Hi there. Last week we discussed five assumptions on terrorism and we compared them with empirical evidence and scholarly literature. This week, we will look into five assumptions on counterterrorism. Five assumptions we consider interesting either because they are challenged, or the opposite, they are considered very much true and they constitute the basis of much policy making. First, we will investigate the idea that profiling works, then deradicalization of terrorists. Is it possible or not? The third assumption is decapitation of terrorist groups. Does that work or not? And the fourth assumption is terrorism cannot be defeated. A statement heard quite often. And then finally, terrorism can best be managed by a so- called holistic or wide approach. So, let us now look at the first assumption. Does profiling of terrorists work? One of the key problems when researching terrorism is the secretive nature of terrorism. Terrorists work in the dark, underground and it's very difficult to study them. Well, this challenge to scholars is of course also a major challenge to policy-makers, law enforcement and intelligence services. They would like to know who they are confronted with, and they would like to know, of course, to discover them before they strike. A phrase that is connected to that need is the following: 'Looking for the needle in the haystack'. Well, that sounds like a mission impossible, but some terrorists have been caught, either before or after their attack based on certain clues, signs or behaviors that make them distinct from others. In other words, at least in those cases it was possible to recognize them as a terrorist. There are various examples of statements by authorities that show that they believe in this idea. The Metropolitan Police, London's main Police Service for instance, asked citizens on their website to help them out. They write the following: 'You can help by knowing the signs and behaviors of terrorists and being vigilant about their activities, both online and in your community'. The idea of profiling often surfaced in relation to airport checks, which became a key issue after the 9/11 attacks. Here's a statement from a newspaper in Germany that was published in 2010, and it said 'airports demand racial profiling to fight terror'. Not only authorities seem to believe in the relevance of profiling. Terrorists themselves, probably also think that profiling is possible, because from the early days on, terrorists have tried their best not to look suspicious in order not to be noticed. Or they change their appearances in order to avoid fitting any profile that others might have in mind. So, wearing beards, cutting off beards, wearing sunglasses or not, changing their walk etc. Finally, there is a technological side to the idea that it is possible to recognize a terrorist. With the increased possibilities to gather, store and analyze big data, there's a lot of optimism that that might help us to solve all kinds of societal issues, including finding terrorists before they strike. Why should we test this assumption? Well, if it works and we would be able to recognize terrorists before they managed to strike, this could save the lives of many people. There are also practical considerations, if profiling works, this could make processes, such as security checks easier and quicker. However, if it does not work, it could give us a false sense of security and it means we could focus on the wrong people. But there are more important downsides to this. For instance, talking about racial profiling, it sounds very discriminatory and it is based on making a distinction between people and certain faces and features. And that is against the law in most countries and for good reasons. And even if it works, the question is, is it proportional, is it ethical? Over the past years, we have seen an increased awareness of the negative implications of profiling. Think of the Black Lives Matter discussion in the United States, which we can't discuss in detail here, but it is indirectly linked to the discussion on profiling. Does it even work? And if it does, at what cost? Therefore it's high time to have a closer look at profiling. So, we've mentioned the term many times now, but let us have more in depth look into what it actually means. Profiling goes under different names. Originally, it was called criminal or offender profiling and there are different types of profiling. The main distinction is to profile someone based on individual characteristics versus a focus on their behavior. So, personality profiling and behavioral profiling. The most prevalent method of attempting to achieve a distinction between an offender, either a criminal or terrorist, and a non-offender, is to establish a set of psychological, socio-economic, physical behavioral and/or ethnic attributes based on prior experiences. In other words, indicators that tell us what a terrorist might look like or what his or her behavioral or personality traits are. This then constitutes the terrorist profile. On the basis of such a profile. Authorities engaged in data mining or data searching using various sources for what is called 'secondary security screening' of the group of individuals with the largest number of matching indicators. The secondary security screening is composed of two steps. First you look at the population as a whole, to obtain a set of indicators on normal behavior and then you're going to search the