EVENT TRANSCRIPT: Why People Radicalize? The Anatomy of Violent Extremism
DATE: 1:00pm – 2:00pm, 9th September 2019
VENUE: Millbank Tower
SPEAKER: Professor Arie W. Kruglanski
EVENT CHAIR: NIkita Malik
Nikita Malik: Good afternoon, thank you for joining us today in quite unpleasant weather for what will be, I’m sure, a quite pleasant conversation. Today we are delighted to be joined by Professor Arie Kruglanski, who will be speaking to us about his book, “The Three Pillars of Radicalization”. I will just make a note now that, unfortunately, we will not be able to sell copies of the book today as they are out of stock. But, they are available on Amazon and I am sure Professor Kruglanski will be delighted to speak about aspects of the book later as well.
By means of introduction, Professor Kruglanski is a distinguished university professor of psychology at the University of Maryland he is the recipient of numerous scientific awards, is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association of Psychological Science and a former fellow at the Center for Advanced Study of Behavioural Science.
He has published over four hundred articles, chapters, and books on human cognition, group dynamics and violent extremism. His recent books include, of course, ‘The Three Pillars of Radicalization’, but also, “Radicals’ Journey: German Neo-Nazis’ Voyage to the Edge and Back” published by Oxford University Press.
We will discuss his book today for about 30 minutes, and then we will open up the floor for questions for another 30 minutes.
Professor Kruglanski: Thank you, I am very pleased and honoured to be here. Thank you Henry Jackson Society for inviting me. I am very pleased to discuss with you a very relevant topic these days: radicalization. As you know, radicalization that evolves into violent extremism has been and continues to be, a very pervasive concern, a global threat in the world today. We know of course that ISIS, the Islamic State, has lost their Caliphate but that does not mean that they were defeated. In fact, as we speak, they are launching thousands of attacks in various parts of the world: the Middle East and they are expanding into South East Asia, South Asia, North East Asia. Recently, on Easter Sunday, they killed about a thousand people in Sri Lanka, of all places. Al Qaeda is still a formidable organisation as well.
There is recently a wave of white supremacy, and new Nazi movements over the world. These movements are spreading, and interestingly enough they are now being recruited in mix-martial art dojos, whereas before they were primarily on the punk rock scene, now they are using these as well. The wave of active shooters in the US is also, in large part, ideologically motivated by xenophobia and is directed majoritarily toward minority groups. So radicalization is spreading and the big question is: How are we to understand that global threat and what can we do to counter-act it? Fight back to intervene in a constructive kind of way?
So, today I am going to present to you a psychological perspective on an issue which is crucially important. You know many political phenomena, that shape history, that change the destiny of nations, have a root in human psychology. Now, macro-level phenomena that are invoked to explain radicalization for example political oppression, poverty, poor education…, Empirical research suggest that sometimes they contribute to radicalization, often they matter less and sometimes they do not matter at all. Why is it so?
This is because, they matter only when they activate the right psychological mechanisms and they do not matter otherwise. It is thus important to understand what these mechanisms are, in order to counter act radicalization. Our work in this topic has included empirical research in various conflict regions of the world, with a variety of methods, surveys, controlled experiments, analysis of contexts, of speeches of Al Qaeda and ISIS, interviews with prisoners in Baghdad, members of Sunni IS members in Baghdad and other places. And on the basis of this work, we’ve developed an integrative model of radicalization. Integrative means that it builds on and benefits from the insides of other social scientists. The issue of radicalization and terrorism isn’t exactly new, so there’s been formidable contributions and we are attempting to understand radicalization on the basis of these contributions and on the data we have been fortunate enough to collect.
Now, this model suggests that radicalization can be understood in terms of three basic parameters, three basic factors, three basic variables. These are the psychological needs of individuals, the narrative that tells individuals how this need can be satisfied through violence, and the third one is the network, the social in-group, the reference group of individuals that validates the narrative. Let me elaborate a bit more on the three concepts.
