On jihadi extremists, their goals and methods

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“ So it’s no surprise that both parties talk about security. However, the term itself is open to debate. People will point out that cows, clothes and cars kill more people every year than terrorism. Some say the threat we face from jihadi terrorism is unprecedented, while others say that, in historical terms, Europe is in a period of relative peace and that the larger dangers are from our own governments grabbing power in the wake of tragedy. Who’s right? Well … it’s complicated. Security expert Bruce Schneier describes security as both a reality and a feeling. The real risks of your children being the victims of a terror attack are low, but the odds don’t matter when it’s happening live on the news. Certainly, the raw number of attacks were higher in the 70s and 80s. That may be contributing to a greater sense of threat: if our baseline expectation of violence is minimal, attacks have more impact than if they are more regular (…) Westerners and Muslims, of course, are groups of significant overlap. They are not in opposition, but extremists on both sides want them to be. Professor Matthew Feldman, an expert in extremism at Teesside University, explains that an often overlooked impact of extremist activities is that they make the broader community feel forced to pick a side. Seen through this lens, the rush to demand that Muslims condemn the violence, setting up new loyalty tests for ordinary Muslim citizens, reinforces the Isis/English Defence League narrative that Islam cannot be accommodated within European culture (…) The Manchester bomber and the London Bridge attackers were atypical in historical terms but match a recent pattern of Isis terrorists. They weren’t religious extremists who became radicals, but radicals who became religious extremists. Isis is targeting young men who are already angry, disillusioned and rootless, and giving them a focus for that anger ”

Phil McDuff, ‘It’s complex: why the us-and-them approach to extremism won’t work’, The Guardian

On the distribution of political violent acts over the political spectrum

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“ The Anti-Defamation League recently reported that right-wing extremists have plotted at least 150 terrorist acts in the United States over the last twenty-five years, killing or injuring more than eight hundred people. An earlier ADL report found right-wing extremists were responsible for 74 percent of the 372 people killed in domestic terror attacks between 2007 and 2016 (…) Conservatives — and, it now appears, the mainstream press — love to complain about the ‘intolerant Left.’ But only one side of the political spectrum has been engaged in consistent, sustained, politically motivated violence for the last two decades ”

Branko Marcetic, ‘Whose Violence?’, Jacobin Magazine

On how Iran’s intervention in Syria helps the Islamic State

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“ Analyst Michael Horowitz also wrote another interesting thing: that Iran’s launch of missiles demonstrates how the attacks in Tehran have achieved one of ISIS’ goals, namely to strengthen the most radical and interventionist wing of the Iranian regime. The more Iran intervenes in Syria and Iraq, the more it feeds into the sectarian violence between Shiites and Sunni, and the more the Islamic State has the opportunity to find spaces in which to settle and develop ”

Translated from Italian.

Elena Zacchetti, ‘Two new things have happened in Syria, explained’, Il Post

 

On discrimination and telling victims to avoid being victims

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“ .. studies show that Muslim women account for 90% and 81% of reported anti-Muslim incidents involving violence respectively. (In most cases, the Muslim woman was wearing a headscarf.) To the anti-Muslim bigots, a hijab is not a sign of piety. It’s a target. By the way, if you feel inclined to tell Muslim women to remove their hijabs as a way of avoiding violence, please don’t. Better yet, instruct the bigots not to attack them instead ”

Moustafa Bayoumi, ‘Donald Trump is not blameless when white supremacists slaughter people’, The Guardian

On being called a terrorist rather than a criminal and the consequences it provoques

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“ There are a few key variables which determine what you are called and how you are treated when you commit a deadly act designed to cause widespread fear. Namely: how many people you killed; where you killed them; whether you shouted Allahu Akbar as you killed them and the colour of your skin. The whiter your skin, it seems, the more likely you are to be classified as a criminal rather than a terrorist (…) Right-wing terrorism doesn’t just get less media attention than Islamist terrorism – it gets less attention in policy. As the ADL report notes, the US still doesn’t have a federal domestic terrorism statute and federal spending on training law enforcement on issues such as rightwing violence and terrorism is extremely low. This is clearly ridiculous ”

Arwa Mahdawi, ‘How a neo-Nazi turned Islamist flipped terror narratives upside down’, The Guardian

On the destructive consequences of conflicts and natural disasters

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“ Conflict, violence and natural disasters forced more than 31 million people to leave home and settle elsewhere within their countries last year, the equivalent of one person every second. But while the number of people uprooted by conflict outnumbers refugees by two to one, they have been largely ignored by the international community (…) Disasters such as floods, storms and wildfires had an even greater effect, displacing 24.2 million people, more than three times the number uprooted by conflict. This trend was at its most acute in east Asia and the Pacific. In China, 7.4 million were forced from their homes, with 5.9 million affected in the Philippines and a further 2.4 million in India. Floods accounted for half of all people displaced by disasters (…) ‘First, conflict resolution needs to be doubled, tripled, quadrupled,’ he said. ‘It’s incredible there’s not a bigger pull towards a peaceful settlement of the Yemeni conflict. We also need to get economic life to countries like Yemen and elsewhere so there’s not a collapse in social structures there. Then we need investment in avoiding environmental degradation, and we need disaster risk reduction’ ”

Rebecca Ratcliffe, ‘Outnumbering refugees two to one: how the world ignores war’s greatest scandals’, The Guardian

On Venezuela creeping authoritarianism and how to deal with it

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“ By cancelling the recall referendum, suspending elections, and inhibiting opposition politicians from standing for office the Venezuelan government is systematically blocking the ability of the Venezuelan people to express themselves through electoral means. It is hard to see what to call this other than creeping authoritarianism. But it is also hard to agree with characterizations of Venezuela as a full-scale authoritarian regime given the opposition’s significant access to traditional and social media, and substantial ability to engage in anti-government protest (…) …reject any and all calls for imperialist interventions aimed at “saving” Venezuela. Attempts to do so will not only fail, but are likely to transform a difficult situation into a tragic one, as the horrors of Iraq and Afghanistan show all too well […] stand in solidarity with the majority of Venezuelans who are suffering at the hands of a vengeful, reckless opposition, and an incompetent, unaccountable government. There is little doubt popular-class support for the government has declined in recent years. The precise extent of this is unclear, and it appears Chavismo retains not insignificant popular-class support due to the material gains it provided workers and the poor for well over a decade. It is equally clear popular-class support for the opposition remains limited, likely due to the popular classes’ well-founded distrust of and disgust towards the opposition, and particularly its violent, leading edge ”

Gabriel Hetland, ‘Why Is Venezuela Spiraling out of Control’, Jacobin Magazine