Meet Andrzej Kruczyński

Andrzej is a former member of the Special Military Unit GROM (Group for Operational Maneuvering Response) of the Polish Armed Forces. He managed special operations and missions abroad. He was the head of security at the National Stadium in Warsaw. He received special training in anti-terrorist operations and actions undertaken by special operation forces. He worked in cooperation with foreign special operations forces. He regularly appears in the Polish media as an expert on security and terrorism to comment on tipical issues (e.g. attacks by far-right extremists such as the one in Christchurch, New Zealand). In recent years he has been a trainer in security and crisis management.

The revelatory moment

After finishing his service in the special military unit, Andrzej still felt compelled to use his high skills and knowledge in providing security solutions to various private and public institutions. He was hard to retire!
Although he has an extensive professional experience, he was not too familiar with the radicalisation phenomena. The UEFA Euro 2012 has been an eye-opener for him and with the great support Jacek Purski (IBS) he was soon to clarify a lot of issues linked to radicalisation and violent extremism. Due to the fact that football and violent far-right extremist groups when put together can create serious incidents, Andrzej took all the precautionary measures to timely identify and isolate any message or gesture that would’ve turn a festival of sport into a festival of hate.

The first victory

Seven years later he stil takes great pride for having the inspiration to contact an expert in extremist movement such as Jacek Purski that trained him to spot in real time all the neo-Nazi and neo-fascist symbols that were exposed during Poland and Russia match. This tensioned yet successful experiment proved Andrzej that military discipline combined with Jacek’s expertise could not go wrong when preventing extremism.

Extremism explained to family and friends

Andrzej is a man of action and he does not like to push radicalisation under the rugg. This is why he insists on delivering trainings and workshops on radicalisation risks as much as possible, so people could really understand experts’ opinions and experiences. He strongly believes that there is a problem with radicalisation in Poland, and people should be aware about that and look for proper and timely solutions, so any shock and tragedy could be avoided. He argues that, historically, the Polish people have been treated with kindness and openness abroad. Maybe it’s just about time they turn the favor for other people that now are perceived as complete strangers in Poland.

Confessions of a restless activist

Combating radicalization is equally a professional and personal matter for Andrzej. On one hand, at this moment there is a significant demand from people who want to understand the phenomenon and also who are looking for solutions. but the challenge becomes personal when he thinks about his children and their aspirations. he wants them to develop in a safe and friendly environment. He also believes that by creating an inclusive society for foreigners it would be the best business card abroad for Poland.

Some thoughts for undecided activists

Each situation is different, but the most important thing is to react on every occasion. One should react depending on their strengths, abilities and knowledge, and also rely on the contamination effect that will attract others to join them. When combating extremist acts the power stays in numbers. And there are many possible reactions.

Adequate responses in uncomfortable situations

When confronted with a potential risk it is crucial to call for support – call the police, municipal guards or ask a passer-by for help, stop a car driving by. He is not encouraging relentless heroism and suggests a tactical approach.
Take several seconds to assess the situation, look around – maybe there are closed-circuit municipal surveillance cameras around, if there are, their operator should notice the situation too – it’s their job. So then you can make sure they have seen it and call them to say you’ve witnessed a dangerous situation. Then they must call the police which patrols the area nearby because there surely is some police patrol nearby. They will not arrive at the scene instantly but if they arrive in several or a dozen minutes, this might be just the right kind of help.
Secondly, try not to be an easy target for attacks. For example, a foreigner from an exotic country should take some precautions too and know whom to turn to for help, what services to call.

Challenge your inner activist

Radicalization could be contained starting with the educational system. To some extent, teachers are experts themselves, they know best what to do and they should react when they see anything suspicious and do not let anything dangerous happen. But to be more effective teachers should be opened to specialized trainings and strategies to redress extremist actions in their schools. One can not be an activist without the willingness to learn and adapt to new realities.