First, the need. Violent Extremism is perpetuated by individuals. Ultimately, at the end of the day, it is the individual who decides to pick up a weapon, to wear a suicide belt or to travel thousands of miles in order to join a cause and risk their life in the name of this ideology. So, the big question that terrorism researches have posed from time in memorial is: what motivates the individual to do so? To abandon all, to sacrifice all, in order to fight for the cause and maybe die in the process.
The answer that social scientists have provided is a list of motivations. Some of the motivations that were enumerated were the perks of afterlife: you get to marry seventy-two beautiful women; you get to meet the prophet. There are many perks. Another motivation is vengeance. Another is feminism, to show, in case of women that they can also rise to the occasion and perpetrate violence for a cause.
Now, these are all valid descriptions of specific cases but I submit to you that the underlying motivation for all of these is what phycologists call the ‘quest for significance’, the quest to matter, to be somebody, to have respect — self-respect as well as the respect of others who matter to you.
This ‘quest for significance’ is something fundamental but it needs to be activated. We do not ask for respect 24/7. We need to sleep, rest and do all kinds of things other than questing for significance. It can be activated through any event that gives significance, value, that lends significance particular value. And what might that be?
Well one important type of event is when you lose significance, when you feel humiliated, when you feel disempowered, when you feel that injustice was dealt to you, when you feel excluded from society. This is a loss of significance and this activates the ‘quest for significance’. Now, the loss of significance can occur through your individual destiny. You may fail on a task, something may happen that will deprive you of significance with cases of, for example, Palestinian women who volunteered for suicide missions after some event that had nothing to do with politics. They were disfigured in a fire, loss of significance in that way. They were divorced and in traditional Palestinian society divorce is stigmatised. They were infertile, which is also a stigma. They were accused of extra-marital relations, again a stigma. They all channelled their frustration through volunteering to a suicide mission in order to regain significance. So this is individual-based loss of significance.
But loss of significance typically can be due to your group being humiliated. For instance, cartoons in Denmark mocking the Muslim faith, or whoever in the West mocking Muslims in general and as a consequence, Muslim individuals can be humiliated personally. Therefore, it is your duty as a Muslim to fight and stand up to and restore or regain that significance and respect. So this group humiliation, this group-based loss of significance through your social identity that has been compromised, that has suffered an affront, that has suffered an insult, allows and brings up an opportunity for tremendous significance gain. Through standing up for your group, you have the occasion to become a hero, to become a martyr, to become a celebrity. So, this quest for significance can be activated through loss of significance and the opportunity to regain it. This is the ‘need’ element of our model.
The second element, is the narrative. You know, the quest for significance is a universal motivation. We all have it but we are not all violent extremists. As Jean Valiere pointed out all of us have a secret desire to be seen as saint, heroes and martyrs. The desire for respect and significance is fundamental. The little baby vies for attention because else, it will not survive. Nobody wants to feel disrespected. Of course, the way people are respected varies directly upon the cultural narrative that people embrace. Many cultural narratives are pro-social we all gain significance through good deeds, through contributions to society. Whether it be through science, through art, through business. When we are good fathers, good family members, these are all ways of gaining significance. But there is also a possibility to gain respect through violence, especially when you group is presented as being discriminated against and humiliated. So, the role of the narrative is fundamental. We all have the quest for significance, but the narrative, the vicious violent narrative tells you the only way for you to gain significance, when all other means have been exhausted, you are weak and cannot do anything but fight and inflect damage or inflects mayhem on your enemies. That is the only way to regain your honour.
