Divided into two volumes, this special edition features both the past publications curated by ICCT’s past directors and newly published articles on the future of terrorism.
Volume I: Reflections from the Past Decade
De Graaf, Beatrice, ‘Why Communication and Performance are Key in Countering Terrorism,’ The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) Evolutions in Counter- Terrorism, Vol. 1 (November 2020 ): 1-10.
In this Research Paper, ICCT – The Hague Research Fellow Beatrice de Graaf emphasises the importance of effective communication and performance in the fight against terrorism and the fear it aims to induce. Essentially, terrorists and states are conducting ‘influence warfare’, a battle to convince and persuade the different target audiences to rally behind them. In this battle of perceptions, the different government agencies need to be aware of the often implicit and unwittingly produced ‘stories’ they tell to counter those narrated by the terrorists. It is crucial to take in consideration the fact that combating terrorism is a form of communication, as much as terrorism is itself.
Van Ginkel, Bibi. and Eva Entenmann (Eds.), ‘The Foreign Fighters Phenomenon in the European Union. Profiles, Threats & Policies’, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) Evolutions in Counter-Terrorism, Vol. 1 (November 2020 ): 11-18.
Despite the widespread media attention for foreign fighters in Europe, very little is known about the phenomenon itself, something also evidenced by the lack of a single foreign fighter definition across the EU. In a study commissioned by the Netherlands National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV), ICCT addresses this gap by analysing not only the numbers and characteristics of foreign fighters across the EU, but also how the Union and Member States assess the threat of foreign fighters as well as their policy responses regarding security, preventive and legislative measures. The Report also outlines a series of policy options aimed both at the EU and its Member States.
Berger, J.M., ‘The Turner Legacy: The Storied Origins and Enduring Impact of White Nationalism’s Deadly Bible’, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) Evolutions in Counter-Terrorism, Vol. 1 (November 2020 ): 19-54.
The Turner Diaries, the infamous racist dystopian novel by neo-Nazi William Luther Pierce, has inspired more than 200 murders since its publication in 1978, including the single deadliest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history, the Oklahoma City bombing. The book is arguably the most important single work of white nationalist propaganda in the English language, but it is not a singular artifact. The Turner Diaries is part of a genre of racist dystopian propaganda dating back to the U.S. Civil War. This paper will document the books that directly and indirectly inspired Turner and examine the extensive violence that the novel has inspired. By comparing and contrasting The Turner Diaries to its less-remembered predecessors, this paper analyses the reasons for the novel’s lasting impact, including its focus on rational choices over identity choices, its simplification of white nationalist ideology, its repeated calls to action, and the powerfully persuasive nature of dystopian narratives, which can be understood as a secular analogue for religious apocalyptic texts.
van der Heide, Liesbeth, Marieke van der Zwan and Maarten van Leyenhorst, ‘The Practitioner’s Guide to the Galaxy – A Comparison of Risk Assessment Tools for Violent Extremism’, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) Evolutions in Counter-Terrorism, Vol. 1 (November 2020 ): 55-78.
This paper critically compares seven widely used risk assessment tools for violent extremism, including the VERA-2R, the ERG 22+, the SQAT, the IR46, the RRAP, the Radar, and the VAF. For each risk assessment method, the authors (1) provide background information about its country of origin, the field of expertise/discipline within which they were created, their underlying methodology (theory or case-based), and the various ways these tools are structured; (2) describe the purpose of the risk assessment tools and their respective target audience(s); and (3) elaborate on the use (practical implications) of the tools. The objective is to enable policymakers and practitioners to better navigate the often muddy, copyrighted, and expensive waters of the world of risk assessment of violent extremism—as well as to facilitate their decision-making process when it comes to determining what approach is best suited to their needs.
Silke, Andrew, and John Morrison, ‘Re-Oending by Released Terrorist Prisoners: Separating Hype from Reality’, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) Evolutions in Counter-Terrorism, Vol. 1 (November 2020 ): 79-89.
Recent cases of attacks by released terrorist prisoners highlight issues around the risk of re- offending posed by former terrorist prisoners. What are the appropriate processes and systems for managing and risk assessing such individuals, and to what extent is rehabilitation possible in the context of terrorist offending? This Policy Brief will explore these and related issues to help inform wider discussion and debates on appropriate policy in this area.
In this Policy Brief, the authors critically analyse the definition of ‘recidivism’, and demonstrate the need for a concrete operational definition before one is able to truly analyse recidivist activity. Following this, the authors discuss terrorist recidivism in a range of international contexts, ranging from Northern Ireland to Sri Lanka, the United States to Israel. By taking this broader perspective it allows the reader to gain a greater understanding of what factors related to recidivism rates may be context-specific, and which are universal.
Volume II: Contemporary Developments
Brzuszkiewicz, Sara, ‘Incel Radical Milieu and External Locus of Control,’ The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) Evolutions in Counter-Terrorism, Vol. 2 (November 2020): 1-20.
In the last few years, incel violence has been the subject of many excellent journalistic accounts, but — with few notable exceptions, whose insights will be acknowledged and valued throughout this research paper — there has not been much scholarly output addressing the phenomenon. Individuals who self-identify as involuntary celibates are being radicalised into believing that the world is dominated by women and attractive men, and their marginalisation depends on this domination within what incels often term the mating market. After a number of violent attacks in which the perpetrators were linked in various ways to the inceldom — the status of involuntary celibacy — researchers have started to debate whether incel violence should be considered terrorism or not.
