Take from terrorists what they care about

Andrew L. Urban

Home grown terrorists in the West are difficult to detect and suppress. Many jihadists welcome death as martyrdom, leaving security forces without a practical threat. So what leverage do we have?

Could a US Red Beret, Terry Schappert – Master Sergeant (ret) 82nd Airborne Division Special Forces – provide the basis for a strategy to disrupt and minimise terrorism in Western countries with this proposition:

“Talking about home grown terrorists … sometimes you need to become what you aren’t to protect the future survival of what you actually are. That’s the principle behind self defence and also what is behind a lot of wars. I’ve spent a lot of my life (almost 25 years) in the Middle East. I’ve lived with Arabs. I’ve trained their soldiers, I’ve fought with them, bled with them, I’ve watched them die. I was a Green Beret medic; I’ve delivered their babies, I’ve pulled their teeth, I’ve inoculated their farm animals. You’ve got to understand them, how these folks think. They’re worried about their family, their clan and their tribe. They don’t have a national identity. That’s why it’s such a hard sell. And most Middle Eastern countries are either kingdoms or theocracies or dictatorships, because you have to crush them (clans & tribes) to hold them together.

“Fast forward to the guys who are living here in the West … the killers, not the regular Islamic people. What do they care about? They hate the country they live in. What they care about is their family; they care about that group. So any time any of these guys does this (act of terrorism) their whole family should get picked up and deported, back to the country of their origin.

“I talked to my driver from the airport, he’s from Pakistan. I know a bit about Pakistan. We were talking about Pakistan in a friendly way, and I posited this to him, and he went: ‘hmm, that would work’.

“You take from them what they care about and it would slow them down, if not stop them…” (Schappert was talking on The Greg Gutfeld Show, Fox News, August 19, 2017)

Terrorism and counterterrorism expert Professor Clive Williams MG at Australian National University has “no doubt that such an approach (deporting whole families of convicted terrorists) would open the flood gates of intelligence from families about family members who have become radicalised – and it would no doubt be generally effective from a counterterrorism point of view.”

The ironic reality, though, is that the very countries at risk are unable to put such a policy into effect. Professor Williams says “it is not going to happen in a Western democracy – particularly in the US. There are many underemployed lawyers prepared to take on the government pro-bono if it tried to do something like this. There would be the added complication of family members who have no citizenship other that of their adopted Western country, or were born there. It would also be unfair to older family members who came to get away from violence – it usually being alienated younger family members that are the terrorism problem. In other words, it would probably work in principle, but is never going to happen – because we live in democracies and value the rights of the individual.”

And that’s the irony: because we value the rights of the individual, we are hamstrung in dealing with those that do not.

A better approach, says Professor Williams, “might be probationary citizenship for migrants that could be withdrawn under certain circumstances eg, conviction for criminal offences, terrorism etc.”



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