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From Terrorism to 'Radicalization' to 'Extremism': Counterterrorism Imperative or Loss of Focus?


From Terrorism to 'Radicalization' to 'Extremism': Counterterrorism Imperative or Loss of Focus?

Abstract: 

This article argues that there has been an increasing convergence of the discourses of terrorism, radicalization and, more lately, extremism in the UK and that this has caused counterterrorism to lose its focus. This is particularly evident in the counterterrorism emphasis on non-violent but extremist ideology that is said to be 'conducive' to terrorism. Yet, terrorism is ineluctably about violence or the threat of violence; hence, if a non-violent ideology is in and of itself culpable for terrorism in some way then it ceases to be non-violent. The article argues that there should be a clearer distinction made between (non-violent) extremism of thought and extremism of method because it is surely violence and the threat of violence (integral to terrorism) that should be the focus of counterterrorism. The concern is that counterterrorism has gone beyond its remit of countering terrorism and has ventured into the broader realm of tackling ideological threats to the state.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Richards, Anthony. 2015. "From Terrorism to 'Radicalization' to 'Extremism': Counterterrorism Imperative or Loss of Focus?" International Affairs 91 (March): 371-380. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-2346.12240/full

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