Unthinking Extremism: Britain's Fusion Intelligence Complex and the Radicalizing Narratives that Legitimize Surveillance

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7 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this paper is to examine how Britain’s Public Authorities, the intelligence community, and key members from the private sector have come to define common activists as terrorists. In short, newfound terms such as ‘extremism’ have been
popularised to condemn the activities of groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS (Islamic State), but at the same time have been liberally applied to campaigners for the ‘far less politically correct deterrence of dissenting public discourse’ (Leman-Langlois 2009). This paper therefore argues that with the application of terms such as ‘extremists’ to Britain’s campaigners, these signifiers have notably radicalised protest groups—not by virtue of their actions per se, but by way of the very deliberate repositioning of
activists within counter-terrorism frameworks and national security discourse. Comparatively, this paper provides a response to Monaghan and Walby’s (2012) call for further research into how ‘“terror identities”… have become organising rubrics’ which define how threats to national security are identified and shape the responses from local government and regional stakeholders to such problems. In this respect, the paper considers a number of policing operations, public policies, and the introduction of a strategic dialogue throughout the West, designed to provoke a unilateral response to terrorism, extremism, and radicalisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-486
Number of pages13
JournalSurveillance and Society
Issue number3/4
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • terrorism surveillance studies
  • communication
  • discourseterrorism discourse
  • extremism


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