It is clear that there is coordinated international cooperation to combat terrorism in all parts of the world. The one that directs that cooperation is the United States of America as the country directing international relations, and the American role in fighting terrorism became clear after the events of September 11, as the United States sought to obtain a unanimous vote in the Security Council On 28 September 2001 Resolution No. 1373, which was adopted in accordance with the provisions of Chapter Seven of the Charter, which grants broad authority to the Security Council to implement decisions and makes the resolution binding on all member states and the sharing of intelligence information and taking measures to prevent the movements of terrorists.
This decision has a symbolic effect in securing legitimacy for the battle led by the United States of America against terrorism. This is at the level of the United Nations, as for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the United States invited the nineteen member states in The Alliance is required to implement the provisions of Article 5 of the Treaty of the Alliance, and this is the first time in the history of the Alliance, any attack taken against a member state is an attack on all member states, and these countries are required to take appropriate steps in accordance with the constitutional procedures either at the global level offers by states began to join the diplomatic and military campaign against terrorism.
The Russian side announced that it had become a partner in the campaign with the United States, and China provided information that serves that side, and that relations with India have become better with the United States of America despite the latter’s reliance on Pakistani bases in the war against Afghanistan, as well as the two countries that were defeated. During World War II, Germany and Japan they abandoned internal obstacles, as Germany sent its forces beyond the borders of NATO, and Japan deployed ships in the Indian Ocean far from its territorial waters, and participated with forces in the international coalition against Iraq in 2003. The global war on terror continues and has not ended under the leadership of the United States of America.
While Europe is still living in the atmosphere of sadness and shock left by the recent attacks, the state of alert and paralysis continues in Brussels for the fourth consecutive day, especially with the announcement of the indictment of a fourth person suspected of involvement in the Paris attacks on November 13th. This comes in a force in which French fighter jets launch strikes against “Islamic State” sites in Iraq and Syria. France has taken a set of precautionary measures, including closing militant mosques and taking a decision to expel extremists from France, and the government has also decided to increase the capabilities of the intelligence services and expand the powers of these services, while Belgium is actively trying to track down those allegedly involved in the Paris attacks and are currently on its territory. Intelligence and judicial cooperation between Europe and North African countries has existed for decades due to the position of these countries in relation to the old countries of the continent. It has become clear that the human element is indispensable no matter how advanced the technology.
EU Intelligence Cooperation regarding Counter-Terrorism
Recently, the European continent has lived through a terrorism-heavy decade. This has led to an increased cooperation between countries when it comes to counter-terrorism, and new initiatives were started in order to adjust to the new reality.
Although there has not been any formation of an EU institution solely tasked with counter-terrorism, existing EU bodies have taken on various additional mandates: Europol’s terrorism-related competencies have significantly increased and the relationship between Frontex and Eurojust has been strengthened.[i] Moreover, a working group was created, the EU Clearing House, which is tasked with blacklisting terrorist groups and deciding about freezing their EU financial assets.
The EU has also proceeded to come up with various strategy papers with the first one dating from November 2001 and titled “European Council Action Plan on Combatting Terrorism”. The most recent “EU Security Union Strategy” was published in July 2020 and one of its core priorities consists in the protection of the European people from terrorism and organized crime by adopting an EU-wide counter-terrorism agenda.
While the development of an effective and wholesome EU-wide intelligence exchange has been a slow process, some efforts have seen the light of day. The most important success being the implementation of a European Arrest Warrant, which has significantly simplified the national authorities’ search for suspects all over Europe.[ii]
However, member states are still reluctant to expand their intelligence cooperation and if they do choose to collaborate, secrecy prevails. A prominent example of the latter situation was in fact revealed only last year by Professor Bart Jacobs, who discovered a five partner SIGINT alliance (Maximator) dating back all the way to 1976 and still active today, between Denmark, Sweden, Germany, France and the Netherlands.[iii] With the emergence of novel satellites and signal intelligence in the 1970s, the need emerged for joint knowledge acquiescence and burden sharing, thus the emergence of the Maximator-alliance.
In the same spirit, the EU should take more decisive actions in order to effectively counter the common terrorism threat with a long-term perspective. The freedom of movement is an essential pillar of the EU identity, but in order to live it out safely, the dangers that come with it in the form of its criminal and terrorist exploitations, have to be minimized by a holistic EU-wide cooperation.
Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism in Asia
Counter-terrorism efforts are often deterred in Asia owing to its geopolitical dynamism and cultural diversity that renders terrorism as variegated as the region itself. The principal problem is manifested in the myriad definitions of terrorism that makes intelligence cooperation against terrorism difficult and weak. Broadly, Asia can be divided into West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia – the areas suffer from different types and sources of terrorism owing to their historical and geopolitical experiences and hence, employ various counter-terrorism approaches.
Although recent developments show various regional and international counter-terrorism initiatives such as Project Scorpius, Operation Sunbird, etc that aim at capacity building and forging cooperation across Asia, further improvement is mandatory to contain rampant extremism. The Global Terrorism Index, 2020 (GTI-2020) ranks Asia with the highest impact of terrorism and Afghanistan has topped with a GTI score of 9.592.
The Bureau of Counterterrorism of the U.S. Department of State has designated Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Iran and Syria as State sponsors of terrorism and has imposed multiple sanctions on these countries that consequently impedes its growth and development and serves as fodder to further extremism. Thus, infliction of stringent sanctions and affecting the democracy of the regional nations cannot be the best forms of counter-terrorism acts.
To delve deeper into the problem, the article first identifies an approximate area-specific reasons behind terrorist activities (however, the reasons often overlap across borders in a globalized and integrated world order); explores the various counter-terrorism measures undertaken by the areas; detects the deficiency in these counter-terrorism strategies and finally, recommends certain scopes of improvements and improvisations.
Forms of Terrorism across Asia
As Indo-Pacific is evolving, so are the risks of terrorist attacks. The proliferation of Western ideals of democracy and liberalism has triggered the orthodox Islamists to indulge in terrorism in the name of “love jihad”, especially in Central and Western Asia. The US-led “war on terror” in these areas after the 9/11 attacks has further strengthened radical Islamism against such western ideals and its supporters. In South Asia, the age-old Indo-Pakistan border conflict along the Line of Control (LOC) has been a constant source of insurgency and terrorism threat to India. The powerful Taliban in Afghanistan has been a regional menace who shows no sign of retreating even as Intra-Afghan peace-talks have been hailed internationally as a “breakthrough”.
Ethnic radicalization and separatist movements are other reason that handicaps the area with terrorism. Naxalite movements in India against the exploitative character of capitalism gave rise to Left-wing extremism and have taken a great toll of life and property. Southeast Asia has become the springboard of terrorism owing to political and religious violence. The well established connections with Al-Qaeda and Laskar and the formation of regional terrorist groups in the name of “love jihad” and separatism are giving ASEAN a tough time to contain terrorist escalation.
Maritime terrorism is comparatively a new form and/or medium of terrorist activities that has especially targeted the Asian littorals and coastal countries. ICC-IMB Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships Report states that from 2014-2018, nearly 200 actual and attempted attacks have been carried out on shipping in South and Southeast Asia. Terrorist groups like the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) target ships and port facilities to disrupt trade and destroy the economic potential of the nations. The Christchurch attack in New-Zealand and the Daesh terrorist group-led attack in Sri-Lanka have brought a new form of Hate terrorism, which draws its motivations from vengeance or anger against the significant.
Hate terrorism tends to alter the definition of global terrorism as it is inflicted upon without any political motive or expectation for concessions. The advent of Corona virus has brought new pastures of threat as anti-social acts like coughing in public or vandalizing hospitals earmarked for Covid treatment are identified. The relative failure of the governments and the established order to deal with the pandemic has provided the terrorist organisations with a fresh opportunity to bash the status quo and offer an alternate world order.
Counter-Terrorism Measures in Asia
Regional and International organisations like inter-alia ASEAN, SAARC, SCO, United Nations, INTERPOL, IMO have undertaken comprehensive counter-terrorism measures. ASEAN Declaration on Transnational Crime, adopted on 20 December, 1997 has identified the need for cooperation in counter-terrorism for the first time.
An aggravation in rate and magnitude of terrorism has led to the adoption of more counter-terrorism instruments like the ASEAN Declaration on Joint Action to Counter Terrorism, the ASEAN Work Programme to Combat Transnational Crime, the ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism , the Charter of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations , the 2014 ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Statement on ‘the Rise of Violence and Brutality Committed by Terrorist-Extremist Organizations in Iraq and Syria’, the 2015 Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Rise of Radicalization and Violent Extremism, the Manila Declaration to Counter the Rise of Radicalization and Violent Extremism and the Comprehensive Plan of Action on Counter Terrorism. Similarly, SAARC and SCO have adopted numerous Conventions and Agreements such as the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and the Convention on Counter-Terrorism of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, respectively to suppress terrorism.
