2008 GTReC International Conference

Introduction to the Proceedings

The Global Terrorism Research Centre, Monash University, hosted an International Conference that was devoted to the topic of “Radicalisation Crossing Borders: New Directions in Islamist and Jihadist Political, Intellectual and Theological Thought and Practice”, organized by Dr Sayed Khatab and Dr Pete Lentini. The conference was held in the Assembly Chamber of the Parliament House of Victoria, Australia, on November 26 and 27, 2008, and sponsored by Monash University’s Global Terrorism Research Centre, the School of Political and Social Inquiry, the Department of Premier and Cabinet in Victoria, the Australian Research Council Asia Pacific Futures Research Network- Islam Node, and Leading Solutions technologies.

Conference participants included scholars from Australia, Denmark, Switzerland, the UK, New Zealand, Indonesia and Thailand. Alongside academia, participants were from a wide range of industry backgrounds including Australian and international federal and state police, diplomats from various consulates, and members from federal and state government departments. The Keynote speakers at the event included Ambassador Bill Paterson, the Australian Counter-Terrorism Ambassador; Mr Bob Lambert, former Head of the Muslim Contact Unit at London’s Metropolitan Police and Lecturer at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, University of St Andrews; Associate Professor Mark Sedgwick, Aarhus University, Denmark; and Professor Riaz Hassan, Flinders University in Australia. Mr Mark Duckworth from the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Victorian Government, launched the conference.

The format of the conference constituted seven panels aimed to generate new understandings of the complexities of jihadism and extremism, and the role of violence and terrorism. The panels examined the theological and ideological foundations of jihadist and other groups’ political tactics, as well as the long-term objectives beyond terrorist activities, and the geographic contours of these groups’ political strategies. The papers presented in this volume deal with a broad range of issues in the hope that they will ultimately contribute to the establishment of a better framework for discussing jihadist and other extremist movements within the social sciences, comparative religious studies and related areas. While the main focus for most of the papers is on Southeast Asia, the topics also cover a wide range of topics on Islam, Muslim societies in the Middle East and those in the Western world with particular reference to Australia, Egypt, India, the Horn of Africa and Turkey.

In his analysis of the concepts of jihadism and neo-jihadism, Dr Lentini casts the radicalisation process by neo-jihadist groups as a combination of sub-cultural and counter-cultural processes that represent efforts by various radical groups to actively adapt their movements and tactics to the changing developments in technology, demography as well as geo-political realities. The role of ideology in both the radicalisation and de-radicalisation processes within various extremist groups is highlighted throughout the volume. Dr Khatab’s paper in particular, focuses on the importance of de-radicalisation to counter-terrorism in general.

Another important point emphasised in the volume is the diversity and dynamism that can be observed within the Islamist movements around the world. Ogru’s paper deals with the dynamic nature of the Islamist movement in Turkey with emphasis on the periodic changes in the movement’s role and relation with the Turkish state. Crucial to achieving a balanced approach to de-radicalisation and counter-terrorism is the avoidance of dualistic characterisations of Islam and the Islamist movement(s), and especially when profiling Islam’s relations to the West. In his paper on Islam in India, Dash underscores the role of Muslim religious leaders in India and some of the important fatwas that have been issued in that country proscribing and consequently de-legitimising the extremists’ call for an all out war against the West and its allies. Such efforts at the theological and ideological levels, while significant in the wider framing and contextualisation of the problem, have yet to receive their due recognition.

In his discussion of the problem of terrorism and extremism in the Philippines, East emphasises the importance of having a good understanding of local conditions that contribute to radicalisation and terrorism in its specific contexts. Similar issues are presented in Andre’s and Dr Millie’s papers on Thailand and Indonesia respectively. Also significant is the interaction of local issues with regional and international strategic considerations. In a case study on the conflict in Somalia, Ibrahim makes reference to factionalism, warlordism and ‘clanism’ in Somalia. He continues to argue that in some cases the international community has erroneously confused religion with other more localised root causes of such conflicts giving rise to ineffective anti-terrorism policies. A careful reflection of the historical background of individual conflicts would help expose some of the complexities of these conflicts as well as the true objectives of the various actors involved in them.

In an assessment of counter-terrorism in Southeast Asia, Prof. Tan raises the issue of regional perspectives and how it is sometimes important to realise that counter-terrorism approaches that may work in the West may not be similarly applicable in other regional contexts. Citing the use of preventive detention laws in Singapore and Malaysia, Tan argues that methods that may not be easily supported by legal cultures elsewhere in the world have been effective in Southeast Asia.

