International Consensus for Terrorism Mitigation
Terrorism does not just occur within US borders, consequently, it makes sense for some consensus to be sought. The world has not been spared from other attacks after the nine – eleventh attacks. Certain terrorist groups have an agenda against western democracies in general or may aim for soft targets that represent the United States such as Tanzanian and Kenyan embassy attacks of 1998. To this end, it is imperative for various countries to come together and cooperate on diplomatic, law enforcement, military and intelligence capabilities.
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Why the need for cooperation
Following the September eleventh attacks, the world came to the realization that the magnitude of damage that terror groups can exert upon the US and to any other perceived enemy is quite immense. It was in response to these attacks that the United States released a paper on global terrorism where they asserted how crucial it was for a global coalition of international communities to be formed. Through common antiterrorism goals in the European Union, NATO, other nations and the United Nations, it can then be possible to have a unified direction that makes it all the more difficult for terrorists to attack western democracies or any other country that they disregard (Pillar, 2001).
Once an agreement has been made between two countries to cooperate so as to counter terrorism then it becomes easy for such states to identify and implement best practices in counterterrorism. It is possible for such nations to exchange ideas on any new developments in boosting antiterrorism efforts. Continuous improvement is always the best bet against such a dynamic and complex entity. Terrorist networks are growing by the day and most of them are shifting from traditional ways of staging attacks. Cyber space has become an important platform for these groups. Since technology changes on a daily basis, it will always be better for potentially targeted nations to amalgamate their resources and hence form an information stronghold.
Intelligence gathering is another area that can be regulated. Most nations may already possess authorities responsible for dealing with intelligence services. However, there may be a need to strengthen those institutions as some of them do not necessarily understand how to effectively gather and evaluate information through these routes. Cooperation can facilitate the use of technology such as GPRS in order to locate potential terrorists.
At the end of such initiatives, countries will not be trying to behave as though they all stand for the same values. On the contrary, cooperating nations may be founded on various principles. However, by working together to eliminate terrorism, these nations will be demonstrating that they are indeed committed to the fight against terrorism and that most of them are indeed capable of handling certain challenges that are related (Weiss & Boulden, 2004).
Areas of cooperation
The Federal Bureau of Investigations and its brother agency the Criminal Intelligence authority have partnered with various countries across the world in order to carry out terrorism related investigations. Furthermore, the other countries cooperating with the United States have also sent their liaison officers to represent them in US locations. These individuals may work hand in hand with the Department of Justice. Through frequent exchanges and collaborations between members of law enforcement from either countries then chances are that terrorist related activities may be easily detected by these countries.
It has been shown that certain areas can serve as major loopholes for the entry of terrorists. For instance loose border control and relaxed immigration policies can be fertile ground for these wrongdoers. International cooperation is therefore necessary in order to ensure that border security is strengthened. Additionally, it ensures that some biometrics related standards such as passports and visas are thoroughly checked so as to potentially capture such individuals (Richard, 2005).
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Terrorists need to enter their targeted countries and in order to complete their missions; they also need to enter with the weapons they plan on using. In fact, borders can become a loop hole for entry of these individuals and as potential routes for smuggling large scale weapons. This implies that utmost consideration should be given to land, air and sea entry points. Through cooperation, countries can allow assessment of risk based containers in other nations. For example, Britain can allow US officers to assess containers in their respective ports before leaving for other destinations. Assessments can be done on containers either headed to the United States or those ones that come from troubling regions.
Border security need not just be restricted to detection of already assorted weapons; it can also be used as an effective deterrent to the transportation of materials that can be used to create weapons of mass destructions especially nuclear material. Such a case was witnessed during the detection of a ship that was travelling to Libya at the Mediterranean Sea. This vessel had illegal nuclear material and was immediately confiscated at the border. Had there been no cooperation between US and German intelligence services, it is likely that the material would have reached its destination and may have been used for weapons fabrication (Rosaland, 2007).
There is a close relation between illegal activities such as smuggling of drugs and carrying out organized crime. This means that when countries are vigilant about capturing and preventing transnational crime then chances are that the sources used to finance creation of weapons of mass destruction can be easily ceased and this will eventually heighten regional or continental security. Cooperating with other nations ensures that international crimes or convicts who committed crimes in one nation and then escaped to another area are easily found and prevented from doing so in the future. There is a distinct difference between organized crime and terrorist crimes. Organized crime is often committed so that individuals can profit or gain economically from their activities. They may often do so this through many illegal pathways. Alternatively, terrorist crimes are motivated by certain ideologies that may either be religious, social or even politically driven. To this end, there is a clear and distinct difference between these crimes. However in recent times, the lines have become increasingly blurred; many terrorists are not afraid to use illegal means to finance their operation since they presume that the greater good their actions will bring will simply neutralize the few illegal activities that they need to carry out. What this has done is that it has created a scenario where terrorists can be easily associated with wrongful actions. An example here is the bombings that took place in Madrid in the year 2004. Investigations showed that the money used in carrying out these attacks actually came from drugs. If drug trafficking had been effectively scrutinized then perhaps those problems could not have cropped up. It is clear that cooperation amongst states needs to be enacted in order to prevent such illegal activities (White house, 2006).
