Criminal man with handcuffs in interrogation room feeling guilty after committed a crime
Counter terrorism is often believed to be ‘attacking the core of the terrorist organisations’, however the terrorists are proved to be spread out and lone wolf terrorism is at a rise since years. So what is 'the core of terrorism'? There is no need for training in a camp abroad when all necessary information can be found on the web or a manual that is distributed via fake social media accounts. After the discovery of a terrorist manual in 2015, it was clear that the organisations aim at small individuals to carry out their attacks. Therefor I strongly believe that we shouldn’t only focus on military counterattack but have to rise the effort in detecting infiltrated individuals and their activities.
I believe communication and creating good partnership is essential to reach favourable results in the mutual fight against terrorism. We have to increase the theoretical background needed for any party with a need to know, to improve social dialogue and cooperation with government organisations on cross-cutting counter-terrorism issues and its possible solutions. Situational awareness needs to be further developed as well as the interaction between governments, organisations, private security providers and international security bodies. We have to find ways together to efficiently improve our slow and hard crisis management mechanisms.
There are certain things that governments individually could implement. Terrorist attacks that include home made explosives, chemicals, biological or nuclear material can sometimes be spotted due to purchase of specific materials. Governments should foresee to oblige sellers of such materials a training to detect signs of possible terrorist plot and have strict policies in place.
Failures of intelligence sharing have led to successful terrorist acts since 9/11. The only way to make intelligence more accessible is to find ways to eliminate all difficult obstacles that stop or slow down the process. We have to include government and authorities’ employees (judges, investigators, police, security forces and any party with a need to know) to get professional and comprehensive training in the recognition of any indication that can lead to terrorist activities, so we can improve knowhow, awareness and judgemental capabilities.
Citizens can become a necessary key link to the detection of terrorism activities. Every government should hold awareness campaigns to make people notice suspicious activities. That combined with a good reporting system has shown results in several countries, where for example a mobile application can be used to inform authorities. Some countries have such a system in place, however people are not always aware of these possibilities. Warning systems can be of great significance as proven in the Netherlands with the Counter Terrorism Alert System (ATb). Is an international platform the solution for any terrorism related information sharing between government authorities?
Personally I find it essential that we promote understanding in sensitive areas to reach our future generation. Education is our utmost priority in the proactive effort against radicalisation. Terrorists will claim to act on behalf of the people and our Nations should focus on informing our new generation to make sure we do not use ‘terrorism’ as a term of any part of society, an ethnic group, religions or the nations. After the UN’s HLTC on children and youth affected by violent extremism (June 2016) it is obvious that informing our children is our duty and responsibility to restrain any form of radicalisation at the roots.