Combating Terrorism by Countering Radicalisation

From Powerbase
Jump to: navigation, search
Terrorism badge.jpg This article is part of SpinWatch's Terrorism Experts project.
Combating Terrorism by Countering Radicalisation was the name of a planned £1.3 million research project which was to be commissioned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in partnership with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and based on countries identified by MI5's Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre. [1]

According to a report in Times Higher Education, the FCO approached ‘selected academics’ to bid for the funding. [2] According to Jeremy Keenan, who was asked by one of the preselected universities to help with its application, 'An integral part of this bid was to prioritise the compilation of a 5,000-word report for the FCO.' [3] Adrian Alsop, director of research at the ESRC, told the paper that the process had been “transparent and open”, and that 100 academics had attended three seminars on the subject. [4] The article continued:

According to documents seen by The Times Higher, the FCO project will examine six regions - Europe, Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, North Africa and the Gulf and six specific countries, including Turkey, Jordan and Sudan.

Academics would be asked to "scope the growth in influence and membership of extremist Islamist groups in the past 20 years", "name key figures and key groups" and "understand the use of theological legitimisation for violence".

"Key topics" include "radicalisation drivers and counterstrategies in each of the countries studied" and "future trends likely to increase/decrease radicalisation". [5]

Another article in the Times Higher Education suggested that the original project was launched at the behest of the US Government. In the article Jeremy Keenan wrote that he had been approached a number of times by the US government for advice on US 'counterterrorist' strategy in West Africa and that after he gave a briefing to the US State Department in July 2006 he was contacted by an FCO official who gave 'the firm impression that the US had requested the UK, because of its experience in "development work", to help clear up the mess that the US had created in the region through its war on terror there. I was also given the impression that the Department for International Development had been contacted and was on board' [6] At a subsequent meeting the official denied that the "US had asked the UK for support", rather Keenan was told that: "the UK's priority is to help our allies, in this case the US, in whatever way we think we are able, which in this particular case is to assist in counterterrorism in the Sahara-Sahel". [7]

The involvement of the intelligence services in academic research led to protests amongst academics and the project was cancelled. In late October 2006 ESRC released a statement saying: ‘After some deliberation the ESRC and its partners have decided to withdraw the current call for proposals for Combating Terrorism by Countering Radicalisation.’ The statement said that a new call would be made after the Council had completed the relevant discussions ‘with senior academics from the security studies, area studies, anthropology, political science, law and sociology communities, and with the relevant Boards and Committees of Council,’ and that, ‘The new initiative will have more funding available than previously.’ [8]

In 2007 the project was revised and relaunched as New Security Challenges: 'Radicalisation' and Violence - A Critical Reassessment, a £2.5 million Foreign Office-funded research programme which recieved 43 applications from UK academics [9] also attracted similar criticism. [10] The only two members of the redraft committee with field experience in predominantly Muslim countries (Jonathan Spencer and John Sidel) resigned in protest. [11] An email leaked to the Times Higher showed that the FCO had indicated that it would withdraw its funding originally offered under 'Combating Terrorism by Countering Radicalisation', 'if its interests are not met by the selected projects'. [12] The email also revealed that the government funding made up roughly a sixth of the total, [13] suggesting that it amounted to approximtely £417,000.


Resources

Notes

  1. Phil Baty, ‘Life-risking 'spy' plan pulled’, Times Higher Education, 20 October 2006
  2. Phil Baty, ‘Life-risking 'spy' plan pulled’, Times Higher Education, 20 October 2006
  3. Jeremy Keenan, 'On her majesty's secret disservice', Times Higher Education, 9 February 2007
  4. Phil Baty, ‘Life-risking 'spy' plan pulled’, Times Higher Education, 20 October 2006
  5. Phil Baty, ‘Life-risking 'spy' plan pulled’, Times Higher Education, 20 October 2006
  6. Jeremy Keenan, 'On her majesty's secret disservice', Times Higher Education, 9 February 2007
  7. Jeremy Keenan, 'On her majesty's secret disservice', Times Higher Education, 9 February 2007
  8. ESRC, ‘Statement from ESRC regarding Combating Terrorism by Countering Radicalisation
  9. Mandy Garner, 'Are academics being put at risk by anti-terrorist measures?', Independent, 14 June 2007
  10. Rebecca Attwood, 'ESRC 'ignores' danger fears', Times Higher Education, 20 July 2007
  11. Mandy Garner, 'Are academics being put at risk by anti-terrorist measures?', Independent, 14 June 2007
  12. Rebecca Attwood, 'ESRC 'ignores' danger fears', Times Higher Education, 20 July 2007
  13. Rebecca Attwood, 'ESRC 'ignores' danger fears', Times Higher Education, 20 July 2007