Al Qaeda in the West as a Youth Movement: The ... - MICROCON

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Al Qaeda in the West as a Youth Movement: The ... - MICROCON

Any counter-terrorist policy has to be based on an analysis of the roots of terrorism. If

not, such a policy could not only be ineffective, but also counter-productive, by

inducing some of the phenomena it claims to combat.

Roughly speaking, there are two approaches: one vertical, one horizontal. The vertical

approach involves establishing a genealogy of radicalisation from the Koran and the

first Islamic community to the present Islamist radicals, going through radical

theology (Ibn Taymiyya), ideologisation (Hassan al Banna and the Muslim brothers)

and the history of Middle Eastern conflicts, from Bonaparte’s campaign in Egypt to

the present conflicts in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan. This approach tends to lump

together all kind of violence linked with Muslim populations, for example ethnocultural

tensions affecting migrants (crimes of honour), petty delinquency and

terrorism. The horizontal approach, by contrast, consists of putting the ‘leap into

terrorism’ into the context of the contemporary phenomena of violence affecting our

societies in general, and specifically youth. The two approaches are not exclusive of

course, but I will argue that the link between them is to be understood less in

sociological and political terms than in terms of a narrative. The success of Osama

Bin Laden is not to have established a modern and efficient Islamist political

organisation, but to have invented a narrative that could allow rebels without a cause

to connect with a cause.

We examine the two views below.

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