Fall of Raqqa: Middle East Security Brief
PUBLISHED: November 10, 2017
By Andrew Rogan Background The Islamic State (IS) proclaimed its caliphate in 2014, designating Raqqa, Syria as its capital city. Since then, the city has been embroiled in fierce conflict, especially in recent months. IS influence around the globe led world powers to engage in advanced offensive action to finally push IS out of their stronghold. During this time, the city was subject to gunfire, explosives, and extensive air strikes. Civilians suffered the most, with an estimated 1,800 casualties and thousands of refugees. As of October 2017, Raqqa has fallen and IS fighters have all but deserted the remains of their staging ground. With the city now liberated, IS has lost its ability to centralize its command and can no longer produce effective operations. However, the dispersal of IS fighters continues to be a pressing concern for international security. The Soufan Group estimates 5,600 foreign fighters have returned home. This briefing document will look at where these fighters are going and the routes they’re taking to get there. It will then analyse the responses of these destination states before exploring recommendations going forward. Destination States With much of the Middle East under scrutiny and under fire, developing a new centralized command for IS in the region presents a great risk to the terrorist organization. In order to regroup and strategize, IS fighters move to other vulnerable states, often weak or collapsed, to seek safe haven. As the Maghreb region produced one of the highest foreign fighters per capita ratio and because those states are among the weakest, it is essential to examine returning jihadists to the region. Tunisia Tunisia is estimated as the largest producer of foreign fighters in the region, and fourth in the world, at around 3,000 individuals. This sheer volume has put Tunisia at great risk of not only growing numbers of radicalized citizens, but also the return of experienced terrorists. Since the siege of Raqqa began in mid-2017, Tunisia has seen a return of 800 foreign fighters. It is assumed that these individuals are using underground networks, traffickers, and organized crime to return to the state. Morocco Not far behind Tunisia, Morocco is responsible for more than 1,600 foreign fighters. At first content to rid their nation of the radicalized, Morocco is quickly adapting to the reality of returning foreign fighters and the risks they pose. As of October 2017, officials have been able to account for 200 returnees in Morocco, whose return is likely facilitated by the same networks used by Tunisians. This number remains small due to the hard-line security approach along Moroccan borders, preventing their entry. Algeria While Algeria is not a leading contributor to the Maghreb’s staggering number of foreign fighters, it does face issues of growing cells and returnees from neighbouring states. Algeria is known to have close to 200 foreign fighters in IS command, and nearly half have returned. Algeria’s true concern is the influx of jihadists to its territory, with the goal of expanding cells within its borders. Further, due to Morocco’s border security response, many of Morocco’s foreign fighters are seeking haven along its borders, particularly in Algeria. With the fall of Raqqa, these numbers are likely to grow, threatening the stability of Algeria’s security framework. Libya Similar to Algeria, Libya also had a relatively small number of foreign fighters, at just over 600. Also like Algeria, Libya faces a growing population of jihadists flocking to its territory from elsewhere. In fact, Libya’s political vacuum has allowed IS to flourish its base there. US intelligence estimates 5,000 IS militants are in Libya, and numbers continue to grow with the exodus of IS militants as their territory collapses. Further, monitoring returnees is extremely difficult due to the lapse in a stable Libyan government. The chaos in Libya is the perfect breeding ground for an IS stronghold, with the increasing likelihood of spilling into the broader region. Response As states finish up implementing actions to prevent travel of their citizens to become foreign fighters, they’re not yet prepared to handle their return. Weak states, like those discussed above, lack security and intelligence capabilities to expertly oversee these returns. Porous borders and power vacuums prohibit appropriate responses, but there are measures in place to interrupt these return routes. Fortunately, the fall of IS strongholds have led to the discovery of data and information on foreign fighters, which assists international efforts to break-up connected cells in other countries. Most often, using this data and other intelligence, capable states incarcerate returnees. This is not without its own drawbacks, as radicalization in prisons is always a concern. The alternative to incarceration is reintegration, a process that seeks to de-radicalize returnees, adapting them to society once again. Both aforementioned responses have flaws and rely on states with stable governments. Some examples of responses in the states of the Maghreb region are closing borders and building security facilities. Tunisia has erected an earthen wall along its Libyan border to keep returnees and IS-Libyan militants from entering unnoticed. Tunisia also has opened its territory to American military forces. This increased cooperation allows the conduct of US operations with stealth and ease. Similar cooperation can also be seen across the region. In Niger, the US is constructing a drone base to stage strikes in Libya. In Algeria, the government opened a new air base to better protect its borders with Mali, Niger, and Libya. Conclusion As IS continues to collapse across Iraq and Syria, its jihadists will scatter. In what’s known as the “dandelion effect,” IS fighters will disperse like the seeds of a dandelion across the world, agitating conflict where it already is rampant. The current threat remains strongest in Libya where there is no functional government, thus no effective security capacities throughout its vast territories. The Maghreb region will continue to grapple with issues of returnees as well as being the receiving end of foreign fighters, particularly in states like Algeria and Libya. It is essential for cooperation among the nations, as well as among foreign military powers, like the US. Together with expanded reintegration and de-radicalization programs, the Maghreb can prevent a new IS from arising within its borders.
