- Armed terrorism can be defined as a group of armed militias that use violence and murder against civilians, armies and state police in order to achieve religious, ethnic or national objectives using methods that are contrary to the framework of international law and treaties that were adopted by the international community through its mechanisms and institutions.
- Extremism is considered the initial stage that often leads to terrorism. It may arise as a result of inconsistent ideas within society and state, religious, ethnic, national, historical understanding or societal discrimination of one group over the other. This leads to an intellectual clash that often turns into a military clash that employs the use of terrorist armed militias. It is important at this stage to compare between this struggle and the armed struggle for independence in the colonial era, or the struggle of the Palestinian people to establish their state.
- It is also incorrect to consider Islam synonymous to terrorism. The reasoning behind this perception is due to the fighting that takes place in the Middle East where the majorities are Muslims and happens between Muslims. However, given the acts of terrorism and murder, especially in Europe and the United States, we find is committed by non-Muslims.
- Terrorism consists of the following elements: individuals, weapons, necessary equipment, ammunition, explosives, training, financing, the use of the population and the geographical coverage, the use of private media that promotes recruitment and defends terrorist ideology and sows terror and intimidation to dissuade local populations from cooperating with state and security institutions. In addition, the use of guerilla warfare tactics, and military confrontations with terrorist militias have demonstrated how difficult these types of tactics are for the military; because it is a war between the visible and the invisible, the stationed and the mobile, the privileged and the under privileged, and between those subject to international law and those who are not subject to any law. As a result, it is considered an asymmetrical war.
Proxy wars were adopted by the super powers, which used armed militias as an alternative to deploying their own forces to avoid casualties and achieve common goals, such as the example of the United States after the Vietnam War.
- Iraq: The defeat and withdrawal of Daesh from its capital, Mosul in coordination with the Iraqi armed forces, tribes and Kurdish forces was a painful blow.
- Syria: Similar to the case of Daesh in Iraq, the defeat of this organization is imminent in the city of Raqqa and other regions, because it was besieged by the Iraq armed forces in the East with the support of the international coalition led by the United States, and the Syrian armed forces who were backed by Russian and Iranian forces in the West.
- Libya: Despite the division between East and West Libya, both gained military victories against the Libyan Daesh.
- Other Countries: The decline of terrorism in numerous countries within the region is monitored and considered to varying degrees, such as: are these terrorist organizations completely defeated? And what is expected in the future?
Terrorism is not expected to have a complete and definitive defeat, meaning this defeat will not be synonymous to its disappearance, rather it is a question of repressing it and bludgeoning it regionally. This current situation, leads us to the following hypotheses about terrorists:
- They will move into new safe havens, where they can resume their terrorist activities.
- Return to their countries of origin, either to repent or to act according to the strategies of lone wolves.
- Temporary disappearance into sleeping cells that wait for the right time and opportunity to re-emerge in small but geographically widespread foci, and gradually develops and forms new networks
- Their number is not a problem in itself, but their motives are alarming, whether they are new converts to Islam, or that they are manipulated by the methodically active media of some organizations such as Daesh, both are the point of views of religion and human rights, to lift the injustices committed by authoritarian or disbelieving regimes, where religious issues are based on the principle "Do not approach the prayer" given the gaps in religious knowledge among the majority, and curiously a significant number of them are women, some of whom are teenagers.
- The demographic change of Muslims in Western Europe: According to the European Union, Muslims constitute about 20 million of the population in Western Europe; most of them are in France, representing 8% of the population, whereas they represent respectively 6.5% in Germany, 6% in Sweden and Belgium, 5.5% in the Netherlands, 4.8% in Great Britain and 4% in Italy. Most of the immigrants come from the Muslim countries, particularly the North African countries bordering the Mediterranean, the majority of whom are victims of racial and religious discrimination in their European countries, which is a worthy point of interest to these countries to prevent their being used as export centers for national and international terrorism.
- Some examples of the injustice of sticking terrorist acts to Muslims in the United States and Europe:
- In the United States, the University of North Carolina (2014) and the CNN reported that 32 people, including Muslims, were killed in terrorist acts, while 33,599,000 were killed in shootings by non-Muslim Americans.
