Boomerangs and slingshots: Radical Islamism and counter-terrorism strategy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This essay is concerned with the moral oxygen for Islamist-inspired terrorism in Western countries, i.e. those supplying, often without knowing, the tacit support for both violence and the legitimacy of direct action in support of shared goals. The kinds of intervention needed to tackle terror plots directly will be distinctive and differ from those needed to address the problem of those who 'look the other way'. But the effects of one kind of policy will often be felt, in some degree, by all Muslims. Some of the most sophisticated approaches to counter-terrorism are supposed to act with the precision of a slingshot, singling out the various targets in an accurate and predictable fashion. However, there has, in practice, been something of a boomerang effect, whereby counter-terrorism measures have spawned unintended side-effects which have swung back to damage the reputation of government and the security and intelligence communities. This article discusses these tensions and suggests new and innovative ways to maximise slingshot impacts while minimising, if not avoiding altogether, the public detriment created by boomerang effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-402
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Boomerangs and slingshots: Radical Islamism and counter-terrorism strategy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this