Statewatch has obtained documents showing that the EU has agreed a plan to gather intelligence on those they consider ‘extremists’. The plan has glaring similarities to the PREVENT strategy already operating in the UK, targeting so-called Islamic and domestic ‘extremism’.
The plan is focussed on the normal suspects, defined in the document as, ““Extreme right/left, Islamist, nationalist, anti-globalisation etc.” If the UK’s experience is anything to go by, this will include everyone from Muslim rights workers to G20 protesters. The objective appears to be to gather intelligence on anyone promoting a ‘radical message’, in order to trigger actions to disrupt their activities.
According to Statewatch:
The aim is to exchange information and increase the quantity “obtained by other, non-specific means or instruments” (by any means possible?). Apart from providing analyses (termed “ISSUES”) the information gathered would result in assessments and “tactical operational… decision making” (a security euphemism for targeting, undermining or destabilising). The individual or groups on which the information is to be gathered and exchanged are called “AGENTS”
and: “data assessment will therefore automatically be built into tactical operational decision-making, with the measures and steps considered appropriate here being taken.”
Information would therefore be gathered with a view to disrupting the ‘radicalisation process’. The information collected seems to be determined by a series of illuminating questions:
• “Administrative position? Original nationality, acquired nationality, illegal resident, temporary residence, work permit, study permit, etc.”
• “Economic situation? Unemployed, deterioration in economic position, loss of scholarship or financial assistance, etc.
• “Relevant psychological traits? Psychological disorders, charismatic personality, weak personality, etc.”
• “Level of direct personal support? Family, civil status (single, married, widowed, divorced, separated), children, friends.”
• Relationship with the various institutions/government bodies at State level, regional level and local level?: Social services, educational establishments, security services (immigration, police, prisons, intelligence, etc.), other.”
• “Social environment in which VR (violent radicalisation) occurs? Family home, friends, Internet, educational centre, religious or prayer centre, prison, workplace, leisure centre, etc.”
• “How does the person consider or interpret the relationship between that collective identity and other agents, and the social, cultural, religious, political or economic situation? Terrorist groups exaggerate situations of injustice, inequality, oppression, etc”.
• “Has the person made oral comments on: intention of taking part in violent action?”
• “Has the person made oral comments on: other issues, mainly of a political nature, using arguments based on RMs [radical messages].
This plan is clearly not restricted to investigating people suspected of terrorism. ‘Violence’ is not defined, but could quite clearly include public disorder.
This initiative, like its predecessors in the UK, has big implications. It can only entrench suspicion that any Muslim holding non-mainstream views is automatically branded a potential terrorist. Not just Muslims, of course. We seem to be heading into a situation where anyone challenging the status quo is fair game for an increasing array of state sanctions.
There are potentially big consequences for protest too. An unstated but clear objective of all this is surely to put a halt to all those annoying and very costly protests at G8, G20 and environmental summits. This is a real test for all of us who believe that creating visible, effective protest at a European level is important. The proper response must be to take to the streets in increasing numbers, and to continue putting out our ‘radical messages’ as loudly as we can.