Counter Terrorism & Risk Resolution

Is there a distinction to be made between religious fundamentalism and religious radicalism.

By Noel G Whelan M.A Terrorism & Security.

This essay asks the question, is there a distinction to be made between religious fundamentalism and religious radicalism in the Middle East. The research undertaken examines fundamentalism, radicalism and the term religious in the context of both fundamentalism and radicalism within the Middle East.

The research in this essay will show the reader that there are some distinctions between religious fundamentalism and religious radicalism and similarities that can be found between the former and the latter, these common similarities have now merged into an ideology of there own. This ideology is now known as neo-fundamentalism. Neo fundamentalism has become a hybrid ideology of both religious fundamentalism and religious radicalism. This essay will also examine this new phenomena known as neo fundamentalism, what creates neo fundamentalism, what neo fundamentalists do, what neo fundamentalism is for and against.


Fundamentalism is the strict maintenance of the ancient fundamental doctrines of any religion or ideology. Fundamentalist Islam is defined by Bernin and Stork as a phenomenon that maybe compared to politically activist, Socially conservative movements motivated by Christian, Jewish and Hindu identities; in addition they argue that it may be defined as representing the restoration of a pure unsullied, and authentic form of religion cleansed of historical accretions, distortions and modernist devotions. (Milton & Edwards, 2003:133)

According to Owen, the establishment of an Islamic state in Iran in 1979 was the major event of the first period of heightened activity by religiously inspired political movements triggered by the 1967 Arab/Israeli War. (Owen, 2004:154) If fundamentalism can be viewed as an action or methodology, as Milton and Edwards argue, for purifying or cleansing the histories of various religions be they Christians, Jewish and Islamic within middle eastern context and the guidance of religious activities and religious rhetoric or …dogma in a present more contemporary sense it will allow the reader to have a more clear understanding of the motivations and methods of fundamentalists and the impact their ideology is having on the middle east at the present time in regard to many facets of contemporary life, political reform, industrial development etc. However, fundamentalism should not be seen in a completely negative perspective, because fundamentalism can also be seen positively as a motivating factor in driving a culture forward both industrially and politically. This view however inclusive of religious fundamentalism if Owens’s analysis that the establishment of an Islamic state in Iran in 1979 was the major event of the first period of heightened activists by religiously inspired political movements triggered by 1967 Arab/Israeli war, is correct then fundamentalism in an Islamic religious context has become far more rudimentary and single minded in its objectives.

Typology of Islamic fundamentalism …(al-da-wa) and the belief that violent struggle is futile and unproductive against the state. Content people within a state do not rise up against their state. Therefore fundamentalists have to organise movements from the bottom of society upwards. Introduce propaganda by deed to civil society. Create fundamentalist movements to local levels that governments are unable ignore, for instance The Muslim brotherhoods in Egypt and Syria. This shows that the word fundamentalist can have both positive and negative connotations; for instance through the building of hospitals and relief work done after natural disasters, however, there also is an association perhaps fundamentalism can be viewed in a sense of the organisation of resources and ideals, to undermine the state from within, a form of insurrection and the desire to upset the status quo within a given middle eastern state and society at large.


Radicalism, “according to the concise English dictionary is the fashionable affectation of left wing views.” (2001:800)

Radicalism is the next evolution for the fundamentalist as an individual and radicalisation of a group or member of a society is the next stage in reaching its goals and aims if they feel the normal course of accepted actions where not acceptable to the fundamentalist. An individual can be said to be a fundamentalist because he/she believes in the absolute fundamentals of an idea or an ideology, however that does not make them a radical if an individual is angered, wounded, intimated, ignored or marginalized then he or she may well rise up against the state, if the individual has no recourse or representation through the normal state machinery, he or she may rise up against that state to make their point.

According to Aristotle, “the state exists by nature. The state is all encompassing the state must deliver all of mans needs and desires.”(Aristotle, 1252a24-1253a39:The Politics) From a radical viewpoint, if the nature of the state does not allow for an individual of the state to be represented, then the radical may be forced by lack of options to change the nature of the status quo of a state by violent means if necessary to achieve a radical or fundamental aim. In the form of Islamic radicalism, they oppose state structures the (state is viewed as a symbol of apostasy)

According to the concise English dictionary “radicalism relates to or affecting the fundamental nature of something.”

