One of the most pressing challenges in the fight against terror is the way in which terrorist organizations have developed uniquely effective recruitment tools. Terrorist groups such as ISIS have successfully indoctrinated followers from all over the world, expanding their reach far beyond the Middle East. It is imperative that the international community finds effective ways to respond to this threat.
This book presents findings and recommendations from the NATO Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) ‘Human Factors in the Defense Against Terrorism: the Case of Jordan’, held in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in November 2016. The aim of the workshop was to deepen NATO-Jordanian cooperation within the Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) framework by sharing best practices in counter-terrorism and de-radicalization strategies among government authorities and distinguished experts from the diplomatic, military, academic, and private sectors. The discussions were centered around the technological and psychological aspects of terrorist recruitment techniques, particularly with regard to social media and other information-sharing platforms. Participants developed several innovative strategies for preventing, and even reversing, radicalization, and also established a series of protocols and emergency response techniques for practitioners and policy makers in the fields of counter-terrorism and emergency responders.
Providing an overview of current expertise and best practice, this book will be of interest to all those collaborating to effectively counter the threats of terrorism and fight the process of radicalization.
This book contains the results, recommendations, and best-practices from the NATO Advanced Research Workshop (ARW), “Human Factors in the Defense Against Terrorism: The Case of Jordan” organized by the Atlantic Treaty Association in partnership with the Italian Atlantic Committee, the Middle East Media and Policy Studies Institute and NAMA Strategic Intelligence Solutions.
The threat posed by terrorism demands international cooperation on an unprecedented scale. To protect its interests, NATO must use its unique ability to mobilize and organize members and nonmembers alike. Recognizing this, NATO's 2010 Strategic Concept makes strengthening partnerships with countries in the Middle East a key priority. To that end, after the Wales Summit in 2014, Jordan was recognized by NATO as an Enhanced Opportunities Partner, and NATO later signed an agreement to provide a Defense Capability Initiative in Jordan.
This Workshop brought representatives from the Jordanian government together with officials from international institutions, NGO's, and think tanks to address critical issues involved in counterterrorism and preventing radicalization.
Perhaps the most pressing challenge in the fight against terror is that terrorist organizations have developed uniquely effective recruitment tools. Terrorist groups such as ISIS have successfully indoctrinated followers from all over the world, expanding their reach far beyond the Middle East. It is imperative that the international community adapt to respond to this looming danger.
With this in mind, the Workshop featured 5 panels to explore the complex processes of radicalization. The discussions centered around the technological and psychological aspects of terrorists' recruitment techniques, particularly regarding social media and other information-sharing platforms.
The panelists then developed several innovative strategies for preventing, and even reversing, radicalization. The result was a multifaceted body of recommendations, from enhanced information sharing at the institutional level, to the development of counter-narratives on social media. Importantly, the participants emphasized the need for greater cooperation and leadership from NATO and the EU.
In sum, this workshop provided a key strategic forum, allowing experts to identify the reasons for terrorist organization's success in recruitment. Additionally, it encouraged an exchange of best-practices among key players, which will lead to better policies in the future.
Western countries have proven to be powerless in the face of the most recent attacks committed by ISIS against humanity's cultural heritage sites in the Middle East and North Africa. The perpetration of these terrorist attacks forms part of a global strategy to destabilize the region by striking key infrastructure of the occupied territories. This new threat, defined by UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova as “cultural cleansing”, adds to the mosaic of the terrorist organization's infamous modus operandi.
Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, UNESCO deplores ‘cultural cleansing’ of Iraq as armed extremists ransack Mosul libraries, UN News Center, 3 February 2015 http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49982#.WLArLPkrKUk.
Analyzing real case studies and data from a variety of sources, this report argues that cultural heritage should be legally protected from terrorism as a critical infrastructure.
Contemporary jihadi terrorism, perhaps best represented by al Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS), offers a compelling ideological narrative that connects local problems to global trends and exploits religion and history to justify the use of violence against Western targets as well as fellow Muslims. Like all terrorists – past, present, and future – today's jihadists are motivated by a desire to radically change what they perceive to be an unjust status quo. Using Major General Hussein Hazza' al Majali's presentation at the NATO Advanced Research Workshop, “Human Factors in the Defence Against Terrorism: The Case of Jordan,” as a starting point, this paper explores the difference between terrorism and extremism, devoting special attention to the latter. The distinction between terrorism and the extremist logic used to justify it drives this paper's assessment of approaches to counter- and de-radicalisation.
ISIS constitutes a security threat to Jordan, both in the form of its fighting cells in Iraq and Syria as well as its dormant cells. The threat is challenging in part due to an on-going transformation, which is resulting in new waves of terror. These new waves aim to shake confidence in Jordan's security and cause internal dispute, which can be exploited by dormant cells, as was the case in the Karak incident. These new trends ought to be faced with an improved and enhanced security system on one hand, and a multilateral de-radicalisation process on the other.
The Italian jihadist scene, with its fluid profile and features, has been analyzed on different occasions by academics and experts. Their publications however, followed a qualitative approach; apart from some real case analysis, there is a vacuum in the quantitative research that needs to be filled.