The third ‘N’ in our Three ‘Ns’, is tightly connected to the narrative element. It’s the network which has two basic functions. The network validates the narrative in other words the consensus of people around you, who you respect, validate the narrative and this network dispenses rewards if you abide by the dictates of the narrative. They gave you respect; they celebrate you, maybe posthumously. They celebrate your marriage to the seventy-two virgins. You become a hero, you become engrave in the group’s collective memory. This is important because humans are social beings and our beliefs are deeply anchored in shared realities of our in-group. They define for us what is real, we have to trust them, they are the validating mechanism. This is why networks are very important. But let’s rewind a bit. What kind of networks are we talking about? The nature of these networks can vary. They can be face to face networks; this kind is what my colleague Marc Saighman called ‘the bunch of guys’. The bunch of guys who get together, maybe over drinks, maybe watching a tv exhortation by a charismatic cleric and they decide to join the fight to go to Syria. They make a commitment to do so. But networks can also be very widespread. Indeed, it could be group chats online, it can be groups in the blogosphere. It could be a [inaudible] network, if you know what your society, you know what your network believes in, you do not need validation. You know that if you take up a vehicle and ram it into people, if you pick up a machete and kill your alleged enemy or if you shoot up people, in a white shooting accident in the US you know that there are people that are going to applaud you, there is a group that will view you as a hero and going to celebrate you. So you don’t even need someone to tell you to do it. The more you need the group, the more you need the face to face validation. But the more widespread the support for violence is in your group, the less you need it. The more you can assume it, the more you take it for granted.
Now, I said earlier that this model is integrative. It builds upon insights contributed by other social scientists. So, I want to brief you, briefly, on what these contributions were and how this model integrates them. Basically, alternate contributions typically emphasized one element of the three. For example, there is a very famous contribution by Professor Ted Gurr – at my university – he published a volume called ‘Why Men Rebel’ in 1970 and the answer he provided to this question was “men rebel because of relative depravation”. Some injustice was dealt to them and as you can see this element pertains to the element of the ‘need for significance’. The group suffered discrimination, humiliation and that is why but I think that our variable of ‘need for significance’ is broader. It’s not just the injustice, it can be your personal failings or stigma that motivate you to regain your significance by joining a violent organisation. So the need for significance is not just the relative depravation of your group, it’s also other things (more personal factors) and there must be a network and a narrative to support your violent actions. Relative depravation alone is not enough and would not do it.
Macro-factors such as poverty, oppression and poor education are not recognised by the political science family as valid producers of violent extremism. They alone do not produce such phenomena. There are a lot of people who are poor, and yet not all engage in violent extremism. There are a lot of people who are oppressed and do not pick up weapons to kill other. And, there are a lot of people who are poorly educated, unfortunately, yet they do not become violent extremists. So, what is missing is the incitement, that narrative and organisation that supports the violence. Something along the lines of “You are poor but it is not your fault you are in this situation, it’s the enemy’s fault. You can do something about it, like fight”. In summary, poverty, oppression and poor education are not enough. This is why I say this model is integrative, because it identifies the motivation, the way of gratifying that motivation and the social support structure.
Scott Atran, a colleague of mine, an anthropologist emphasizes the very importance factor of sacred values. He talks about the ‘Devoted Actor’ model. He suggests that violent extremism is in terms of moral sacred values. And sacred values are very important, but why? Because they lend value to your deeds if you stand up and fight for those sacred values. They allow you to enact violence in defence of these sacred values and that give you significance. They are a means, not an end, to acquiring significance. So you need that motivational element. Why would you want to serve sacred values? Because of the fundamental human motivation to be significant as significance is conferred upon you by being a good person. Being a good person is defined in terms of values. You are serving a value; you are doing good deeds. And in this case the service is violence. So sacred values alone do not explain completely. You need the psychological element to explain why sacred values are important.
Another colleague of mine, Marc Saighman emphasizes the network. Not any network, it needs to be the network that coalesces around a narrative that justifies violence. It has to be a specific kind of network, it cannot be a random tennis club. It has to be a network committed to a specific type of ideology connected to a specific type of narrative.
