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Terrorism

The Nice attack and the future of the jihad in Europe

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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It is particularly interesting to study the attack which took place on the night of July 14 last in Nice, one of the most heinous attacks perpetrated by the jihad in Europe. A place of fun and entertainment was chosen, as in the case of the Paris Bataclan, but outdoor and without a specific indication of the religious identity of the people present there.

As you may recall, the owners of the Bataclan in Paris were of Jewish religion and the terrorist attack occurred after a series of Islamist massacres in places where there were many French and Jewish citizens.

In the case of the Nice attack, there is no difference of target between the Jews, Christians or even Muslims present in the huge crowd gathered on the Promenade des Anglais to celebrate the Bastille Bay marking the start of Republican France.

The nation, the symbol, the ordinary people – indeed everybody – are hit.

Hence, in this case, the data and aspects to be studied are different and probably more dangerous than we can imagine today: the truck was driven by a French citizen of Tunisian origin, living in Nice.

Whoever bought or stole the truck has a wide cover network probably verging on the underworld, even the non-jihadist one.

In fact, the truck driver was a jihadist with a criminal record of common offences.

Therefore the beginning of a link between the traditional “underworld” and the jihad cannot be ruled out.

Supplying arms to the jihad (although those found on the truck could not be used) and the connections with the smuggling networks – of weapons or other items – could be the new business of the traditional crime networks.

At theoretical level – namely the jihad doctrine – the attack on Europe was widely anticipated and stimulated by the ISIS and Al Qaeda proclamations.

When the Iraqi-Syrian “State” falls apart, the two rival organizations of the jihad find themselves on the same line, namely terrorist attacks among the “Crusaders and the Jews”. The indiscriminate attack which – according to some analysts , was considered “outdated” by Al Qaeda or ISIS – is now necessary for the jihad survival.

It is needed to display power, and hence win the sympathy and support of many Islamists being radicalized, as well as to show off strength to “protect” the Islamic minorities present on the “infidels’ territory”. It is also needed to scare the Western public and governments and finally to block the police and intelligence activities.

And, according to the jihadists, this happens and must happen at the very moment in which the Syrian-Iraqi “State” is collapsing.

Furthermore it seems that the quality of the law enforcement agencies and the intelligence services is a selection criterion for the jihad terrorists.

The less efficient they are, the more their countries become a target.

Belgium, at first, in which the Walloon police forces do not communicate with the Flemish ones, and the intelligence service are weak. Then France, which implemented a dysfunctional and irrational reform of the intelligence services, both those responsible for internal affairs and those in charge of external affairs.

Not to mention – for sense of patriotism – the reform implemented by Italy in 2007.

Incidentally, it seems that today European democracies do not understand anything about intelligence.

Hence the European democracies must take a decision: either they sacrifice part of the “rights” and privacy of their citizens to protect them from the jihad, or – by following the myth of mass democracy – they shall accept ever more brutal attacks.

Furthermore there is the problem of the data to work with: currently all intelligence services and police forces operate too much with an ex post approach. It is wrongly believed that the jihad generates crimes which must be punished individually, while the preaching of the “holy war” falls within the freedoms guaranteed as early as the days of the French Revolution, though with some historical exceptions.

This is false. The jihad is the specific strategy of a war which is totally different from Carl von Clausewitz’s war. The police forces must shift from the (scarce) repression of certain crimes related to, or resulting from, the jihad to the very clear and structural fight against them with the “holy war”. Somehow as the judges Falcone and Borsellino did with Mafia.

Hence a strategy against the warring Islamism need to be defined, combining very harsh pressures on the sponsoring and funding States, psychological warfare actions in Europe and in the rest of the world, as well as preventive repression of the jihad hotbeds.

We must imitate the practices of the jihad to combat it: these are the OPFOR techniques of “hybrid warfare” which are currently used by the Russian Federation in Ukraine, for example.

Hence taking actions ex post is hard, but currently inevitable for the European police forces.

We must do the opposite and on a stable and permanent basis.

And this happens for various reasons. The first is that the jihadists are quick and efficient in using the social media and the encryption needed in them.

Kik, SureSpot, Telegram, Wikr, Detect and Tor are all perfectly legal applications used to encrypt the jihadist messages or to reach the deep Internet, which does not result from the search engines.

ISIS has long been developing websites to train to encryption.

They also tend to lack operating signals, but they indicate the place and time of the attack – at the right time, and only to those who must perpetrate it.

