Never before have technological advances had so great an impact on security—not only increasing the nature and level of threats, but also for the possibility of providing the means to address the threats. Technologies that could increase security include ubiquitous and omnipresent surveillance systems, the use of new algorithms for big data, improving bio- and psycho-metrics, and artificial intelligence and robotics. Yet trustworthy and reliable partners and an active and alert society remain sine qua non to reduce terrorism.
“To my mind, this publication is one of the best studies of modern terrorism and what to do about it that we have at our disposal. So I am confident that it will find a wide readership, not only in academic or think tank circles, but even more importantly, among policy makers and government officials. They stand to benefit most and they can afford least of all to ignore the important conclusions and recommendations that this wise publication has provided.”
Deputy Assistant Secretary General,
Emerging Security Challenges Division, NATO
Twenty years ago, terrorism was a problem for only a limited number of countries and followed a relatively predictable pattern. Nationalist groups, such as the IRA in Ireland or the Basque separatists in Spain, had been around for a long time, used largely the same methods and had a well-known political agenda. It was not easy, but still possible to negotiate with such groups, divide them internally, and ultimately integrate them into a democratic political process. Other groups, more ideological in nature, such as the Bader Meinoff gang in Germany, the Red Brigades in Italy, or the Cellules Communistes Combattantes in Belgium flared up only briefly and with minimal political impact. In short, terrorism seemed both finite and containable. There was light at the end of the tunnel.
As we begin 2017, this is no longer the case. Terrorism has become a universal challenge. The number of countries experiencing attacks or terrorist activities on their territories is increasing all the time, even if the majority of attacks are still overwhelmingly concentrated in conflict zones such as Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan. There are many more groups, increasingly networked, and some, such as ISIS or Al Queda, have acquired a global outreach and appeal. Given their agendas of extreme confrontation derived from religious fundamentalism and rejection of liberal, open societies, negotiation with these groups is inconceivable.
Their ability to rapidly metamorphose and adapt to new technologies, such as the Internet and social media, exploiting the key elements of the Western societies they claim to despise, makes it difficult for the international community, let alone the countries most affected, to come up with convincing, short-term solutions. Whereas the old terrorists focused on state institutions or representatives, the new brand is more focused on the liberal way of life and all its manifestations, such as young people in a Paris concert hall or shoppers at a Berlin Christmas market. This makes the range of targets almost endless, and the ability of the terrorist to sow fear and stoke sectarian hatred, with even modest means, all too easy; especially in a media environment which tends to hype the impact of these attacks, and give them 24/7 coverage, beyond their actual significance. It may well be true for political leaders, like former President Obama, to claim that “terrorism is not an existential threat” (especially compared to nuclear war, pandemics or extreme weather events driven by climate change); this fact doesn't prevent a growing climate of public fear, loss of confidence in institutions, and a popular perception, reflected in several opinion polls, that ISIS is public enemy number one and more terrorism is virtually inevitable.
In response, some commentators have asserted that we will need to learn to live with terrorism, adapt to it, and to cite the famous slogan in World War Two Britain, “keep calm and carry on.” Certainly more resilience in the face of terrorism is one of the solutions to it. Yet what is neither necessary nor desirable is that resilience comes to mean passivity or acceptance. There is much that we can do to make life harder for the terrorist, to frustrate his plans, limit the damage from his attacks, and dismantle his networks, finances and supply chains. We need not only to better share intelligence, but also experiences, tactics and modus operandi. We need to identify what works sooner and drop approaches that do not before they become counter-productive. While we seek to prevent the exploitation by terrorists of new technologies, especially in the fields of weapons of mass destruction, cyberspace, biology, new materials and robotics, we also need to examine how we can better exploit our own technological resources to better anticipate, and thus prevent, the planning, training and conduct of terrorist operations. The terrorist is good at doing a lot with often modest resources. How can we do better with the much greater resources that we have at our disposal, but where we are less able to pull all the various elements together?
At a time when a new U.S. administration is taking office and promising a fresh approach to defeating ISIS and other terrorist groups, and other NATO nations are also reviewing their terrorist strategies against an evolving threat, the Advanced Research Workshop that was held in Washington, DC last July could not have been more timely. Organized by the Millennium Project USA in collaboration with the FIRST2T group, Israel, and with the help of the TAM-C solutions/USA+Israel, this Workshop brought together many of the finest and sharpest minds that we have to analyze our current state of play, and suggest ways of doing better to fight terrorism in the future. Lasting three days, the Workshop was able to address in a most comprehensive fashion all the key dimensions of a successful counter-terrorism strategy for the NATO countries: technical, legal and social, and to look ahead with realism but also imagination. For this reason, NATO was very pleased to be able to support the Workshop through our Science for Peace and Security Programme.
