On September 19th, 2018, the World Solidarity Forum hosted the event of ‘The New Landscape of Terrorism Across Regions’. The panel consisted on the participation of three speakers from different organizations and think tanks across Europe.The first speaker was Ms. Rafke Risseeuw, Middle East Analyst at the Brussels International Center for Research and Human Rights (BIC). The second speaker was Mr. Serge Stroobants, Director of Operations for Europe and the MENA Region at the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). The third speaker was Mr. Tahir Mahmood, Project Analyst and Expert on the field of terrorism and radicalization.
First, Ms. Risseeuw gave an outstanding speech as first speaker of the panel. Ms. Risseeuw started by introducing the broader landscape in the Middle East. She placed a special focus on the situation in Iran and Iraq as it is part of her expertise and focus of research at the BIC. Then, she touched upon several topics such as the war against the ‘Islamic State’ and the remain of the ideology, the ideologies of other extremist groups in several countries across the Middle East and briefly on the European interventions that led to the current situation of the Middle East. Finally, Ms. Risseeuw concluded her intervention with a series of recommendations for the future of EU-Middle East cooperation concerning counter-terrorism and de-radicalization.
Then, Mr. Stroobants remarkably represented the IEP and covered the landscape of terrorism in the MENA region and OECD countries. He also explained the role of the European Union in the Middle East and Asia in terms of cooperation on counterterrorism. Mr. Stroobants complemented his presentation with several figures and results from the most recent editions of the Global Peace Index as well as the Global Terrorism Index (both world-wide recognized indexes released by the Institute for Economics and Peace).
Mr. Tahir Mahmood ended the panel discussion with a great intervention on the importance of research and the gaps of research in radicalization. Mr. Mahmood started by explaining the process of radicalization and argued that radicalization must be studied and researched as a process that happens in the human mind. He also explained the research based on experience and observation. Following the previous point, he explained that common individuals such as teachers, neighbors, etc. cannot easily identify the process of radicalization as they are not qualified. Therefore, the policies directed at letting civilians identifying and signalling others as ‘radicalized’ may lead to further problems. Finally, Mr. Tahir concluded by proposing a systemic approach and anew model to conduct research on radicalization and how to identify it.
The takeaways of the event were that the landscape of terrorism has changed across regions. Strategic cooperations among states and supranational organizations are crucial at this time as well as anticipating the future security threats that terrorism may bring. In the same way, the study of terrorism and radicalization is essential to understand the threat and to develop efficient ways to tackle it in the first stages.