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(Few) Jihadis Without a Jihad? Central Eastern Europeans and their Pathway

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Bohemian National Hall

321 East 73rd Street

New York, NY 10021

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A presentation of research findings and panel discussion on Central Eastern Europeans and attempts at joining global jihad.

About this Event

In September 2015, two months before the infamous Paris attacks, in which ISIL terrorists killed 131 people, additional members of the Paris attack cell, hiding amongst migrants/refugees trekking Westwards, were picked up in Hungary, effectively the first Schengen Area country on their way. It might have looked as if global jihad came to Central Eastern Europe. As it later turned out this had only been a fleeting visit.

For the last 18 months GLOBSEC has been researching the issue of criminal-terrorist interconnections in Europe and built up a database which includes 350 terrorist attackers and arrestees from 11 countries, mostly Western European. Currently, in co-operation with Counter Extremism Project (CEP), it has turned its attention towards the Central Eastern European region, and mapped out how its inhabitants would join global jihad. Their numbers are low and their journeys into jihad are rarely successful. In fact, they are wannabe jihadis without a jihad, individuals who, to some extent, accidentally stumble upon jihadism. Unlike in Western Europe, no local jihadi infrastructure of radical mosques, jihadi veterans or like minded individuals exists which could, for example, support their travel to the battlefields of Syria and Iraq. In such conditions, these Eastern European individuals are forced to improvise and, are regularly unable to build up a network of their own, often ending up acting in islolation.

GLOBSEC and CEP’s studies of European jihadism reveal its parochial mask. It is embedded in certain communities, often in small towns or even villages, in Western Europe and these are in turn e.g. connect to global jihad by sending its members to e.g. fight as foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) in Syria/Iraq or other jihadi battlefronts (Somalia, Yemen). At the same time, however, and despite the seeming lack of logistical barriers, representatives of the very same European jihad are so far largely unable or unwilling to connect with the few wannabe jihadis from Central Eastern Europe, thus condemning them to improvisation in their jihadis exploits. Consequently, on a strategic level Europe’s counter-measures should account for the presence or lack of jihadi infrastructure and network in a given EU region, and also focus on efforts denying the wannabe jihadis from outside Western Europe access to radical or outright jihadi milieus that already exist in Western European countries.

Please join us for the presentation of the initial research findings on the

20th of September 2019, 9:00-10:30

Location: Bohemian National Hall, 321 E 73rd St, New York, NY 10021

Speakers: Dr. Kacper Rekawek, Head of National Security Programme, GLOBSEC; Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler, Senior Director, Counter Extremism Project

Moderator: Ben Makuch, National Security Correspondent, VICE

GLOBSEC is a global think-tank committed to enhancing security, prosperity and sustainability in Europe and throughout the world. We believe we can change the world by putting together the right stakeholders at the right time for a free exchange of ideas. GLOBSEC’s research ranges from areas of traditional defence and security along with cyber security through strategic communication and hyber threats, to challenges concerning the future of Europe or its neighbourhood policies.

The National Security programme:

• is currently studying links between criminanity and terrorism amongst European terrorists.

• disseminates project findings at GLOBSEC Strategic Forums and other internationally acclaimed gatherings that attract decision-makers, experts, private sector, and law-enforcement representatives to incorporate their expert level feedback into our work.

• launched GLOBSEC Intelligence Reform Initiative (GIRI), which is led by former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, and is involved in developing and promoting more effective transatlantic counterterrorism solutions.

The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) is a not-for-profit, non-partisan, international policy organization formed to combat the growing threat from extremist ideologies. Led by a renowned group of former world leaders and diplomats it combats extremism by pressuring financial and material support networks; countering the narrative of extremists and their online recruitment; and advocating for smart laws, policies, and regulations.

Extremists are spreading their ideology and recruiting support across the globe, posing a complex and urgent challenge that cannot be addressed by government alone. There is a responsibility for private groups and individuals to organize in opposition to extremists.

To this end, CEP is:

• Assembling an extensive research and analysis database on extremist groups and their networks of support, providing an indispensable resource to governments, the media, NGOs and civil society organizations, and the general public;

• Exposing channels of financial and material support to extremist groups;

• Using the latest communications, social media, and technological tools to identify and reveal the extremist threat and directly counter extremist ideology and recruitment online; and

• Assisting policymakers around the world to devise legislation and regulations that effectively combat extremism.

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Bohemian National Hall

321 East 73rd Street

New York, NY 10021

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