THOUGHTS AND COFFEE #14: Assessing counter-radicalization? Some notes

This post is a note on how we could formulate a proper assessment on counter-radicalization efforts.

How can we measure the effectiveness and success of counter-radicalization efforts?

I had the opportunity to chat with Mr Suaib Tahir, an expert staff from the Indonesian National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT). We talked about his work at the BNPT, which involved counter-radicalization. Here are some interesting points of our swift and informal discussion.

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Le’ Notes #29: Networks and social groups in radicalisation

This post discusses the role of networks and social groups in the radicalisation process.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege to attend a screening of Noor Huda Ismail’s latest documentary, Jihad Selfie. He documented the life of 17-year old Aceh boy, Akbar, who got a scholarship to study in Turkey and was inspired to join ISIS, highlighting the role of the internet and social media in expediting the recruitment process. It did open my eyes to the infinite potential of social networks as a pathway towards radicalisation.

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Le’ Notes #27: Culture as an enabler of radicalisation

This post discusses how cultural exposure can enable radicalization.

In the last post, I discussed how our basic human nature can be prone to manipulation through ideology. Now, let’s see how cultural influences can enable radicalization. Of course, this is not to say in a deterministic way that “culture causes radicalization”, but rather, several cultural traits enable certain ideologies to take root easier than in other circumstances. Another caveat would be cultural influences may vary depending on the individual; otherwise, everyone sharing the same cultural traits would be a terrorist by now.

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Le’ Notes #26: The role of human nature in terrorism

This post discusses the role of human nature as a basis of a “group tent” and how it can lead to violence.

What makes a normal person undergo the process of radicalisation? In the debates discussing the process of radicalisation, there’s a perspective that holds human nature as a principal starting point. This view is grounded in human psychology, particularly, the study of evolutionary psychology. Its main assumption is simple enough: humans have inherent traits that can be “ignited” to allow radicalisation to take place.

It is worth noting that here, the role of ideology has yet to come into play. Ideology amplifies these inherent traits and funnels them into action.

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Are We Safe from Terrorists? Maybe Not

Last week, I had the privilege to attend a live recording of Channel NewsAsia’s newest TV series, Think Tank, a six-episode series they were working on in collaboration with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS). It touches on six specific security issues faced by Southeast Asia, and to some extent, the whole world. And by “security”, I refer to the expanded understanding, not the traditionalist one, which covers the perils of the individual and threats in cyberspace. While waiting for the first episode to air, let me just write about my experience. For more information about the series, visit their website.

So, the big question posed by the first episode was: Are we safe from terrorists? As usual, put a bunch of social scientists in a room together and they will not be able to come up with an agreed definition of a single term, let alone a desirable framework to address the issue. That, I think, is paradoxically the beauty of the social sciences. But it’s what also makes it a pain to study.

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