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The “radicals” are coming! The “radicals” are coming!

by BlackCatte

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The Guardian’s latest piece on the ISIS crisis continues to eschew analysis in favour of fear mongering, propagandising and racism.

Three generations of a family who are feared to be in Syria had previously been prevented from leaving country but were later allowed to travel..

is the tagline – thus rather neatly introducing the subtext suggestion that these problems come about because our authorities are just way too lax about restricting the travel rights of ethnic minorities.

The body text makes the point again for good measure..

It was confirmed on Thursday that the family, including a one-year-old baby and two grandparents, had previously been prevented from flying to the south Asian country while officers questioned 21-year-old Rajia Khanom. However, they were later allowed to travel and flew to Bangladesh on 10 April.

Salutary warning. Do not make the mistake of letting innocent people wander around at will. They just might run off to become terrorists.

Yes, indeed, this is exactly what Rajia Khanom and her family are supposed – allegedly – to have done. “75-year-old Muhammed Mannan, who has diabetes, and his wife, Minera Khatun, 53, who has cancer” their daughter, four sons, two daughters-in-law and three grandkids, the youngest of whom is one year old, have – allegedly – all gone to Syria – to join ISIS.

Ok.

The Graun does remind us that this is still only a speculation. All that’s actually known for certain is that the family were “meant to be enjoying a “big family holiday” to Bangladesh”, were due back from their vacation on May 17 and failed to arrive. Why the authorities think the first and mostly likely explanation for their disappearance is they all became jihadists is something they don’t explore, other than telling us:

Counter-terrorism officers are now investigating whether Khanom was radicalised by Islamist extremists in Luton before she and her 11 relatives went on to join Islamic State militants in Syria.

Rajia’s brother – Mohammed Akhtar Hussain – the only one of the fam still in Britain apparently – helpfully fills in a few gaps. He “told told Channel 4 News on Thursday that his sister had joined a group of known radicals in Luton who were once members of the now-banned al-Muhajiroun,” and:

He told how he had recently argued with Khanom after telling her she had “fallen in with the wrong crowd”.

But – what about the 11 other people, including the old diabetic gentleman of 75, the middle-aged cancer-patient, the two children and the baby? Hussain did feel forced to admit he couldn’t see his elderly father running off to join ISIS:

Hussain said there was no way his father, Mannan, would have wanted to travel to a warzone

But that tiny glitch in the narrative is quickly smoothed out by saying more incriminating stuff about his sister:

If anyone had plans to go to Syria and join any groups there, it would have been my sister…”

Rajia is evidently the “radicalised” mastermind here. We almost don’t notice that Hussain does not explain anything about how – far less why – she is supposed to have somehow persuaded the other family members to go with her on her quest.

Other people who knew the family don’t seem to share Hussain’s POV. “A neighbour” told the Graun:

They were a normal family…. They were normal religious guys, you’d never think they were extremists in any way. It’s really shocking and unexpected.

I feel sorry for the elder members of the family because they probably didn’t know where they were going. If they’re in Syria they might have been taken against their will, they probably thought they were just going on holiday.” [my emphasis]

Maybe aware of the air of tragic farce clinging to the image of eleven bewildered people who “thought they were just going on holiday” being driven helplessly across the border into Syria by one 21-year old zealot, who apparently expects them all to join ISIS, the Graun opts to leave the story there.

Was Rajia really “radicalised” by this “wrong crowd” her brother so helpfully references? Maybe. Maybe not. What we really need to see is that this is not the point of the article. The story isn’t there because it’s true. The story is there – true or false – because it sells the currently desired agenda of fear and racism.

Just like the cynical manipulation of the Charleston shooting, the Tunisian shootings and all the rest of the sudden rash of recent tragedies, it’s prepping the way for another round of “the war on terror.”

Notice the word “radicalised” for example. Remember it, look out for it in the various narratives of fear currently being spun. It won’t be hard to find. It’s everywhere. Dylann Storm Roof was “self-radicalised, surfing a series of extremist and conspiratorial websites“. The alleged streams of ISIS volunteers pouring out of the UK are all “radicalised” by various shadowy persons. The Tunisian shooter was a breakdancer, “radicalised” inside the “last six months.

“Radical” is being transmuted into something we are supposed to associate with fear. To be “radical” is to be a threat. And of course it can also be applied to anything and anyone we want to demonise.

Be afraid. The white supremacists/Islamic jihadists/conspiratorial-website-visitors are coming for us in one amorphous mass of “radicalised” terror. Demand your government stops anyone ethnic from traveling – anywhere. Demand the NSA and GCHQ have even more powers to surveille. Demand the arrest and detention of anyone who visits “conspiratorial websites”. Demand the repeal of the Second Amendment – and hell, yes, the First Amendment if necessary.

“Radicalism” – defined as anything we want it to be – is the real threat. Not fascist governments, cynically looking for new Reichstag fires.


BlackCatte is a writer, graphic designer, opinionated polemicist and one of the founding editors of OffGuardian

Please note the opinions expressed in the comments do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or of OffG as a whole