ATA 61GA | Conference News Wrap-up
PUBLISHED: December 21, 2015
Brussels, 19 November 2015 (Agenzia Nova) − Cooperative Security and non-military threats were the main topics of the international conference organized by the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) on November 19 in Brussels. ATA President Fabrizio W. Luciolli opened the proceedings by calling for a minute of silence as a sign of respect to the victims of the terrorist attacks on November 13 in Paris. The new terrorist threat has unprecedented features requiring the development of more effective counter-measures. "Emblematic of the new dimensions of the fight against terrorism is the increasing number of homegrown terrorists and foreign fighters”, Pres. Luciolli said. The foreign fighters are sometimes mistaken for "freedom fighters”, but in reality their purpose is "destroying the fundamental freedoms of our civil societies and our cultural heritage." Terrorism is spreading on a large scale throughout the world and "is increasingly interconnected through the web", where recruitment and training take place. "It is time to act, reacting is not enough – Luciolli noted – and we have to adopt both a cooperative approach to security and an effective strategic vision, capable to address all the dimensions of terrorism". Luciolli also stressed that international organizations and the member states should renew their commitment to enhance cooperative security in non-military areas too. "In Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East − Luciolli stated − we need a new vision, a proactive approach, a comprehensive strategy to address the multiple challenges and threats to security, which are increasingly coming from Africa and Asia, as well as the Euro-Atlantic and the Mediterranean area." The ATA President also announced that in 2016 dev.atahq.orgill draft and promote a "new report on non-military cooperation", on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Report of the Committee of Three. Indeed, terrorism, instability and humanitarian crises are also caused by non-military factors such as cultural, socio-economic and environmental challenges, including radicalization, unemployment, food insecurity, water scarcity and climate change. “The report – Luciolli declared – will take up the concepts and recommendations made in 1956 under the chairmanship of the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gaetano Martino, and it will give them a renewed interpretation reflecting the current security challenges”. “The drafting process of this report − affirmed Luciolli – will be coordinated by ATA in close cooperation with experts from NATO countries and partners.” In his remarks Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Head of the Department for Foreign Affairs of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq, advocated for an agreement with the Prime Minister of Iraq to ensure a stronger support of the Federal Government to the Peshmerga fighters. "We have not closed the door to Baghdad and we hope that the Prime Minister will be able to rebuild a dialogue, Minister Bakir said. He also reminded that the “Kurds have been engaged in combat for months", declaring himself “proud that the Peshmerga have not only fought back the Islamic state (IS). They have regained territories, although with a cost of human lives.” The fight against IS does not involve only militaries, Bakir affirmed, “but it is ideological as well” and it requires conspicuous financial resources “because logistical support is not enough for the Peshmerga." The speech given by the former security Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Mohammed Dahlan, was very straightforward. He called the EU and NATO to recognize the mistakes of the past in the Middle East. According to Dahlan, the current crisis is the consequences of the wrong attitude of the Western countries, since the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Dahlan called for greater co-ordination "with regional actors to work together to tackle the crisis.” NATO and the EU in fact carry on their shoulders "the responsibility of the destabilization" of the Middle East, from Libya to Iraq to the Palestinian territories, and must contribute to solving the crisis. Dahlan also stressed that "there is not such a thing as good terrorism and bad terrorism," adding that "the Islamic state (IS) is just the new version al Qaeda. The true Islam has nothing to do with IS”, he concluded. The former President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Ely Ould Mohamed Vall, focused his remarks on how Africa can contribute to solve the most urgent problems of the Euro-Atlantic area. The international community must stop thinking of Africa as a problem, as many African countries can help solve many of the current global challenges. "Africa has an enormous unlocked potential − explained President Vall − being a young continent with a broad and growing domestic market." However, Africa is fraught with corruption, which often "paves the way to radical propaganda, especially among the youth." We must therefore address these issues jointly, by working together in a NATO-EU framework.   Maj. Gen. Joseph Guastella, Deputy Chief of Staff for NATO operations and intelligence, pointed out that "the best way to counter terrorist threats is to prevent them. The main lesson we have learned from Afghanistan is that military solutions alone are not enough." Guastella added that NATO will continue to work hard on relevant issues such as collective defense, crisis management and cooperative security. Ted Whiteside, Acting Assistant Secretary General for NATO Public Diplomacy Division, said that now more than ever EU and NATO must work jointly and collaborate with other international institutions to combat terrorism. He also pointed out that "technology makes the defeat of terrorism even more difficult." Mr. Whiteside emphasized how the violation of international law is also accompanied by "a disinformation on NATO", largely taking place on the web. This misinformation, concluded Whiteside, contributes in pushing many young men to fight in Syria. Dr. Ebtesam Al Ketbi, Chairperson of the Emirates Policy Center highlighted the importance of the media. She emphasized the role of the social media and “call them to assume responsibilities", as it is evident that many terrorist groups, like the Islamic State (IS), use them as the main tool to recruit fighters. However, Dr. Al Ketbi reminded that we should not focus only on the media. The radicalization process has deeper roots in socio-economic conditions and that even youth unemployment and the consequent frustration play a key role in it. Dr. Al Kebti did not limit her analysis to Sunni terrorism, but focused also on Shiite terrorism funded by the old Khomeinist regime. The "policy of Iran − according to Al Ketbi − does not help stabilize the region”. "President Obama is wrong in focusing only on the nuclear side of the deal with Iran”, while she stressed that “no actions have been undertaken against Turkey, a NATO member country, from where numerous terrorist groups originates”. Dr. Al Ketbi called for the drafting of a unique list of terrorist groups, which is an indispensable tool to tackle this issue. During the proceedings, the speakers concurred on the necessity of a cooperative approach to ensure security within NATO among allies and with partner countries too. Social media and the internet were also addressed, as priority fields of intervention for countering terrorism and radicalization. In his concluding remarks, ATA President Fabrizio Luciolli stressed the fact that "no country alone can counter the new threat of terrorism". Therefore, it is necessary "a new strategy combining three levels of security: international cooperation, decisive action of national governments and a new security culture in the civil society.”
