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Issue 11 | 2020


Marco Lombardi, Barbara Lucini – Marco Maiolino, Beyond counter- and alternative narratives to tackle extremism: the new Format model


Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) as a concept was introduced in Europe in 2004-2005, following the devastating terrorist attacks against the Cercanías commuter train system of Madrid and the metropolitan infrastructure of London, and since then has appeared in innumerable strategic documents.
The introduction of CVE was sparked by the threat of religious extremism, although it is a framework that could also be easily extended to other types of extremism (political, single-issue, etc.).
In view of the fact that no internationally accepted definitions currently exist for either “terrorism” or “violent extremism”, just as there is a lack of consensus over the precise meaning of CVE and what forms it should take.
As reported in the website of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), CVE tends to comprise the “use of non-coercive means to dissuade individuals or groups from mobilizing towards violence and to mitigate recruitment, support, facilitation or engagement in ideologically motivated terrorism by non-state actors in furtherance of political objectives (Khan, 2015)”.
Moreover, CVE is understood to cover a wide range of activities which are undertaken at many different levels by, for instance, States, supranational entities, international organisations, academia, the private sector and civil society, revealing a significant issue of coordination to exist.
Within the framework of Countering Violent Extremism, and although controversial, combating extremist communication with the potential to incite violence has had an important role to play since the beginning and, apart from merely disrupting it, counter- and alternative narratives have been widely developed and implemented, showing some potential as well as significant limitations.
In this paper, counter- and alternative narratives in CVE are the subject of a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis which is presented methodologically and developed in the following pages.
The analysis underlines the need to renew the strategic communication effort, to increase its ability to adapt to the evolving scenario and its effectiveness in countering extremist communication. The format model is proposed in view of these purposes.

Violent extremism, communication, swot analysis, format model

Barbara Lucini, Soft skills for governing new threats: training methods for LEAs in preventing and countering violent extremism and radicalisation

This paper aims to provide an analysis of the contribution that resilience, especially in its cultural dimension, can provide in post-crises and conflict scenarios, along with the pragmatic approach of cultural diplomacy.
The key premise is the concept of resilience and its role in crisis management and risk analysis. Cultural resilience is regarded as an essential factor to build national, collective and individual identities that are able to define, interpret and manage new hybrid threats.
Both the cultural factor itself and the concept of identity need to be seen as drivers for the required relationship between the cultural dimension of resilience and cultural diplomacy.
The final remarks consolidate a social anthropological perspective associated with the cultural dimension and the application of the concept of resilience in the framework of cultural diplomacy, with the aim to manage socio-political tensions and conflicts in many parts of the world.

Cultural resilience, cultural diplomacy, security, adaptation, proactivity.


Daniele Maria Barone, The institutional symmetry of an asymmetric conflict. A State – State rivalry throughout Daesh’s Soft-Power

To analyse Daesh exclusively through its skills in keeping its brand communicative and evocative, can overshadow the real goal of the organization: establish and control its borderless State. Indeed, the terrorist group is gradually erasing from the collective imaginary its image connected to a leader or an ideology but, on the contrary, it is evolving as a fully-fledged State which is consolidating its soft-power.
Through its either online or offline communication, Daesh is growing even beyond the ideology itself. The organization is progressively insinuating in its followers’ psychological and sociological environments through, for instance, their spare time or their political orientation. Nowadays, the organization has acquired enough tools to understand and change the way of thinking of individuals or entire communities and it is masterly using it at its advantage.
Taking into account the exogenous (i.e. the sociological background of its supporters) and endogenous (i.e. Daesh’s modus operandi) elements, this paper will analyze how Daesh, by exploiting its means of communication, is succeeding in being perceived as a stable entity. The paper will explain that this development is far from being a random process but represents the real inner core of the organization which, from this perspective, is keeping on being reinforced by Daesh’s adaptability.

Daesh, Jihad, Soft-power, Hybrid warfare

Tommaso Longo, Misoginia online: le nuove forme di radicalizzazione all’interno del terrorismo Incel

Since 9/11 the characteristics of terrorism and, as a consequence, also the radicalization’s process of individuals has changed dramatically. Involuntary Celibacy is a new and emerging phenomenon that generally concerns white, wealthy, young and western men that hate women. Incel, that is the acronym, is a misogynist movement led by men who fail to succeed in relationships with women, and who, in response to this, get angry with the opposite sex because of their refusal, coming in some cases to hit them through the commission of violent acts. In order to comprehend the reasons that lead these individuals to the commission of terrorist attacks, the aim of this article is to conduct an integrated analysis between the literature review of articles published from 2001 to 2015 about the main features of the classic paradigm of terrorism, an analysis of the stories of seven attackers connected to the Incel movement through OSINT, and a set of interviews administered to some experts of the security sector, to a first-hand experience and to a Canadian professor of gender studies from the University of Toronto.
Through all this material it is possible to understand the context in which these individuals apprehend the main theories, and start their radicalization process that lead to the commission of terroristic attacks. In the article are identified some indicators that can help law enforcement and families to earlier detect some signals that could be helpful in preventing the occurrence of the massacres.