Inoder to promote counter-terrorism cooperation in the region and beyond, INTERPOL, the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and the Global Center on Cooperative Security along with foreign funds have exacerbated counter-terrorism efforts of the region by investing in workshops, special training courses in forensic techniques and data mechanisms and other capacity building measures. The primary focus is to institutionalize cooperation and coordination among law enforcement officials and counter-terrorism practitioners.
When it comes to the weaknesses of Counter-Terrorism measures, we can mention that in addition to a lack of uniform definition of terrorism, the increasingly divisive regional order impedes cooperative anti-terrorism intelligence efforts. The assertive posture of China in Asia Pacific, especially in the resource rich South China Sea has jeopardized the proper implementation of counter-terrorism instruments. The fear of an emergent neo-colonialism wave by China’s BRI project and the consequent debt-diplomacy has shifted the regional security focus to contest and contain Chinese belligerence from terrorism. Counter-terrorism infrastructures along national borders, in ports and in high seas are still poorly developed and require proper maintenance. Anti-terrorism policies are sporadic in nature that see strict implementation only after a terrorist attack and in temporary basis.
Changes in International Counter-Terrorism after the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks
The “war on terrorism” announced by former US president George W Bush after the 9/11 terrorist attacks marked a shift in international cooperation in counter-terrorism. 9/11 set in motion large-scale efforts to bring together a global coalition of counter-terrorism. The explicit calls of the United States for all nations across the world to join in this new mission aimed to set up more extensive forms of cooperation and intelligence. Furthermore, the emphasis on the international nature of terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda underscored the need for more international cooperation since the 9/11 terrorist attacks demonstrated the impacts of transnational terrorism.
Whilst mechanisms and networks of international intelligence were already in place before, the 9/11 terrorist attacks caused a profound shift in enhancing tactical and human intelligence in counter-terrorism. Tactical intelligence contributes to the military operations in counter-terrorism and human intelligence in turn, enhances the understanding of terrorist organizations and the way they operate. Concrete examples of deepened international cooperation in counter-terrorism are the various departments and units set up by Interpol. Interpol established the Public and Safety (PST) subdirectorate after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The aim of PST is to enforce cooperation between law enforcement agencies across the world. Therefore, at the level of Interpol, the world’s police share intelligence on the motives, methods and financing of transnational terrorist networks. Moreover, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, NATO implemented a comprehensive Action Plan which aims to increase the efforts in the fight against terrorism. NATO has also anticipated regional terrorist threats by establishing international counter-terrorism units in critical areas such as the South of Italy.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the role of social media has also become more important in counter-terrorism. The rise of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, amongst others, has brought an additional challenge to international cooperation in counter-terrorism. Social media companies are located in different countries and have servers across the world which on the other hand, offers a tool for terrorist organizations to organize themselves internationally and on the other, emphasizes the continuous need for international counter-terrorism efforts. Social media platforms are analyzed to identify possible terrorist activities. The intelligence is then, shared between countries to mainly prevent terrorist attacks but to also, flag possibly radicalized individuals. Interpol has facilitated social media analysis for counter-terrorism purposes among its member countries to further enhance international intelligence in counter-terrorism. The 9/11 terrorist attacks, therefore, mark a substantial shift in deepening and enforcing existing intelligence networks rather than creating entirely new mechanisms for international cooperation in counter-terrorism. This is evident as the role of centralized organizations such as Interpol and NATO lies at the core of international intelligence regarding counter-terrorism.
Clearly, terrorism in Asia is a multifaceted phenomenon that has been further aggravated by through social media. Online propagation and recruitment of terrorists gives them an unprecedented level of reach, unhindered by time by space or border security. “Christchurch call to Action” like initiatives must be mandated at both regional and national levels to forge strict cyber policies and hold tech companies accountable against anti-social contents.
Inter-state conflicts often facilitate state sponsored terrorism or provide safe havens to terrorist groups against enemy countries. Such illicit foreign policies have to be curbed by international law. Simply imposing sanctions may worsen the situation. International organisations, regional organisations, governments are relevant civil society structures needed to engage in constructive dialogues and yield meaningful negotiations. The success rate of Intra-Afghan Negotiations has the potential to alter counter-terrorism approach in the post-pandemic world order.
