The session was part of the ICT's 16th World Summit on Counter-Terrorism: "Unpuzzling Terrorism". Proactive tools to counter-terrorism involve the broadening of legal frameworks to make the “intent to commit terrorism” a crime and putting international pressure on weak states to control their borders and integrate their population who is at risk, while providing them with assistance. Additionally, there should be a greater use of special operation forces who capitalize on the use of local human networks and are assisted through technology and data mining tools. Although difficult, renewed emphasis must be placed at the community level to thwart radicalization through a series of programs geared towards eliminating grievances and providing opportunities to counter the appeal of radical groups.
Chair: Brig. Gen. (Res.) Nitzan Nuriel, Associate, ICT, IDC Herzliya & Former Director, Counter- Terrorism Bureau, Israel
Dr. Shira Efron, Policy Researcher & Special Advisor on Israel, RAND Corporation, United States of America
Brig. Gen. (Res.) Gal Hirsch, Associate, ICT, IDC Herzliya, Israel
Mr. Brian Michael Jenkins, Senior Advisor to the President, RAND Corporation & Member of the Professional Advisory Board, ICT, IDC Herzliya, United States of America
Gen. Ashok K. Mehta, Former General Officer Commanding, Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) in Sri Lanka, India
Col. (Res.) Shlomo Mofaz, Associate, ICT, IDC Herzliya, Israel
Dr. Efron began by identifying the various actors involved in “civil society,” including community groups, NGOs, teachers, coaches, health professionals, police, and the general public. She provided a framework for the types of radicalization and associated drivers, such as a lack of integration, weak community leadership and infrastructure. Dr. Efron then presented her take on the civil society’s role in CVE, noting five categories: 1) tackling underlying economic, social, political drivers of radicalization; 2) playing a role in terms of narratives and messages; 3) spotting signs of vulnerability and working to protect individuals from radicalization; 4) helping in the de-radicalization process, and 5) providing information that can help prevent planned attacks. She concluded with lessons learned from existing CVE programs but acknowledged that getting civil society engagement right is notoriously hard, although it is an integral part of successful CVE policy.
Brig. Gen. (Res.) Hirsch gave a theoretical overview of conventional war and how it differs fundamentally from the military battles of today. War is a well-known and well-studied phenomenon that focuses on the known, with concentrated maneuver on the center of gravity. The revolution of military affairs (RMA) has introduced a focus on known unknowns and the importance of power, space, and connectivity. However, Brig. Gen. (Res.) Hirsch advocates for the next RMA that now needs to focus on the unknown because the enemy has changed and is much harder to detect. The enemy operates covertly, among the people, and in incrementally small units. As such, war is now conducted in a multidimensional theater – in urban environments, at sea, in mountains, and so on. He notes that a large footprint of a conventional force is powerful but has a high signature, compared to Special Forces (SF) and special operations forces (SOF) that can maintain a much more flexible and adaptable network. He advocates putting SF and SOF at the center stage and giving them proxy armed forces capabilities.
Mr. Jenkins spoke on preemptive action as a pro-active tool. Although physical security does not end terrorism, it does displace the risk. However, the terrorism of today is moving towards “pure terrorism,” in the sense that terrorists will attack anyone, anywhere, at any time. Mr. Jenkins posed the question: can we discern behavior indicating imminent criminal intent? A review of airline security measures identified the need to intervene on behavior indicating suspicion, to look at people not objects. Parole boards and big data analysis can assist efforts to identify people who are prone to violence, even if there is no single terrorist profile. In addition to identifying individuals at risk, new efforts have been made to look at communities at risk, though this remains an understudied area. Mr. Jenkins suggested expanding the legal domain of incitement and making the intent to commit a terrorist act a crime.
Col. (Res.) Mofaz presentation focused on intelligence as a pro-active tool for countering terrorism. He explained that the terrorist threat today is incredibly complex due to the information explosion, wide use of the Internet and social media, multiculturalism, and religious motivation fueled by access to radical ideology. However, the innovations in technology provide a wide range of tools for counterterrorism as well, allowing for the mining of big data and open source information to piece together trends on potential terrorist suspects and their respective networks. Technology is not enough, because the human factor is also incredibly important. Experts should take part in extreme ideological discourse on the Internet, such as forums, chatrooms, and the dark web. Several challenges for intelligence include the short shelf life of information and a time-sensitive target. There is also the fundamental paradox between human rights and security, and it is a challenge to find the right balance for counterterrorism policy. He concluded by highlighting the need for collaboration and sharing of information at all levels.
Gen. Mehta spoke about the Indian experience with counterterrorism and specific challenges within the Southeast region at large. He noted that the worldwide political will and appetite for counterterrorism has declined significantly since the Global War on Terrorism began fifteen years ago. The United States’ policy towards Pakistan has been to express the need to do more, although it really has not addressed Pakistan’s unwillingness to deal with domestic and cross-border terrorism. According to General Mehta, the root of the problem between India and Pakistan is the Kashmir region and the subsequent campaign of cross-border activity and terrorism. India has the second largest Muslim population in the world (15%), and though there have been foreign fighters from the country who have joined ISIS, it is largely a well-integrated and inclusive democratic republic. When compared to terrorism that emanates from Pakistan, it is not even close – and the continued policy of not addressing this issue will be a major problem for the region and the world. Countering terrorism is about using “smart power,” or a combination of both hard and soft power. India primarily uses non-military tools and soft power rather than military means for counterterrorism. However, a policy of “strategic restraint” is limited, since it takes many of the tools for pro-active counterterrorism off the table, and India has not yet found an effective pro-active tool for dealing with malicious cross-border activity.