In 2003 I happened to share a unique speaking platform with Sir David Omand, Tony Blair’s Cabinet Intelligence and Security Coordinator, at the British Defence Academy in Shrivenham. At this event Sir David presented for the first time a concept of a cohesive UK counterterrorism strategy that he called CONTEST and which rested on the four “P’s”: Prevent, Pursue, Protect and Prepare. This strategy would later become formalized as an official British strategy and would serve to influence not only other individual states but also the entire EU counterterrorism strategy. The end state of this strategy was to minimize the threat and the risk of terrorism so that citizens in democracies could go about their daily business with confidence and security. The aim was to create and maintain resilience within society in order for it to bounce back as quickly as possible when assaulted by terrorism. The strategy was surrounded by integrated intelligence as a critical factor (creating the ideas of terrorism intelligence fusion centres) and a robust communication policy (to limit societal polarization and divisions in the aftermath of a terrorist event). As such, Sir David was the first among equals as he sharply recognized that the al-Qaeda forces and its exclusionary ideology that was unleashed by 9/11 required essentially both a strategy to confront its many strands and that preventative approaches would be crucial to contain its global contagion effect and ideological appeal for a next generation of recruits and militants. For Sir David, myself and others present at the Defence Academy that day it was clear that preventing violent radicalization had to be an overarching priority to complement the tactical intelligence, law enforcement and military firefighting efforts occurring across different theatres around the world. Despite this foresight it was equally clear that none were really intellectually capable of predicting the scope, contours and velocity of the appeal of this Al-Qaeda narrative and associated radicalization and so-called homegrown terrorism that would become such an issue of strategic importance and urgency. Understanding violent radicalization was critical but an enigma to most experts whether in government or in academia. The terrorist attacks in Madrid in March 2004 and in London in July 2005 brought starkly home the fact that terrorism was no longer an imported, foreign phenomenon but rather homegrown. As evidenced from the multitude of
intercepted plots across several European cities since 2001, the emerging regionalization of Al-Qaeda inspired terror cells in regions adjacent to Europe combined with the corrosive and explosive nature of the Danish Muhammed cartoon crisis, the threat level and the intensity of the desire to perpetrate mass-casualty attacks within Europe is not diminishing – rather the complexity of the security environment is increasing with the advance of the Internet and new technologies; the global influencing the local – with a range of adversaries better organized, more clever, more connected with conflict zones than we previously thought. It is also clear that the radicalization processes are becoming more challenging to address as it is simply not just a linear progression, a complex combination of push-pull factors or that people move in and out of roles and functions. While violent radicalization has gradually emerged at the top of the EU counterterrorism agenda, it has been accompanied by a relatively embryonic understanding about the processes and interplay of factors that contribute to radicalization that are playing out differently in Paris, Rome, London or Copenhagen in terms of the underlying causes, nature and direction of the radicalization forces. While there are commonalities, there are also stark differences between contexts. Undoubtedly there are common factors at the global and regional levels that facilitate radicalization, but it is simultaneously clear that radicalization is very context dependent. This book is an effort to explore the different ways in which radicalization is understood as a phenomenon while it is being played out in varying ways or degrees across different EU states.