Conceptual debates are often considered uninteresting if not irrelevant by counter-terrorism professionals. However, while it is understandable that CT operatives hesitate to question their own premises of understanding, they are often also unwilling to investigate the conceptual frameworks of their terrorist opponents. Yet conceptual problems are often linked to practical problems. Broad definitions can lead to enlarging the pool of enemies, putting, for instance “ecological militants” into the terrorist camp, or quietist salafists into the jihadist camp, thereby herding social movements together which have little in common. Both radicalism and extremism signal positions on the political spectrum that are not mainstream, but they differ in important ways. In this lecture radicalism and extremism are evaluated against their evolution in the history of ideas, where the first concept is linked to open mindedness, egalitarianism and societal reform while the second is more linked to a closed mindedness, authoritarianism and violent social transformation.
About the Speaker:
Professor Emeritus Alex P. Schmid is a Research Fellow of the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) in The Hague. He is also Director of the Terrorism Research Initiative (TRI), an international network of 15 institutes and more than 100 individual scholars and professionals seeking to enhance security through collaborative research. Dr. Schmid is Editor-in-Chief of the online journal ‘Perspectives on Terrorism’. (www.terrorismanalysts.com) and former Co-editor of ‘Terrorism and Political Violence’. Previous positions held included Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Terrorism Prevention Branch (UNODC/TPB) in Vienna and Director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, where Dr. Schmid also held a chair in International Relations. He has more than 180 reports and publications to his name, including the acclaimed ‘Routledge Handbook of Terrorism Research’ (2011/13), a sequel to his award-winning handbook on Political Terrorism (1984/1988/2005).
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Ms Yvonne Lee
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