By: Atlantic Treaty Association
Global Extremism & South Asia
PUBLISHED: December 14, 2015
Covering an area of almost two million square miles and home to over a quarter of the world’s population, current regional and global developments between the West and South Asia necessitate greater security cooperation in order to guarantee mutual strategic interests and address global security challenges. EXPANSION OF ISIL IN THE REGION ISIL developed large ‘market penetration’ in South Asia by overcoming language barriers, exploiting sympathies amongst authorities and locals, as well as, building underground cells that have allowed ISIL to successfully recruit more  jihadists to join the battlefields in Syria and Iraq.  The recruitment and rise of South Asians in the ISIL hierarchy has specifically enabled the group to carry out extremely successful linguistic market penetration. Recruitment videos and propaganda materials are released in the Indian-subcontinent in Hindi, Urdu, Bengali and Tamil besides other regional languages and dialects. ISIL has also been gaining considerable ground in Afghanistan due to an extremist conversion from Taliban to ISIL which has inspired members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to alter their allegiance as well.  While, monetary benefits are stated as the main reason for the conversion, through rapid expansion, the announcement of a Caliphate and their anti-Shia ideology, it is proven the romanticism of ISIL is the main influence. If radicals of other Pakistani groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and the anti-Shia group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, flip sides as well there could be a snowball effect. The conversion can be interpreted as thinking that their own organizations have compromised too much on their radical ideology with the Pakistani military in order to maintain their protection. Additionally, Bangladesh witnessed the rise of Pro-ISIL outfits who carry out a sophisticated online and on the ground recruitment policy. A newly created front called Jund al-Tawheed wal Khilafah (JTK) is the main and most vocal platform for recruits and fundraisings from Bangladesh. It aims to establish a new ‘caliphate’ encompassing Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. JIHADIST COMPETITION IN THE REGION The remarkable expansion of ISIL has not only sent shockwaves throughout the Western world, but has also instigated other extremist forces like Al-Qaeda to strengthen their reach and adopt new strategies in South Asia. Worried by ISIL’s international ambitions, Al-Qaeda decided to bring at least a dozen independently operating extremists groups (mostly from Pakistan and Afghanistan) together into one branch. These groups have longstanding, extremely extensive networks in the region supplemented by the formidable infrastructure of thousands of Madrassas. These Madrassas mostly promote religious education based on the doctrine of extremism, which serves as ideological foundation to these groups. This new branch in South Asia, called Al-Qaeda in the Indian Sub-continent (AQIS) has proposed several locations for potential operations including: Kashmir, Gujarat, Assam, Burma and Bangladesh are part of this ambitious and dangerous coalition. Whether the establishment of the branch is an announcement to counter ISIL’s expansion or an invitation to work together with them is debatable. But by all means, both scenarios are extremely dangerous. NATO'S GLOBAL PARTNERS Since 9/11, NATO has focused more on addressing global threats stemming from areas beyond the North Atlantic. Thus, NATO´s global partnership program was created in 2011, which to date, includes Pakistan and Afghanistan. There is an urgent need to work more closely and diligently to eliminate the global security concerns emanating from South Asia. Bilateral conflicts of interest between Pakistan and Afghanistan should urge NATO to formulate well-defined mutual goals much like the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI). The self-differentiation and diversity components of ICI have been good improvements as compared to previous agreements. The objectives as stated in the current Tailored Cooperation Programmes are too vague and thereby vulnerable. The government of Afghanistan needs to be strengthened financially and militarily in order to tackle the various extremist forces in the country. Economic development and mainstream education should become the tenets of progress and de-radicalization. The current NATO Mission ‘Resolute Support’ focuses on training and advising Afghan forces which creates a strong foundation, however it should remain flexible by giving due attention to the ANA Trust. A recent increase in violence, casualties and the overall expansion of Taliban and ISIL warrant for an extended mission. Therefore, the Afghan Army has not been successful in countering the resurgence of Taliban forces in the south and east of Afghanistan. In the interest of peace in Afghanistan and maintaining the strategic gains made by NATO forces, the current changed scenario would justify a longer mandate for the Resolute Support Mission. The Pakistani civil government and its military establishment need to coordinate regarding the country’s stand vis-á-vis terrorism. The Pakistani Army is the seventh largest army in the world and should be ensuring the objectives of NATO's partnership which is crucial to provide an effective international security structure. NATO must ensure that the political and security perspectives of the military establishment in the country are comparable, compatible and have equal commitment and dedication from all involved parties.  NATO'S ROLE FOR POTENTIAL COOPERATION Economic interdependency amongst countries in South Asia is key to regional stabilization. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established to pursue this objective with integration in South Asia, but needs to be strengthened through diplomatic facilitation from NATO Allies and Partners. Opportunities to formalize intelligence sharing policies among the region ought to be availed. The spread of extremist forces in addition to their interrelated networks and infrastructure should compel the nations in South Asia to overcome mistrust. Instead, they should embark upon a path of institutionalized cooperation regarding timely and accurate intelligence sharing. Besides providing expertise and experience to these countries on this matter, NATO should avail opportunities of engaging in bilateral agreements of intelligence sharing, counter-terrorism policies and maritime security with the respective countries in South Asia. The Wales Summit Declaration emphasizes that there is a need for a coordinated international approach to counter ISIL. Considering the true spirit of this Declaration, the recruitment wave of ISIL in South Asia should act as