Ethical Issues Related to Communication and CT

Communication efforts within operations of counter-radicalisation and counter-terrorism (CT) are crucial for the success of approaches chosen by a government body, private or civil society organisation. However, ethical questions may arise.

We will lay out some key issues which are more or less likely to cause concerns:

  • arbitrary goals and objectives
  • excessive or inadequate measures (substantially, structurally and in time)
  • disproportionate leveraging
  • unwarranted misgivens in mitigation and through delegation
  • misappropriations of operational leads
  • intransparencies
  • nepotism
  • corruption
  • spreading in trying to limit ripple effects (expansionism)
  • perceived irreversibility (due to erroneous determinism)
  • monism and binary thinking
  • maintenance of ops or associated, underlying assumptions
  • irrational group effects, reinforced by a lack of good leadership
  • gaps in practitioner training

There have certainly been tendencies towards inappropriate scale, scope, and intransparencies. They can, but need not, be due to hidden agendas.

Highly questionable is alleged irreversibility, even after errs, leading up to a continuation of unethical operations, which may be condoned by op leaders. (I hint to the fact that psychological operations are linked to sustenance.) There can, hence, be tendencies toward continuations of patterns of actions by agents (clinging, possibly due to bandwagonism), whereas an op is no longer legitimimizable. Agents may have previously misconstrued, or still consider themselves to be tasked.

All of the above calls for diligent planning, execution, mechanisms of control and oversight.

How the 9/11 and 7/7 Terror Attacks Have Hurt UK Muslims

Islamophobia existed prior to 9/11, but levels of discrimination and violence rose after the violent events. In reaction, implicit racism remained considerable long afterwards. Similarly, after the 7/7 attacks, faith-hate crime augmented significantly, and the negative depictions of Muslims were disproportionate.

A large majority of Muslims rejected political aggression and terrorism after the occurrences of violent extremism, although a few displayed some empathy with the tribulations of the attackers. Most UK Muslims keep identifying strongly with Britain.

Among steps to counter terrorism, the Prevent programme stresses social interaction on the community level. Its measures are supported by the greater part of Muslim communities in the UK.

For the full contribution by Thorsten Koch, MA (April 2017), read or download the PDF hosted by academia:

Positive and Negative Measures of Anti-Terrorism

ARC Europe (Anti-Radicalisation Centres Initiative) embraces soft anti-terrorism and passive strategic means in the domestic fight of European countries against terrorism. What ARC Europe does not condone is unethical tactics. Below, we provide a non-exhaustive list of methods we tend to support and such which are generally unsupported by our NGO.

Efforts which should be held as sustainable:

  • use of positive influencing from family and friends
  • positive incentives and empowerment through education and work
  • use of tendentially harmless PR techniques
  • lawful information gathering
  • below-threshold warnings and referrals to legal provisions
  • use of discourse such as one-by-one dialog (e.g. with social workers)
  • financial controls
  • removal of criminal content from the internet
  • judicial measures such punitive fines, community service and detainment

Measures which are unsustainable:

  • fully-fledged psychological attacks
  • use of psychoactive drugs
  • unlawful use of kinetic weapons
  • use of unconventional weapons
  • overreaching application of information technology
  • capital punishment
  • unlawful, pseudo-judicial measures to attain particularist political ends
  • other applications leading to different kinds of individual and societal dysfunction

As always, an over-reliance, in this case on anti-terrorist utilities, bears the tendency of yielding unwarranted, negative effects. Foreseeably (especially irreparable) damage to the physical integrity of a person and to the integrity of society is, indeed, absolutely reprehensible. Measures causing physical and psychological harm have partly been banned by international conventions already.

A note to political decision-makers: he who has the means and tools of anti-terrorism at his disposal risks excess in the application of measures up to so-called extreme measures. The idea of a guided society is an enticement which has to be prevented at all cost. It runs against the principles of religion and humanism. Using a range of policing and psychological tools and measures systematically can breach the principles of human rights, and at the advent of mass-use of artificial intelligence, can either negatively enhance the capabilities of terrorists or stride to the level of the above-mentioned dystopia of a guided society, which we advocate against.
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