Most people think that violent terrorism is a major challenge facing their societies and they support tough measures to counter the problem at the expense of some civil liberties, according to a global survey on public perceptions towards violent terrorism commissioned by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), based in Washington.
According to the findings released earlier this week — derived from 8,000 respondents in eight countries — one in two people feel that their governments have not taken adequate steps to address violent extremism.
The survey was conducted in August this year and involved participants from China, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Around 25 per cent of the respondents from Turkey and France felt that violent terrorism is the most important issue facing their countries. Overall, around two-thirds of those polled see violent extremism as a major problem in their country.
“In everywhere except China, at least 75 per cent of those surveyed expect a terrorist attack in the next year,” said CSIS in a report of the survey findings.
“On a more alarming note, a majority in every country believes that it is likely that violent extremist groups will acquire and use weapons of mass destruction in their lifetime.”
The majority of respondents in Turkey, France and the US feel their own governments have not taken adequate steps to contain and prevent violent extremism.
In late June, a gun and bomb attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk airport killed more than 40 people and injured more than 230. Yesterday, a Turkish official said police in the capital had fatally shot a suspected Islamic State (IS) group militant who was planning a suicide bombing.
France has also been hit hard by violent terrorism, with 230 deaths and about 700 injuries as a result of attacks said to be carried out by IS.
Both France and Turkey are both sources of a relatively high number of foreign militants fighting in Iraq and Syria, with an estimated 700 French citizens and 500 Turks fighting under the IS flag.
Just last month, an Afghan-born American sowed terror across Manhattan and New Jersey, wounding 29 people before he was arrested — the latest in a spate of lone-wolf attacks to rock the US.
Despite widespread anxiety about the terrorist threat, 73 per cent of respondents in the CSIS survey believe that violent extremism can be eradicated.
When asked about potential measures to counter violent extremism, 90 per cent were in favour of requiring all citizens and visitors to have identification cards.
A similar percentage also supported asking Internet companies to do an even better job of shutting down all content from violent extremist groups, while 71 per cent favoured allowing government agencies to monitor all phone records, email and social media for contacts with terrorists.
Close to 90 per cent of the sample was also supportive of asking Muslim leaders to declare definitively that Islam does not in any way condone violent extremism or the creation of a caliphate. More than 80 per cent of those surveyed also said that immigrants who have not passed rigorous screenings and background checks for connections to extremism should be barred from entering their countries.
On Monday, Iraqi forces, supported by a US-led international coalition, launched a major offensive on the city of Mosul, the IS’ last major stronghold in Iraq.
The US expects IS to use crude chemical weapons as it tries to repel the offensive, although experts say the group’s technical ability to develop such weapons is highly limited.