Fighting terrorism based on polling data

Focus groups, questionnaires, surveys, polls, public relations and data mining have been made into a science by marketers of products and services. Governments and politicians have not been far behind with incorporating these same tools to make their messages resonate with their target audience. This of course neglects the fact that making statistical assumptions and extrapolations based on small or compromised data sets adds the risk of skewed results. The damage could be compounded if these results were used for decisions affecting the whole country. The Aussie government has taken this approach of “governing by poll data” even to the realm of national security by incorporating polls, focus groups and active public relations (isn’t this the same as propaganda?) in their war on terrorism.

Australian government's terrorism market research comes under fire

Australian government’s terrorism market research comes under fire

The attorney general’s department spent more than $201,000 on interviews, workshops and online surveys to assess the “effectiveness of key messages” and “barriers to messages” about supporting and participating in overseas conflicts.

The research was conducted in the past financial year “to inform national approaches” to communications, a department spokesman said on Tuesday.

Is this better than making a unilateral decision on terrorism or any other national matters? Is this true representative democracy? Or is this just doing what’s often done with the help of statistics?



Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt on a mass scale

The rise of ISIS/ISIL over the last few months has seen FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) levels soaring across many parts of the world. There are many aspects of this entity that seem wrong just at a gut instinct level. Despite the risk of being labelled a crazy conspiracy, it behooves the interested researcher to delve deeper into this ISIS phenomenon and the violent form of terrorism they are publicizing.  One interesting perspective is provided in this well detailed article from the Vigilant Citizen.

An ISIS conspiracy?

An ISIS conspiracy with ties to ancient Egypt?

Basically, in the span of a few months, a terrorist group literally popped out of nowhere, causing mayhem in the very regions the US and its allies have been looking to attack for years. Its name: Islamic State in Syria, or ISIS. The name itself is symbolic and revealing. Why is an “Islamic” group named after an Ancient Egyptian goddess? Perhaps because it is a favorite figure of the occult elite – the true culprits that are behind the horrors of ISIS.


Buddhist-Muslim strife in Myanmar (Burma)

The spate of sectarian violence in parts of Myanmar (Burma) between the majority Buddhist and minority Muslim populations is not covered very often in the Western media, but it has affected tens of thousands of people in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Sri Lanka is another country with a majority Buddhist population and one if its newspapers looks back at how one of the recent Burmese violent episodes began and how similar scenarios of violent clashes simmer under the surface and have even occurred, though at a smaller scale, in Sri Lanka.

When 45 year old Aye Aye Naing, a Buddhist woman from Pyon Kout in Myanmar went to a Muslim shop to pawn a gold hair clip on March 20, 2013, it was unlikely that she thought the transaction would be the precursor to a massacre that the country witnessed barely 24 hours later.

The Sunday Leader looks at Buddhist Muslim tensions in Myanmar and Sri Lanka

The Sunday Leader looks at Buddhist Muslim tensions in Myanmar and Sri Lanka

Is this terrorism or a mob induced blood lust? Or is there even a difference when thousands of innocents are killed and displaced?



An old anti-terrorism doctrine – DON’T OVERREACT

Gwynne Dyer writes about the lessons learned from anti-terrorism and anti-insurgent campaigns from the 1960s-1980s; lessons that may well still be relevant today. His most poignant point being:

The key insight was this: terrorist movements always want you to over-react, SO DON’T DO IT. The terrorists usually lack the popular support to overpower their opponent by force, so they employ a kind of political ju-jitsu: they try to use the adversary’s own strength against him. Most domestic terrorism, and almost all international terrorism, is aimed at provoking a big, stupid, self-defeating response from the target government.

And so we wait and see how the world evolves to deal with this most recent terrorist threat. Whether they heed Gwynne‘s advice or not.

Gwynne Dyer looks at counter terrorism strategies that have worked in the past

Gwynne Dyer looks at counter terrorism strategies that have worked in the past


Beware the plastic swords

The reaction to the recent spate of beheadings by Islamic terrorists has ranged from fearfulness, anger, to the ridiculous. An example of the latter may be this report from the recent crackdown in Australia where the authorities may have confiscated a plastic sword, with a religious Shiite saying, as part of evidence collection. The Sydney Morning Herald reports about this;

Dirani said his parents bought the plastic sword at a night market in Sydney. It has been on display in the family home for years.

Hard to second guess what a policeman or woman conducting this massive operation may have been thinking – probably that they’d rather be too careful than not and cover their rear. A bit more from the article.

Jamal Daoud, a prominent member of Sydney’s Shiite community, said the sword would be found in almost every Shiite household as a decorative item either hanging on the wall or sitting in a drawer.

Sheikh Zaid Alsalami, leader of the Nabi Akram Islamic Centre in Granville, said many Shiite Muslims would also wear the sword as a pendant similar to Christians wearing a crucifix necklace.

“It basically denotes the sword that was carried by Imam Ali, the first Shia Imam,” he said. “The Prophet handed Imam Ali this particular sword [in a battle]. It’s not anything of any ritual value, it’s just a reminder of something that represents the relation that Imam Ali had with the Prophet.”

Should fans of Lord of the Rings who may have a replica Morgul Blade be concerned? Or maybe those who collect Samurai swords? What about a devout Sikh carrying a kirpan? Swiss Army Knife ok?

Plastic sword collected as evidence in Aussie terrorism raid

Plastic sword collected as evidence in Aussie terrorism raid