A multiplication of sources which makes it difficult for any intelligence service to follow the jihad, which is made of hidden networks, mostly unexplored, who live according to the rule “from mouth to ear” or to the rule of immediate verbal communication which, however, overlap and control the on-line communication.

Moreover – albeit it is hard to say – the European intelligence services operate on the basis of two criteria which are difficult to be checked operationally.

Either the “grand old man” who decides everything, possibly from some cave in the Pakistani tribal territories, as was the case with Osama Bin Laden, or the free rider, namely the marginalized and radicalized young man who does everything on his own.

The jihad young men can do much by themselves, because the instructions and orders from the top leaders are always generic and it is up to those working on the field to observe, check and plan.

However, this never happens without the green light given by one of the multiple command centers, which must then justify and expand the terrorist action effects.

I believe that Europe will be the next field of action for the jihad.

For many reasons: the first is that the mass of immigrants is such that they can serve as a safety net, as well as a recruiting and funding network for many jihadists. The old leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, said so a few years ago: “We will not invade Europe with the jihad, demography will be enough”.

This is exactly what is unawarely maintained by many misguided and shallow supporters of multiculturalism.

The second reason is that – as the jihad has proclaimed recently – Europe will be rapidly Islamized and the ISIS black flag will fly at the Vatican, as shown by the cover of the theoretical review of the Syrian-Iraqi group. They do what they say, but we never know how. Hence time has come to rethink the intelligence strategies throughout Europe, without creating an unnecessary “single agency”, but rethinking the jihadist threat in a new and creative way.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Terrorism

Strategies for combating international terrorism in Central Asia

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After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Central Asia has been cast as the site of a new “great game”. Central Asia has been largely influenced by international developments and the emergence of persistent sources of instability and tension in other parts of the world, including the Middle East and North Africa. Some states in the region have succeeded in expanding their relationships with other actors. For example, Kazakhstan has tried to advance its goals by participating in important international issues and designing appropriate policies. Although Kazakhstan has succeeded in this path, most of the countries in the region face major challenges.

At the moment, Central Asian states are facing serious menaces to their security from various challenges like drug trafficking, water disputes, religious fundamentalism and expansion of terrorist and takfiri groups such as ISIS.

Given the increased risk of terrorist groups infiltrating the region, the key question is: “What strategies exist to counter international terrorism in the Central Asian region?” This study suggest that an integrated long-term strategy is an effective and comprehensive way to combat international terrorism.

Central Asia and international terrorism

The war in Syria and Iraq has significantly altered modern terrorism, with radical Islamic militants from Central Asia being no exception. Most importantly, for the first time travelling outside of the region to fight in the ranks of militant and terrorist organisations became a mass phenomenon. In Syria, the radical Islamic militants from Central Asia have established terrorist organisations of their own. These terrorists have Salafi-Wahhabi inclinations and are among the backers of al-Qaeda, al-Nusra Front, and Daesh Takfiri groups. They have turned into a potential threat for countries in Central Asia as these international and organized terrorists may one day find their way to other regions and states after Syria. 

Activities of extremist networks which send their members and devotees to Syria have a determining role in the region. Many of the foreign rebels operating in Syria had links to these groups in their own countries. A portion of them are being encouraged by their relatives and friends in Syria to join the ranks of the Takfiri militants, especially older brothers motivate the younger ones to join the terrorists.

The terrorists’ method for recruiting forces is almost the same in most of the countries in the Central Asia. They usually do this through local sources and Islamist groups and organizations that have close ties with al-Qaeda, Salafists and Wahhabists. However, this is not done openly.

A number of terrorist groups are tasked with recruiting individuals to send them to fight in Syria. In fact, all terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda and the al-Tahrir Party are busy with the recruitment. The Takfiri groups of al-Nusra Front and the so-called Islamic Jihad Union are also employing nationals from Central Asia. In some countries, the process of employment is done through indigenous people. For instance, one-third of all Kyrgyz people who have traveled to Saudi Arabia in pursuance of religious education have turned into extremist Salafi-Wahhabi preachers in Kyrgyzstan. That is why today the Kyrgyz are employing their people to prevent this. 

The Challenges of Combating Terrorism in Central Asia

Fighting terrorist threats in Central Asia is a complex issue. To counter these threats, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian governments have been reevaluating their national counter-terrorism strategies. Counter-terrorism cooperation under the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has its limits because not all the Central Asian governments are members of the organizations. Also these strategies have been mainly established to counter-terrorism within the member states, not the ones stemming from other regions. 