Air transport is an important area for use by terrorist organizations. With the assistance of international support, cooperating countries can ensure that they all carry out vigilant security on air. It will always be pointless for one country to step up its security on air traffic and then let the aircraft enter into another region or country that is too relaxed in terms of its air security. This will have diluted all former efforts. Several issues arise when looking at this area of coordination. For instance, certain countries may have divergent conceptions of terror and it is therefore critical to streamline those perceptions. Furthermore, it is likely that members from certain countries may fall victim to stereotypes. In fact, individuals from Middle Eastern regions often complain that they have a rough time in international airports owing to immense suspicion by western based nations especially in the United States.
The issue of border security is highly affected by refugees. Many individuals who pose as asylum seekers in unsuspecting countries may actually have ill intentions and may be part of the terrorist endeavors being carried out internationally. To this end, utmost consideration needs to be given to the process of granting refugee status. By cooperating with one another, countries can ensure that abuse of asylum seeking is not done, this means that those who may organize or carry out terrorists acts or those who may have such motives can be easily captured. (Pillar, 2001)
Cooperation in the military
After the September eleventh attacks, the United States embarked on a global war against terror and in its efforts, it decided to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. However, this nation did not go at it alone; it garnered support from other western nations like the UK, Germany and others. These countries participated in the invasion through their troops who played a major role in the war. At this point, one ought to be cautious about the risks involved with cooperation. Sometimes a country may have the right intentions in countering terrorism but may go about it in the wrong way. The world currently doubts the need for Invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003; in fact, this explains why former Prime Minister Tony Blair had to answer to the international criminal court with regard to his role in the war and human rights abuses that occurred therein. When countries opt to take on this approach i.e. military intervention, then there is always the danger that the tables could be turned against them. The war has not been able to achieve some of the major goals for which it had been set. For instance, it has not captured terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. It has also not halted terrorist related activities owing to the fact that now these networks have become more complex or have been rejuvenated by involvement of such nations. By liaising with the US, western democracies appeared to be aggressors against Middle Eastern nations and these worsened relations between the two regions.
Prosecution of terrorists
International cooperation can go a long way in ensuring that cooperating nations enact legislation centered at prosecution of terrorists. These laws may also cover other aspects that revolve around actions against terrorists. Sometimes some terrorist acts may be committed in other countries other than the prosecuting nation. This means that under ordinary laws and regulations, the country in which the act was committed is the one that has the power to prosecute. However, through cooperation, nations can provide for prosecution of these terrorists in their own geographical settings. Investigations and conviction of terrorists can be effectively done only by those countries that are firmly committed to the antiterrorist cause.
Extradition of terrorists is another way in which cooperation can contribute towards prevention of attacks. The United States has been at the forefront of advocating for extradition of terrorists to their nations for prosecution. Since some of these acts may be committed in other nations, it is always necessary to explore routes or possibilities that can get the terrorists into the concerned country and this is only possible through signing of extradition treaties (Rosaland, 2007).
Taking terrorism related crimes seriously by countries is definitely a positive intiative. Prior to the September eleventh attacks and the call for actions amongst international state actors, justice for terrorism was mostly reactive in nature and too much attention as given to the perpetrators of terrorist acts. However, before a terrorist act actually takes place, there is a whole of a lot of planning that has taken place (Richard, 2005). Nations need to be prompted to look for proactive stances on prosecution of terrorists by focusing on other sectors that actually lead to terrorist incidences. For instance, cooperating nations can make a commitment to find, investigate and arrest anyone who has been involved in sponsorship of terrorist organizations through monetary terms. Alternatively, countries can also make a commitment to find those who were involved in the planning of these acts as planners may not always be the implementers. Lastly, countries can also pay a lot of attention to the preparation of terrorist actions. Due punishment for taking part in any part of the terrorism lifecycle needs to be instated. Cooperating nations can ensure that sentences given for any of these elements in the cycle is serious enough. In certain circumstances, the process of investigating these individuals may actually be a difficult process for some inexperienced countries and due assistance can be offered by those nations that feel they are aware of the procedures and processes that need to be carried out (White house, 2006).
