Is the world safer now from violent extremism after the death of al-Qaeda’s core leader Osama bin Laden?
In her opening remarks at the Global Counter-terrorism Forum in Turkey, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in recent years, the international community has made important strides in the fight against violent extremism in all its forms.
She notes that the international community has worked together to disrupt terrorist financing; pass new and more effective counter-terrorism laws; tighten border, aviation and maritime security; and improve international coordination.
Over the past decade, more than 120,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested around the world, and more than 35,000 have been convicted, she reported.
She adds Osama bin Laden is dead, al-Qaeda’s core leadership ranks have been devastated, and many of its affiliates have lost key operatives.
“Our citizens are safer because of the work we have done together.” -Ms. Clinton
However, Ms. Clinton pointed out that despite this progress, the danger from terrorism remains urgent and undeniable.
She says the core of al-Qaeda that carried out the 9/11 attacks and other attacks in countries represented here today may be on the path to defeat, but the threat has spread, becoming more geographically diverse as groups associated with al-Qaeda expand their operations.
Terrorists now hold territory in Mali, Somalia, and Yemen. They are carrying out frequent and destabilizing attacks in Nigeria and the Maghreb, she noted.
In Turkey, she cites that the PKK continues its long campaign of terror and violence, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
The United States stands strongly with Turkey in its fight against the PKK.
She states that groups are now actively encouraging lone wolf terrorists like those responsible for recent killing sprees in Europe.
She highlighted that the forum and the international cooperation it represents are so vital.
“Just as the threat we face crosses borders and oceans, so must our response.” -Ms. Clinton
She says the world needs a strategic, comprehensive approach to counterterrorism that integrates both military and civilian power that uses intelligence, law enforcement, diplomacy, development, humanitarian assistance, and every possible partner and asset.
Because we have learned that to defeat a terrorist network, the world needs to do more than remove terrorists from the battlefield.
“We need to attack finances, recruitment, and safe havens.” -Ms. Clinton
The world needs to take on ideology and diminish its appeal, particularly to young people.
There’s a need to improve conditions for women, because their security is a bellwether for societies’ security, and we need to help build the capacities of nations that have the political will to take on this fight, Ms. Clinton emphasized.
She notes that the Global Counterterrorism Forum emphasizes strengthening civilian institutions as a critical part of our strategy.
At the forum, Ms. Clinton also discussed two areas where it is essential the world must continue to make progress.
“First, we have to continue working together to defeat extremist ideology, blunt the spread of radicalization, and slow the flow of recruits to terrorist networks.” -Ms. Clinton
She announces that the United States will support effort with both funding and expertise.
“The second area I want to mention is the rule of law.” -Ms. Clinton
She indicates that democracies are better equipped than autocracies to stand up against terrorism.
Democracies offer constructive outlets for political grievances, they create opportunities for mobility and prosperity that provide alternatives to violent extremism, and they tend to have more effective governing institutions, she stressed.
“And I am here today also to underscore that the United States will work with all of you to combat terrorists within the framework of the rule of law.” -Ms. Clinton
She notes that this forum as a key vehicle for galvanizing action on these fronts and for driving a comprehensive, strategic approach to counter-terrorism.
She stresses that whether on stopping kidnapping for ransom, countering violent extremism, or strengthening rule of law, require focus and tenacity.
On September 2011, the United States of America launched the “Global Counter-terrorism Forum.”
The Administration came into office with a strong sense that the United States is doing very well on critical parts of the counter-terrorism mission.
The Global Counter-terrorism Forum is meant to create something that doesn’t exist on the international landscape. It’s supposed to create a venue where partners can come together and identify urgent needs in counter-terrorism around the world, devise solutions.
The forum is meant to really move past some of the debates that have paralyzed, specifically the endless debate over who is a terrorist.
The U.S. proposed the creation of the GCTF to address the evolving terrorist threat in a way that would bring enduring benefits by helping frontline countries and affected regions acquire the means to deal with threats they face. It is based on a recognition that the U.S. alone cannot eliminate every terrorist or terrorist organization. Rather, the international community must come together to assist countries as they work to confront the terrorist threat.
The GCTF will be a new, informal, multilateral CT body that will focus on identifying critical civilian CT needs, mobilizing the necessary expertise and resources to address these issues and build global political will. It will provide a needed venue for national CT officials and practitioners to meet with their counterparts from key countries in different regions to share CT experiences, expertise, strategies, capacity needs, and capacity-building programs. The GCTF will prioritize civilian capacity building in areas such as rule of law, border management, and countering violent extremism.
The GCTF will also provide a unique platform for senior CT policymakers and experts from key partners in different regions to share insights and best practices. In short, the GCTF will take a more strategic approach to civilian CT efforts and help us increase the number of countries capable – both technically and in terms of political will – of dealing with the terrorist challenge.
The 30 founding members of the GCTF are: Algeria, Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.