Mr. Gilles de Kerchove, Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, European Union “The Threat to the EU from Terrorism”
The session was part of the ICT's 16th World Summit on Counter-Terrorism: "Unpuzzling Terrorism". Mr. de Kerchove discussed the threats the European Union is facing including homegrown terrorists, radicalized nationalists, direct attacks by ISIS, and ISIS cells already in the EU. He stated that the EU should promote more cooperation between law enforcement agencies both in the EU and outside of it, as well as develop preventative measures such as rehabilitation and education programs.
De Kerchove spent the first part of his speech explaining the general security situation in the EU. He began by explaining the greatest security threats that the EU is currently facing concerning terrorism. De Kerchove gave four reasons as to why the threat level in the EU is at its highest in twenty years: homegrown terrorism, returning foreign fighters, direct attacks from the Islamic State, and Islamic State terrorist cells already in the EU. He then went on to describe the factors that have led to higher rates of radicalization in recent times. The reasons he gave were increased state violence, failing states, increasing Sunni-Shi’a tensions, the spread of radical Islamic ideology, the security gaps that arose from the Arab Spring revolutions, and high-tech developments. These high-tech developments, according do de Kerchove include terrorists‘ use of drones and the miniaturization of the amount of explosives needed. He then descibed the increased chance of a chemical attack occurring in Europe as well as the possibility of cyber terrorism in the coming years.
The second part of de Kerchove’s speech focused on the things that the EU is doing to respond to these threats. He first explains how the EU has been more engaged in security issues recently despite the fact that the EU is not the primary security institution within Europe. He said that the EU needs to “connect the dots,” meaning that the EU should promote more cooperation amongst law enforcement and intelligence agencies, as well as between relevant databases across Europe. De Kerchove argued that EU should also spend massively on preventative measure such as rehabilitation and education programs, job programs, and towards the development of a “European Islam.”
De Kerchove ended his speech by explaining how the EU plans on handling the threat posed by the many foreign fighters that traveled from EU states to Iraq and Syria. He again stressed the importance of cooperation between the security agencies of EU member states, as well as further cooperation and engagement with countries outside the EU such as Israel, the U.S, Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. To conclude his speech, De Kerchove stressed the importance of INTERPOL in the fight against terrorism and how the EU should rely on this organization more heavily.