentencing of Glendon Scott Crawford of Galway, New York to 30 years’ incarceration for plotting to use a radiological device against Muslims in America shows how extreme right-wing ideologies are also growing in strength. His case is novel because he is the first to be convicted of “attempting to acquire and use a radiological dispersal device.” Yet his desire to strike minorities and the government, and claim some connection with the Ku Klux Klan, all have their roots far back in America’s history. It feels all too predictable in the wake of the hatred being stoked across the world today.

Yet what can be concluded from this roster of misery? That no place is safe – from art galleries to Christmas markets to places of worship, all are now targets for those eager to kill in the name of a cause. The reach of extremist ideologies and causes is a reflection of the intensely globalized world which we inhabit. And while distance has been shortened and international connections tightened, this brings troubles from afar increasingly into our homes and daily lives, either through news or terrorist action.

It is not clear that this new threat is more dangerous than previous ones, rather than just noisier. Some calculations show that terrorist casualties in the West are lower since the 1960s and 1970s, but we don’t know whether this means the threat is decreasing, that we are counting it differently, or that security forces have become more adept at preventing incidents. But the situation certainly appears more acute, and when dealing with a phenomenon like terrorism – for which the perception of menace and fear is essential – this can be enough.

Undoubtedly this will not be last brutal day in our time. Terrorist groups and those using terrorist methodologies to advance personal anger will continue to strike, each time more brutally, to get attention for their cause. The key question is how society responds. To respond too hard may damage the fabric of a free society, but to respond inadequately will let more people die and perhaps tear it apart entirely. This is a dilemma with no clear answer – but it is increasingly the dominant question of our time.

Raffaello Pantucci is director of international security studies at the defence think tank Rusi

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Last catch up for something that was published today in the Sunday Telegraph, this time in the wake of the Munich attack specifically but looking more broadly at the rather odd spate of semi-terror attacks that have taken place.

The piece was re-published in the Gulf News, and separately an interview with one of the newswires was picked up by the Express, spoke to the LA Times, the newswires (picked up in the Mirror) and Middle East Eye in the wake of the Nice attack, spoke to the Wall Street Journal about the current terror threat that Europe is facing, spoke to PBS about Lone Actors, spoke to CNN about the recent terror arrests in Brazil, to AFP about the recent incidents in Kazakhstan, whilst an old piece about Breivik was cited in the New York Times.

What Does a Modern Terrorist Look Like and What Motivates Them?

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There is no perfect profile of a terrorist. This is one of the main findings in the growing body of literature around terrorism. Terrorists and those who are radicalised towards extremist ideologies come in all shapes and sizes. Yet, one of the key features that appeared to distinguish terrorists from mass murderers was the fact that they were motivated more clearly by an ideology than by personal motivations. Increasingly, this line is becoming harder to draw. The last two cases to afflict Europe – the massacres in Nice and  more recently in Munich – highlight this difficulty with both cases appearing to have elements of both within them.

It is still unfortunately too early to categorically know what was going on in Nice and Munich. Whilst the early coverage around both focused on the fact that the Nice murderer was operating alone, and the speculation around the Munich shooter that he may have been motivated by some violent Islamist ideology, we are now instead seeing confusing indicators in other directions. French authorities have now arrested five others in conjunction with the Nice attack, whilst it now appears that the Munich shooter was someone who may have had a fixation with mass shootings and was possibly more inspired by Anders Behring Breivik (who exactly five years earlier murdered 77 people in Oslo in anger at the government’s immigration policies) rather than Isil.

But what both cases do appear to have in common is disturbed young men who are angry at the world around them. In both cases, stories have now emerged of potentially confused sexuality, confused religious identity, anger management issues and family disputes. Rather than being ideologically committed terrorists, they may simply using be the method of a terrorist attack – under whatever ideology – to excise personal demons.

