Terrorism and Violent Extremism

As violent extremism and terrorism continue to be of huge concern in the modern world, they are a major focus of research for members within the Secure Societies Institute. SSI members, led by Dr Jason Roach and/or Professor Paul Thomas, are currently involved with projects focusing specifically on different 'extremist ideologies' (e.g. Far-Right and Islamic extremism), 'radicalisation’ (e.g. identifying the 'push' and 'pull' factors involved) and the prevention of acts of terrorism in the UK (e.g. situational crime prevention). This work is conducted in partnership with a host of different agencies, groups and individuals including: the North East Counter Terrorism Unit; the Centre for Research in Security and Terrorism; West Yorkshire Police, and a plethora of different Councils and Community Groups.

Community Reporting Thresholds: Sharing information with authorities concerning violent extremist activity and involvement in foreign conflict: A UK Replication Study

Graphic showing the logo of Community Reporting Thresholds (CREST)

The first people to suspect that someone is involved in acts of violent extremism will often be those closest to them; their friends, family and community insiders.  The willingness of them to step forward and report them to the authorities is seen as a critical step towards the prevention of violent extremism. 

A total of £124,950 has been awarded to a team from the SSI at the University of Huddersfield from the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST), to look into people’s views, experiences and concerns, if faced with the dilemma of whether to report to the authorities that someone close to them has become involved in violent extremist activity. ‌

 

Paul Thomas

Professor Michele Grossman

Professor Paul Thomas  from the University’s School of Education and Professional Development is working in collaboration with Professor Michele Grossman from Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.‌ Also working on the project are Dr Shamim Miah and Kris Christmann. Together they are developing the first truly internationally comparable data on the subject and conduct original research for understanding, mitigating and countering threats to national and international security. 

‌‌‌“Our UK study will replicate the Australian study but with a significantly increased sample size,” said Professor Thomas.  “It will also extend to include a sub-sample of White British community respondents from marginalised communities and will intentionally over-sample young people, in recognition of recent American evidence which has stated that they are ‘associate gatekeepers’ for young friends at risk of radicalisation,” he added. 

 

The Role of Religious Narratives in Use in the Radicalisation of British Muslims

Zaf Shah is a PhD Researcher in the SSI, working closely together with the North East Counter Terrorism Unit. His research interest is primarily rooted in religious and political narratives. Anti-Terror legislation also features in the research. The Government’s Counter Terrorism Strategy (Prevent) has created untestable suspicions for British Muslims. The research looks specifically at both political and religious narratives told by scholars and political ‘leaders’. Consequently, the British government have recognised that in order to fight terrorism and prevent it from taking permanent hold of impressionable Muslims, they need to try to find a counter argument to the extremist narrative. Preliminary analysis of sermons and speeches delivered by scholars and state actors, use discursive techniques and a particular linguistic style, reveal that the speaker is able to manipulate the truth. The effect of which is to mobilise adherents. In all the speeches analysed thus far, it was evident from the discourse, vocabulary, phrases and reference to a “divine” obligation that it is incumbent upon the actor to participate in “Jihad” wherever they may be. This is by no means an assumption of the psychological impact of the narratives on the person who watches and thus participates in them. No evidence-base such as this currently exists, and this research will help to mitigate the risks of radicalisation and its impact on Muslim communities.

 

Email: zaf.shah@hud.ac.uk

Twitter: @therealzafshah