a trigger to widen the formal coalition against ISIL and enhance it by bringing South Asian countries onboard. Sharing best practices from NATO’s Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) into its recent Capacity Building Initiatives (CBI) in Jordan, Moldova and Georgia have had an enormous beneficial impact in these countries. They have succeeded in strengthening their respective national security apparatus against external threats as the main focused areas of training, mentoring, equipment donation and coordination from the NTM-I were continued and incorporated into these CBI’s. NATO’s contribution to international stability, security and conflict prevention could also prove to be a robust base for cooperation in South Asia. As there is an urgent need to expand NATO’s advising and assisting expertise in security and defense reforms while aiming to encourage the establishment of self-sufficient security institutions in these countries. The training and education components of these initiatives include providing for the infrastructure and transforming these engagements into long term bilateral security cooperation that could prove to be extraordinary fruitful in countries like Afghanistan, which struggles with high illiteracy rates among their armed forces and security establishment; and Bangladesh, which struggles with a highly politicized military. COLLECTIVE APPROACH From the expansion of ISIL and its worldwide recruitment policies, it has become evident that the threat of terrorism is not restricted to its region of origin anymore. The mass use of Internet and social media has obscured the borders of extremism in South Asia as well and pose an undeniable menace to global peace. South Asian allies and partners should be formally incorporated and take a lead in implementing policies that compliment NATO objectives and stem the tide of radicalization in the region as this situation demands a collective approach from the West and the East as equal partners and stakeholders.  
By: Atlantic Treaty Association
NATO: Three Security Levels for Counter-Terrorism
PUBLISHED: November 14, 2015
“No country can face the new terrorist threat alone. It is necessary a new counter-terrorism strategy combining three levels of security: international cooperation, a resolute action by national governments and a new security culture for citizens”, the President of the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) Fabrizio W. LUCIOLLI stated on the eve of the International Conference “Terrorism, Cooperative Security and Interconnected Threats”, scheduled on November 19 at Palais d’Egmont, Brussels. The new security threats and counter-terrorism will be the focus of the discussion that will be joined by: NATO Deputy Secretary General Amb. Alexander VERSHBOW; Advisor to the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Peter SPOOR; Secretary General of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly David HOBBS; Senior Civilian Representative of the Secretary of Defense in Europe, US Mission to NATO, Robert BELL; along with political leaders from the Middle East and Africa such as: Minister and Head of the Department of Foreign Relations of the Kurdistan Regional Government-Iraq Falah Mustafa BAKIR; Former Minister and National Security Advisor of the Palestinian National Authority Mohammed DAHLAN; Former President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania Ely Ould Mohamed VALL. “The fight against terrorism must become the priority of a common security agenda for NATO and EU member states, and for the countries in the Mediterranean and Middle East”, Luciolli observed. The aim of the Conference is “to adopt common solutions to the common threats to the security of our cities, which are not only of military nature”. The Conference is organized by the Atlantic Treaty Association in cooperation with Abhath – Al Thuraya Consultancy and Researches, Mediterranean-Gulf Forum, and NATO. The Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) is an organization of 37 national chapters that since 1954 has been conducting analyses, training, education, and information activities on foreign affairs and security issues relevant to the Atlantic Alliance. (For more information: Flora Pidoux - +32 25 02 31 60; to register to the conference - Live tweeting @ATAUpdates #ATABXL #MGForum)    
By: Atlantic Treaty Association
Counter-Terrorism: the Balkan States and Croatia
PUBLISHED: October 29, 2015
Jihadist in the Balkans It is no doubt that there is a strong and prevalent Jihadist terrorist presence within South Eastern Europe and the Balkan region. Over the years we have seen attacks from terrorist cells operating in this area as well as many reports of training camps and operational busts that come from the authorities in this region. Although there has always been some form of Muslim presence in this region, global jihadist sentiment is a relatively new phase in the area which has developed over many years of conflict and repression. The early years of Muslim extremism can be traced backed to World War II. The area during this time was seeking for Muslim Independence and one man in particular sought to deliver this by any means possible. Haj Amin Al-Husseini, in return for political support, collaborated with the Nazi’s and supported their ideals. He recruited young Muslim men to fight for the Waffen-SS and other auxiliary units of the Axis powers. In the end of the war he was taken into French custody and later escaped to Egypt where he lived in exile. Although in exile his radical ideals of Islam still festered in the Balkans and years later would be even more amplified. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the republic of Yugoslavia fell into absolute turmoil. Each newly formed state fought both for its independence and for ethnic groups within its own borders. Each state combated these challenges in individual ways, some accepting Western help while others sought the assistance of mercenaries and extreme militant groups. In the case of Bosnia we saw the importation of the Mujahedeen who not only brought military and operational capability, but also ideological support for global Jihad. During the first years of the war there was estimated to be approximately 300 mujahedeen fighters but by the end of the war it was speculated that there were over 3,000 mujahedeen in the Balkans. After the conflict ended many of the fighters moved on to other areas of Jihad such as Kosovo, Albania, and Afghanistan. However there were still a few that remained in the region and sought citizenship and families. The aftermath of the Yugoslav wars was detrimental to the region and left states and governments in complete shambles. Years of recovery work was required and it was left to the West to assist in the rebuilding of the region. New legislation was placed and many leaders and soldiers in the region were tried for war crimes and sent to prison for the remainder of their lives. As for the radical Muslim fighters left in the Balkans, authorities were faced with a dichotomy. On one side of the scale many of these foreign fighters were considered hero’s by the locals while on the other hand their presence was undermining the security of the region. Through this entire time they had been spreading ideology, establishing networks, providing logistical and financial support to affiliated groups, and also conducting terrorist activities. The newly formed governments in this region sought little action against these perpetrators due to their hero status which created a precedent of lenience in the future to come.   