Understanding Counter-Terrorism Policy and Practice in the UK since 9/11

  • Rizwaan Sabir Sabir

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


This dissertation is an examination of the UK’s counter-terrorism policies and practices that have been adopted since the attacks of 9/11 in the United States. Using a theoretical framework of ‘power’ and ‘hegemony’ to guide the research, and an investigative research approach, the dissertation examines how the UK has, in the name of confronting an ideologically and religiously motivated global opponent, enacted a two pronged approach that integrates key aspects of counterinsurgency doctrine and practice. The first ties into the use of ‘coercion’ that is undertaken under the policy heading of ‘Pursue’ and covers activities that revolve around the use of policing, military, juridical and executive powers to investigate, prosecute and take preventative and pre-emptive action against suspected terrorists and the second ties into the use of ‘propaganda’ and ‘communication’ that is undertaken through the ‘Prevent’ policy, which attempts to challenge and counter those individuals who do not promulgate unlawful or violent views but support al-Qaida’s grievances and ideology and are thus claimed to be more likely to become involved in terrorism. In order to inform Prevent activity, information and intelligence – a cardinal principle of counterinsurgency – is a prerequisite. This dissertation therefore shows how intelligence and information is collected and used by examining Prevent activity at UK universities. It then proceeds to contextualise counter-terrorism policy and practice through an examination of counterinsurgency doctrine, and in particular, ‘strategic communication’. The dissertation argues that the integration of key elements of counterinsurgency doctrine into counter-terrorism policy and practice suggests that the policy, rather than being a mere response to terrorism, is an organised and strategic effort to use coercion and propaganda to control the behaviour and activity of Muslim communities and thereby constitutes a form of state-terrorism.
Date of Award19 Nov 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorDavid Miller (Supervisor) & Rana Jawad (Supervisor)


  • Terrorism, political Islam, CONTEST, Prevent, Pursue, surveillance, Islamism, counterinsurgency

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