Terrorism Case Study

Topics: Anwar al-Awlaki, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Terrorism Pages: 8 (3329 words) Published: March 21, 2013
Caless (2012) defines terrorism as " the threat or use of violence to further a political agenda for change by inducing widespread fear". However, experts have been debating over a clear definition for terrorism for over 100 years. Although the word was first used over 200 years ago when discussing the Reign of Terror (Whitaker, 2001). Consequently, there have been over 100 definitions offered for terrorism (Laqueur, 1977, cited in Martin, 2013). Alex Schmid's (2004) research also illustrates the lack of clarity surrounding the definition. And most experts believe that an impartial and universal recognised definition will never be agreed upon (Ganor, 2002).

With the lack of clarity surrounding the definition, a further question arises; who is classed as a terrorist? This is reflected in the well known phrase "one man's freedom fighter, is another man's terrorist." (Gerald Seymour, 1975, cited in Ganor, 2002). Overall, it is agreed, that this depends on the subjective viewpoint of the individual (Ganor, 2002; Jackson, 2008; Corte, 2007).

The Just War doctrine is an "ideal and moralistic philosophy" (Martin, 2013). It asks questions such as "what types of force are morally acceptable?" and "who can morally be defined as an enemy?" This notion is usually used by ideological and religious extremists, in order to justify their own acts of extreme violence.

A prime example of religious extremists is the 'jihadi Islamic fundamentalists', the term jihad means a sacred "struggle" but is manifested by some radical Muslim clerics as a holy war and therefore perceived that their war is a "just war" (Martin, 2013). This paper will endeavour to answer the question; Did University College London (UCL) further radicalise Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab? There have been many debates, theories and investigations surrounding this question, many of which will be analysed throughout.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (born 22 December 1986) is a Nigerian Islamist who attempted to detonate plastic explosives in his underwear whilst travelling from Amsterdam to Detroit, on Christmas Day 2009, on the Northwest Airlines Flight 253.

In January 2005 Abdulmutallab joined an Islamic forum under the pseudonym "Farouk1986" (Now Public, 2009). He frequently contributed to the forum. His postings normally gave advice to other forum members, although on occasion he expressed more personal views. These included his "jihad fantasies", describing how "Muslims will win and rule the world" and prays to Allah to "unite us all Muslims and give us victory over those who do not believe". The majority of his postings illustrate his loneliness and his struggle to contain his "sexual drive", and he goes on to urge fellow forum users to limit their activities to "Islamically good" and to only "hang around with good Muslims who enjoy studying". Throughout his postings in the forum he maintains that he is memorising the Quran (Islamic Forum, 2005).

These postings illustrate that Abdulmutallab's views on the Islamic religion, are very similar to Salafism or Olivier Roy's neo-fundamentalism (see: Social Science Research Council). This is shown with his fixation on personal faith, and is also portrayed when he praises Shaykhs Saud as-Shuraim and Abdul Rahman as Sudais (Islamic Forum, 2005). Another radical Muslim he mentions is Abdullah el-Faisal, who is currently in prison in the UK for influencing his supporters to murder Jews, Hindus and Americans (Forest, 2012).

Some of the media (Gardham, 2009) focused on Abdulmutallab's love for football and this is clearly seen within his postings online. However, by November 15th 2005, he had turned against it stating “Let’s save our honor and religion and try to stay away from football and do sporting activities that are more Islamically beneficial… running, paintball, archery (or any other sport of the like that teaches [how to] target and aim).” (Islamic Forum, 2005).

There are many different theories as to...
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