The Role of Anti-Terror Measures in the Development of ‘Islamic’ Terrorism

Dr Stephen Vertigans,
Dr Philip Sutton
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Post-September 2001, academic attention on ‘Islamic’ terrorism is increasingly concentrating upon national and global security, political instability within majority-Muslim nation-states and perceived civilizational conflict between religio-cultural entities. Attempts to explain contemporary ‘Islamic’ terrorism within social science have tended to focus upon processes associated with increasing globalization and interlinked forms of cultural, economic, political and social changes. Clearly these are important, but many predate the emergence of the terrorist groups under investigation, failing to account for the prominent role of relatively highly educated and wealthy terrorists. Underlying these accounts is an assumption that the rectification of poverty, introduction of democracy, universal education and improved proactive security arrangements will eradicate terrorism. However, the measures being implemented by national and international actors to improve security and address militancy and terrorism are contributing to an amplification of the beliefs and behaviour they are seeking to prevent and change. In other words, recent terrorism is in part an unintended consequence of intentionally preventative measures.

This paper focuses on the impact of anti-terror measures on identity formation and in particular the relationship between such measures and the development of al-Qa’ida and associated groups. The impact of government policies designed to undermine the appeal of radical Islam within nation-states and actions undertaken in association with the American-led war on terror are assessed. The sociological concept of the ‘unintended consequences’ of intentional action is invoked here to help identify the social processes underlying recent terrorist activity. These processes are contributing to the ongoing creation and maintenance of ‘Islamic’ terrorism across a range of different nation-states.

Keywords: Al-Qa’ida, Identity Formation, ‘Islamic’ Terrorism, Militant Islam, Unintentional Consequences, War on Terror
Stream: Political Science, Politics, Other or Stream Unspecified
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Role of Anti-Terror Measures in the Development of ‘Islamic’ Terrorism, The

Dr Stephen Vertigans

Sociology lecturer, School of Applied Social Studies, Robert Gordon University

Dr. Stephen Vertigans (and co-author Philip W. Sutton) has recently published Resurgent Islam: A Sociological Approach (2005, Polity Press). He has also published Islamic Roots and Resurgence in Turkey (2003, Praeger Publishers Westport, USA: Greenwood Publishing Group)and written and co written a series of articles and conference papers on resurgent and militant Islam. He is currently writing a book that examines different terror groups across the world, to be published by de Sitter publications in 2006.

Dr Philip Sutton

Lecturer in Sociology, Applied Social Studies, Robert Gordon University

Philip Sutton's recent research (with Dr Stephen Vertigans) has made a significant contribution to reinvigorating the historical sociology of Islam for the contemporary world. Following a series of journal articles in this area since 2000, a book entitled, Resurgent Islam: A Sociological Approach, was published by Polity Press in August 2005 and a second is currently under consideration. A further article on Islamic social movements will be published in Mobilization in early 2006, exploring militant forms of Islam. He has also published in the field of environmental sociology (see for example; Nature, Environment and Society, 2004, Palgrave Macmillan) and is interested in how the re-emergence of ‘the natural’ in modern socities is re-shaping the classical sociological legacy in developing fields such as the sociology of emotions.

Ref: H06P0254