On the other hand, Muslims’ own perceptions of religious extremism haven’t always been uniform and entirely driven by identity politics. Insights into the complexity of the issues involved in this domain offer a great potential for the formulation of more effective and better-targeted de-radicalisation programmes. Accordingly, Woodlock and Russell contribute to this dimension of the debate through their useful analysis of Muslim perceptions of extremism in Australia. Taken as a whole, the papers in this volume cover aspects of Islamism and Jihadism, as well as a wide range of issues on the relationship between religion and politics. Generally, the papers underscore the point that radicalism sustains terrorism at its very roots. It is also suggested that the growth of radicalism is often sustained by selective religious narratives and radical interpretations of religious texts. Thus, an effective counter-terrorism strategy would need to address a wide range of issues pertaining to radicalisation in addition to security and military considerations. This is a theme that came through regularly in the conference and these proceedings.

Also important is the role of religious actors in countering violence as well as the potential and limitations of inter-faith dialogue in challenging extremism and reducing inter-identity tensions that often enhance the prospects for political violence. Pratt’s concluding paper on the role of theological dialogue in the wider context of de-radicalisation is particularly pertinent in this regard. The various authors also propose some useful theoretical and conceptual frameworks for the understanding the processes of radicalisation and de-radicalisation, and how such models could be applied to support counterterrorism efforts in various political and socio-cultural contexts.


Sayed Khatab, Muhammad Bakashmar and Ela Ogru
October 2009

Presenter Biographies

To view the presenter biographies, click here (PDF, 75kb)

Peer Reviewed Conference Papers

Sayed Khatab, Muhammad Bakashmar and Ela Ogru

Global Terrorism Research Centre
Monash University
First Published in 2009
ISBN: 978-0-9750193-3-7

Responsibility for the content of each paper lies with its author(s). The author(s) also retain copyright over the text. Papers appear on the Conference proceedings website by permission of the authors. Any paper may be downloaded for fair use under the Copyright Act (1954), its later amendments and other relevant legislation.

All papers were peer-reviewed according to the requirements of the Australian Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR).

Access to these electronic versions of the papers is free of charge. The papers are in PDF format.

Chapter Title and Author Pages
1 The Transference of Neojihadism: Towards a Process Theory of Transnational Radicalisation
Pete Lentini
Global Terrorism Research Centre, Monash University, Australia
2 Towards a General Counterterrorism Strategy
Sayed Khatab
Global Terrorism Research Centre, Monash University, Australia
3 Perceptions of Extremism among Muslims in Australia
Rachel Woodlock and Zachary Russell
School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University, Australia
4 Changing Boundaries of Identity and Political Islam in Turkey
Ela Ogru
Global Terrorism Research Centre, Monash University, Australia
5 The Geopolitical Implications of the Somali ‘Islamic Courts’ Activities in the Horn of Africa
Mohamed Ibrahim
Centre of Research and Dialogue, Mogadishu, Somalia
6 The New-Old Terrorism Nexus in Southeast Asia and What it Means for Countering Terrorism
Andrew Tan
International Studies, University of New South Wales, Australia
7 Regional Preaching Scenes and Islamism: A Bandung Case Study
Julian Millie
School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University, Australia
8 Southern Thailand: A Cosmic War?
Virginie Andre
Global Terrorism Research Centre, Monash University, Australia
9 The Abu Sayyaf in the Archipelago: Discrediting Islam. Abetting USA Foreign Policy
Bob East
Faculty of Arts, University of Southern Queensland, Australia
10 The Fatwa against Terrorism: Indian Deobandis Renounce Violence but Policing Remains Unchanged
Kamala Kanta Dash
Monash Asia Institute, Monash University, Australia
11 Ideological Containment: Islamic Extremism and the Option of Theological Dialogue
Douglas Pratt
Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, University of Waikato, New Zealand and Global Terrorism Research Centre, Monash University, Australia


The editors wish to thank all those whose support contributed to the publication of these proceedings and the success of the conference. In particular, our sincere gratitude goes to Dr Pete Lentini, the Director for the Global Terrorism Research Centre for his tireless support in the preparation, organisation and running of the conference. Without Pete’s contribution, this conference would not have been possible. We would also like to thank the School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University, the Department of Premier and Cabinet in Victoria, the Australian Research Council (ARC), the ARC Asia Pacific Futures Research Network, and Leading Solutions technologies for their invaluable contributions. We also wish to express our gratitude to Bill Kelly, Jenny Cleeve, Mark Duckworth, James Allingham, Anna Halafoff, Edwina Goh and Tommy Fung for their assistance in preparation for the conference, during the event, and with the publication of these proceedings.