Current Issues and World Effects The history of extremism in the Balkans set up an environment in which terrorists could operate with little pressure from any form of legal or authoritative entity. This led to 4 major issues that are prevalent today. The first of these issues is homegrown terrorism. There was an obvious shift after the war that the jihadists in the region changed their outlook from helping fellow groups to focusing all their attention on creating a frontline against the West. The shift to Wahhabistic ideals in the Arab community is a sign of this. The second of these issues is government infiltration. In recent cases in Bosnia the head of intelligence has been linked to terrorist training camps outside of Sarajevo. Also embassies in the Balkan region have been accused of handing out passports to Islamic extremist in order to facilitate their free roam throughout Europe. The third deals more with the geographical location of the area. It is a key land route between Europe and Asia. This becomes even more attractive due to the frail governments and weak border security and is known as a main transit route of foreign fighters into Syria’s current Civil War. The fourth issue is accessibility to government documents, especially passports. Any passport from South Eastern Europe allows for free movement through the Schengen area. Also Bosnian passports have been found on dead foreign fighters operating in Syria, Afghanistan, as well as Chechnya. Global Impact of Jihad Jihad in South Eastern Europe has made impacts across the globe over a period of a few decades. Within the past two decades, veterans of Bosnia’s Kateebat al-Mujadeen (Battalion of Holy Warriors) include some of the most high profile terrorists such as Khaled Sheik Muhammed, Juma al-Dosari, and Omar Saeed sheikh. The conflict taking place within Syria has been the result of major spillover issues in all parts of Europe. The inflow of foreign fighters into Syria is greater than any other conflict in world history. South East Europe is the prime land route for anyone coming from Europe headed to Syria. The Balkans themselves have multiple source countries supplying foreign fighters with confirmed reports from Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania, Serbia, and Macedonia. The main reasons that people leave the Balkans in order to go to Syria are historical and religious symbolism, proximity to Syria, active support network, Urban vs. rural combat zone, and border vulnerability. There have also been reports of Syrian foreign fighters returning to their home nation and committing terrorist attacks or acts of violence. The most recent case of this was in Brussels, Belgium. Mehdi Nammouche walked into the Jewish Museum of Brussels and opened fire with an AK-47 ultimately leading to the death of 4 people. He was radicalized in prison and then went to Syria to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and had just recently returned. He was eventually caught a few days later and is awaiting trial in France. Since this first attack, which took place a mere 5 minutes from ATA HQ in Brussels, we have seen a surge of attacks coming from the same ISIS led inspiration in Canada, Denmark, Australia and of course the infamous Charlie Hebdo attacks in France. Croatia and Counterterrorism Croatia has had a developing past when it comes to counter-terrorism and it takes place in a number of stages. The first stage spans from their newly gained independence and throughout the homeland war. This period in counterterrorism was mainly focused on preventing and eradicating terrorism from happening with the border of the new nation as well as any form of violence that sought to upset the sovereignty or overthrow the government. The second phase exists in the period after the Homeland war. This is a period characterized by reorganization of many departments and thus confused roles in terms of anti terrorism. Intelligence, military, and police all had overlapping duties while at times some gaps in governance were not even addressed. The third phase was the accession into NATO and the EU. This period demonstrated security sector reforms in order to be a part of NATO’s membership Action Plan (MAP). The finalized security reforms allowed for numerous counter-terrorism capabilities to be deployed within Croatia. The most prominent is the Croatian Special Police who specialize in counter terrorist operations. They have units that are trained for maritime operations, diving, and airline terrorism. Another important tool that the Croatian government has in its arsenal is the Anti-Money Laundering Office which carries out tasks that combat the use of the financial system to launder terrorist finances. Croatia not only combats terrorism within its own borders but at the same time supports all international counterterrorism efforts set forth by both the UN, NATO, and the European Union. During their term as a non-permanent Security Council member at the UN, Croatia was elected as the chair of the Security Council Counterterrorism Committee. It was also elected two terms in a row as the Chair of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on Terrorism also known as CODEXTER. Croatia has also signed and ratified all legislation from the Council of Europe relating to terrorism and counterterrorism. Croatia has participated in ISAF since 2003, which is its largest peace mission in effect to date. Conclusion The issue of global terrorism, under no circumstance, will be solved or combated successfully in the near future. With the increasing rate of globalization and the advancement of weaponry, the world is becoming an easier place to commit transnational violent acts. The Balkans present a problem of a Jihadist harbor, but states in the region are working with international organizations in order to combat and suppress the continued terrorist activity. Croatia is exemplary in this instance. It transitioned from one of the area’s biggest security risks to the region’s largest security provider. It did this all while becoming a member of the EU and NATO in 12 years.       265
By: Atlantic Treaty Association
