Provocation as terrorist strategy

By Andrew L. Urban

Let’s hope Daniel Pipes is right (Boston attacks alert the West, The Australian, April 29, 2013) in being cautiously optimistic about the West “repulsing the Islamist threat” – by sheer weight of public opinion. The problem is that despite the weight of public opinion being against ‘bad Islamism’ – that is, violent acts by Islamic extremists, Western Governments are simply unable to make the social, cultural, political and legal changes that would remove that threat.

Indeed, that threat as perceived by Western societies is the fear that terrorists are deliberately stoking. What many extremist groups appear to have adopted as a strategy is a constant stream of provocations, with the ultimate aim of provoking violent response. That in turn would be used to justify their own violent (over) reaction. This is a tactic aimed at not just governments but police level law enforcement and security authorities. 

Democracy’s great strength and appeal is its tolerance; that is also it’s greatest weakness.

# Published in Letters to the Editor, The Australian, April 30, 2013

* Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum

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