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EU PUTS SCHOOLS AT CENTER OF COUNTER-RADICALISATION

By Teri Schultz,

 

Full article can be found here.

„A member of the RAN’s counter-narrative working group, Alexander Ritzmann of the European Foundation for Democracy, also emphasises the issue of credibility and trust, which he says is as important as the content of the message being conveyed.

Ritzmann says for those trying to prevent radicalisation, having a former member of the organisation deliver that information is infinitely more effective than hoping an official can make policy sound exciting or relevant to a youth who’s already been conditioned to reject perspectives of the state. Ritzmann encourages seeking out this kind of intermediary to make any alternate narrative palatable to disaffected youngsters.

“So, someone who says ‘I went to Syria, it’s not like they say [it is]- they’re lying to you, they’re killing Muslims, it’s a corrupt organisation. It’s not a big adventure where you can be a hero defending your faith,’” Ritzmann suggests.

“And this is what some of the defectors are saying. And this is then somewhat a credible messenger, but the government is not credible at all if you look at the target group of vulnerable youth.”

That said, the internet has been traditionally the best recruiting tool radical groups have had, an inexpensive way to reach virtually every teen and to exploit any potential weakness, easily tracked due to careless sharing of personal information on social media. Avramopoulos calls it the “most important battleground” in the counter-radicalisation fight, where youth find the “poison” of online extremism.

The radical recruiters can also often find examples of, for example, Islamophobia to help convince a target youth that his or her community is being discriminated against. The European Commission has also worked to get large internet service providers to help get rid of hate speech of all kinds.

Facebook and Twitter are among those who recently signed a voluntary pledge to take down such remarks within 24 hours of being notified of them. A new element of this practice will see internet providers create a database of this deleted “terrorist content” for law enforcement to use for research and evidence.

But experts like Alexander Ritzmann warn that to believe the internet is the main  source of radicalisation would be a mistake. Ritzmann says personal connections  are still the main driver, that youth are being radicalised in living rooms more than chat rooms.“

Quote in „Financial Times“ on the Orlando shooting

Mateen a lone gunman, investigators believe Orlando gunman fits recent pattern of unpredictable jihadi attacks on US soil

June 13, 2016

by: Geoff Dyer in Washington, Tom Burgis in London and Jim Brunsden in Brussels

„Alexander Ritzmann, senior policy adviser at the European Foundation of Democracy, says that it is becoming ever more difficult to determine the border line between an attack directed by Isis and one where the attacker associates with Isis. The question, he says, is whether Isis recruits “lone wolves” or whether they recruit themselves. “Giving it the brand of the Islamic State makes you very famous compared with just being whatever crazy shooter,” he notes. “It draws attention to you, makes your deed bigger.

Countering propaganda with reality (IP-Internationale Politik)

In this article, published in the German Council on Foreign Relations’ IP magazine, Alexander Ritzmann argues that exposing the downright falsehoods of the propaganda of the so-called“Islamic State” (IS) through targeted counter narratives will obstruct their recruiting efforts.
One of the reasons IS has been able to attract a record number of foreign fighters in the past years is the group’s deployment of sophisticated online propaganda, Ritzmann claims. In particular, the existence of a supposed “caliphate”, an Islamist utopia, is being exploited to lure young Muslim men and women.
The author identifies additional key-narratives in the propaganda, constituting the group’s attraction with regardto the radicalisation process. These range fromalleged attacks against Islam as such and Sunni Muslims in particular, to the promise of salvation and an idyllic family life within a full functioning welfare state. A jihadi-cool youth action culture appeals to adventurous adolescents.
With regard to the increasing availability of information on the realities of life in the “caliphate” that contradict IS’s depictions of Islamist utopia, Ritzmann suggests utilizing that information in order to debunk pointedly the prevailing narratives. He calls attention to the disillusionment and criticism of former IS fighters or supporters, ranging from the brutality deployed against hostages and civilians, the tedious and difficult daily life to the corruption of senior leaders.
The delivery of counter-narratives by individuals who have been directly affected by IS is deemed most effective. An online database making such content easily available to anyone countering IS propaganda, be it family members of vulnerable youth, NGOs, media or governments, could significantly counter the recruitment efforts of the “Islamic State”, Ritzmann argues.

Hezbollah – banning and negotiating are not contradictions

In this article, published in the German daily Der Tagesspiegel, I advocate for putting Hezbollah as a whole on the EU terrorist list due to its proven record as a terrorist organisation and the fact that all decisions, political or military/terrorism related, are being made in its leadership Shura Council. Since Hezbollah is also a significant political actor in Lebanon, unofficial negotiations can still take place and the ban could be adjusted in case Hezbollah would stop its terrorist activities.