On the other hand, some external actors play a destructive role in improving the security situation in the region. Indeed none of the great powers are not serious fight against terrorism. At present, the security conditions of the region can be made more complicated for several reasons:

First, the spread of terrorism and extremist groups;
Second, U.S. competition to increase penetration;
Third, ISIS’s willingness to be present in the region;
Fourth, the presence of people from the countries of Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the ranks of ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria;

Iran and Fighting Terrorism in Central Asia

The rising threats of extremism in Central Asia represent a strong menace for Iran interests. Due to the increasing presence of ISIS forces in Afghanistan, the security of Central Asia remains a top priority on the Iran security agenda. The Iran-Central Asia Strategy should include in its objectives the challenges of foreign fighters and radicalization, drug trafficking and organized crime, and conflicts that require cooperation between Central Asia and Iran.

No one and no country can deny the constructive and positive role of Iran in fighting the scourge of terrorism in the region and the world. Iran’s efforts and assistance to regional countries have helped reign in the violence and bloodshed of ISIS terrorist group in various parts of the world by bringing the self-proclaimed statehood of ISIS to an end in Iraq and Syria. The Islamic Republic of Iran will continue to advocate dialogue, cooperation and trust among regional countries as the only viable way to end terrorism and devastating wars in the Middle East. In result no country would benefit from weakening Iran in the region.

In the past years, Iran has acted as a buffer zone and has prevented the entry of terrorist groups from Middle East to Central Asia. Iran has always tried to fight with terrorist and takfiri groups. Among foreign actors in the region Iran and Russia have a good cooperation in the fight against terrorism. Iran and Russia are winning the Fight against Terrorism in Syria. Undoubtedly Iran and Russia can offer their experience in combating terrorism to Central Asian countries.

Conclusion

No doubt, security, peace and respect for the sovereignty of countries, as well non-interference in their internal affairs, and an effective fight against terrorism without double standards will be in the interest of all countries in the world.

Fight against Terrorism Requires a holistic and coordinated approach. For the implementation of the international Counter Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia need a Regional Joint Action Plan. Integrating counter-terrorism strategy to political, economic and social development policies is an important part of the comprehensive approach.

In order to combat terrorism in Central Asia, there are a few issues to consider:

1. All States in region to combat terrorism must take coordinated action.

2. Fighting terrorism in Central Asia will not succeed without creating peace and stability in Afghanistan.

3. Combating terrorism requires the formation of a regional and international coalition with States that really have a concern for countering terrorism, not the countries that have been sponsors of terrorist groups.

4. The fight against terrorism requires the use of past experiences in this regard. Iran and Russia have considerable experience in combating terrorism.

From our partner Tehran Times

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Terrorism

Fighting Terrorism Online: EU Internet Forum committed to an EU-wide Crisis Protocol

MD Staff

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The participants of the 5th EU Internet Forum, hosted by Commissioners Avramopoulos and King, have committed to an EU Crisis Protocol – a rapid response to contain the viral spread of terrorist and violent extremist content online. The Commission, Member States and online service providers, including Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, JustPaste.it and Snap have committed to working together on a voluntary basis within the framework set out by the Crisis Protocol, while ensuring strong data protection and fundamental rights safeguards. The EU Internet Forum also discussed the overall progress made in ensuring the removal of terrorist content online since its last meeting in December 2018 as well as how to strengthen cooperation on other challenges, such as child sexual exploitation online.

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Since I launched the EU Internet Forum 4 years ago, it has gone from strength to strength, offering Member States and online platforms an effective framework to work together to tackle terrorist content online. We have managed to build a strong relationship of trust and mutual understanding with the internet platforms. I am pleased with the progress we are making and the remarkable results we have achieved. Today, we are taking this cooperation another step further with an EU Crisis Protocol. With this, we will be ready to act quickly, effectively and in a more coordinated way to stop the spread of terrorist content.”   

Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King added: “The events in New Zealand earlier this year were a stark reminder that terrorist content spreads online at a tremendous speed. While our response might be quick, it isn’t quick enough. The Protocol is an EU response to contain the havoc created by such events – in a coordinated way.”

In the aftermath of the terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, government leaders and online platforms agreed on the Christchurch Call for Action. On this occasion, President Juncker announced the development of an EU Crisis Protocol in the context of the EU Internet Forum. The EU Protocol will allow Member States and online platforms to respond rapidly and in a coordinated manner to the dissemination of terrorist content online in the event of a terrorist attack.

The EU Crisis Protocol endorsed by the EU Internet Forum today will:

    Provide a coordinated and rapid reaction: Member States’ authorities, together with Europol, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) and online service providers will be able to respond quickly, in a coordinated manner to ensure that the spread of terrorist or violent extremist content is swiftly contained.

    Facilitate public and private sector cooperation: In the event of a crisis, law enforcement authorities and online service providers will share relevant information on the online content (e.g., URLs, audio-visual media, and metadata) on a voluntary basis, in a secure way and in real time.

    Facilitate a voluntary arrangement: The Protocol does not replace national legal frameworks or existing national crisis management mechanisms. It should apply only to extraordinary situations where those national measures are no longer sufficient to coordinate a rapid and cross-border response.

The EU Internet Forum also discussed the overall progress made in ensuring the removal of terrorist content online since its last meeting in December 2018 and looked at the emerging challenges. This included, for the first time, a discussion on the global threat of online child sexual abuse and exploitation. Cooperation between public authorities and online platforms is key to fight against these horrible crimes effectively. Participants also took stock of the work to tackle the challenges presented by right wing extremism and the radicalising effect of violent political discourse.

Background

The EU Internet Forum was launched by Commissioner Avramopoulos in December 2015 to address internet misuse by terrorist groups. It brings together EU Home Affairs Ministers, the internet industry and other stakeholders who work together voluntarily to address this complex issue. Since its creation, the EU Internet Forum meets annually to take stock of the progress made in removing terrorist content online and to discuss emerging challenges. In 2015, an efficient referral mechanism to flag and remove terrorist content online was created at Europol.

In 2016, at the EU Internet Forum, the industry announced the creation of the “database of hashes” to make removals permanent and irreversible. The database is a critical tool in stemming the spread of terrorist content online. Since its launch, the database has gathered over 200,000 hashes (pictures, videos, etc.) and has helped both large and small platforms to remove such content quickly.

President Juncker announced the development of the EU Protocol in Paris earlier this year when he attended a meeting of government leaders and CEOs of major online platforms that was co-hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

A first exercise to operationalise the Protocol already took place at Europol on 11 September 2019.

The EU Crisis Protocol will contribute to efforts undertaken at global level in the context of the Christchurch call, in particular the Crisis Response Protocol as announced in September at the margins of 2019 UNGA.

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New technologies, artificial intelligence aid fight against global terrorism

MD Staff

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Although terrorists have become skilled at manipulating the Internet and other new technologies, artificial intelligence or AI, is a powerful tool in the fight against them, a top UN counter-terrorism official said this week at a high-level conference on strengthening international cooperation against the scourge.

Co-organized by Belarus and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), “Countering terrorism through innovative approaches and the use of new and emerging technologies” concluded on Wednesday in Minsk.

The internet “expands technological boundaries literally every day” and AI, 3D printing biotechnology innovations, can help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), said Vladimir Voronkov, the first-ever Under Secretary-General for the UN Counter-Terrorism Office.

But it also provides “live video broadcasting of brutal killings”, he continued, citing the recent attack in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, where dozens of Muslim worshippers were killed by a self-avowed white supremacist. 

“This is done in order to spread fear and split society”, maintained the UNOCT chief, warning of more serious developments, such as attempts by terrorists to create home-made biological weapons. 

He pointed out that terrorists have the capacity to use drones to deliver chemical, biological or radiological materials, which Mr. Voronkov said, “are even hard to imagine.”

But the international community is “not sitting idly by”, he stressed, noting that developments in this area allow the processing and identification of key information, which can counter terrorist operations with lightning speed.

“The Internet content of terrorists is detected and deleted faster than ever”, elaborated the UNOCT chief. “Fifteen to twenty minutes is enough to detect and remove such content thanks to machine algorithms”.

Crediting quantum computing coupled with the use of AI, he explained that accelerated information processing enables terrorist tracing. 

Mr. Voronkov added that the use of blockchain registration – a growing list of records, or blocks, that are linked using cryptography – is also being explored to identify companies and individuals responsible for financing terrorism.

“It is necessary to increase the exchange of expert knowledge on technologies such as 3D printing, synthetic biology, nanotechnology, robotics, the synthesis of the human face and autonomous weapons”, he underscored. “This will help to better identify and respond to risks before it is too late”.

The two-day conference was divided into three themed sessions that focused at global, regional and national levels on the misuse of new technologies and AI by terrorists; approaches and strategies to counteract terrorist propaganda; and the misuse of scientific innovations.

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