Archiv der Kategorie: Hamas

THE ROLE OF PROPAGANDA IN VIOLENT EXTREMISM AND HOW TO COUNTER IT (8th Euromed Survey)

ALEXANDER RITZMANN
Senior Policy Advisor. European Foundation for Democracy. Co-chair of the European Commission’s Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) Communication and Narratives (C&N) Working Group

The 8th Euromed Survey conducted by the European Institute of the Mediterranean touches upon a number of important and complex issues related to violent extremism in the EuroMediterranean region, including the question of the context and drivers through which violent extremism can prosper. Echoing some of the results, this article looks into propaganda as a tool of extremist ideologies and how to counter it.
What is Propaganda?
Propaganda, as a tool of extremist ideologies, aims to generate and promote a world view that reduces the complexity of life to a simple black and white picture. This structured attempt to reform the cognitive (and emotional) perceptions of a target audience to initiate an action in the interest of the propagandist has probably been a part of every political or religious conflict (Jowett, 2012).
In 1622, when the Catholic Church professionalised its missionary work to counter the progress of the Protestants, the body responsible for this important endeavour was called “Sacra Congregatio de propaganda fide”, which gave the name to what since then has been called propaganda. Over the conflict of what true Christianity is, Catholics regarded propaganda as something positive, while Protestants saw it as a tool of the enemy (Bussmer, 2013).

Propaganda, in the form of recruitment messaging, generally follows the pattern of diagnosis (what is wrong), prognosis (what needs to be done) and rationale (who should do it and why) (Wilson, 1973). The self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS/Daesh), for example, follows the same principle: diagnosis (Islam/Sunni Muslims are under attack), prognosis (fight/create the Caliphate) and rationale (help however you can).
The IS then uses sub-narratives for every target group they want to reach (Neumann, 2015). Adventure-seeking young men were promised a future as heroes who are fighting for a just cause and who would be rewarded, amongst other things, with wives and sex slaves. Medical doctors and engineers were lured in by the call to helping fellow Sunni Muslims in need and to being part of the creation of the perfect Islamic utopian society, the Caliphate. Young women were promised an important role by becoming the wives of the “lions of the Caliphate” and securing its future by raising their “cubs” (Winter, 2015).

How Does Propaganda Work?
Extremist propaganda often has clear-cut messages that promise clarity, relevance and meaning in addition to emotional and social benefits, such as belonging to a new family or brotherhood/sisterhood. For propaganda to increase its chances of success, it needs to be close to an already existing (perceived) truth of the targeted audience. 180-degree conversions happen but very rarely. Weiterlesen

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The need to counter extremist propaganda more effectively

The Parliament Magazineby Alexander Ritzmann on 13 December 2016

Propaganda, the art of twisting information to make it fit your interests or ideology, always plays a role. Extremists are often attracted by the clear cut messages that can give simple meaning to an otherwise complex life. Extremist narratives aim to generate a world view where everything is black and white, where one is either in or out of a group. And they promise emotional and social benefits such as belonging to a new family or brotherhood in the fight for a supposedly just cause.

Propaganda is effective when it is close to a perceived truth of the targeted audience.  Ideology, whether for white supremacists or Islamists, plays a key role in legitimising the strategies and actions of the extremists which would otherwise simply be criminal acts. In some cases, ideology makes the difference between someone committing suicide or driving a truck into a group of people.

Weiterlesen

Vom Selbst- zum Massenmord/From suicide to mass-murder

Terroristische Propaganda und die Verantwortung der Medien

Alexander Ritzmann

tv diskurs: 20. Jg., 4/2016 (Ausgabe 78), S. 48-51

Die strategischen Ziele und taktischen Maßnahmen terroristischer Organisationen werden von den Medien häufig falsch vermittelt. Journalisten fungieren außerdem als unfreiwillige Helfershelfer der Propagandaabteilungen von al-Qaida oder des Islamischen Staates. Kinder, Jugendliche und psychisch labile Erwachsene, die besonders anfällig für extreme Einflüsse sind, können durch diese Art der Berichterstattung zur Nachahmung von Attentaten und Amokläufen inspiriert werden.

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In this article, EFD´s Executive Director Alexander Ritzmann highlights that media outlets often involuntarily serve as extended propaganda channels of terrorist organizations. In the current issue of “tv diskurs”, the magazine of the organization for the self-regulation of television in Germany (FSF), Alexander argues that many media outlets don´t put terrorist propaganda and attacks in context and therefore spread fear and confusion. Research on the effects of unreflected media reporting on suicides and mass shootings indicates that especially minors and adults with specific mental illnesses can be inspired to imitate extreme behavior if the individuals are in a personal crisis at the time of the reporting. In extreme cases, this can motivate individuals who are considering suicide to committing mass murder because of the attention and “fame” affiliated with these crimes. Alexander calls for journalists and media companies to explain terrorist tactics and strategies better to their audiences to foster the resilience of individuals and societies.

Defining the phenomenon of jihadist radicalisation

Inforadio – Was alle Extremisten vereint

RBB-Inforadio.