The radicalization: If the needs, the narrative and the networks are important in radicalization, might they also not play the same role in reversing radicalization? Indeed, they do. The research we have carried out supports the idea that narrative, counter ideas by religious authorities, by being exposed to religious writings, for example ETA members – the Basque terrorist organization – being radicalized by being exposed to the gospels in prison that presented violent extremism as sinful in contrary to the ideology of their colleagues outside, so the narrative can be important. The network is very important we have recently carried out the research with German Neo-Nazis, the book that Nikita mentioned, and many of them become radicalized through social contact. They meet someone in the outside, it could be a new friend or a romantic relation and are therefore exposed to a different network, they are acquiring different friends that support a different kind of ideology/narrative. And finally, what is extremely important are other human needs apart from the ‘quest for significance’ that can be evoked by these new encounters such as needs for relatedness, need for family… These are fundamental human needs and when they are evoked they can restore the balance or remove the imbalance of total commitment to this ‘quest for significance’. Here is one quote by a former member of ETA who de-radicalized: “You say to yourself ‘s word’ I better get myself a life because time is running out. It’s a matter of being that much older and in my case specifically wanting to get married. You are going on forty years old, you are going to get married next year and you say to yourself well ‘s word’, man I mean at this stage of the game to go packing a piece that would be a bit ‘s word’. Well we all have to live a bit.’ In fact, violent extremists do not last very long. They last for approximately a decade but no longer. They need to reassert themselves at some point and they have a motivation to leave their organization in most of the cases.
Now, I’ve talked about empirical research but time is too short to conduct an extensive review. But let me tell you about one research conducted with the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. As you probably know, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam waged a thirty-year campaign to create an independent Tamil State in Sri Lanka. They were recognized as a terrorist organization by many nations. They employed violent and brutal tactics. They had their army, their navy – the Sea Tigers and their air force – the Air Tigers. They carried out high profile assassinations. They, in fact, invented the suicide belt, they carried out suicide bombings. Over the thirty years, they had killed about 150 000 people (100 000 civilians and 50 000military). They carried out child abductions, used children as human shields. The devastation was immense. In 2009, there was a campaign waged by the Sri Lankan – thousands of civilians lost their lives, human rights abuses were alleged but at the end of it almost twelve thousands LTT members surrendered to the Sri Lankan military and the government launched an effort to de-radicalize them and rehabilitate them. They were placed into de-radicalization facilities. Our research team had the great fortune to be allowed access to all 12 000 of them and we administered our interviews and surveys to all 12 000 of them. This is the Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, former defence minister of Sri Lanka, now running for President. We went to these camps and worked with LTTE members, here is a picture of me and LTTEs.
Now there are dozens of these programs in Sri Lanka that were adopted in other places such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Asia, Africa and Latin America. It was composed on different programmes: educational, psychological, spiritual, to equip detainees with new capabilities to integrate back into mainstream society. These are some photos of these programmes. In terms of our conception, the need was addressed by respect and dignity that paved by the LTTE members in the de-radicalization programme. These were not designated as ‘detainees’ but referred to as beneficiaries. There was respect for their Hindu religion, they were treated well. I have witnessed that and have been in many of those camps and I believe that they were treated quite well. The narrative on the ineffectiveness of war, emphasizing the importance of tolerance and coexistence and in the network there was a great use of family reintegration, community reintegration creating a social network that supported the post-radicalization and beliefs.
Now, this is a sample of about 500 that we had managed to interview and administer surveys to. What was fortunate to us was that we had two groups: one was exposed to the full-fledged panoply of programs while the second group was only exposed to a minimal program. It’s very important to have a control group because otherwise you do not know if the change that may have occurred was due to the program or just due to historical events that happened in the interim or perhaps just being away from the battle field that could have affected anybody. And as you can see, this is published data, that the full treatment group exhibits a decline of radicalization. We measured extremism over real time, at different points in time – at the beginning, six months later, and another six months later – and the minimal treatment group declined but not significantly so and there was a significant difference between the two groups. You are more than welcome to have a look at the data, there was a significant difference between the two groups. It had a real affect. What is also interesting is that in terms of our model is that these detainees harbour, with respect to the programme, how much they like the programme, how much they felt the programme are helpful to them, related to the sense of significance, to the quest of significance. Their attitude to the programme, determined how significant they felt and how significant they felt determined how extreme they were in their attitudes.