“Advocating through political or social extreme.”

Hamas a radical politically militant middle eastern organisation by engaging in mainstream politics it can assert its ideals and political views both politically and violently, what Hamas can’t achieve by the ballet box it can achieve with the bomb.

“Politically extreme”, this is self evident in the middle east in relation to Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon by attacking the Israeli civilian community and infrastructure utilizing violence in the name of religion to change the political landscape and territory of the state of Israel. As they fundamentally believe in the destruction of the state of Israel.

“Radicalism is departing from traditions” for radicalism to be effective as a tool in forcing home fundamentalist views on a society. The radicals have to show that the radicals are credible, capable and have the intent to carry out violent actions.


(Concerned with or believing in a religion created or regarded with care and devotion appropriate to worship. A person bound by monastic vows).

Religion is very important in the make up and insular view of any given society and how that society views itself. However it can also be a very potent factor in motivating people to carry out aggressive actions in the name of religion or a certain belief structure for example, in war soldiers will always fight better when they believe they are fighting for something fundamental to themselves or their own belief structures as that of their society. According to Ajami “society needs a system of beliefs, an ideology to guide it.”

The fundamentalists contention was that Islam offered that system of belief that it could do what no imported doctrine could hope to do – mobilize the believers, install discipline and inspire people to make sacrifices and if necessary to die.”

(Ajami, 1999:02) Ajami’s argument becomes evident in Nasser s historic statement to King Hussein of Jordan giving Nasser’s consent to the evacuation of Jordanian troops from the west bank had a heavier dose of religiosity than was customary in Nasser’s statements. “We believe in Allah and it is not possible that Allah will abandon us and perhaps the coming days will bring us a victory for him.” (Ajami, 1999:72) if the concise English dictionary is correct when it defines the word religion, is concerned with believing in a religion, then this analogy sits very well between religion and Islam and religious practices of Islamic religious beliefs. There is nothing abnormal about Nasser’s unusual religious words seeking guidance from Allah after the 1967 defeat by Israel because governments all over the Middle East utilize religious texts whenever it suits them. See Sadam Hussein visiting the mosque on the eve of the second Gulf War , a highly visualised propaganda stunt. Utilising Islam, as a social matrix to show solidarity, with the people of Iraq and other Muslims around the world,

“Islam had once made heroes out of weaklings it had defeated the powerful empires, Persian and the Byzantine, despite the hearts of men, it enabled them to fight and die for a just causse. Its power lay in the beliefs certitude that Islam was the best message for the world and that the Muslims were the best community ever raised up to mankind. “Today Arabs have lost all this.”

(Ajami, 1999:76) In the strict Islamic traditions there is no real separation between religion and the state, as in the western tradition post renaissance, if religious means that religion should be treated and regarded with care then how does it explain the rise in religious radicalism.

According to the philosophic Voltaire “People will continue to commit atrocities as long as they believe in absurdities)”(1694-1778) the rise of radicalism in the middle east is directly attributed to the interpretations of the Hadith of the the prophet Mohammed by half educated Islamic clerics whom use koranic text, to influence other believers or non believers of how they should interpret those texts through Ijtihad. If an individual can’t understand and interpret the world around them for themselves they will listen and absorb other peoples i.e. bogus Islamic clerics flawed interpretations as that of their own. “There was an equivalent devolution of authority in Islam with what Richard Bulliet has described as the ‘de facto transfer of religious primacy from madras and professors, mosque imams, muftis and the like to self designated ‘leaders’ with Lesser or no scholarly credentials but who are skilled in the use of magazines, newspapers, pamphlets and press conferences.”

(Ajam, 1999:158) religious involvement and flawed interpretations of the hadith of the prophet Mohammed and the ability to distinguish between religion and religious activities has influenced fundamentalist desires and objectives allowing Muslims through another flawed interpretation of the word (jihad) to take politics within the middle east onto a messianic scale. However characters that call themselves religious are becoming the non-state actors with more powerful voices and dictating policy via uneducated interpretations. Another more contemporary example of religion being called to the forefront of radicalism is the religious Fatwa issued in 1996, entitled ‘declaration of war against the Americans occupying the land of the two holy places’, religious view and flawed interpretations are utilized to give legitimacy and justification for terrorist actions.