Incel, Misoginy, Terrorism, Indicators, Radicalization, Rodger, Minassian.


Daniele Plebani, Dalla Business continuity verso la Social continuity: società, criminali e terroristi alla prova di COVID-19

At the time of writing (April 2020), the virus COVID-19 is spreading all over the world and has infected more than two million people. Caught mostly unprepared, governments are trying to face the current health crisis with different approaches, however, tackling this phenomenon only on the health, economic or social level could lead to failure. A comprehensive approach is required and it should be focused on enhancing the social tissue of the country by handling pragmatic support to companies and people. As the 2007-8 financial and economic crisis showed, other actors such as organized crime and extremist groups could step into the gap between the time emergency arise and the government’ support, while the peculiar nature of this phenomenon could give birth to new waves of violent protests. States, companies and citizen should then transform the “Business continuity” approach and act as pivotal agents of “Social continuity”.

COVID-19, social continuity, business continuity, terrorism, organized crime.

Carmine de Vito, Crisi Istituzionale in Bolivia. Il Modello Geopolitico delle Partite Internazionali. Introduzione al Concetto di Intelligence di Posizione

The Bolivian institutional crisis born from the departure of President Evo Morales is, without a doubt, a theme that needs the right reflections on the dynamics, events, social and political bodies that have interacted with the realization of the state of crisis.
The philosophical and juridical concept of crisis in international relations: its evolution and the definition of a new geopolitical theoretical model of confrontation between states.
The analogies with the international crises in Venezuela, Libya and Syria; all representative of the paradigm of mutation of the comparison scheme in global competition: the model based on the “spheres of influence” is considerably reduced, while the model of the “international matches” becomes central.
The doctrinal elaboration of the concept of position intelligence: perfectly functional to the outlined scheme of relationships on a multipolar basis which reaffirms the “real” character, that is not only of strategic-economic hegemony, but strategic-economic-military.

Bolivia, Evo Morales, international crisis, international match, Geopolitics, Geo-economics, intelligence, position intelligence.

Marco Lucchin, Cultural Diplomacy in Russia: identità e cultura come evoluzione del Paese

The aim of this article is to investigate Russian Cultural Diplomacy strategies and how they are intrinsically tied to the current zeitgeist. We are going to look at culture under a historical and strategic point of view, and examine how it’s possible it will evolve in Russia, following the national interest and its development trajectory. As a matter of fact, culture is not a mere propaganda tool, but it’s deeply tied to the political and historical situation of a country: it’s the way a nation thinks, the value that believes in and what keeps it together during hardships. Culture is also the image it projects abroad, and a tool that can be used as leverage in international relations, to gain consent or provoke clashes. On this backdrop, in the first part we are going to take a look at the historical background, and how culture and ideology followed the evolution of the country and its goals, together with identifying the main players shaping the policies: politics, academia, and promotion agencies.
In the second part we will proceed then with the investigation on the main souls of the Russian culture: Slavic background, the role of Orthodox Church, the role of Islam and relatively new ideologies as Eurasianism. We will then draw a line that, starting from the 9th century in Kiev, brings us to the heart of Europe, the central Asian steppe and the shores of Vladivostok, in search of the future direction of Russia’s culture and diplomacy.

Russia, cultural diplomacy, international relations

Giacomo Buoncompagni, Cyber-risk, cyber-migration. For a new human geography and security

The speed and intensity of communication and information flows are defining a media space that relates to geographic space today, but without replacing it. A process of deterritorialization of space and time is underway, anyone born in the second half of the 19th century is a migrant because he moves, physically and virtually, from one culture to another, in a liquid, fragmented and participatory way. The evolution of the web has created a social space without borders that facilitates communication between the communities of immigrants geographically dispersed in every part of the globe.
For immigrants and asylum seekers trying to enter Europe, not only traditional infrastructures (railways, ports…), but also electronic-digital infrastructures such as smartphones, apps, simultaneous translation programs, messaging, and social networks facilitate and support the travel organization and all the migratory experience of the “new connected migrants”. However the safety issue should not be underestimated: the lack of awareness in the use of devices can determine different levels of “technological risk”.
However, when faced with these problems, there are also good practices that several associations and institutions have successfully experimented, mainly related to ICT available for migrants and refugees.
Through a detailed and updated analysis of the scientific literature on the subject, by adopting an interdisciplinary look, we will try to understand how digital has changed and influenced migration processes, forms of exploitation and crime and at the same time reception and integration policies of new arrivals to the host state.

