This session primarily dealt with the question of how to develop a comprehensive strategy to counter global terrorism. The rise of global terrorism has created an atmosphere of fear across the globe affecting many countries in different continents. With advances in communication and transportation technology due to the processes of globalisation, local groups now have the chance of spreading their ideologies and activities to a much wider population. This session addressed the imminent need in reaching common ground for solving the issue since there is still a lack of consensus regarding how to eliminate the threat of terrorism, if such a thing is possible.
The difficulties and challenges faced in countering Daesh attacks was one of the main discussion points in this session. Among the participants, an expert who served previously as a security advisor in a prominent institution claimed that the transformation of terrorism into more complicated structures stands as one of the most formidable challenges since it makes previous methods ineffective and unfit. Several predicaments such as diverging and sometimes conflicting interests of concerned countries, have also led to lack of coordination and cooperation in developing a comprehensive and an all-inclusive counter terror strategy. Moreover, another security expert mentioned that complications associated with the nature of Daesh threats – such as the impossible task of designing one particular course of action due to varying reasons for people’s radicalisation, difficulty of detecting and measuring Daesh-inspired attacks and activities of its affiliates and an inability to cut off the external support to these terrorist groups – further complicate the situation by requiring a multi-layered response in the face of a multi-layered problem. In addition, the question of how to deal with a post-Daesh era appears as the critical component of the issue at hand.
There are several factors contributing to the intractability of the problem. First and foremost, terrorism is a function of international relations whereby states implicitly or explicitly support terrorists to advance their interests. In this sense, one discussant firmly asserted that no terrorist organisation survives unless they are supported by external powers. Therefore, it is imperative to have common understanding and agreed principles with international actors, requiring all states to treat terrorist groups with an equal standard, without distinguishing them as good or bad. This will help eradicate the inconsistency in tackling terrorism.
Secondly, the ambiguity in the definition of terrorism is one of the factors curbing state collaboration. A realistic and feasible definition of terrorism is needed in order to develop an efficient counter-terror strategy. Thirdly, failed states stand as one of the most important factors that results in the creation of a fertile environment for terrorists. Therefore, state-building mechanisms should be cautiously implemented in the post Daesh era. In this sense, the root causes of terrorism, including grievances, inequalities, lack of political representation, discrimination and so forth, should be properly addressed to be able to eliminate the conditions that provide a safe-haven for the emergence of terrorist groups. Finally, returning foreign terrorist fighters should be taken seriously if potential attacks in metropolitan cities are to be deterred.