The aim of this short paper is to statistically analyze data on some of the risk factors of jihadist violent radicalization proposed by the prevailing academic literature; the goal is to fill the abovementioned gap in the research and promote a more thorough analysis to verify whether there are warning signs that can alert social workers or security services about individuals on the path towards violent radicalization.
The data are limited in numbers, and related only to foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) involved in the Syrian – Iraqi conflict. The individuals observed are those listed by the Italian government in the FTF national record, with information obtained through open sources (OSINT). The principal goal of this paper is to verify the existence of shared radicalization risk factors in the Italian FTFs milieu, highlighting the possible trajectories exploited by jihadist recruiters and propagandists.
However, it is necessary to highlight the fact that this work is only a theoretical hypothesis, which should be validated by other studies with a broader sample size. Furthermore, results should not be taken literally, because a theoretical model cannot capture the psychological, personal and societal variables in the real world.
Terrorism always includes an element of violent behavior, whereas extremism does not necessarily entail the use of violence. Violent extremism, however, is difficult to distinguish from terrorism. The question at focus in this presentation is if acceptance of violence towards other people can be explained by security related values, religion and/or certain self-reported personality traits. The security related values used in this analysis were divided into how people in the MENA region perceived local versus state security. In a second step, the importance of religion was analyzed, and in the final step, an attempt to analyze psychological factors was made. The data used are World Values Survey (WVS) 6th wave, 2010–2015. In this last wave, 85,000 people have been interviewed. About 67% of the respondents answered that violence can never be justifiable. In the profiling process, only 2.3% scored 8–10, indicating that violence is almost always justifiable. Because the WVS consists of a large dataset with global coverage, enabling analyses on an individual level, it is possible to obtain a random selection (probability samples) with enough respondents having preferences reflecting violent values (n = 2933). The focus of the presentation was to shed light on some basic characteristics of people prone to violence, as well as illustrating what factors in normal behavior might protect us from engaging in such actions. Such knowledge could in turn be used to build greater resilience among individuals exposed to violent ideas, with the ultimate goal of implementing it in programs focused on anti-radicalization.
Social media in the 21st century has become an instrumental tool in various terrorist groups in their attempts to recruit new members, finance their organizations, and plan attacks. Of these groups, ISIS is the most notable. Starting in 2004 with the filming of the murder of Nick Berg by Al-Zarqawi, the figurehead of ISIS, legions of fans inspired by this event took to the internet and created the violent online jihad that we see today. Social media has today become the most important tool for terrorist organizations such as ISIS to spread their message, attracting international attention through sensational acts, such as widely publicized massacres and beheadings. There is, however, more to it than that; at the same time, social media is used to spread the “positive” side of the Caliphate with interviews of people who depict a life in Eden, where “true Islam” can flourish. It is used to groom and convince individuals across the world to move to the territories of the terrorist organizations, to help them in their cause and if that is not possible, to plan an attack in their home countries. The response to this has been insufficient, but new ways are being tested and, with cooperation, there could be a solution to the problems social media has posed in the hands of extremists.
Halistair Harris, Frej Welander, Daniel Lind, Robert Akira Watson
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This paper expands upon the thesis presented by Alistair Harris, CEO of the ARK Group DMCC, at the NATO Advanced Research Workshop: “Human Factors in the Defence Against Terrorism: The Case of Jordan” hosted from 21 to 23 November 2016. This paper argues al-Qaeda's main affiliate in Syria, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and al-Nusra) is positioned to be one of the greatest beneficiaries from the confluence of two current trends in the Syrian Civil War: (1) the increasing likelihood of the preservation of the Assad regime, and (2) the mounting territorial losses of the Islamic State from coalition efforts in both Iraq and Syria. This paper assesses the civil war through the prism of these two trends, and considers what the success of al-Qaeda's Syrian franchise might portend for the global organisation.
The number of terrorist attacks that have brought about bloodshed and left a mark on recent history have spotlighted once again the need to stem the attempts by terrorist organizations to conduct attacks within the EU, forestalling the intentions of the martyrs-to-be. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is undoubtedly the terrorist group that, more than others, has taken advantage of Internet, not only as a tactical means of coordination, but also as a tool to carry out proselytism, recruitment, propaganda, and fundraising. As one could imagine, constantly monitoring the Internet for these activities is an extremely complex and time-consuming activity, requiring a huge amount of money and manpower, and resulting in very poor – and only temporary – outcomes. To stem this rapidly spreading phenomenon, it can be useful to focus the attention of decision-makers, intelligence and law enforcement on a possible profile of a “cyber terrorist”.
This paper aims at tracing the identikit of a possible “cyber terrorist” that is as broad and consistent as possible.
Following the NATO Advanced Research Workshop “Human Factors in the Defense Against Terrorism, the Case of Jordan” held on November 2016 at the Dead Sea, this paper will focus on the importance for the international community to share information between institutions and stakeholders. It will mainly discuss the attempts by NATO, its partners and other relevant actors to improve information-sharing to better prevent radicalization and thwart terrorism.
Open borders ease the flow of exports and imports, of goods and services, and of individuals. Since 9/11, controlling and managing international borders has been a challenge for border control and immigration agencies around the world. It is generally agreed that in a globalized world, borders should be as open as possible, but threats from terrorists and criminals remain a problem – especially in the so-called fragile states.
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