The European Union is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism and jihadism following the horrendous terrorist attacks that have taken place in France, Germany and Belgium as well as in Turkey, Tunisia and elsewhere in the world. The main of objective of the attacks is to instill fear in the minds of the people and attack urban populations and thus induce a high state of well-publicized terror.
While some attacks were carried out by “lone wolves” – young people who had been radicalized – others were well-coordinated, complex attacks by groups of militants. The carefully schemed attacks have emphasized the vulnerability and threat to Europe from a fanatic minority. A network of people born and raised in Europe was often radicalized in a very short period of time, proving that it is willing to act as facilitators and active accomplices in terrorism. Moreover, their attacks have exposed the general ineffectiveness of counter-terrorism policies across the continent, thus making jihadist radicalization one of the most serious threats to European security and to the values that the European Union is based on.
In order to counter the ideological roots of jihadist radicalization, it is important to mobilize expert knowledge, fundamental democratic principles and civil society players all across Europe. Jihadists are very skillful at using online platforms and social media to lure and recruit followers, which poses a multi-dimensional challenge to policymakers. Countering extremist propaganda is therefore just as vital as promoting positive alternative narratives. Furthermore, the EU should focus on streamlining counter-radicalization efforts in the EU’s foreign and security policy through further EU contributions to the global coalition against the ISIS/Daesh, a dialogue with affected third countries and more effective multilateralism.
Jihadist radicalization is just one of the many serious issues affecting Europe nowadays, including the rise of populism and refugee crisis. However, it is an insidious challenge crossing ideological, socio-economic and technological domains, which in turn represents a test for the ultimate political resilience of the bloc. Moreover, it is also a test for the EU’s ability to secure citizens’ security, the fundamental principles governing their democracies as well as the essential cohesion of their evolving societies.
‘The Challenge of Jihadist Radicalisation – In Europe and Beyond’ – A Study by a Team of Authors – European Policy Center (EPC).
(The Commentary can be downloaded here)