[Candyce Kelshall] Spontaneous Violent Extremism (SVE): nothing could be further from the truth

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There has been an alarmingly long list of recent knife attacks by individuals described as spontaneous violent extremists who ascribe ISIS or a greater Jihadi cause as their motivation. Two things stand out from this list. The first is that there is nothing spontaneous about these attacks and the second is that they are not isolated to a particular country.

Knife attacks are one of the methods Jihadis are exhorted to use by ISIS media. The term spontaneous violent extremism is a misnomer as the path to extremism is a slow one. It requires a feeling of marginalization and isolation to have been engendered over a lengthy period of time. Exclusion and alienation do not occur overnight. When members of our communities rise up to attack the society in which they were raised then the issue is not to examine the alarmingly increasing number of these attacks but to focus on the society which is incubating these murderous occurrences.

Radicalisation is not in the water-it does not occur with the first look at a glossy website or magazine from ISIS and other entities. Radicalisation does not only happen to vulnerable Muslims. It is also increasing on the other side of the scale- the far right. This seems to be slipping by unnoticed. There are 69 US militias preparing to defend their home and society to the death and three in the UK. There are far more online far right radical websites which attract the isolated and marginalized in equal numbers. This is an untenable situation which could well result in open identity based conflict within the borders of European and western states. In the near future it will not be Syrian conflict which will dominate headlines. We may be looking much closer to home.

When we label someone an SVE we are divorcing ourselves, as a society, from any responsibility in creating a community where large numbers of people feel resentment which is so overpowering it leads to murder. When domestic terrorism occurs, the first instinct of law enforcement is to check for relationships with International organisations. Interestingly it is relationships in their home community which should first be addressed. In each case of domestic terrorism in the months of November and December 2015 the words, ‘isolated and loner’ have been used to describe the perpetrators.

Discussions about the refugee crisis ignore the bigger issue in the background: The refugees of today will be the second class citizens of our communities tomorrow, or the zone of danger through which we must pass to enter the borders of neighbouring states. Their resentment at the lack of inclusion and denial of their basic rights as human beings, by European Westphalian states will not be forgotten. The conflict of tomorrow will be far greater than that of today.

Featured image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leytonstone_tube_station

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About Author

Candyce Kelshall

Candyce Kelshall is Doctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, University of Buckingham. She is an Independent advisor to British Transport Police and Metropolitan Police. She is a former UK Royal Navy Reserve Officer and SCC Officer. She is the author of two books on Civil/Military relations. “Armed Forces and Government” and “Mutiny and Revolution: Military pressure Groups”.

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