Terrorism: developing counter-measures against an unidentified enemy
PUBLISHED: July 6, 2015 the considerable number of studies that have recently been dedicated to terrorism, they have not, so far, come up with a unified definition for this serious global phenomenon. Definitions have been diverse according to the available interpretations in the different times and places. Those two phenomena, terrorism and extremism, are not the new consequences imposed by historical evolutions and the misdeeds of urbanization. More than that, they represent men’s footprint at the beginning of their existence, as demonstrated by recent studies. They date back to the Roman era, when political crimes and terrorism were difficult to differentiate. Since, the world has been facing terrorism, as a means for feudal leaders to impose their authority onto the territories they administered and exercise their diktat on the slaves they used for diverse tasks. The beginning of the 19th century, which consecrated the domination of European States on maritime sea routes, saw the multiplication of trade ships to deal with commercial transactions between the East and the West, leading, as a consequence, to the emergence of acts of maritime piracy, considered as a form of terrorism, that continued until the 20th century. [su_quote cite="Ely Vall, former President Islamic Republic Mauritania"]Terrorism is neither linked to a specific religion nor to a particular nationality, as the phenomenon emerged in Latin America, in Europe (especially in Spain and Italy), and in Africa. For example, there were the Red Brigades in Italy, the Red Army in Japan, the Basque movement in Spain, the separatist militias in Ireland, and the militias in Central and South America.[/su_quote] It is then plausible that acts of terror, which ignore international regulations relative to human rights and international regulations, are not linked to Islam, which preaches for tolerance, respect of the other, and condemns violence and hatred in accordance with the Quran which commands Muslims to preach Islam with intelligence, conviction and to strive for the utmost values. During the last few years, the exploitation of Islam by various types of extremists, who ignore the principles of the Quran, Sunna and of the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH), favored the confusion and the false image that some have of Islam, linking it to terrorism, although it is nothing else than a global phenomenon that is developing wherever the necessary conditions are present. Causes and motives of terrorism: Terrorism is not an accidental phenomenon. It is the result of different causes and motives, some of which are personal, others have a collective incentive. First, the personal incentives. Acts of terrorism can be triggered by personal motives which can be summarized with the following: Psychological causes. Studies show that the development of the human body and mind, emotional reactions, and an unhealthy social background have a direct link with terrorist acts. Other analysis have come to the conclusion that most terrorists’ behaviors present similarities, such as problems in their childhoods, withdrawal, conflictual family relationships especially with parents, and giving up on relationships with friends, etc. Political causes. It is possible that acts of terrorism are motivated by political incentives, as terrorist attacks raise the target’s attention. In general, the recourse to acts of terror for political reasons is a response to the practices of dictatorial regimes, the usurpation of citizens’ rights and denial of freedom. Causes motivated by communication. With the important development of new technologies of information and communication, terrorists now possess the necessary means to raise awareness on their acts, plead their cause, expose their conditions and negotiate the release of their hostages, etc. Plus, by covering acts of terrorism, media contributes to making terrorists heroes, which inspires some to emulate their acts. This is what we are witnessing today with the influx of thousands of young people towards the “Islamic State”, Daesh, following the media reports that show their military conquests. Deprivations, injustice and repression in some countries most probably also contribute to this influx of young people. Second, the social environment causes: This designates the motives that make the social environment on which one lives have a negative impact and facilitates one’s incline towards terrorism. These motives can be motivated by economic, political, historical, ethnical and ideological reasons. Economic motives: poverty, destitution and the gap between the poor and rich of the world motivate the desperate individual’s feeling of discomfort that can lead to heinous behaviors towards society. This situation of despair, developed in an environment characterized by the absence of social justice and unfair distribution of wealth, can trigger unhealthy behaviors that can degenerate into terrorist acts. Social motives: These are the motives linked to individuals’ living conditions; broken families are fertile ground where family conflicts and ignorance dominate, exposing children to all sorts of frustrations. This situation leads to deviant behaviors and to the possibility for terrorist groups to exploit these young people, exploitation made possible by the absence of the educating role of the family and school, but also by unemployment, etc. As a result, these elements create the ideal conditions to raise terrorists’ interest in these lost and abandoned young people. Historical motives: It is possible that historical events and attempts of vengeance are powerful motives for the recourse to terrorism. Many examples could be cited to illustrate this point. Ethnic motives: These kinds of motives manifest themselves when an ethnic group seizes power in a multicultural country. Ideological motives: It is also possible that ethnic or religious reasons explain the use of terrorist acts and extremism in an attempt to impose one’s extremist vision on society. This ambition translates into the willingness, by any means, to seize the reins of power in order to impose one’s societal project. It is also possible that ideological indoctrination and religious fanaticism can lead those who are lost to use violence and undertake terrorist acts with the unavowed aim to impose the principles they support onto society. This conviction can lead them to want to seize power by force to impose their will on all. Problems of counter-terrorism, an unidentified enemy The fight against terrorism is a real problem because of the difficulties to identify the enemy, especially due to the fact that there are not common signals between terrorists as they are recruited in different countries, ethnicities, and age groups, which makes tracking this enemy, and defeating it