As I walked home on a sunny August day in Barcelona, I took in the mingling of tourists, locals, and expats so typical of the cosmopolitan city that I’ve called home for the past few years. This was interrupted by the sound of terrified screams from behind me. When I turned and saw throngs of people running my way, I immediately knew my fears had come true. I’ve spent the last three and a half years conducting fieldwork on radicalization in Barcelona. From everything I’ve seen and learned, I knew a day like this was inevitable. I just didn’t expect to witness it myself.… Seguir leyendo »
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In the wake of the terrorist attacks in and around Barcelona, clichés about radicalization are again making the rounds. For some, the twelve young members of the cell behind the Barcelona attacks, all men, were “brainwashed”; for others the blame falls on the town of Ripoll for becoming a “terrorist breeding ground”; for others yet it’s Islam as a whole that must be held accountable. For those who study radicalization and terrorism, all of these explanations fall short.
The greatest difficulty for our ability to understand and respond to terrorism and radicalization is linear thinking. Arguing that radicalization is caused by poverty because most modern jihadists come from marginalized neighborhoods is the same flawed logic as arguing that radicalization is caused by Islam because jihadists are all Muslims.… Seguir leyendo »