Monday, 20 September 2010


In this, the third report from the ICT World Counter-Terror Conference at the IDC Herzlia I report on the views of leading experts on terror, strategy, and the world today.

DAN MERIDOR is Israel's Deputy Prime Minister. He is also Minister of Intelligence.

'If the war of tomorrow is the same as the war of today it's OK. We know what weapons we have and we know the capabilities of our enemies. History, however, teach us that wars, like everything else in life, moves on. In the Second World War, Polish officers charged German tanks on horseback.
Today's enemy is terror.
Building submarines may not help you catch Osama Bin Laden.
In the age of rockets, missiles do not respect borders.

Our experience has been that when conventional enemies found that they could not beat us by war they made peace. This applies to Egypt and Jordan.

Terror is another matter.  One man shot Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo and brought about the First World War.

We know what we know about terror today but the future is different. Cyber terror and nuclear terror are just two issues that we have not yet faced to any effect.

How to invest money, people, resources to best effect in tomorrow's battles?
The days are past when nation fought nation. Today, we have loose organisations that fight states.
Decades ago, we had the fiction of organisations like Spektor being fought by James Bond. Today, it is no longer fiction.  Today this reality is Al Qaida, Hamas, Hizbollah.  Today we have organisations ruling states. Look at Lebanon where Hizbollah, taking instructions from Iran and Syria, control the country.

Another paradigm is the trend to identify people not by nation but by religion. A Lebanese, Hasrallah, takes orders from a Persian, Khamani. Both are Muslim Shia. It has less to do with nation, more by religious affiliation.
Religion rules certain peoples lives and sends them to the battlefield in the name of their god.
This not only applies to other religions. Yigal Amir says he killed Yizhak Rabin as God's work.

If you use religion you remove compromise. It is against Islam to have a non-Islamic nation in the region.

How do you fight this enemy? What is the hierarchy in this chain of command?
You fight it with the values you possess. Liberty, freedom, democracy. You impose it on the other side by showing them that a better life can be obtained with these values rather than the value of death.
You prove to them that you cannot submit women to servitude or worse. You cannot torture people. These values are an attack on their way of life.

The world of technology makes the individual more powerful. In the wrong hands this is dangerous.

Terrorist have seen that the use of rockets work for them. They are improving their capability, lengthening their range and improving their accuracy.
They fire them from within their civilian population including schools, mosques, and rooftops.  They store them in private houses and cellars.
When a war breaks out you don't see soldiers. You see people, like you and me, running around firing missiles. It is civilians hitting civilians (Sderot and Ashkelon). There is no army involved at that stage of the one-sided fighting.

We need an operational way to deal with this. Who do you defend with your limited resources? How much money does it take for a full civil defense? Are you going to respond and attack? Where? Who? How? What intelligence do you have?

There is also the moral question. A launcher fires a rocket every ten minutes or half an hour. The only way to answer is to fire a rocket at the perpetrators.
How many children can you kill to stop them killing my children?
I did not read anything in the Goldstone Report that addresses this dilemma. Is it not proportional? Don't the laws of war apply when you strike back in self defense?

I can assure you that, whatever American or Russian soldiers do, none of their soldiers will end up in The Hague.

The paradigm of conflict changes when it come to the war on terror'.

SHIRAZ MAHER is a Senior Fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College, London.

'How should liberal societies contend with non-violent but extremist views?
These are angry, disenfranchised people.
The standard response is to bring them into the political system, and stop them finding other forms to express their anger (such as terror).
There are two problems with this approach.
What is the price?  What are you giving away?
You are engaging them, but on whose terms? It has been found that the values of the state are being traded off by appeasing them in an effort not to radicalise them further.
If you bring them on board you deny the link between non-violent and violent radicals. You create the moral imperative for their movement. It is important to understand that link. You have taken their radicalism on board.
The state needs to acknowledge this and tackle it.

Quoting one example, two Britons came to Tel Aviv as suicide bombers. They blew up Mike's Place in Tel Aviv.
They met in the UK with non-violent radicals that set them on their path to jihad. 
How many people get involved without becoming terrorists? How many people become terrorists without being in non-violent radical groups?  There are no statistics.

Is prevention better than cure?
The Holy Land Foundation in America was a front for the Muslim Brotherhood funding of Hamas. When homes were raided, documents of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership were found that had established seemingly innocuous local groups. Their idea was to further their agenda, thereby extending their radical aims.

Policy makers are not Muslim are do not truly comprehend the risks of courting non-violent radicals.

