In a blog I wrote for OSINTblog.org the other week I discussed the intelligence community’s preoccupation with Islamist political extremism. This preoccupation, I argued, is a manifestation of an obsession with global Jihad in academic discourse and open source intelligence (OSINT) gathering. I argued that, in the former case, this hampers academic progress and, in the latter, undermines security.
When intelligentsia and intelligence services speak of “terrorism,” it often carries the connotation of Islamist political extremism. However, as a couple of scholars with NUPI, an ISN partner, concluded in a report: although figures of speech contribute to the cognitive dimension of meaning by helping us to recognize the equivalence to which we are committed, cognitive shortcuts or ‘heuristics’, raise problems and do little to increase our understanding of terrorism as a phenomenon. In fact, cognitive shortcuts are counterproductive of why we study terrorism, namely, to enhance security.