Government tackles online radicalisation and ‘foreign fighters’
The internet has become an effective tool for political and religious radicalisation and for the recruitment of terrorists and foreign fighters in global conflicts. Now, to tackle the growing problem, the social affairs and integration ministry is planning new initiatives to counter the development and, tomorrow, will hold a conference together with the British think-tank The Strategic Institute for Dialogue to discuss challenges and share experiences about tackling radicalisation and extremism on the internet.
“The internet and especially social media’s many opportunities create challenges for combating radicalisation and extremism,” the social affairs and integration minister, Karen Hækkerup (Socialdemokraterne), stated in a press release. “That is why we need to ensure that young users of social media are better able to be sceptical and respond to radicalisation and extremism. We have good initiatives for countering extremism in the real world, but it’s not enough. If we want to protect young people we need to be where they are. We need to be online.”
According to the ministry, the internet is primarily used by the radical right and left political wings to propagandise their views, while militant Islamists recruit young people to actively take part in actions.
They add that the role the internet and social media play in the radicalisation process has yet to be understood, but they argue that the internet can accelerate the radicalisation process that could lead to violent actions.
“We have examples of people who are recruited through the internet to go to Syria to fight,” Hækkerup told Berlingske newspaper. “We see that there is broad recruitment also among young vulnerable children who have not been to training camps.”
In the most high profile case, Slimane Hadj Abderrahman, a Dane and a former Guantanamo captive, was killed in February while fighting in Syria.
A week last Friday, the justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), met with other EU justice ministers to discuss the issue of so-called ‘foreign fighters’, Western citizens who travel to conflicts with the express purpose of fighting.
Their discussions focussed on how to discourage people from making the journey by raising awareness about the tough conditions on these battlefields as well as offering social support for those that have returned from war.
“It’s very worrying that so many people are travelling to Syria to take part in armed conflict,” Bødskov wrote in a press release. “These young men, often with militant Islamic ideologies, receive training and are further radicalised. It worries both me and our intelligence services.”