difficult with traditional means. This fight is more and more difficult to conduct as terrorist groups recruit more and more young people amongst Americans and Europeans who go to the battlefield in Syria and Iraq. This situation is worrying for the countries from which new recruits come from: high level meetings have been organized, experts and security services are working on this question which is of high importance for Western governments as information is currently circulating about the terrorist groups’ new strategy, which is to organize missions in Western countries that would be executed by local cells. In fact, the Director of the CIA has declared that 2,000 extremist fighters coming from 50 countries, including Europeans, are fighting in Syria. They are committing numerous crimes in the name of Jihad. Training camps for extremists close to Al-Qaeda which prepare fighters to act around the world also need to be mentioned, as they demand the international community to gather their efforts to take urgent legal and statutory measures and reinforce the existing ones. For example, the League of Nations adopted a convention condemning terrorism and fighters in 1937, which allowed member states in the 60’s to take part in the negotiations relative to the conventions on counter-terrorism. In 1963 and 1999, the international community managed to put in place 12 texts of international law to combat terrorist acts. The United Nations General Assembly adopted several international conventions against terrorism. In addition to the protocols on the topic and the international systems of counter-terrorism, this legal basis constitutes a solid and appropriate framework to combat this phenomenon. These texts recommend that states adopt national laws in accordance with international jurisdictions. A sanction committee against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban was created with the mission to gather a list of individuals and institutions linked to terrorist organizations, and to control the sanction mechanisms. A committee dedicated to counter-terrorism and responding to the UN Security Council was also created to control the execution of this decision and reinforce countries’ capacities in regards to counter-terrorism. [su_quote cite="Ely Vall, former President Islamic Republic Mauritania"]The work of the international summit on the fight against terrorism of 2005 led the UN General Assembly to adopt the first UN’s strategy against terrorism on July 8th 2006. This strategy entails an Action Plan that aims to counteract the development of conditions that favour terrorism, to combat it, take measures to reinforce States’ capacities, reinforce the UN’s role, and respect human rights in the fight against terrorism. In addition, the G8, the European Union, NATO, the Organization of American States and the Arab League have been acting in trying to determine the causes of extremism, identify its roots and counteract its negative effects.[/su_quote] The G8 held several summits to examine topics linked to terrorism and the causes of its expansion in the world, risks linked to arms of mass destruction, social problems, regional conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. An action plan was put in place for the protection of nuclear resources and infrastructures, technical information, the reinforcement of financial contributions, the fight against poverty and the support to health programs in the poorest countries. In addition, the European Union adopted an action plan to fight terrorism through several measures directed at various sectors: legal cooperation, cooperation between security agencies, securing of transportations means, border control, document protection, the fight against covert financing (money laundering), political dialogue, external relations, defense against biological, bacteriological and nuclear weapons. The EU also took additional measures, such as the reinforcement of their strategic assets, at the national, regional and international level. It needs to be reasserted that the EU’s counter-terrorist strategy preventing attacks rests on three axes: Prevention and protection of populations, infrastructures and transports via the support to security infrastructures Tracking down terrorists Preventing radicalization and recruitment of young people. This effort is led with the specific aim to reinforce the capabilities to stop the conditions that favor extremism, radicalization and the enrollment of young people, using cooperation between member countries and institutions of the EU but also with external partners and international organizations. The European Border Agency is working to coordinate the cooperation to limit illegal immigration. In this regard, it is planned that immigrants will be monitored at border controls within the EU. NATO has already initiated a series of special measures in relations to counter-terrorism in an effort to develop performing technology to be able to respond to terrorist threats, such as the protection of allied forces against attacks, to launch rockets to protect harbors, sea patrols, as well as other measures. The new structures introduced by NATO, such as the Partnership for Peace, the NATO-Russia permanent Council and the NATO-Ukraine charter, are considered to be key initiatives in the fight against terrorism. NATO has also widened the scope of its missions to zones presenting threats, in order for the Alliance to have, at least theoretically speaking, the ability to intervene outside of its traditional area of operations for various reasons such as countering terrorism, prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and protect minority rights. The new structures and missions of the Alliance demonstrate that NATO is showing interest in developing a strategy towards the East through cooperation with military and political institutions outside of its traditional area of operations. This new strategy was emphasized during NATO’s 50th Anniversary in Washington. The counter-terrorism commission of the Organization of American States held a special meeting in New York in 2003, during which all the regional organizations vowed to exchange information to fight terrorism. In regards to the fight against the financing of terrorist groups acting in the USA and abroad, the United States committed themselves to support the OAS technically to watch over terrorist activities and freeze terrorists’ assets. The UN has also decided to fight against the financing of terrorist organizations, for which 9 recommendations have been adopted, thus adding to the previous 40 recommendations on money laundering. The Arab League is acting strongly against terrorism, extremism and fanaticism. In this regard, the Arab Convention Against Terrorism was adopted in 1998, thus updating cooperation amongst Arab states on counter-terrorism. These measures