Areas of cooperation have to be identified and worked upon followed by regular follow ups. Existing codes and bodies like the ISPS Code, Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, etc has to be strengthened to accommodate new forms of terrorism.
Manual security has to supplement by technological advancements like installation of Automatic Identification System in Indian fishing boats that help fishermen identify any rock or vessel in close proximity, scanners in ports, railways, airports and highways, maintenance of electronic criminal databases, etc.
Finally, besides practical execution of counter-terrorism measures, the psychological dimension against terrorism has to be strengthened as well. Only then, sensitive and trigger attributes like religion, respect, equality, acknowledgement and development can be practiced in harmony.
The recent attacks, has woken up and now will combine technological means with the human element in its intelligence policy. Just as terrorists have networks through which they communicate and coordinate, so states governments also have networks through which they exchange information. Of course, stopping cooperation between two governments for a year needs time to repeat. Things back to how they were.
[i]Argomaniz, J., Bures, O., & Kaunert C. (2015). A Decade of EU counter-terrorism and intelligence: A critical assessment. Intelligence and National Security, 30(2), 191-206.
[iii]Jacobs, B. (2020). Maximator: European signals intelligence cooperation, from a Dutch perspective. Intelligence and National Security, 35(5), 659-668.
[iv]Counter-Terrorism Module 5 Key Issues: Asian Region. (n.d.). Retrieved December, from https://www.unodc.org/e4j/en/terrorism/module-5/key-issues/asian-region.html.
[v]Counter-Terrorism Module 5 Key Issues: Asian Region. (n.d.). Retrieved December, from https://www.unodc.org/e4j/en/terrorism/module-5/key-issues/asian-region.html.
[vi]Improving counter-terrorism skills in Southeast Asia. (n.d.). Retrieved December, from https://www.interpol.int/en/How-we-work/Capacity-building/Capacity-building-projects/Improving-counter-terrorism-skills-in-Southeast-Asia.
[vii]H. (2018, November 20). Colour coding enhances coastal security. Retrieved December 22, 2020, from https://www.deccanherald.com/colour-coding-enhances-coastal-703894.html.
[viii]Singh, A. (2019, December 26). Maritime terrorism in Asia: An assessment. Retrieved December, from https://www.orfonline.org/research/maritime-terrorism-in-asia-an-assessment-56581.
[ix]Promoting regional security in South Asia: Tackling terrorism and violent extremism together. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.un.org/sc/ctc/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Judicial-Workshop-Brochure_2.pdf.
[x]Project Scorpius. (n.d.). Retrieved December, from https://www.interpol.int/en/Crimes/Terrorism/Counter-terrorism-projects/Project-Scorpius.
[xi]Beng, P. K., Dr. (2003). Is There an al Qaeda Network in Southeast Asia? NIASnytt, (3), 6-7. doi: http://nias.asia/sites/default/files/files/2003%20copy.pdf.
Antoine Andary holds a Master’s Degree in Political Communication and International Affairs. Henceforth, he pursued higher studies in Criminology, Global Security and Defense, focusing strategically and operationally on Transnational Organized Crime. His main research areas of interest focus on Communications, Politics, International Relations, Governance, Policy, Human Rights, National and International Security, Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism, Anti-Human Trafficking, Anti-Money Laundering, Geopolitical, Military, Police and Intelligence Affairs.
Iris has completed her law degree at the Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf in Germany but decided to go back to school in order to study International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands. She is an editor for her university’s undergraduate journal Medusa. Her research focus lies primarily on international security, more specifically disarmament, counter-terrorism, intelligence and transnational organized crime.
Madhura holds a MA in Political Political Science from Jadavpur University, India and she is currently seeking a Master’s degree in Political Science with a specialization in International Relations. She has formerly interned at the Bengal Chambers of Commerce and Industries and the Foreign Policy Research Centre. Her research interest includes International Relations, Geopolitics, and Foreign Policy of the Indo-Pacific and International Security.
Jasmin is currently completing her MSc in International Relations at the University of Amsterdam. Her interests include the interplay between ideology and armed groups. Additionally, she is interested in the role of terrorist organizations in conflict areas and the implications for post-conflict situations.