Terrorism only stopped by good police work: Leiden PhD

Arresting terrorists and bringing them to justice is the only measure that works against all kinds of threats.

This is the conclusion of Teun van Dongen in his doctoral research into the effectiveness of counter-terrorism. He will receive his doctorate at Leiden University on his research next week.

According to Van Dongen, people rarely look at what actually works in practice when forming policies for combating terrorism. "We will do well to look at: what do we know about terrorist organizations, what have we done, what worked?"

The PhD candidate also looked at the combating nationally focused terrorist organizations. He therefore also researched the fights against the RAF in Germany, the IRA in Great Britain and the ETA in Spain. Van Dongen compiled a list of measures taken against the IRA, ETA, RAF and the jihadist movement in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, among others. "Of all the measures, arresting and bringing to justice is the only measure that works against all three types of terrorism", he concludes.

Van Dongen emphasized that "terrorists" should not now be arrested on large scale. "No, there must still be oriented policies. There is also the risk of escalation." he said. If there is a lot of support for a "movement" among the population, there is a great risk of public outrage at unjustified arrests. Van Dongen warns that this could result in the movement gaining more support.