Distinctions between religious fundamentalism and religious radicalism.

In comparison religious fundamentalists are willing to co-operate with the state as in the case of the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt courting lawyers whom are already part of the states system, according to Ajami “to regard the Ikhwan [the Muslim brothers] as purely reactionary would, in our judgement be false for there is at work in it also a praiseworthy constructive endeavour to build a modern society on a basis of justice and humanity as an extrapolation from the best values that have been enshrined in the tradition from the past. (Ajami, 1999:71)

Radicals however will at some point when they believe there is no point in trying to change the nature of a society via peaceful means and by political representation they risk to speed up the process as can be seen by the attack on the tourist resort of Dahab in 2006 and the previous attack on the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in 2005. Egyptian religious radicals advocate their ideals via political means or if they can’t then it is vented by social extreme as their only alternative.

Although there are many things that separate religious fundamentalists and radical fundamentalist apart in the Middle East, however they have more similarities in common. There is no real obvious distinction between religious fundamentalists and religious radicalism in the Middle East. The more contemporary ideology for both factors and has a similar synthesis running between both religious fundamentalism and religious radicalism is Neo-fundamentalism.

What creates Neo fundamentalism?

Neo fundamentalism is quasi-Religious fundamentalism and religious radicalism; neo fundamentalism is a natural evolution of fundamentalism and radicalism in the Middle East. It is a hybrid of the former and the latter.

According to Roy “during the 1980” there was an observable drift of political Islamism toward a neo fundamentalism. Militants who where previously striving for the Islamic revolution are becoming involved in a process of re-Islamization from below. They preach an individual return to the practices of Islam (Roy, 2001:75)

They above statements bear all the Hallmarks of religious fundamentalism and religious radicalism in each Muslims individual right of itihad is now disappearing another radical action to control society in a fundamentalist war (ijtihad). According to Roy the right to individual interpretations has been surrendered. If this is the case then radical fundamentalists are using the hadith of the prophet Muhammad to completely change society from a grass roots level. This in itself is an extremely radical action. As neo fundamentalists are now creating their own interpretations of the Koran this would make Islam a command religion rather than a demand religions, very Marxist in outlook.

What do neo fundamentalists do?

According to Roy:

“The neo fundamentalists try to re-Islamise society on a grass root level and no longer through state power. If the Islamic society is above all based on the virtue of its members, then individuals and practices must be reformed. The spread of Islamiaztion will necessarily lead to an Islamic society”(Roy, 2001:79).

It can be seen here that neo fundamentalism has become very accommodating to the ideas of religious fundamentalism. Neo fundamentalists are trying to re-Islamise society without political representation as we would understand it in the west as a democratic concept, people chosen from the people to represent the people. Neo fundamentalists are remaining amongst the people, i.e. the proletariat i.e. the masses to influence the masses from the bottom up and not the top down process of western political representation.

According to Roy “their policy is re-conquer society through social action, (Roy, 2001: 78)” this could possibly be achieved via the same way Mao tse tung Achieved his aim by offering the people of China an alternative by courting the peasantry classes in his strategic concept of an Ink Blot revolution.

Neo fundamentalism takes on a very Marxist approach similar to that of attracting… the proletariat to its cause. The revival of the Shari a is becoming the primary theme in neo fundamentalist demands (Roy, 2001: 76)

“Generally the popular sections of the large metropolises are the most fertile grounds for neo-fundamentalism, neo fundamentalist adopt traditional clothing” (Roy, 2001: 82)

“Neo fundamentalism entails a shrinking of the public space to the family and the mosque”(Roy, 2001:83)

What is neo fundamentalism for?

As an inward looking form of heretical Activity it remains to be seen just what neo fundamentalism will achieve if we take neo fundamentalism as a forceful method to convert Muslims or non-believers back to their traditions in order to protect Islamic traditions from modernity. It can be seen from its abilities to coerce individuals at all levels in Islamic society. Preachers, organisers of various associations, lawyers at the heart of states civil machinery they wish to have a movement through the Middle East and an ideology too.

