Smiths Detection2006-11-10 12:01:48

Intelligence most powerful weapon in war on terror, survey finds

INTELLIGENCE is the most powerful defence against both international and home-grown terrorism, according to a new survey of some of the world's leading experts on terrorism.

The 90 experts who participated in the survey were asked what they considered the most effective counter-measures against both international and home-grown terrorism and what lessons they have learned from their own country's experience of terrorism.

Global inter-agency information sharing and cutting off terrorist funding sources were considered the second and third most effective counter-measures against international terrorism after intelligence, while visible counter-terrorism police work and preventative detention were considered the second and third most effective measures against domestic terrorism.

The importance of building international cooperation was the most important 'positive lesson' learned, according to the experts, while the conclusion from US experience in Iraq that military interventions are not necessarily effective was the most important 'negative lesson' learned.

A number of experts also recommended deterring terrorists by toughening physical security measures and increasing technological surveillance.

The survey was carried out by Professor Alex P. Schmid, Director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews and former Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Terrorism Prevention Branch.

He surveyed responses from 90 terrorism experts from the fields of politics, law, psychology, law enforcement, sociology, the military, history, economy, philosophy, journalism, biology, criminology, mathematics and medicine. The experts represented 20 countries.

He is presenting his findings for the first time at the Smiths Detection Security and Resilience Forum today at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in central London.

Professor Schmid said: "These findings are important because they represent the opinions of many leading experts. However, they should not be accepted uncritically. Preventive detention - internment - had, for instance, the opposite effect than the one intended in the early 1970s in Northern Ireland.

"What we need is more evidence-based research, which is harder to come by than results from opinion polls. The importance given by the experts to 'good intelligence' is correct but good intelligence is, in most cases, 'human intelligence' rather than technical 'signal intelligence' and it takes many years to build up a good enough human intelligence network. There are no quick fixes in this area".

These and other findings will be published next year in Professor Schmid's book, the Handbook of Terrorism Research.

Professor Alex Schmid's 12 rules for combating terrorism

1. Try to address the underlying conflict issues exploited by the terrorists and work towards a peaceful solution while not making any substantive concessions to the terrorists themselves
2. Prevent alienated individuals and radical groups from becoming terrorist extremists by confronting them with a mix of ‘carrot and stick' tactics and search for effective counter-motivation measures
3. Stimulate and encourage defection and conversion of free and imprisoned terrorists and find ways to reduce the tacit or open support of aggrieved constituencies for terrorist organisations
4. Deny terrorists access to arms, explosives, false identification documents, safe communication, safe travel and sanctuaries; disrupt and incapacitate their preparations and operations through infiltration, communication intercept, espionage and by limiting their criminal and other fund-raising capabilities
5. Reduce low-risk/high-gain opportunities for terrorists to strike by enhancing communications-, energy- and transportation-security, by hardening critical infrastructures and potential sites where mass casualties could occur and apply principles of situational crime prevention to the prevention of terrorism
6. Keep in mind that terrorists seek publicity and exploit the media and the internet to gain recognition, solicit donations, gather intelligence, disseminate terrorist know-how and communicate with their target audiences. Try to devise communication strategies to counter them in each of these areas
7. Prepare for crisis- and consequence-management for both ‘regular' and ‘catastrophic' acts of terrorism in coordinated simulation exercises and educate first responders and the public on how to cope with terrorism
8. Establish an All Sources Early Detection and Early Warning intelligence system against terrorism and other violent crimes on the interface between organized crime and political conflict
9. Strengthen coordination of efforts against terrorism both within and between states; enhance international police and intelligence cooperation, and offer technical assistance to those countries lacking the know-how and means to upgrade their counter-terrorism instruments
10. Show solidarity with, and offer support to, victims of terrorism at home and abroad
11. Maintain the moral high ground in the struggle with terrorists by defending and strengthening the Rule of Law, Good Governance, Democracy and Social Justice and by matching your deeds with your words.
12. Last but not least: counter the ideologies, indoctrination and propaganda of secular and non-secular terrorists and try to get the upper hand in the war of ideas - the battle for the hearts and minds of those people terrorists claim to speak and fight for


The 10 most effective counter-measures against international terrorism

1. Intelligence
2. Inter-agency info sharing
3. Cutting off funding
4. Prudent foreign policy
5. International consensus about definition and scope of terrorism
6. Limiting spread of terrorist ideology through propaganda and internet
7. Educating public about what to do if attack is suspected and after attack
8. Providing counter-terrorism assistance to countries lacking expertise
9. Military cooperation
10. Improved border, airport and maritime security


The 10 most effective counter-measures against domestic terrorism

1. Intelligence
2. Visible counter-terrorism police capabilties
3. Preventative detention
4. Financial tracking of suspects
5. Inter-agency information-sharing
6. Media compliance with information policy
7. Government cooperation with civic groups, religious institutions
8. Prohibiting external actors to define spiritual and political life of local communities
9. Adequate anti-terrorism legislation
10. Law enforcement and assurance of human security for all


Positive lessons learned from experience of terrorism

1. Build international cooperation
2. Intelligence
3. Common understanding of the problem
4. Protect civil liberties while ensuring security
5. Effective preparations (training) to enhance capability to cope with terror
6. Need to improve communication between law enforcement and intelligence
7. Sufficient political culture (tolerance) to refrain from hostile/revenge acts
8. Treat terrorism as a law enforcement issue; design stronger counter-terrorism laws
9. No local support for terror group agitation
10. Terrorists cannot destroy the soul of a nation


Negative lessons learned from experience of terrorism

1. US experience in Iraq suggests that military interventions are not necessarily effective
2. Loss of human rights
3. Failure of intelligence
4. Arrogance in foreign police decision-making can breed terrorism
5. There is always a danger of repeat attacks
6. Re-examine barriers between law enforcement and intelligence
7. Training frontline troops is useless unless command elements have matching training
8. The connection between Iraq and terrorism was weak
9. Military measures without political solutions are likely to increase violence
10. Defining efforts to defeat terrorism as a ‘war' in the first place


Professor Alex P. Schmid
Prof. Alex P. Schmid holds a chair in International Relations at the University of St. Andrews, where is Director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV).

Prior to this appointment in May 2006, Dr. Schmid served as Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Terrorism Prevention Branch in Vienna, where, from 1999 to 2005. This is the UN's senior most counter-terrorism position.

Before joining the United Nations, Prof. Schmid held the Synthesis Chair on Conflict Resolution at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

He was an Einstein Fellow at the Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, and served on the Executive Board of the International Scientific and Professional Advisory Council (ISPAC) of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme.

Dr. Schmid is a Member of the World Society of Victimology and a Senior Fellow of the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. Prof. Schmid is also a Corresponding Member of the Royal Academy of Sciences of the Netherlands and a Member of the European Commission's Expert Group on Violent Radicalisation. He is editor of Terrorism and Political Violence, a leading journal in the field. Alex P. Schmid has authored and edited more than 150 reports and publications, including the award-winning ‘Political Terrorism'. Currently he works on a Handbook of Terrorism Research.

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