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  • Author: Anthony Richards
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: This article argues that there has been an increasing convergence of the discourses of terrorism, radicalization and, more lately, extremism in the UK and that this has caused counterterrorism to lose its focus. This is particularly evident in the counterterrorism emphasis on non-violent but extremist ideology that is said to be 'conducive' to terrorism. Yet, terrorism is ineluctably about violence or the threat of violence; hence, if a non-violent ideology is in and of itself culpable for terrorism in some way then it ceases to be non-violent. The article argues that there should be a clearer distinction made between (non-violent) extremism of thought and extremism of method because it is surely violence and the threat of violence (integral to terrorism) that should be the focus of counterterrorism. The concern is that counterterrorism has gone beyond its remit of countering terrorism and has ventured into the broader realm of tackling ideological threats to the state.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom
  • Author: Jamie Gaskarth
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: The global war on terrorism gives rise to a range of legal, political and ethical problems. One major concern for UK policy-makers is the extent to which the government may be held responsible for the illegal and/or unethical behaviour of allies in intelligence gathering—the subject of the forthcoming Gibson inquiry. The UK government has been criticized by NGOs, parliamentary committees and the media for cooperating with states that are alleged to use cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (CIDT) or torture to gain information about possible terrorist threats. Many commentators argue that the UK's intelligence sharing arrangements leave it open to charges of complicity with such behaviour. Some even suggest the UK should refuse to share intelligence with countries that torture. This article refutes this latter view by exploring the legal understanding of complicity in the common law system and comparing its more limited view of responsibility—especially the 'merchant's defence'—with the wider definition implied in political commentary. The legal view, it is argued, offers a more practical guide for policy-makers seeking to discourage torture while still protecting their citizens from terrorist threats. It also provides a fuller framework for assessing the complicity of policy-makers and officials. Legal commentary considers complicity in relation to five key points: identifying blame; weighing the contribution made; evaluating the level of intent; establishing knowledge; or, where the latter is uncertain, positing recklessness. Using this schema, the article indicates ways in which the UK has arguably been complicit in torture, or at least CIDT, based on the information publicly available. However, it concludes that the UK was justified in maintaining intelligence cooperation with transgressing states due to the overriding public interest in preventing terrorist attacks.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom
  • Author: Anthony Richards
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: This article questions the utility of the term 'radicalization' as a focus for counterterrorism response in the UK. It argues that the lack of clarity as to who the radicalized are has helped to facilitate a 'Prevent' strand of counterterrorism strategy that has confusingly oscillated between tackling violent extremism, in particular, to promoting community cohesion and 'shared values' more broadly. The article suggests that the focus of counterterrorism strategy should be on countering terrorism and not on the broader remit implied by wider conceptions of radicalization. This is not to diminish the importance of contextual or 'root cause' factors behind terrorism, but, if it is terrorism that is to be understood and countered, then such factors should be viewed within the terrorism–counterterrorism discourse and not a radicalization–counter-radicalization one. The article goes on to consider the characterization of those presenting a terrorist threat to the UK as being 'vulnerable' to violent extremism. While it argues that the notion of vulnerable individuals and communities also lends itself to a wider 'Prevent' remit, it cautions that the impetus towards viewing terrorism as the product of vulnerability should not deflect us from what has generally been agreed in terrorism studies—that terrorism involves the perpetration of rational and calculated acts of violence.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom
  • Author: Dr Paul Cornish
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: In early November 2006 Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, head of Britain's Security Service (known as MI5) warned that the danger to the United Kingdom of terrorist attack was 'serious' and 'growing', with as many as thirty terrorist plots under way. She argued that 'tomorrow's threat may–I suggest will–include the use of chemicals, bacteriological agents, radioactive materials and even nuclear technology'.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe