Adam Deen is a senior researcher and Head of outreach at the Quilliam foundation. A former member of extremist islamist group Al Muhajiroun, he is now an expert in deradicalization. He talks to euronews reporter Valerie Gauriat about the reasons for which young people can be attracted to terrorist groups such as the so-called Islamic State, and the possible ways to disengage them from taking that path.
“One of the powerful things, the powerful message that comes across, from the ISIS propaganda, is it’s very simple. In a world where people are very insecure, in a world where there is uncertainty, the ISIS message, is very comforting. It’s a simplification of the world. It separates the whole world into good and evil. What that does, it helps you understand the world, and give a framework, so you can decide who’s bad, who’s good, and what’s good, whats evil. That is very comforting for people. And it has the veneer of being genuine and true Islam. And that’s what we need to address. That’s the problem
Up until recently we were trying to make sense of these individuals going abroad. And we were saying these were young angry men, disenfranchised, upset with all these kinds of injustices in the Middle- East. And they feel as a duty to go abroad and fight. But then we heard of stories of entire families gathering their belongings and traveling, emigrating to the so-called Islamic state. And that simple grievance narrative can’t explain that.
What does explain it is the ideology that underpins such actions. And that is that they are somewhat alien within western societies, and there is a yearning for a utopian Islamic society. This all points to the ISIS ideology. Very much it’s premised on the idea of rejection of the west, rejection of western values And if you scrutinise the statement by ISIS, taking on responsibility fr the Paris attacks, it’s coaxed on this kind of language, anti western. France was seen as the vice, the land of prostitution if you like. All this is part and parcel of the ideology itself.
Ideology on its own, I don’t think would prompt someone to take their own life and perform terrorist acts. Couple that with the events of the world, seen as injustices in the world, and a sense of alienation. Couple that with an ideology that filter all these events, and makes sense to them in a kind of binary outlook, where this is a conflict between good and evil, it’s us against them. That creates a very dangerous cocktail, where someone feels very justified and almost following gods divine will to do something about these events, even to the extent of blowing themselves up. You have to understand that these people believe they’re doing God’s work. And this is the indoctrination. And they follow a type of ethic that is amoralistic. It is beyond reason. But there’s an eternal type of thinking, an eternal type of rationality which is consistent with their world view.