This appears to be an increasingly common phenomenon. It is difficult to know exactly why this is happening. Certainly, the methodological approach of “lone wolf” terrorists is on the increase and groups like Isil and al Qaeda have advocated for their adherents to undertake it for some time. But in many of these cases it is not clear that the “lone wolves” in question are totally bought into the ideology they claim to be fighting for. Man Haron Monis, the Australian-Iranian who held up a coffee shop in downtown Sydney in 2014, was an only recent convert to Sunni Islam and brought the wrong flag with him to his allegedly Isil-inspired attack. Omar Mateen, the shooter who killed 50 in Orlando, apparently claimed some allegiance to al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Isil – competing Islamist organisations.

But it is possible that the amount of noise surrounding groups like Isil is drawing lost souls towards it. It is almost impossible to turn on the television or open a newspaper without hearing about Isil, terrorism or political violence. If you are a socially awkward individual with violent tendencies who is seeking some sort of meaning in your life, then the methodology of a “lone wolf” spree under the banner of such a group may be appealing. It will provide you with a way to punish the world around you whilst also giving meaning to your act. And given the manner in which Isil and other groups push out their omnidirectional message of violence and offer a very low bar for entry to the group, it is very easy to latch on to the ideology as you may loosely understand it and use it as an excuse to express your anger.

There is also an element of “copy catting” within such attacks. It increasingly seems as though Munich shooter Ali Sonboly may have drawn some inspiration for his attack from Anders Behring Breivik. This emulation is not new to such incidents – the murder of Lee Rigby in 2013 by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale is an attack that has generated numerous copies. The day after the attack Alexandre Dhaussy, a recent convert to Islam and known to authorities more for his petty criminal activity that than his violent Islamist links, stabbed soldier Cedric Cordier in the La Defense part of Paris. In August 2014, Brutschom Ziamani, a young man who had fallen into the orbit of violent extremists after he had been thrown out of his family home, was arrested on his way to carry out an attack emulating the Woolwich murder. In January 2015, Zack Davies started hacking at a South Asian man he saw in Tesco’s  shouting “white power” and that he was undertaking the attack in revenge for Lee Rigby. Later investigation showed he was an isolated and paranoid young man who was obsessed with the far Right and claimed to have drawn inspiration from the Jihadi John videos.

The profile of what we consider a terrorist attack is becoming increasingly hard to define. In the same way that the specifics of what our terrorists look like is becoming ever harder to grasp. Fundamentally, a terrorist is someone who is motivated by a political ideology rather than personal anger – but increasingly this line is becoming blurred. The profile of your average terrorist is increasingly becoming melted into the profile of a mass killer presenting authorities with an almost impossible mountain to climb to prevent them all.

Another piece for my institutional home RUSI, this time looking at the recently concluded case of Pavlo Lapshyn, the Ukrainian one-man terror wave who terrorised Muslim communities in the Black Country. A bit of controversy around this case given how little attention it got compared to Woolwich, for example, but at the same time, the connectivity of violent Islamists does make them a different sort of threat – at least at the moment. However, the right-wing (or people drawing from a right-leaning ideology), has long been an issue boiling in the background in the UK and elsewhere in Europe but that mostly attracts attention amongst a smaller community. For a close examination of Breivik in the context of Lone Actor terrorism, I would highlight an earlier piece I wrote for Perspectives on Terrorism, an approach I may return to with Lapshyn. In other terrorism related news, I did interviews with Channel 4 and DW around the Anas al Libi arrest, NBC about the deteriorating situation in Syria, Sunday Times about foreign fighters going to Syria, and then Sunday Times, Daily Mail and ITV about al Shabab links to the UK.

From Ukraine with Hate: What Pavlo Lapshyn Conviction Says About the Far-Right Extremism

RUSI Analysis, 25 Oct 2013

By Raffaello Pantucci, Senior Research Fellow, Counter-Terrorism

Far-right extremist Pavlo Lapshyn has today been imprisoned for murdering a Muslim man and attempting to bomb mosques. The incident highlights that violent Islamists are not the only ones willing to murder in advance of a political ideology.

Pavlo Lapshyn

There is a tendency in the United Kingdom and elsewhere to equate international terrorism with Islamist terrorism.This week’s conviction of Pavlo Lapshyn highlighted how the right-wing has also internationalised. A sometimes overlooked threat, Lapshyn’s activity in Birmingham highlights how the extreme right wing (XRW in security parlance) has also become less predictable and internationally footloose. The case shows how the full range of counter-terrorism actors and tools need to be deployed to respond to the threat posed by extreme political violence and race hate actors.  The extreme right wing is not someone else’s problem and needs a coherent response.