This paper examines the pillars of incel ideology through an analysis of incels’ own vocabulary and narratives. Based on this analysis, it introduces two distinct research hypotheses. First, it argues that, while consensus is being gradually reached on considering incel violence as terrorism, scholars do not possess an effective analytical framework for studying the broader incel communities and, in order to partly fill this gap, a proper notion is that of a radical milieu, i.e. a community where radicalisation occurs. The second research hypothesis suggests that the radicalisation power of this milieu lies in the external locus of control that most incels adopt and take to the extreme in their perception of themselves and of inter-sex relations.
Ingram, Haroro J., Craig Whiteside and Charlie Winter, ‘The Islamic State’s Global Insurgency and its Counterstrategy Implications’ The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) Evolutions in Counter-Terrorism, Vol. 2 (November 2020): 21-46.
At the dawn of its caliphate, the Islamic State’s global pretensions were limited to being the premier destination for foreign “travellers,” but we now understand that the caliphate was more than a destination: it was to be the foundation for a more rigorous transmission of global jihad. The collapse of its political project affords us an opportunity to reassess the Islamic State movement. Today its underground insurgency is the flagship of a political enterprise consisting of formal and aspiring affiliates dotting the Middle East, Africa and Asia while coordinating and inspiring terror operations abroad. We present a conceptual framework through which to understand how the Islamic State’s network of insurgent affiliates operates, based on an analysis of its attack data and primary sources. When we assess the bureaucratic fluidity of its structure in both time and place, combined with a wide ranging spectrum of relationships with affiliates and networks far and wide, the adhocratic nature of the Islamic State enterprise emerges and demands attention as we try to understand the role its structure and management influences its resilience as a global movement.
Bauer, Katherine, and Matthew Levitt, ‘Funding in Place: Local Financing Trends Behind Today’s Global Terrorist Threat’, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) Evolutions in Counter-Terrorism, Vol. 2 (November 2020): 47-76.
Over the last decade, the terror finance landscape has changed dramatically. The proliferation of un- or under-governed spaces has allowed terrorist organisations to exploit local populations and resources to support their operations. Together with a trend toward self-radicalised lone actors and self-financed individuals or small cells, this has led to a discernible trend toward localised terrorist financing, or funding in place. As a result, some now call into question the value of traditional tools used to counter the financing of terrorism (CFT). Such critiques typically focus on the ineffectiveness of financial sanctions against territory-controlling terrorist organisation and/or the difficulty financial institutions face in identifying and flagging terror-related transactions. However, the idea that the focus of counter-terrorist financing efforts is primarily on tracking the movement of funds through banks accounts and investigating reports of suspicious activity is false. Rather, CFT broadly includes strategic efforts to protect the integrity of the financial system from exploitation through standard-setting and diplomatic outreach; identification of emerging threats and typologies and international cooperation. Likewise, the use of financial activity by intelligence and law enforcement to track and analyse terrorist activity –so-called “financial intelligence”—extends well beyond bank-filed suspicious transaction reports.
In this study, the authors examine current trends in localised terrorist financing and the counter-terrorist financing tools available to deal with this shift away from transnational to more local financing. Specifically, how geography, ideology and a host of other practical concerns shape the manner in which terrorists raise, store and move funds. The study examines the various means terrorists use to move money, both tried and true methods, as well as emerging trends; how terrorist financing it not only a factor of cash money, but also of resourcing the materials a terrorist group requires; and the re-emergence of the abuse of charities as a CFT concern. Ultimately, they conclude that the underlying principles that have guided anti-money laundering and counter-terror finance strategies to date – such as standard-setting, information sharing and international cooperation – remain effective even in the face of these new challenges.
White, Jessica, ‘Community and Gender in Counter-Terrorism Policy: Challenges and Opportunities for Transferability Across the Evolving Threat Landscape’, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) Evolutions in Counter-Terrorism, Vol. 2 (November 2020): 77-100.
This article examines the transferability of two decades of counter-terrorism policy structures which are focused on Islamist extremism. It illustrates how these policies are challenged by the emergence and resurgence of different threat profiles on the security horizon, especially focusing on right-wing extremism. Prevention has become a prominent part of the counter-terrorism strategy, with much of this programming focused on engaging “at risk” communities to reduce grievances which might encourage participation in violent extremism. This article assesses, through a review of literature and policy as well as contextual comparative analysis, whether “at risk” communities for other forms of extremism can be identified by the same simplistic categorisation processes which are often employed with the Islamist inspired threat. Identifying the challenges of community-based programming highlights the importance of gender roles within communities and the radicalisation narrative, thus emphasising the essential nature of a gender lens for effective counter-terrorism policy.
van Dongen, Teun, ‘Normalisation, Party Politics and Vigilantism: Why the Next Terrorist Wave will not be Right-Wing Extremist’, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) Evolutions in Counter-Terrorism, Vol. 2 (November 2020): 101-120.
The right-wing extremist terrorist attacks in the last three years have led many to designate right-wing extremist terrorism as the next major terrorist threat. This paper will argue that for large parts of the West such concerns are misguided for two main reasons. First, right-wing extremists lack the organisational clout to generate a wave of terrorist attacks that is on a par with the wave of jihadist terrorism in the West in recent years. Second, right-wing extremists have displayed a preference for other tactics; many of these tactics are non-violent, and even when they are violent, they are not necessarily terrorist in nature. We should acknowledge the importance of these other tactics and not make the mistake of viewing right-wing extremism as another form of terrorism, as that will lead to a fundamental misunderstanding of what the threat of right-wing extremism entails.