To my great satisfaction, the results of the many expert presentations and exchanges are now published in this succinct but comprehensive volume. My thanks go to the editors, Theodore Gordon, Elizabeth Florescu, Jerome Glenn, and Yair Sharan, for the fine work that they have done to blend many insights and topics into 16 excellent chapters. To my mind, this publication is one of the best studies of modern terrorism and what to do about it that we have at our disposal. So I am confident that it will find a wide readership not only in academic or think tank circles but, even more importantly, among policy makers and government officials. They stand to benefit most and they can afford least of all to ignore the important conclusions and recommendations that this wise publication has provided.
Deputy Assistant Secretary General, Emerging Security Challenges Division, NATO
Theodore J. Gordon, Elisabeta Florescu, Yair Sharan
4 - 15
While some technological breakthroughs enable the development of increasingly destructive weapons, others will provide security agencies with new pre-detection tools. In preamble to a NATO Advanced Research Workshop on the potential role of new technologies and methods to pre-detect potential terrorism intent, an expert RTD was conducted on this subject. It assessed the potential effectiveness, likelihood, and easiness of implementation of some 19 new technologies and detection methods as well as their eventual unintended consequences. This chapter presents the results and analysis of that assessment.
Philippe Destatte, Elisabeta Florescu, Garry Kessler, Hélène von Reibnitz, Karlheinz Steinmüller
16 - 24
The participants to the workshop were divided into three working groups, to develop potential scenarios that would help identifying some possible developments concerning the future of terrorism and counterterrorism in the NATO zone at the horizon 2035. Using previous days' inputs and the trajectories approach, the bifurcations method has been applied to illustrate alternative scenarios. The three groups were: Ethics; Science & Technology; and Counter-Terror Strategies. Working with given hypothesis and five variables identified during a former exercise, the groups designed potential futures based on three centers of gravity in the system: 1. The defence of democracy, the UN values and ethics; 2. Terrorists' goals, preparedness, and strategies; and 3. Technology as an anticipative tool to terrorism.
The paper explores the context of possible future developments in terrorism. It starts with an outline of the world in 2040 according to existing megatrends, including economic, technological, societal and environmental trends and the global power shift. On this background, possible lines of societal controversies and of political conflicts are drawn, and potential situations of crisis in various parts of the world are depicted. These developments, conflicts and crises may potentially give rise to new (or revived) terrorist movements, fostered e.g. by the next wave of social media and digital technologies. A selection of terrorism-related wild cards with respect to new forms of recruitment, new means of attack, and new targets completes picture. The paper closes with a short glimpse at science fiction.
New algorithms and hardware technology offer possibilities for the pre-detection of terrorism far beyond even the imagination and salesmanship of people hoping to apply forms of deep learning studied in the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society (CIS) decades ago. For example, new developments in Analog Quantum Computing (AQC) give us a concrete pathway to options like a forwards time camera or backwards time telegraph, a pathway which offers about a 50% probability of success for a well-focused effort over just a few years. However, many of the new technologies come with severe risks, and/or important opportunities in other sectors. This paper discusses the possibilities, risks and tradeoffs relevant to several different forms of terrorism.
We will need a new kind of social contract to fight terrorism effectively in future. The main reason behind this logic is the simple fact, that new technologies will empower the individual in more ways than we can imagine today. And these new ways of empowerment will include also some very deadly technologies, creating a world of “many-to-many threats”, making “many-to-many defenses” necessary, almost existential. This will change the role of the state in relation to the role of the citizens, the individual.
From Mohammed Merah to Omar Mateen, the progressive spread of the Jihadisphere shows the increasing pervasion and persuasion power of Jihadi “culture”. The Jihadisphere is expanding its borders, fostering the convergence of violence, xenophobia, hate speech, extremism and terrorism, transforming itself in a huge cyber-“hub of hate”. By turning inspiration into experience, the Jihadisphere is changing its original nature: it is converting the Islamic State ideology and propaganda supporters into “Islamic State of Mind” supporters. In the near future, it will globally interconnect vulnerable and atomized lone actors in “real world”, giving life to a sort of totalitarian “Swarm Wolf” intelligence. Therefore, in terms of prevention of the evolution of terror, the author underlines the need to deeply explore and understand the multilayered dynamic structure of the (cyber-)placenta where the “Swarm Wolf” seed is rising.
NATO has recognized cyberspace as the fourth operational domain. Cyberspace is a vector for crime, war, terrorism, and other activities, both positive and negative. This paper discusses four areas of particular concern in cyberspace, namely, social media, the deep and dark Web, cryptography and steganography, and the Internet of Things. Each of the areas is described in terms of technology, threat, and, where relevant, defenses against those threats.