Hisbollah – Verbieten und verhandeln sind kein Widerspruch (Tagesspiegel)

Der Tagesspiegel (Causa), 02.Juni 2016, Alexander Ritzmann

Die Hisbollah ist eine komplexe Organisation. Anfang der 1980er Jahre entsandte der iranische Revolutionsführer Ayatollah Khomeini Imame und Revolutionstruppen in den Libanon, um seine Form des schiitischen Gottesstaates über den Iran hinaus zu verbreiten. Seit dem hat sich die Hisbollah (übersetzt: „Partei Gottes“) von einer religiös/politischen Miliz zu einer Art Staat im Staate Libanon entwickelt. In den mehrheitlich schiitischen Gebieten des Landes betreibt die Hisbollah Krankenhäuser und Schulen, sie baut Straßen und Häuser und sie kontrolliert die öffentliche Ordnung durch eigene Sicherheitsdienste. Die „Partei Gottes“ tritt auch zu Wahlen an, beteiligt sich an Regierungen und spielt vor allem hinter den Kulissen eine gewichtige Rolle in der libanesischen Innenpolitik.

Die Hisbollah positioniert sich als Widerstandsorganisation gegen Israel und US-amerikanischen Einfluss, als Vertreter der historisch benachteiligten Schiiten im Libanon und als Repräsentantin des iranischen Regimes. Mit ihren eigenen Sicherheitsdiensten und paramilitärischen Einheiten wurden in der Vergangenheit vor allem Israel und innenpolitische Konkurrenten bekämpft. Die Hisbollah unterstützt jedoch auch bedingungslos das (pro-iranische) syrische Assad-Regime im Kampf gegen Rebellen, die wiederum von anderen arabischen Staaten unterstützt werden. Der regionale Konflikt zwischen Saudi Arabien und dem Iran spielt hier eine gewichtige Rolle. In diesem Kontext hat die Liga der Arabischen Staaten die Hisbollah im März dieses Jahres als Terrororganisation klassifiziert. Weiterlesen …

Entzauberung durch Fakten (Internationale Politik)

IP – INTERNATIONALE POLITIK

01.05.2016 | von Alexander Ritzmann

Wer den IS bekämpfen will, muss dessen Propaganda aushebeln.

Bislang sind schon etwa 7000 Männer und Frauen aus Europa der Propaganda des Islamischen Staates gefolgt und in den Kampf gezogen. Wie aber können solche Rekrutierungsversuche erschwert werden? Dazu brauchen wir zielgerichtete Gegendarstellungen im Internet, auch von IS-Aussteigern, die die brutale Realität vor Ort beschreiben.

Seit etwa 30 Jahren wird aus soziologischer und psychologischer Perspektive erforscht, warum sich Menschen radikalisieren und zu politischen Extremisten oder Terroristen entwickeln. Denn um Radikalisierung vorzubeugen und Extremisten deradikalisieren zu können, sollte man zunächst die entsprechenden Ursachen und Motivationen verstanden haben.

Häufig spielt bei Radikalisierungsverläufen eine Mischung aus so genannten Push- und Pull-Faktoren eine Rolle(1). Die Push-Faktoren können zu einer generellen Empfänglichkeit für extremistisches Gedankengut führen. Hierzu zählen persönliche oder beobachtete Diskriminierungserfahrungen, (außen-)politische Ereignisse, sozioökonomische Marginalisierung, eine Opferhaltung oder auch Solidarität mit Opfern, ein Mangel an Bewältigungskompetenz sowie zu wenig Geborgenheit und Orientierung durch das Elternhaus. Für manche spielt auch die Frage, was nach dem Tod passiert, also eine religiös motivierte Angst vor der Hölle, eine gewichtige Rolle. Weiterlesen …

Zitate/Mention/Interviews März/March 2016

EFD Senior Policy Advisor Alexander Ritzmann is quoted in The Financial Times for his views on the security failures which led to the Brussels attacks on 22 March and what he believes needs to occur to address them. “Whatever the impediments, Europe has to find a way to move to more ‘structured’ co-operation. Member states aren’t obliged to share information,” he said. “We are still on a need-to-know basis; we need to move to a need-to-share basis.”

The article is in English and can be read here.

Ritzmann

  Weiterlesen …