The focus on al-Qaeda-inspired terrorism should not be allowed to ignore the threat from home-grown right-wing western groups, an Asian security expert has warned.
Vidhya Ramalingam of the London-based Institute of Strategic Dialogue highlighted the threat from ``counter-jihadi’’ groups such as the racist English Defence League.
Addressing a seminar on ``Home-grown terrorism: threats from within and abroad’’, organised by Democracy Forum, an Asian affairs think-tank, she criticised the tendency to regard far-right white extremism as an ``easy’’ problem to deal with compared to Islamist extremism.
Citing examples of the activities of the so-called ``lone wolves’’, operating across Europe, Ms. Ramalingam said these included homophobic attacks, and attempts to ignite a ``race war’’. The threat posed by such groups should not be underestimated while focusing on global terror.
Paul Gill of the Department of Security and Crime Science at University College, London, highlighted the role families could play in preventing terror attacks. He shared the findings of a study he had done, according to which more than 80 per cent of the families of potential terrorists were aware of their grievances and almost as big a percentage knew about their ``activist ideology’’.
The suspects and perpetrators of terrorist acts came from a broad range of ages, were likely to have a university education, and many of them were socially isolated but interacted with others on the internet, he said.
Others who spoke included Scott Kleinmann of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, who questioned some of the assumptions around the spread of Muslim terrorism in Britain and America.
Much of the debate surrounding the issue had been over-hyped by politicians and the media, he said, as far more people were killed in other ways such as domestic accidents. There was also a fundamental misunderstanding of terrorists’ aims, he pointed out arguing that their goal was not necessarily to kill but rather to instil fear and panic.