21 August 2008

For the Islam-o-Phobes ~ Oooops, You're a Bigoted Idiot!

Read this report in The Guardian on a study by M15, the British Security Agency. It may disabuse you of your ignorant, prejudicial ways. Note the red bits.
MI5 Report Challenges Views on Terrorism in Britain

Alan Travis, home affairs editor
guardian.co.uk ~ Wednesday August 20 2008 19:01 BST

MI5 has concluded that there is no easy way to identify those who become involved in terrorism in Britain, according to a classified internal research document on radicalisation seen by the Guardian.

The sophisticated analysis, based on hundreds of case studies by the security service, says there is no single pathway to violent extremism.

It concludes that it is not possible to draw up a typical profile of the "British terrorist" as most are "demographically unremarkable" and simply reflect the communities in which they live.

The "restricted" MI5 report takes apart many of the common stereotypes about those involved in British terrorism.

They are mostly British nationals, not illegal immigrants and, far from being Islamist fundamentalists, most are religious novices. Nor, the analysis says, are they "mad and bad".

Those over 30 are just as likely to have a wife and children as to be loners with no ties, the research shows.

The security service also plays down the importance of radical extremist clerics, saying their influence in radicalising British terrorists has moved into the background in recent years.

The research, carried out by MI5's behavioural science unit, is based on in-depth case studies on "several hundred individuals known to be involved in, or closely associated with, violent extremist activity" ranging from fundraising to planning suicide bombings in Britain.

The main findings include:

• The majority are British nationals and the remainder, with a few exceptions, are here legally.

Around half were born in the UK, with others migrating here later in life. Some of these fled traumatic experiences and oppressive regimes and claimed UK asylum, but more came to Britain to study or for family or economic reasons and became radicalised many years after arriving.

Far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly. Many lack religious literacy and could actually be regarded as religious novices.

Very few have been brought up in strongly religious households, and there is a higher than average proportion of converts. Some are involved in drug-taking, drinking alcohol and visiting prostitutes.

MI5 says there is evidence that a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation.

• The "mad and bad" theory to explain why people turn to terrorism does not stand up, with no more evidence of mental illness or pathological personality traits found among British terrorists than is found in the general population.

British-based terrorists are as ethnically diverse as the UK Muslim population, with individuals from Pakistani, Middle Eastern and Caucasian backgrounds.

MI5 says assumptions cannot be made about suspects based on skin colour, ethnic heritage or nationality.

• Most UK terrorists are male, but women also play an important role. Sometimes they are aware of their husbands', brothers' or sons' activities, but do not object or try to stop them.

• While the majority are in their early to mid-20s when they become radicalised, a small but not insignificant minority first become involved in violent extremism at over the age of 30.

• Far from being lone individuals with no ties, the majority of those over 30 have steady relationships, and most have children.

MI5 says this challenges the idea that terrorists are young men driven by sexual frustration and lured to "martyrdom" by the promise of beautiful virgins waiting for them in paradise. It is wrong to assume that someone with a wife and children is less likely to commit acts of terrorism.

• Those involved in British terrorism are not unintelligent or gullible, and nor are they more likely to be well-educated; their educational achievement ranges from total lack of qualifications to degree-level education. However, they are almost all employed in low-grade jobs.

The researchers conclude that the results of their work "challenge many of the stereotypes that are held about who becomes a terrorist and why".

Crucially, the research has revealed that those who become terrorists "are a diverse collection of individuals, fitting no single demographic profile, nor do they all follow a typical pathway to violent extremism".

The security service believes the terrorist groups operating in Britain today are different in many important respects both from Islamist extremist activity in other parts of the world and from historical terrorist movements such as the IRA or the Red Army Faction.

The "UK restricted" MI5 "operational briefing note", circulated within the security services in June, warns that, unless they understand the varied backgrounds of those drawn to terrorism in Britain, the security services will fail to counter their activities in the short term and fail to prevent violent radicalisation continuing in the long term.

It also concludes that the research results have important lessons for the government's programme to tackle the spread of violent extremism, underlining the need for "attractive alternatives" to terrorist involvement but also warning that traditional law enforcement tactics could backfire if handled badly or used against people who are not seen as legitimate targets.

The MI5 authors stress that the most pressing current threat is from Islamist extremist groups who justify the use of violence "in defence of Islam", but that there are also violent extremists involved in non-Islamist movements.

They say that they are concerned with those who use violence or actively support the use of violence and not those who simply hold politically extreme views."

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Blogger /thehangedman/ said...

The truth that western media dare not speak: terrorism is revenge.

Pondering that alone would set so many on the road to seeing clearly what the threats are and to whom.

21 August, 2008 10:49  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

I have had multiple anonymous comments on this post. Several are from the same ignorant asshole I banned for his comment on my recent post about my son. If you want to avoid being confused for that jerk, it would help if you identified yourself. If you choose to remain anonymous you risk being tossed due to mistaken identity. Your choice.

Here are a couple of the anonymous comments ( I am treating them as though they are from two different people) that seem to be from others, followed by my reply.


(#1) Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "For the Islam-o-Phobes ~ Oooops, You're a Bigoted ...":

MI4 also state 4,000 UK Muslims are under surveillance. Pretty serious, and hardly an "Islamophobic" concern.

I don't really see what you're trying to say: the fact that those people do not fit a certain character profile is hardly the point. Indeed, some of that report is more, not less disturbing.

