While the world struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, some seem to be benefitting from it. Daesh, a terrorist group which has habitually thrived amidst chaos, is one such beneficiary. There have been signs of the group’s resurgence in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe: in April, for example, Daesh executed numerous attacks in Iraq, the Philippines and France. It seems increasingly that Daesh is using COVID-19 to rebound from the loss of its territorial base and leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in 2019. This article explores Daesh’s perceptions and interpretations of the virus, and examines how the group has taken advantage of a global pandemic for its own purpose.
On 26 October 2019, US Special Forces killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the founder and leader of Daesh. The group was already under pressure: it had lost most of its territory, and many considered it functionally defeated. Losing its leader only reinforced that narrative. Nevertheless, the organisation remains present in Iraq and Syria, and can rely on affiliates around the world. What really then is the significance of Baghdadi’s death for Daesh?
Since the concept of transformative learning, or transformative education (TE), was conceived in 1978, transformation theory has been the central paradigm of various transformative learning initiatives mainly intended for adult education. Nevertheless, the concept has evolved over the last three decades into a more hybrid context/content-oriented approach to address different issues, including the advocacy of tolerance, human rights, dignity, and peace – not only for adults, but for other age groups too. The main distinction between the earlier TE approach and the hybrid modern one is that the latter focuses on advocating a given principle, like human rights for instance, rather than on the transformation process itself as it is shown in the initial TE works. In the modern method, the same transformation process still takes place but subconsciously, without necessarily having the subject aware of the phases that they may go through. This evolution allows TE to be applied in the broader scope of practical applications, including its potential to serve as an instrument for anti- and de-radicalisation processes aimed at countering extremism and extremist violence.
The threat of female terrorism is not new. In recent years, women have been amongst those caught planning bold attacks across Europe and spotted fighting for Daesh. Yet the tendency of security services to view women as victims, rather than as perpetrators, continues to hinder counterterrorism efforts, particularly in Britain. Britain’s current Prevent strategy aims to stop people becoming or supporting terrorists, but the strategy is ill-equipped to tackle the threat of female terror cells. With the fall of Daesh, the prospect of returning female radicals armed with the knowledge and ideological motivation to attack seems increasingly likely. This reality demands an urgent reassessment of the way we understand and combat female terror cells.
The name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) has been a contentious issue for 25 years, polarising those who support the name and those who argue the state should not be called ‘Macedonia’. The Greek government has consistently fallen in the latter category. After many rounds of UN-mediated talks from the 1990s through to 2017 failed to reach a solution, the leaders of the two Balkan countries finally reached one in 2018 after months of negotiations.