The Security Challenges Posed by Far Right Terrorism
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The Security Challenges Posed by Far Right Terrorism
4 July @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
The UK has suffered at the hands of far-right terrorism in recent times. This includes the killing of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016 and the Finsbury Park mosque attack in 2017, which resulted in the death of Makram Ali. Neither of the sole perpetrators behind these terrorist attacks – Thomas Mair and Darren Osborne – were previously known to the British authorities. This follows a broader global trend of far-right terrorists going under the radar of relevant authorities, including Christchurch terrorist Brenton Tarrant and Poway terrorist John Earnest.
By kind invitation of Neil Coyle MP, the Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to this important event on the security challenges posed by far-right terrorism. This event will discuss the personality traits and behavioural indicators associated with far-right extremism and terrorist activity, the obstacles in monitoring this source of terrorism, and how we can develop a more effective counter-terrorism strategy moving forwards.
Dr. Paul Stott joined the Henry Jackson Society’s Centre for the Response to Radicalisation and Terrorism as a Research Fellow in January 2019. An experienced academic, he received an MSc in Terrorism Studies (Distinction) from the University of East London in 2007, and his PhD in 2015 from the University of East Anglia for the research “British Jihadism: The Detail and the Denial”. He is a frequent commentator in both the British and international media on terrorism, security and the political fringe.
Andrew Staniforth is an international security expert with extensive operational expertise in counter-terrorism. During his unique UK police career he served as a Special Branch intelligence officer and counter-terrorism police detective, working in 22 countries and supporting missions of the United Nations Terrorism Prevention Branch. As a qualified teacher he has designed international multi-agency security exercise programmes and has delivered counter-terrorism training to Senior Police Commanders from across the world. As a Senior Research Fellow and Visiting Lecturer he has held academic positions at leading UK research institutes and is the author, co-author, editor and co-editor of 12 books, including a series of police practitioners handbooks published by Oxford University Press including counter-terrorism, cyber-crime investigation, and ports and border security.
Dr. Craig McCann is an independent specialist adviser and researcher focusing on preventative counter terrorism tactics. As the Director of S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M. (Strategic Preventative Expertise to Counter Terrorism Risks using Upstream Measures) Universal Ltd. he provides consultative services for international development programmes with an emphasis on preventative counter terrorism strategy and delivery. He also writes, advises and lectures on the U.K. Prevent strategy, de-radicalisation / disengagement programming, online approaches to counter terrorism and responses to right wing extremism.
Neil Coyle MP In 2010 Neil served his constituency as a councillor, taking his place in the Newington ward. In 2014, after his re-election, Neil became Deputy Mayor of the London Borough of Southwark, a role he covered until 2015. Neil is a trustee for a local mental health charity and for the North Southwark Environment Trust – that helps funding local educational and environmental projects across the north of Southwark. Neil attended Wenlock, Ashcroft and Bedford schools before studying at Hull University, and lived in China between 2001 and 2003.
On the 4th of July the Henry Jackson Society hosted Dr. Craig McCann, director of S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M. (Strategic Preventative Expertise to Counter Terrorism Risks using Upstream Measures), for a discussion on the indicators of behaviour and personality that can be associated with far right terrorism, as well as the security challenges that far right terrorism poses to wider society. He was joined by Dr. Paul Stott and Dr. Rakib Ehsan, Research Fellows with the Centre for the Response to Radicalisation and Terrorism at the Henry Jackson Society.
Dr. Ehsan introduced first Dr. Stott, who began the discussion with remarks on the murders of MP Jo Cox and Makram Ali, both victims of far right extremists. Both of these attacks seemed to emerge from out of the blue, and Dr. Stott went on to describe the trend of far-right extremists flying under the radar of the authorities in regard to the planning of such heinous crimes. He moved on to describe the predisposition of far right groups to ‘flirt’ with particular imagery that resonates significance; in effect imagery that straddles the line between demonstrating patriotism and promoting racism. Dr. Stott stipulated that this usage of suggestive imagery is what allows many far right extremists to mislead authorities in regard to their true intentions.
Dr. Stott went on to describe the reality of far right groups being unable to grow themselves in the way that many Islamist groups can. He describes their tendency to ‘lose steam’ as being linked to their inability to consolidate multiple extremist identities within an umbrella group structure, and made the point that far right groups that are prolonged only are able to do so due to the ideologies of prominent members. One example that he gave was that of Tommy Robinson. These types of individuals tend to hold personal convictions in relation to far right ideology, and thus the authorities trying to track far right cells find doing so much more difficult. Dr. Stott went on to conclude with the fact that English, as the world’s growing lingua franca, allows previously disunited far right groups to link up and establish relations with other far right groups across the world, a development that is a problem for the relevant societies.
Dr. Ehsan then introduced Dr. McCann, who made the point that many far right extremists suffer similar levels of vulnerability as many Islamists. He contended that both of these ideologies, whilst greatly different in multiple ways, feed off of fringe members of society that feel isolated and disconnected from the mainstream. They regard themselves as ‘forgotten’, and the growth of political polarisation and ‘labelling’ between left and right only serves to further inflame these sentiments of discontent. Dr. McCann then made a strong case for community reengagement by laying out the key actions that the relevant authorities need to undertake in order to combat the growth of popularity associated with far right movements. He argued for the continued balancing of social cohesion, but also for the realisation of social realities in regard to political correctness. He also advocated for the improvement of governmental policies in the context of community integration, as well as for strengthened immersive representation that would reduce social barriers between all community groups.
The event then closed with a round of questions and answers.
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