focus on the fight against terrorist crimes, on awareness-raising actions, cooperation with the civil air force organization, the international police organization, INTERPOL, the international maritime organization, the UN Refugee Agency, the World’s Custom organization, etc. Arab states committed themselves to neither perpetrate terrorist acts nor finance terrorists, to neutralize terrorists, to judge them according to national regulations or to extradite them, and to protect the employees of the judiciary. These local, regional and international efforts remain insufficient and inefficient in countering terrorism and extremism, which demands the reinforcement of cooperation and the elaboration of an appropriate strategy: A strong international cooperation in line with a consequent political will; A resolute action to solve conflicts and civil wars in a peaceful way, such as through mediation, mutual agreements and justice, which should be supported by the big powers’ nonintervention when they triggered the problems that Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen are now facing. It resulted in the proliferation of terrorist groups in these countries who have access to resources to undertake their subversive and criminal activities. ; The prohibition of activities of communication supporting terrorism and extremism; Strengthening international cooperation on information exchange Drying up international terrorism‘s financial sources Restoring an atmosphere of understanding, agreement and confidence among the different parts of the society in order to face terrorism together   Speech given at the panel discussion "Counter-terrorism strategies: challenges and perspectives" Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) Brussels, 12 June 2015   526
By: Atlantic Treaty Association
South Asia: Potential Hot-bed for global extremism?
PUBLISHED: February 16, 2015
Home to nearly 2 billion inhabitants, South Asia gathers a wide range of languages, distinct cultures and various religions. However large the differences might be, the nations in South Asia also share a common history. The exploitation of the region’s differences has been a considerable factor in the successes of conquerors throughout history. The differences and historic commonalities are paradoxically also the main reasons for its complexities and sensitivities. Issues like honour, language, caste and religion, which are perceived as small in the West, can become reasons for decades-long enmities which often go hand in hand with violence. Technology has played a large role in the accessibility of knowledge and bridging gaps between people, but it has proven to be a cause of polarization in South Asia, as it has adversely affected the collective tolerance levels. Regional Conflicts The region harbours many interrelated conflicts. Conflicts between Afghanistan and Pakistan, between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, between Pakistan and India over Jammu & Kashmir and water resources, accusations of Pakistani sponsored terrorism by Iran against their Shia community, destabilizing factors like insurgencies in Balochistan and Sindh inside Pakistan, forced conversions and Hindu ultra-nationalism. All these conflicts have the potential of becoming stimuli for clashes amongst countries, including large scale wars. This could, of course have a divisive impact on Euro-Atlantic security and security challenges in the region by targeting Western interests. History has proven that Western institutions and Westerners are vulnerable to terrorist attacks in the region. Air India flight 182 in 1985, the Mumbai attack in 2008, and the sudden calls for troop mobilization along the borders in reaction to terrorist attacks are some incidents in this regard. On the other hand, contentions which are seemingly unrelated can fuel confrontations and influence opinions in separate countries and have recently proven to exacerbate religious extremism. The conflict between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar has incited elements from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh to broaden the boundaries of their belligerency with religion being its only basis, which is further debatable. Unprecedented, disastrous consequences await the region in case radical elements could manipulate any such event and impart it with a religious colour. All religions are manifestations of peace, humanity, and brotherhood. False and extremist interpretations of religion by nefarious elements in order to pursue and strengthen their political agendas, have erected walls of religious intolerance and hate in South Asia. Constant malicious propaganda from both state and non-state actors has raised levels of distrust amongst the countries and their peoples. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the barbaric attack of 16th of December 2014 in Peshawar on an Army school in which more than 140 innocent children were massacred. Yet, there are voices in Pakistan, including an ex-President and an ex-intelligence Chief, which blame India for the attack. This is a guttered response, apparently not based on any evidence, but on years of hostility ingrained into the psyche of many sections of society. An attack of this scale in a large city like Lahore or New Delhi accompanied by accusations directed at each other like the one that happened in Mumbai in 2008 could push these countries into open use of force. Much has already been written about the possibility of escalation of even a minor conflict between these two countries into a nuclear confrontation. Terrorist attacks in the US, London, Madrid and more recently Paris have exhibited that regional turmoil can spread like a disease to other places as well. Some extremists in Europe have shown to derive inspiration from successes of other extremists elsewhere and as such establish ‘sleeper cells’ which threaten the basic fundaments of democracy in Europe and pose serious challenges to security concerns that NATO and its members have. These ‘sleeper cells’ are known to have enjoyed psychological and military training in this region which has turned them into a formidable force to reckon with. Afghanistan’s Ongoing Security Challenges The degree of hostility between Afghanistan and Pakistan should also be taken into consideration while planning for peace. Both countries have been engaged in blame-games on terrorist attacks, breaching each other’s sovereignty and using proxy warfare. In the absence of immediate steps towards normalizing relations, it is anybody’s guess to which level the relation between the two countries could further deteriorate. The culture of the Afghans has always dictated them to fiercely oppose any foreign occupation. The advancement of education has lagged behind while combat techniques and tools have acquired new levels of sophistication in the past