The government faces numerous challenges—both in terms of surveillance, and in challenging the local social conditions which can allow radicalisation to occurby Mohammed Elshimi / May 24, 2017 / Leave a comment
In the wake of the Manchester bombing, which killed 22 people, hospitalising 59, the terrorist threat has been increased to “critical,” meaning an attack may be imminent.
Monday’s explosion, in which children as young as eight were among the dead and injured, was carried out by a 22-year-old British national of Libyan origin named Salman Ramadan Abedi. Born in Manchester in 1994, his parents were Libyan refugees who came to the UK to escape the Gaddafi regime.
As with the Westminster atrocity in March, Khalid Mahmoud, the attacker, was known to the security services but considered to be low risk.
This is the first time in ten years that the threat level has been raised to critical, and only the third time ever. What next?
Social factors will become important
As more details regarding Salman’s path towards violence are divulged, the role of social and enabling factors in processes of violent extremism will emerge.
One remarkable dimension of home-grown terrorism is the fact that it is overwhelmingly a local phenomenon.
Radicalisation to violence and recruitment to violent extremism occurs predominantly among clusters of friends and family in the same neighbourhood—in some instances, in the same street.
In fact, commentators have mentioned that Moss Side in Manchester has been home to nine individuals who have been either been known to join terrorist organisations, have left for Syria or Iraq and been killed, have disappeared or have been jailed.
Two Libyan young women who joined Daesh last year heralded from the same locale as Salman.
This fact is not insignificant for counter-terrorism experts and will shape how the investigation unfolds.
The importance of cities
One plausible yet tentative explanation is that the spatial dynamics of urban towns and cities in a post-industrial society have shaped the experiences of diaspora communities in Britain, especially following decades of hollowing by neo-liberal economics, globalisation and social dislocation.
Governments have failed to address structural issues like jobs, housing and marginalisation, as well as the complex question of belonging.
This has helped leave a segment of culturally displaced second and third generation Britons with a loss of identity, meaning, purpose and dignity.
The local is, therefore, overlooked and shunned in favour of the global.
An ignorance of Islam
Jihadi culture is thus…