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August 16, 2021

Violent extremism is a fight for the foreseeable future

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‘’If this war is not fought with the greatest brutality against all the bands…then in the foreseeable future, the strength at our disposal will  not be sufficient to master the plague.’’ Wilhelm Keitel

Research has shown that all people are susceptible to radicalization. Violent extremism is not something that happens in a vacuum. All forms of violence including Neo-Nazi movements are in one way or another, a phenomenon that has existed and will continue to exist for an untold period of time.

For as long as the various push and pull factors such as unemployment, marginalization, poverty, and search for identity, control and justice prevail so will violent extremism. Research has also shown that social media and technology have contributed enormously to the growth of violent extremist groups across the globe and yet we are all aware that every day technology changes and we are yet to see the best of it. What this means, therefore, is that in equal measure we will continue to see a rise and changing patterns that will not in any way eliminate but advance extremism.

The growth of the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria/Levant (ISIS/L) has shifted the dynamic of violent extremism perpetrated by Islamic terrorism. They not only now believe that it is possible but that it can be expanded. A state, any state by its very nature requires a lot more resources than just a group. This means the recruitment and radicalization process has also shifted. These violent groups no longer require fighters only but also need doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, and any other form of career or profession that comes to mind.

They need to be able to provide all the services that a state would ordinarily provide and still establish themselves as superior and as the model for all other groups aspiring to form Islamic States.

Setting aside violent extremism motivated by jihadism, there has been a universal recognition that other forms of extremism have proliferated. Many governments and states feel completely unprepared and underequipped to deal with these new forms of extremism, which include, but are not limited to, racially and ethnically motivated terrorism, terrorism inspired by extreme misogyny, left-wing terrorism, and the rapid spread of conspiracy theories.

So while we may have found ways to arguably prevent/counter one form of violent extremism we are yet to see the worst of it. I dare say this fight is a long way from over and is here to stay for the foreseeable future. As David McCullough once said, there is no such thing as a foreseeable future.