The Essence of Radicalisation


“Radicalisation refers to the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and extremist ideologies associated with terrorist groups.”    

The abovementioned definition succinctly expresses the view of the British government on radicalisation. Although the definition is generic, the application of the idea is not, just consider the following examples.  Our minds are filled with narratives from the ubiquitous media with cases like Salman Abedi, the infamous Manchester-bomber, as examples of radicalised individuals. However, do we also view the murderer (Thomas Mair) of the British MP, Jo Cox, or the gruesome killer (Pavlo Lapshyn) of the 82-year-old man in Birmingham, Mohammed Saleem, in the same light? I have yet to see the media purporting that those individuals were radicalised by the toxic message of the far right. To give further credence to my viewpoint, I sampled some newspaper reports covering those two events and did a search for the word radicalised; it did not appear once, compared that with Salman Abedi, the very word appears in the headlines. Similarly, there is much discussion about the radicalised 7/7 bombers, but I have seen no references made to the likes of Anders Breivik, Timothy McVeigh, and Dylan Ruff as radicalised individuals.  


It seems that the notion of radicalisation is Muslim-centric, there has to be the Muslim connection; thus, reinforcing the idea that only Muslims get radicalised. And the ‘success’ of this concept becoming widespread can mainly be attributed to the mainstream media propaganda, which gets amplified by those individuals with an acidic tongue, whose viewpoint falls to the right in the political spectrum. These so-called journalists or commentators, in reality, are crude hate preachers, and with rudimentary knowledge using the pretext free-speech they are demonising a community and ironically, any attempt to counter this gets silenced as hate-speech. Can you imagine a Muslim version of Katie Hopkins operating on the Radio, tarnishing the pro-Israeli camp in the UK using a similar language?

There is even the government sponsored ‘Prevent’ program that focuses disproportionately on the Muslims with little resources allocated to address radicalisation in other sections of the community. This selective approach ironically is also fuelling radicalisation as Muslims feel unfairly targeted.

The most controversial aspect of this debate is identifying the cause of radicalisation that largely manifests in the politically charged debate between two opposing viewpoints. One view says - radicalisation is the product of indoctrination; whereas the other view claims radicalisation is a reaction to aggressive foreign policy.  

It is the Government and the right-wing faction that propagates the former view. Tony Blair echoed is when he stated that Muslims have a false sense of grievances, in other words, it’s all constructed in their head by some preacher that has no relation to the events in the real world. It is not entirely surprising for the architect of an illegal war to have come out with this viewpoint, as any admission of a terrorism linked to foreign policy would mean accepting responsibility and admitting guilt.

No surprise that Blair remained silent over the Manchester bombing, as the logic behind going to war was to make the country safer, but ironically that seems to be the cause of such events. Blair decided to aid the American expedition in Iraq to make the country safer, and yet before the 2003 Iraq invasion, there were no such incidents in the UK which one can attribute to the Muslim community. Hence, Blair is the one who made the link between terrorism and foreign policy well before any acts of terrorism took place here in the UK. And radicalisation started as a reaction to the 2003 Iraq war marked by the 7/7 bombings.

Going back to the notion that radicalisation is simply a matter of indoctrination, how do they expect the Muslims to perceive the images of dead families caused by the drone attacks or aerial bombings or some other military action? How do they expect them to view the slaughter of the Palestinians in huge numbers by the Israel forces equipped with weapons manufactured by the West? Are they supposed to have no feelings towards these events?

The reality of human nature is that violence begets violence, as Mr Jeremy Corbyn courageously stated today that “we committed armed aggression against sovereign peoples (Iraq) who had not attacked us” thus it was only a matter of time we would experience some violent response. Indeed, the prevailing view on the streets is that the foreign policy is fuelling hate and anger that eventually leads to some individuals becoming radicalised.  

Even those who reluctantly accept the obvious point that radicalisation is a consequence of aggressive foreign policy argue that such a violent reaction is an attempt to dictate foreign policy. In other words, the West and its allies must have the liberty to invade and bomb other nations with impunity, and when there is a reaction, it becomes an occasion to cry terrorism and scrutinise how the perpetrators got radicalised. This duplicity needs to be challenged. And it is the establishment that needs to be de-radicalised from holding such archaic ideas as if we are living in some 18th-century colony run by the likes of Rhodes and Kitchener, who are at liberty to murder the natives getting in the way of ‘progress’!

The best way to paralyse the momentum for radicalisation is to ensure justice for all nations;  this ethos should translate into the consistent application of the laws. For example, Israel cannot continue to breach international law with impunity while other countries get bullied by citing the same international law. If you have invaded a country on a false pretext, that state is entitled to seek compensation. The likes of Blair, a radicalised war monger who should be facing criminal prosecution at the Hague which at the moment seems reserved for African or Arab leaders.  

Yamin Zakaria (

26th May 2017

London, UK

Last modified on Sunday, 28 May 2017 13:32

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