The question is, how long is this going to last? After one year they are still in the camps, to what extent will it generalize once they are set free and reintegrated into society. So to answer that, we looked at released LTTE members and compared them to members of the Tamil community that were not members – of similar age groups and other geographic characteristics. And what we see is that the number of programmes they participated in – not everybody participated in the same number of programmes – related to the quest of significance and extremism post -release. What’s particularly interesting is that the community of Tamils was much more extreme than the LTTEs. So after one year after their release, they were less extreme than the community at large. What is perhaps less optimistic, is that those people who had former connections with LTTE members, after release they had much less extreme attitudes than the rest of the community but they had more extreme views than those who had no connections. Moreover, and this is not in the graph, those members of the LTTE who had connection to other LTTEs through family or friendship ties to Tamils in the diaspora in the Tamil Nadu part of Southern India, Canada or in the UK were more extreme that those who had no connections. So the network element is extremely important and of course it spells possible danger that re-radicalization will occur and in fact our recent research – we are still on the ground in Sri Lanka – suggests that re-radicalization is taking place. Due to political events, a government that was more tolerant of extremism to some extent, the LTTE appears to be attempting to revitalise and resume its activities.
So, to conclude I attempted to present to you that individual psychology is essential to understand radicalization. It does not happen by macro-forces, unless they activate psychological mechanisms – it is the individual who takes the decision at the end of the day. Social psychology, to us, is determined by the ‘Three Ns’: the need, the narrative and the network. They are emphasized, they are not new but we attempt to show how interlinked and interdependent they are. We show that the ‘need’ needs to be satisfied, the ‘narrative’ tells you how to satisfy it, the ‘network’ validates the narrative. The macro-level factors are important but they are important in their translation into psychological dynamics. So the big challenge is to identify, given individual and social psychology, what can we do on the macro-level. So, on the macro-level it is important because in fact, because masses of people, we cannot deal with each individual case, we must devise policies that apply broadly but these policies have to be with understanding of what it does to individuals. We need to leverage those policies in the interest of leveraging counter-forces to combat violent extremism. Thank you very much.”
Nikita Malik: Thank you so much Professor Kruglanski, that was a fascinating presentation. I’m sure everyone agrees. I will now open up the floor to some questions. We have twenty minutes, so perhaps I’ll take them individually. If you could state your name and your affiliation before your question, please.
Joe Dagny: I was once a UKIP MEP, now retired. It is heart-warming to think that something can be done to reverse the process of people that are consumed by hatred. Can you put a cost to this? in terms of man hours? It obviously works, you’ve demonstrated it – but what does it cost?
Professor Kruglanski: I am afraid I can’t. I think it is going to be a very extensive effort. It will have to be a preventive effort, it has to start with societal institutions, schools, social services, the police, it has to be interpreted in terms of immigration policies, great sensitivity to the human psychology. It’s not going to be easy, but it has to be done. And the costs are going to be greater if it is not done. So, that’s all I can say about costs. It’s difficult to translate this into economic cost. But the costs of terrorism have been in the trillions of dollars. The air industry has been paralyzed. You have to take off shoes at the airport, we have to go through machines, the costs have been immense so it’s probably important to invest money and man power into a serious effort to de-radicalize them. Just dealing with it through the military has obviously not worked. It’s essential in some cases – we have to fight ISIS on the ground – but it’s not enough. We are about to commemorate 9/11 and radicalization has increased since then. The danger is now greater. The importance of the matter warrants serious attention.
Chris Mallen: I am in the property business and also a political activist in Spain. Middle Eastern societies have a tendency to be puritanical and they have a tendency, also, to take things literally. To what extent does that play a role? Another thing is, you make a point about ETA, are you basically saying that they are Desperados, desperate for social mobility, and for that reason they take arms?
Professor Kruglanski: You have asked two questions, so I will answer them separately. First of all, Middle Eastern societies are characterised by the emphasis on honour. So, if you insult them, the road to violence is very quick. They are not the only society that is an honour society. In the US, the southern parts of the country, honour is an important value as well. It’s very easy to recruit that value in the interest of violence. They are also very collectivist, so the network element is very important. But there are other societies where collectivism is very important, so they are not unique in that case. They are definitely one society, among other societies, that is more vulnerable to radicalisation because of the network element, because of the emphasis on honour. But also because of the chaos that is reigning in the Middle East, so there is a great degree of frustration, the number of refugees that have suffered in terms of their basic needs but also in terms of the significance needs. There are 13 million from Syria alone. Comparing this number to the refugees of the Second World War – which was the largest in history – the number was 11 million. Today there are 23 million refugees world-wide. These are people that are very vulnerable because they have lost everything, including their significance. I would say they are very susceptible.