decades. Tribal allegiances form the basis for alliances and feuds while religious sectarianism further intensifies friction among the population. In case NATO would opt for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan, forces like the Taliban will exert their full strength to subvert the moderate forces in the country. This process would invite an influx of foreign extremists into Afghanistan and thereby further destabilize the fragile democratic institutions and aspirations. Reports of a presence of Islamic State terrorists have recently been confirmed by Afghan officials. This could seriously jeopardize NATO’s operation Resolute Support, which demands support from the Afghan population and a peaceful atmosphere to be successful. Jihad In the Region In Bangladesh, the Jamaat-e-Islami and other radical organizations have been supporters of the policies of the Pakistani Army from the time it was still called East Pakistan. The prosecution of these elements by the heavily criticized Awami League has polarized ultra-nationalist and extremists’ ideologies even further. This polarization and the fact that this is a Muslim-majority country have fueled dreams of local and foreign militants of turning it into an Islamic State by force. To this end, Bangladesh is already being used by radical elements as a sanctuary. At times, it has also proven to be a battleground for clandestine warfare in support of- and directed against terrorism by various regional state and non-state actors. In addition to such unfortunate events, the Kashmir issue hangs like the sword of Damocles over the heads of the people of South Asia. This issue is one of the contentious ones which have obstructed trade, development, and cooperation in the region. It has already resulted in three wars between India and Pakistan. Religious radical elements have been exploiting the Kashmir issue which could have disastrous consequences in the future as global terrorist organizations have expressed their desire to expand their warzone into Kashmir as a new battleground. A peaceful solution to this issue which would be acceptable to all parties is an essential requirement for steps abiding peaceful coexistence. On the whole, we cannot afford to underestimate the formidable infrastructure of terrorism in South Asia. The disturbing mushrooming of Madrassas in the region should certainly not be trivialized. The Taliban were born from one such Madrassa in Pakistan. There are tens of thousands of Madrassas in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh which only promote religious education based on the tenet of extremism. Individual donations, charity and at times monetary assistance from local government bodies are their source of income. Hardly any of the operations, finances or even curricula of these Madrassas are regulated. Heavy funding of extremism is also done by high-net-worth individuals from the Middle East who strive to advance a radical interpretation of Islam among the ‘Muslim Ummah’. Foreign funds are provided to Ahl al-Hadith organizations in order to promote the Wahhabi ideology in South Asia. These funds are used to build mosques and educational establishments which further strengthen this ideology at a grassroots level, distancing the people from their native Sufi traditions. The regulation of Madrassas and introduction of mainstream education besides only religious education are immediate steps needed to curb the expansion of extremist religious ideologies. Simultaneously, a system of checks and balances on foreign funding and providing local financial alternatives is required to relieve South Asian religious organizations from their dependency on donations from the Middle East. There is also a need for a mechanism to regulate and regularize donations from Europe and America. South Asia has proven to be a fertile land for religious extremism. The presence of militants from Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Middle East, China and Europe bears witness to this notion. Many of these “foreign” militants are from time to time either arrested or killed in gun battles with security forces in Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Kashmir. Their influx requires attention as it could aggravate the security challenges in the region. In support of the Islamic State, their flags have been waved and graffiti inscribed in some places. Factions of different terrorist organizations have declared their allegiance to them, like the Pakistani TTP. Pakistan and Afghanistan, in cooperation with NATO, need to do more to take away these security concerns. As both Pakistan and Afghanistan are members of NATO’s Global Partnership, these countries need to be strengthened while taking into account that it is a partnership that requires equal commitment and dedication from both sides. Recent history has proven that some influential players in these countries are either lacking or not willing to comply fully to the intended spirit of this engagement. Potential For NATO’s Role Presence of NATO and other Western forces in the region has in many ways instigated perceptions which are anti-Western. This can be explained, as the ethos in South Asia does not appreciate formalized influence from the West regarding domestic polices and interests. Moreover, Western policies have failed to encourage engagement among regional powers in order to build a conducive atmosphere for a long lasting cooperation on economic and political fronts which could contribute to long lasting peace. Economic interdependency is key to the stabilization of South Asia. It will help demolish walls of hatred, eventually paving the way for favourable conditions to resolve long standing conflicts. The West can still play a significant role in facilitating engagement among countries in the region. To this end, NATO and EU could formalize policies in cooperation with the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which has been established to pursue the very objective of integration in South Asia. Subsequently this would create space for NATO’s potential bilateral cooperation with these countries without disturbing the political and social equilibrium in the region. In the end, a strong and stabilized South Asia will inarguably satisfy any security concerns NATO might have.
By: Atlantic Treaty Association

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The Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA) is an organization of 37 national chapters that, since 1954 has been conducting analyses, training, education, and information activities on foreign affairs and security issues relevant to the Atlantic Alliance. ATA draws together political leaders, diplomats, civilian and military officers, academics, economic actors as well as young professionals and students in an effort to further the values set forth in the North Atlantic Treaty.