Migration, social media, technological risk, IT security, new media, human geography

You can download the full journal files in PDF by clicking here.

Issue 1 | 2015

download-(buttons)Welcome from the Editors

Sicurezza, Terrorismo e Società (Security, Terrorism and Society) is an online scientific journal published two times per year, which aims to promote the analysis of the numerous aspects that characterize the “security” dimension in the global world, with particular attention to terroristic drifts, without any cultural preclusion. The journal’s objective is the creation of a dialogue between academic, policy analysis and policy making domains on security and risk issues of contemporary society. Through a social science perspective, the journal combines anthropological, communicational, economical, legal, political, sociological and technological expertises. Thus, it is based on a multidisciplinary approach, which is thought to be necessary in order to face, both on a theoretical and empirical level, the XXI century new challenges.

download-(buttons)Alessandro CardazzoneUnderstanding Islamic State through Complex Systems Analysis

The aim of this article is to analyze the development capabilities of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) in its different levels of projection, by means of System Thinking (ST). It is a Qualitative methodology that helps analyzing Complex Systems, characterized by feedback mechanisms between actions taken by a decision maker and the reactions that the system manifests over time. Considering IS as a multifaceted and self-sustainable phenomenon, completely de-structured, whose elements with different skills and culture interact and influence each other through the Web, it is possible to create a simulation model that takes into account the relationship between the different levels of development through which the threat is increasing its power. There are: the level of territorial expansion, the level of virtual projection and economic infrastructure on which the group evolves. After building a possible model accounting for the development dynamics of Islamic State, analysis will focus on the recognition of “attractive” variables, which in terms of complex analysis reinforce the growth of the whole system over time. Subsequently, these variables will be the target of the proposed policy of containment of the threat.

download-(buttons)Matteo Vergani, La paura della morte rende estremisti?

L’estremismo è un tema molto dibattutto nella sfera pubblica globale. Tuttavia l’opinione pubblica è spesso esposta a dibattiti ideologizzati e basati su scarse evidenze empiriche. Questo articolo contribuisce al dibattito con i risultati di una ricerca sulle reazioni all’estremismo di alcuni giovani Australiani che hanno partecipato a un esperimento in cui è stata indotta la paura della morte. Questa, secondo la Teoria della Gestione del Terrore (Terror Management Theory) è un fattore che può determinare un mutamento significativo delle opinioni politiche. L’articolo presenta i dati dell’esperimento e ne discute le implicazioni relativamente al dibattito pubblico sull’estremismo. Inoltre l’articolo discute i risultati alla luce della Teoria della Gestione del Terrore, concludendo che questa non dovrebbe essere considerata come una teoria in grado di spiegare universalmente i cambiamenti delle attitudini politiche.

download-(buttons)Kamil Yilmaz, M. Alper Sozer17/25 December Graft Probe in Turkey and Understanding Erdogan’s Invincibility: A Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA)

This article aims to shed light on contemporary Turkish politics vis-à-vis the corruption scandals of 2013 that came to be called as the “17/25 December Graft Probe.” Its specific goal is to understand and explicate how Erdogan’s continued success in local and presidential elections in 2014 came about despite grave allegations of corruption, an iota of which could, under normal circumstances, bring down any government in any country that occupies even an epigeal locus on the democracy indices. To achieve this task, we will first explain what the 17/25 December Graft Probe was all about. Then, we will embark on a critical discourse analysis (CDA) of various speeches of Erdogan, which he made before and after December 17/25. Finally, we will try to make an estimative analysis of where Turkey might be heading in the upcoming months and years in light of the December 17/25, which marks a turning point in Turkey’s contentious politics.

download-(buttons)Alessandro BuratoEbola: is it real? The role of communication, information, regulation and training in managing emergencies