- In Europe, according to the European Police Report "Europol" of 2016, murders committed by Muslims were 2% while 98% of these crimes are perpetrated by non-Muslims.
- In the Middle East, where the situation is different, the overwhelming majority of Muslims kill each other, giving a negative and mistaken impression about Islam, now perceived as a bloodthirsty religion. After the statistics were revealed, the University of North Carolina expressed that these perceptions are the US media mistake.
Financing is the most important element for the terrorist system, for the acquisition of weapons, equipment and for the payment of the high wages to these militias. This funding comes from different sources: individuals, regional bodies or even countries and organizations that clandestinely sponsor terrorism, looting the state wealth of banks and precious metals, trafficking in antiquities and illegal sale of oil resources, for the purchase of other countries illegally too. To combat these activities, integrated cooperation at the local, regional and international levels must be established, whether by monitoring balances and banking transactions, or by opening borders and establishing a code of honor binding the non-purchase of looted wealth, such as: oil, antiquities and precious metals.
This must be done in parallel with a special focus on the control of the Mafia and cross-border crime networks, which benefit from mutually beneficial relationships with terrorists, arms and drug trafficking, human trafficking human rights and the transfer of funds, etc. Similarly, the security of the various entry points and borders should be secured, despite the security challenges it poses for countries with large and open borders, such as southern Libya and the Iraqi-Syrian border.
- Media of Terrorist Organizations:
They primarily address the potential recruits, based on a lame religious philosophy, taking advantage of the lack of understanding of the target audience of the religion. Secondly, they target the local population through the carrot and stick policy that encourages them to cooperate with them and intimidate them in order to dissuade them from collaborating with the state institutions, particularly the army and the police. Thirdly, they carry out executions in public places in order to amplify their acts and spread terror by punishment acts. For instance, the case for the pilot Jordanian who was burned, as well as what happened with the 21 Egyptian Christians who were atrociously beheaded in Libya.
- Anti-Terrorist State Media:
First, the widest possible dissemination and communication of influence and multilingual to better spread the truth about Islam and the essence of this religion, and the Sunnah of the Prophet from reliable sources and refuse fatwas outside of this frame. Second, refute all what the terrorist media spreads by using the right arguments. Third, focus on other areas, such as comprehensive development to combat poverty, ignorance and disease, raising scientific, cultural and health levels, improving living standards, opening of job opportunities for the youth, and the efficient use of state resources, while playing a role model in the fight against corruption in all its forms to establish a society of justice, equality and law, with a view to promoting the spirit of loyalty between the homeland and the citizen, and to have religious, social, and national immunity.
It is proved that individual actions in the fight against terrorism are ineffective, hence the need for local, regional and international cooperation became a necessity in the following areas: information exchange; the sale of weapons within a legal framework to monitor transactions between seller and buyer; the drying up of the various sources of financing; and the renunciation of the acquisition of any merchandise from terrorists, such as: petroleum, antiques and precious metals, whether directly or through intermediaries; the dismantling of existing networks between terrorism and transnational organized crime, as well as the coordination of military, regional and international coalitions to achieve the best possible results, as was the case recently in Iraq and Syria.
The Arab-Islamic conference held in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 19/05/2017, in the presence of the new US President Trump, and in the light of the establishment of an Anti-Terrorism Center in the region, will undoubtedly mark the beginning of the international and regional cooperation, since terrorism has no homeland and thus threatens the region and the world.
The international community must therefore cooperate in drawing up an emergency plan –in order to invest in breaking the thorn of terrorism in both Iraq and Syria, to set up monitoring and tracking systems for arms sales from manufacturing to acquirers, drying up the various sources of financing, cutting off the link with transnational organized crime, as well as illegal immigration. It is also about presenting a future plan in the event of the defeat of terrorism and its disappearance in safe shelters in the form of sleeping cells, small in number, but spread over a vast geographical area waiting for the opportunity to reappear, to develop gradually, and build new networks. All this must be done in parallel with the establishment of a tolerant religious discourse, while working on social development to fight against poverty, illiteracy, disease and unemployment, as well as the development of a positive and objective media discourse, spread it in all languages to fight against terrorist propaganda and thus reduce its sphere of influence.
Visiting Professor of National Security, Nasser Military Academy
Adviser, Regional Center for Strategic Studies, Cairo