Fr 05.08.2016 | 09:05 | Interviews

Was alle Extremisten vereint

„Extremistische Gewalt in Deutschland hat in den vergangenen Jahren deutlich zugenommen und zwar auf allen Seiten. Heiner Martin sprach mit dem Extremismus-Experten Alexander Ritzmann darüber, was alle Extremisten – trotz aller inhaltlichen Unterschiede – vereint: eine „Anti-Haltung“ gegenüber dem bestehenden System. Gleichzeitig möchte jede Ideologie am Ende ihre eigene Utopie, ihre „perfekte Welt“ – ob das jetzt das kommunistische Paradies ist, das „völkische“ Paradies oder das Kalifat. „

Europe can survive ISIS without electing nutjobs (EurActiv)

27.07.2016

By James Crisp | EurActiv.com

Terrorism is not new to Europe, despite the recent Islamic State inspired attacks that have rocked France and Germany, Alexander Ritzmann has said. The terror and radicalisation expert said it was vital that the outrages did not lead to policy decisions confusing migration with terrorism ahead of crunch elections in Germany and France next year.

Alexander Ritzmann is Senior Advisor to the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels. He chairs the Communication and Narratives Working Group at the European Commission’s Radicalisation Awareness Network and teaches on terrorism at Potsdam University. Ritzmann was a member of the Berlin State Parliament, overseeing the state police and intelligence agency. He spoke to EurActiv.com News Editor James Crisp yesterday (26 July) after the terrorist attacks in Nice, Würzburg, and Ansbach but before the attack in Rouen (26 July).

Could the recent attacks in Germany have an impact on the country’s asylum policy?

There is a perception that the attacks are linked to the welcoming of refugees to Germany.  But it is the job of policymakers and the media to help the population understand the difference.  If there are 500,000 Syrian refugees and one of them stabs someone that is not something that policy should be dealing with. It is a crime and it should be investigated by the police. And, by the way, the average Syrian refugee commits fewer crimes than the average German citizen.

There is of course the potential for radicalisation and for sectarian violence. The refugees bring the conflict with them. Right now everyone is focused on settling and surviving but I am absolutely sure the conflict in Syria will come back to people. Already, they do not trust other Syrian refugees, they will ask where they come from, for example. When you talk to them, they could have family and friends who have been tortured or murdered by someone in the next room belonging to the same group. We work with Syrians on overcoming these sectarian divisions.

There’s also potential for radicalisation in the future if the government doesn’t work with the right institutions. There are some very conservative organisations in Germany with links to the Muslim Brotherhood, people who would rather build parallel societies than integrate. But the government wants to work with organisations, even if those are mentioned in domestic intelligence reports as having Muslim Brotherhood ties, being part of political Islam. And these organisations can become partly government funded, which can lead to uncomfortable headlines in the future. Weiterlesen

Germany harbors 300 Hamas, 950 Hezbollah members and activists

Some 300 Hamas members and supporters – as well as 950 Hezbollah activists and members – are operating in Germany, the country’s domestic intelligence agency said in its annual federal report, the same numbers as were listed in its 2013 and 2014 reports.

The Jerusalem Post’s examination of the 317-page intelligence report, which was released on Tuesday, revealed the Islamic terrorists were on the radar screen of the country’s intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

“The followers of Islamist- terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah striving for the abolition of the Jewish State of Israel are focused on their regions of origin, which is where they commit most of their terrorist acts of violence,” the report stated.

Europe has long been a platform for Hezbollah members to launch terrorist attacks against Israelis and European Jews. Hezbollah operatives blew up an Israeli tour bus in the Black Sea resort of Burgas, Bulgaria, on July 18, 2012, killing five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver.

The EU included Hezbollah’s so-called military wing on its terrorism list in 2013, but Hezbollah’s political operation remains a legal organization in Europe. The US, Canada, the Arab League, and the Netherlands proscribed all of Hezbollah’s organization to be a terrorist militia.

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The number of pro-Israel protesters ranged from 260 to 500. Hadas-Handelsman said it is a “disgrace” that for the last 20 years in Germany, agitating publicly against Jews and Israel is allowed.

The intelligence report noted that a German court in 2015 rejected the claim by the Lebanon Orphan Children Project that it is not involved in terrorist activities.

The alleged charity was outlawed in 2014, and has renamed itself “Colors for Orphans.”

The Lebanon Orphan Children’s Project was founded in 1997, and transferred donations to the al-Shahid (“The Martyr”) Association in Lebanon. Al-Shahid was “disguised as a humanitarian organization” and “promotes violence and terrorism in the Middle East using donations collected in Germany and elsewhere,” according to a 2009 European Foundation for Democracy report by Middle East expert Alexander Ritzmann.

The donations to Lebanon Orphan Children’s Project aided the families of suicide bombers who murdered Israelis.

The report also estimated the number of Islamic extremists could be as high as 10,000 in the Federal Republic. Radical Islamists likely have infiltrated the flow of refugees entering Germany, the report noted.