In early 2011, when Al Qaeda emir Osama bin Laden was killed and a wave of social protests struck large parts of the Arab world, a chorus of analysts and pundits argued that global terrorism, especially of the jihadist variant, was on the path of decline. If anything, however, events in 2014 and 2015 have served as a testimony not only of terrorism's staying power, but of its growing threat to the international community.
Complicating our grasp of the contemporary threat of terrorism is the fact that the nature of the perpetrators of terrorism, and the broader environment in which these actors operate, is in constant flux. Formal terrorist and insurgent groups such as the Islamic State, Boko Haram, Jabhat al-Nusra, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or Hezbollah have posed formidable challenges to the security of states, while informal actors such as local networks, foreign fighters, and lone wolves have amassed the potential to inflict significant damage to their enemies, sow fear and uncertainty among the population, and challenge our system of values.
Against this backdrop, the ICT’s World Summit of Counter-Terrorism appears as relevant and critical as ever. This year’s theme for the conference are the shifting sands of terrorism. In particular, this year’s annual conference will explore the evolution of the terrorist threat in the face of an evolving environment and a growing diversity of terrorist actors. The conference will also discuss how counterterrorism policy and strategy can best address this elusive threat.
Following two days of plenary sessions, where the conference will zoom in on the challenges posed by the rise of the Islamic State, Hamas, and Hezbollah, and discuss the popular framing of the counterterrorism policy known as "Countering Violent Extremism' (CVE), the third and fourth day of the conference will explore the general theme of the conference in a series of workshops.
The morning workshops of the third day of the conference are devoted to examining the changing environment that affects today’s terrorist threat. The workshops on the evolving environment will hone in the following topics:
The afternoon workshops of the third day will scrutinize the growing diversity of actors that are engaged in acts of terrorism today. While formal terrorist organizations continue to play an important role, the workshops will explore how these groups have evolved to a dynamically changing environment by adopting a variety of forms of political violence, while also attempting to establish a semblance of governance. Besides these formal terrorist, hybrid, and insurgent organizations, the workshops will also discuss other traditional and emerging types of terrorist actors, from self-starters to informal networks and state actors.
On its final day, the conference will devote itself to counter-terrorism. The workshops and other events of Day Four will seek to analyze how states affected by terrorism should best devote their limited resources to formulate optimal strategies to confront the continuously evolving threat of terrorism. This year’s workshops on counter-terrorism will pay special attention to the legal challenges that are part of Western attempts to address the foreign fighter problem; and to discussions on the role of police, law enforcement, and military elements of counterterrorism.
We are looking forward to welcoming you to Herzliya.