By: Atlantic Treaty Association
Analyzing the Islamic State's Weapons Capability: What Weapons Does It Use and Where Does It Get Them?
PUBLISHED: March 28, 2017
The Islamic State has been severely weakened in recent months due to advances made by Iraqi forces, Shi’ite militias, Kurdish fighters, and the US-led coalition. Through gruelling battles over its strongholds, ISIS has not only suffered the loss of land and personnel, but it has also lost access to key sources of revenue and has simultaneously seen its online presence diminish. Still, the group’s advanced weapons capability makes it a constant threat to those who do not subscribe to its apocalyptic worldview. In order to neutralize the military threat posed by ISIS, it is first necessary to investigate its weapons capability and the sources of its weaponry. Since its rebranding in 2013 and its campaigns to control major cities in Iraq and Syria the following year, ISIS has acquired a diversified arsenal of weapons. The group acquired these weapons by defeating US-armed Iraqi and Kurdish forces, stealing chemical weapons from dictators’ stockpiles in the region, trafficking materiel into ISIS-controlled territory, and developing its own weapons production factories. These methods of acquiring weapons allowed ISIS not only to use arms similar to those used by other terrorist groups, but also to manufacture military grade munitions that rival those of nation-states. Like many other non-state armed groups before it, ISIS has a preference for assault rifles, and its militants’ preferred weapon has been the AK-47. During its early periods of operation, the group used concealable and transportable weapons, such as shoulder-fired missiles, likely because its members were conducting stealth operations to gain control of territory in a relatively short period of time. ISIS seized most of Anbar Province in January 2014 and proceeded to seize control of Mosul, forcing government troops to abandon the city. As the group continued to expand its territory in northern and western Iraq as well as in Syria, it gained control of the weapons and military vehicles left behind by Iraqi and Syrian forces and rebels. Among these were: approximately 55 Soviet-era tanks, six Soviet BRDM-2 amphibious armoured vehicles, two Soviet MT-LB amphibious auxiliary armoured vehicles, 20 Soviet BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles, three Soviet 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled artillery, a fleet of US-built Humvees, B-10 and M40 recoilless rifles, RPG-7s, and a variety of multiple-rocket launchers, howitzers, field guns, anti-aircraft guns, man-portable air-defense systems, antitank missiles, and even Blackhawk helicopters and fighter jets. ISIS also established complex trafficking routes that allow illicit arms and ammunition to enter the country. The group purchased weapons from military personnel, gunrunners and other militant groups in Turkey, Qatar, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, all of whom help the group bring the weapons into the country undetected. Turkey serves as a key international transit point, and reports indicate that weapons from Croatia have entered ISIS-controlled territory through its Turkish border. ISIS’ black market activity, however, has primarily focused on ammunition. An investigation conducted by the UK-based Conflict Armament Research organization determined that ISIS uses ammunition originating from 21 countries, of which most were manufactured in China, the Soviet Union/Russian Federation, and the US. Ammunition from Serbia, Sudan, North Korea, Hungary, and Kyrgyzstan has also been found in ISIS territory, indicating that the group’s network structure and transnational trafficking channels allow it to receive arms and supplies from a variety of global sources. Furthermore, Iranian-manufactured ammunition was found in ISIS’ weapons caches, potentially violating a 2006 United Nations Security Council Resolution prohibiting Iran from exporting ammunition. ISIS’ weapons capability surpasses that of other jihadist terrorist groups not only because of its seizure of military grade weapons, but also its adeptness in manufacturing its own armaments. In November 2016, investigation teams in recently liberated areas of Mosul uncovered six ISIS factories in which rockets, shells, and mortars were manufactured. According to the team’s report, “The degree of organization, quality control, and inventory management indicates a complex, centrally controlled industrial production system.” The standardized practices adopted by the group resemble those of conventional militaries and have allowed it to produce tens of thousands of rockets and mortars, demonstrating that the Islamic State’s weapons production capacity may indeed be similar to that of a nation-state. With multiple sources of weapons and ammunition, one may ask what can be done to degrade ISIS’ weapons capability. Firstly, Iraqi, Shi’ite, Kurdish, and allied forces must continue the push to regain territory in Iraq and Syria, as ISIS militants will be forced to leave weapons manufacturing plants and larger weapons behind. Secondly, Syria’s borders with Iraq and neighbouring countries must be fortified. The border between Turkey and Syria is of particular importance, as weapons and chemical warfare agents have been smuggled into Syria through its northern border. States around the world must also enhance oversight mechanisms to ensure that gunrunners and rogue military personnel are not exporting weapons and ammunition. Amnesty International has attributed ISIS’ vast arsenal of weapons to poor regulation and a lack of oversight of arms imports, irresponsible arms transfers, and lax controls over military stockpiles. In light of these points, coalition forces must be careful in selecting which militias they arm in the fight against ISIS and the extent to which they are arming them. Mechanisms must be put in place to keep the Iraqi military armed and in control of weapons stockpiles, while non-state groups are disarmed. However, disarming ISIS, as well as Iraq and Syria in general, is no easy order; with increased regional insecurity, the problem of weapons proliferation in Iraq and Syria will likely get worse before it gets better.
By: Atlantic Treaty Association
The ISIS wave that’s yet to come & how the EU can face it in 2017
PUBLISHED: March 7, 2017
Published on E!SHARP web page. 2017 is going to be a volatile year for combating terrorism around the globe. By this time last year, ISIS and its affiliates staged over 40 terrorist attacks in 9 different countries causing more than 500 casualties and at least 1200 wounded. So far in 2017 there has been an even bigger surge of ISIS attacks (mostly in ISIS held territory) amounting to over 85 attacks in 10 different countries causing more than 740 casualties. To make matters worse, this has been accompanied by a mounting offensive from different jihadist organizations in Pakistan, Somalia and parts of North Africa. Counter-Terrorism officials estimate that of the over 5000 Foreign Fighters (FF's) that went from Europe to Syria and Iraq, at least one third, or 1500 people, have already returned. As the Global Coalition Against Daesh is succeeding in further suffocating ISIS strongholds, many of the FF’s of European origins will try to return to EU territories this year to seek refuge and expand the theatre of jihadist activity in Europe. This is particularly concerning given the sensitive elections fast approaching in the Netherlands, France and Germany and the rise of anti-migrant and anti-establishment sentiment across European civil society. The concern of returning FF’s is magnified when considering the case of the Paris attacks. A brief analysis of the operatives from the ISIS network that staged the Paris attack displays the following: 4 operatives entered through Leros, Greece with fake IDs, two of which were already in a database: 1 was on an EU watch list; 1 had an open terrorism warrant on his head; 6 were wanted on international terror warrants; 1 was under police surveillance with wire taps and hidden cameras; 7 were on a terrorism watch list; 12 of them had been stopped, questioned and even arrested at some point during their back and forth travels from Syria; Attacks in Paris were coordinated and directed over the phone from Jihadists based in Belgium; Explosives used in the Paris attacks were made in Belgium; Salah Abdelslam, a Belgian national and the key suspect in the planning of the Paris attack, successfully evaded authorities for 4 months before being captured; 4 days after his arrest, a sophisticated terrorist attack was carried out in the Brussels Airport and metro station. Given that several members of the network were already known, having been listed in various databases, stronger coordination, information sharing and communication among European counter-terrorism officials could have prevented both attacks. Thus, European counter-terrorism officials must reorient their strategy and tactics to address the rise in suicide terrorism taking place across the globe. What Can Be Done? Any counter-terrorism strategy should be divided into two parts: counter-motivation and counter-operational capability. Even with the creation of a new EU Counter Terrorism Center at Europol in January 2016 and the approval of the Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive, there are a number of actions to be launched at the national and EU level to strengthen Europe’s counter-terrorism strategy. On the counter-operational side the EU 28 can: Mandate that high value data collected by any national security agency is transmitted within 24 hours of recording to a central system and that it is permitted to cover non-EU nationals; Reinforce this with a shared database in the use of biotech that all EU border control services and Frontex have access to; Formulate joint investigation teams (JITs) with Europol that transfer best practices to national authorities; Stage regular joint training exercises and simulations with an emphasis on emergency preparedness and civil emergency response that involves all relevant agencies; Set a joint procurement fund (based on GDP proportionality) with the sole purpose of outfitting, modernizing and training counter-terrorism units. As for counter-motivation strategy, many things need doing here. For example, Member States should create, where they haven’t already: Independent civil society advisory boards to local and federal authorities in order to promote internal stability and shared values across society; All EU nations should legally classify ISIS as a terrorist group and criminalise membership in it or financial support to it – punishable in any Member State; All EU 28 should be setting up rehabilitation centres; The EU 28 should create a publicly accessible ‘No Visit List” that identifies ideological radicals who pose a threat to the security of a country and who will be prohibited from stepping foot in the EU; Along the same line, a database of those organisations whose charitable status has been removed due to links with terrorism should be publicly accessible as well; EU nations should ensure mandatory screening of citizens involved in public outreach, especially those engaged with “at-risk communities”; EU nations should set a specialised team of lawyers trained to prosecute terrorism cases, while judges selected to hear terrorism cases should have the background and training to preside over them. Adopting such recommendations would strengthen the existing counter-terrorism cooperation between EU Member States and incentivise reform in EU aspiring states. Most important, they would enhance the operational capabilities of EU agencies such as Europol and Eurojust to thwart terrorist recruitment, disrupt terrorist activity and apprehend the terrorist operatives themselves.
By: Atlantic Treaty Association
Understanding suicide attacks and what this means for counter-terrorism officials
PUBLISHED: March 27, 2016
The year 2016 has been a volatile one for combating terrorism around the globe. In January alone there were at least 24 documented suicide bombings in nine different countries causing more than 404 casualties and at least 630 wounded. February saw a slight downturn with 18 documented suicide bombings, again nine countries, leading to over 169 casualties and some 670 wounded. Many take place in Islamic State (ISIS) held territory and West Africa, though attacks have been a constant threat to countries such as Turkey and Afghanistan. European counter-terrorism officials must reorient their strategy and tactics to address the rise in suicide terrorism taking place across the globe. Although modern suicide terrorism first appeared in the 1980s, it has expanded in its use and intensity ever since. The root causes of suicide bombings are embedded in their success at spreading fear and anxiety amongst a population – the strategy favoured by most terrorist organisations – and their ability to coerce political concessions from democratic states. Perhaps best put by Bruce Hoffman, director of Georetown University’s Center for Security Studies, the strategy of suicide attacks is a “rational conclusion” resulting from a terrorist organisation’s cost benefit analysis – i.e., rational for the following reasons. Suicide attacks are inexpensive and effective. On average they cost less than EUR 140 to mount, don’t require any escape plan and can kill up to four times as many people as other types of attacks. They are relatively easy to pull off, requiring only basic supplies such as pipes, batteries, wires, or fertiliser and be redirected at the last minute – the ultimate “smart bomb”. They also pose less risk of “compromising” the organisation since the intelligence goes up in smoke with the perpetrator. Moreover, suicide attacks guarantee valuable media coverage and by targeting places where large civilian populations regularly congregate, they create the impression that people aren’t safe anywhere. Understanding the tenets of this rationale opens the door to development of deterrent measures against terrorist networks such as pitching counter-arguments to potential suicide attackers. Promoting a religiously founded counter-argument among religious elites and civil society leaders, for example, would undercut the recruitment capabilities of jihadist-driven terrorist networks and disrupt the “tunnel vision” of a suicide attacker in the final stages of an attack. What needs to be done? There are a number of actions to be launched at national and EU level to strengthen Europe’s counter-terrorism strategy. Counter-terrorism strategy can be divided into two parts: counter-motivation and counter-operational capability. On the counter-operational side the EU28 should mandate that data is transmitted within 24 hours of recording to a central system and that it is permitted to cover non-EU nationals. They also need to build on the joint investigation teams (JITs) they lead with Europol in that there must be more regular joint training exercises and simulations. These should be expanded to include non-EU member states and rope in emergency response preparedness. As for counter-motivation strategy, many things need doing here. For example, the member should create, if they haven’t already, independent civil society advisory boards to local and federal authorities in order to promote internal stability and shared values across society. All EU nations should legally classify ISIS as a terrorist group and criminalise membership in it or financial support to it – punishable in any member state. The EU 28 should create a publically accessible ‘No Visit List” that identifies ideological radicals who pose a threat to the security of a country and who will be prohibited from stepping foot in the EU. Along the same line, a database of those organisations whose charitable status has been removed due to links with terrorism should be publically accessible as well. Elsewhere, the EU nations should ensure mandatory screening of citizens involved in public outreach, especially those engaged with “at-risk communities”. Specialised teams of lawyers are needed to prosecute terrorism cases, while judges selected to hear terrorism cases should have the background and training to preside over them. Adopting such recommendations would strengthen the existing counter-terrorism cooperation between EU member states and incentivise reform in EU aspiring states. Most important, they would enhance the operational capabilities of EU agencies such as Europol and Eurojust to thwart terrorist recruitment, disrupt terrorist activity and apprehend the terrorist operatives themselves. This article has been published in the March 2016 edition of Security Europe.
By: Atlantic Treaty Association
Facing Radicalization in the Arab World: the Need for a Cultural Revolution
PUBLISHED: January 28, 2016
Over the last decade, the continuous state of conflict in the Middle East has proven that no military and security measures alone are able to neutralize extremism and its terrorist manifestations. After a generation of combating terrorism, it is disheartening to acknowledge that our societies are more radicalized, our cultural heritage is in decline and our people are suffering more and more in a close-minded environment that is not accepting change and progress. To reverse this trend, there is an urgent need for an effective de-radicalization strategy aimed at thwarting the cultural influence of extremist ideologies and groups, with a particular focus on the educational system. Radicalism has not been created in a vacuum, but it is a product of our schools and universities. The views they mostly spread legitimize political and cultural oppression, thus failing to integrate religiously and ethnically diverse populations. Therefore, we need a cultural revolution to advance new models and values to oppose the backward-thinking ideological foundations of the current waves of terrorism across the Arab and Muslim world. This is all the more relevant since Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL) established the Caliphate, confronting the international community with its violent and sectarian creed which seeks the division and the fragmentation of society on a religious and ethnical basis, especially in the Levant. Amending Academic Curricula The de-radicalization battle will be a very long and complicated one and full of ups and downs. It must be remembered that it will be impossible to win without a clear preliminary diagnosis of the problem and without developing a comprehensive strategy. Fighting extremism calls for cultural and mentality changes to set in motion reforms that must start from the schools, as they are the first stage (and target) of the radicalization process. Education plays a major role in grooming and shaping the way a society thinks and interacts. In this regard, the current educational systems in Middle Eastern countries have failed to instill into the youth basic principles like liberty, pluralism, equality, justice and respect for universal human rights; in schools and universities, critical thinking is stifled and thoughtless memorization rather than understanding is endorsed. It must be realized that when religious ideology plays such a significant role in developing the academic curriculum, fertile ground for radicalization and terrorism is created. This holds the society back and widens the gap between cultures. It means that the educational system and consequently the population are not capable of comprehending or grappling with the present, let alone the future. By design, we are all prisoners of a negative utopia of the past, coupled with a patriarchal social setting that does not account for, nor encourages innovation and evolution. In our societies the value of life is not appreciated and having hope in the future through a positive vision for one’s life is not allowed. Instead we live in fear and despair, which radicalism preys on to deliver misguided hope and a vision for the future through hatred and destruction. Against this backdrop, it is imperative to save children and pupils’ developing minds from the manipulation of extremism. Hence, restructuring and re-designing the educational system and the content of the curricula must be a priority for all governments in the Middle East in an effort to put an end to the predominance of obscurantist ideologies both at school and university. Indeed, we need an educational system that is innovative, dynamic and able to constantly adapt to technological and cultural progress. The Arab and Muslim world is gasping for enlightenment to break the ridiculous and anachronistic taboos it holds onto. The starting point is the successor generation. The youth must be educated to think critically, internalize a moderate ethos and understand the world in its actual context, and not from a perspective that dates from almost a thousand years. To this end, it is also necessary to undertake a deep change in the mindset of teachers and their educational methods. The modernization of school curricula must integrate the youth into a new and open cultural framework, one that values life and respects people regardless of their religious or ethnic origins, and discards the idea of imposing their beliefs on others. Literature, theater and art should be taught and actively encouraged, as creativity can be a powerful instrument to counter the attractiveness of radicalism. People’s sense of humanity must be motivated as well to ensure that the damage and pain that the culture of death and blood has caused over the last years are not forgotten and thus not perpetrated. The overhaul of the educational system and academic curricula must be complemented by social policies for the youth. Soaring unemployment, marginalization and lack of community and cultural activities offer a breeding ground for radical indoctrination and recruitment. Creating more jobs and opportunities targeting the youth would allow the new generation to progress in its human development and escape the trap of extremist ideologies and terrorism. Defining True Moderation In the Arab world, I have always wondered about the real meaning of two words: “conservative” and “moderate”. Thus, trying to define the two words would possibly lead us to some serious issues regarding the entire concept of radicalism. Every society has social, cultural, economic and ideological differences. Accordingly, many political tendencies appear, dividing people into moderate and extremist, liberal and conservative. However, those differences are being run by the sense of equality and respect for diversity and pluralism; when these elements are missing and one doctrine declares its superiority over the others, it becomes impossible to apply the above mentioned political categories. What does the word "moderate" mean? From my point of view, "moderate" is a word used to describe those who accept others and their right to practice their faith, beliefs and convictions − those who believe in pluralism. So I wonder how some political doctrines can be described as moderate. The Islamists who have raised their children by telling them that they will go to heaven while people of different beliefs will go to hell − can they be considered “moderate”? This kind of narrative, which has been established as official doctrine, must be reviewed. Its numerous followers believe to be superior because they have embraced the “righteous” path, and that entitles them to request the others to change or even to impose their creed by force. So they are considered moderate just because they do not have weapons in hand so far. The other issue is the concept of conservatism. Many defend their closed minds and radical attitudes under the right of being conservative. In reality, the risk behind such a phenomenon is that conservatism is being used as a mask to root radicalism. Therefore, it is normal to be conservative, but what is not normal is when being conservative means refusing the rights of other to live according to their beliefs and wishes, preventing people from having their own lifestyle and ideology, or even trying to impose certain beliefs, convictions, lifestyles and visions on them. Mosque preachers who call for supporting mujahedeen on microphones, or speak against Christians and the West can never be described as moderate or conservative, confirming the incompatibility between moderation and such ideology. It is quite significant to highlight these crucial differences between reality and the definition in order to figure out the kind of diagnosis required to address radicalization and terrorism today. Sectarianism: Risks And Illusions ISIS’s capacity to expand and dissolve borders between countries is urging many to prefigure a new geographical structure for the Middle East, perhaps with new borders and states. Such ideas are consonant with the division status that have been dominating the mind of the people recently (Shia, Sunni, Druze, Kurds and so on), and this makes the perspective of ​​new ethnical and religious cantons look bizarrely logical, similar to a renewed “balkanization” model. The new trend is being promoted by those who wish to take up a role in any religious or ethnical structure that will replace the current nation states, which seem to be collapsing like the project of a big and unified Arab State did before. Many politicians and writers have started to adopt new terminologies that root the conviction of ​​the incapacity to achieve coexistence among the people of the Middle East, as well as simultaneously support the notion of sectarian state. Division on sectarian standards appears to be the only solution to the unceasing conflicts marring the broader region. While these ideas are not new, many decision-makers and military leaders view the disappearance or emergence of some states, or even the expansion or shrinking of some others, only as a part of wishful thinking. However, “marketing” such scenarios is counterproductive in facing radicalism and terrorism, as it matches with the extremist propaganda of ISIS and of other groups and individuals promoting a sectarian discourse and violence. Therefore, saving and fortifying the concept of civic state is necessary to avoid the trap of sectarianism. We need to start building national and enlightened projects, focused on citizenship, sustainable development and human formation. It would be a kind of political suicide in favor of extremism to believe that promoting division and defragmentation of states in the Middle East would really give direct benefits to some specific actors or countries. The Case Of Jordan From a regional standpoint, Jordan is facing numerous challenges imposed by its geopolitical reality and the wider dynamics underway in the Middle East. Finding a quick solution to the crises in Syria, Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be necessary for the security and stability of Jordan. Close cooperation with the United Arab Emirates and Egypt is increasing Jordan’s standing as a moderate reference in the Sunni world, but this important role entails the domestic responsibility to address the radicalism issue that is severely affecting the lives of the Jordanian citizens. However, a religious reform will not be sufficient to remove the fertile climate for the growth of extremist ideas and radicalization. The first step is to solve concrete problems at the grassroots level, then tackle the ideological complexities. This requires a process of conceptual change of the way the local government and society operate in the political, economic and social spheres, including a transformation of the context in which the life of the Jordanians is taking place. The history of the city of Zarqa is emblematic. Given the explosive potential of the radical background therein since the appearance of the famous terrorist Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, it would be natural to think that governments would work hard to defuse the situation, at least by improving conditions to ensure that his example will not be repeated. Regrettably, nothing has been done to change Zarqa for the better. Anybody who pays a visit to the city can witness its degradation and evaluate the lack of initiatives put in place to change the situation in Zarqawi’s childhood neighborhood. Zarqa’s model of extremism is common throughout Jordan. Many other towns and villages where radicalism is emerging have devolved into a state of terrible emptiness, especially in the Ma’an governorate. They need new urban planning and development that pay more attention to beauty and form. The creation of cultural radiation points such as theaters, artistic centers, bookstores and pen clubs must be encouraged, along with community entertainment opportunities. Offering sports programs and the construction of new sports facilities must be enhanced. In general, the young people must avail themselves to multiple avenues to develop their skills. In addition, the quality of services must be improved and the set-up of small and medium enterprises in the agricultural and industrial sector must be facilitated. This comprehensive change must be driven by specific public policies at the national and local levels, but all Jordanians must be involved in the process. This will help to empower the civil society and create a strong popular movement able to advance the demands of progress in front of the opposition of radicals and most conservatives groups. International Organizations The political leadership in Jordan and in the other countries of the Middle East bear the primary responsibility of combating and ultimately defeating extremism in their own jurisdictions. However, the transnational nature of the terrorist threat and the wide membership of the anti-ISIS coalition make it so that facing radicalization in the Arab and Muslim world is an issue directly affecting the international community as a whole. Amid the ongoing regional turmoil and domestic instability, an increased international commitment would embolden the troubled local governments and the frail civil society to meet the challenges tied to the fight against radicalism. For instance, the outcome of projects in the field of de-radicalization and economic development would greatly benefit from more effective support and cooperation by the international organizations, such as the United Nations and its programs and specialized agencies (UNDP, FAO, ILO, UN Women, UNESCO etc.), the Alliance of Civilizations, the European Union, through its European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), and the Union for the Mediterranean. The Arab League and the Organization for the Islamic Conference are also called on to step up their contribution, which would be a major stimulus for the introduction of an overall reform of the educational system and school curricula. The Future Of The Arab World In the fight against radicalism, we are running out of time fast. The moment when the rapid rhythm in which Daesh is growing should make governments in the Middle East reconsider their policies and the way they deal with citizens, particularly the youth. They must bear in mind that unwise policies could push some people towards extremism and to regard the state as their enemy. Regrettably, there does not appear to be any substantial evidence that our leaders are seriously willing to engage themselves in a real struggle to rescue the Arab world from the scourge of radicalism and its terrorist manifestations. We need much more than the usual rhetorical statements, symbolic provisions and the distribution of books and other materials. Concrete interventions on the ground and practical steps in the social, educational and cultural spheres are required. Legal and legislative avenues must be courageously used in order to end the supremacy of these groups and close all spaces that allow extremism and recruitment to grow. The longer we fail to halt their progress, the longer they are allowed to spread and the more we will surrender to their dominance in all aspects of our lives until complete submission.
By: Atlantic Treaty Association
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 www.cooperativesecurity.eventbrite.com - 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
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZW0oSGS2KkMDespite 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 38 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.