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    Sweden's flag is seen among flowers near the crime scene in central Stockholm April 8, 2017, the day after a hijacked beer truck plowed into pedestrians on Drottninggatan and crashed into Ahlens department store.

    Four Reasons for Rising Jihadism and Six Possible Ways of Dealing With It

    © REN TV . Gideon Malherbe
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    Terrorism Threat in Europe (269)

    Perennial conflicts in the Middle East, including the Syria War, have created a generation of radical jihadists that will haunt Europe in the next 15 years. The sequence of deadly attacks across Europe is only the beginning, a Norwegian researcher said.

    According to renowned terrorist researcher Thomas Hegghammer of the Norwegian Defense Research Institute, violent Islamist activity in Europe may increase further in the long run, despite already reaching historically high levels in recent years.

    His fellow terrorist researcher Peter Neumann, the director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence (ICSR) at King's College in London, ventured that the world is currently dealing with a whole generation being mobilized. The consequences of what's happened over the past five years in Syria are far from over and will play out in the 2020s and 2030s.

    In his 2016 article "The Future of Jihadism in Europe: A Pessimistic View," Hegghammer identified four macro trends, such as expected growth in the number of economically underperforming Muslim youth, expected growth in the number of available jihadi entrepreneurs, persistent conflicts in the Muslim world and continued operational freedom for clandestine actors on the Internet.

    The recent dramatic surge in the number and the scope of terrorist attacks has spurred UK Prime Minister Theresa May into saying "enough is enough" and demanding unlimited access for the competent bodies to users' search history on the internet in order to prevent future attacks, despite already having some of the widest-ranging surveillance powers of any democratic state. In Norway, the Data Inspectorate ruled out this option as violating human rights.

    Thomas Hegghammer agreed that more intense web monitoring indeed could help, yet only in combination with other measures. Hegghammer's "wish list" consists of six points, Norwegian national broadcaster NRK reported.

    Firstly, a an EU-led "Marshall Plan" for better education in immigrant-dominated areas must be introduced. Secondly, more money should be allocated for youth jobs. Thirdly, jihadists' ability to plot terrorist actions on the web must be limited. Fourthly, longer sentences for terror-related crimes, such as recruitment, must be introduced. Fifthly, special laws against "foreign warriors" regardless of ideological differences must be introduced. Lastly, biometric controls and closer identity checks and the EU's external borders are also a must according to Hegghammer.

    However, all of these measures will only mitigate the problem, according to Hegghammer, who ventured that jihadism will only go away once a distinct mood shift in the Muslim world takes place there and once militant Islamism is rejected as "distinctly uncool."

    Nevertheless, Hegghammer maintained that counter-terrorist measures have become distinctly better since the emergence of terrorism in Europe. An indication of this, according to Hegghammer, is that that the number of aircraft hijacked has been reduced to almost non-existent in recent decades.

    According to Hegghammer, counter-terrorist measures are significantly hampered by myths and misconceptions surrounding terrorism, such as the one that terrorists don't know anything about Islam.

    "Practice shows that a large part of the jihadists undergo a phase when they mingle in religious and conservative but non-violent environments before finally being drawn to extremist circles. Let me put it clearly: many of the Jihadists know much about Islam, but interpret the religion in an extremist way. The assertion that terrorists simply evolve from hiding criminals is simply not true," Thomas Hegghammer told Danish newspaper Weekendsavisen.

    According to Hegghammer, the long-term outcome of the war on terror will be large security services and a tense atmosphere, "a bit like France today, but permanently."

    Terrorism Threat in Europe (269)


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    radical Islam, jihadism, terrorism, Scandinavia, Europe, Norway
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