Prioritisation of the Far Right

The rationale behind the lower prioritisation of far-right terrorism is long-standing. Individuals featured in cases often appear of limited capability and in some instance may be ‘low functioning’ individuals.  As the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC noted in July 2013 with regard to the extreme right wing threat; Political views are often overlaid with mental health issues, personality disorder, criminality and social isolation: this should dictate caution in the use of terrorism-specific powers.

In one sense security actors may need to be creative rather than cautious with the  use of legislation in tackling the extreme right wing threat.  It is fair to say many extreme right wing cases do not meet the threshold for investigation under terrorism legislation.  However, many such actors have a fascination with firearms; and UK police forces have a solid track record in prosecuting these people under the Firearms Acts as well as using racially aggravated public order legislation when appropriate. Moreover in 2012 there were five arrests under terrorism legislation in relation to extreme right wing activity and one 15-year-old, Gary Walton, was charged and convicted of two TA 2000 section 58 offences.

Aside from a couple of exceptions,whilst they may have had the intent to conduct large scale terrorist campaigns leading to much loss of life, extreme right wing subjects have had neither the capability or ‘knowledge networks’ of Islamist extremists. Often lone operators, many extreme right wing actors have been  interdicted prior to being able to conduct terrorist acts thanks to attracting the attention of authorities through poor operational security or through criminal activity: Martyn Gilleard,  was identified after an investigation into paedophilic material, andTerence Gavan’s ‘bomb and weapons factory’ was uncovered subsequent to an investigation into illegal firearms. Both cases highlight the nexus between criminality and the far right as well as the lack of operational competence of some of those drawn to right-wing ideology.

Having said this, the Gilleard and Gavan cases potentially suggest that the authorities are reliant on lucky breaks rather than in-depth strategic understanding to tackle the threat.  This may be changing.  As David Anderson’s report notes: ‘Following the Breivik incident, MI5 in conjunction with the police National Domestic Extremist Unit [NDEU] has assessed and prioritised the XRW threat in such a way as to improve their understanding of it.

This review is timely.  And the extreme right wing threat is real and sustained.  We forget at our peril that the UK has suffered from effective and lethal home grown far right terrorists. Most prominently, in April 1999 David Copeland launched a one-man terror campaign involving nail bombs placed London locations symbolising British diversity, killing 3 and injuring 139. Since then, numerous individuals have been arrested at early, incipient stages of attack planning. The 2010 Prevent review noted at least 17 people serving prison sentences in the UK for terrorism related offences who are known to be linked to far-right groups, though none of these groups are proscribed. Pavlo Lapshyn is the first to successfully conduct a murderous campaign of this nature in the UK since David Copeland, the London Nail Bomber. Within a European context, Lapshyn comes in the wake of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who in July 2011 killed 77 and injured 319 in a one-man terror wave in Norway.

Predictably Unpredictable?

Ideologically speaking, both Breivik and Lapshyn draw from the far-right narrative that blames foreigners and particularly Muslims for many of Europe’s current troubles. But in reflecting the complexity of this newly emergent right-leaning threat, one sees that both chose very different targets with the same objective of sewing societal discord. In Breivik’s case, he chose to target the government and the ruling political party, killing a cross-section of Norwegian society affiliated with the then ruling Labour Party. Lapshyn instead selected a random Muslim individual in Small Heath, Birmingham and left explosive devices near mosques in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Tipton.  Potentially strategic targeting versus opportunistic targeting and both expressing themselves in ways that are very hard to predict.

It is fair to say Lapshyn does not fit the template of a UK based extreme right wing terrorist. Unlike other far-right activists in the UK, he was gainfully employed as a student on a government supported scholarship. He had only arrived in the UK five days prior to conducting his initial attack against Mr Mohammed Saleem and was not apparently overtly racist or in contact with far-right groups. There is little about his profile that would have immediately attracted security and intelligence agencies’ attention. A lone actor, it took considerable time for officers to piece together Lapshyn’s movements and ultimately identify him. Security conscious Lapshyn reportedly asked arresting officers ‘How did you find me? Was it the CCTV? ‘

The lone actor phenomenon is typical of the far right, where a premium is placed ideologically on individuals gathering weaponry and preparing for a race war. Initially borne from the thinking of individuals like Ulius Amoss and Louis Beam, the principle behind lone actor terrorism in a right-wing context is a survivalist response to an overwhelming invading force. Individuals are encouraged to undertake activity by themselves and using their own wits and direction, rather than rely on others.

All of which makes the already difficult job of intelligence agencies even harder. From individuals who do not disclose their intentions and avoid indicative activity, targeting locations and people in a randomised fashion, unpredictability is the only predictable feature of competent extreme right lone actor terrorists.

Developing a Richer International Picture

However, in both of the Breivik and Lapshyn cases, there is some evidence of preceding indicators. Breivik had attempted to purchase chemicals online from Poland that set off an intelligence tripwire in Norway, while Lapshyn seems to have previously encountered authorities in Ukraine after an explosion in his flat. By themselves these incidents may not have been enough of a trigger to cross the threshold to warrant investigation, but they demonstrate that these individuals are not completely off the radar. Both men crossed European borders, offering a further possible tripwire, suggesting that European authorities might want to better coordinate their activities in countering the right wing.

A key lesson to be drawn from the incident is that Islamist terrorists are not the only ones to cross borders and conduct successful terrorist incidents. It remains to be seen whether Lapshyn’s case is merely an outlier or the start of a trend (or perhaps the start of a pattern of outliers?).  Nonetheless given the increasing traction across Europe of the anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim narratives that himself and Breivik ascribed to, it would not unsurprising if this is a phenomenon that European police, security and intelligence agencies find themselves facing with increasing frequency. And while the acts themselves may appear random, the cumulative strategic objective of exacerbating social tensions does have the potential to undermine stability and security.

A rather long-lost post finally is up at Free Rad!cals – this one exploring an issue which clearly needs deeper research. I have heard less of it of late, but I recall when the financial crisis first hit, hearing about the possible risks in quite alarming language from someone in government.

It has become something of an article of faith to say that poverty and economic misfortune are not drivers of terrorism. This seems a sensible conclusion to reach when one considers the volume of poverty and misery in the world and the relatively small volume of terrorists that emerge from it. Were poverty truly a determinant of a predilection for terrorist radicalization then theoretically speaking there would be far more terrorists in this world than there are.

But at the same time, it seems clear that there is some sort of correlation between social deprivation and radicalization – even if only from the perspective that it often appears as a constant in communities where radicalization seems able to take root (though of course this is not always the case). This is a difficult correlation to understand as it is not one that appears to exist on a steady or universal gradient, but it is clearly plays some sort of a role in the radicalization picture.

Understanding this question, however becomes increasingly salient as we enter ever tighter economic times, as theoretically speaking we are increasing one of the possible drivers. The core point is: are we are going to see an increase in radicalization amongst communities as they feel the economic squeeze?

One possible vision of the consequent trends can be seen in the recent annual Europol report on terrorism trends in the EU (which I wrote about for the Jamestown Foundation). Amongst other things, it highlighted a growing level of concern about left-wing and anarchist radicalization: “In 2009, the total number of left-wing and anarchist terrorist attacks in the EU increased by 43% compared to 2008 and more than doubled since 2007.”

These trends are discernable at a wider level too: the emergence in the UK of far-right groups like the English Defence League appears to at least in part be the product of social disaffection stirred up by disenfranchisement. Rioting in Greece has taken an increasingly violent turn and there has also been a more general increase in anarchist violence and extremist activity. And German officials have expressed concern about the discovery of an 80-page pamphlet entitled “Prisma” which offers ideas for bomb-making, avoiding detection by police and other tips for urban guerrillas. They have also marked a 53% jump in left-wing attacks in 2009 which has included some large scale acts of vandalism and violence.

