CT Scan
2 Apr 2015|

London is the largest source city for foreign fighters

This week in Counterterrorism Scan, we’ll cover Australian deradicalisation programs, lessons learnt from 9/11, Malaysia’s CT bills,  magazines of Islamic States, Britain’s terrorism problem, radicalised children, media coverage and violence in Nigeria.

At home, Sarah Dingle on ABC’s Background Briefing investigates deradicalisation programs ‘quietly’ rolled out by Muslim communities. Dingle finds that the key to the success of these interventions is authenticity. As part of the program, terrorism expert Dr Anne Aly is working with former violent extremists and foreign fighters to produce online deradicalisation audio materials, which includes the input of an individual who had planned to massacre ‘Asians’ and ‘Arabs’ until one day an Asian man saved his life. In the program, ASPI’s Anthony Bergin also calls for a national community liaison who would report to the PM and Attorney-General.

Turning to 9/11, Jennifer Williams at Foreign Affairs explains how communications between Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda leaders (produced in al Qaeda member Abid Naseer’s trial) reveal what’s worked in the US’ CT strategy against their organisation.

In our region, CT bills were tabled in the Malaysian Parliament on Monday. Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that the reforms seek to prevent terrorism and stop Malaysia from being a foreign fighter transit point. Sixty- one Malaysians have reportedly joined conflicts overeas. The power to detain terror suspects without trial indefinitely andsuspend or cancel the passports of citizens and foreigners involved in terrorist acts. It also bumps up the penalties for traveling to or from Malaysia for terrorism purposes for up to 30 years. However, the bills have drawn criticism, predominantly due to concerns that the powers are open to abuse, that detention without trial is ‘a huge step backward for human rights’ and that the power to detain is not reviewable by the courts.

In Europe, imams and academics are fighting back to ‘reclaim the Internet’, launching the Haqiqah (meaning ‘the truth’ or ‘the reality’) online magazine in London last Thursday. This publication aims to teach youth about the truth of Islamic State. And for those looking at foreign fighters in Ukraine, terrorism researcher Andrew Zammit has pulled links of articles and reports.

The Islamic State’s new propaganda videos features children as young as five being trained for Islamic State, and others conducting beheadings. Global terrorism expert Ryan Mauro explains: ‘for ISIS supporters, this is like signing up your kid for the best private school’. However, Juliette Touma at UNICEF reminds us that Islamic State isn’t the only group to use children in the conflict:

‘It’s important to remember the recruitment and use of children in combat has been happening by all parties to the conflict. Children have not only been used to fight, but also to man checkpoints, and in support jobs like cooking or cleaning, or treating injured fighters. These are just a variety of ways that children have been exploited in the conflict.’

As to children on the other side of the battle, this photo of a Syrian child who mistook a photographer’s camera for a weapon went viral.

How should terrorism be reported? Ibrahim Altay at the Daily Sabah questions how the media should be covering these stories to without feeding into terrorists’ goals, because the ‘act by itself is nothing; publicity is all’.

Finally, for the visually inclined, BBC has created a database of foreign fighters in Britain, including maps of fighters’ hometowns. In case you were wondering, London is the largest source city. And the Nigeria Security Tracker maps out politically, economically or socially driven violence. The maps indicate that while Boko Haram has caused the majority of deaths in the last few years, other groups play a significant role too.