This Millennium started with an intensive development of ICT E-Government systems and online applications as a support of almost all Governments and local authorities for better communication between Government bodies, as well with citizens and commercial entities. The Internet was hailed as an integrator of cultures and a medium for business, consumers, and governments to communicate with one another. We noticed certain vulnerabilities with opening ICT systems and architecture to open community, which could lead to cyberattacks and potential blocking of normal functions of government institutions. On the other side, widely developed online services, Open National registers and knowledge base, at E-Government as well Smart Cities in local municipalities, could be used for better preventive control of possible terrorist attacks. But such measures could lead authoritarian governments and agencies with low level of public accountability to violate privacy, decrease the free flow and transparency of information, and restrict freedom of expression, thus adding a heavy price by diminishing civil liberties more than terrorism itself. This article addresses Cyber Identity measures which could lead to better prevention of cyber and other terrorist attacks.
Although knowledge and traditions of fighting against terrorism have existed in Europe since the 19th century, the crisis that has developed in the early 21st century seems very particular, as it has both internal and external origins. This contribution about terrorism trends in Europe is based on a year-long research seminar, using the foresight bifurcations method, organized during the 2015–2016 foresight course at the University of Paris-Diderot. The work, entitled Counter-terrorism in Europe 2030, managing efficiency and civil rights, describes and analyses trajectories of terrorism and counterterrorism in Germany, United Kingdom and Spain, in comparison with the French and Belgian systems, which have been hit hard in 2015 and 2016. It aims to define long-term issues and outline some answers to the present terrorism challenges.
The paper addresses several security challenges and scenarios pertaining to the South-Eastern flank of the Euro-Atlantic border: the rise of anti-European, nationalist and populist movements and the resurgence of separatist movements in the EU, the refugee crisis, the prospects for a two speed Europe, the Ukrainian crisis, the rekindling of some unresolved/frozen conflicts in the Black Sea-Caucasus region, the turmoil in Russia and Central Asia, the unfinished state-building and nation-building processes in the Western Balkans, the corruption-organized crime-terrorism nexus, and the new wave of terrorism. Last but not least, the paper puts forward some conclusions and recommendations that could help combating terrorism.
As in most countries, the struggle against terrorism has become one of main priorities for Azerbaijan. The country has taken steps to strengthen its own antiterrorism laws and has cooperated on issues such as tracking terrorism financing and in antiterrorism campaigns. Azerbaijan can play the main role in maintaining security in the Caucasus region and promote regional cooperation between the countries of South Caucasus and Central Asia regarding the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, as well as energy security. Today, to counter the terrorism threat in the region and to reduce current risks we need coordination among states and joint implementation of the international legal instruments in the following areas: Security of the transit routes connecting Caspian energy resources with European markets; Unsolved conflicts; The rise of militant and radical islam; Ecological disaster areas.
The continued acceleration of the power of technological capacity, its increasing complexity and synergies and many new technologies from artificial intelligence to synthetic biology, and their future availability to the public makes it increasingly difficult to keep track of change and anticipate future terrorist use of technologies. Such future technological capacities will also give new abilities to detect and prevent terrorist actives. Collective intelligence systems are one method to keep track and anticipate such changes. There are a range of definitions for “collective intelligence” and applications. This paper
This paper is drawn in part from articles by the author in Futura 4/2009, World Future Review (Fall 2013), and Technological Forecasting & Social Change (2013) http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2013.10.010.
will discuss some early approaches to creating collective intelligence, what specifically is needed today, and an approach to constructing a collective intelligence system developed by The Millennium Project called the Global Futures Intelligence System. A new deterrence triad is offered to address lone wolf terrorism that could provide structure for a collective intelligence system for NATO and or its Members.
The presentation focuses on the future challenges of identifying terrorists in cyber space. In the presentation special attention is paid to new available technologies, which help in the identification process. Author notes that disruptive technologies can be double-edged sword, as cyber terrorists can use the new disruptive technologies. Author first presents background theories of terrorist profiling and identification with special attention to geographical, behavioral, and sociological aspects. In the second phase, author evaluates the potential role of emerging radical and disruptive technologies in the identification process of individual terrorists and terrorist groups. Author also presents key systemic aspects of terrorism foresight paying special attention to advanced weak signal analysis and Wild Card methodology. WE-WI-analysis (weak signal-wild card analysis) can be helpful in operational risk identification, risk assessment, and risk mitigation. Author presents various models which are relevant for terrorism foresight.
This exposé shows how foresight and creativity methods can help to pre-detect terrorist attacks and how to prevent them. The focus is on various methodologies helping to imagine what might happen and how to be ahead of terrorists' ideas, visions and aims.
Although terrorism is not a new phenomenon, future terrorists groups in general and lone wolf terrorists in particular will create new threats and put new security challenges to society. They are likely to have access to far more destructive technologies than available today. It is conceivable that one day a single individual acting alone could make and deploy a weapon of mass destruction. Finding such individuals and preventing their terror actions, could be done by: 1) technological means and administrative measures developed and managed by the state; 2) education and public health means to reduce the number of such potential individuals; and 3) new roles for the general public for early detection of such individuals.
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