Everything probably stared with the death of a two years old child on the 6th of December, 2013, in Guéckédou, Guinea.  The cause of the death was an infection with the Ebola virus. Since then, the spread of the pandemic has become “viral” with more than 22.495 suspected or confirmed cases and 8.981 deaths reported by the WHO on the 4th February 2015. Although the crisis had begun more than one year ago, international media agenda setting influenced the coverage of the issue, starting to give it more space only from July, 2014. So, that was when the “big public” knew about the pandemic. Nothing strange: filtering the news is how the information delivering apparatus works and an infectious outbreak, at least at the beginning, is not a new phenomenon to “deserve” journals’ front page. In this article the perception of Ebola is taken as the starting point for the analysis of conventional and unconventional risk communication campaigns in one of the States directly affected by the pandemic, namely Nigeria, and to have a broader picture of how the issue has been addressed both internationally, by International organizations such as the World Health Organization and by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and in relation to Italy.

download-(buttons)Marco LombardiIslamic State Communication Project

IS has always stood out for its specific ways of communicating, particularly since the declaration of the caliphate on June 19, 2014. The Western reaction to the communication of Islamists has been one of surprise. However, such amazement is not justified at all. For historical reasons: for instance, the jihad – and Qaedism in particular – has always used communication as an instrument of war. And for specific reasons, suffice it to note the skillful and flexible use of the name of the Islamic State, as explained in other parts of this publication. In the following pages, we will try and explore the communication of IS by looking at its main products, so as to understand the categories that can explain them in the context of a complex communication project strategically aimed at establishing the caliphate, of which communication is a key pillar.

download-(buttons)Barbara LuciniUna prospettiva sociologica per i grandi eventi: proposte di crisis management fra modelli/sistemi di intervento e criteri di adeguatezza

Per l’Italia, Expo Milano 2015 rappresenta una sfida in termini di gestione dei grandi eventi e una occasione di riflessione teorico – metodologica per la sociologia e le discipline di crisis management e pianificazione del rischio. Le questioni da considerare prima e durante l’organizzazione di un grande evento, in termini di sicurezza e procedure di risposte tempestive, efficaci ed efficienti in caso di crisi o evento critico sono molteplici e gli scenari metodologici che si aprono, in accordo ad una riflessione sociologica, interessano le capacità di gestione di una crisi da parte delle istituzioni preposte a tale compito, in considerazione degli elementi di vulnerabilità e resilienza, che le comunità sociali ospitanti presentano prima, durante e dopo il grande evento. La conclusione propone, nel solco di una ancora giovane tradizione di crisis management italiano, un quadro teorico sociologico e relativa applicabilità, nel contesto della gestione dei grandi eventi e del relativo crisis management.

download-(buttons)Giovannni Pisapia, Chiara FonioAnalisi delle principali attività realizzate dalla Polizia Metropolitana di Johannesburg (JMPD) durante i Mondiali di Calcio FIFA 2010

La capacità di ospitare e garantire la sicurezza durante lo svolgimento dei Mondiali di calcio FIFA 2010 in Sud Africa, paese contraddistinto da un passato contrassegnato da un alto livello di violenza politica e un presente caratterizzato da numerosi crimini violenti, era una delle preoccupazioni principali sollevate sia a livello internazionale che locale. Questo articolo mette a fuoco nel dettaglio le attività sviluppate dal the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD).

download-(buttons)Davide ScottiDispositivo di Protezione Relazionale collettivo: l’altruismo a-sociale

La folla che si accalca all’ingresso o all’uscita di un luogo o che si muove in modo incomprensibile lungo le strade di una città è l’immagine più comune con cui rappresentarsi una massa di persone. In queste situazioni i “Dispositivi di Protezione Relazionale” (DPR) descrivono delle modalità interpersonali utili al management e alla risoluzione delle criticità che coinvolgono uno o più individui contemporaneamente. Se il Supporto tra Pari è una modalità per sostenere gli appartenenti ad una squadra o i più generici colleghi in un rapporto diretto che rappresenta un primo DPR, la gestione altruistica, sociale o a-sociale, della crisi potrebbe essere un ulteriore strumento di aiuto orientato alla folla.

download-(buttons)Francesca ZambelliVideosorveglianza e grandi eventi: una questione di legacy

I grandi eventi (o mega events) sono definiti e percepiti quali potenziali catalizzatori di rischio, in quanto per il loro carattere di eccezionalità e di visibilità internazionale richiedono ai paesi organizzatori un dispiego di misure di sicurezza senza precedenti: in questa sede di riflessione, l’obiettivo è analizzare quale sia la risposta in materia di sicurezza e risk management dei contesti ospitanti un grande evento.

download-(buttons)Executive Summary

Paper in Italian: Executive Summary in English and vice-versa.

It is possible to download the entire journal as PDF file by clicking here, as ePub file by clicking here and also as mobi file (Kindle format) by clicking here.