On Sunday, a year has passed since Breiviks extremely cruel terrorist attack on Utøya and the governmental quarter in Oslo. This terrible deed is now analysed so that we can learn from it – both on radicalisation and whether contingency measures – to be better prepared for possible future terrorist attacks.
Today, I had meeting with the RAN network. RAN (Radicalisation Awareness Network) is a network which I launched last September. The thought behind is that the fight against terrorism too much focused on repressive measures and not enough on preventive work. Different analysis show that one of the biggest threats in terrorism today, is the loners, who get radicalized on their own – even if there are links to terrorism networks in some cases – and commit acts of terror. We saw it in Toulouse in May, Breivik is another example, and the Stockholm bomber.
There are today local experiences of detection of individuals turning into violent behavior and local knowledge about how to help them back into society again. It is concerning both right-or left-wing extremism, and also various types of religious extremism. The need to meet and discuss these issues with others, was something that became clear to me after a few trips in the member countries. Therefore, we launched the RAN, which now consists of a pan-European network of scientists, psychologists, NGOs, victims of terrorism, religious leaders, representatives of civil society, police officers, prison staff, etc. The idea is for them to share their experiences and also be an advisory board for us in the Commission on what measures might be needed. For example, the Swedish Exit with a project led by “Fryshuset” working to get right-wing extremists to leave the movement. Also Professor Magnus Ranstorp, a renowned terrorist scientists, participates.
In total, there are now eight working groups and they have just been in Brussels for two days to discuss and share ideas. The Commission is providing funds, the Secretariat and the opportunity to meet. There is no legislation or classic police issues under discussion, but the agenda contains the new methods to meet the violent ideologies at the local level. I attended a working lunch with representatives of the groups and had the opportunity to ask questions and get updated on their work. All participants were very positive and the groups will present methods and recommendations that Member States may use on national and local levels to counter violent extremism. A major ministerial conference on the issue planned for January. I am glad to see that the network works very well and their findings will be a vital key in the work of preventing terrorism.