The Local Prevention of Terrorism: Strategy and Practice in the Fight Against Terrorism

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Lecturer of Criminology, University of Lincoln. Articles Cited by.

How smart tech helps cities fight terrorism and crime | World Economic Forum

The International Journal of Human Rights 17 3 , , Articles 1—10 Show more. Help Privacy Terms. The local prevention of terrorism: Strategy and practice in the fight against terrorism JJ Skoczylis Springer , Counterterrorism and society: the contradiction of the surveillance state—understanding the relationship among communities, state authorities, and society J Skoczylis The Palgrave Handbook of Global Counterterrorism Policy, , A conceptual critique of Prevent: Can Prevent be saved?

The list includes four entries that are not in the Global Terrorism Database.

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Neither the Bush nor the Obama administration imagined the War on Terror would be won quickly. Both acknowledged that changing the underlying context of instability and political conflict in the Middle East would take time. Unfortunately, no evidence exists to suggest that there is a single set of conditions which leads to terrorism, nor any evidence to suggest that terrorism will disappear once those conditions have changed.

But even if we accept the argument, there has been little sign of progress toward diminishing the underlying conditions that facilitate terrorism, at least as defined by the U. From the perspective of U. Winning the war of ideas involves assuring Muslims that American values are congruent with Islam and supporting moderate and modern Muslim governments. The Bush strategy document further states that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is "a critical component to winning the war of ideas. Data show that the United States has failed to diminish the conditions that the government has argued produce terrorism.

By , they had plummeted to the fourth and sixth percentile. The average corruption percentile ranking for the seven countries in which the U. Before the War on Terror began, Afghanistan was in the worst category extreme fragility and Iraq was in the second worst high , and they remain there today. Of the other five countries, three have worsened and two remain unchanged.

The failure of the War on Terror has two fundamental — and related — sources. The first is the inflated assessment of the terrorist threat facing the United States, which led to the decision to commit to an expansive counterterrorism campaign focused on a series of actions that have very little to do with protecting Americans from terrorist attacks. The second source of failure is the adoption of an aggressive strategy of military intervention, which was largely driven by the failure to define the terrorism challenge accurately.

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Together, these factors have promoted an American strategy that is both ineffective and counterproductive. This inflated view of the terrorist threat led directly to the excessive size, scope and ambition of the War on Terror. Declaring war on terrorism was an exercise in futility. Terrorism is not a disease that can be eradicated through vaccination, but a strategy that all kinds of people have chosen to use for all kinds of reasons in all sorts of places and situations.

History shows that terrorism has been a hallmark of wealthy states as well as poor ones, of secular as well as religious groups, and of conservative as well as insurgent and progressive causes. This is not to deny that al Qaeda and the Islamic State pose a threat to Americans.

They do. By defining the threat in inflated, even existential, terms, the United States has expanded the War on Terror far beyond the necessary boundaries, creating new problems while failing to resolve the original ones, all at a cost that is far too high. First, American intervention has aimed at the wrong target. Political grievances and competition for power in the Middle East, not a radical Islamist hatred of the West, are the primary sources of conflict both in the Middle East and between Islamist groups and the West. Unfortunately, since the beginning of the War on Terror, too many American officials have believed that the motivation for al Qaeda and ISIS terrorist attacks against the United States is primarily an anti-American ideology, hatred of our freedoms, or the desire to destroy the United States.

This long-run strategy involves not only reshaping the narrative about Islam and the West but also reshaping Middle Eastern governments in the Western image.

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Tragically, this approach has the United States working the wrong problem entirely. They seek, along with many others, to control the political systems of the Middle East. It is true that both ISIS and al Qaeda have discussed the importance of striking the "far enemy" the United States as a strategy for recruitment and to weaken the "near enemy" local Arab governments.

The Local Prevention of Terrorism: Strategy and Practice in the Fight Against Terrorism

But as Osama bin Laden and other jihadist leaders have made clear, the United States is implicated in their plans not because the jihadists hate its freedoms or because the destruction of the Western way of life is their goal, but because American foreign policy blocks their path to power in the Middle East. The second flaw in the American strategy is the reliance on military means. Misled by a misdiagnosis of the underlying problem, the United States has pursued an interventionist strategy focused overwhelmingly on destroying terrorist organizations and killing individual terrorists.

Research has shown that this is rarely the path toward a permanent solution to terrorist groups. In the longer run, however, military force is the wrong tool for the mission. As the former commander of U. American intervention has likely made things worse. Drone strikes, targeted killings, and the enduring American presence in these places have also generated more anger and resentment toward the United States, boosting jihadist propaganda and recruiting efforts.

Public attitudes in many Muslim-majority countries toward the United States cratered in the wake of the invasion of Iraq and have remained dismal since then. In the absence of continued U.

In court, Shahzad explained his actions, "I want to plead guilty times because unless the United States pulls out of Afghanistan and Iraq, until they stop drone strikes in Somalia, Pakistan and Yemen and stop attacking Muslim lands, we will attack the United States and be out to get them. The U. As early as , a Defense Science Board report noted that "American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims, identifying both U. Finally, American leaders also fell prey to the conceit that they could reshape the politics of other nations.

How smart tech helps cities fight terrorism and crime

Both the Bush and Obama administrations believed that terrorism emerges, in part or whole, from factors such as poverty, deprivation, and an inability to engage in the political process. Although it might benefit the United States if Middle Eastern countries evolved into Western-style democracies, there is no evidence that the United States itself can play a determining role in making it happen, especially via military intervention.

The results to date from Afghanistan and Iraq suggest that not even massive American intervention is enough to ensure permanent, positive change. The real question is why anyone in the United States believes that it would be possible for Americans to reshape Middle Eastern governments and societies. Well before Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States imagined it could impose political solutions on the Philippines, Vietnam, and the Dominican Republic, just to name a few failures. Nor does military victory improve the odds. The results of efforts to impose democracy via military means are dismal.

The notion that the United States could topple Saddam Hussein, for example, and then impose a new political system and an effective and nonsectarian new military force was a dangerous fantasy. The United States often fails to achieve desired outcomes in its own domestic matters. It is difficult to see why U. First, the United States can maintain the current course. The goal of such a strategy would be to contain and eventually defeat or simply outlast ISIS and other groups by continuing to rely heavily on local partners and without introducing much, if any, additional American firepower into the conflict. Those who favor the "steady on" approach tend to view terrorism as a moderate-sized threat and believe that the current strategy is slowly but steadily making progress against ISIS. This group generally agrees that major American intervention was counterproductive and believes local forces are the best suited to fight ISIS, but sees an important supporting role for the United States.

Second, the United States could choose to step up the fight. The goal of this strategy would be to increase — significantly — the American commitment to the maintenance of security and stability in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and perhaps even Libya and Yemen.

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  5. By bringing enough firepower and pressure to bear, supporters argue, the United States could destroy the Islamist-inspired terrorism threat, encourage the development of peaceful political systems, and prevent the reemergence of terrorism. Despite widespread support for the status quo there is also a substantial minority that favors stepping up the fight against ISIS. Those who prefer this option believe that the terrorism threat is large enough to justify a great deal more effort than the United States is currently making.

    Former National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn, for example, has written that the fight against terrorism is a world war.