On Nov. 18, the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations and the UCLA School of Law International and Human Rights Law Program hosted Professor Jytte Klausen in a talk titled “Jihadism in the West and the Predicament of Domestic Counter-Terrorism.”
With about 60 attendees, the event took place at the UCLA Law School, where Klausen had spoken before as well.
Klausen is a professor of International Cooperation at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. Her talk presented the findings of the Western Jihadism Project that she founded in 2006.
Klausen’s research is funded by the Department of Justice.
Her talk focused on terrorism – a term she used interchangeably with the neologism “Jihadism” – that stems from the West. Her concern, however, was with activities of Muslims in particular, as she mentioned but deliberately disregarded in her research non-Muslim extremists such as Andres Breivik, who was charged with and convicted of terrorism and mass murder in 2012.
Her research claims that 76% of the people included in her research had direct interpersonal connections to Osama bin Laden. “Direct interpersonal connections” were defined as “friend, or friend’s friend, or friend’s friend’s friend and so on”, yielding an average degree of separation of 6.5 people. In other words, Klausen claims that the “network of extremists” is highly integrated because each person in the network was, on average, 6.5 connections away from Osama bin Laden.
No mention of entrapment of youth by the FBI was made.
The network Klausen described included members of various groups, with varying and different ideologies: Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah were all conflated into one “extremist movement”.
Disregarding proper discussion of cause and effect relationships, Klausen claimed that because young radicals dropped out of school months after their radicalization, the former caused the latter. The possibility of both being due to another lurking variable was not considered.
Extremism was portrayed as a function of Islam and open Western societies, claiming that “the extremist movement” could not function without open Western societies in which the radicalization could flourish through exploitation of “Western freedoms” and that 40% of “Jihadists” were converts to Islam, insinuating that it is the spread of Islam and the toleration thereof by the West that allows extremism to happen.
The Internet was identified as a primary source of radicalization, shortly after Klausen asserted that, “we can all agree that we’d give up some [civil] liberties for security”.
The federally-funded Klausen concluded that increased internet policing is a solution to the increased radicalization, adding, “I don’t know if the [recently revealed] NSA program is overreach but I do know that some sort of program like what the NSA has been doing is a necessity”.
In addition, Klausen suggested another layer of surveillance by proposing the US start monitoring who exits the country, in addition to the existing measures regarding people who enter the country.
When asked to define “terrorism”, Klausen was unable to produce a definition, though her research centers on terrorists. Other terms, such as “Jihadism” which was also thrown around, went without clear definition and explanation as well.
Nicely written. How did the audience take to her?
Thank you, Alina!
There were mixed reactions in the audience: Some felt her take was not encompassing enough (e.g. they wanted her to suggest even more radical solutions), other challenged her use of terms such as “terrorism” and “Jihadism”.
It’s irritating when people use their academic credentials to present their baseless/falsely analyzed research, but it’s horrible when others believe them because of their esteemed backgrounds.
Did the audience accept her claims or have their doubts?
One member in the audience noted that those who accepted her claims probably already had that mindset going in to the talk, and added that the arguments were too unconvincing to change anyone’s mind who did not already think along similar lines.
JazaakyAllahu Khairan for sharing. I had no idea this event took place. I highly recommend people to read some of the works of Edward Said. He was a professor from Columbia University. He was a Palestinian Christian who wrote countless books discussing Orientalism, Islamophobia, and how Islam is portrayed in the media. Unfortunately, these so-called experts with their baseless statements against Muslims will always continue to be supported. It makes it even more important for Muslims, especially on their college campus, to host dawah events.
Nida, Look up on the Internet all the times the word jihad is used in the Koran and the context. Then, feel free to make such a bold claim. You’ll be surprised. It’s not the “jihad of the nefs” that you would like to believe covers the pages of your holy book.
Not that anyone other than yourself has made this claim regarding “jihad of the nafs”, it is perplexing to me why you find it necessary to turn to a source as unreliable as the internet for further information regarding this topic, when you could just turn the Quran and its exegesis. With that said, you’ve made it abundantly clear what your sources for your claims about “our holy book” are, yet it doesn’t in any way mitigate the implications of a government-sponsored research that calls for enhanced surveillance.
Nader, please elucidate us with where Said said that jihad is not related to Islam.
We could turn to that as soon as you point us to where anyone has made an effort to distance the former from the latter and how this relates to the topic discussed. Straw man arguments don’t help anyone.
LOL I don’t know if this was mentioned but how absurd is it to use 6.5 degrees of separation as a metric???
I mean really that is a ridiculous number. I’m sure everyone has heard of how 6 degrees of separation basically links any random two individuals. Absolutely ludicrous. What is more disappointing is this meeting being held and having an audience at a distinguished university like UCLA.