Distinguished colleagues, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Terrorism is a defining challenge of our time. This challenge is going to require a generational commitment to overcome. It is not a phenomenon that is going to be contained in two years, more likely two decades. The wise men and women of 1945 feeling present at creation made half the world safe for democracy, rule of law and prosperity. Being present at a moment defining the 21st century, the task requires focus at the global, continental, Islamic, regional and national levels. We are at a moment when the world order is being re-defined and it is up to us as to whether we are going to make it productive, disruptive or destructive.
We have a view from the edge because we are on the edge and we sense and respond to emerging patterns that might be difficult to see elsewhere. Fighting 20 groups classified as terrorist by US and UN, we are the frontline state in the first line of defense against terrorism. This is not a fight that we are doing just for our own liberty; we are engaged in a fight for security of the world.
What are we learning?
I would like to highlight some of the characteristics of the terrorism that we are facing. In earlier conferences, I put forward the notion that this is the fifth wave of political violence integrating and expanding the techniques of the previous waves in the past 160 years. The history of violence is a continuous history. There is no civilization, no religion, no part of the world that once in the last 160 years has not been a major center or engaged in terrorism. In no way, shape or form is terrorism related to one civilization or to one religion. The past geology of it needs to be understood because it is a series of continuous techniques. It has combined social network and virtual networks into a deadly force. The social networks are continuity of the past, the virtual networks are the new phase and that is what gives it such lethality. The previous networks were face to face, this is face to Facebook.
Its other characteristic is its inherently organic relationship to criminal economic networks, particularly the networks of drugs, as a platform for global and criminal politics. It is important that we do not differentiate criminal economics and criminal politics. Where does a cartel begin and where does a movement of terrorist end? I think we have not paid sufficient attention to the linkage and thereby closed our eyes. The vast profits from the criminal economy are circled right back to Europe and to North America; it takes three clicks of the computer. It thrives in ungoverned spaces and is keen on expansion on ungoverned spaces. The concept of ungoverned space is critical to the operation of terrorist networks. They hate order; disorder is what they thrive on and consequently the alignment of forces of order and understanding of how disorder is created is critical to this enterprise.
But probably one of the most significant areas that requires your attention colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, is states’ tolerance or state sponsorship, on the one hand, and state weakness particularly corruption to enable these networks to operate and expand. All too many times we see a state relying on malign non-state actors as an instrument of policy. They consider it an instrument of the weak states but there is no such thing as an instrument of a weak state. We are all together; we swim or sink together. - Read More