An essential component of terrorist attacks is financing because without it, weapons would not be acquired, terrorists would not get to their destinations, no training would be carried out and information amongst them would not be facilitated. Effective counterterrorism therefore needs to inculcate aspects of terrorist financing so as to block these endeavors. Countries can cooperate in this arena and instate laws and regulations that prevent their local banking institutions from taking on a lackluster approach to money laundering. In other words, countries can agree to watch out for terrorist financing or any other illegal money sources that can be utilized to finance terrorist activities. In the formal banking sector, it is relatively easy to detect illegal flows of money; consequently, nations that strengthen their financial systems structures can go a long way in stopping terrorist like activities. Anti money laundering initiatives and policies need to reflect international stands and they also need to employ methods that foster risk management on an international platform.
The issue of terrorist financing is not just covered through bilateral arrangements; it is also contained in the UN 1373 antiterrorism resolution. In this resolution, it was stated that all nations are expected to suppress or prevent any sort of financing carrying out by terrorism. They were obligated to make the sourcing and collection of those funds criminal (Weiss & Boulden, 2004). Although the enactment of such a provision is a step in the right direction there is a need for a word of caution here. Many terrorist organizations and members do not rely on formal financial institutions. Most of them employ material resources such as gold nuggets, gold jewelry and the use of hawaal as methods of avoiding entrapment by formal financial systems. To this end, they tend to possess an ability of evading the strict financial institutions that have been set up by their countries. Hawaal is an informal money exchange transfer that is based on families. The latter system works by utilizing one’s connections to access finance in a different geographical location even when the financier is in another location. The use of such a method heavily relies on trust amongst users and agents are located strategically in different Middle Eastern regions. Most of these individuals do not actually require verification or any other formal routes as they already know one another. In order for effective counterterrorism to work, target nations need to take their anti-terrorist efforts to unconventional areas of money exchange as this will be the only true way of chocking terrorist financing. Currently, the process of monitoring banking systems has not yet yielded very effective results and this is because terrorists have their own strategy in this realm (Echkert & Biersteker, 2008).
As stated earlier, terrorists are no longer satisfied with traditional methods of doing business. The World Trade centre may have been a large scale mission that attracted the attention of the world. However, this attack does not imply those terrorists are likely to target similar structures in the future. With diminished resources or loose affiliation to large terrorist groups, many terrorists are likely to go for countries that do not have such strong antiterrorist policies in place. Furthermore, they are likely to go for unconventional buildings or structures that may possess a high number of people but may not be considered as the usual terrorist ‘zones’. In the future, it is likely that attention will move away from public buildings to private ones. Consequently, coordination of private and public institutions is fundamental in terrorism prevention. However, certain nations may not take this matter very seriously; cooperating with these nations, can cause affected nations to come up with creative solutions for handling public and private partnerships. For instance, it can propagate the use of fewer resources by the government by sharing the burden with the private sector. This is because the latter sector is known for its immense levels of flexibility. Furthermore, it can benefit from better security in the nation and hence greater business for them. Prevention is always the best bet against antiterrorism. An example of how this can be achieved is through the production of identification documents like passports by one country say New Zealand and incorporation of security standards through the use of biometric identification in another country like the United States. These strengthening of collaborations between firms in the public and private sectors can go a long way in making the arrangements more effective for concerned countries (US St. Dept, 2004).
Translational cooperation between various states can significantly reduce cases of terrorism. This can be achieved through a series of routes. For instance, cooperation in border control will ensure that transnational crime is curbed and that weapons of mass destructions are immediately found. Furthermore, it could lead to extradition of terrorists as is the case with the United States. Cooperation also takes on direct approaches such employment of military force; it strengthens ability to assail but may worsen tensions. Cooperation also promotes prosecution and financing of terrorist activities. This indicates commitment to democracy and freedom by curbing out forces that undermine them such as terrorism.
Rosaland, E. (2007). Multilateral responses and global terrorism. NY: International academy of peace
Weiss, T. & Boulden, J. (2004). UN & Terrorism. Indiana: University of Indiana press
Pillar, P. (2001). United States foreign policy & terrorism. Foreign relations council, B567
Echkert, S. & Biersteker, T. (2008). Terrorism financing- countering it. London: Routledge
White house (2006). US – national security. Washington: White house
Richard, A. (2005). Transatlantic cooperation in fighting financing of terrorisms. Washington. Transatlantic relations center, 4
US St. Dept. (2004). Antiterrorism in assistance programs. Diplomatic security office report, 15