The tragic spiral of terrorist violence

How to read a CLD

The fatal attack on a British soldier in London that the would appear to be a retaliation for the activities of British troops in Afghanistan or in Mali, was not only shocking in its brutality but in its potential implications for British society. Such attacks can easily begin a downward spiral into sectarian violence. Within hours of the attack they were arrests as right-wing extremists targeted mosques. The pattern is shown in this causal loop diagram.

The extremists target the wider population of the group that they regard as representative of the crimes committed against them. This in turn sparks retaliation. The profound tragedy of this is that the violence in Afghanistan is transported to the streets of London where it can easily become endemic.

One solution is to round up the potential perpetrators of this violence: the extremists within the Muslim community and the right-wing fascists in the British community.

The causal loop diagram shows that policy objective in arresting extremists is to reduce the number of terrorist attacks.

Certainly this would be an effective and popular politically move in the short term. Unfortunately such a punitive approach would only have the long-term effect of further exacerbating the sense of grievance amongst the extremists.

Long-term solutions involve building a resilient and tolerant community. This is like an extremely difficult when countries have multicultural populations where the wounds of sectarian violence are still fresh.