The recent spate of terrorist attacks has led to
tragedy, sorrow, fear and hatred. Shock is followed swiftly by calls
for better intelligence, more police powers and a curtailing of our
civil liberties. Like a killer disease we focus on the symptoms,
obsessed with finding a cure, seemingly disinterested in combating the
Understanding awful human behavior invites accusations
of condoning these acts, but surely, if we had a better understanding of
what drives young men, and occasionally women, to kill and be killed in
the name of Allah we would be closer to stopping them doing it?
If we were to look at the radicalisation process I suspect it would have
many similarities with a marketing strategy and ensuing advertising
campaign. It would commence by identifying the target audience,
developing insights and a compelling idea, then tying it all together
with a clever media campaign.
There may also be similarities
with the typical recruitment for those pyramid-selling schemes; people
getting in touch with people who are potentially susceptible to the
idea. Word of mouth is still more pervasive than any ad so a word from a
trusted source could be a key catalyst.
Whatever the pathway, it
all starts with an insight into the mind of the would-be bomber. Minds
are complex things, particularly young male minds. I remember being told
by an expert in youth depression that drugs and alcohol abuse weren't
the root cause, rather the subject self-medicating because their
problems hadn't been identified.
How much do we spend on understanding and mentally inoculating against the risk vs beefing up security?
doubt lots of very clever psychologists and anti-terrorism experts are
working on this, but given the expertise of the advertising industry in
spreading ideas, is there a role we could play? Certainly, food for