Thursday, 20 September 2007

People Like Us

Heard a report yesterday about a new publication called “People Like Us” (Picador), by Waleed Aly, a Muslim lawyer from Melbourne. In this book, Walid Aly has put forward some interesting ideas about terrorism.
He maintains that Osama Bin Laden has no organisational influence on terrorism in the name of Islam, but provides a powerful symbolic presence. Walid Aly argues that the major terrorist threat is now from what he describes as “amateurs”, in other words, disaffected young Muslims who basically recruit themselves, inspired by Bin Laden’s rhetoric.
This presents a major challenge for national security in Western countries, as they now will have to deal with terrorists who are home-grown, unknown to the authorities, and operating in isolation without coordination. The metaphor he uses is that of a “liquid threat”.
He describes trying to eliminate them using conventional force as like hitting a ball of mercury with a sledge hammer. The mercury simply scatters and reforms in a different form in a different location.
Developing effective ways of dealing with this must be concentrating the minds of the agencies concerned. It sounds as if a great deal of lateral thinking will be required. Lateral thinking is not usually a hallmark of security agencies.

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A Pinch of Common Sense

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