Perhaps this is the rise of pan Arabism post 1967 in a different guise. A grass roots movement.

What is neo fundamentalism against?

Neo fundamentalism is just a restoration of the old fundamentalist and radical Islamic views. The message to Muslims and the rest of the non-Islamic world is still the same but the transmission and the organisation of resources of the Mullahs, graduates and the intelligentsia is different. Neo fundamentalism is an inward looking methodology rather than an outward expression of ones views to the established authority of states within the Middle East.

“Since Islam has the answer to everything the trouble with Muslim society is suffering is due to non-believers and to plots whether Zionist or Christians.”(Roy, 2001:85)

Neo fundamentalists are against modernity in an effort to stave of the effects of globalisation and the perceived destruction of traditional Muslim activities and values.

According to Roy “compromise with the west is forbidden (Roy, 2001:82)”

Neo fundamentalism is isolationist but is it reactionary. As a hybrid of both religious fundamentalism and religious radicalism we know what neo fundamentalist is against but what is neo fundamentalism really for.


FOUAD AJAMI. (1999) The Arab Predicament: Arab Political Thought and Practice since 1967 (Cambridge University Press)

Aristotle (1981) The politics (London: Penguin)

Beverly Milton Edwards’s (2005) Contemporary politics of the Middle East:(Cambridge: Polity Press)

Concise English Dictionary (2006) :( Scotland: Geddes&Grosset)

Owen Roger (2005) State, Power and Politics in the Making of the modern Middle East (London: Routledge)

Roy Oliver (2001) The Failure of Political Islam (Harvard University Press)

Texas Center of Homeland Security,
A Member of the Texas State University System,
P.O. Box 10043,
Beaumont, Texas 77710.

To Whom It May Concern,

During the past two years Noel Whelan, N.N. K.M.S.T.A. has been a guest lecturer at the Texas Center for Homeland Security. Noel has a hunger for knowledge, and  a unique ability to impart information. He is a man void of fear whether in combat, or lecturing before thousands. I have seen him speak to homeland security and sociology students here at the college, and witnessed his ability to bring topics to life. He has also spoken to members of the United States Coast Guard, and military personnel at the Port of Beaumont which is the number on military port in the United States.  Noel has spent countless hours training the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department Special Weapons and Tactics Team. Due to his dynamic training this is one of the few SWAT teams in the United States prepared in counter-terrorism and counter insurgency. They are now ready to respond to any critical infrastructure event. He has also worked with the Port of Beaumont Police Department to increase the external and internal security of the port.  Noel is my eternal friend and Brother in Arms. He is a well honed Irish Warrior with a passion to serve his God and Queen. As a member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces he has worked in Russia, the Baltic States, North Africa, Central Asia, and South America. This has allowed him to master skills necessary to teach warfighters, police officers and security professionals how to defend the free world against terrorism.  I have gleaned from watching and listening to Noel. He has the ability to put theory into action, and causes group enthusiasm when he lectures. It is an honor to work with Noel in the cause for Freedom.

Chief James P. Doane, GMI
Homeland Security / Criminal Justice Programs
409 880-8023

Noel Whelan

Research and Operational Developments Director

Summary of  Education, training and skills of: Noel.  M.A. (Terrorism & Security)  K.M.S.T.A M.i.f.L

My most recent position was within a Financial Services Firm on a counter Corporate espionage contract to remove a covert transmitter listening devise from a building and to track and locate the perpetrator who installed this surreptitiously this was completed in a short period of time with a successful outcome on behalf of the company.  I have recently completed a short-term contract to undertake a threat analysis and risk resolution to implement effective counter corporate measures for a major United Kingdom based Logistics firm. I had the responsibility for protecting the organisations assets, interests and to protect the organisations brand and reputation presently and into the future. The priorities for this project where escalated with the onset of Christmas 2008 and the onset of the present recession. I reported my findings on a real time basis to the board of the organisation and the actions that they would need to take to protect their corporate image. I also had to investigate, seek opportunity to test the resilience and virtually exploit the organisation to identify vulnerabilities to prevent a potential breach for the future as this organisation had been the victim of a major surreptitious robbery a few months previous.  Prior to this I was self-employed teaching internationally on subjects such as Anti and counter terrorism training within various Governmental, private and corporate structures. I have also been teaching members of the Jefferson County Sheriff department special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams in Counter terrorist techniques and tactics in the United States of America and individuals in Government roles including lectures within the realms of social sciences to students at the Texas centre of Homeland security.  Evidence of this shall be provided as per reference from the Director of Homeland Security South East Texas.