Britain pumped millions into Muslim concentrated areas such as Leeds and Bradford. The problem  was that it is not only Muslims who suffer from deprivation. This caused a polarisation between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. Non-Muslims saw that radical Muslim groups attracted funding from London while they didn't.
The most important element to gaining attention and money was Muslim identity. Rather than absorb and assimilate into the general population, the Muslim identity was strengthened and this have driven a rift between them and the general community.

The current British Government, due to the poor economy, is reducing the budget to this project. This should give them the chance to reassess their policy. The answer is to address the problems of deprived areas generally reaching out to all citizens, and not address Muslims only. 

The British Government funded the Islam Expo in Britain, which attracted 50,000 people. Among the notable participants were former Hamas members who had been granted asylum in Britain.

Promote non-exclusive, neutral, platforms and treat everybody as citizens of the state.
Adopt a value-based initiative. If you disagree with British values that;s fine. Just don't expect funds from the Government.  Anyone who supports terror anywhere should not get support or recognition or receive public funding.

The big question to Governments is what are you giving away in the name of security? This needs careful examination.
How do you trade your values, and on whose terms?'

(This question applies vividly today in America over issues such as the Ground Zero mosque -author).

NITZAN NURIEL, the Director of Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau, played devil's advocate.
He put himself in the shoes of the imagined Head of Global Terror.

'As head of Global Jihad I can say that we are doing well. If we want to blow things up and kill people anywhere, and any time, we are free to do it.
The media is on our side. We cause destruction and the press jump on it. This gives us worldwide publicity.
When one of our leaders make a simple videotape it gets played all around the world.
If we need to buy something there is always someone willing to sell it to us. We have no lack of money.

There are areas in which we intend to improve our capability. They include cyber attacks and non-conventional weapons, including chemical and biological. We have lots of friends that have these. All we need to do is persuade them to let us have them. 

Our internal discussions include the question of if we need another 9/11, or should we continue with lots of smaller, localised, attacks around the globe.

We have lots of volunteers. If we want we could execute a hundred people suicide attack at one time. We have no problem recruiting the bombers or making the bombs'.

(We have been joined by 'useful idiots' who call themselves 'human rights activists' and Western liberals who attack their Governments for fighting against us. They are ready to protest their Governments actions against us, create boycotts and flotillas, which all help our cause -author).

Nuriel told us that the world has not yet adopted a common definition of what us terrorism. He is constantly arguing with overseas colleagues over this.
Government Intelligence agencies do not share their database. They are concern about exposing their sources of human intelligence. We need to create an international database on terrorism without the fear of burning sources.

'The level of commitment and cooperation is less than we are willing to admit.
When the world decided that pedophilia was not acceptable the international police produced an international database of these criminals. 

Between human rights and the right to live preference must be given to the right to live.

It is not enough to understand the threat. We must analyse how the terrorist will implement the threat. It is vital to make the enemy pay a high price before he attacks, not after.

It is important to understand global jihad, especially for Israel. Hamas and Hizbollah are fed by the same phenomenon. It is important to investigate the money and the weapons flow.

The terror we deal with today has national capability. Nations feed them. The Saar Institute in Syria is well known for its missile development program. The international community must tell them that they support terror and warn them of the consequences.

Terror will exist forever. We have to push it to a level of criminality that we can live with.

The next challenge we face is non-conventional terror'.

COLONEL RICHARD KEMP was Commander of British force in Afghanistan. He has become an Israeli hero for his outspoken response to the Goldstone Report in which he claimed that the IDF made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties in Gaza than any other army in the history of warfare.

He said that jihadi groups need success to promote their ideology. As long as young Muslims sign up the terror threat will persist.
It is a mistake to assume that poverty encourages young Muslims to join groups like Al Qaida. We have seen middle class, educated, young British and American men join jihadi elements.
Radicalism does not come from poverty.
As homegrown terrorism grows so policies become more pragmatic. This sends out the wrong message.

Civilian deaths in the war on terror is inevitable. British forces killed seventeen in Ireland on what became known as Bloody Sunday.

JONATHAN PARIS is an Associate Fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King's College, London.

He talked about what he referred to as 'Londonistan - Homegrown Terrorism'.

The UK is a bell weather for Europe for homegrown terrorism. The 7/7 London bombings was a wake up call.
Since then there has been the Heathrow Airport plot, the attack on Glasgow Airport and the foiled car bomb explosion in Haymarket in Central London.
There have been dozens of other foiled plots throughout Britain.

Counter terrorism, he said, can be categorised by the four 'P's.
PREVENTION, which is gaining traction.
PURSUIT, to track down terrorists.
PROTECT, to protect the public and property.
PREPARE, to enable national security, counter terror organisations, and the public to be aware of the danger.