…. interruption [inaudible]
Professor Kruglanski: Think about ETA, who wanted independence for the Basques they were not satisfied by the autonomous status. Finally, they gave up arms but they were not desperados, they were animated by the ideology, ethnic ideology of the Basques in the same way, that you have in Catalonia the referendum for independence. Independence and sovereignty are important for ethnic groups and that was the ideology.
Name [inaudible], no affiliation: I was listening to what you said about the creation of networks and destructing them. And one of the networks can be found online, so there is a lot of time and effort put into trying to break up these online networks. To what degree do you believe that is effective, given that once these networks are so prolific online, the ability for us to just assume that they will get that praise is quite high, I would assume. So is that an effective strategy given that the violent actor believes he will be praised for his actions.
Professor Kruglanski: I think it is an effective strategy, it’s very important to fight these networks. So if you can draw individuals from the network that’s supports terrorism to another network that affords them significance through alternative means that will be very important. By the way, one of the most important ways in which former radicals, de-radicalise is through fighting radicalization. One of my good friends, ex neo-Nazi, Christian Picciolini, who is now featured on different networks in the US (tv) was a leader of the neo-Nazi movement, now he is at the forefront of the battle against radicalization. He feels significant by doing a service to society. So, creating networks that afford that kind of significance is very important. You need to have a network, you need to have social organization that supports your action of leaving terrorism behind, leaving radicalization behind and joining a more positive force. So, I think it’s a worthy effort.
Name [inaudible], National Institute for African Studies: We are currently researching on the Fulani herdsmen in northern Nigeria that invade southwards due to desertification. They have machine guns now and they are killing farmers. How do we relate your ‘Three Ns’ model to climate change? What would be your point on that?
Professor Kruglanski: Well, climate change can create disasters that deprive people from their livelihood. It can create massive waves of refugees and these are the forecasts now. Hurricanes such as the recent one in the Bahamas are predicted to increase in frequency. So these are natural disasters, that create loss of significance. This loss of significance is not only the work of men; it can be the work of nature as well. So, I think one important aspect of climate change is what it is going to do to people and that aspect of loss of significance, loss of home, loss of livelihood and loss of status is going to create a great desire for restoration of significance and will render a mass of people vulnerable to extreme narratives and ideologies.
Jacqueline [last name inaudible]: Throughout history, Jewish people have been subject to a lot of awful things and, except for the creation of the Israeli State there was terrorism then, why have Jewish people not gotten into terrorism in a big way?
Professor Kruglanski: Well, one reason is the counter-terrorism narrative that Jewish people adopted, a peaceful narrative. The Jewish People had their own terrorists from time immemorial. During the Roman times there were Jewish assassins. Right now we had Jewish terrorists in the State of Israel so the Jewish People are not immune to terrorist ideology and under certain circumstances, the populist ideas such as ‘our group above everything else…’ can insight Jewish People to violent extremism as much as any other group. The fact that they didn’t, is because it was very difficult to create a credible narrative that would be compelling given their circumstances and they had other ways to adopting their faith.
Director of Research at the Institute of [inaudible]: When I have been looking at radicalization for a certain number of years, and first of all I welcome your framework as it helps me to put these in context. The four things I came up with in the past was people [inaudible], violent people … [inaudible] Interestingly enough, in your de-radicalization effort I can see you address a number of those things but the one I find difficult is whether it’s a grievance, and that means someone has been oppressed if that is the main driving factor for seeking statehood or seeking independence you can then be able to de-radicalize them but that grievance has not been addressed …. [inaudible].