data to find people that deviate from your indicators and who might be terrorists. Let us look at some historical examples first. Profiling is far from new and are quite a number of examples from the past. Criminal profiling was used in the 1950s to find a so-called 'Mad Bomber'. In November 1940, the workers of the consolidated Edison building in New York found a homemade pipe bomb and attached to it was a note and it said 'Con Edison Crooks, this is for you'. More than 30 small bombs in public areas, theaters, phone booths would follow in the next 16 years and the authorities were obviously unable to find this 'Mad bomber'. And after these 16 years, in 1956, the investigators asked a psychiatrist called James Brussel to draw up a profile of the suspect based on their investigation. And Brussel came up with a profile which had many elements that were simply common sense. But he also added some psychological ideas. For instance, he thought that the perpetrator might suffer from paranoia. And that tends to peak at around 35. And now we are 16 years later. And he thought that the suspect would probably be in his early 50s. Well, he was right, in January 1957, the police knocked at the door of the 53 year old George Meteski, who was arrested and confessed immediately. What do we learn from this case? Was it just a lucky shot or is it really possible to discover criminals and terrorists, preferably before they plant any bomb? An early example of data mining and profiling are the efforts of the German federal Criminal Police office or the Bundeskriminalamt. In the late 1970s, they tried to find the terrorists of the left- wing terrorist group called Rote Armee Faktion. They had found out that these terrorists rented their apartments under a false name and in order to protect their identity, they paid their energy bills in cash. So, what did the authorities do? They asked for the data of the power companies to find out who paid their bills in cash. And in a second phase they compared this with the data of the registry office and other agencies to exclude innocent people. And for all the others, they knocked on the door of these apartments and in the end, they found one apartment, one Rote Armee Faktion apartment, and arrested one of its members. Well, I'm not sure if you want to call this a success. As the efforts were huge. And looking for other examples in academic literature, we soon concluded that there are no clear-cut examples of successful profiling in counterterrorism. In fact, academics say that personal profiling is impossible, which is partly linked to many studies that show that there is no terrorist personality. But what about the attempt by the Bundeskriminalamt, that didn't focus on personal characteristics, but use behavioral profiling. Well, again, most academics are highly skeptical, as there are many obstacles to these kind of efforts, as well as many risks. One of the biggest risks is the possibility that incorrect information from profiling can lead to so- called false positives or false negatives. And both can have serious consequences. For instance, a false positive can lead to a situation in which a suspect who appears to fit a profile is investigated or even arrested. And the consequence could be that it blocks investigating other leads, other clues. The opposite of a false positive is a false negative. In that case, the profile might provide information that leads investigators to rule out certain groups, while focusing on the wrong ones. Efforts to profile terrorists in the West in recent years have often proved to be examples of racial profiling, mainly monitoring Muslims and immigrants. And this is highly problematic for many reasons. It has not only resulted in false positives and false negatives, but it has also had considerable ramifications for the individual liberties of the population being monitored. Creating and fostering stereotypes or the idea of a struggle between Islam and Christianity and a loss of trust in the authorities, among Muslim and immigrant communities. This tends to become even more problematic when authorities try to team up with the wider population in search for terrorists. For instance, the British 'Prevent program', that is part of the national counterterrorism strategy, aim to motivate citizens to report suspicious behavior to the authorities. According to several studies, this has led to Muslim communities being seen as suspect communities. This might have even further alienated some people, who are already on the brink of extremism or made them more receptive to 'us/them' narratives. In sum, there is a demand for a tool to make a distinction between terrorists and non-terrorists. And there is a long history in attempts to profile criminals and terrorists. But there are very few clear-cut successes. According to scholars, it is futile or almost impossible to do personality profile. Behavioral profiling might offer more opportunities, at least on paper, but there are a lot of obstacles in practice. It can be called disproportional, as the enormous efforts have not led to clear successes, and there are many negative side effects. Adding all up, it seems that today profiling is regarded an impossible and dangerous endeavor, and it is likely to remain so in light of current research. Therefore, we label the assumption of profiling works as 'false'. In the next video, we will explore and analyze the idea that one can deradicalize terrorists.