Security in the War on Terror: Predict, Prevent, Police

Policing ‘Crime’ and ‘Violence’ - Lecture 7

Lecturer: Dr Shereen Fernandez, Queen Mary University

July 22, 2021

The Global War on Terror, which was launched in response to the attacks in America on September 11th, has strengthened approaches to securitisation in its attempt to eliminate terrorism. The figure of the ‘terrorist’ is closely associated with that of the Muslim man who through laws and policies related to counter-terrorism and counter-extremism, such as the Prevent Duty, is constructed as a risk and threat to society. From the Global North to the Global South, racialised communities, especially those racialised as Muslim, experience the War on Terror in their everyday spaces such as in schools and healthcare settings, as the frontlines of the war constantly expand. As we approach the 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it is clear that anti-terrorism measures are becoming a permanent feature of society, despite being declared during a state of emergency.

In this lesson, we will explore what the emergence of the War on Terror meant for security and, how the US and the West more generally became viewed as ‘exceptional’ forces. Through a focus on the Prevent Duty, we will examine how the War on Terror deploys pre-emptive measures to tackle the threat of terrorism, all of which contributes to rising levels of Islamophobia in society. We consider how such securitising measures have become embedded within the ‘everyday’ and what the consequences are, specifically those racialised as Muslim.



Questions for Discussion

  • How do pre-emptive security measures increase feelings of insecurity?
  • In what ways has the War on Terror become a permanent feature of everyday life?
  • To what extent has the War on Terror designated certain groups of people as security threats? In what ways can we challenge these assumptions?