Professor Kruglanski: You bring up a very important point. I was not suggesting that the whole thing is psychological and that the bunch of psychologies, however match, solve the problem. The problem has roots also in objective realities there is such thing as humiliation. There is such thing as humiliation, there is such thing as discrimination, there is such thing as oppression. So these things exist in the objective realm. The problem is that they translate into people’s feelings. They are vehicles for radical ideologues to use as support in their radicalising ideologies. Therefore, the issue is to the extent that the oppression and humiliation exist objectively and we have to fight against them. So we shouldn’t only target the individuals who are radicalized but targeting the society that create those grievances, that create those discrimination, that create those inequalities because they can be used as weapons to radicalize people which leads to violence. So I was not meaning to suggest that it’s all subjective and we’re going to do a psycho-analysis on the radicals and that it’s going to solve the problem.
Grant, Former Law Enforcement Intelligence Invoice: Thank you very very much indeed. I’ve been in the room with people who were killed by suicide bombers two days later in Wagah – the Wagah crossing point. I also have an acquaintance who is named after a very notorious murderer and QFS explains that case right down to the last detail. My question is I think of huge importance. Concerning the Tamil Tigers, the people who are de-radicalised or previously not radicalised, if I understood you, are in contact with diasporas are more likely to become radicalise. In other words, it’s the diasporas. We’ve seen this to a certain extent in the Northern Ireland conflict. So there are huge implications there. Are governments and all arms of government including NGOs and academia working together and connecting links to tackle this? Because, if you pardon me the unfortunate pun, I think this is a smoking time-bomb.
Professor Kruglanski: Yes, I agree and I think that societies, NGOs and policymakers should pay more attention. We must do all we can to promote that kind of inclination to think long term and to understand the repercussions. Diasporas have typically been more radical than people in the location perhaps because they haven’t suffered the consequences. And it was easier to suffer to be radical when you are in the comfort of your safe zone. Whereas, people on the ground were confronting violence and suffering on a day to day basis. We need to mobilise as a whole society not just psychologist, not just education but as a whole community to understand that this a danger that is going to increase rather than decline.
– Inaudible name and inaudible question … most of these are not democracies. I see that global warming is the end of society, not in my lifetime but for my children’s.
Professor Kruglanski: Yes it’s very true that most of the targets of the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda are the Muslims and therefore the Muslim community has to mobilise to some extent, it has, but perhaps more is needed to fight that surge. These organisations are hijacking their religion to violent ends. It’s the Muslim community, more than any other, who ought to fight. Not only because, these groups kill Muslims but because the very core of their faith is being distorted, is being hijacked. The tolerant aspects of Islam are being portrayed as irrelevant and Jihads interpret it as war against infidels as opposed to internal struggle. The role of the Muslim community is paramount in confronting this cause but also all of us, communities at large that see this injustice, we need to find ways, mechanisms on community level, on educational level, on immigration level to understand that this is not going to lead to any positive outcomes.
Nikita Malik: Where do you see torture fitting in to this? Because torture is a very, some would argue, essential way to gain intelligence in a very short period of time. But given that this model is based on grievances and needs, and feeling a sense of belonging in the world, etc… surely the use of torture in itself would negate all of those aspects and give these individuals even more grievances against that. I am not saying I have a particular bias on this, but I was wondering what the academic literature and you think about torture in this context? (The context of using torture on terrorists)
Professor Kruglanski: As with many aspects of terrorism, there are paradoxes of terrorism, there are trade-offs. What is more important? Arguments have been made against the use of torture on the grounds that in most cases, it is not effective. That most people will tell you what you want to hear as opposed to giving you the actual facts. I’m not sure this is true in all cases. In cases of a ticking bomb, when there is a real and present danger that something will happen, maybe one could justify torture. But of course, it has the other element, that people will use that to radicalize others. If you fight violent extremism by force, you create collateral damage, you create injustice. Which in turn creates a vehicle for radicals to use in their narratives and to recruit others. So nothing is very simple in the domain of radicalisation and counter-terrorism. There are always trade-offs, you do one thing, you have to weigh very carefully the pros and cons in a specific case.
Nikita Malik: Thank you very much professor Kruglanski for joining us.