All of which would point to an increase in radicalization amongst communities that do not appear to be so directly influenced by the Al Qaeda narrative. So does this mean that the poor economic climate is directly contributing to radicalization in general: youths are becoming angry at the system and fighting against it, is the free time they are left with due to their economic disenfranchisement giving them the time to indulge in such activity? Well, possibly, but it seems as though it would be best not to leap to any conclusions about this quite yet or any draconian reactions. Anyway, what exactly would be the abrupt security reaction be: pour security funding into economic stimulus packages?

At the end of the day what we might assess as the underlying causes of some of the increase in right/left/anarchist violence may indeed be the economic crisis, but care must be paid to not exaggerate our response to this particular cause over others. As previous experience has shown, an exaggerated response leads to mistakes the impact of which is impossible to measure.

A rather long title for my latest piece for the Jamestown Foundation, this time based on a (relatively) recent Europol Annual report. The report highlights a number of interesting trends that are often overlooked, which would probably merit a lot closer attention than they actually get. Maybe once I clear some of my current backlog I can focus on this – in the meantime, I would welcome any pointers for interesting things to read about other forms of terrorism in Europe.

Europol Report Suggests Separatism Rather than Islamism Constitutes Biggest Terrorist Threat to Europe

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 22

June 4, 2010 07:29 PM Age: 2 days

By: Raffaello Pantucci

Europol, a European Union law enforcement agency dedicated to improving the effectiveness and cooperation of member states’ security agencies, released its annual report on terrorism in Europe on April 28. [1] The report provides an overview of the current situation regarding terrorism in Europe and shows that while incidents of terrorism across the Union appear to be diminishing, “the threat emanating from terrorist groups remains real and serious.” [2]
While the actual numbers seem to indicate that separatist and other forms of terrorism pose a larger threat in Europe, “Islamist terrorism is still perceived as the biggest threat to most Member States.”  In fact, Europol only tracked one effective Islamist terrorist attack in Europe during 2009 – Mohammed Game’s unsuccessful attempt to carry out a suicide bombing on a Milan military barracks – in contrast to 237 attacks defined as separatist, 40 attacks by left-wing groups and an additional 124 attacks in Northern Ireland (for Mohammed Game’s attack see Terrorism Monitor, November 19, 2009). There were also a smattering of right-wing attacks, single issue attacks and attacks with no definable political orientation. [3] Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s unsuccessful attempt to bring down an airliner over Detroit is repeatedly identified in the report as evidence of the threat from Islamist networks in Europe and in particular of “how the E.U. can be used as a platform for launching attacks on the United States.”

Overall, the number of attacks is down by 33% from 2008. This trend is also reflected in the number of arrests, which are down 22% from 2008 (with 587 arrested in 13 member states in 2009), and down 30% from 2007. The majority of arrests were of individuals involved in separatist groups, while the number of individuals arrested in relation to Islamist groups was down from 187 in 2007 to 110. It is worth noting that these figures do not include the UK, which according to the Home Office arrested 201 people from January to September 2009. This resulted in charges against 33% of those arrested, though it is not clear what their political orientations were. [4] In the Europol report, France (37), Italy (20), and Spain (40) marked the highest number of arrests related to Islamist terrorism.

But while the threat from Islamist terrorists is seen as important, it seems clear that on a daily basis it is separatist and other forms of terrorism which pose the most regular threat to European security. The Basque separatist group ETA laid claim to the most deadly attacks in 2009, killing four police officers in two separate attacks (part of some 14 separate attacks the group carried out in Spain), while two British soldiers were killed in Northern Ireland during the course of a year which saw some 124 separate attacks in the province by Loyalist or Republican factions.

Nevertheless, Europol’s assessment of the threat from separatist groups is sanguine in contrast to the growing threat that is seen from left-wing and anarchist groups. Some 40 such attacks were reported in 2009, an increase of 43% from the previous year (and part of a year-on-year trend) and included the death this year of a police officer in Greece. While many attacks by such groups are characterized as spontaneous, Europol highlights a “growing willingness” by such groups “to confront right-wing activists and police,” noting that “the ability to translate violent ambitions into action seems to have grown stronger.” Another growing menace is seen in the increased criminal activities by animal rights extremists which are “expanding throughout Europe,” while the threat from right-wing extremists remains a running theme with some evidence of attempted attacks and training in Europe. However, far-right groups appear to find it hard to maintain coherence, with the greatest threat from this ideology seen in “individuals motivated by extreme right-wing views, acting alone” rather than existing networks or groups. Nevertheless, Europol concludes that activities by all of these groups “are developing a transnational character” and “are now becoming more serious.”