In the last three years I have provided protection and direction to some of Britain’s most critical infrastructures during activist’s campaigns. Escorted visitors to various troubled regions such as North Africa undertaking up to date research on threat levels while on location.  Prior to this I was a Higher education Lecturer and programme manager at Park Lane College Leeds West Yorkshire England. My responsibilities at the college included academic development and vocational training at all levels in subjects such as Business Management focusing on risk management and security, terrorism, fundamentalist and Middle Eastern extremist movements, anti-terrorist studies, leadership, tactical and strategic studies.  During my tenure at the college I have created higher education degrees in a range of related subjects and delivered lectures on such diverse subjects as Aviation Terrorism and Security in the New World Order Post 9-11for managers within the travel and tourism industry and also at an academic level for colleges, universities etc. As a result of my previous personal and professional operational skills I have been instrumental in organising, formulating, and carrying out training courses in Personal Security Skills and Criminal Awareness to various private and public sector organisations.  I have travelled extensively in my capacity as a lecturer, training various government specialist units as well as corporate security structures in the USA, Europe, SE Asia and Africa gaining valuable contacts and in depth knowledge of various groups and structures.

I have developed strong and effective links with UK organisations such as Regional Police Forces, British Army, Royal Navy, and the Security Industry Authority (SIA) and National Educational Awarding bodies.  This has resulted in providing lectures and demonstrations for senior officers of H.M. Armed Forces on Insurgency and Counter Insurgency Processes, which included technical, tactical and strategic planning analysis. I have also delivered lectures to flight training services for British Airways at London Heathrow Airport and to Her Majesty’s Prison Control and Restraint Training teams at Lindholme Prison, Doncaster.

As a dedicated, highly trained and experienced professional within the specialist security field I have a clear understanding of the operational requirements of specialist security services in both governmental and private security sectors.  Through both operational experience and academic qualifications I am able to conduct operational and managerial planning for specialist security roles and for implementing counter measures. A major part of this work includes the assessment of threats to national or international security.

The most recent threat assessment and risk resolution I have undertaken was for Morison’s Construction, the major contractor for the British Olympic Village, which is under construction in preparation for hosting the 2012 Olympics.  This Threat Assessment and Risk resolution was submitted to New Scotland Yard, London, in April 2007.

The most recent security operation I have been involved in was designated Operation Harmony.  This national security operation was conducted from August 24 to September 5, 2006 in the North of England. My role was to command an operational protection mission to counter an organised effort to disrupt, destroy and ultimately force the closing of a British Energy power station in Great Britain.  The operation was a total success as my team and I prevented 14 separate, documented infiltrations and produced 6 successful arrests by the North Yorkshire Police. This operation was re-instigated in 2007 at Egg borough Power Station on a smaller scale due to intelligence received whereupon I was the security advisor for the site managers.

I have recently completed the delivery of international training in Counter Terrorist Operations, Close Quarter Combat (firearms), Hostage Rescue, Siege Craft and Countering Extremism to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department SWAT team in Texas on July 11/12th. 2007. As a result of collaborative work in the U.S. with the Sheriff’s Office, FBI and other law enforcement agencies I am now a lecturer and trainer for the Office of Homeland Security in America.

Recent international lectures include:

“Improvised Explosive Devices Search and Recognition” presented to members of the 842nd Transportation Battalion, US Army, Port of Beaumont, and Beaumont, Texas in February, 2007.

“Terrorism and the State” at the Centre for Homeland Security, Lamar Institute of Technology, Beaumont, Texas in July, 2007, to police, military and government officials.

“Insurgency/Counter Insurgency: Technical, Tactical and Strategic Analysis” to students at the Centre for Homeland Security, Lamar Institute of Technology, Beaumont, Texas in November, 2006.

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