Already radicalised citizens get their Masters degrees in terrorism at the Al Qaida colleges in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The United Kingdom has now recognised the complexities of fighting and averting terror.
It is important to create an alliance against extremists. We need to mobilise moderate Muslims in our communities to act against extremists. The Muslim community should be looked on as a partner not an adversary.
The United Kingdom is in two minds how to fight back. Human rights and civil rights clash with the need to keep the public safe.

We see leading Muslim intellectuals, like Tariq Ramadan, seizing the opportunity to politicise the Muslim communities in Britain and America that have, until recently, considered themselves British and American first, rather than Muslim.

In Britain, the Muslim Council has been headed by extremists. and past Governments have reached out to them instead of bypassing them and reaching the regular street Muslims. This has been a mistake.

The teaching if Islam dilutes identity with the state in favour of religion.
Rank and file Muslims in Britain see themselves as Muslim first.
Under their new identity they wage ideological attacks on British values and raise them as a social problem.

In Britain there is an increasing concentration of Muslims in certain key areas. In these locations the inhabitants can go for weeks without even seeing a non Muslim.

British prisons are experiencing a rise in the population of the jails. Extremist and jihadi ideology is being taught within the prison system.

There is little to no integration.

Multi-culturalism has been based on 'live and let live'.  Values are not imposed. This leaves a vacuum.
Archbishop Rowan Williams, head of the Anglican Church, once said that British values are not worth articulating.
Muslims are then encouraged, by their leaders, to demand that their own values are respected and imposed on the community.

The French, on the other hands, impose state derived identity and loyalty to the Republic. The French language must be learned. The French provide something to integrate into.  The French have adopted a strict and specialised judiciary for terrorism. Anyone aiding and abetting a terrorist organisation can be arrested.
(This is not so in Britain. In Britain, you have to prove that your involvement with a terror organisation directly involves violence or acts of terror. I will be writing about this in more detail in a future article - author).

The French problem is with their immigrants and their social and economic difficulties which has caused disenfranchisement.

There is a major problem between foreign policy (even policy of other states) and radicalism at home.
As an example, Operation Cast Lead in Gaza led to a lot of noise in London which got louder with issues such as the Goldstone Report. An event like this causes radicalisation in Britain.

There are a lot of Muslims sitting on the fence. They are watching the battle against extremism. If the US loses to the Taliban and Al Qaida in Afghanistan, or if Iran got the bomb, they may perceive that God is on their side and come down off the fence to the side of the radicals.

BOAZ GANOR, Head of the Institute for Counter Terror at IDC Herzlia addressed the issue of Future Trends & Challenges.

'Five years ago I was asked by a journalist about political tensions in Iran. Today we face a nuclear challenge from this nation seeking world supremacy.
There are rival forces at work in Turkey. We have to see if Turkey takes pragmatic or negative steps.
The future of our region will be influenced by which direction these nations are allowed to take.
Unfortunately, the track of radical forces in Turkey is going faster than the secular and moderate ones.
Contrarily, the biggest enemy of Al Qaida could be a state like Turkey (not the United States or Israel).  Although Turkey is on the slope to radicalism, after the recent referendum, they oppose the religious ideology of Al Qaida.

So, future trends will be governed by three main issues:
1. Nuclear Iran.
2. The US withdrawal from Iraq and the aftermath.
3. The Islamisation process in Turkey.

These are happening during the renewal of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Things are not being helped by the confused international leadership of America.  There is an illusion that free democratic processes reduce terror. In fact, we saw with the Palestinian elections that elections can legitimize terror.

The issue is not helped when people like John Brennan, the White House Counter Terrorism Chief says that 'terrorism is not an enemy of the United States', and 'Islam and jihad are not enemies of the United States'.
If they are not, who is the enemy of the United States?

Boaz Ganor conducted a survey among one hundred security and counter terror experts who were visiting Israel for the four day conference.  This, he explaiend, did not expose any new scientific proof, more a calculated risk based on experts opinion.

To the question 'Will the nature of the terror threat increase or decrease with a nuclear Iran?' 63% said that terror would increase.

'How effective are the sanctions against Iran?'  85% said they were not effective.

'How many years before terrorists have a nuclear weapon?' 54% said within ten years.

'How long will it be before there is a large scale non-conventional terror attack?' 66% said within five years.

'How long will it be before there will be a large scale cyber attack?' 75% said within five years.

'Who is better at counter terror policy and action, Bush or Obama?' 64% said Bush.

About the Middle East conflict, the question posed was 'Will there be peace in the next five years?'  88% said it was unlikely.

Regarding the American withdrawal from Iraq, the question was asked 'Will the US military withdrawal increase or decrease stability in Iraq?'  55% said security would decrease.

Thus ended a fascinating insight into opinions and predictions of counter terror experts from Israel and around the world.

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