And then ....:

(#2) Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "For the Islam-o-Phobes ~ Oooops, You're a Bigoted ...":

...a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation.

I would expect so: (1) A person of stature is less likely to commit violent crimes. Especially when there are others to do their biddings; (2) It's typically the new converts that are most enthusiastic. Once you're an established member you have less motivation to "prove yourself".

British-based terrorists are as ethnically diverse as the UK Muslim population

I would expect so, unless there is some "violent element" with people of certain descents (maybe a violent gene), or certain cultures. I do, however, believe there is a tendency for people of certain beliefs to become terrorists, as that is the premise of the MI5 study.

By the way, please consider putting the below in red too? Be fair.

The MI5 authors stress that the most pressing current threat is from Islamist extremist groups who justify the use of violence "in defence of Islam", but that there are also violent extremists involved in non-Islamist movements.


My replies:

Anon #1: Yes there are a large number of identifiable individuals under surveillance in the UK. So what? Let’s be clear: They are being watched not because of who they are or what they think or how they dress but because of what they might do or have done. That is way different from the widespread indiscriminate “surveillance” undertaken by BushCo. And frankly given their decades long experience with Christian terrorists, I think M15 is probably way better qualified to specify policy on this score. M15 is concerned with terrorism not with Muslims. Big difference.

The point is precisely that the terrorists (actual and suspected) do not neatly fit some “profile”; they are not representatives of “Islam” and indeed most frequently have tenuous ties to the religion. Islam-o-Phobes equate Islam and terrorism (conveniently forgetting, say, the IRA). The report is disturbing insofar as it makes one less certain that simply rounding up the usual suspects is a useful anti-terrorism strategy. I means one needs to rely on actual police work to track down criminals (terrorists). I have no problem with legitimate police functions when carried out by legitimate procedures. Nothing I have ever said here entails that I do.

Anon (#2): Actually the premise of the study is that some people who have certain common beliefs or experiences (e.g., marginalization and so forth) show a propensity to terrorism. The study does not find that religious beliefs are either a predictor or a cause of terrorist activity. Islam-o-Phobes hold bigoted view that Muslims, by virtue of their religious beliefs, are prone to terrorism and violence. Ooops! Turns out to be simple prejudice.

You want me to “be fair” and highlight the sentence that says some members of Islamist groups become terrorist and some members of non-Islamist groups become terrorists? First, the Islam-o-Phobes are not “fair.” Second, that finding is entirely unenlightening. In fact, I am not sure what it means. Are we talking about Muslims or about the entire population? And, if we are the “but” in the sentence seems to mean that some Muslims, regardless of their affiliation with “Islamist” groups, become terrorists. So do some Catholics and some Protestants and some Hindus.

Finally, I want to make a general point. I am not religious. I am not trying to make excuses for religion (having born the brunt of Catholic upbringing and schooling). I have no illusions about how the major religions treat women and children. Nor do I have any illusions about how they view non-believers like myself. But I think that is true of virtually every major religion. It certainly is true of Christians.

I simply don’t think we should discriminate against people on the basis of what they believe. We should hold them accountable - whether for purposes of praise or punishment - for what they do.

21 August, 2008 12:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I simply don’t think we should discriminate against people on the basis of what they believe"

But we do, and it is legitimate. Believing in the Nazis is not acceptable and if its expressed in public will likely get you arrested.

Muslim terrorists 'do something' that is - this is just a simple fact - consistent with stuff that's written in the Koran and with some of Mohammed's behaviour. And non terrorist Muslims refuse to acknowledge this and condemn it and are therefore complicit, by providing the ideological environment in which terrorism breeds.

(And the IRA are utterly irrelevant: they did not murder in the name of Jesus).

21 August, 2008 14:03  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Actually Anon, the US courts have expressly allowed Nazi and KKK types to express whatever views they like in public. Sorry, you are simply wrong. If they act on those views, by, for instance killing Jews of Blacks (or even trying to do so) then that is a wholly different thing.

Sure one can speak out against bigotry and I do. But I am not the police.

Yes, Muslim terrorists 'do something' but simply being Muslim is neither necessary nor sufficeint to make one a terrorists. That is what the Islam-o-Phobe forgets. And we should be concerned with terrorists of whatever stripe.

By the way, on that last point my former colleague John Muller thinks the concern with terrorism is highly overblown given the actual risk involved. I tend to agree with him. The probabilities of being hurt or killed in a terrorist attack are miniscule.

Ask anyone about the IRA and you will find out that it was an Irish CATHOLIC group some of whose members engaged in terrorist acts. And the PROTESTANTS had their analogous groups. If you think there is no religious dimension there you are simply blind. Is there only religion involved? No. But the M15 has just explained to you that there is little if any religion in the motivation among current "Islamic" terrorists. Or didn't you read the story?

21 August, 2008 14:44  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...


If you want to call names ~ "a sneering censorious fool," or "obtuse fool" ~ at least have the courage to use your own name in doing so. You question my credibility because I don't post your insulting comments! What a laugh.

I say what I think here. I disagree with those whom I think are mistaken. And I do so - gasp! - under my very own name. In public. If you can't do the same, keep your concern from my credibility to yourself. Your views are worth zero.

Come out into the light asshole. Otherwise, its into the bin. Bye, Bye!

21 August, 2008 15:36  

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