Reflections on terrorism and counter-terrorism since 7/7

Reflections-on-terrorism1.  Is terrorism on the rise? Given that there is no consensus on the definition of terrorism (there are over 250 definitions of terrorism, according to a recent study) it means that governments have been able to broaden the definition at will to securitise a wider range of activities. There is, at the very least, a growth in the definitional scale and scope of terrorism.
2.  Despite the millions of pounds that have been spent in the name of counter-terrorism measures, statistics suggest that we feel no safer. Research, conducted by YouGov, highlighted that more than three quarters of people surveyed – 79% – believe another attack on the scale of 7/7 in Britain is likely. This calls in to question the effectiveness and impact of the current UK counter-terrorism policy pathway.
3.  Terrorist threats have evolved and diversified, which poses significant challenges for detection and disruption. There certainly appears to be an increase in the ‘lone wolf’ style of attack, which are often low tech and can be planned beneath the radar. Coordinated attacks require greater coordination and communication, which can leave perpetrators vulnerable to detection.
4.  The new Counter-Terrorism and Security Act that came into force in recent weeks seeks to share the burden of surveillance by placing more responsibility on the health service, prisons, schools and universities. Frontline practitioners in the public sector will be required to identify individuals who may be vulnerable to radicalisation.
5.  The new legislation is considered to be wide-ranging and intrusive by many and includes passport seizure and retention powers; exclusion orders; and further data retention measures.
6.  The Vulnerability Assessment Framework includes indicators such as: changing their style of dress or personal appearance to accord with the group, having technical expertise that can be deployed (e.g. IT skills – we may have to rethink employability skills!), a desire for excitement and adventure, a need for identity, meaning and belonging. Every school and university student is likely to fall under suspicion!
7.  Liberty argue that the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 ‘plays into the hands of terrorists, by allowing them to shape our laws in a way that undermines our principles’.
8.  According to the Global Terrorism Index 2014 the top 10 countries most effected by terrorism were Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Syria, India, Somalia, Yemen, Philippines and Thailand. The UK thankfully doesn’t even make it into the top 20.
9.  In November 2014 the Prime Minister announced £130 million in additional counter terrorism funding.
10.  We need to consider if our current counter terrorism measures are proportionate to the actual threat.


MSc Global Governance

About barora01

Dr Bela Arora is a Senior Lecturer in Global Governance with fifteen years experience in the sector and holds a PhD focusing on arms control. She is the course leader of the MSc in Global Governance at the University of South Wales, which focuses on practice, rather than theory alone. The course may be of interest to professionals from NGOs, government and business. She has worked in some of the UK’s top ranked universities such as Birmingham, Warwick and Cardiff, where she has engaged in lecturing, strategic planning and policy development. She has experience of research and consultancy at national and international level including high profile projects for the United Nations Global Compact, the British Standards Institute Sigma initiative and the International Business Leaders Forum on conflict diamonds. She has engaged with public and private sector organisations. Bela provides analysis on international security for BBC Wales and ITV Wales.
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