The drivers for this ongoing din of menace are not particularly touched upon in the report, though some thoughts are offered as to why Islamist terrorism continues to pose such a large threat, while in practice seeming less threatening than separatist terrorism. The internet is referred to as an important driver in the growing trend towards Islamist terrorist activities “perpetrated by self-radicalized and often self-instructed individuals,” but the existence of terrorist safe-havens outside the E.U. as locations for training are perceived as posing a continuing threat.

Islamist terrorism clearly remains Europe’s primary counterterrorism preoccupation, but as the continent watches its economy falter, security assessors have started to worry about what the resulting impact might be in terms of political extremism. Europol’s annual accounting of trends across Europe shows that a possible spike in left, right, anarchist and single issue terrorism might be a possible result, something which is likely to only further distract already stretched security services.

Notes:

1. For the official press release: www.europol.europa.eu/index.asp. The full report can be found at:www.europol.europa.eu/publications/EU_Terrorism_Situation_and_Trend_Report_TE-SAT/TESAT2010.pdf.
2. Earlier Europol Reports were discussed in Terrorism Monitor, May 1, 2008 and May 8, 2009.
3. Due to differences in counting and measuring, the United Kingdom is not included within the Europol numbers. Consequently, they statistics are frequently listed separately in the report.
4. “Operation of police powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 and subsequent legislation: Arrests, outcomes and stops & searches,” Home Office Statistical Update, February 25, 2010,rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs10/hosb0410.pdf .

Heartland

Posted: December 4, 2009 in Free Rad!cals
Tags: , , , ,

Busy day today. Here is a second post, this time for FreeRad!cals, providing a book review of a rather fun piece of fiction I just finished. I used to read so much more fiction…

http://icsr.info/blog/Heartland

Heartland

Filed under: Radicalisation, Terrorism, UK

I’ve just had the pleasure of finishing reading Heartland by Anthony Cartwright. It is what I have been allowing myself by way of a break as I continue to plough through mountains of information about extremism and radicalization in the UK.

The book is a work of fiction (hence the break I referred to above), that explores in a wonderfully nuanced and sensitive way the issues around the BNP’s rise in the British Midlands against a backdrop of inter-racial tensions in the immediate post-9/11 period. Set in the fictional ward of Cinderheath – which is in the real city of Dudley in the heart of the Black Country – the book follows Rob, a young man who briefly touched minor celebrity as a footballer, but who is settling into life as a school P.E. teacher/assistant. His uncle is the local Labour councilor who is fighting a seemingly losing battle against a slick BNP candidate and his army of football thugs, as the local Muslim community builds a large mosque and people worry about the precedent set by the revelation that three local lads are in Guantanamo Bay (the very real “Tipton Taliban”). In the front of everyone’s minds, however, is football – with England battling their way through the 2002 World Cup (to no avail), while the country’s press are fixated on a local league game which is pitting a local Muslim side against a non-Muslim side.

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My latest for FreeRad!cals, back where I cannot post very well, so follow the link to see where the links are I’m afraid. The article appears to have stirred up a bit of a debate, look forward to maybe hearing others thoughts on this.

Why is the Right doing so well in the UK?
by Raff Pantucci
Filed under: Leadership, Radicalisation, UK

I have been traveling around the UK the last few weeks. Two things appear to be atop everyone’s concerns, the “rise of the right” and the fact that the British government may be using the “Prevent” counter-radicalization and counter-terrorism program to spy on Muslim communities. I plan on dealing with each in separate posts, but first on the “rise of the right”.

For those who have missed it, the United Kingdom is finding it has an increasingly belligerent and noisy right-wing which is not only managing to make unpleasant speeches and protests, but are also able to win votes in elections. The far right British National Party has won a growing number of seats in first local elections, and most stunningly in the 2009 European Parliament elections it was able to secure two seats and a total of just under 1 million votes nationally.

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